Relief Bed ($99-$149, ReliefBed.com)
Cause marketing. It’s been around since the 1970’s, but in the last decade or so, it’s picked up steam. The surge in cause marketing seems especially notable in the outdoor industry, where companies often look for ways to offset environmental impacts or help underserved populations. Relief Bed, in partnership with camping juggernaut Therm-a-Rest, is part of this trend.
Service before sales
Founded in 2015, Relief Bed is a company that seems genuinely interested in its goal of “Changing lives around the world, one bed at at time!” This is a marked contrast to some companies preaching cause marketing. I’m not knocking cause marketing, just celebrating the way Relief Bed does it.
Just check out the homepage. It’s mostly about providing relief to disaster victims, refugees, and the homeless. You have to scroll to the bottom of the page, or click on an unlabeled dropdown menu to even find a link to “Buy Now.”
Sure, they’ll sell you a sweet camping mat. But what Relief Bed seems to be saying is this: “People need sleep. We provide products that help people sleep so they can better face the challenges they deal with every day. And, oh by the way, you can buy one of our mats if you want to help our cause.” And if you do buy one of their mats? Well let me tell you.
Relief Bed performance
Relief Bed’s main product is a self-inflating mattress. It reminds me a lot of early Therm-a-Rest models, but made with more modern materials. The design is nothing fancy. It’s your basic open cell foam sandwiched between two layers of non-breathable material. When you open the plastic valve, air flows in and inflates the mattress. You can add extra air by blowing into the valve to customize the pad’s firmness. One added feature of the Relief Bed, though, is the addition of a self-inflating (sort 0f) pillow, which is attached to the pad and has it’s own valve.
So far, I’ve been impressed with the mattress. It’s fairly compact–about 7″ x 20″ when rolled up. At two pounds, it might be a little heavy for most backpackers, but it’s perfect for car camping or couch-surfing (in the absence of an actual couch). The mattress unrolls to 72 inches, long enough for most people, and when inflated it is two inches thick. Two inches of insulated pad is enough to protect you from all but the most frozen ground.
It’s quite comfortable to lie on. Comfortable enough that the first time I unrolled it on the floor of my bedroom and lay down to test it out, I nearly fell asleep in the middle of a conversation with my wife. And it’s not because she’s boring! Relief Bed is a comfy mat!
One of the unheralded aspects of such a simply designed mat, is that it seems like it would be extremely easy to repair punctures or tears. Standard patch material or Tear Aid would do nicely. (Note: I haven’t had to patch my Relief Bed yet.)
How it works
Now, when you buy a Relief Bed, does another one automatically get sent to someone in need? Unfortunately, no. As we all know, good gear doesn’t come cheap. But since Relief Bed began, they’ve been able to drop the price of their product by $30, even as they’ve donated over 1,500 mats. A mattress for yourself will cost $99. If you opt to donate one, the cost is $149. Think of it as buy one-get one half off, but you give that one to a friend. You may not know they’re your friend, nor will they know you’re their friend. But without a doubt, on that first night, when someone lies down to sleep on a donated mattress, they will be grateful.