The first step when you’re shopping for a camping mattress is deciding whether you want an air mattress or a foam pad. These are the two basic categories of camping mattresses, and they each have different pros and cons. Here’s a quick summary:
Compact; much less weight and bulk
Easy storage and transport
Sometimes more comfortable
Some require pumps; some don’t
Can be punctured and deflate
Don’t require inflation, saving time and energy
Can’t be punctured or deflated
Thin; can be uncomfortable
Weight and Size
Consider how thick and how large you want your camping mattress to be. Camping mattresses, unlike backpacking mattresses, are not meant to be carried long distances, so they may be bigger and heavier. However, you may still have a hike to your camp site or storage concerns, so you might still want something compact and easy to carry.
How many people will be sleeping on your mattress? A couple will need more sleeping room than an individual.
How big is your tent? Don’t make the mistake of buying a camping mattress that will barely fit in your tent or you won’t have any room for storage.
Are you an active sleeper? The more you move around in your sleep, the bigger you’re going to want your camping mattress to be.
Remember that thicker mattresses are probably going to be more comfortable than thinner ones, especially when you’re sleeping in a tent. If you sleep on your side, you should definitely get one at least three inches thick.
Air Mattress Pump Type
There are three main types of camping mattress pumps: hand pump, electric pump, and self-inflating.
R-Value: a Measure of Insulation
If you’re going camping in Fall, Winter, or Spring, you’re going to want a mattress that will insulate you from the cold ground.
As R-value increases, the better protection from the cold you will have. Spring and Fall require an R-value of at least three, while Winter necessitates a rating above five.
As with most purchases, you get what you pay for. Cheaper camping mattresses will probably not have the features or quality of more expensive models, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look for a deal.
What Features Do Camping Mattresses Have?
Self-Inflation- Many air mattresses are self-inflating. This means that all a user has to do is open the valve, and it will blow up on its own without the use of an air pump, allowing you to attend to other tasks like dinner.
Self-inflation can take quite a bit of time and lead to a mattress that is harder to deflate and pack away. Many users report that you need to manually blow air into self-inflating mattresses to achieve the best firmness. If you’re seeking something quick to set up and take down, self-inflating air mattresses might not be the choice for you.
Linking Ability- Some mattresses have the ability to link to others of the same model, making them even more convenient than the best queen air mattress for camping. Each piece can be carried separately and then fitted together for a bigger sleeping space.
Insulation- Many camping mattresses feature insulation to protect the user from the cold of the ground. If you’re going to be camping in colder weather, this is an absolute necessity. See the section above for more information about insulation and R-values!
Warranties- Some air mattresses come with a warranty, obviously meaning that faulty mattresses can be shipped back to the company that produced them.
Built-In Pillow- Depending on the material your camping mattress is made of, a separate pillow may slide around and become inconvenient over the course of the night. A traditional pillow is also bulky to store and carry. A built-in pillow, on the other hand, inflates along with the mattress and will always stay in place.
Which Camping Mattress is the Best?
Therm-a-Rest Mondoking 3D Self-Inflating Foam Camping Air Mattress
Therm-a-Rest is a trusted name in camping mattresses, as they invented the first self-inflating one in 1972.
It has an R-value of 11.4, making it more than suitable for every type of weather. Some users report that it’s better for cold weather than for warm because its insulation can make you feel hotter.
If you need a larger mattress area, you can buy two of this model—it’s designed so that they will fit together seamlessly to create one large sleeping pad, making it one of the best camping mattresses for couples.
Two sizes are available: Large (77×25 inches, $134.95) and XX-Large (80×30 inches, $156.95). Both are four inches thick. That makes this model the biggest and most luxurious that this brand makes. Users find it to be exceptionally comfortable, preventing the soreness that one might expect after a night in a tent.
When using the Mondoking, remember that self-inflating mattresses can take up to a week to fully inflate the first time they are used. After that, the process will speed up to around two days. Deflating it and rolling it back up can be a challenging process as well. This could be a serious problem for some users.
The other disadvantage to this model is the size. It’s heavy for a camping mattress at about eight pounds and, when rolled up and placed in its carrying sack, it’s still much bigger than other choices might be.
This model is among the best inflatable camping mattresses and is a great choice for pickier campers on less strenuous trips. It will keep sleepers warm and comfortable on all types of terrain and in all types of weather, but it’s not as convenient or easy to carry as competitors. Those hiking or canoeing to their campsite may want to choose a different model.
