‘Recreating an old category’: Lafayette man sells sleeping bag alternative

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Zander Born, Stuart Born’s son, carries a bedroll to a truck. (Courtesy Born Outdoors)

When you think of the bedroll, your mind might jump to Civil War soldiers or cowboys.

But Stuart Born wants you to think about your next overnight trip.

“We’re re-creating an old category,” Born said. 

The 58-year-old Lafayette resident founded Born Outdoor in 2017 after one particularly freezing night in a sleeping bag while camping in western Colorado. Born said he was sick of cold, bad nights of sleep while outdoors, and thought back to how he used to camp in the field when in the military and around his native state of Wyoming. 

Born recalled rolling together wool blankets and a canvas to sleep each night, and decided he could make a better version. Born, who moved to Colorado in 2000, said he made one for himself, then his family. Eventually, more and more people were interested. 

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Stuart Born

“I got frustrated and built myself my own bedroll,” he said. “We never thought we would become a company. People liked it.” 

The bedroll is made of four parts that clip together: the outer shell that everything is placed in, the inflatable mattress, sheets and a quilt. Born Outdoor sells two bedroll bundles that include each component. 

The $795 Baja Bundle comes with cotton sheets and a synthetic insulation quilt, while the $825 Sierra Bundle comes with flannel sheets and a down quilt. Those are beds that are 30 inches wide; Born Outdoor also sells slightly cheaper 25-inch beds. Each part of the bundle is also sold separately, and can be layered on top of one another for extra warmth.

Born said he’s sold over 500.

“Sleeping shouldn’t be complicated, and somehow it’s become complicated,” Born said. “You go to bed, you roll it out and go to sleep. That’s what we’re trying to do is get people to sleep well and enjoy the outdoors.” 

The outer shell is made of ripstop, weather-resistant fabric that won’t tear even if placed on top of rough terrain, according to Born. And, with the quality of the sheets and quilts, Born said you can sleep comfortably even in zero-degree temperatures.  

“We advertise this as a sleep anywhere product and we’ve got people literally sleeping anywhere,” Born said. 

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Born Outdoor’s bedrolls have four components that clip together: the outer shell that everything is placed in, the inflatable mattress, sheets and a quilt. (Courtesy Born Outdoor)

He said the bedroll is popular in the hunting community and with active outdoor types. In fact, Laura Zara, a survivalist known for starring in Discovery Channel’s “Naked and Afraid,” is using Born Outdoor’s bedroll while living in a cave. 

Campers have other options for sleeping, such as a standard sleeping bag or a traditional bedroll made with canvas. But Born said those don’t work across all temperatures and aren’t as durable. People often have to buy multiple sleeping bags for both warm and freezing temperatures, he noted, and the traditional canvas material for bedrolls is either weather-resistant or breathable, but not both. 

Insulated sleeping bags online at REI range from about $100 to $1,000, while sleeping pads cost roughly $50 to $500. Other local Colorado tent companies offer bedrolls, like Durango’s Ellis Canvas Tents ($659) or The Colorado Tent Company ($200), but they’re made out of canvas. 

Born said he knows his products are pricey, but he’s not willing to sacrifice quality. 

“What do you spend for a hotel room?” Born asked, estimating anywhere between $150 to $300 per night. “It’s a couple nights (of) hotel rooms, and you’ve got it forever.” 

Right now, Born Outdoor is sold online and in a handful of retailers, such as CampSaver and Castle Rock’s overlander shop Spirit of 1876. The latter is moving into a new space, which will open this summer with Born’s gear on display. 

The bedrolls weigh about 16 pounds, and are better suited for “vehicle-based adventures.” Born said he might add lighter weight rolls in the future for backpackers. 

The company has been entirely self-funded. Over the years people, have approached Born about investing, he said, but he wanted to keep full control of the company, even if that meant growing slowly.

As of now, Born said it’s just him and his family working for the company, and the gear is stored in his home garage. 

“We feel confident we can get our legs under us, and running a small business is just fun,” Born said. “I’m not the guy looking to retire in a year. I would go absolutely nuts. If I can turn a hobby into a business and run with that, why not?”

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