This is a gear review about the Nemo Tensor Insulated Sleeping Pad in 2023.
In comparison to all the best lightweight sleeping pads on the market in 2023, the Nemo Tensor Insulated is my current choice as the best sleeping pad. What makes this the best? It is super comfortable, lightweight, quiet, durable, and has a small pack size then this could be what you are looking for.
I’ve slept on this mattress for hundreds of nights while thru-hiking the Continental Divide Trail, Appalachian Trail, and Te Araroa. I think this gives me enough experience to provide a very detailed long-term view of the sleeping pad.
Let’s take an in-depth look at the Nemo Tensor Sleeping Pad.
In-Depth Review: Nemo Tensor Review
Weight – 14oz / 410g
R-Value – 4.2
Temperature Rating – (10F / -12C)
> Silence when rolling over
> Great warranty
> Small pack size
> Very comfortable
> Great for Side Sleepers
> Slightly heavier than similar spec pads
The Nemo Tensor sleeping pad is the current Editors Choice as the best sleeping pad overall in 2023. Weighing only 14 oz / 410 grams and packing to a small size this sleeping pad has impressive specs.
It is not the lightest or most compact sleeping pad in its class, that belongs to the Therm-a-Rest Neoair Uberlite. But it is the quietest pad and almost as comfortable as the best-in-class Sea to Summit Etherlite XT. But still, it is not as popular as the Therm-a-Rest Neoair X-Lite. Overall, just like the X-Lite, it does everything well.
Recently, it was upgraded to include a new lightweight Valve system that Nemo calls the Laylow Zero-Profile valve that lays flat against the pad. It also now comes with an inflation bag which they call a Vortex Bag. Overall, this is an improvement from the previous valve and one of the best valve systems on the market and equal to the other best valves on any sleeping pad which belongs to the Sea to Summit Etherlite XT.
The Nemo Tensor comes in 4 sizes and you can choose between insulated and non-insulated so you are sure to find a size and style that fits. My preference is the regular size, mummy-style, insulated mat. Check the Nemo Website for all the options.
To keep the weight down on the Nemo Tensor they use a compact upgraded aluminized film that is silent and highly compressible. This recent upgrade has increased the R-Rating to 4.2, making this a genuine 3-season backpacking mattress.
Overall, the Nemo Tensor is the best backpacking sleeping pad for 2023. This pad is best suited to lightweight hikers and backpackers who want a quality sleeping pad that is comfortable.
The regular Tensor mummy insulated pad weighs in at a crazy 14 oz / 410 grams. While this is not the lightest sleeping pad, it is also not the heaviest and is a good balance between weight and comfort. It uses lightweight 20 Denier nylon material.
The Nemo Tensor comes in a very small pack size of 8 inches x 3 inches / 20 cm x 7.5 cm. This is about the average pack size for most sleeping pads in this class.
R-Value – Warmth Rating
With an R-Value of 4.2, the Tensor will be good enough for any 3-season backpacking or camping trip. But when the temperatures go below freezing it is reaching its limit. The non-insulated Tensor has an R-Value of 2.5 which will limit its use to warmer weather with little ability for use in the shoulder seasons unless in warmer climates. The non-insulated version is not for use when the temperatures get close to freezing.
Thickness and Comfort
With a 3 inch / 7.5 cm thickness, it has a good level of comfort. Adjusting the air pressure within the pad will allow it to be suited to anyone. It doesn’t have the thickness and comfort of the Sea to Summit Ether Lite but is still super comfortable. In fact, I thought it was much more comfortable than I expected from such a lightweight pad.
Dimensions and Shape
The regular-sized Tensor is sized 72 inches x 20 inches / 183 cm x 51 cm and has a slight mummy shape so it will taper a little at the base. If you use a mummy sleeping bag or backpacking quilt it is the perfect shape for you.
The Nemo Tensor is quite a durable sleeping pad but I have had several holes in it over the years. While that is normal, what is not normal is where the holes appear. The section where the internal baffles are glued to the external sections of the pad seems to be a weak area and the area I have had three holes in over the years. For most people that is nothing to be concerned about, especially after an estimated 300 nights of use. Yes, I have pushed the Nemo Tensor to the limits.
If your plans lead you to a campsite with spikes or thorns such as deserts then take precautions. Add something between the mat and the ground, something more than the floor of the tent. It could be wise on some trips to add a thin foam mat, space blanket, Tyvek or similar.
I enjoyed using the Nemo Tensor sleeping pad which is why is rated as the editor’s choice as the best sleeping pad in 2023.
Inflation Value Type and Pump Sack
Like almost all sleeping pads available at the moment, it comes with a stuff sack that can be used to inflate the sleeping pad. The stuff sack is separate from the storage stuff sack, as it is much larger. The inflation bag helps reduce the amount of moisture entering the mat, thus reducing the possibility of mold growth inside the pad.
If not using the inflation sack it is not too difficult to inflate the sleeping pad with your breath.
Recently, Nemo improved the valve into a low profile and lightweight that is easy to inflate, deflate and best of all, make small adjustments to the air volume when needed. Overall, the valve upgrade is a winner.
One thing that sets the Nemo Tensor above the rest is the noise, or should I say, the lack of noise of this mat. When moving and rolling around at night there is no nasty crinkling sound that plagues some other sleeping pads. Only the Sea to Summit Etherlite XT comes close. This lack of sound is a good enough reason to put this sleeping pad near the top of the field. I suspect in the years to come, all the sleeping pad companies will realize that they must make a quiet sleeping pad. How much longer will the Nemo Tensor be the best-in-class?
Like all of the best sleeping pads for hiking & backpacking, just wash the outside of the sleeping mat with a mild detergent or tech wash. You can air-dry it or wipe it dry with a clean cloth.
Nemo Tensor vs the rest
The Nemo Tenor is the best in class and the editor’s choice for 2023. But it is not the best in every area. It just does everything well and is super quiet. Check out how it compares to all the other sleeping pads by clicking the link below.
Price and Value
The Nemo Tensor is not cheap, but it is not that expensive either. For a good 3-season sleeping pad the Nemo Tensor represents a good buy.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Nemo Tensor is the best backpacking sleeping pad on the market at the moment. A combination of lightweight, compact pack size and comfort make this a great sleeping pad.
BikeHikeSafari Gear Review Process
The author, Brad McCartney from BikeHikeSafari is a small independent adventurer and outdoor gear tester who owns and runs BikeHikeSafari.com.
BikeHikeSafari is not part of a large blog network and is proudly independent. All reviews on this site are independent and honest gear reviews of outdoor products by the author.
The author, Brad McCartney is a very experienced triple crown thru-hiker, adventurer, and bike tourer having spent 1000s of nights sleeping in a tent and sleeping bag (Read more). He was a manager of an outdoor retail store and is very experienced in what is important when using and testing gear for reviews like this.
BikeHikeSafari will never receive any money for reviews and they do not accept sponsored reviews on this website. All the comments about the gear reviews are from the author based on his years of experience. Hope this independent review was helpful for you.