Whether you’re going hiking for the weekend, camping with the family, or climbing Everest, you need the right camping mattress. If you don’t get it right, you could end up cold and uncomfortable, which is never fun. There are a few different types of camping mattress (check the buying guide for more information) so you’ve got to make sure you get the right type for you. In this article, we’ve found the best camping mattresses and explained how you can go about finding the right one.
The Best Camping Mattress
Therm-a-Rest is pretty well known in the camping business. They invented the very first self-inflating camping mattress in 1972 and have been innovating ever since. That legacy is continued with the MondoKing 3D, their biggest and best camping mattress to date. We think it’s the best air bed for camping on this list when you consider everything.
It’s towards the more expensive side of camping mattresses, but you get a lot of bang for your buck. It’s 4 inches off the ground, which not only makes it super comfortable but keeps you well away from the cold hard ground. Oh, and speaking of keeping you warm, it has an R-value of 11.4 (check Buying Guide and FAQ section for more information), which is one of the highest on this list. It’s a full-size air mattress for one person, but at 30 inches wide you could probably fit two of you on there. If that’s not enough room, it has vertical walls which means you can easily put two of them together to make an awesome double mattress.
30” wide x 80” long x 4” thick
75D polyester fabric
Weighs 6.75 pounds
7”x 31” rolled up
- Weight6 pounds
This next self-inflating mattress is aimed at those who need to fit everything into one pack. Whether you’re hiking, climbing, or just backpacking around, you need something that’s lightweight and packs down really small. The Klymit Static V Luxe weighs just 26.5 ounces and packs down to 5.5 by 10 inches. That means it’s smaller and weighs less than a liter of water in your bag.
But the question is: is it still comfortable? Fortunately, the answer is yes. Sure, it’s never going to be as good as a large inflatable mattress, but the V-shaped design hugs your body and gives you plenty of support when you’re asleep. Only problem is, it has an R-value of 1.3, which is only really suitable for camping in the summer.
30” wide x 76” long x 3” thick
75D polyester fabric
Weighs 1.66 pounds
5.5”x 10” rolled up
- Weight1.8 pounds
Nemo Cosmo insulated sleeping pad is a strong contender for the best single air mattress on the market. A quick read of the Amazon reviews will show you how much people love this compared to similar products. It’s not self-inflating, but it’s almost as easy thanks to the integrated foot pump at the bottom of the mattress. It inflates quickly, and you don’t need to carry around an extra pump in your pack. This, as well as the fact that it packs down to 8 by 11 inches, means you could take it backpacking, but we’d recommend going for something slightly smaller.
Due to the size, it’s really designed for camping holidays or sleeping in your car, instead of serious hiking and trekking. But extra size means extra comfort. In fact, some reviewers say it’s the most comfortable camping mattress they’ve ever tried.
Integrated foot pump
30” wide x 80” long x 4” thick
75D polyester fabric
Weighs 2.7 pounds
8”x 11” rolled up
Suitable to 15 degrees
- ModelNEMO Equipment Inc.
- Weight2.7 pounds
The name of this product should tell you what it’s all about. The Alps Mountaineering Outback air mat is a serious piece of kit. It’s suitable for taking into more extreme conditions than your average mat, with an R-value of 11. The only slight problem is that, even when packed down well, it’s quite a bulky mat. If you manage to get it back into the stuff sack, it will be around 12 by 32 inches. That means you’re going to need a pretty big bag to carry it up the mountain.
It is self-inflating, but you might need to finish it off using your own lung power. Plus, it’s made from tough 30D elastic and even comes with a repair kit. If you have the space for this air mat, it’s definitely going to keep you comfortable and warm in tough conditions.
32” wide x 80” long x 4” thick
Weighs 7.5 pounds
12”x 32” rolled up
- BrandALPS Mountaineering
- Weight7.4 pounds
This one’s not the best camping air mattress on the list, but it’s a great middle of the road option. It’s relatively inexpensive when compared to the serious mountaineering mats, but it still provides an impressive level of comfort and warmth for your camping trip. It has an R-value of 9.4, keeping you plenty warm at night, and the non-slip stretch material really hugs your body when you’re sleeping. Thanks to the double oversize air valves, Lightspeed Outdoors XL Super Plush Self-Inflating Camp Pad self-inflates and deflates quickly. Plus, the soft non-PVC material means that there’s no annoying crinkling sound when you move around in the night.
30” wide x 77” long x 4” thick
Flexform fabric surface
Weighs 6.0 pounds
7.75”x 32” rolled up
- BrandLightspeed Outdoors
- Weight6 pounds
If you’re looking for comfort above everything else, this queen size air mattress is definitely the one for you. Exped MegaMat Duo 10 Insulated Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad is the best air mattress for camping when you don’t really want to feel like you’re camping. We selected it as our Premium Choice product because it’s the most luxurious mattress on this list. In fact, it’s probably better than your mattress at home.
