I’ve been an awful sleeper for as long as I can remember. Luxury hotel rooms, airplanes, friend’s couches—doesn’t matter what it is. If it’s not my own bed, made exactly to my liking with the curtains completely drawn and my white-noise machine on full blast, it’s guaranteed I’ll spend the night tossing and turning.
So you can imagine how hard it is for me to get a sound night’s sleep camping. If sleeping is hard for me in even the chicest, most luxe amenities, you bet it’s damn near impossible in the Great Outdoors. You expect me to get a full eight hours of snooze time in nothing but a foam pad and a sleeping bag?! Yeah, right.
I’m happy to report that I’ve found the next best thing to my comfy bed, and I’ll never, ever camp again without it. Nemo Equipment’s Roamer Self-Inflating Mattress ($400) has proven that I can get a restful night of Zzzs almost anywhere, and that “roughing it” can be gentler than I thought.
My boyfriend and I recently traded in our very uncomfortable foam sleeping pads for a double-sized Roamer, and let me tell you: It’s upped our camping game tenfold. The self-inflating (!) plush mattress is the closest thing you’ll get to a luxe bed on the go. From the back of our SUV in the middle of the Utah desert, to the end of a dock in the Hamptons, my boyfriend and I have slept soundly on our Roamer all spring and summer long, and we’ve questioned how we made it this far without it.
What makes this sleeping pad so special? It boils down to its comfort, ease of use, and portability:
1. It really does feel like I’m sleeping in a bed
While traditional air mattresses have that hollow, I-can-deflate-at-any-moment feel, the Roamer is plush and cushy, close to a real memory foam mattress. That’s partly due to its unique Flow Core™ construction, which consists of internal air chambers and open cell foam that fill up on its own to give it a dense, squishy feel against your back. At 4 inches thick, it’s comfortable on any surface, masking any lumps and bumps from rocks and roots. And thanks to its adjustable valve, my boyfriend and I can make it firmer or softer with the snatch of a plug depending on the terrain we’re sleeping on. Paired with the Nemo Jazz Double Sleeping Bag ($350) and it genuinely feels like a queen mattress in the woods (or desert, or lake). Seriously—I’ve gotten worse night’s sleep at boutique hotels.
2. It self-inflates without any extra pumps
Between tents, cook stoves, and the occasional bear can, there’s enough to set up when you’re out in the woods. That’s the beauty of the Nemo Roamer—you unroll it, open a few valves, and let it do its thing. It inflates on its own in about a half hour, so by the time you’ve pitched your tent and unpacked all your cookware, your bed is waiting for you. 10/10 for convenience.
3. It’s packable for every adventure
Oftentimes, the fancier the gear is, the harder it is to pack with you. Not the Nemo Roamer—unplug the one way valve at the end of your adventure and watch it quickly deflate into its easy-to-pack, space-saving form. Despite its density, it weighs just 8 lbs., and comes with two storage bags you can swap out depending on the trip: a stuff sack, when you’re short on space, and a duffel when you want to pack bedding, pillows, and more.
Suffice to say, this modern mattress has left me, my partner, and other Nemo owners very happy campers. Scroll through the Nemo Equipment website and you’ll find review after review praising the pad for its, “beyond camping comfort” that’s a “game changer for tent sleeping.” One reviewer, Mickey M., also claimed it rivaled their bed at home: “The double roamer is a big purchase and I have no regret! After the first night camping, my partner rolled over and said it felt like sleeping at home. It really is 4 inches of comfort! Open the valves, walk away for 30 minutes and it’s over 50 percent inflated. Took it winter camping and we were never cold—10 out of 10!”
Another shopper, Kath, shared that, compared to other models, the Roamer comes out on top for its simplicity to set up. “I have tested so many brands and models and the Roamer is by miles the fastest and easiest to set up and pack away and takes up less space when packed,” Kath said. “I wish they made something between the double and single. Either way, best sleep I’ve gotten outside my own bed.”
I’m with Kath—the double is great for couples, and if you get two of the XLs, they connect together to form an even more luxurious Queen-sized pad. However, the XL Wide version on its own might be a bit large for solo travelers who want something smaller and lighter. That, and the fact that the valves do require some finagling to figure out how to begin the self-inflating process. The instructions are a little confusing, but once you figure it out, it clicks for good.
Other than that, I can’t believe I ever camped without my beloved Roamer. I also can’t believe that it actually gives me a good night’s sleep outside of my own bed, which, IMO, is worth every penny. Just FYI, it’s available at Nemo, Backcountry, REI, L.L. Bean, and Amazon.
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