the NEMO tensor sleeping pad regular wide resting in a NEMO tent on grass

Review: My Favorite NEMO Sleeping Pad Just Got Warmer, More Sustainable

I’m not the soundest sleeper. I wake up when I’m too hot or too cold. So when I discovered the NEMO Tensor, I was psyched. Here’s why.

The NEMO Tensor Sleeping Pad has always been wide, supportive, quiet, and relatively warm. The original Tensor was somewhere between good and great. And it’s been upgraded for 2022, which kicks it between the goalposts.

The pad’s improvements come from the inside out. NEMO redesigned its Spaceframe — what the brand calls the structural baffles inside the pad that give it support and stability — to make both the insulated and uninsulated pads warmer.

The baffle design still has individual tack points that prevent the pad from feeling like a raft underneath me. And the insulation is still woven between the baffles in a way that keeps it quiet. When I roll over on this pad, all I hear is the swish of my sleeping bag. There’s no pad squeaking or crinkling at all.

But a few materials updates this time around make this already great sleeping pad even greater.

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How Does It Work?

Through thermal modeling, NEMO engineers figured out how to interlace a piece of plastic TPU film throughout the pad to choke off the convective currents. (Previously, NEMO used aluminized film.)

The new film reduces how much body heat mixes with the air inside the pad, and how much the air inside the pad absorbs cold from the ground. The new construction upped the R-value of the insulated pad from 3.5 to 4.2 while keeping it at 15 ounces. The uninsulated pad went from an R-value of 1.6 to an R-value of 2.5 but held strong at 13.8 ounces.

NEMO Tensor sleeping pad

Because sleeping bags are universally tested with an R-value 4 pad underneath, having a pad with an R-value slightly over 4 helped me pick the right bag for the weather more accurately. It also kept me more comfortable than ever — an R-value of 4 is about the most versatile for three-season use.

As a side note, unless all you care about is ounces, or you can’t swing the few extra bucks, buy yourself an insulated sleeping pad. It’ll keep you more comfortable in summer as well as when it’s cool or cold.

As a founding member of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) Climate Action Corps, NEMO has set aggressive goals for making more climate-friendly materials choices. The Tensor now uses Bluesign-approved, 100% recycled, luxury polyester on the top and bottom.

The pad comes with the NEMO Vortex Pump Sack, which inflated all sizes of the pad quickly and efficiently without filling the pad with moisture from my breath.

NEMO Tensor Sleeping Pad — Regular

  • Materials: Bluesign-approved, 100% recycled polyester; TPU film
  • Length: 72″ (a long version is also available)
  • Width: 20″
  • Thickness: 3″
  • R-value: 4.2 (insulated), 2.5 (uninsulated)
  • Weight: 13.8-15 oz.
  • Price: $170-220

Conclusion: NEMO Tensor 2022

nemo tensor sleeping pad regular

Extreme comfort, environmental consciousness, and innovation have solidified this as my favorite sleeping pad. I used it for a weekend in Maine and slept like a log. I used it for another week in Vermont with the same results.

It’s available in mummy and rectangular shapes, in two lengths, and both insulated and uninsulated. The new-for-next-year Tensor will be available in spring 2022.

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Berne Broudy
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Berne Broudy is a Vermont-based writer, photographer, and adventurer. She is passionate about conservation, education, and recreation, and has spent her adult life working to make the outdoors a place where all feel welcome with the gear and skills to enjoy it.