The Tensor Mummy sleeping bad by NEMO Equipment is a high-quality and innovative sleeping pad with great comfort, low weight, small packed size, and very reasonable cost, but can be loud against some tent fabrics.
NEMO Equipment is known for making innovative and high quality products with unique features that distinguish them from other brands. The Tensor Mummy sleeping pad is a very comfortable sleeping pad that competes directly with products like the popular Thermarest NeoAir Xlite, and in many cases outperforms the alternatives in performance and price.
The two main reasons to carry a sleeping pad are 1) sleeping comfort, and 2) warmth. The Tensor is very comfortable, with 3 inches of vertical loft. I've used it dozens of times and I always get a good night's sleep on it. I usually inflate mine to a bit less than the maximum, which I find to be more comfortable. It's easy to fine-tune the pressure, which I'll talk about later.
As for warmth, I've only tried the non-insulated pad before. It's meant for summer to 3-season use, not for winter use. In temps down to around 30-40 degrees F, this pad will be fine for most sleepers with an adequate pad. I've used this pad in winter in combination with a foam pad, but if you want to use it on your own, opt for the insulated version of the Tensor sleeping pad, which will run you around $20 extra.
The only issue with the comfort of the pad is that it can be very loud. Some other pads, notably Thermarest's NeoAir series, are known to be loud and crinkly, and NEMO advertise this pad as having "no loud crinkly noise when shifting in the night." But while the Tensor pad isn't crinkly, the outer fabric tends to make loud squeaky noises when rubbing against the tent floor. I can't explain why it does this, but if your camping partners are light sleepers they might not appreciate the loud squeaks in the middle of the night.
The Tensor sleeping pad has a few features that distinguish it from other sleeping pads. The first is the multi-functional valve, which has two parts. Removing the top plug lets you inflate the pad, but here's the nice part - the lower part of the valve is one-way to let you inflate through it but keep the pad inflated between breaths. To deflate the pad, you pull both halves of the plug out, which releases all the pressure. The lower valve also lets you slightly deflate the pad by pressing on a small rubber piece. If this sounds confusing, don't worry - it's very intuitive when you are using it.
Another helpful feature is the Vortex Pump Sack, which comes included with the sleeping pad. It's basically just a lightweight, airtight bag that fits into the sleeping pad's one-way valve. Then you fill it with air by holding it loosely and blowing into it, then roll it up to inflate the pad. It takes a bit more than 3 full pumps to fully inflate the size regular sleeping pad, which is definitely much faster and easier than doing it breath-by-breath. Additionally, using the pump sack reduces the amount of moisture going from your mouth into the sleeping pad, which is more sanitary - excessive moisture in the sleeping pad can promote bacterial growth (gross, but this can be a big issue with some pads!). And if you don't like the pump sack or don't want to carry it (it only weighs 2oz), you can still inflate the pad with your mouth using the one-way valve.
Weight and Size
The regular, non-insulated Tensor Mummy weighs 12oz without the sack or pump, making it a very competitive weight when considered against options like the Thermarest NeoAir Xlite or UberLite. The Tensor comes in tied with the Xlite and around 3oz more than the UberLite. The packed size is tiny, roughly the size of a 1 liter waterbottle. If you want the absolute lightest sleeping pad ever, then the Tensor isn't it - but if you can settle for the second lightest, for a much better price, the Tensor fits the bill.
The Tensor Mummy sleeping pad costs about $140 for the non-insulated version, regular size. The insulated version costs $160. The most notable competitor for the Tensor is the Thermarest NeoAir Xlite, which costs around $40 more (for the regular size) while weighing almost exactly the same. In my opinion, this makes the Tensor a fantastic value - it's ultralight, packed with useful features, durable, and less expensive than similar options. If you are on a tight budget, you may want to consider something like a closed-cell foam pad, which will be considerably cheaper at the cost of weight and packed size.
For these reasons, I would highly recommend the NEMO Equipment Tensor sleeping pad for backpackers and campers looking for a lightweight and comfortable option at a reasonable price point.
$140 | NEMO Equipment
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