What Are the Key Considerations When Buying a Camping Mattress?
Air Mattresses vs. Foam Pads
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?
Sleeping Bags / Marissa Gvozdenovich
Camping with kids can be a challenge, but it can also teach life lessons and create lasting family memories. So, each year campgrounds around the world are flooded with eager trekkers. But before the trip, there is a great deal of preparation, which often means purchasing all the gear you will need on your adventure, including sleeping bags. It may be tempting to head out to the nearest big box store and grab any kids’ sleeping bag, but this could prove to be a mistake later.
Since kids’ bodies aren’t as susceptible to stiffness and soreness when sleeping, it may seem like kids can fall asleep anywhere, but children aren’t totally equipped to adapt to new situations quickly and without incident. This is especially true when there are factors involved that could affect their sleep. Every parent knows that when their kid is tired, things can go downhill fast. Because of this, choosing the correct sleeping bag for your kid-friendly camping expedition can be one of the most important decisions your make before your trip.
Kids’ Sleeping Bags – What To Consider
Fill: The two types of insulation that are found most often in sleeping bags are synthetic and down. Camping enthusiasts will almost always recommend down insulation because it is lightweight, easily compressed, durable, and usually down-fill sleeping bags are a higher quality. However, down-insulated sleeping bags are usually much more expensive and more difficult to clean than synthetic, and when down insulation gets wet, it is very hard to dry. This can be dangerous if you find yourself with a wet sleeping bag on a cold night.
Most casual campers choose to purchase a sleeping bag with synthetic insulation, especially for kids. Synthetic insulation refers to fill made of polyester, nylon, or cotton. These sleeping bags can also be lightweight, easily compressed, and durable, plus synthetic insulation dries much more quickly than down insulation, it is easier to clean, costs less, and is hypoallergenic.
Size & Weight: One of the main factors that makes a kids’ sleeping bag a kids’ sleeping bag is that it’s smaller than an adult bag. Kids’ sleeping bags are designed to fit a smaller frame, which helps to keep heat inside the bag. Some kids’ sleeping bags are made for toddlers and others are made for children, so be sure to consider your kid’s height and weight when choosing the right bag for them.
Part of the size of the bag is its weight. A sleeping bag is one of the heaviest and bulkiest pieces of camping gear, so it is important to consider this if you plan on hiking with sleeping bags in tow or sleeping in cold temperatures. In general, the warmest sleeping bags are the heaviest. So, it’s best to look for a bag that your child is capable of carrying themselves, and one that will provide the appropriate level of warmth.
Shape: Sleeping bags usually come in one of four shapes: rectangular, barrel shaped, mummy, and double wide. Rectangular sleeping bags are obviously shaped like a rectangle, and they are designed to be more spacious and comfortable. A barrel-shaped sleeping bag is similar to a rectangular sleeping bag, but it is narrower in the feet. Mummy bags are fitted and snug to the body for the entire length of the sleeping bag. Lastly, double wide refers to an extra-large version of a rectangular sleeping bag that can fit two sleepers.
The best shape for your child depends on a couple of factors—their sleep preferences, the temperatures they will be using the sleeping bag in, and the weight of the bag. Some of the sleeping bag shapes described above may be more comfortable for kids who like to spread out when they sleep or for kids who like to wrap themselves up in a ball. Plus, the more fitted the bag, the warmer it is, which is best for colder temperatures. And if the weight of the bag matters, rectangular and barrel-shaped bags are usually lighter than mummy or double-wide bags.
Durability & Maintenance: When it comes to products for kids, durability and cleanliness always matters. In general, kids are rougher with their possessions than adults are, so finding a sleeping bag that can hold up to tough love is best. Plus, the terrain the sleeping bag is placed on can wear it down over time. As a result, you will want to find a kids’ sleeping bag that has sturdy zippers and is made with durable materials and insulation that repel moisture.
Kids are also known to spill things and make messes, so the wrong sleeping bag could get ruined by one of these incidents. Sleeping bags also become dirty from the bodies that sleep in them. Because of this, purchasing a sleeping bag that is easy to clean and water resistant will prove to be a good decision later.
Climate: Climate, specifically temperature and precipitation, plays a major role in selecting a sleeping bag. Before you buy a kids’ sleeping bag, be sure to consider where and when it will be used.
All sleeping bags have a temperature rating that indicates the lowest temperature at which the sleeping bag will keep a person warm while wearing one layer of clothing. But, warmth is perceived and varies from kid to kid, which is why it is best to purchase a sleeping bag that is rated for temperatures lower than what you expect to encounter, but not too low to cause overheating. The zipper on the sleeping bag can also help to regulate the amount of heat that’s kept inside by allowing the sleeper to adjust for ventilation. Since kids don’t have as much body mass to keep themselves warm, erring on the side of caution is smart.
