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NEMO Tensor Insulated Review

A good pad for the seasoned hiker that doesn't mind carrying a little extra for a great night of sleep
NEMO Tensor Insulated
Credit: Nemo
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Price:  $190 List | $156.99 at Amazon
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Large sleeping area, comfortable
Cons:  Expensive
Manufacturer:   NEMO
By Matt Bento ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 15, 2019
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
65
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 13
  • Comfort - 30% 8.0
  • Weight and Packed Size - 30% 8.0
  • Warmth - 20% 4.0
  • Ease of Inflation - 10% 5.0
  • Durability - 10% 4.0

Our Verdict

The Tensor Insulated is a top-quality pad with great specs and aggressive weight savings. The quilt-like baffle design prevents edge collapse found on horizontal pads and the bouncy sensation caused by vertically baffled mattresses. Our testers loved sleeping on it! With adequate warmth, a small packed size, and quiet materials, there was little not to love! The only downside our testers found to this pad is that it is made with less durable fabrics than many of the others in our review. The Tensor is great for three-season backpacking of any kind. The low weight makes it a high performing pad for those looking to parse down their base weight without sacrificing comfort.

Compare to Similar Products

 
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Price $156.99 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Large sleeping area, comfortableSuperior warmth, small packed size, lightLightweight, warm for the weight, packs small, comfortable, versatileGreat value, wide, reasonably lightLightweight, affordable, great warmth adding supplement
Cons ExpensiveNarrow, expensiveExpensive, edges not as stable as other pad designsLow R-value, thinner than someBreaks down over time, dimples gather dirt and moisture
Bottom Line A good pad for the seasoned hiker that doesn't mind carrying a little extra for a great night of sleepA true jack of all trades sleeping pad with a highly effective updated valve systemThis model boasts a big weight savings, is comfortable, and provides great all around performanceThis pad boasts an excellent value in a light and compact packageAn effective pad that offers decent three season warmth in a very lightweight package
Rating Categories NEMO Tensor Insulated Therm-a-Rest NeoAir... Therm-a-Rest NeoAir... Klymit Static V2 Therm-A-Rest Z Lite...
Comfort (30%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
1
Weight and Packed Size (30%)
8.0
7.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Warmth (20%)
4.0
9.0
7.0
2.0
4.0
Ease of Inflation (10%)
5.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
10.0
Durability (10%)
4.0
6.0
6.0
7.0
10.0
Specs NEMO Tensor Insulated Therm-a-Rest NeoAir... Therm-a-Rest NeoAir... Klymit Static V2 Therm-A-Rest Z Lite...
Weight 15 oz 18.2 oz 16 oz 17.5 oz 14 oz
Thickness 3 in 2.5 in 2.5 in 2.5 in 0.75 in
Claimed R Value 3.5 6.9 4.2 1.3 2
Length 72 in 72 in 72 in 72 in 72 in
Width 20 in 20 in 20 in 23 in 20 in
Packed Volume (L) 1.2 L 1.8 L 1.8 L 0.9 L 1.8 L
Breaths to Inflate 20 - 30 15-20 15-20 12-14 0
Type Air Construction/Synthetic Insulation Air Construction/Baffled Insulation Air Construction/Baffled Insulation Air Construction Closed-cell foam

Our Analysis and Test Results

If you do a good job protecting this pad from external punctures, it is a competitive alternative to more costly mats like the Top Pick winning Sea to Summit Comfort Plus Insulated or the Editors' Choice-winning Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm. Continue reading to see why we loved the Tensor and why it might be the right addition to your kit.

Performance Comparison


NEMO Tensor Insulated sleeping pad - the tensor beckons to weary backs at the end of a long day. not the...
The Tensor beckons to weary backs at the end of a long day. Not the lightest pad out there, but one of the most comfortable.
Credit: Matt Bento

Comfort


The Tensor ranked high in the comfort metric. The relatively smooth surface welcomed a solid night's sleep. Three inches of thickness absorbed any irregularities like grass clumps and provided lots of cushion for side sleepers. For those who can't get past the crinkly but high scoring Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm, the Tensor provides a much quieter night's sleep, and our reviewers found it a bit more comfortable because the edges are less prone to collapse.

NEMO Tensor Insulated sleeping pad - our testers get a great night sleep when they have a large surface...
Our testers get a great night sleep when they have a large surface area to roll around one without falling off onto the cold ground.
Credit: Matt Bento

Weight and Packed Size


Low weight and packed size are two great reasons to choose this pad. Coming at just 15 ounces, the Tensor turned heads and didn't weigh us down. If your most important metrics are weight and comfort, this is the pad for you. Winter travelers will likely be better off with the 15-ounce Therm-a-Rest XTherm. If you're looking for true ultralight comfort, the Therm-a-Rest UberLite reigns supreme with a high comfort score and weighs just 12 ounces. Nemo also offers this pad in uninsulated, short, and tapered variants that further increase weight savings.

NEMO Tensor Insulated sleeping pad - this pad packs down relatively small for its massive inflated size.
This pad packs down relatively small for its massive inflated size.
Credit: Matt Bento

Warmth


With an R-value of 3.5, some of our testers still felt cold while sleeping on the snow, so we recommend pairing this pad with a foam one like the Therm-a-Rest ZLite Sol for forays into winter conditions. For three-season backpacking, the Tensor proved up to the task.

Ease of Inflation


The latest incarnation of the Tensor employs a micro-adjustable valve so you can easily dial in your firmness level, but what really impresses our testers is the Vortex Pump sack. The wide version of this pad takes a lot of air, and the pump sack makes filling the pad a relatively quick and easy process. Simply connect the pump to the valve, open up the end of the sack, so it fills with air, and roll the sack closed, so all the air is forced inside the pad. We think it works better than similar pump designs from Thermarest and Klymit.

NEMO Tensor Insulated sleeping pad - this pad uses a stuff sack inflation system that works better than...
This pad uses a stuff sack inflation system that works better than similar designs from Thermarest.
Credit: Matt Bento

Durability


20D PU polyester ripstop forms the outer material for this pad. This type of material represents an aggressive weight savings approach to pad design. We were anything but gentle with the Tensor, using it directly on sharp granite rocks and grassy substrates, and subsequently, the pad no longer remains inflated for a whole evening. If you end up purchasing the Nemo, we recommend using it in conjunction with a ground tarp or tent. Treat it well, and it'll likely reward you for years to come.

NEMO Tensor Insulated sleeping pad - the nemo saves shaves ounces by using lightweight 20d polyester.
The Nemo saves shaves ounces by using lightweight 20D Polyester.
Credit: Jeremy Bauman

Value


We feel this is a fair price compared to other pads on the market. Some pads we like more are less expensive like the REI Flash Insulated, but others are more expensive like the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm.

Conclusion


The Tensor is a great lightweight backpacking pad with high performance at the cost of durability. Our testers found it super comfortable and an improvement over pads with horizontal baffles. If you're looking for one pad for your weekend adventures and tend to treat your gear with care, the Tensor has impressive specs that make it a top competitor.

Matt Bento
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