Expert Review: Nemo Astro Sleeping Pad
This review is my honest opinion of the sleeping pad, which I purchased with my own money in August of 2022.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the sleeping pad, which I purchased with my own money in August of 2022.
The Nemo Astro sleeping pad is an affordable and lightweight summer backpacking pad. It’s geared towards budget-friendly backpackers looking for a lightweight and packable option.
About the gear
- Model: 2021 Nemo Astro
- Size: Regular (72in by 20in by 3.5in)
- When I bought it: August 2022
- Days tested: Two
- Pack: I haven’t taken it backpacking yet, but I have a Gregory Kalmia 60
- Used for: Backyard testing
- Where I’ve used it: My backyard: Logan, Utah
- Seasons I’ve used it in: Summer
- Height: 5’6”
- Weight: 225 lbs
- Experience: 22 years of backpacking
How it performs
What I was looking for
I was looking for a smaller and lighter sleeping pad that I could bring backpacking or for travel as a backup sleeping option. My current sleeping pads are all heavy, self-inflating pads that aren’t practical when space and weight are considerations. I adore my MegaMat 10, but it unfortunately isn’t backpacking-friendly.
Why I chose this gear
I chose the Nemo Astro since it was the smallest packed option at the price point that I was interested in. I was looking for the best pad under $100 when I started my search. I considered the Klymit Static V as well as a few different Thermarest options before deciding on the Astro after comparing the price point and features.
What I love about it
- Durability: The Astro comes with a repair kit for any punctures that may happen. I’ve only used it two nights so far, so I can’t speak to its long term durability yet. Other Nemo products that I have had for 5+ years have held up well and all of their products come with a lifetime warranty, so I’m covered even if I do have issues.
- Weight: The Astro weighs 19oz (just over 1lb) which is a bit heavier than some of the ultralight sleeping pad options but much lighter than my MegaMat, which weighs 4lbs 9oz.
- Packability: The packed size is 8in by 3.5in, which is about the size of a 32oz Nalgene bottle. It comes with a stuff sack and velcro strap for easy storage and transport. I have done test runs and the Astro fits inside of my pack when I have all of my gear loaded.
- Shape: The Astro is a rectangular pad (72in by 20in), so there is a decent amount of space. It is a bit heavier compared to some of the mummy-shaped sleeping pads, but a few ounces isn’t a big deal for me.
- Noise: I was pleasantly surprised at how quiet it is. One of my hesitations with a fully inflatable pad was the noise factor, since I move around a lot. The pad is wrapped in 75D polyester, which means it is more durable and softer than some other inflatable pads.
- Features: One of my favorite features is the LayLow multi-value: a stacked valve of one-way inflation and rapid deflation. It lays flat against the pad and is easy to open and close. Opening up the top layer reveals the one-way inflation and micro-adjust flap to dial in the firmness level. To deflate, I pull out that layer and it's ready to roll up in seconds. The other, more unique feature is the Pillow Baffle, which is a taller section on the head of the pad which can be used as a pillow and helps hold any extra pillows in place.
- Ease of use: The model that I purchased did not come with a Vortex pump sack, so I had to blow it up. It took me about a minute or so to fully inflate it. Deflation takes seconds. The new 2022 models come with the pump sack, and it is also sold separately, so I might buy it for future use.
- Backpacking: The Astro is marketed as “stellar backpacking comfort,” which is partially true in my opinion. The small packed size and light weight are ideal for backpacking.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Durability: I have not had any durability issues yet, but fully inflatable pads are typically more prone to punctures than self-inflating pads.
- Comfort: Comfort is average; it is 3.5in thick, which is similar to my MegaMat, but it is only 20in wide instead of 25, so I slid off a few times during the night. I’m also a “gas station hot dog sleeper” (self-described), so I move around a lot at night, and I don’t blame the pad for that. The top baffle is larger than the others on the pad; this adds extra head height and is supposed to keep the pillow from escaping off the top of the pad. The micro-adjust feature of the valve is also something that I can play around with more to make it more comfortable.
- Insulation and R-Value: With an R-value of 1.5, it is warm enough for most of the summer camping and backpacking that I do, but I am worried that it won’t be warm enough for shoulder-season backpacking trips in my area. I do a lot of high elevation (7,000 plus feet) backpacking, so I do worry about getting too cold during the night if temperatures drop below what I’m expecting.
- Car Camping: I could take my Astro car camping, but why would I do that if I can bring my MegaMat, which is the ideal car camping pad? If the Astro was my only option, I would be happy sleeping on it, but I much prefer the luxurious comfort of the MegaMat.
- Mountaineering: The R-value is too low to be used in alpine situations.
- Thru-Hiking: I think that the Astro would be a good option for thru-hikes. The R-value of the pad is very low for anything but summer temperatures, and I would rather err on the side of more insulation for a trip that takes me through a variety of weather conditions and climates.
Favorite moment with this gear
I nearly passed out the first time that I inflated this pad, whoops! I am prone to lightheadedness due to some medical conditions, and I had just arrived back at home after work. I was so excited to test it out that I immediately opened the box and started to blow it up (which was my first mistake). After three or four breaths I started feeling lightheaded, so I laid down on my dining room floor and kept blowing it up. Once I had it blown up, I was thankful to have a soft place to rest for a few minutes until my body was ready to be upright again.
I foresee a future favorite moment of waking up well rested on my next backpacking trip with friends and enjoying early morning alpine light. But now I know that I need to be sitting down while I inflate it.
Value for the money vs. other options
The Astro is a good value in my opinion. It offers the same packability as much more expensive options and is only a few ounces heavier than similar pads like the Exped Airmat. If budget is the biggest consideration, pads like the Klymit Static V or Big Agnes Air Core are less expensive.
Overall the Nemo Astro is a solid summer backpacking pad that offers unique features at a reasonable price.