Knowing that foam mattresses provide the most comfort in a camping mattress, we were skeptical that one could pack into half the space and still be equal in comfort to the other foam slabs. While the Nemo Roamer is just slightly less comfortable than the plushest mats, it is miles ahead of air mattresses and lightweight sleeping pads in the comfort metric. It is also very easy to use and has convenient toggles to join it with another to make a double mattress. Most importantly, it rolls up into a squat package that is, in fact, half the size of similar mattresses, meaning that you can easily fit two into the trunk.
NEMO Roamer Review
Cons: Slight bounciness, heavy
Manufacturer: NEMO Equipment
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Nemo Roamer is a big self-inflating sleeping pad that is just about as comfortable as any of the other foam mattresses that we tested. On it, we were four inches off the ground and well-insulated from the cold. Where it stands out is in its packed size, which is about half the size of other foam mattresses in this category! It is easy to delate and store, as well, which is why we made this our Top Pick for Self-Inflating Comfort.
Our tests demonstrated that we would most likely have a great night's sleep on pretty much any of the four-inch foam-core camping mattresses. Differences between them are subtle and somewhat about personal preference. The Roamer is right up there with the best of the bunch, but what makes it a strong performer in the packability metric, dings it a tiny bit in the comfort category.
The Roamer has less foam, using dual-axis coring to remove bulk and weight. This also means that there is more air in the mattress, which allows for more bounce in the mat. This was by no means on the level of the air mattresses in this review, but it was noticeable to some testers. If you want maximum dampening of all movement, then more foam will have that effect.
The fabric cover on the Roamer is soft to the touch and comfortable against skin if you happen to stick an arm or leg out of your sleeping bag. One tester felt like the fabric grabbed a tiny bit on his dry hands, worth a mention because we are looking for any differences in comfort in these top-end mats.
Ease of Use
The Roamer uses dual valves for inflation and deflation. They are labeled "Inflate" and "Deflate," but the inflate valve has two covers, allowing for removal of the one-way valve. We found that the speediest self-inflation happened with both valves all the way open. After about five minutes, we closed the "deflate" valve, popped the one-way valve back in place, added ten or so breaths of air, and had a fat mattress of perfect firmness. The one-way valve allows for easy micro-adjustment.
Deflating is just as easy. Two valves definitely release air faster than one! After rolling out most of the air, close up the inflate/two-way valve before doing the final folding and rolling. Because this mattress has less foam, it rolls up easier than some of the denser foam mats.
We do recommend that you inflate the mattress at home at least once or twice before taking it out into the woods. The initial self-inflation time, as is usual with these foam mattresses, took more time. However, subsequent inflations were fast and easy.
Nemo does not supply an R-value for this mattress, but claims that it will keep you insulated down to -30 degrees F. We did not test in arctic conditions but can confirm that we felt no chill from the ground when it got down to 20 degrees F, and have no reason to think it wouldn't work well in much colder temperatures.
More air in a mattress typically means less insulation. However, there is plenty of foam in the Roamer to maintain a cozy temperature.
We tested the XL Wide version of the Roamer, and at 30 by 80 inches, it is a very large and plush mattress. Depending on the size of your tent, fitting two of them in a two-person tent might be impossible. However, Nemo makes a Long Wide version that is 25 inches wide, and one of each toggled together could make for a very plush 55-inch mattress for two.
The toggles on the Roamer serve two purposes: they help hold the shape while rolling it up for storage, but they can also be used to attach two Roamers together to make a queen-sized mattress. This small feature actually makes the Roamer more versatile. If you like snuggling with your camping buddy, you know that pad gap is a bummer, but double-width foam mattresses are typically awkward and massive to store.
The Roamer, while still significantly heavier than a lightweight sleeping pad, is quite a bit lighter than the other foam mattresses in the test. One of our testers strapped in on to his backpack for a short hike into the wilderness and had the best night's sleep on a backpacking trip that he has ever had. While the five pound weight is far heavier than most people would want to carry for a backpacking trip, for the determined, or for short hikes, it is within the realm of possibility.
Packed size is where the Roamer shines. While not as small as sleeping pads made for backpacking, or many air mattresses, it does pack down to half the size of the other foam core mattresses in our test and is considerably smaller than the adaptable mattresses we tested.
This smaller size means you can fit twice as many of these in the car, and they won't take up nearly as much space in your gear closet. Assuming your tent is large enough to handle them inflated, you can actually imagine a set of these for the family in the hatchback.
The Roamer achieves its squat stored stature through the folding of the sides of the deflated mat into the middle (using toggles to secure them). It comes with a velcro strap to help hold the shape when rolled, but since it is not attached to anything, it is easy to lose. Luckily, the storage sack is generously sized, and we found that the strap was helpful but not necessary.
The cost of this mattress is on the higher end of the price spectrum. However, it is just about as comfortable as any of the camping mattresses that we tested while packing away to half the size. It is also easy to use and fairly versatile for a camping mattress. We would not hesitate to offer this as a comfy option for an overnight guest. If space is at a premium, we think this is a great value.
Nemo has really changed the game with the packability of the Roamer. While not quite as comfortable as some of the other mattresses, it is really, really close. This camping mattress is also significantly lighter than other foam mattresses and packs to about half the size. For anyone that values comfort but lacks a ton of storage space, this mattress is worth a look.
— Laurel Hunter