The Sleeping Pad of Sleeping Pads
Could we make this intro any more cliche? Probably not, but let’s talk about the brand new Nemo Equipment Tensor Alpine Ultralight Mountaineering Sleeping Pad. This new offering from Nemo for 2019 fits within the pinnacle of Nemo developing their best sleeping pads designs yet. Sure, that sounds like a poor car salesman trying to give you the pitch that you may roll your eyes at, however there is some truth to the statement. Nemo Equipment is a brand that’s been on my radar ever since I got my hands on their now discontinued Nocturne spoon shape sleeping bag. Nemo Equipment is a brand i’ve been following as the years have gone by to see what kind of wild thing will they come up with next. Insert the Tensor Alpine Insulated Sleeping Pad into the conversation.
Why so much insulation?
For various reasons it’s taken me a long time to purchase another piece of Nemo gear, but once I saw the Tensor Alpine and understood what it was all about, I had to have it. Let me explain here a little. For the past year or so i’ve been on the search for the right replacement sleeping pad to my Thermarest NeoAir XLite. I thought I had found the right pad when the Big Agnes AXL Air Insulated had been announced. But it took just a few short trips to realize that Big Agnes had missed the mark in the marketing of that pad when I slept cold about every single night I slept on it. It wasn’t until I made some changes to my sleeping bag that the AXL Air Insulated became a pad that I was willing to keep, but for summer use only. So the search continued for a good 4 season pad and that’s when I cam across the Tensor Alpine.
Tensor Alpine boasts a generous temperature rating of -20F at the cold end and a comfort rating of -10F. Consider that many insulated pads are rated down to the 15F-20F range. So why so much insulation inside the Tensor Alpine? This is something that I asked myself a few times before making the purchase of the pad. I knew that I wanted a warm sleeping pad, but was this overkill for my needs. I am not an alpine climber that is sleeping at 15,000+ feet on the snow. I am just your regular backpacker that happens to sleep a little cold and has started to dabble in winter camping. So yes, in many ways the Tensor Alpine is overkill for my needs, but I can guarantee myself to be warm and comfortable, even on the coldest of nights.
With three layers of suspended Thermal Mirror Metalized film, the Tensor Alpine, so far, from first impressions and comparison to other pads I own, is king in reflecting body heat back to the user. These three layers of insulation film work together to push the cold back to the ground and push body heat back to the person laying on the pad. When I first laid on the pad I was shocked at how quickly the heat was coming back to me and how positive the warmth was. Comparing that to the EXPED SynMay UL that i’ve used for many nights the past year, feeling heat come back to the body that felt almost like a heat pad was a breath of fresh air knowing that laying on the snow the Tensor Alpine would guarentee me to be warm. So then, why so much insulation? Well depending on your needs, I’ll never complain about the opportunity to be warm in any situation.
Specs, Features and First Impressions
Nemo Equipment has taken every opportunity to focus on what matters most to a good night of sleep. Space frame baffles that create awesome support whether you’re a side sleeper or back sleeper, soft and comfortable 20D fabrics and 3 inches of support make the Tensor Alpine one of the more, if not the most comfortable pad i’ve slept on to date. A lot of that is fancy talk of things that the pad features, but in real world talk, after having slept on various pads that either felt like a swimming pool float, or a potato chip bag, the fabric, baffle system and height of the Tensor Alpine have really made this a supreme pad.
Having now had a chance to lay on the pad and compare directly to two other pads, the AXL Air Insulated and the SynMat UL, I can confidently say that I will sleep better than I ever have in the backcountry. The Tensor Alpine is a pad that is going to create waves and I look forward to many nights of warm and comfortable sleep over the next several months until it’s too warm to sleep on.