Polarmond sleep system rolls three camping essentials into a warm personal cocoon
A waterproof shelter, sleeping bag and sleeping pad are three of the most important pieces of kit you'll need when bedding down in the great outdoors on a cold night. Usually those three things are purchased, packed and set up separately, but Swiss startup Polarmond has a different idea. Its All-In-One sleep system rolls all three components into one unit with the goal of delivering a warmer, more comfortable night of sleep in temperatures down to -22° F (-30° C).
The primary component of the All-In-One sleep system is what Polarmond calls the sleep shell. This unit blends the features and functions of a bivouac sack, sleeping bag and sleeping pad. When compared to the tight confines of a mummy bag, the design opens things up with a multi-layered inner chamber.
The chamber's outer shell is built from a waterproof-breathable material that protects from wind and rain while allowing excess interior water vapor to escape. That shell fabric is lined with a layer of high-loft fleece insulation designed to keep warm air inside. A sleeping pad provides both insulation and cushioning underneath the occupant.
Inside the chamber, a sleep liner plays the role of blanket, providing soft, breathable next-to-skin warmth. That sleep liner channels perspiration away from the body, trapping it inside a moisture-lock barrier, where it can be released by shaking out the liner in the morning. Some inner moisture escapes out of the zipper-adjustable ventilation port that sits about neck level. That port also serves to regulate the temperature inside.
Traditional tents and bivy sacks provide basic weather protection, but rely on sleeping bags, blankets and sleeping pads for insulation. By creating a temperature-regulating chamber, Polarmond eliminates the need to use a separate sleeping bag. That provides a freer night of sleep, allowing you to roll around like you would at home.
Polarmond also says that the chamber offers space to store things like a smartphone and a drink without having them wedged into your body. By integrating the sleeping pad into the floor of the sleep cell, the company prevents any uncomfortable pad shifting. The pad and the blanket-like liner can also be removed from the sleep cell and used on their own.
The sleep cell features a hooded design that leaves your face exposed to the elements. This will be a comfortable way to sleep and breathe freely under the stars in temperate weather, but you'll want more protection if it's raining or hovering anywhere near the -22° F rating. For those nights, you can add the bivouac or tent module to create a full enclosure. Each one connects to the sleep shell and puts a roof over your head. The bivy is a smaller, lighter option, while the tent provides a roomier alternative with more storage space.
The sleep cell weighs in between 8.6 and 9.5 lb (3.9 and 4.3 kg), depending upon the weight of liner you select. The bivouac module spikes total weight range up to 9/9.9 lb (4.1/4.5 kg), and the tent brings it to 10.6/11.5 lb (4.8/5.2 kg).
Those weights don't necessarily sound light for a modular, all-in-one sleep system, but it is an expedition-level sleeping system rated down to -22° F, so you can't compare it to the lightest of light backpacking setups. Instead, you have to compare it to what it replaces – heavy duty bivy, below-zero sleeping bag and well-insulated sleeping pad.
Using OutdoorGearLab's in-depth comparison of different bivy sacks as a guide, we can put bivy weight at 2 lb (0.9 kg) for a comparably warm, heavy duty model with integrated pole structure. Based on the few -20 to -30° F (-29 to -34° C) sleeping bags we looked at (not exactly a super-crowded end of the market), you can expect to add anywhere between 3.5 and 5 lb (1.6 and 2.3 kg) there. So we'll say 4.25 lb (1.9 kg). A warm, insulated sleeping pad like the Exped Downmat TT 9 M (rated to -25 F) adds another 2 lb (0.9 kg).
Add those component weights together and you get a total of 8.25 lb (3.7 lb), which is significantly lighter than any configuration of the Polarmond sleep system. You could play around with different components all day, getting configurations that are much lighter, heavier, low priced, high priced, etc., but suffice it to say that Polarmond's sleep system adds a bit of weight while offering extra room and comfort when compared to going the separate component route.
Assuming the Polarmond sleep system works as advertised and warms in sub-zero weather, it should be a nice alternative to the multiple pieces of gear it replaces, providing a slim, lightweight shelter with added nighttime comfort. A competitive price is another important piece of the puzzle; if it ends up costing as much as buying all three components at a lighter overall weight, it doesn't seem worth it.
Polarmond showed the sleep system at Germany's Outdoor Show last month, where the design won a Gold award. It plans to get it to market next year but has not yet listed pricing. Polarmond's website says that it is also working on a multi-person design that will allow individual sleep cells to be connected together, in what sounds a little like an ultralight alpinist version of POD tents.
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Strip out the insulation, and this could be an interesting bivy option. A single wall, waterproof bivy with a built-in sleeping pad isn't a high need item, but it could be an interesting one.
Regarding waterproof breathable tents, well designed ones actually do work well in warmer, humid environments. I have a Bibler Juniper (single wall) that I've been using in the SE mountains for years. A little heavy by today's ultralight standards, it still keeps me dry and comfy even when the humidity levels are high. I hated to see them bought out. Black Diamond keeps the quality level high, but they eliminated nearly all the models.