What is the Best Camping Mattress?

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camping mattress inside a camp tent with lake view

Sleep is important, even when you’re on a camping trip. It doesn’t matter where you lay your head down at night – without the proper support, you aren’t going to get a good night’s sleep. And if you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you’re going to have a tough time enjoying your vacation in the woods.

The best backwoods experience requires the best camping mattress. Luckily, there are plenty of affordable options for you to choose from. Choose one of the best options, and you’ll notice the benefits immediately.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is a Camping Mattress?

A camping mattress is exactly what it sounds like – a mattress for you to sleep on while you are camping. These are generally lightweight and easy to pack and carry, allowing for maximum portability as you move through the woods.

While not all camping mattresses are designed and intended for backwoods camping (some are better suited to car camping or camping in an RV), all of them will be made out of compressible materials that are lighter in weight – and often quite a bit thinner – than the mattress that is on your bed.

Coleman Pillow Stop inside a big orange camping tent

Let’s break it down a bit further. There are several types of camping mattresses for you to choose from.

The first is known as a closed-foam mattress. This kind of camping mattress is made with dense foam that is filled with tiny air cells that are naked to the eye. These are great for casual campers to deep woods hikers alike, since they’re lightweight and inexpensive. They can be strapped to the outside of a pack and offer a basic level of protection against the ground.

Another option is an air camping mattress. These are more expensive than closed-foam mattresses because they can be used during three seasons of the year, insulating you quite a bit more from the cold temperatures of the ground. They are much thicker than traditional camping mattresses, allowing for maximum comfort.

Many people use air camping mattresses in their homes, allowing them to serve as spare beds when guests come to visit. They do need to be filled with air prior to use – and usually, that air has to come from your own lungs.

The last option is a self-inflating mattress. These don’t require you to blow into the mattress for hours to inflate it. Instead, you can allow the mattress to inflate for you. The self-inflating mattress contains both air and open-foam cells, providing insulation from the surface temperature. It’s also easily adjustable in terms of firmness.

Despite all the advantages of a self-inflating mattress, something you need to keep in mind is that it is not the best camping mattress for backpackers. Self-inflating mattresses don’t pack down as easily as the other two types of camping mattresses, so be sure to take that into careful consideration.

What to Look for in a Camping Mattress

Father, mother and their child inside a white camping tent

Brand And Quality

Brand shouldn’t always play a role in your shopping decisions, but when you’re looking for a camping mattress, you ought to at least give it a passing glance. Brand matters because it gives you a good idea of what you can expect from the product.

Top brands are constantly vying to get your attention, meaning that those with greater recognition and popularity often subject their products to more rigorous testing and quality assurance.

A high-quality mattress will not only be durable, but backed by positive customer reviews. Remember, a brand’s reputation speaks volumes when it comes to evaluating quality. Don’t settle for a knock-off mattress just because it’s cheaper, especially if it has poor reviews.

Size And Shape

Size is the next feature you need to pay attention to in your camping mattress. A too-small mattress obviously won’t give you enough room to sleep, but don’t be fooled into thinking that bigger is always better. If you pay extra for a larger mattress, you may find that it takes up too much space in your tent or care, or reduces other packing space that you need available for clothing and other gear.

Don’t just consider the size of the mattress when it’s fully extended, either. You also need to think about how big it is going to be when you pack it down. How comfortably can it fit into your bag, with all of your other gear considered, too?

Not all mattresses for camping come in a straight layout, either. Some have a tapered design that reduces the amount of space that your mattress uses in your tent. These are best for limited space, but some people don’t like how they feel to sleep in.

Weight

As a corollary to size, you also need to think about the weight of the mattress. If you plan on attaching it to your backpack or even packing it inside, you don’t want a mattress that is going to be overly heavy. That being said, if you plan on leaving the mattress in your car for some classic car camping, weight will be less of a concern.

Inflation

There are plenty of camping mattresses on the market, including those that are self-inflating or perhaps come with pumps. The worst kinds are those that you have to blow up yourself, which can not only exhaust your lungs but often will deter you from using the mattress at all. After all, after three hours of hiking, the last thing you are going to want to do is spend two hours blowing up your bed.

Self-inflating mattresses are easier to use, as are those that come with pumps. This will save you time and effort.

Comfort

When you’re buying a kayak trailer, there’s nothing more disheartening than gettia

Consider the materials that the mattress is made out of and also evaluate the type of insulation that it offers. Most camping mattresses will provide enough insulation against the temperature of the ground to ensure that you don’t get cold during the night.

Even if you plan on camping during the dog days of summer, make sure you pay attention to the insulation. After the sun goes down, that ground can get quite chilly. Most mattresses come with at least a thin layer, but you may want to pay a bit extra for one that will provide additional insulation if you are camping in winter conditions. Look at the R-value of the mattress, which will give you an idea of what season your mattress is best used in.

When it comes to material, make sure you invest in a mattress that will give you all the support necessary to remain on the mattress throughout the night. Usually, this will consist of some kind of flocked material, but you can also look for camping mattresses that are designed with puncture-resistant, weatherproof, or waterproof materials.

ng your trailer home and realizing that it’s not long enough to stash your kayak. Make sure you measure the tongue length to avoid this!

