The NEMO Tensor Alpine Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Pad is a lightweight insulated air mat that weighs 17 ounces and is 3″ thick. It has a flat 2-way valve and includes an inflation sack so you don’t have to bust a gut blowing it up. This pad also has an R-value of 4.8 measured using the new sleeping pad R-value industry standard, so you can compare its insulation value with pads from other vendors that have adopted this new standard including REI, Therm-a-Rest, Sea-to-Summit, Exped, and Big Agnes.
The Tensor Alpine Sleeping Pad is available in two sizes:
Specs at a Glance
- Size: Regular Mummy, 72″ x 20″
- Thickness: 3″
- Weight: 17 oz (spec), 16.3 oz (actual) – yes, it weighs less than specked!
- R-Value: 4.8
- Cover: 20D PU Polyester
- Breaths to inflate: 29
- Inflation sackfuls to inflate: 5-6
- Vortex inflation sack weight: 2 oz.
- Packed Size: 8″ long, 3″ in diameter
Besides its low weight, the Nemo Tensor Alpine is a quiet and comfortable sleeping pad that is covered with 20D PU-coated Polyester that has a soft hand against your skin. It’s insulated with three internal aluminized reflective liners but does not make the loud crinkly sound you find with other sleeping pads like the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite or XTherm Sleeping pads. A full 3″ thick, your waist, shoulders, and elbows won’t bottom out if you sleep on your side or on your back.
The pad is inflated and deflated with a flat valve that is more durable than pads with stick values. The valve has two modes: one-way inflation with a small button to bleed off air and wide-open for rapid deflation. If you press the small button to bleed off some air to make the pad softer, it’s very important that you cap it afterward. Otherwise, the button will continue to bleed off a small stream of air as you move around on the pad and will eventually go flat.
The Tensor Alpine is a fairly firm pad as air mattresses go, but you can bleed off air to soften it up. The baffles run horizontally much like Therm-a-Rest’s Neoair sleeping pads but the cover fabric feels much more comfortable against your skin. The 20″ width is generally sufficient if you’re a side sleeper, but you may want to get one the wide Tensor Alpine pad if you’re a back sleeper to prevent your arms and elbows from dropping off the sides of the pad at night. The Tensor Alpine Pads do not come with a pillow accessory attachment like the Sea-to-Summit pads, but it’s pretty easy to create one with some velcro so that your pillow doesn’t fall off at night.
Bundled Inflation Sack
NEMO bundles a 2.0-ounce Vortex inflation sack with many of their sleeping pads, including the Tensor Alpine Insulated. It reduces the effort of inflating the Tensor Alpine Mummy from 29 breaths down to 5-6 bagfuls of air and is a nice luxury item to bring on a trip. The sack locks onto the Tensor Alpine’s valve and you inflate the pad by forcing air from the sack into it.
However, we don’t particularly like this inflation sack because it can’t be used for multiple purposes such as a waterproof stuff sack or pack liner. While it works well enough, the top part of the inflation sack is too narrow to insert or remove gear. Instead, we’d recommend carrying a compatible inflation sack called the Exped Schnozzel, which can be used as a stuff sack or pack liner because it has a full-width rolltop opening (see our review).
Sleeping Pad R-Values and Air Temperature in Degrees
What’s the correlation between air temperature and sleeping pad R-values? When do you need a pad with a higher R-value? This table is based on Exped’s recommendations in Fahrenheit and Celsius degrees.
|Air Temperature (F):||50||43||36||29||22||15||8||0||-7||-14||-21||-30|
|Air Temperature (C):||10||6||2||-2||-6||-9||-13||-18||-22||-26||-30||-34|
- R-values are additive, so you can combine two pads to increase your warmth level.
- Women need higher R-values pads because they have lower body mass than men. An additional R-value of 1 is usually a good hedge for women and other cold sleepers
Comparable Insulated Lightweight Sleeping Pads
|Sea-to-Summit Ether Light XT Extreme||Air Pad||4.0"||25.6 oz||R=6.2|
|NEMO Tensor Alpine UL Insulated||Air Pad||3.0"||17 oz||R=4.8|
|Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite||Air Pad||2.5"||12 oz||R=4.2|
|Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Women's||Air Pad||2.5"||12 oz||R=5.4|
|Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm||Air Pad||2.5"||15 oz||R=6.9|
|Exped SynMat UL Winter||Air Pad||3.5"||21 oz||R=5.2|
|REI Flash Thermal||Air Pad||2"||19 oz||R=4.9|
|Mountain Equip Aerostat Down||Air Pad||2.8"||20.4 oz||R=5|
The NEMO Tensor Alpine Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Pad is a four-season sleeping pad, that’s comfortable, ultralight, quiet, and compact. With an R-value of 4.8, it’s a great choice if you want one sleeping pad for year-round use. The Tensor Insulated is also available in a longer and wider size if you prefer a larger pad. While the Tensor Alpine does not have as high an R-value as the Therm-a-Rest XTherm, we like the fact that it’s a more comfortable pad and a quieter one to sleep on. If you wanted to own one air mattress that you could use year-round, the NEMO Tensor Alpine UL Insulated Pad would be a good choice.
See also: Sleeping Pad R-Values for a complete comparison of the R-values for all Therm-a-Rest, Exped, Sea-to-Summit, Nemo, Big Agnes, and REI sleeping pads.
Disclosure: NEMO provided the author with a sample sleeping pad for this review.Editor's note: If you’re thinking about buying gear that we’ve reviewed or recommend on SectionHiker, you can help support us in the process. Just click on any of the seller links above, and if you make a purchase, we may (but not always) receive a small percentage of the transaction. The cost of the product is the same to you but this helps us continue to test and write unsponsored and independent gear reviews, beginner FAQs, and free hiking guides. Thanks and we appreciate your support!