NEMO Astro Lite Insulated
This is the best night's sleep I have had while backpacking.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $130
This is the best night's sleep I have had while backpacking. A full length pad just under 20 ounces, with no issues with noise or sliding off the pad and seems well insulated down to the teens at least (below that I usually supplement any inflatable pad).
- Excellent comfort
- Sturdy construction
- Easy valve mechanism
- Very quiet
- Packs well
- Inslutates (me) down to at least 20F
- Pillow works for me, but may not for others
- Not the lightest, but not too heavy
The NEMO Astro Insulated Lite pad was my fourth attempt at upgrading this year after trying the REI AirRail 1.5, the highly rated Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite, and the Big Agnes Q-Core. After trying each of these out for a couple of nights I settled (pun intended) on the NEMO for several reasons.
It is admittedly a mid-weight pad, at just under 20 oz. However it is by far the least noisy pad I tried, and the comfort level is excellent. I consider it worth the extra weight for the night's rest on this 3-inch full size rectangular pad. It is just under 6 ounces heavier than the NEMO Astro Air Lite, due to the added Primaloft insulation.
Here it is inside my new Marmot Tungsten 3P tent...stay tuned for that review.
The pad is easy to use — simply unroll and inflate using the easy valve mechanism. It twists to lock and unlock, and simply pushes closed or pulls open. I am very used to the classic Thermarest valve, but this one put me at ease pretty quickly. I like being able to "snap" it closed by pushing to seal it before having to twist it locked. I don't lose any more air than I want to when I adjust it after inflation. The angle of the valve out of the corner of the pad had me concerned at first, but the construction and careful packing in the stuff sack eased this concern.
I counted 22 regular breaths (not trying to get light headed or set speed records) to fill it up on my first trip, which is not much different from other air pads I have tried, relative to its size. However, using The Instaflator (thanks for those recommendations, folks) it took about 1 and a half tubes or 2 short breaths.
If you haven't heard of this item, check out a couple of excellent reviews on Trailspace - it is worth the lofty $4 price! The Instaflator doesn't fit the NEMO valve properly, but a $3 length of 1/2 inch tubing from the local hardware store fixed that. A short piece slides over the Instaflator's standard tube and fits both that and the NEMO perfectly—a 1/8 ounce fix that I rotated easily on and off the Instaflator during a trip with my wife to fill both the NEMO and her NeoAir Xlite.
Note the tube on the left is just extra for future use. The adapter is on the valve on the right.
The lateral baffle configuration was excellent for both comfort and back support. I have constant lower back issues and the NEMO supported me perfectly sleeping on my back and side. This configuration also prevented sliding down one night when I had to pick a camp late in the dark on a slight slope. No more waking up every few hours to caterpillar crawl up the tent!
I have seen a couple of reviews online for this pad that complain about the sliding down issue. I am thinking they may fully inflate (tight) their pads, while I leave mine under-inflated and that may be the difference.
The NEMO's 72-inch length and 20-inch width are more than enough for me, although I have been using a much thinner tapered design for over 10 years so it depends on what you are used to. The 3-inch thickness, even under-inflated, kept me off the ground when sleeping on my side. The rectangular shape allowed for lots of room to turn over and is very stable even at the edges.
The most interesting part of the design is the pillow. I find it perfect for me (I am right at 6 ft), but I put that in the "cons" as it may not work for everyone. It only takes up the upper 4 inches of the pad, so slightly shorter folks could avoid it. The pillow section is also only 1.5 to 2 inches taller than the rest, which works for me, but may be too low for others.
The polyester material is relatively soft but seems resistant to punctures. I like the feel of the pad even resting directly on it. I used it on several long lunches and breaks on rocks and leaf covered forest areas, without concern. However I care for my equipment and use my groundcloth under it at all times. The NEMO seems well constructed out of 20 denier polyester, and the valve seems sturdy. Seams look solid, and the overall construction had no visible flaws.
The pad comes in a stuff sack with a repair kit in a pouch sewn into the bag. The stuff sack is nicely sized...it keeps the pad rolled relatively tight but is not difficult to get it inside. The stored pad in the sack measures 9 in by 4 in.
One of the most excellent qualities is the noise of this pad. It is practically silent even when turning over. While there are lighter pads (NeoAir etc), all the ones I tried were noisy, from crinkling like a potato chip bag to sounds like a pair of corduroy pants in others. I hardly noticed any noise at all from the NEMO over 12 nights of testing.
There is a drastic difference in noise level sharing the tent with my wife's NeoAir XLite, which otherwise I consider a slightly better pad overall if you can ignore the noise issue (lighter weight, proven insulation, and equal comfort if a little smaller).
I have used the NEMO Astro Insulated Lite Pad since for almost 2 years including two winters (over 35 nights based on my count) ranging from 10 to 70 degrees F at night. So far it has held up well to limited abuse (I treat it carefully and always have it either in the tent or on a ground cloth). Due to a problem with a candle lantern, hot molten wax fell on it and there was no visible damage to the surface. I have a lot of confidence that it will last a while.
The Primaloft insulation has kept me warm down to freezing and below. I have slept on it several trips where temperatures dipped into the teens and I found the Astro kept me comfortable.
I am always hesitant to discuss the low temp insulation of a bag or pad, as I find these to be variable based on the person. I tend to sleep warm and take all my bags/pads below their recommended temperature with comfort. On a trip where it reached single digits, I supplemented with an old foam pad as I found that to be the comfort limit for me.
Overall, I am very pleased with the NEMO Astro Insulated Lite pad. It has met all my expectations after trying several others, and provided the best night's sleep I have had in years.