Choosing Between An Air Bed Vs Memory Foam Mattress For Camping
Going camping can be an enjoyable experience, especially when you have the right equipment and supplies. It is relaxing and rejuvenating to be at one with nature, and you also get to experience being away from the hustle and bustle of the city, with family and friends. However, in order to have the best possible experience, it is important to sleep comfortably while away from home. This article will help you choose between an air bed vs. memory foam mattress for your next camping trip.
When comparing an air bed vs. a memory foam mattress for camping, an air bed is more suitable for shorter camping trips because it is not as comfortable as a foam mattress. However, an airbed is more portable and convenient. A memory foam mattress is better for longer camping trips since it is more comfortable and durable. However, memory foam takes up more space and requires an additional waterproof cover.
Mattresses that you purchase for a camping trip have several unique features that are not as important for home mattresses. These include storage, packing, comfort, durability, and portability. Mattresses that work well for camping trips are either memory foam or air. Read our article on the benefits of air beds to find out about the support that they offer.
Backpacking And Camping Considerations
If you’re carrying the pad on your back, then reducing weight and packed size is important.That’s why many backpackers choose air pads. Self-inflating foam pads offer comparable warmth and comfort, though, and offer more affordable options for budget-minded backpackers.
For camping, comfort counts most, so the type of pad, its weight and packed size are less important.You’re free to choose a pad that’s as thick and roomy as you wantas long as the inflated pad fits inside your tent .
Why You Should Trust Us
This review is brought to you by a Dream Team of OutdoorGearLab contributors Laurel Hunter and Matt Bento. Laurel Hunter lives in Central Oregon and is a car camping aficionado. She, her husband, and two pups have crisscrossed the American West multiple times in their pickup, finding mountain biking, fly fishing, hiking, and camping adventures. As a member of Yosemite Search and Rescue and a traveling rock climber, Matt Bento has spent many nights on air mattresses and understands all of the finer points about them, as well as the value of a good night’s sleep.
We began this quest for camping comfort by combing through the range of available options before deciding on the mats that are discussed here. After purchasing them and throwing them in the back of the car, we took each of them out on numerous camping trips. They got used in our houses when we had overnight guests, packed into our luggage for flights across the country, and lent out to friends and family for their use and feedback. Finally, we lined them all up side-by-side and measured inflation and deflation times, laying on them one after another to solidify our impressions from camping into a consensus of opinion. Throughout the testing process, we paid attention to things like insulation value, packed size, and ease of use, in addition to the most crucial factor of all, comfort.
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Enerplex Camping Series Queen
Need something to camp on just once, or for your unexpected guest to crash on for the weekend? Then the EnerPlex Camping Series Queen is for you. It is not going to give you the comfort and warmth of most of the other mattresses in this review, but it will provide some cushion on a very low budget. We particularly enjoyed it for napping outside on a warm afternoon. This queen-sized mattress comes with a backpack-style storage bag and an electric pump for a fraction of the cost of the foam mattresses.
While it does have a soft flocking on the top, there is no insulation in the Enerplex, so if you’re using it in cold or even cool conditions, it’ll feel like you’re sleeping on top of an icebox. This is a warm-weather or indoor option only. But, with the price so low, it might be worth it to have one of these lying around, just in case.
Camping Cot Vs Air Mattress Vs Self
When it comes to camping mattresses, there are three standard forms that most people consider: self-inflating mattresses, air mattresses, and camping cots. You could always throw a pile of blankets on top of a bulky slab of memory foam, but then youd have to wave sayonara to all of your vehicles storage space. Buh-bye rear window visibility!
The more compact camping mattress alternatives each have their own advantages and drawbacks, but thats why were here to give you the lowdown before you make your purchase.
Self-Inflating Mattress: Self-inflating mattresses can inflate themselves because of their unique construction. A layer of foam is encased in an airtight shell, so when the mattress is unrolled and allowed to decompress the expanding foam pulls in air through the inflation valve. How cool is that?
The REI Camp Bed self-inflating. This takes about a full minute.
They do inflate themselves, but youll have to put in a couple of breaths or squeeze a small pump to make the mattress firm. Self-inflating pads condense down much better than most large camping air mattresses and can be equally or more comfortable for a night in a tent or under the stars.
Most of the mattresses on this list are self-inflating, mostly because they are the most appropriate for easy portability, provide excellent comfort, and can take a beating. While they dont offer the most height and bed-like experience, they are better suited to camping trips.
