Field Tested: Nemo Tensor 25L Sleeping Pad

We’ve been on the hunt for the perfect sleeping system for a long time; as technology marches forward so does our quest for comfortable, light, warm, and durable sleeping gear. Recently, we tested Nemo’s Tensor 20R Mummy and came away excited about how comfortable it was, excepting that it was a bit narrow for the broad shouldered. Later in the year, we got our hands on their Tensor 25L sleeping pad. Let’s take a look at the specs for these two pads:

Tensor 20R Mummy

Tensor 25L

MSRP $120

MSRP $140

15oz

18oz

Inflated Size: 20 x 72 x 3in

Inflated Size: 25 x 76 x 3in

Packed Size: 8 x 3 in

Packed Size: 9.5 x 3 in

What do you get for an additional 3 ounces? A lot of real estate. At a full 5 inches wider, the Tensor 25L allows room for sprawling. With a height of 76 inches it fills most tents and bivy sacks end-to-end. It’s glorious for taller sleepers who too often are left hanging off pads. For shorter sleepers, you can sleep with your hands above your head yet still on the pad. Nemo also added in a big plug valve to make deflation instant, a nice touch considering how much air this pad takes.

tensor-25l-in-tent1

Both pads are only rated with to a minimum temperature of 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit, which worried us about performance in cold weather. It’s old news that most temperature ratings for sleeping bags and pads are anything but conservative. As things lined up we had the perfect testing ground for a variety of temperatures: California’s Middle Kings. Few trips take you through such extremes, with camping elevations ranging from 10,000 to 900 feet above sea level. Temperatures at night ranged from below freezing to mid 80s. I was worried about shivering at 10,000 feet on the hike in, especially because I use a down quilt instead of a sleeping bag. Thankfully, even with a light frost on the ground, the sleeping pad performed well at its limit. I experienced no shivering or waking up because of the cold. The limit is 32 degrees though. Any colder and this pad just doesn’t keep the user warm, so be wary in the shoulder seasons.

Outside of that, performance was just like we experienced with the Tensor 20R Mummy. This is the most comfortable sleeping pad we’ve used in the field, period. For pure comfort, we’ll take this pad over a heavy base camp pad. Due to the light weight it’s certainly not as durable as a base camp pad, but for the quality of sleep, it is our new gold standard.

Any downsides? Get ready to spend some time blowing this pad up. The extra real estate comes with a cost; while most inflatable pads take about 20 full breaths to fill, you might want to sit down to inflate the Nemo Tensor 20L. Don’t worry because by morning it’s all worth it.

— Related: Nemo Tensor 20R Sleeping Pad Review

— Read Darin McQuiod's full SLEEPING PADS and SLEEPING BAGS reviews.