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NEMO Astro Lite

rated 3.0 of 5 stars
photo: NEMO Astro Lite air-filled sleeping pad

The Nemo Astro Air Lite 20R is a compact, lightweight, well-designed backcountry mattress. A great choice for those minimalist warm weather trips without sacrificing comfort. If you don’t need the extra weight of an insulated pad, this pad is a great choice.


  • Stable
  • Comfortable
  • 3 inches of cushion
  • easy to inflate and deflate
  • very high comfort to weight ratio


  • not insulated
  • limited temp range

Years ago, when I first began my backpacking adventures I did not use a sleeping pad. I would make do with just my sleeping bag on my tent floor. Then one day I read an article about sleeping pads, and purchased an inexpensive closed cell foam model. I found that it made a drastic difference in warmth and comfort and I was much better rested.

Since then I have used various closed cell foam pads, and self-inflating foam mattresses. With each upgrade I experienced a real improvement in warmth and comfort. Now I have had the opportunity to test the new Nemo Air Lite 20 R sleeping pad and have found it to provide great comfort and stability.     

As you can see below, I have room to spare on the 72” pad.  I am 5’9” and the pad supports my 200 lb frame quite nicely. 


The mattress, when inflated, is true to its 72 x 20 x 3 inch dimensions. The packed dimensions are a diminutive 10 ½ inches long by 3 inches in diameter. The super compact size allows many packing options.

You can store it on the outside of your pack, rolling it up like the more traditional sleeping pads. You could fold and roll it as seen in the photo below and basically stuff it anywhere on or in your pack where there is space. You could roll it up, and omit the stuff sack and use only the retention strap provided by Nemo, thus omitting the weight of the stuff sack.

I prefer to use the strap and the stuff sack together and store my pad inside my pack. The pad, stuff sack and strap weigh 14 oz.


The mattress comes with a basic repair kit, glue, patches, stuff sack, and strap. The hook and loop strap holds the deflated mattress tightly when rolled up. Using this strap, ounce counters could leave the stuff sack at home as an option. There is an elevated baffle at the top of the pad providing extra cushion for the head.

Packed size is very small. Nemo claims 8"x3", but my measurements after repacking came out to 101/2" x 3".  I suppose with extra effort you could pack it down to factory size. The pad fits easily in the stuff sack.   




The fabric is called Air Lock Elite Laminate. Nemo claims it maximizes strength and durability while being the lightest possible option. For me I was confident to put the pad on the ground with a silnylon sheet underneath.  One could probably, with some care avoiding sharp sticks and rocks, use this pad directly on the ground without a lot of worry. 

Comfort and Performance:

I counted 14 breaths to fill this mattress. I have inflated and deflated the mattress multiple times and it consistently requires 14 breaths from my lungs to fill it. Other users may vary in their inflation efforts, but mine were consistent. 

The inflation valve makes it easy to pause between breaths without letting air escape. The valve has a push-pull action for filling, then a twist will lock in place for inflating and deflating. For those who prefer using a pump,  one could employ Nemo’s Disco Pad Pump and save the lungs.   

I am 5’9” and I weigh about 200 lbs. When side sleeping, the mattress conformed nicely to my body contours and supported me well off the ground enhancing comfort. There were no pressure points or instability issues when back or stomach sleeping.

I especially liked the elevated pillow at the head of the mattress. While not a full pillow, the extra volume there helped enhance my improvised stuff sack pillow. The mattress stayed flat, not curling around my body.

For the three nights sleeping on it during a 40 mile backpacking trip, the nightly temps were in the upper 50’s low 60’s F. Nemo’s stability claims are valid and the mattress is stable and comfortable when properly inflated.  I noticed that I woke up in the morning feeling no soreness from pressure points at my shoulders and hips. When comparing it to my 1” self-inflaters and foam pads, the Nemo pad is more comfortable to me. I prefer the extra 2” of cushion over the other pads I own and how it elevates me off the ground.

I also noted that the pad is resistant to slipping, and I had no issues staying on it with my synthetic summer weight sleeping bag. The pad stayed in place on my slick silnylon tent floor.

