Nov 1, 20167600 views

DIY - Making a 2-person Sleeping Pad

My wife and I have always shared a large 1-person quilt and 2 sleeping pads together. We've tried various ways to fashion the pads together. Straps or 2mm guylines work ok, but they allow air gaps which equates to cold spots. I tried glueing a strip of velcro at the edge of each of our NeoAirs, which would have eliminated gaps, but that glue was not strong enough to last more than a few trips. The best method we've found so far is to create a 40"x70" Tyvek sleeve to keep the two pads together. This is heavier and bulkier, but does what we want it to and has the added benefit of protecting our very expensive pads.
I'm aware of a few existing 2-person pads, with the Exped SynMat Hyperlite Duo seems to be the best rated. It is 28 oz, with an R value of 3.3 and costs a whopping $280. Klymit just came out with their Double V, but it's uninsulated and way too heavy for us. So, I'm back to trying to make a 2-person pad by combining two regular pads. I took my Massdrop x Klymit pads and created holes all along the seams on one side of each pad using a leather punch (borrowed, but these cost about $10). I strung 8' of 2mm guyline through the holes, basically sewing the pads together. This eliminated air gaps / potential cold spots. But, it put too much pressure on the end holes, with tugging on the guyline knots at head and foot. I'm afraid this will tear the fabric after extended use.
I think there are a few options to look at, with the best scenario would be some snug connector at each pair of holes. Some ideas:
  • Short lengths of guylines, with knots at each side, to pair each hole
  • Toggles, like MontBell uses (but I would look for something smaller), which would allow some gap but not a lot.
  • Something similar to a paper fastner, found in old-timey offices that still have paper products. Those are light and small and would line up the holes for no air gap. However, the brass ones have sharp edges, so I would need to find rubber or plastic.
  • Heat sealing the pads together with a hot iron. Not sure how easy this would be, but it would eliminate all air gap and simply the setup. Downside is that it would make the change permanent.
What other ways are there to couple these pads so they are snug against each other? How have you modified or thoughts about improving your pad?
Denys Skomorokh, Batuhan Bülent Tümkaya, and 18 others

Zpacks sells straps for 5 bucks each. The straps can be adjusted individually for each pad and since there is a little center divider, it keeps the pads together without a gap. It would be an easy design to copy if you wanted to DIY. Though at 5 bucks a strap maybe just buy the darn thing? I guess I should say I have been trying to make a good DIY kit for attaching pads for quite a while. I didn’t have much success, but the zpacks straps seem to work great.
I think you could use zip ties to fasten the pads together and get a tight fit. They are inexpensive and come in lots of sizes.
The exped hyperlite sheet is pretty amazing, holds two 20-inch tapered pads together (including the Klymit pads), and is washable.
Pads from Outdoor Vitals have built-in snaps along the edges so that pads can be snapped together. Prices are reasonalble as well.
I took a Kelty Bestie and sewed in 2 straps on the back. One near the shoulders and one just below the pelvis area. I use those straps as a sleeve. Then I put a quilt (actually a Nemo Tango Duo Slim) over the top. I also have the Nemo Tango Duo sleeve, but they are heavy and uninsulated. My Bestie is pretty well insulated and weighs 20 OZ. Too heavy for backpacking, but perfect for car camping.
Interesting idea. Here's a link for some Tyvek by the foot. Billed for tent footprints, but you could surely just order however many feet you needed for this project.
Thanks for the link! I picked up some 15d silnylon and will try making a lighter coupler, but my fear is that it will be too slippery. Tyvek is good about not being slippery.
Good thought. Only downfall to the tyvek is that it can be noisy at first. I use it for a tent footprint and love it! Cheap and easy!
Kam Snaps! Do a flange joint (welding term, basically like two hands praying) every six inches or so. If the force is high enough to tear the pad fabric, the snaps will have already separated. No reinforcement needed, Kam Snaps don't cut a hole as much as spread fibers apart. And they're plastic (very light) and dirt-cheap from RSbtR.
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I just looked these up in more detail, and the snap sets weigh about .8 grams each. If I put a dozen on there, then the total weight increase would be about 10 grams, but that's over two pads so the per pad increase would be 5 grams - totally acceptable. I'll try to do this over the holidays and will report back. It's not as ideal as a full seal (like 6' of velcro) but still, should work well if I can overlap the fabric a bit to avoid cold spots. Thanks!
