Winter is usually the best time to camp in Southern Arizona. The temps are mild and the crowds are elsewhere. But we got a pretty cold spell to start the year and, unsurprisingly, no one wanted to join me on a frigid weekend in Ironwood Forest National Monument.
Indeed, even my partner, Hannah, didn’t want to come along because of the cold. Typically when we car camp, she and I sleep on a cheap memory foam mattress topper that doubles as our SUV platform bed. It’s floppy, obnoxious to move, heavy, and not particularly warm. So, I pretty much hate tucking it into our tent whenever we go.
And so, my gambit: I promised that this night would be different. No more lumps. No more bumps. We’d actually get a better night’s sleep. It was a lot to promise, but I had a supremely insulated and uber-soft ace up my sleeve: the NEMO Roamer Double camping mattress.
To my great relief, the Roamer provided a perfect basecamp bed even on a windy, chilly winter camping trip. The soft and supportive sleeping pad provided plenty of insulation from the ground. And the spacious footprint allowed my partner, all three of our dogs, and me to sleep comfortably.
In short: The NEMO Roamer Double sleeping pad has a ton of warmth and comfort packed into a reasonably sized sleeping pad. While you likely won’t bring this backpacking, for car camping and as a basecamp bed, the Roamer Double is ideal. It’s slimmer than its competitors while maintaining a capable R-value of 6, a spacious footprint, and a generous amount of padding. I’ve gotten great sleep on this camping mattress and stayed warm even though conditions were chilly.
If you’re after a comfortable car camping pad and want to compare the NEMO Roamer against some of the best, consult GearJunkie’s guide to the best Camping Mattresses and Sleeping Pads.
- Weight 7 lbs., 8 oz.
- Packed size 11" x 26" rolled
- R-value 6
- Thickness 4"
- Material 75-denier polyester, open-cell foam
- 4” thickness makes for extremely plush, comfortable sleeping
- Soft stretch fabric on top is quieter than some competitors
- Packs down smaller than competitors with similar specs
- Difficult to fit in space-saving stuff sack
- Three valve inflate/deflate system takes getting used to
- Included Vortex pump sack is not the most efficient for such a large pad
NEMO Roamer Double Sleeping Pad: Review
The NEMO Roamer Double sleeping pad is the biggest, heaviest, and dare I say comfiest sleeping pad I’ve tried in NEMO’s lineup. The Roamer XL and Double are also NEMO’s only self-inflating pads. That makes them particularly appealing for a simpler camp setup. But don’t sleep (or… do sleep?) on their ultralight and backpacking-oriented sleeping pads, which are also excellent.
Thankfully, after some prodding, some strategic weather planning, and the promise of beers and camp tacos on me, I was able to get a few others to join in on our winter camping trip. I was going to get to break in this car-camping pad properly after all.
A group of six of us made our way out to Ironwood Forest National Monument on a sunny but brisk desert day. I had inflated and messed around with the Roamer at my house and even slept on it once. But this would be its first true camping test. With overnight lows expected to drop below freezing, I was curious to see how the NEMO sleeping pad’s R-value of 6 would keep us warm.
I was also excited to have each of the three couples along for the trip to test the pad give their impressions. Luckily, in exchange for dinner and drink, my accomplice testers were willing to help me out.
NEMO Roamer Features and Setup
The Roamer is certainly a premium product (with a price point of $400), but it does come well featured. Included with your sleeping pad are two stuff sacks (a space-saver and a larger duffel). It also includes Velcro cinch straps and a Vortex pump sack.
The 75-denier bottom material and soft polyester top fabric are a great blend of durability and comfort. The three-valve inflation/deflation system is effective and feels well-built.
NEMO used three valves on the Roamer. There is a one-way deflation valve in the center, a two-way deflation valve on the right, and a dual-closure inflation valve on the left. One closure makes it a one-way valve, the other opens it fully as an additional deflation valve. If this sounds confusing, luckily there is a simple diagram printed right on the sleeping pad to assist with the order of inflation and deflation.
The three valves work well. The self-inflation feature got the sleeping pad to a somewhat usable fill. As a quick note: The first few times you let this pad self-inflate, it might not fill up as much, but when the foam has a bit of time to decompress, it works a lot better.
After letting the self-inflation do its thing, I used the Vortex pump sack to top up the Roamer camping mattress. While this is a great inclusion and works fine in a pinch, I don’t love spending my time at camp getting light-headed and breathless. It took me almost 10 minutes to get the mattress fully pumped up with the Vortex.
Instead, I’d highly recommend buying an inexpensive portable pump. It quickly filled the Roamer up. The self-inflation plus a quick pump-up makes it far more convenient to fill. That means more time spent enjoying camp.
Catching Some Zzz’s on the Roamer
After our fire was fully extinguished and the food was packed up, we joined the pups in the tent to snuggle in against the cutting wind. I had slipped a fitted sheet over the Roamer to protect it from dog nails further and tossed two down quilts in to cover up with.
