Best Camping Mattress

There’s nothing like spending some time in the great outdoors. With the best camping mattress, you’ll be able to get a restful night’s sleep.

If you’re planning on taking a camping trip anytime soon, choosing a good sleeping pad is essential.

It keeps you insulated from the cold and protects you from the elements. Plus, if you choose the right one, you’ll snooze comfortably.

In this article we explain the different types of mattresses for camping you can choose from, including their pros and cons. This way, you’ll be able to properly decide on which to get for the type of camping you’ll be doing.

 

Our Top Choices: Mattresses to Take on Your Next Camping or Backpacking Trip

Sleeping Pads

Self-Inflating Sleeping Pads

Air Mattress & Air Beds

Camping Cots

 

Types of Camping Mattresses

Before we get into details, let’s look into the different types of camping mattresses. In general, there are three main types.

1. Self-Inflating Mats

Developed in the 1970s, self-inflating mats are very convenient because you don’t need to blow into them to inflate. These mattresses are constructed with an open cell foam. The foam expands when filled with air. What makes them unique is that when you open the pad’s valve, it automatically inflated the mattress by filling the chamber with air.

  • Weight: light to moderate
  • Packed size: small
  • Insulation: average
  • Comfort: average
  • Cost: moderate to expensive

Pros

  • Very comfortable. More cushioning than foam.
  • Available for different uses. Lightweight options are ideal for backpacking. Bigger versions work well for car camping.
  • They give you good insulation.
  • Adjustable firmness. All you need to do is increase or decrease the amount of air.
  • They don’t lose air through the night.
  • Made of sturdy material.

Cons

  • More expensive.
  • Heavier than your regular foam pads.
  • They can rip or punctured.

2. Air Mattresses

These are similar to self-inflating pads. But they don’t come with built-in valves that inflate the unit. Instead, you’ll either need to blow into them or use a pump. Bigger, more expensive air mattresses come with built-in pumps.

Air mattresses come in many shapes and sizes. They are available in different heights and material as well. This make them something you can use on camping trips as well as at home.

Another thing that differentiates them from self-inflating mats is that they’re almost all air. This makes them lighter. As such, they’re ideal for backpacking.

  • Weight: light to moderate
  • Packed size: small to medium
  • Insulation: average to good
  • Comfort: good
  • Cost: moderate to expensive

Pros

  • Very lightweight. Lighter than self-inflating mats.
  • Very compact. They’re easier roll up. And when rolled, are more compact than self-inflating ones.
  • Some varieties are very comfortable. Cheaper ones, not as much.
  • Most are designed for warm weather. These have less insulation. Others are some designed for four seasons.
  • You can adjust firmness by letting air out. But, adding air requires using your breath or an air pump.

Cons

  • Thinner air mattresses are not as comfortable as self-inflating units.
  • They also don’t give you as good support as their self-inflating counterparts.
  • Size and weight are inversely correlated to the price. The lighter and more compact, the more expensive.
  • Like self-inflating models, they can rip and puncture.

3. Foam Pads

These are the traditional sleeping mats. Foam pads are made from closed cell foam. This means there’s no need to blow or pump air into them. This also makes them easier to roll up.

  • Weight: light to moderate
  • Packed size: bulky
  • Insulation: low to medium
  • Comfort: low
  • Cost: affordable

Pros

  • They are cheap.
  • They don’t need inflating.
  • They’re easy to roll up.
  • There’s no risk of puncturing or losing air. They’re more durable and rugged.
  • For backpackers, you can carry them outside of your pack without fear of damage.

Cons

  • They are the least comfortable.
  • They are thin, about 1 to 2 inches. This makes them provide little cushioning and support.
  • While easy to roll up, they’re firm. As such, they end up being a bit bulky even when rolled.

 

What About Airbeds?

In addition to the three main types of camping mattresses, there is also a more comfortable option. If you’re using your RV, truck or SUV to get to the campsite, and have space in your tent, an air bed may be a great choice.

Air beds are larger, thicker versions of air mattresses. They come in sizes similar to regular beds. So, you get to choose from twin up to king sizes. You can also select different heights. Some airbeds go up as high as your bed at home. This makes them easy to stand up from or sit on.

  • The best part about air beds is comfort. They give you that luxurious feel relative to other camping mattresses. A full-blown air bed feels much closer to the bed you have back home.
  • On the downside, air beds tend to be bigger and bulky. They don’t fold up as compact as the others mentioned above. And, you need a lot of tent space for them.
  • You’ll also need a pump to inflate them. It isn’t practical to use your breathe because of their size. Hand or foot pumps are ideal when camping. Though if you have a generator or are car/RV camping, you can also use an electric pump which is faster and more convenient.

Camping Cots: Another Comfortable Option

If you don’t like the feel of an air mattress, a cot is another option. Cots are a thin mattress. You may use them on the floor. Or put one on a collapsible steel frame. The latter lets you sleep above the ground and away from insects and critters. It also gives you the feel that’s closer to that of a regular mattress.

