The Nemo Nomad is a packable, versatile mattress that can fit in a carry-on. While it's not as comfortable as the foam mattresses that we tested, it's perfect for the jet-set, hostel bound traveler who is wary of strange mattresses. The Nomad also has a hook system that allows it to connect with another Nomad for a full-size bed. You could easily pack enough Nomads for the whole family and still have plenty of room to spare for rafts, bikes, toys, and whatever else you need for the ultimate car camping experience.
NEMO Nomad Insulated Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Light, packable, integrated foot pump for easy inflation
Cons: Expensive, not very warm, bouncy feel
Manufacturer: NEMO Equipment
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Comfort is this pad's biggest weakness, as all our testers preferred the foam core mattresses for their firmness and lack of bounce. Regarding packability, it reigns supreme and is one of the lightest pads in our review, even with the integrated foot pump that saves your lungs from having to inflate this 80 x 30 x 6-inch behemoth.
The Nomad scores on the lower end of the comfort metric, but keep in mind that we work with a relative scale. We slept on some very comfortable pads in our lineup, but the Nomad is by no means uncomfortable, especially compared to a standard lightweight backpacking sleeping pad. What we didn't like was the bouncy feeling of the nomad and the noticeable horizontal air channels. Again, we're splitting hairs here, and a few of our testers weren't bothered by the baffles at all, but in the pursuit of the best, we must sleep critically!
Ease of Use
The built-in "foot" pump inflates this pad to a satisfactory level of firmness with many, many pumps. We're hesitant to say foot pump because the pump works much better with your hands. It's easier to cover and uncover the air hole as the foam pump expands to draw in air and then compresses, forcing air into the rest of the mattress. The pump is big, but it's tasked with moving a lot of air to get the pad inflated. If you pump up the mattress once a week, it's not a big deal. If you're moving every day, pumping gets a little old. But we feel it's far superior to trying to blow up this 6-inch thick mattress. We also think it's way cooler than a loud, battery-powered pump.
The Nomad features a bonus twist valve so you can easily adjust the firmness to your liking, and two big deflation valve when it's time to blast the air out, fold the pad in half, roll it up and hit the road. The whole deflation and packing process takes an easy 60 seconds.
Nemo doesn't give this mattress an R-value, but the insulated version is lined with PrimaLoft. Compared to foam core mattresses, the Nomad feels noticeably less warm. There are 14,400 cubic inches of freely flowing air in this puppy, and that makes for a poor insulator. Nemo recommends this pad for temps down to 25 degrees. We'd go with a pad with an R-value of 3 or higher for temps that low. For fair weather summertime camping or indoor use, the temperature rating or R-value isn't a problem. Remember, a pad that insulates you from the cold ground will not affect your body temperature when it's hot out unless maybe you're sleeping on hot pavement, in which case you should look around for a better place to camp.
At 80 inches long, this big guy isn't going to fit in many lightweight backpacking tents, so pay attention to your tent's dimensions when you're considering one (or a pair!) of these mattresses. Thanks to its relatively light weight of 3.75 pounds and its small packed size, this pad can go anywhere. It can fit in a carry-on, and you could be sleeping like a baby on your own deluxe mattress during your next 12-hour mega layover. Pull it out of the closet, pump it up, put a sheet on it, and your next overnight guest has a much better place to sleep than the couch.
The Nemo stows away in a nice 11 x 5.7-inch package, considerably smaller than the foam core mattresses in this test. While all of those mats received higher comfort ratings, you're not likely to bring them on a trip that involves air travel (they're huge), and a whole family's worth of these pads takes up loads of space in the minivan. If having a very packable mattress is important, the Nomad is worth a look.
The insulated version of this pad that we tested is on the high end. If you only go camping a few days a year, it is not a great value. However, do keep in mind that all the top camping mattress competitors come in at close to the same price. So to get the most out of your mat, go camping more! This pad comes with a patch kit, which we didn't get to use thanks to the durable 75 denier puncture-resistant fabric.
The light and packable Nomad surely lives up to its name. It's one of the most versatile mattresses we've tested. While air-core mats like this one aren't our favorite regarding comfort, it is a good balance of packability and comfort for camping in warmer temperatures.
— Laurel Hunter & Matt Bento