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NEMO Tensor All-Season Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Pad Review

NEMO Tensor All-Season Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Pad

The NEMO Tensor All-Season Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Pad is an inflatable air mattress with an R-value of 5.4 that is suitable for year-round backpacking and camping. It rolls up very small and thin making it very easy to pack in a backpack, but still provides plenty of insulation to keep you warm year-round. It’s available in rectangular, mummy, long, and wide sizes so you can find the perfect fit for your needs.

Specs at a glance

  • Trail weight: 14.1 oz / 400g (actual on our early access sample is 14.9 oz)
  • Packed Weight w/Stuff sack and Vortex Pump: 17 oz / 498g
  • Packed Size: 10.0 x 4.0 in dia / 25.5 x 10 cm dia
  • Dimensions: (Mummy): 72″ (183 cm)  / 20″ (51 cm)
  • Thickness: 3.5 in / 9 cm
  • Insulation: Aluminized Film
  • Materials: 20D Nylon on top and 40D Nylon on the bottom

The NEMO Tensor All-Season Ultralight Sleeping Pad is an insulated air mattress with an R-value of 5.4. That R-value is no accident because sleeping bag temperature ratings (independently tested using the ISO 23537 standard) assume that you’re using a sleeping pad with an R-value of 5.38 or more. If your pad’s R-value is lower, you’ll sleep colder than the bag’s temperature rating (assuming you’re wearing long underwear and a hat) and your sleeping bag won’t feel as warm when temperatures drop. There aren’t any other lightweight sleeping pads that we’re currently aware of that have an equivalent R-value (see our pad and R-value listing in Sleeping Pad R-Values).

The underside of the NEMO Tensor All-Season is made with a highly durable 40D nylon.
The underside of the NEMO Tensor All-Season is made with a highly durable 40D nylon.

Ratings aside, the Tensor All-Season is a very dialed-in insulated pad with the features that backpackers and campers want. While it uses reflective aluminum film chambers for insulation, like the Therm-a-Rest XLite NXT, it’s much quieter to sleep on and essentially silent, something your tentmate will appreciate, even if you sleep like a log. The Tensor All-Season is also 3.5 inches thick, making it one of the thickest and therefore comfiest inflatable insulated sleeping pads around. Sleeping pad thickness makes a huge difference in sleeping comfort in my experience.

The NEMO All-Season Tensor includes an inflation sack. Both roll up very thin for ease of packing.
The NEMO All-Season Tensor includes an inflation sack. Both roll up very thin for ease of packing.

The Tensor All-Season is made with a 20D top fabric (silver) and 40D bottom fabric (red) for increased durability. It also has a flat valve, which has proven to be much more durable than the stick valves used by other manufacturers. A single valve is used for inflation and deflation and provides the ability to let some air out if you like a softer feel – which I do. NEMO includes a stuff sack and their Vortex pump bag with the Tensor All-Season so you can inflate the pad without having to blow it up. This requires less effort and also introduces less moisture and bacteria into the pad’s interior.

The NEMO Tensor All-Season packs up incredibly small and is only slightly larger than a 32 oz Nalgene bottle.
The NEMO Tensor All-Season packs up incredibly small and is only slightly larger than a 32 oz Nalgene bottle.

Recommendation

The NEMO Tensor All-Season is an excellent value if you want one insulated backpacking and camping air mattress that can be used year-round, even for winter camping. It’s quiet to sleep on, durably made, and 3.5″ thick, providing enhanced comfort. Weighing 14.1 oz in the mummy size, the Tensor All-Season insulated pad is even lighter weight than NEMO’s Switchback foam sleeping pad (14.5 oz) which has an R-value=2, which is saying something considering that the Tensor All-Season is warmer, packs up smaller, and is a heck of a lot more comfortable to sleep on. I think the Tensor All-Season is going to quickly become a best-seller and for good reason.

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Disclosure: NEMO donated a pad for review.

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31 comments

  1. Do you happen to know the denier of the face fabrics?

  2. YES! I’ve been hoping this would come out soon!

  3. I should have asked, do you know how it compares comfortwise to the previous Insulated Tensor? Also, the previous model also had mylar in the baffling, any idea on how they made this one warmer?

    • Just as comfortable. They still use the space frame architecture they used before (very similar to how the Neoair Xlite NXT) is made where they suspend a layer if foil inside the pad. The way you make a pad warmer in that architecture is to add layers of foil inside to slow the dissipation of warmth into the ground. The All-season has two such foil layers.

  4. Can you compare the comfort of this pad to a S2S Ether Light XT ? As a side sleeper I really prefer the thicker 4′” pad but the increased R value and weight of this Nemo catches my interest.

    • That’s the tradeoff. The All-season is pretty comfy, but not as comfy as the 4″ Etherlight XT. But it has a significantly higher R-value. If you can only buy one and you want to camp in freezing weather, the All-season is the right choice.

  5. How would you compare warmth of this pad to xlite nxt?

    • It’s more comfortable, thicker, quieter, doesn’t have a stick valve, and has a higher R-value. Thermarest stopped making their women’s XLite NXT which also had a R-value of 5.4. That was a mistake. The NEMO All-season fills that void.

  6. Speaking of R values, Stephen (MyLifeOutdoors) and JustinUL both tested Nemo Extreme with R8.5 (4 layers of insulation) and mentioned it wasn’t as warm as Xtherm NXT.
    That why I am looking for real world testing of All-season, to see if it can be taken below freezing.