FYI to anyone out there still thinking about Kam snaps, I just did this! I was tired of drifting apart from my boyfriend in my sleep, lol. I used a Massdrop Ultralight V for my side, and a cheaper Amazon pad for his since we typically only camp together in the summer. There's plenty of sealed material to install the snaps on the Massdrop mat. The Amazon mat was way riskier because the seams were pretty thin, but it was a $15 mat so I was willing to take my chances lol. It worked great! I'll attach a dorky gif of me moving the mats around with my foot. I might protect the snaps with some seam sealer in the future. We haven't had the chance to test this out yet, but I did roll across both in my apartment and nothing bad happened aha.

@DannyMilks did you ever end up figuring out the best solution for this?
What if you took two 3/4 length pads and laid them horizontally?
I did that before with our Montbell pads, which have the toggles in the corner. This was quite nice for the time. But those pads are heavy and thin compared to what is available now.
As a person who owns the Klymit duo. It would be nice if we could have a weight around 24-26oz at 40 inches wide. The current version at 47 inches is in my opinion to wide. The flat valve though is a must. This would be awesome. I love exclusive massdrop products and I think we need to see more of them.
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A insulated pad at 32oz would be awesome. If you kept the price down I'm sure you would sell them. Also an idea is offer a non insulated one. As long as it's worth it. Then you might be near the 24oz range. 100-120$ would be ideal
Please do explore that! It would be perfect and solve my dilemma 😀 that!
In the past I have use a rectangular nylon patch folded over and glued to the edge fabric of the pad using"Aquaseal Urethane Repair Adhesive"
to each side of the pad - that glue will last the life of the pad. Then place snaps in the new fabric. That system worked well.
Faux Silk is around $5 per yard on amazon. 2 yards should do it. Same principle as the tyvek, less weight, more comfort.
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where did you pick up your 1443R? Curious for other purposes. Yes, I could certainly get a lighter fabric to do this. I've been too lazy and our system works, but it's really time to improve it!
Maybe instead of using guyline to thread them together, use shock/bungee cord. Same concept but it will give some when needed and pull back. Perhaps enough to save the fabric. I would grommet the holes too. Simple, cheap, and shouldn't weight much.
Yeah, a grommet on the holes would make me feel a lot more comfortable.
Msr actually sells straps specifically for strapping two pads together. My girlfriend and I use them on just about every trip and they work fantastically. A 2-pack of the MSR straps generally costs around $10 but if you wanted to be certain your pads would have no gaps, you could simply buy a second pack. $20 for a roughly 5-10 oz solution!
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We have two "big Agnes air core" pads. they are non-insulated but a rectangular shape and the straps work best on rectangular pads. We tend to cuddle most of the night and we both inflate our pads about 1/2-3/4 full. I completely agree that when full inflated, they feel about 1% better than sleeping on the ground haha
Good to know that the straps work for you even with pads that aren't 100% inflated.
Snaps seem like a good idea. You could iron just the spots where the snaps will be placed to make a little wider seam area, then install the snaps. Might use a short section of grosgrain as a connector if direct pad-to-pad creates an overlap/bulge. Three or four should do it for a full length pad, and I would probably lean toward metal snaps but the plastic Kam Snaps might hold well enough. Alternatively, creating that wider seam area and stitching a few velcro tie tabs would work...definitely better than gluing and you could back it above and below with a little silicone for matrix strength. I've used paracord in a double loop and flat straps with plain self inflating Thermarest pads and that worked great with those at head, one in the small of the back or thereabouts, and one near the foot end.
Snaps could work well, then I could just button it up at the campsite. That would hold, and not add a lot of bulk.
I was thinking about reinforcing the holes with some seam seal or silicone, regardless of the method of use. Thanks for suggesting that! Do you have a picture of your setup @Stepbystep ?
No pictures...I haven't paired mattresses in a few years and I never take gear photos anyway...and I'm sure you know what rope and flat webbing look like. :) Other than snaps being so easy, they've stuck in my mind from Thermarest's approach there with their blankets, and of course the tail end of most quilts. I think reinforcing the hole is smart and silicone should be enough for this application. If the snaps you get aren't shallow enough a little filler piece of grosgain or vinyl or rubbery dry bag or hypalon or whatever would work and it might be smart to silicone that in place to spread out any tugging pressure. I haven't done a snap in this application exactly, where you have such thin material and inflated chambers but it seems like it should work fine as long as you can seal an area large enough to fit the snap without reducing a chamber's volume too much or creating some weird wrinkle. I'd imagine Kam Snaps would be ok, but if using metal, I'd get one of the stronger stud styles or a weaker ring style, whichever fits best. The strong ring styles might need too much force to pull apart, putting more stress on that light fabric...dunno.
