Resurrecting the bedroll, the Badger Bed offers a truly modular sleep system, built for use and abuse.
After a day of climbing, riding, or hiking, there’s almost nothing more vital than an extended stretch of sack time. Other than water and food, rest is the key factor in getting up and doing it all over again. And how much would you pay for a good night’s sleep?
It’s a question we’ve all asked while choosing the parts and pieces of our overnight kits.
But what if you could snag the whole package, all in one? Enter Born Outdoor, a Colorado-based company with a new sleep system that manages to be both modular and complete.
Dubbed the Badger Bed, this updated take on the old-school bedroll allows you to choose your mattress, quilt, and sheet set, with straps that might even fit your current gear.
This product is currently in the soft launch phase, available through Moosejaw, REI, and the company’s website. I recently had a chance to test one of its production models, fully accessorized by the maker. And if the review doesn’t put you to sleep, perhaps the Badger Bed itself will.
In short: Modular, well-made, and outlandishly comfortable, the Badger Bed is the peak evolution of the classic bedroll. Its solid construction employs quality, recycled materials, and a lifetime warranty to cover anything the manufacturer misses. If you’ve got the cash to spend, this might be the best car-camping setup on the market.
Born Outdoor Badger Bed Review
What Sets It Apart
When the maker of the Badger Bed approached GearJunkie about a possible review, there were more than a few skeptics. What would set this product apart from other popular options, like the Zenbivy? To its credit, Born Outdoor had an answer.
“In comparison, the Zenbivy wraps around the existing mattress, but doesn’t provide any additional protection … Users with the Badger Bed need just one system and can easily add or remove layers as needed.”
This product also seems to be more in the spirit of the classic bedroll, while the Zenbivy “requires the mattress to be removed and stored separately.”
The Badger Bed, meanwhile, takes a much more modular approach. You provide your preferred sleeping mat — thick or thin, air or foam. You choose your layering with the cotton and flannel sheets, and additional down or synthetic quilts for chillier nights.
Finally, as you may have guessed, this modularity also lends itself to easier laundering. Wash only what needs washing, when it needs washing.
With these differences in mind, I slung the review kit into the trunk of my car and headed for the woods. It was a tale of 3 nights, three different setups, and a surprising revelation in slumber.
Materials, Construction, and Cost
Per the company’s website, “The Badger Bed has a rugged outer shell constructed of post-consumer recycled 600 denier poly oxford ripstop fabric with a C6 DWR TPU-coating, which provides exceptional durability, water repellency, and resistance to abrasion.”
The removable (and washable) top layer is composed of “210 denier nylon oxford fabric with two-way stretch for extra comfort … Heavy-duty YKK zippers attach the top layer to the outer shell and the placement allows for left side or right side entry.”
While the straps are more or less designed for the Mondo King, Born Outdoor states that they’ll fit “most 30 inch and 25 inch wide mattresses and sleeping pads.”
Included with my review package were both the flannel and cotton sheet sets, along with the down and synthetic quilts. All of these “can be easily laundered after every use,” which gives them a leg up on traditional sleeping bags.
The materials feel as good as they sound. This extends to the footprint and mud mat, which I tested on the ground but didn’t use in the tent. There’s even a set of pockets along the top side, allowing you to store sensitive bits of your gear.
Sounds like a great setup, right? But here’s the catch — the bedroll alone retails for $400. That’s without the Thermarest Mondoking 3D sleeping pad ($229), the sheet set ($50 for cotton, $60 for flannel), the quilt ($130 for down, $100 for synthetic), or the 120L Portage Duffel ($185).
So, let’s add this up. In what turned out to be my preferred sleeping configuration (bed, mattress, cotton sheets, and down quilt), the price mounts to a whopping $809.
As someone who’s only recently upgraded from a Klymit Static V to a Thermarest Topo Luxe, that’s a hell of a monetary commitment. Born Outdoor does offer a bundle, however, which brings the tally down to a slightly more manageable $750.
For comparison, the Zenbivy system runs less than half that, at $349. Of course, there are benefits and tradeoffs to both, but cost is a biggie.
The Setup & Takedown
Assembling the Badger Bed was straightforward: Unroll the shell, tuck in the mattress, inflate, cover with the sheets and quilt, and secure them to the straps at the bottom. If you can make a standard bed, this is familiar stuff. But here’s something you probably won’t see in your bedroom.
Whoops. Now, I’m unsure as to how much of this was my fault. I was lying at an angle while fastening the strap, and likely tugging sideways on the seams. This loaner had also been through the hands of a few other members of the press, so the damage may have started at an earlier time.
I reached out to Born Outdoor to see what sort of guarantee they offer to customers. Here’s the direct quote:
“We offer a lifetime warranty for any manufacturing defect. This is obviously a manufacturing issue so we’d cover it in full. For something this new, we’d send them a new one and have them return us the other one.”
Sounds like a reasonable practice. And since one side had already been fastened, I experienced no issues with the sheets or quilt sliding out of place.
Let’s fast forward to the end for a quick overview of the takedown process. When I was researching this topic, I stumbled across this video of a demonstration by Stuart Born, the mastermind himself.
Armed with his tips, I was able to deflate, roll, and secure the Badger Bed in around 7 minutes on my first attempt. This is a pretty respectable number, considering the time it normally takes to stow an air mattress, sleeping bag, and pillow. The straps, hooks, and handles all functioned perfectly.
The Sleep Experience
But how does the darn thing actually sleep? In short, like a dream. There’s something about the feeling of a sheet and quilt that’s more comforting than the all-in-one experience of a sleeping bag.
Sliding into this setup and lying on the wide expanse of the Thermarest, I was out in a matter of minutes.
Best of all, I managed to stay asleep. Normally, I wake four, five, or maybe six times to shift position. But the cushy snugness of the Badger Bed and its synthetic quilt yielded only two rollovers on the first night.
And when I subbed in the down quilt on the second night, I was out almost until dawn.
I reverted to my old sleeping setup on the third evening, and the old difficulties returned. My sleeping bag wasn’t up to the 40-degree chill, and as I slid across the surface of my pad, I found myself wishing I’d eschewed this control test.
When I did sleep, I dreamed of the bedroll stowed away in the car.
So, after 2 nights on the Badger Bed, did I come around on the price? In two words, %*#@, yeah!
Listen, this isn’t a product for everyone. If you prioritize lightness in your pack or budget, this heavy, expensive setup won’t be a fit. But for car camping or walk-in sites that require a reasonable trek from your vehicle, the Badger Bed is as good as it gets.
Its materials are solid, the engineering and construction are sound, and if you encounter an issue (as I did with the seam), you’ve got a lifetime warranty to give you peace of mind.
All this, plus you’re supporting a startup business that seems genuinely sensitive to both the environment and its customer base. If you struggle between a love of the outdoors and campsite insomnia, the Badger Bed is the knockout blow that’ll put you to sleep.