Cots may not fit the technical definition of a mattress. But, many campers like using them.

Compared to other camping mattresses, cots are heavier and bulkier. They don’t fold or roll up too well. This means you’ll need a lot of space to bring them along.t

For comfort and the luxury of sleeping above the floor, cots are a good option if you’re okay with their size and extra weight.

 

Choosing a Mattress for Camping: Buying Guide

1. What Kind of Camping Will You Do?

Back in the day, camping referred to just going out into the wilderness and pitching a tent. Today, there are so many types of camping you can do. Depending on the type of camping you’ll be doing, a different mattress may be ideal.

  • Recreational Camping: Depending on how you get to the camp site and how big your tent is, you can enjoy a comfortable air mattress or self-inflating pad.
  • Winter/Cold Climate Camping: Ideally a well-insulated self-inflating pad or air mattress. High R-value pads that use down or synthetic fibers.
  • Car Camping: Comfortable mattress with cushioning works well here. You have a lot of space and can carry extra weight. Air beds, air mattresses and self-inflating pads are great options.
  • Backpacking: Lightweight sleeping pads that pack small.
  • Lightweight Backpacking: Ultralightweight pads are ideal. The smaller and lighter the better. You do sacrifice comfort a bit.

2. Mattress Comfort and Thickness

How much comfort you look for in a camping mattress will depend on preference. Often, the thicker the mattress, the more comfortable it will be. A thicker mat provides more cushioning. As such, it keeps your body farther from the ground.

With thickness though also comes size and weight. This is where it becomes more of a balancing act. This isn’t as much an issue for car camping or if you have a large tent.

Besides thickness, there’s also the construction of the pad. Some pads come with railings on the edges to keep you from rolling out of the mat. Others feel better because they cradle your body.

3. Mattress Insulation: R-Value

A good camp mattress is not only comfortable it should also be insulating. Temperatures can drop significantly at night, even during the summers.

With sleeping pad, heat insulation is measures using the R-value. This figure refers the product’s ability to resist heat flow. A higher number means it provides more heat protection. You’ll find mattresses that with R-values at 1.0 which means minimal insulation. And, also those up to 9.5 which have very high insulation.

As you’d expect, warm condition sleeping mats have less insulation while those designed for four seasons have higher R-values.

  • For summer camping, pads with R-values up to 3 will work. If you sleep cold, then you may want to get one with an R-value of 4.
  • For 3 season sleeping pads, an R-value of 3 or more is recommended.
  • For 4 season pads or winter camping, choose one that has an R-value of 5 or higher.

It’s worth noting that getting a pad with a higher R-value won’t lead to overheating like they do in sleeping bags. This gives you a bit more leeway.

In addition to your mattress’ insulation, you can also use clothing layers as well as an extra foam pad to keep you warm.

4. Size

Here, it’s worth considering how big the mattress is when its rolled up as well as rolled out. In the former, your concern will be space and weight for carrying purposes. The latter meanwhile, is likewise important because it should offer enough space to sleep on.

Length

Sleeping mats come in regular and long sizes.

  • Regular is 72 inches long.
  • Long is 78 inches.

For taller individuals, some manufacturers make XL and XXL. Some of these go up to 85 inches long.

The goal of is to have a mattress that covers you from head to toes. This means the mat should also insulate your feet and legs.

An alternative for lightweight or minimalist backpackers are the short pads. These are 3/4-length, typically 48 inches long. They work for backpackers because they’re more compact and weigh less.

Short pads however, don’t cover all your legs. As such, you’ll need to use your pack or some clothes to do so.

Width

Most sleeping pads are 20 inches wide. For bigger individuals or those who roll around, you may want to go with bigger sizes. Longer pads often mean wider width as well. This gives you more room at around 25 to 30 inches.

Some air mattresses offer double size, which fits two people. Air beds are available in queen size, which is 60 inches wide by 80 inches long.

5. Weight and Packed Size

Your choice of camping mattress will vary a lot depending on the type of camping you’ll be doing.

  • If you have the luxury of driving up to the camp site, a heavier, bulkier pad that’s more comfortable is ideal.
  • But, if you need to walk a good distance before getting to the campsite, then a lighter, more compact mat is a better choice.
  • Backpackers often go with lightweight or ultralight pads because they need to pack them up and carry them for long distances.

6. Self-Inflating, Hand/Foot Pump or Electric Pump

If you’re going with an air-filled mattress, the decision of choosing which inflation device comes into play.

  • Self-inflating pads are convenient because the valve is built into the mat. This makes it easy to carry around. Plus, there’s no extra accessory.
  • Hand or foot pumps require a bit more space. You’ll also need to carry them around with the rest of your stuff. Their advantage is they can fill a mattress with air quickly. This also means you can enjoy sleeping on a more comfortable mattress.
  • Electric pumps are convenient and effortless. There’s no work on your part during inflation. But they tend to be bigger, and heavier. Even if they’re built into the mattress, they make the item weigh more.