    • How, pray tell, did they measure “warmth” (it’s really resistance to heat loss) without scientific apparatus?
      I trust the science a lot more than I trust a couple of guys with go pros. Anecdotal accounts might get youtube views, but that just takes us back to when manufacturers assigned made up ratings to sleeping bags and pads on the basis of their staff’s “perceptions of warmth” or just to sell products.

      • Well, after buying the BA zoom ul and having cold nights. I learned from Justin and my life outdoors that the zoom ul sleeps colder than its r rating. I won’t get into specifics but the r value testing apparatus doesn’t take into account real-world conditions. So real world experience is far more valuable than a given r rating for sure. I’m personally glad there are gearhead YouTubers like them keeping manufacturers informed and honest.

        • Oh right. Those guys demonstrate all the stupid mistakes people make that “in real world conditions”. I’m over YouTube videos and amateurs. If you want trustworthy reviews and desire to learn proper technique, SectionHiker is the place to do it!

      • Also seconding the Zoom UL debacle as a counter point to 100% trusting ASTM testing standard. I definitely think it greatly helped the industry with standardization. From my research, the only thing it measures is static insulation, i.e. assume absolutely no body motion or any aging of the pad.

        I unfortunately don’t have the luxury to personally test all the gear myself. So I check other people’s experiences in conjunction with claimed spec. I think most people now obviously don’t take everything the watch seriously, but if there’s a consistent pattern in review across reviewers it pays credence to take the flaws in ASTM testing little more seriously.

      • Oh snap, the shade!

        “A couple of guys with gopros”

        Love it.

      • The ASTM rating system, while a super useful objective measurement of one really specific thing, isn’t a simulation of a real human being sleeping on a mat outdoors. It has a number of serious limitations:

        1) It measures only top-to-bottom resistance. Useful for losing heat to the ground, not very relevant for losing heat to the air on any exposed sides and top material.

        2) The hot plate covers one large area and does not move. No air moves around in the mat from being pumped by a human rolling over, for example.

        3) The result is the average over a large area and over time. Useful for safety considerations, but doesn’t give a good indication of whether a pad subjectively “feels cold,” which can happen from uninsulated weld points (like the Zoom UL and the Etherlite XT) creating uncomfortable cold spots which make falling asleep impossible even *if* your average body heat might be otherwise recently retained.

        • I don’t deny that the ASTM rating system has limitations but you haven’t made a very strong case for that with your examples.

          1) that’s what you sleeping bag or quilt is for – to prevent heat loss above the pad and along your sides when lying down on it.

          2) With inflatable pads, the heat resistance is provided by a big air space. If a person rolls around on top that doesn’t change the heat resistance of the pad. Nor does it change the heat resistance on a foam pad which has no air space.

          3) is irrelevant (see #1) above for inflatable pads. The test measurement factors in un-insulated weld points.

          I think the problem is that you are conflating heat resistance with warmth. They’re different things. It’s subtle. With a pad you want to prevent your warmth from escaping into the ground. If you want a heated air mattress, you’ll need a different product than a sleeping pad.

          For example, the fiberglass insulation in your home does not heat the house, it prevents heat from escaping. Same with sleeping pads.

  7. I am new to backpacking. What are the pros and cons to the mummy vs regular rectangle?

  8. I’ve experienced great performance from this kit. Nemo Tensor is compact despite being insulated, lightweight enough, comfortable and less-squeaky than some others. My dislike is that at first it was slick and if I camped at an angle due to necessity I might end up at 3 a.m. toward the end of my tent/bivvy. This issue resolves itself after some usage. Highly recommend for its performance and versatility. I also favor the Nemo Switchback (hard foam) sleeping pad, and both Nemo products sometimes.

    Tough math problem under the new math BTW, 2+2=5.

  9. Mummy fits better in a tent that narrows at the foot, as so many do. I really wish more companies made regular wide mummy pads. They are wide enough to keep my elbows and feet on the pad, without wasting weight and floor space for the corners of the pad.

  10. Bill in Roswell GA

    Quite the engineering feat to make the All Season warmer, lighter and more durable than any previous version of Tensor. Is this finally the Xtherm NXT killer? Perhaps. Still hate Thermarest stick valve after using Nemo, S2S and Exped flat valves. Great going Nemo!

  11. How long will the foil layers hold up? I’ve personally seen foil insulated test pads in REI where the insulating foil layer has completely disintegrated, rendering the R-value useless.

    • I’ve never seen nor heard of that and I’ve been using foil insulated pads going back over 10 years (to the original Neoair). Not sure how you could see the foil…without cutting open that pad since the foil is inside.

  12. This looks to be a great option. Improvements in thickness, insulation, and weight.

  13. Just got mine. Big improvement over the Tensor Insulated. It is great to see a company innovate so quickly to solve known problems- in this case I suspect the use of polyester fabric was a big part of the problem.

    Just a point of clarification, I wouldn’t call the Thermarest Winglock valve a stick valve. It is much more sophisticated than that, and easily replaceable to boot. The Nemo valve may be flat once blown up, but when collapsed it is nearly as bulky due to the stiffened part that retracts inside the pad.

  14. I sleep very cold. Would you recommend all season or Xtreme pad for me? I do have a WM sleeping bag. But can’t decide between the two due to weight. I would prefer lower weight but still a warm pad.

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