One thing I dislike about a lot of backpacking sleeping pads is how their plastic-like materials make a lot of noise when rolling over or adjusting. Not so with the Roamer. The soft face fabric is quiet and would be comfortable against the skin in case you don’t put a sheet or sleeping bag on it.
As for sleeping, conveniently (for this review, not for actual sleep), the wind was so strong that it blew our tent’s vestibule stake loose, causing the rainfly to flap obnoxiously against our tent. Each time I woke to the noise, I took note of my comfort and warmth.
The Roamer is both plush and supportive. The combined foam and air fill creates a soft bed that maintains structure. Even on a very rocky campsite, the NEMO sleeping pad completely masked any protrusions (something our old foam topper was terrible at).
I found the bed to protect against the cold super effectively. Anyone who has camped in the desert knows that with little moisture, the nighttime cold comes quickly and completely. As chilly and windy as it was outside the tent, inside I felt cozy and readily able to fall back asleep.
As for sleeping away from home, the NEMO Roamer Double was one of the most comfortable sleeping pads I’ve tried. I am 100% planning to use this bed when crashing at friends’ on the road, on the SUV platform, and every time we go car camping.
Sizing Up the Competition
The single-occupant NEMO Roamer XL Wide is already a large sleeping pad. So, it goes without saying that the Double version is a very large sleeping pad. For comparison, the Double is 3 inches longer and just 2 inches narrower than a full-size mattress.
For testing purposes, I had all three couples try lying down on the mattress to see how each of us fit. Josh and Kristen are 6’2” and 5’9”, respectively, Jack and Steph are 5’8” and 5’3”, and Hannah and I are 5’ and 5’11”. All of us found the Roamer Double to be plenty accommodating. Even the tallest couple had room to spare.
That said, anyone much taller than Josh might find the 6’6” overall length of the Roamer to be on the verge of “too short.”
As a point of comparison, I took a look at the long-wide version of the Exped MegaMat Duo 10 ($400), another popular double-width sleeping pad. In the closest setup for dimensions (size LW+, 77.6” x 52”), that sleeping pad is a whopping 10.2 pounds. That’s over 2 pounds heavier than the NEMO. Point to the Roamer.
You can compare the Roamer to other sleeping pads and camping mattresses on GearJunkie’s Best Camping Mattress Pads.
Now, the insulation R-value of 8.1 is higher than the NEMO’s 6. But with its -40 degree F temperature rating, the Exped would be overkill for most scenarios I camp in. That’s especially considering the Roamer is safe down to -15 degrees F. Additionally, the Exped is larger when packed down, and the face fabric is not as quiet as the Roamer.
Both of these camping mattresses are designed for car camping or more long-term basecamp setups. Neither is light or packs down small, but I do believe the NEMO Roamer Double has a slight edge in both departments. This makes it a compelling buy for most car campers seeking a warm, comfortable sleeping pad.
Drawbacks to Consider
The downside of any sleeping pad this plush and large is obvious. The NEMO Roamer is big, bulky, and heavy. For most car camping applications, this isn’t as much of a concern. But with the integrated open-cell foam, this pad is going to be far bulkier than a comparable pad that’s only air-filled (albeit much more comfortable, in my opinion).
The only other qualms I had with the NEMO Roamer Double is that inflation and deflation were a bit of a process. Again, because this isn’t a backpacking pad, I’m less concerned with extremely easy setup and takedown. But the three-valve setup to inflate and deflate the Roamer took a little bit of getting used to. The self-inflation feature is a bit of a misnomer, as you’ll have to top it off with air no matter what.
Learning the order to open the one-way valves also takes a bit of practice. Fortunately, there is a graphic on the side of the pad to guide your way.
Deflation is a similar story, and like with any big sleeping pad, packing it down to fit in the stuff sack is, well, a bit of a chore. Let’s just say I’m glad this has an oversized duffel included to make packing up the Roamer a bit easier. Trying to roll out all the air and fit this into its space-saving stuff sack was a task accompanied by sweat and many swear words.
Of course, if space is a concern, it is possible to roll it up and fit it into the stuff sack (I did it twice). And when space is less of an issue, the Roamer is easy to toss in the duffel.
NEMO Roamer Double: Bottom Line
As an all-around camping mattress, I think the NEMO Roamer Double stands (lies?) among the top options. The combination of specs, quality, and sleeping comfort make for an excellent car camping and basecamp sleeping pad. Sure, it is a lot of money. At $400, you are making a serious investment in your camping sleep quality.
This isn’t to say that you can’t jump into a similar luxe camp bed for less. The Sea to Summit Comfort Deluxe Double sports similar specs (just at $359, and a less-comfy upper fabric). And the REI Co-op Camp Dreamer Double is downright affordable at $279 but is quite a bit bulkier than the Roamer.
When everything is combined in the Roamer, I think it is well worth the price tag. At the same price as the popular Exped MegaMat Duo 10, the NEMO pad offers slightly less insulation in a more packable, lightweight bed. The Roamer is extremely comfortable, warm, quiet, and plenty big enough for two. It’s everything I want from a camping mattress and even a little more.