Nov 1, 2016

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?

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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.
Hmm, that's a good idea. I haven't installed snaps before, but the plastic Kam Snaps only use a special plier so it looks pretty easy. The weight is probably negligible. And, they're the same plastic snaps used on my baby's cloth diapers, so I can say this is a family purchase :)
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!
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.