When Zenbivy first broke onto the outdoor scene a few years back, the company promised to revolutionize the way we sleep in the backcountry. Indeed its Zenbivy Bed and Light Bed brought a new perspective on an outdoor sleep system. Now, the company is back with a new item designed to complement and enhance those existing products. The Zenbivy Light Mattress manages to deliver a surprisingly high level of comfort and ease of use while at the campsite.
The Zenbivy Sleeping Pad
Considering that Zenbivy has been making the Bed and Light Bed for several years now, you might be asking yourself why they didn’t create a sleeping pad sooner? This is especially true if you’ve used the company’s earlier products with a third-party pad that it doesn’t quite fit properly on. But after spending some time with the Light Mattress, you’ll start to understand why it took so long to get it to market.
It is clear from the start that many thought and design went into creating the Light Mattress, which is available in two versions—the standard 20×72 model and a larger 25×77 edition. Weighing in at 1lb. 5oz. (.59 kg) for the smaller version (1lb., 9oz/.76 kg for the larger), the pad strikes a nice balance between weight and durability. Its high-quality 20 denier polyester fabrics can shrug off high levels of punishment with ease, ensuring a quality night sleep for many adventures to come.
As first impressions go, the Zenbivy Light Mattress strikes a good one. It is light, strong, well built, and packs down to a relatively small size. In other words, it is pretty much everything you want from a sleeping pad.
Comfort for the Campground
Once you get past the initial first inspection, the next thing you’ll notice about the Light Mattress is just how comfortable it is. After inflation—more on this in a moment—you have a flexible full-sized sleeping pad that provides support and protection in the backcountry. In fact, I’d venture to guess this is amongst the most comfortable sleeping pads that I’ve used, which is saying something.
A large part of the level of comfort provided stems from how firm the pad feels. This helps protect backpackers and campers from the hard ground underneath, ensuring a better night’s sleep. Better still, the Light Mattress maintains its shape and inflation level for hours, meaning you’ll stay comfortable all night long. The materials used in the pad’s construction are also quite quiet, unlike some competitors that tend to make crinkly noises when you’re lying on them.
Zenbivy says that the Light Mattress has an r-value rating of 5+, which means it is good for 3-season excursions, with potential for use in cooler shoulder seasons. R-value ratings should usually be taken with a grain of salt, although there have been efforts to standardize them a bit more in recent years. In real-world use, however, I found this sleeping pad to be well insulated and provide a nice level of warmth, but I tend to run on the warm side when sleeping anyway, so your mileage may vary.
One of the more frustrating aspects of any inflatable sleeping pad is—you know—actually inflating them. Some require you to huff and puff into a valve until you become lightheaded in a vain effort to get them to blow up. And once you do have them, actually inflated, cheap, faulty valves often let the air out. That isn’t the case with the Zenbivy Light Mattress, which incorporates some clever features to ensure ease of setup.
Zenbivy has overcome the huffing and puffing challenge by creating an inflation system that centers around the included dry bad. The bag itself can be used to collect air, then attached to the inflation valve. The air is then squeezed out of the bag and into the mattress, filling it quickly and efficiently. This is one of those features that once you use, you’ll wonder why no one had thought of it before?
As noted, once the Light Mattress is inflated, the built-in air valve seals things up nicely. When in place, the pad holds its shape and firmness nicely. But when you’re ready to break camp and hit the trail, it also deflates and folds up quickly and easily too.
The Sleeping Pad Evolved
With its rectangular shape and long baffles, the Zenbivy Light Mattress works well with just about any sleeping bag. However, as you might expect, it works exceptionally well with Zenbivy’s own Bed and Light Bed. I tested it with both a competitor’s bag and Zenbivy’s own, coming away very impressed on both accounts.
If you don’t own a Zenbivy Bed, you will certainly find other sleeping pads on the market that will fit your needs. Those pads may not deliver the same all-around performance level at such a great price, however, so keep that in mind when shipping. However, if you do own one of the company’s other sleep products, this pad is a no-brainer. It integrates very nicely with the Bed and Light Bed that you’ll have no problem adding it to your backpack.
In either case, you’ll likely find it to be a comfortable, well-built, lightweight, and easy-to-use inflatable backcountry mattress. When you factor in the $159 price tag, you’ll see it’s a competitively priced option for anyone looking to improve their sleep while backpacking or camping. Chances are, you won’t be disappointed.
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