Snuggling into your climbing partner while shivering on a ledge, half-covered by one sleeping bag, is not the most enjoyable way to spend a night. Memorable, yes, but comfortable it is not, and having your own sleeping bag would be much more preferable. Sometimes, however, it is nice to share a sleeping bag with someone, though it’s also definitely a plus not to be crammed into a bag meant for one. Enter the Therm-a-Rest Down Coupler and Vela HD Double Quilt.
The Down Coupler is a double-mattress width ‘blanket’ with a soft, brushed polyester outer and 650-fill down insulation. Elastic on the perimeter trim and a single strap in the middle attaches two regular-size mattresses (20” x 72”) into one cohesive unit, with no gaps in between. Once put together, it feels and functions like one seamless mattress, albeit one with individual firmness control on either side. There is more than enough room for two people to sleep comfortably, either cuddled up on colder nights, or a bit apart on hot summer days. It is absolutely awesome.
The Therm-a-Rest Vela HD Double Quilt is essentially an insulated down blanket that clips onto matching loops on the Down Coupler to create an almost-seamless unit. Side baffles seal out drafts and an elasticized footbox seals around the bottom for extra warmth (or not, if it’s too hot). There are four side clips on either side, so each individual can either bundle up the blanket to the neck, or release the clips for temperature control.
Taken together as a system, the Coupler and the Vela is a fantastic solution to sleeping together, or an incredibly luxurious bed for one (I won’t lie: I’ve used it car camping by myself and it is pretty awesome). Therm-a-Rest recommends staying between +2C and +7C when using the Vela. We’ve slept comfortably down to around 0C with no extra blankets but sharing body heat, and taken it down to around -5C with the addition of some down jackets or an extra, summer-weight, sleeping bag. It is also quite comfortable in warm temperatures, and with the footbox open for airflow and the upper clips released, we’ve spent a few 15-18C nights in it without overheating.
Downsides? The Down Coupler works best with rectangular-shaped mattresses, so if you don’t have a couple of those, it’d be an extra expense for the system to truly work well together. I’ve tried various combinations of rectangular and tapered, or two tapered, but it just doesn’t work as seamlessly.
Weight-wise, the system comes in around the same as two individual mid-range sleeping bags (high-end down bags will be lighter, but also cost about twice as much, per bag). The Down Coupler in size regular is 512 grams, plus 42 for the stuff/storage sack, and the Vela HD Double Quilt is 974 grams plus 26 for the stuff sack. That’s a total system weight of 1554 grams for a two-person bag that’s warm to around 0C.
Cost wise, the Vela is $314 Canadian and the Down Coupler $129 Canadian, for a total of $443. Comparing to individual bags, weights range from around 580 grams to 970 grams, and cost from around $199 to $600. So depending on what you’re after, the Therm-a-Rest solution can be lighter and cheaper, but I can almost guarantee it will be more comfortable.
That said, everything else being equal two individual bags are going to be more versatile than a single double-size. However, if you do a lot of camping with your partner, either backcountry or car-based, I can’t imagine a better way than in the Down Coupler and Vela Double Quilt combo.