For those who spend less time backpacking and more time base camping and car camping, we recommend the Best Buy winning Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Venture, a cheaper and slightly more comfortable alternative to ultralight pads like the Zor. For the cheapest sleeping pad, get the Therm-a-Rest Ridge Rest SOLite, a durable and lightweight closed cell foam pad that won't break the bank.
Nemo Zor Review
Cons: Not durable, not very comfortable
Our Analysis and Test Results
When it comes to comfort, this pad is a better choice than foam sleeping pads, but is far less comfortable than most other inflatable pads. Inflating to just 3/4 of an inch, it simply doesn't have the thickness necessary to conform to the curves of your body nor can it do a very good job of absorbing irregularities (like rocks and roots) on the ground. Among the inflatable pads we tested, this one scored only ahead of the Klymit Inertia X Frame. When sleeping on perfectly flat ground such as snow or rock, the Zor is adequately comfortable especially when you inflate it nice and firm. Because of the lack of thickness, this pad is less comfortable than the REI AirRail 1.5 and Therm-a-Rest ProLite (two other self-inflating pads we tested). If you want maximum comfort in a self-inflating pad, the Therm-a-Rest EvoLite earned a comfort score of 7 compared with the Zor's score of 4.
This pad tips the scales at a scant 14 ounces, making it the lightest self-inflating pad in the review. If you love self-inflating sleeping pads and want to save weight, the Zor is a good option because it minimizes weight by cutting holes in the foam both horizontally and vertically. This unique way of reducing foam has the advantage of saving weight without significantly detracting from performance. While we appreciate the effort Nemo took to improve upon the self-inflating concept, we think that air construction style sleeping pads are generally superior. For instance, the Sea to Summit Ultralight weighs two ounces less than the Zor, costs the same price, and is much more comfortable thanks to innovative quilt-like baffles that are two inches thick.
As far as warmth retention and blocking the ground from zapping all your heat, this pad performed adequately for a three season sleeping pad. The internal foam that inflates the pad also insulates it by reducing the amount of heat lost through convection. It has an R-value of approximately 2.3 and is rated by Nemo to be adequate down to temperatures around 15-25º F. Our testing verifies this claim and we think it is almost as warm as the heavier Therm-a-Rest ProLite. It is much warmer than the Sea to Summit Ultralight that an R-value of just .7. For most people, we think the Zor pad will be well suited to the demands of summer backpacking. If colder temperatures are expected, you can always add supplement it with a small foam mat.
We packed the Zor down to about 2.3 liters which makes it about average for the pads we tested. Although it's far more compressible than foam sleeping pads, it wasn't nearly as compressible as the Sea to Summit Ultralight or Klymit Inertia X Frame. Unless you need the smallest sleeping pad available (the X Frame), the Zor is plenty small enough to fit in your pack and stay out of the way.
This pad is constructed with delicate 20 denier polyester ripstop fabric making it one of the least durable pads we reviewed. We found it less durable than other ultralight pads like the Therm-a-Rest XLite and Sea to Summit Ultralight that are made with more durable materials. Previous iterations of this review cited an issue with the Zor's tendency to leak air. While we didn't experience this issue this time around, it's still worth noting that this could be an issue in the long-term durability of this pad. A brief search of online user reviews shows a similar trend, but this data is largely unreliable as you never know how well people take care of their stuff. As with other ultralight equipment, taking good care of your stuff will go a long way with its longevity. Nemo was kind enough to include a repair kit in case you need to repair the pad in the field.
The Nemo Zor is best used for backpacking in temperate climates. Use it while backpacking around Tahoe or exploring the Smokies. If you camp mostly in remote off-trail campsites that tend to be irregular and bumpy, then we'd recommend a thicker pad that will absorb the ground better and will be more durable.
Retailing for $100, we can't say that this pad is a particularly great value. There are many other higher scoring pads in this review that carry a similar price tag but have distinct advantages.
For most people looking for a self-inflating pad, we think this one is a fine option that will save you a few ounces over similar models. Buy this pad if you don't like the chore of inflating an air construction pad but still want to save weight and packed size.
— Jeremy Bauman