3 Questions For: Michael Glavin, on the new Zenbivy Bed

The brand-new Zenbivy backcountry sleep system will hit Kickstarter next month.

The brand-new Zenbivy backcountry sleep system will hit Kickstarter next month.

Michael Glavin

Michael Glavin, founder of Zenbivy. // Photo: Courtesy

After more than a decade of trying to make a backcountry bed that feels just as good as the one you sleep in at home, industry veteran Michael Glavin is launching the Zenbivy Bed on Kickstarter May 9. We asked the former Sierra Designs VP and brand manager what makes this system unique, and how he engineered the design.

What’s your beef with mummy bags?
There’s a whole slew of problems with mummy bags, especially when you have nights with warmer temperatures. We want to have that edge protection—comfort in higher temperatures as well as on colder nights. To work for everything but winter, you need it to be warm in the 30’s. When you’re in a mummy bag, your comfort is compromised all other times. The Zenbivy Bed allows you to sleep comfortably in all kinds of temperatures, even warmer ones. On the cooler end, we’re anticipating its EN Limit rating will be somewhere around 25 degrees, with an EN Comfort rating around freezing.

Mummy bags also don't allow you to sleep the way you want because they confine you to a single sleeping position. The Zenbivy Bed is designed to allow nearly any sleeping position, and easy transitions from position to position, with covers that work like your bed at home.

What makes the Zenbivy system unique?

I pursued the same endeavor in earnest at Sierra Designs while I was there, which resulted in the backcountry bed and backcountry quilt. This design goes back to the beginning, and is very similar to the concept I worked on in 2002. It’s a two-piece design, with a quilt and a sheet that mimic how your covers work at home, and you’re used to sleeping in covers when you sleep at night.

Since it’s integrated with the mattress, like your bed at home, the sleeping pad is better utilized. In a mummy bag, you can’t get to the edge of your mattress. Our bed allows you to access to the whole pad so you can maximize your sleep positions. The whole idea is if you can mirror the sleeping experience people have at home, they’re generally going to have a warmer, better night’s sleep.

Do you think it will be revolutionary?

Time will tell. I’ve made products before that turned out to be revolutionary that I thought would be, and I’ve also had products that I thought would be revolutionary, and then they weren’t.

I’ve spent 15 years pursuing a mummy alternative that allows you to sleep the way you’re used to. By achieving it the way we did, so close to the comp spec mummy bag, I think it has that potential to be revolutionary, for sure. I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t believe it was.