It’s nearly 4 inches thick is made from beautiful, high-quality material that has a really nice feeling when it touches the skin. The R-value is 9.5, which will keep you warm even when the ground is cold. As we said, this mat is really for the luxurious camper, it’s way too big to take on a hiking trip.
52” wide x 77.5” long x 4” thick
Oeko-Tex 100 Certified materials
Weighs 7.36 pounds
22”x 12” rolled up
We had to choose this camping air mattress as our Best Value product. It’s considerably cheaper than most of the products on this list, but it’s still comfortable enough to take on your camping holiday or to sleep in the back of your car. Coleman Self-Inflating Camping Pad with pillow is self-inflating and has an extra layer of padding to separate you from the ground. Probably because of the price, there isn’t any information about the R-value, but you can assume that it’s not suitable for really cold conditions.
76” wide x 25” long x 2.5” thick
- Weight5.4 pounds
Now, back to something a bit more heavy-duty. Like the first Therm-a-Rest pad we looked at, this one is really well-made. The difference with Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Ultralight Backpacking Air Mattress is that it’s small enough to take mountaineering, hiking, camping, and backpacking. That’s because it’s super lightweight (it weighs just 1 pound) and packs down really small (9×4 inches). You can shove it straight into your pack and you’ll barely notice it’s there. It’s no slouch in the comfort and warmth departments either. It’s got an R-value of 3.4, which should keep you warm in most conditions, and it’s 2.5-inch-thick with plush, non-slip fabric. If you’re looking for something lightweight and small that can still do the job, this has to be a contender.
Inflates in 2 minutes
20” wide x 72” long x 2.5” thick
Weighs 0.75 pounds
9”x 4” rolled up
- Weight12 ounces
We nearly chose this mat as our Premium Product. Instead, we ended up going for the Exped MegaMat because it’s queen-sized and feels like your sleeping on a real mattress. But, if you’re looking for a single blow up mattress for camping, this is one of the most comfortable out there. The comfort is provided by Air Sprung Cells™ and it has an R-value of 5. Everything in this mat is just a step above other camping mats on the market. It’s super comfortable, the materials are amazing, and it’ll keep you warm all night.
Inflates with valve
25” wide x 73” long x 3” thick
Weighs 2.2 pounds
10”x 5.5” rolled up
- BrandSea to Summit
This is the only true air mattress in this list. It’s the kind of thing you can take on a camping trip or use when you have unexpected guests staying over, but it’s not suitable for mountaineering or anything more hardcore. SoundAsleep Camping Series Air Mattress with Eco-Friendly PVC is not self-inflating, but fortunately, it comes with an eco-friendly rechargeable air pump, so there’s no manpower needed. It’s made from thick materials and is designed to handle abrasion. Plus, it comes with a handy carry case to make things easy when you’re packing the car.
Eco-friendly pump included
60” wide x 78” long x 9” thick
Weighs 13.9 pounds
I-Beam Air Coils
- BrandSoundAsleep Products
- Weight13.9 pounds
Big Agnes says in the description that it’s “the most comfortable and lightest three-season sleeping pad you can put in your pack.” And, while we can’t confirm or deny that, we can say that we think it’s one of the best. Big Agnes Insulated AXL Air Sleeping Pad is super lightweight at 0.66 pounds, so you’re really not going to notice it in your pack and; if you pack it away properly, it’s only 3 x 6.5 inches. Unfortunately, Big Agnes doesn’t publish an R-value, but they do say that it’s suitable down to temperatures of 32 degrees.
20” wide x 72” long x 3.75” thick
Weighs 0.66 pounds
3”x 6.5” rolled up
- BrandBig Agnes
- ModelBig Agnes
- Weight0.16 ounces
The Freeland Sleeping Pad is the second low-budget option. At less than $40, it’s one of the most affordable camping pads available. It’s thinner than a lot of the more expensive options (1.5 inches), but the 190T polyester should still keep you comfortable, especially if you’ve got a decent sleeping bag. It’s also really durable against tears, which is important when you’re moving it in and out of a car or tent. With camping mats, you get what you pay for. This mat isn’t going to be the most comfortable or warmest mat, but it will do the job on a camping trip in decent weather.
24.8” wide x 76” long x 1.5” thick
Weighs 3.3 pounds
6.7”x 15” rolled up
- Weight 4.3 pounds
Camping Mattress Buying Guide & FAQ
Features To Look For In Camping Mattresses
Size – The first consideration when you’re buying a camping mattress is the size. If you’re camping alone, you don’t need the extra weight of carrying a mattress big enough for two people. But you don’t want to have to share a single mattress with that special person in your life. Generally, the bigger the mattress the heavier it will be and the longer it will take to inflate.
Insulation & R-Value – When you’re shopping around for a camping mattress, you will see a lot of mentions of R-value. The R-value measures how well the camping air bed will insulate you from the cold ground. The higher the R-value, the warmer it will keep you. An R-value of 0-2 will be suitable for warm weather, and you should be looking for a higher R-value if you’re camping somewhere cold.