This fun-colored camping mattress is ideal for those looking for a less pricey option that doesn’t sacrifice anything in the way of comfort.
If you’re too tall for a regular camping mattress, this model should absolutely be your pick. It has more room both widthwise (24 inches) and lengthwise (75 inches) for a more comfortable sleeping experience. It’s also 2 inches thick and waterproof, meaning you have more cushion from the ground compared to other models.
This camping mattress is self-inflating, meaning you won’t have to worry about operating a pump when you’re out on your adventure. A few extra puffs of air might be necessary to achieve optimal firmness, but most of the inflation results from simply opening the valve.
This model is designed to be easy to pack up so that moving camp in the morning is as effortless as possible. It’s also compact for easy storage and carrying.
This camping mattress comes with a one-year warranty, so if your camping mattress gets damaged the company will send you a new one for free. Despite the durable 75D polyester material, campers in rugged terrain might appreciate this perk.
This camping mattress has a bunch of interesting features. For example, it includes glow-in-the-dark ropes and logo, meaning you can always find your mattress in the dark. It’s resistant to both heat and cold, making it suitable for all kinds of environments.
Unlike some of the above models, this camping mattress is not self-inflating. While the 10-15 breaths required to inflate the mattress may be slightly inconvenient, this style of inflation may provide an easier time deflating the mattress after use. Users say it’s very easy to fit back in its storage bag.
Inflated, it measures 76x25x2 inches, but when deflated and packed up it weighs less than a pound and is around the size of a water bottle. Buttons are included on either side, meaning multiple mattresses can be chained together to make one sleeping surface. One mattress is suitable for one adult or two kids.
A limited lifetime warranty is included, as well as two repair patches– just in case.
Since this luxurious camping mattress is made of memory foam, it doesn’t require inflation at all and is stored at its full volume. This may make it unfeasible for some campers, but for others the advantages are worth the extra storage space required.
The biggest advantage of this model is superior comfort and immediate use. Inflatable air mattresses may be too thin or prone to deflating halfway through the night, but this camping mattress dodges these issues entirely. It’s 2.5 inches thick, meaning that even side sleepers will be able to keep their hips up and off the ground. Obviously, it will never pop.
The twin size is 18 pounds, 75x36x2.75 inches, and can hold up to 230 pounds. It comes with a waterproof cover, meaning that the foam is safe from a variety of types of destruction.
This camping mattress has the obvious disadvantage of bulkiness and weight, but if you’re seeking a leisurely and luxurious camping experience (as opposed to more rugged hikes) this is a great mattress choice.
This simple camping mattress choice is very similar to a yoga mat. Therefore, some recommend it as a supplement to an additional sleeping pad, but those who don’t need something particularly
It doesn’t require inflation at all, meaning it’s unbeatably durable when it comes to kids and pets and will never leak or pop. Storage may be a little bulky, but it’s lightweight at 2.5 pounds, and easy to carry.
It’s only 1.5 inches thick, which may not be enough cushion for some people, but users report that it does keep away cold and moisture very well.
If you’re not a picky sleeper, this low-effort and very affordable choice may be the one for you.
TargetEvo Heavy Duty Car Travel Thicker Air Mattresses Bed Inflation Back Seat Cushion for SUV
This camping mattress is meant to fit snugly in the back of an SUV with the seats folded down. It may be much more comfortable sleeping in a car rather than on the cold ground, but a traditional camping mattress won’t fit into a car as nicely as this model.
The size is about 71×51 inches and it’s extra thick for extra comfort. It can be used in temperatures as low as -13 degrees Fahrenheit. The material is an eco-friendly type of PVC that’s non-toxic and not smelly. It includes a built-in pillow.
Rather than being self-inflating, it uses an electric air pump, which may be inconvenient depending on your needs. It’s meant to stay inflated for about 10 hours, allowing you to sleep in!
Depending on the type of car you own, this may be the best car camping mattress on the market!
Obviously, there are oodles of choices when it comes to finding the best camping mattress for you. It depends heavily on your camping situation and your tastes.
Maybe you’re hiking and you need something light that will protect you from cold, rocky ground. Maybe you’re spending a leisurely night in a friend’s backyard and can splurge on something more extravagant and comfortable. Which camping mattress is the best one for you?