Nemo Tensor Insulated ($190)

Table of Contents

Air pad

14.5 oz.

3 in.


Light but a generous 3 inches thick; best pump sack design on the market.

Thinner fabric yet heavier overall weight than the XLite below.

Nemo is probably more well-known for its backpacking tents, however they’ve put together a good selection of premium sleeping pads. This Tensor Insulated model is one example of this, which combines an ultra-light and compact design with a comfortable platform for sleeping and a substantial 3 inches of cushioning to will keep you away in the air below. As a reference, this model is an impressive half-inch increment over the popular Therma-Rest NeoAir XLite that is especially suitable for sleepers who are side-sleeping. We also love the Nemo’s easy-to-use Vortex pump sack , which takes a minimum of effort to operate to attach it to the flat, adjustable valve and blow a little air into the hole, then pull the collar to push air through the mat. In the end the Tensor’s mix of quality, comfort and ease of use makes it an absolute standout in the marketplace.

It’s important to note that the mentioned the XLite at the top of our list prior to a while, but it appears that the Tensor Insulated has taken it over due to a couple of reasons. First, the Therm-aRest’s pump bag isn’t able to match the speed and convenience of the Tensor’s bags, as well as the internal baffling makes it’s more crinkly and louder all night long. In addition, despite having a smaller 20-denier material (the XLite’s 30D) however, the Tensor is similar to the XLite in our experience even though it costs less. In a recent update it appears that the Nemo has an R-value, which is 4.2 (the uninsulated model has the R value of 2.5). It is possible to save a small amount of weight by using Therma-Rest, however many users will consider the Tensor’s additional cushion to be worth the sacrifices (ourselves including).