My husband and I just got back from a 150 mile hike along the Northwest Scenic trail - from the NE corner of Glaicer to Yakk Montana. We have the thermarest Neo Air high R rated pads and then we bought the sheet from Nemo that fit our 20 inch pads - works perfectly with our enlightened equipment quilt - we could not have been happier - don't forget the 2 oz neo air pump - it makes setting up the sleeping system a breeze.
hi, can you give me specifics on which sheet you are referring to and which quilt? This sounds like a great solution for my wife and I.
Sure - we have the thermarest Neo Air - regular length and used the sheet from Nemo Equipment - it fit over the top and bottom to keep the pads together. I just scoured the Nemo web site - can't find it any more. We bought our double quilt from Enlightened Equipment - a bit spend but really really nice - they have made some improvements from even 2 years ago. We really did sleep well - Myra
I would use ball-style hair elastic for the end pairs of holes, and whip stitch the holes in the field. The elastics on the ends would relieve any stresses, and a whip stitch would hold the pad close together.
Interested idea @Bendalyre . I like thinking out of the box! I'll look into something like this.
@DannyMilks Have you tried the NEMO Equipment Slipcover? Might be tough to track down - they're generally packaged with the Mambo or Tango double quilts - but could work for you.
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As far as I can tell, it's available in 70"x40" and 75"x50". NEMO uses it to hold two pads together for their double quilts, so yes, pretty much a retail version of your Tyvek sleeve.
I have this slipcover,it's almost a pound and doesn't compress well. Meeh.
What about putting a grommet at each end where you're concernled about the knots ripping the fabric.
Yes, definitely grommet those holes. Home Depot has what you need in the tarp section. Another idea:. Large heavy duty snaps
Gorilla tape them together at the seams where you tried threading them? Cheap and maybe worth a try.
You think gorilla tape would work? I have some at home, and have used it successfully on other projects. This may be worth a try. Thanks @kipowens
No, I don't think Gorilla tape would hold them.
Lets just get a drop on the Exped Duo!
I have their Megamat Duo and the GF liked it so much we almost took the 10lb (35L packed) thing on an overnight backpacking trip.
It would be awesome to get Klymit to do a drop for a pad that uses the materials from the ultra light static V (like the drop currently open) but in the double V mold.
I have heard enough people looking for exactly that (affordable, light double wide pad) it should be a popular drop.
What surprises me about the Double V is that it is 40 oz and Uninsulated. I guess it's the 75d fabric. Here's the thing - if I can mate my two insulated pads I would have a insulated system for $120 at 34 oz. That's cheaper and lighter and warmer than the Double V.
Of course I can talk to Klymit about making an UL version of their double pad, but that doesn't help me now :)
It is totally the 75d material. I don't know why they did not at least use the same weight material as the static V2. That would have at least put them at 32-34 oz.
I have not done this before. I wonder if you can take 2 worn T shirts. Cut a large enough hole in the neck area to fit 1 pad. Then sew these 2 T shirts side by side together to form a 2 pads sleeve. This will keep the 2 pads together quite well, block some cold air, and not altering the integrity of your pads.
That might work, and I wouldn't feel bad about cutting up two old synthetic t shorts. They would be soft against skin too. I've thought about making a coupler that is lighter than tyvek but sil-nylon, for example is much too slippery.
Ideally I can find some way to secure these Klymit pads via the new holes.
The t-shirt sleeve sounds promising. If not that, the tie a knot at each hole sounds like what to try next.
I have heard of a couple that uses two wide, torso sized pads sideways. Back in the day Thermarest sold couplers that were made of grippy fabric strips that you slipped your pads through. What about grosgrain and some appropriate ladder locks?
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That makes total sense now, thanks for the clarification. Keep in mind this is not a problem I've tried to solve myself, I toss and turn at night which means that my wife enjoys the comfort of her own sleep system thank-you-very-much.
Is maintaining the single-person function of the sleeping pads a requirement here?
The Klymit pads can heat-seal to themselves on the inside, some people use this to shorten the pad (iron closed the bottom and re-trim). You might be able to use the same technique to turn one of the pads into a long wedge, full width at the top and tapering down to 4-5" wide at the bottom. If you left most of that excess material on the pad it would create a flap that you could lay over the main pad creating a draft shield and giving you a total pad area that matches your bag a bit better.
Like a belt