Precipitation is directly related to warmth. As mentioned earlier, a wet sleeping bag will be much colder and could be dangerous. Because of this, many sleeping bags are built to be water-resistant, but if you want extra protection, consider treating the bag with a water-resistant chemical or adding a water-proof shell to the bag.
What Are the Top Five Kids’ Sleeping Bags?
Here is a summary of the top five kids’ sleeping bags, each offering a unique combination of desirable features. All of these products are highly rated, and sleep tested.
The Wenzel Moose sleeping bag is designed to keep young campers comfortable and warm in temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It has a polyester shell with synthetic, hypoallergenic Insul-Therm insulation. This sleeping bag also features a self-repairing zipper that won’t snag, plus it is lightweight at only 3.25 pounds. It measures 66 inches long and 26 inches wide, and it comes with a stuff sack for storage and transport. Finally, it is available in pink and blue, and both colors feature an appealing moose design.
Coleman’s Youth Sleeping Bag has several special features. It is filled with ThermoTech insulation and has a ComfortCuff along the neckline of the sleeping bag to keep heat in. This sleeping bag also features a small interior pocket with Velcro closure and ZipPlow, which keeps fabric away from the zipper to prevent snags. It is rated for temperatures as low as 45 degrees Fahrenheit, and fits children up to 5.5 feet tall. This sleeping bag is available in two design options: blue with camouflage print inside and pink with multicolor squares inside. Coleman also offers a limited warranty with the purchase of this product.
Wenzel’s Backyard model sleeping bag is the only mummy-shaped bag on this list. It measures 26 inches wide and 66 inches long, and it is built with breathable yet warm materials. The synthetic polyester insulation along with the mummy shape lock in warmth. This sleeping bag also features a double zipper that can open from both ends and provides draft protection. Unlike rectangular sleeping bags, the Wenzel Backyard has a hood to keep heads warm and keep heat inside the bag. It is lightweight at only 2.2 pounds, plus it comes with a stuff sack for carrying and storing. Lastly, this 30-degree Fahrenheit kids’ sleeping bag is available in green and purple.
The Coleman Kids bag is similar to the Coleman Youth bag above, but they differ in their temperature rating, and this Coleman model features a glow-in-the-dark design. This bag is rated for 50-degree Fahrenheit temperatures and can accommodate children up to 5 feet tall. It also has ThermoTech synthetic insulation and ComfortCuff to prevent drafts from getting in through the seams. The zipper is equipped with ZipPlow, which moves fabric out of the way of the zipper to prevent snags. This sleeping bag is lightweight and easy to carry at 2.4 pounds, and it comes with its own stuff sack for storage and transport. It is available in teal, pink, and blue, each with glow-in-the-dark designs.
The Teton Sports Celcius Junior is the warmest sleeping bag on this list with a 20-degree Fahrenheit temperature rating. It is a rectangular sleeping bag with a hood for extra warmth. This sleeping bag features draft tubes, which run along the two-way zipper to prevent drafts, and it has a small interior pocket for storage. The Celcius Junior is available in 3 colors—brown/pink, blue/stripe, and blue/plaid—each with a matching stuff sack. Unlike other kids’ sleeping bags, this one gives the option of having the zipper on either the right side or the left side, and Teton Sports offers a limited lifetime warranty with the purchase of their sleeping bags.
Easy to roll up and store
Roomy and comfortable
May not live up to temperature rating
What Else Should You Consider When Using And Purchasing Kids’ Sleeping Bags?
There are a few other factors to consider when purchasing a kids’ sleeping bag, including price, comfort, and looks. In general, kids’ sleeping bags are affordable. Since many kids’ sleeping bags are made with synthetic insulation, the cost of down fill is eliminated, so other features of the sleeping bag determine the price. The recommended kids’ sleeping bags above range in price from $23 to $38, and luckily some of them come with warranties. Keep in mind that your children will grow out of their sleeping bag and that it may need to be replaced when considering your sleeping bag budget.
Next, consider the comfort that the sleeping bag will provide. As mentioned earlier, it is vital that your kids can get the sleep they need in order for everyone’s experience to be more enjoyable. A small pillow or a sleeping pad can add more comfort if necessary.
Finally, the look of the sleeping bag matters to kids. Unlike adults, kids will always pick the sleeping back that looks the best rather than the one that has all of the qualities necessary. Fortunately, most of the sleeping bags that are made for kids are available in appealing colors or they feature popular characters from T.V. shows or movies. It may be helpful to find a small number of sleeping bags that fit your child’s needs and have them pick their favorite look out of those options.
Kids’ Sleeping Bags – Final Thoughts
Ultimately, everyone’s goal when searching for the best sleeping bag is to find one that is warm, dry, comfortable, and easy to carry, and that is no different when searching for a kids’ sleeping bag. Although kids have different needs than adults, the recommended kids’ sleeping bags above are all designed to address those needs with some specialized features added. Parents and the makers of kids’ sleeping bags know that kids’ sleep, especially when they are away from home, is important for everyone involved.