 

Best Camping Mattress Reviews


Sleeping Pads

Self-Inflating Sleeping Pads

Air Mattress & Air Beds

Camping Cots


Klymit Static V2 Sleeping Pad

This is an affordable lightweight sleeping pad. It works great as a camping mattress if you want to travel light and have something that’s easy to store away.

Besides its price and weight, we like that it packs well and easily. It also gives you excellent comfort.

Weighing just one pound, this sleeping pad rolls down into the size that’s just bigger than a soda can. It takes a bit of work to get there. But, it does save a lot of space.

In addition to its size and light weight, it provides a large sleeping area. You also get good cushioning that limits air movement within the pad. This gives you more even and balanced sleep.

This camping mattress measures 72 inches by 23 inches wide. It is 2.5 inches thick when fully inflated. That takes between 10 and 15 breaths depending on how strong your lungs are. When it’s time to move, it rolls up into an 8 inch by 3 inch size.

The Kymit Static V2 is crafted with 30D polyester on its top side. And you get a 75D polyester bottom.

Overall, we like that it is lightweight and packs down to a small size. It is rugged. And, has anti-microbial properties to prevent bacteria and other microorganisms from growing on it.

Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol Mattress

This is another lightweight mattress that’s ideal for camping, backpacking and hiking. It works well if you want to pack ultralight. Or, don’t want to have to deal with the size and weight of the bigger inflatable pads.

This is a great option if you want something that’s cheap, durable and light. As you would guess, it isn’t as comfortable as the thicker inflatable pads or the raised air mattresses.

Another issue if you’re short on space is that it doesn’t pack as small. You’ll be better off with the Klymit Static V2 for something very compact.

The Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol is offered in small and regular sizes. Here are their specifications:

Small:

  • Fully opened: 51 inches long by 20 inches; 0.75 inches thick.
  • Packed size: 20 inches by 5.5 inches; 4 inches thick.
  • Weight: 10 ounces.

Regular:

  • Fully opened: 72 inches long by 20 inches wide; 0.75 inches thick.
  • Packed Size: 20 inches by 5.5 inches; 5 inches thick.
  • Weight: 14 ounces.

Overall, the Therm-a-Rest Z Lite Sol is a good option if weight, durability and cost are your main priorities. It offers good warmth. And, is versatile.

The compromise though is it doesn’t offer as much comfort as other camping mattresses. And, it won’t pack down to small.

Intex Comfort Plush Elevated Dura-Beam Airbed with Built-in Electric Pump, Bed Height 22″, Queen

If you want to enjoy a more comfortable sleeping surface this is a good option. It offers a lot more cushioning compared to sleeping pads. And, you don’t have to get up from the ground. The latter makes it easier to stand up from bed in the morning.

This raised air mattress works well for camping. It isn’t as light as the sleeping pads above. But, you get a nice comfortable place to rest you back and fall asleep.

The unit comes with a built in electric pump. This easily inflates and deflates the air bed in around 5 minutes. If you don’t have power at your campsite, an air pump device will work as well.

The bed works well at home or on camping trips. Because you can deflate it after use, it doesn’t take up as much space.

We like that this air mattress is very affordable. It compares well to a lot of sleeping pads.

You also get a large sleeping area thanks to its queen size. That gives you an 80 by 60 inch space to sleep on. In addition, the bed has a 600 pound capacity. Plus, it’s raised up to 22 inches making it easy to stand from and sit on.

Overall, this is the camping mattress you want if you’re on a budget and want comfort. It has a waterproof flocked top and good weight capacity.

Coleman SupportRest Double High Airbed

This is another affordable raised air bed that suitable for camping. It is designed to be rugged. So, it won’t easily get punctured.

The Coleman SupportRest is offered in twin and queen sizes. This lets you choose how big a sleeping area you want.

We like that it is affordable and uses heavy duty PVC. This makes it ideal for sleeping outdoors. And, you don’t sag or lose air through the night. It is easy to store away thanks to its Wrap N Roll system. All you need to do is fold and roll it up.

The design and construction are great. This is thanks to its factory tested leak-free system. You also get a more stable surface to sleep on. The top meanwhile is soft and plush. This makes laying on it easy.

The twin size:

  • Measures 75 inches long by 39 inches wide. It is 18 inches high.
  • It holds up to 300 pounds in weight.

The queen size:

  • Measures 78 inches long by 60 inches wide. It is 18 inches high.
  • It holds up to 600 pounds in weight.

Overall, the Coleman SupportRest offers better quality compared to the Intex Dura-Beam Airbed above. It does not however come with a pump. You’ll need to get one separately. For camping, you may want to get a portable air pump, be it rechargeable pump or automatic.

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