Tongue length is the distance as measured from the trailer hitch to the axle. Generally speaking, the longer the better. If you happen to find the perfect trailer that is just a little bit too short, keep in mind that you may be able to buy a tongue extension. Although this is an additional hassle, it will allow you to purchase the kayak trailer you want regardless of tongue length.

The 5 Best Camping Mattresses to Consider

The Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D Self-Inflating Foam Camping Mattress is, without a doubt, the best camping mattress on our list. A good upper-range product, it offers significantly more sleeping surface than you will find with any other type of camping mattress.

It is uniquely designed with vertical sidewalls, giving you more surface area and support. It’s one of the best options for couples, as it will allow both of you to sprawl without feeling too crowded.

The Therm-a-Rest has dual valves that let the core of the mattress, made out of compressible urethane foam, to inflate and expand. It is easily adjustable to your desired level of firmness, and comes with a built-in stuff sack and carry handle for portability.

What We Liked

  • Offers a great deal of sleeping surface
  • Lightweight for portability
  • Comes with a stuff sack

What We Didn't Like

  • Deflation takes some time

What We Liked

What We Didn't Like

  • Offers a great deal of sleeping surface
  • Lightweight for portability
  • Comes with a stuff sack
  • Deflation takes some time

One of the most affordable options on our list, the Intex Classic Downy Airbed is a great choice for casual campers. It has a two-in-one valve inflation and deflation mechanism that allows you to blow up and take down this mattress quickly – and with minimal effort.

Although you will have to buy your own pump separately, it fits perfectly into the average-size tent. It has a 20.8 gauge flocked waterproof top to keep you protected from the elements. In fact, you can use this airbed in a variety of seasons. It comes in sizes of “full” and “queen.”

What We Liked

  • 20.8 gauge flocked waterproof top
  • Valve is 2-in-1 and has extra-wide openings
  • Great substitute for an actual mattress while camping

What We Didn't Like

  • Does not come with pump

What We Liked

What We Didn't Like

  • 20.8 gauge flocked waterproof top
  • Valve is 2-in-1 and has extra-wide openings
  • Great substitute for an actual mattress while camping
  • Does not come with pump

The Exped Megamat 10 is a super-insulated sleeping pad that offers nearly four inches of loft. It will keep you warm and comfortable no matter where and how you might be sleeping. It is self-inflating and comes with a miniature pump, saving you time and effort. It even has an easy firmness adjustment!

Designed for use during all four seasons, it will keep you warm in temperatures as low as -54 degrees Fahrenheit. It comes with its own carry sack and is backed by a five-year manufacturer’s warranty, too.

What We Liked

  • Offers four inches of loft
  • Comes with a stuff-sack to ensure easy packing
  • Designed for use during four seasons

What We Didn't Like

  • Takes quite a bit of time to inflate the first time you use it

What We Liked

What We Didn't Like

  • Offers four inches of loft
  • Comes with a stuff-sack to ensure easy packing
  • Designed for use during four seasons
  • Takes quite a bit of time to inflate the first time you use it

The Etekcity Camping Air Mattress is an inflatable option that is built with all the latest technology. It has a wave beam inner support structures that offer more durability and stability than traditional air mattresses, supporting a total of 650 lbs!

If that sounds too good to be true, just listen to the rest of this product’s features. It is made in the United States and has a 20% thicker PVC and flocked topping than other air bed surfaces. This means that the mattress will remain firm through the night without leaking and sinking to the ground.

It also comes with a multi-use valve that allows you to use one for quick inflation and the other to top off the levels of air in the mattress to your desired levels it has a rechargeable pump with AC/DC adapters and can reach full inflation in just 90 seconds.

What We Liked

  • Supports the natural spine curvature for comfortable, ergonomic sleep
  • Comes with air pump with various types of nozzles
  • Provides nine inches of lift

What We Didn't Like

  • Can be tough to clean

What We Liked

What We Didn't Like

  • Supports the natural spine curvature for comfortable, ergonomic sleep
  • Comes with air pump with various types of nozzles
  • Provides nine inches of lift
  • Can be tough to clean

Without a doubt the simplest camping mattress on our list, it is also the best camping mattress if you are looking for a simple, no-frills option. This one is made out of high-density memory foam, allowing for more consistent support and comfort.

If you suffer from back pain while camping, this is the mattress for you. It is non-slip and waterproof. It is even machine-washable! Perfect for packing, it can be rolled into a compact size.

What We Liked

  • Portable and lightweight
  • Multifunctional product
  • Has a damp-proof bottom sheet

What We Didn't Like

  • Less support than an inflatable air mattress

What We Liked

What We Didn't Like

  • Portable and lightweight
  • Multifunctional product
  • Has a damp-proof bottom sheet
  • Less support than an inflatable air mattress

How to Find the Best Camping Mattress for Your Needs

Finding a good camping mattress should not be challenging. Consider how many people will be sleeping on your mattress and figure out how portable you need it to be. Then, you can decide which of the mattresses we told you about will be the best for your needs.

When in doubt, select a mattress that is slightly more spacious than you think you will need it to be. That way, you’ll have a little extra wiggle room at night. Don’t discount other features, though, like the R-value of the mattress or how easy it is to pack into a compressed shape.

If you’re on the hunt for the perfect camping spot with zero crowds and perfect views…well, unfortunately, we can’t help you with that.

However, if you want to actually be able to enjoy that camping spot and those views, investing in one of the best camping mattresses can help.

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