Outfitted: Sweet Dreams Are Made of This
Hest Sleep System brings the comfort of home to camping
Without exception, the first thing I always ask someone who tells me they don’t enjoy camping is, “What is your sleep system?”
It’s common, and understandable, that many people head to Walmart and buy the cheapest air mattress they can find, throw their only sleeping bag on top and then expect to sleep like they do at home. Instead, what often happens is the mattress deflates, the hard ground is not only uncomfortable, but also freezing, and your bag isn’t warm enough to last through the increasingly cold night. After a cup of coffee is expected — and fails — to remedy the previous eight hours of torture, most people tend to want to sign off on camping forever, and understandably so.
The fact that good sleep affects everything you do is not a new concept, but it seems to be commonly neglected when playing outdoors. So before abandoning camping all together, I recommend tending to your sleep system.
This summer, I’ve been using the Hest Sleep System, and it’s been a game changer to car-camping experiences. Before you cry, choke or roll your eyes at the price, hear me out.
Hest started out to change the way people enjoy the outdoors by aiming for one simple goal: to have people declare, “I slept well.” With a name derived from Hestia, the ancient Greek goddess of hearth and home, Hest is meant to represent comfort, hygge and that cozy feeling you get spending quality time with people you love. By being able to transition those benefits to the outdoors, you can play more and maximize your time.
The Sleep System is Hest’s flagship mattress, where high-quality, temperature-resilient memory foam meets a supportive, durable outdoor-ready, drop-stitch base. This layered combo is what makes the mattress a unique standout and the closest I’ve come to my home mattress of any other systems I’ve tried.
The top layer is made of plush body contouring and temperature-resilient foam. The bottom provides support and pressure-point relief. These combine to create 7 inches of thickness and insulation from the ground. With an R-value (standard heat rating index for outdoor gear) of 11.8, this is one of the highest-rated camping mattresses on the market.
This mattress is quite a beast. At around 25 pounds rolled up in its carry-bag, you would never use it beyond a very short walk. But it’s surprisingly easy to set up and transport short distances. The system comes with a pump that inflates the bottom section in about a minute. I was expecting this process to take longer, but on my first try, I had the whole thing ready to sleep on in about two minutes.
Rolling the mattress back into the bag takes a little more effort, but was also easier than expected. You just deflate the bottom and start rolling directly into the bag. There are two straps with clips to secure the mattress once it’s rolled. One complaint is that the first time I rolled it up, one of the buckles on the straps broke — unfortunate considering the price, but buckles can be replaced.
The durability of this thing is incredible. The lower portion has the feel of an inflated paddleboard. I would feel confident using it on its own for cowboy camping on abrasive or wet rocks. The upper portion is made with dirt-resistant material and can be removed to throw in the wash. A huge plus considering how stinky and dirty camping tends to be.
I recommend adding the Hest Pillow to the system. It’s a travel/camping pillow made of memory foam that packs into itself. It also has a removable cover for washing. I would even bring this along for airplane travel.
Overall, this is by far the best mattress I’ve ever slept on in the outdoors. The price is extremely salty, so it might not be a worthy investment for someone who only camps one night per year, but for frequent campers, it’ll be the last mattress you ever buy.
Hest Sleep System is $449 (mattress, pump and carry-bag). The Hest Pillow is $79. Both are available at hest.com.
Meg Simon is an Aspen-based freelance writer, graphic designer and founder of Simon Finch Creative. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.