by Ronnie Charrier
Spending time outdoors can give you a chance to free yourself from your daily routines, forget about your work assignments, and unplug from the internet. I’ve always loved this about camping. I don’t mind the dirt, and honestly, I usually really enjoy simple campfire meals. My biggest issue, and one I know a lot of other campers share, is that this always comes at the expense of a good night's sleep.
Introducing the Zenbivy Bed.
One of the benefits of having my own travel website is that I sometimes get a chance to test out new gear before it’s available to most people. Some of this gear is good, some isn’t, but every now and then something comes along that instantly becomes a must-have item for me when I’m traveling. After the last few weeks traveling around the Pacific Northwest and backpacking in Glacier National Park, the Zenbivy has become something I don’t think I can ever camp without.
The Zenbivy Bed sleeping system concept comes from designer Michael Glavin, who has been working in the outdoor industry for the last twenty years. His creation was born from a desire to answer a question that’s been on his mind for quite some time: “Why isn’t there a more comfortable solution for sleeping outdoors that’s still lightweight enough to pack into the backcountry?”
Let's start with the basics.
Traditional outdoor sleep systems generally consist of two things: something to sleep on and something to sleep in. The first part is basically an outdoor version of a mattress, and will sit between your sleeping bag and the ground to offer support for you and to provide insulation from the cold. This is usually achieved with a sleeping pad, air mattress, cot, or sometimes a hammock. For what you sleep in, this is generally either your traditional “mummy” sleeping bag, or an outdoor quilt.
So, what's the problem with this?
If you’re the type of person who sleeps perfectly still all night, there isn't one. If you’re not one of those lucky few, however, then you have probably encountered the hell that is moving around in your mummy bag to get comfortable and sliding off your sleeping pad in the middle of the night.
This was the problem Michael wanted to solve. The genius of the Zenbivy Bed is that the sleeping pad, fitted sheet, sleeping bag, and pillow are all fully integrated. Instead of having multiple pieces layered on top of each other (allowing for the above scenario where you slide off), inside the Zenbivy Bed you're free to toss and turn as much as you'd like while the integrated pad, sheet, pillow, and bag remain perfectly intact.
Speaking of the integrated pillow and pillow sleeve, this is another luxury that I really enjoyed. More times then I care to admit I’ve ended up just cramming clothes into a stuff sack to suffice as my pillow, which is not comfortable in the least. Here, you get an inflatable pillow with a really comfortable pillow sheet that fits perfectly into the sleeping bag’s hood, giving me the feeling that I’m sleeping in my bed at home. Seriously, look at the picture above and tell me that doesn't look way more comfortable than anything you've slept on outdoors.
The Zenbivy Bed, for all it's features, is just 2 pounds, 6 ounces and has a temperature rating of 25ºF, thanks to it's 700 fill-power hydrophobic down and an outer shell with a DWR coating. The easy-pull zippers make it extremely easy to connect or disconnect from the sheet. And for packing purposes, it comes with a stuff sack to compress it down to take up a pretty small portion of a backpack.
Being outdoors is one of my favorite things to do, and for the first time, I don’t have to trade a good night’s sleep to do it.
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