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What About A Cot
A cot may stretch the definition of a sleeping mattressconsidering it comes with a metal structure in addition to a sleeping platformbut its a viable and quite popular way of sleeping in a tent. We love cots because they get you high off the ground, and they can double as a couch for hanging out during the day. Comfort-wise, they usually fall in the mid-range. The Coleman ComfortSmart Deluxe that weve included above is reasonably soft, but it still falls short of a quality self-inflating mat. On the other hand, a cot like the Coleman is a great value at around $100.
The most important consideration is whether you can transport the cot and fit it inside your tent. Most cots only fold in half, so they are extremely large . If youre bringing a few cots, it may be impossible to squeeze everything into your vehicle. And inside your tent, the tall height of the cot may run into the sloped walls. But if you have the space and are willing to haul it around, a cot can be a great choice for camping.
The 8 Best Air Mattresses For Camping In 2022
Get a restorative nights sleep in the great outdoors with these top picks
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TripSavvy / Chloe Jeong
Best for Car Camping: Luno Car Camping Mattress at huckberry.com
“This clever inflatable mattress can turn the back of your SUV or hatchback into a bed, helping eliminate the need for a tent.”
Air mattresses are a convenient option for sleeping in the great outdoors because they’re reliable, comfortable, and inflate automatically. However, shoppers should also take the weight of the air mattress into consideration when doing research. If you’re hiking a few miles to your campsite, you’ll want something lightweight car campers will be able to use something a bit heavier. But with so many options out there, made with a range of materials, varying levels of thickness, and different price ranges. Luckily, weve done the hard work for you and rounded up the top options.
Keep reading to see the best air mattresses for camping, below.
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Need More Gear Advice
If you liked this list, youll love the CleverHiker Gear Guide where we test and recommend tons of outdoor adventure gear from a variety of categories. here are some links to popular articles:
Heather Eldridge is an accomplished backpacker and camping aficionado. She cut her teeth on winter camping and rock climbing trips as a youngster then went on to thru-hike over 6,000 miles of Americas longest trails. She now lives on a farm in Oregon where she works as a full-time gear tester, writer, and photographer.
Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means we may receive a modest commission if purchases are made through those links. This adds no cost to our readers and helps us keep our site up and running. Our reputation is our most important asset, which is why we only provide completely honest and unbiased recommendations.
Best Car Camping Mattress For Coupleswey & Fly Suv Air Mattress
For a reliable self-inflating mattress to take up the whole of the back of the car, thisWey & Fly SUV air mattress is a great option. Several parts of this sleep system move and flex to accommodate the shape of your car in order to get a more precise and tight fit.
The separate cell pads allow you to inflate it to 80%, 60% and 40% making it versatile enough for a couple or single person, depending on your needs.
This is an especially good camping mattress for couples as it features a special I-shape design, which allows two people of different weights to sleep on it at the same time and not disturb each other.
Since this does take up a lot of space when fully inflated, you wont be likely to fit much else in the back while this is in there, so you might have to pack light or get yourself a good car top carrier.
Sizes: 76 x 51 x 4.72
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How We Chose Our Selection Of Best Camping Air Mattresses
As much as we would have loved to test these babies out ourselves, we didnt have the time to sleep for long enough to get a proper feel of them, what with deadlines, eating, and spending time with our family and friends getting in the way. While this sucks for us, it doesnt suck at all for you. To help us get over our disappointed, we searched high and low and somewhere in the middle before finally, finding and settling on these four crucial factors to ensure we found only the absolute best air mattresses for camping.
Brand – Why does the brand matter? Well, future camping mattress owner, the brand matters because its a representation of what you can expect from the product. Camping equipment is a competitive market, with many brands all vying to develop the latest and greatest products to sway you towards them for life.
This is awesome news for us and you, the consumer, as it means were showered with a plethora of excellent options to find the right one for us. This is what we thought about when making our selection, and as we worked through the different brands, we found those which are at the forefront, the ones that are constantly innovating, and the ones we think youll quite like.
Reviews also helped us find some true gems of products and helped us discover secrets about them we couldnt wait to share.
What Can Affect The Price Of Memory Foam Beds
Theres not one foolproof formula for how a mattress is priced nevertheless, some factors are ordinarily involved in the final price of a memory foam mattress.
- The total amount of memory foam. More memory foam thickness generally equates to a higher cost.
- The density of the memory foam. It costs more to produce high-density foam, so it tends to raise the price.
