Taking it tandem for a better sleeping experience.
Snuggling in together after a tasty meal by the fire, watching the stars, sharing pillow talk while slowly drifting off to sleep... as far as we’re concerned, that’s the only way to camp with one’s sweetie. Nope, separate bags just won’t do. But neither will a jury-rigged mess of blankets and pads that pull apart, causing a slow separation over the course of the night. Most camping couples eventually work out a system, but not without numerous nights of trial, error, and inadvertent isolation from one another.
Which is where tandem-sleep gear comes in. In selfless service to our readers, we reviewed three different options, with proper research: several nights spent outside, on the ground and in the back of the truck, with long, hard sleep sessions facilitated by ample food & drink the night before.
First up is the luxurious Exped MegaMat Duo 10, the camper’s version of a Sleep Number or DreamCloud. No exaggeration—with its extra-thick size and integrated memory foam, this thing could double as your guest bed, it’s that comfortable. It comes in three sizes; we chose the middle-of-the-road Duo LW+ (for Long-Wide, presumably), which fits lengthwise in the back of a full-sized pickup, with a little room on each side for headlamps, books, and other evening items. It fills up a standard two-person tent completely, wall-to-wall. Once rolled out, the MegaMat self-inflates to a certain pressure; you then top it off with the included mini-pump. The surface is soft and smooth, but not so much that you slide around on it. This baby’s great for car-camping and overnight raft trips, and is just big enough for your dog to join the slumber party. $380.
The double-wide Comfort Plus SI from Sea to Summit, while a clear runner-up in the comfort department, is a landslide victor when it comes to size, weight, and packability. For long nights in the alpine, or even a canoe-camping trip with limited space in the boat, this pad can’t be beat. It fits nicely inside a two-person tent, leaving a little room around it for wet clothes and muddy boots. The three-inch thickness offers impressive comfort, as well as a 4.1 R-value, keeping the cold at bay on those chilly spring nights. What really sets this pad apart, though, are the many thoughtful features built in. There’s a handy one-way inflation port for easy topping-off, plus a rapid air-dump port for a quick, struggle-free roll-up. A fine-tune button lets to you quickly leak a little air at a time, to get the pressure just right. There’s even a hook-and-loop system to keep your pillow from sliding around. And at just under six pounds, the Comfort Plus is only a few ounces heavier than two individual pads—a fair trade given all the aforementioned benefits. $279.
Last but not least is the Zenbivy’s Luxe Double Bed, a complete pad-bag-pillow setup. You get not only a soft, warm quilt, but a double-pad sleeve that holds everything together in one snug, comfy unit. The quilt zips off, for lazy mornings inside the tent, while a built-in shroud keeps pillows from sliding off. The sleeve, or “sheet,” can be easily laundered between outings, and the quilt is machine-washable, too. What’s more, a 25-degree rating means this bed will keep you warm from mid-spring well into fall—which, with its crisp mornings and cool evenings, is the best time to snuggle. Built-in pockets hold the inflatable pillows, which compress to a tiny size when not in use. Best of all, the sleeve allows you to use your existing single pads, if you want to save a few bucks and keep your gear closet tidy. However, we recommend splurging for the Zenbivy pads—they’re fantastic, fit well together, and can be removed and used singly when not tandem camping. $518.