Note that there is no insulation installed in the mattress, therefore it is rated for warm weather only. Nemo recommends that the Astro Air Lite 20R comfort limit is about 35 degrees F, but I do not believe I could stay comfortable on it in these temps. I would be comfortable using this mattress in the warmest weather down to about 50 degrees F. In fact, my tests during nights in the upper fifties had me sleeping cool and comfortable. If it were any cooler, I am certain I would feel the chill. 

The larger baffle at the head is a nice feature as seen in this view.


Top view of the pillow baffle and air valve. 

Nemo Astro Air Lite 20R in the tent.

Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps (Sample provided by Nemo for testing and review)

I've used this once in a situation that would test the lower limits of its comfort range. It worked very well. I had a couple of issues, but I expected these because I was trying to make it fail.


  • Very light, packs very small
  • Really comfortable
  • Thickness is easily adjustable
  • Very easy to inflate


  • No insulation

So here's what I did, I set up my tarp in an A-frame position. The lowest end (angled 3/4 into the wind) a foot off the ground, the other end 2 1/2 feet high. The four corners staked touching the ground. A Space-All Weather Blanket (shiny side up) under the Astro Air Lite and me in an old North Face Wasatch 40 degree sleeping bag. 

The low that night (3:30 a.m.) was 41 degrees. I put about 15 breaths into the mat and then I lay down on it. It was way too full and I was bouncing around on it so I let a considerable amount of air out of the pad til I was comfortable. It was very soft and I sank nicely into the pad but I wasn't touching the ground at all. Nor did the pad "taco" around me. It stayed flat on the ground and kept me off of the ground as well.

The valve is easy to adjust while lying down on. Push it in to close, pull out to open, twist one way to lock into whichever position you are using at the moment. The pad has a built-in pillow that is almost perfect; stuff a fleece into the hood of your bag and bam you have a perfect pillow. I toss and turn every night, everywhere I sleep. In this case it gave me the opportunity to check the time and temp for this review.

The pad's surface was perfect. I didn't slide around and slip off the pad, but it also didn't keep me from rolling and sliding onto my other side so that I could go right back to sleep. In the darkest ditch of morning when the moon has set and the hour is none I found I was cold. Not too cold to go back to sleep, but cold enough that I wish I had put my Z-Rest pad under the NEMO. 

My favorite feature of this pad is how small and light it is when packed up. It fits in the sleeping bag compartment of my Deuter Futura Pro with my bag.

It is the size of two beer cans when rolled up and put in its stuff sack.

Also, it doesn't seem super delicate, so I feel pretty confident that it'll hold up to some abuse.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $109 + tax

Only used it twice, inside a tent, with a ground cloth underneath the tent. It started leaking after that and was flat every morning.


  • Very comfortable
  • Lightweight
  • Packs small


  • Only used it two times before it started leaking to flat every night.

Bought this new. Blew it up and left it in my gear room for a week before my two-week expedition and it was fine. While traveling the pad was kept rolled per instructions and in a hard aluminum case with other soft gear such as clothes, jackets, etc.

Night one and two were great, very comfortable. Night three and on it leaked to totally flat every night. Our group stopped twice at some water sources, put soapy water on it, and tried to source the leak but could not find it. I ended up making a sleeping pad out of all the soft gear I had for the remainder of the two weeks.

i would absolutely not recommend this product.


I have an REI brand pad that is 12 years old with no problems. I have a Kelty pad that is four years old also no issues.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $120

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regular long wide
Price MSRP: $109.95
Historic Range: $64.93-$149.95
Reviewers Paid: $109.00-$120.00
Minimum Weight 14 oz / 395 g 1 lb 1 oz / 490 g
Packed Weight 1 lb 1 oz / 475 g 1 lb 4 oz / 570 g
Packed Size 8 x 3 in dia / 20 x 8 cm dia 9.5 x 3 in dia / 24 x 8 cm dia
Dimensions 72 x 20 x 3.5 in / 183 x 51 x 9 cm 76 x 25 x 3.5 in / 193 x 64 x 9 cm
Thickness 3.5 in
Fabric 20D PU Polyester
Climate Warm Weather
R-Value 1.5
Shape Rectangular
Product Details from NEMO »

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