As a couple that backpacks together, we wanted to combine our sleeping pads into one so that we could sleep next each other – not only for being the close couple that we are but also for the added benefit of mutual body heat. For anyone that has attempted connecting two sleeping bags, you know of the dreaded gap between the sleeping pads and night-long pad shifting. We also wondered, do we really need to bring two sleeping bags with us on the trail or could we get by with just one?
We realized that what we wanted was a way to combine our pads and attach a sleeping bag to the pads, creating one sleep system fit for two people packing as little as possible.
And here is how you can make a sleeping pad coupler for yourself and your backpacking partner:
- 2 rectangular sleeping pads (we use 2 Big Agnes Two Track pads) – although you don’t need rectangular pads, they do provide the best fit when coupled
- 1 rectangular sleeping bag (we use a Kelty Galactic-15)
- King size sheet – I suggest a darker color
- Zipper that matches your sleeping bag (be sure it matches zipper type, size and approximate length) **if you know the zipper size/type you can find it online or else try matching it on a sleeping bag from a thrift store
- Heavy duty Velcro – approximately 8 inch length
- Sewing machine
- Stick pins
Step 1 – Size sheet for sleeping pad coupler
Lay out the king size sheet and place the sleeping pads on the sheet. Fold over the sheet to cover both sides of the sleeping pads. Leave approximately 6-10 inches on the top. Size the sheet to the sleeping pads by pinning the sheet on the bottom and the non-folded side. Leave the top open for access. Mark in pencil where the stitch will go. Be sure that the sleeping pads fit in there snuggly but not so tight that they will want to overlap. (Note: I am marking up a different sheet than the one used in the final product)
Step 2 – Sew sheet for sleeping pad coupler
Sew along pencil lines and turn inside out to stitch on the inside. You now have a pocket that should fit your sleeping pads snuggly. Test for snugness and adjust as necessary. You may need to seam rip and loosen if it is too snug or sew tighter in if too loose. Once you are satisfied with the stitches trim excess fabric. Be sure the stitch is on the inside before proceeding.
This is about how snug the sleeping pads should fit in the coupler. They shouldn’t fit in easily but also not super hard either
Step 3 – Attach the zipper to coupler
Lay out sewn coupler sheet. Locate center of the bottom (feet end) of the coupler sheet for later reference. Lay your sleeping bag out on the sewn sheet to line up the zipper correctly. Line up matching zippers accordingly so that they will properly fit into the sleeping bag. The reference mark is where each zipper will start from. Leave approximately ½ inch between the two zippers at the reference mark. Pin the zippers along the perimeter of the sheet.
Step 4 – Sew zipper to coupler
Sew zipper onto coupler. Be sure to sew zipper starting from the reference mark. Sew onto only one layer of the sheet so as to not affect the snuggly sized coupler that you so carefully sized (as shown).
Step 5 – Test for fit and add Velcro
Fit sleeping pads in coupler and attach sleeping bag. To avoid the pad coupler from slipping out we attached heavy duty Velcro to the top flap to tightly hold the pads in the coupler from the top. It is helpful to sew the Velcro onto the sheet so that is will stay secure.
Step 6 – Enjoy the warmth and packability of your new sleep system.