Construction – Another thing you’ll notice when you’re shopping for an air mattress are the different technologies and materials used in construction. Some have ThermaCapture technology, others have SoundAsleep ComfortCoil technology. But these are just words. It’s hard to know, as a consumer, what they really mean. So, instead, focus on the materials. High-quality sleeping pads are often made out of 30D and 40D nylon fabric, 190T polyester fabric, and other strong materials. Look for a material that’s durable and rip-proof. If you don’t recognize the material, type it into Google and see what you can find out about it.
Inflation – Inflating your mattress is the last thing you want to do after a long day’s hiking, or after setting up your tent in the boiling sun. Some of the cheaper air mattresses can be difficult to inflate. If you have a bit more money to spend, you can buy a self-inflating air mattress. If not, invest in a good air pump to make your life easier.
Comfort – This is really the sole reason you’re buying a camp bed mattress, so it has to be comfortable. The more money you are prepared to spend, the more comfortable a mattress you’ll be able to buy. However, you can find some decent options on a budget, like the Coleman Self-Inflating Camping Pad or the Freeland Camping Sleeping Pad.
Ease of Use – This is especially important if you’re using your camping pad in extreme conditions. It needs to be easy to inflate, easy to deflate, and easy to pack away afterward.
Weight – If you’re using your camping pad on a camping holiday, the weight isn’t that important. You can just chuck it in the back of the car and drive it right up to your pitch. But, if you’re hiking or climbing with your mattress, the weight is crucial. We’ve included the weight of each mattress on the key features section so that you can find the best one for you.
Packed Size – Same as the weight, the importance of this depends on what you’re using it for. We’ve included this information where possible, so you can see if it’s going to fit onto your backpack.
Durability – Unless you’re planning to use your camping mattress once, you want it to be durable. That means it should be made of strong materials that aren’t going to rip easily. Check out the type of material and read the reviews to find out how durable a product is.
Versatility – You might be buying a mattress for multiple uses. If so, it needs to be suitable for hiking, camping, and mountaineering. A versatile camping mattress should be lightweight, strong, and easy to inflate.
Camping Mattress Types
Self-Inflating Mats – Combining air and foam insulation, self-inflating mats are some of the least expensive and well-insulated camping mattresses available. All you have to do is open the valve and the mat fills with air, giving you a comfortable bed for the night. They’re not as easy to roll up and are more expensive than foam pads but offer a nice middle ground in between the other two types.
Air Mattresses – Air mattresses are the comfiest option available. They’re thicker than the other two and often require you to inflate them using a pump or even by mouth. You can find some options that are self-inflating but expect to pay top dollar for them. They’re ideal for family camping but not great for hiking or climbing when you need something lightweight.
Foam Pads – These are the thinnest, most lightweight, and often cheapest options available. They’re not very comfortable, but you can attach them on the outside of your backpack and hike to your destination.
Camping Mattress FAQ
Air Pads VS Foam Pads
Both options are suitable for most recreational camping holidays. However, if you are using them in extreme conditions, you need to think more carefully about your decision. When climbing Everest (and other high peaks), climbers will use both together – they will have an inflatable air pad on top of a foam pad. Foam pads are more reliable and lightweight but won’t offer you as much comfort or warmth. Whereas air pads are heavier and can be ripped but are easy to fix with a repair kit and will give you a better night’s sleep.
Q: What is the intended use for your camping mattress?
A: This is an important question to ask yourself before you start shopping for a camping mattress. If you’re going on a family camping holiday, you will probably want a comfortable air mattress; but if you’re climbing Everest, you need something much lighter and well-insulated.
Q: How do self-inflating mattresses work?
A: They are basically a layer of foam sandwiched between airtight sections with a valve. When you unroll the mat, this valve is opened, and foam expands and sucks air into the mat.
Q: How long does a self-inflating mattress take to inflate?
A: Every mattress is different, but generally, they tend to inflate very quickly. If your mattress has taken more than a couple of minutes and doesn’t seem to be inflating, refer to the user manual and see how fast it is supposed to take.
Q: Why does warmth matter in my camping mattress selection?
A: If you’re camping in a warm climate in the summer, it probably won’t matter. But everywhere else in the world, it’s important to stay warm at night. Your camping mattress is the only layer of insulation between you and the floor, so make sure you check that the R-value is high enough to keep you warm.
Q: How should I store my camping mattress?
A: Firstly, make sure it is completely dry (so it doesn’t go moldy). Then, fold it according to the user manual and store it in a dry location.
Q: What is the best way to clean my sleeping mattress?
A: Wipe it with a cloth using warm water and a drop of mild soap. You can sprinkle baking powder on it to reduce odor.
Q: What should I do if I think my sleeping mattress is losing air?
A: Some air mattresses will lose a small amount of air overnight, but the surface should still be supportive. If you think it has a leak, fill it up as much as you can and listen for the leak. Then, fix it with a puncture repair kit.