The NEMO Tensor Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Pad is an inflatable air mattress with an R-value of 4.2. It is available in a wide range of sizes and shapes including mummy and rectangular shapes and long and regular lengths. While it is a luxurious 3 inches thick, it rolls up incredibly small and thin, making it easy to pack in a lower volume backpack.
Specs at a Glance
- Weight: Regular (15 oz), Regular Wide (19 0z), Long Wide (21 oz)
- R-value: 4.2
- Type: Air Mattress
- Insulated: Yes
- Inflation sack: Yes (additional 1.9 oz)
Sleeping on a backpacking air mattress is an easy luxury to justify, especially if it’s as comfortable as the NEMO Tensor Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Pad. I tested a long and wide version (77″ x 25″) and I can see why people like the added space to stretch out and roll over at night, especially in colder weather when the nights are long. With an R-Value of 4.2, the Tensor UL Insulated is a solid 3+ season backpacking air mattress that is 3 oz heavier than NeoAir XLite sleeping pad (in a regular mummy size) but quieter, thicker, and more comfortable by a long shot. You might even think about upgrading if you own an XLite.
Internally, the Tensor UL Insulated is insulated with a reflective film and baffled air chambers. While the construction is also similar to the Thermarest NeoAir XLite, NEMO made it virtually noiseless, so you won’t keep your tent partner or shelter mates awake at night when you toss and turn. That style of construction is also very compressible, which is one of the nice things about this pad. It rolls up very thin, which is great for such a warm pad.
The surface of the Tensor UL Insulated is dimpled so it has a little give when you lie back on it. It’s covered with 20d polyester which has a nice soft skin feel and provides added durability against puncture.
Relationship between R-Value and Air Temperature
|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|
The Tensor comes with a Vortex pump sack which can be used to inflate the pad. It has a narrow neck, so it’s a single-use item and can’t be used as a stuff sack. In terms of weight, the Vertex pump sack is not included in the Tensor UL Insulated weight spec but adds another 1.9 oz to your load. While you can discard the Vortex pump sack and inflate the pad by blowing into it, the Tensor valve is also compatible with the Exped Schnozzel Pack Liner/Pump Sack if you’d rather carry a multi-use item instead.
The Tensor UL Insulated has a three-way lay-flat valve, which can be used to inflate the pad, micro-adjust the pad’s firmness by releasing small quantities of air, and instant (really) deflation. Flat values like this are much more durable than stick valves and are far less intrusive.
Comparable Thick, High-R-Value Pads
|Sea-to-Summit Ether Light XT Extreme||Air||4.0"||25.6 oz||R=6.2|
|Exped Ultra 5R||Air||3.0"||20.3 oz||R=4.8|
|NEMO Tensor Alpine Air||Air||3.0"||17 oz||R=4.8|
|NEMO Tensor UL Insulated||Air||3.0"||15 oz||R=4.2|
|Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite||Air||2.5"||12 oz||R=4.2|
|Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Women's||Air||2.5"||12 oz||R=5.4|
|Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm||Air||2.5"||15 oz||R=6.9|
|Mountain Equip Aerostat Down||Air||2.8"||20.4 oz||R=5|
The NEMO Tensor UL Insulated Sleeping Pad has an R-value of 4.2 which makes it an excellent 3+ season sleeping pad for backpacking. A full 3″ thick, it’s one of a handful of backpacking air mattresses that is luxurious to sleep on but still lightweight enough to carry. There’s nothing like a thick air mattress to help you sleep well on a backpacking trip. It took me way too long to figure that one out!
Disclosure: NEMO donated this pad for review.