- Overall mattress height. Because a taller mattress involves more and/or thicker layers and a greater amount of total material, it can translate to a more expensive bed.
- Quality of construction. Mattresses with a thoughtful design and high-end components usually cost more than those that cut corners in their construction.
- Cooling components. The inclusion of cooling features, such as special cover materials, gel-infused foam, or copper-infused foam, may elevate the price.
- Extra features. If a mattress has special features, such as a reversible firmness design or a proprietary material, expect those features to increase the cost of the mattress.
- Where the mattress is manufactured. Beds made in the United States usually carry a higher price tag than those made in other countries. Mattresses made in China are frequently the least expensive.
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Best Budget Car Camping Mattressbasenji Car Air Mattress For Backseat
For the budget savvy outdoor car enthusiast, the Basenji car air mattress for the backseat offers great value for money. Although it doesn’t have any foam inside, it is surprisingly durable and soft, even for people who sleep on their side.
Even at this low price, it includes features of more expensive models, like a honeycomb structural design for maximum comfort and durability, two inflatable pillows, a repair kit and a carry bag.
This budget camping mattress can be used in the backseat, the trunk, or even outside. It is easy to clean with a damp cloth, and it also packs away neatly.
Some customers have advised that anyone on the larger side should stick to using this mattress on the backseat rather than the trunk as it might get a little uncomfortable after a few hours of continuous use on a harder surface.
Intex Classic Downy Airbed Set
The Intex Classic Downy Airbed Set is a super comfortable air mattress that also includes two inflatable pillows and a hand pump. The soft, flocked surface helps to improve the comfort and the wave beams discourage your sleeping bag or sheets from moving around. The top is also waterproof and easy to clean. It even has a two-in-one valve with an extra wide opening that simplifies inflation and deflation. This queen-sized air mattress measures 60 x 8.75 x 80, easily sleeps two adults, and has a 600-pound capacity. When it comes to portable air mattresses, the Intex Classic Downy Airbed Set is one of the best.
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Weight And Body Support
The packaging of camping mattress should state the weight capacity it can bear. You dont want to purchase an air mattress that will only last one or two uses before it no longer supports your body weight. With a foam pad mattress, the weight factor wont be as important as it cannot burst, however, it may not provide as much support or comfort for your body on an uneven surface either.
Critical Camping Mattress Considerations
SIZE – For the best experience, make sure to take dimensions into consideration when youre choosing a camping mattress. If youre tall or a tosser-turner, you may want to size up to a long, wide, or XL version to give yourself plenty of space. Check the floor dimensions of your tent to find out what mattress will fit best. You may also find our Tent Size Guide helpful.
THICKNESS – Thicker mattresses tend to feel more cushy and comfortable. They cradle your shoulders and hips when you lay on your side, and you wont bottom out when you sit up. It used to be the norm to use thin pads for camping, but these days its not uncommon for mattresses to be three or four luxurious inches thick. That said, there are some excellent low-profile options on our list if you prefer a more minimalist approach or space-savings is a concern.
Thick mattresses are cushier and comfier, but thinner pads are lighter and more compact for transport
INFLATION STYLE –
Self-Inflating: Some pad and mattresses are self-inflating, which means they automatically take in air when you open the valve. Just leave them alone for a while, then all you have to do is top them off with a few lung-fulls of air to firm them up. Self-inflating pads are convenient and easy, though they arent totally work-free.
the REI Camp Dreamer XL self-inflates quickly and the valve allows for quick and complete deflation
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Sizing: Width And Length
In the spirit of comfort, camping pads and mattresses have a much larger footprint than their backpacking cousins. Some are offered in the smaller 72-inch length, but many start at approximately 77 inches, and extend to 80 to 85 inches . The longer length is great for taller folks, but just about everyone can appreciate the extra width. 20-inch pads are standard fare for backpacking and usually mean at least one arm is sliding off the pad during the night. The 25 or 30-inch widths you get with a camping pad are a welcome relief and can make a real difference in nighttime comfort. Active sleepers that roll around in their sleeping bag will also appreciate the additional space.
Buyers Guide: How To Choose A Sleeping Pad
Before reading our buyers guide, take a few moments to think about how you plan to camp and sleep.
Will you be driving up to a camp spot, hiking a mile or so in, or heading out on a weeklong backpacking trip? Do you sleep on your back, side, or stomach? Is extra cushioning important, or do you care more about saving on weight?
Understanding your sleep preferences will help determine the best pad. Read on for the most important factors in choosing a camping pad.
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