NEMO Quasar Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Very small packed size, insulated, soft fabric exterior, quiet
Cons: Narrow for a wide mattress, not everyone will like the high sides, bouncy
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Shopping for a camping mattress requires a clear idea of what your needs are. Are you hiking some distance to sleep or are you exclusively car camping? What is the range of nighttime temperatures that you anticipate having to sleep in? Do you expect to sleep as well outdoor as you do at home, or are you willing to sacrifice comfort for space-saving versatility? The NEMO Quasar will not work in all seasons or offer the maximum plush comfort of a foam mattress, but it stands out with its diminutive packed size and thoughtful design.
The Quasar air mattress inflates up to 3.5 inches thick in the center of the pad with higher sides that create a cradling effect. The mattress is more uniform in thickness at the head, with a larger baffle at the very top which serves nicely to hold a pillow in place. Nemo says that the cradle shape is specifically for side sleepers, but our side-sleeping testers were split on how comfortable it actually was. One felt it kept them from rolling off the mattress and was rather cozy, while another said it felt crowded and restrictive. While we tested the Long Wide size of the Quasar, the 25-inch width is narrower than other “wide” mattresses in our test, which possibly added to a more crowded feel.
The polyester ripstop fabric is quite soft to the touch and noticeably quieter than other air mattresses in our test. However, as with most air mattresses, it does have a noticeable bounce, especially when moving around in the night. We were most comfortable with a lower level of inflation, which increased both the bounce and our chances of feeling things below us on the forest floor.
Ease of Use
There is one valve on the Quasar with two flaps — one for inflation and micro-adjusting, the other for quick deflating. Add air by attaching the included inflation sack to the valve. Blow into the sack and press the air into the mattress. The bottle-neck shape is super efficient and helps keep the air in the sack for quicker inflation. However, it does mean that it is harder to use the wind to fill the sack rather than breath. When removing the sack from the valve, you have to be really careful not to pull the deflation flap open. Several times we deflated the mattress partially as we were removing the inflation bag.
The same valve used for inflation can also be pushed gently to remove air and get a dialed in amount of squish to suit the user. Full deflation is quite easy; just open the bottom flap fully and the air dumps out.
With an R-value of 3.3, the Quasar is not intended for winter camping but is warm enough for most nights out the rest of the year, assuming the altitude isn’t too high or the temperatures too low. The higher the R-value, the better you will be insulated from the ground and the air between the ground and your sleeping bag. There are a few ounces of Primaloft in the Quasar and it makes a big difference. With no insulation, you can be cold on a 65-degree night, while our testers felt like 40 degrees was comfortable with this model.
If you really value a cozy night’s sleep, especially if you like to sleep in higher mountains where temperatures can dip dramatically, you may want to look for a mattress with a higher R-value.
The Quasar is quick to set up and easy to use. While it is not the warmest or plushest mattress, it will perform well in different three-season camping scenarios. At 2.1 pounds, its tiny packed size and relatively light weight mean this could be carried as a rather indulgent backpacking mattress.
If the packed size is important to you, then the Quasar will definitely impress. It rolls up into a tiny little package, barely larger than a water bottle. Considering the level of comfort it provided, this is especially impressive. For people that backpack as often as they camp and only want one mattress, this might be a deciding factor. More cushion and warmth take up more size, which can be a factor, especially if you have a lot of gear to stash.
Should You Buy the NEMO Quasar?
Those that value a small packed size will find the greatest value in the Quasar. There are much more comfortable and insulating foam mattresses for roughly the same price, but for a mattress that is versatile, decently warm, and easy to use we feel this is a good value.
It is hardly fair to compare air mattresses with foam for car camping comfort, but if you really value versatility and a minimal gear closet, the NEMO Quasar is thoughtfully designed and will perform well in the backcountry as well as the family camping trip without taking up much space.
— Laurel Hunter
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