Laying down to sleep after a long day in the outdoors is one of the most blissful feelings.
Nestled cozy into your sleeping bag, the scurrying of nocturnal critters and rustling of the evening breeze lull you to sleep - YAWN - I’m feeling drowsy just thinking about it!
But after a few minutes lying there, you become restless. Flipping onto your side doesn’t help. Adjusting your pillow doesn’t help. Even counting sheep doesn’t help. Something just isn’t right… and it’s probably your air mattress.
Not all portable beds are made equally. In this article, we'll take a look at how you can find the best air mattress for camping.
Air Mattress Buying Considerations
It can be a nightmare shopping for an air mattress, but you don't need to lose sleep scouring the internet for the perfect product. All you need are a few important factors before buying your inflatable bed.
Size definitely matters when it comes to air mattresses, but it is confined by the dimensions of your shelter. No guys, that’s not some grotesque euphemism - you literally are restricted by the size of your tent. The most common mattress sizes are:
Single: 36" x 74" - Ideal for solo adventures who don’t need all the room.
Twin: 38" x 74" - May be a little cramped, but may be the only option for a 2-person tent.
Full: 54"x 74" - Fits two people comfortably, as long as you aren’t giants.
Queen: 60"x 80" - May be able to squeeze 3-4 people (just hope you’re not in the middle)
King: 72" x 80" - Your highness, do you really need that much room?
Whichever option you decided to go with, be wary of the actual height of the mattress, but we’ll talk more about that later.
When we talk about mattress weight, it's not about how much the mattress can carry, but the actual weight of the mattress. While this may be a non-issue if you are a car camper, every ounce counts if you need to carry your belongings for any distance.
Typically for backpacking you’ll want to aim for a single-person sleeping pad that weighs between 0.5-3 lbs to lighten your load. While they do make lightweight 2-person sleeping pads, it’s usually easier to simply carry two single-person ones if you travel with your partner.
How the heck are you supposed to put that much air inside a mattress in the middle of nowhere? Unless the big bad wolf comes to huff and puff and blow your air mattress up, you’ll probably be utilizing either a hand pump or electrical pump (battery or AC).
For some of the smaller inflatable beds on the market, they require you to inflate your bed yourself, but don’t worry, only about 20 deep exhales and little lightheadedness will do the trick.
The sights and sounds of nature will lull you into a peaceful sleep, but only if you have a comfortable air bed. You might like your mattress soft, firm, or just right like Goldilocks, but how are you supposed to judge each mattress’s firmness if it’s vacuumsealed in a box?
Truth is, you'll have to try it yourself. Manufacturer specs and camper reviews help to a certain extent, but at the end of the day, this is a highly subjective matter.
The life of a camping air mattress can be tough.
To ensure that your air bed lasts the distance, look into the materials used, design, even the history of the manufacturer. The more durable the your mattress, the longer you can enjoy the outdoors.
Honestly, what’s the true cost of a good night’s sleep?
If you don’t mind dozing off on a dime-a-dozen mattress, by all means, go for the less-expensive option, as many are worth more than the price tag would suggest. However, if you want to truly want to sleep like wilderness royalty, don't hesitate to spend some more. After all, a well rested camper is a happy camper.
Air Mattress FAQ
Instead of diving right into the different products, let’s answer a few frequently asked questions about air mattresses to gain a better understanding of their function, and utilize some knowledge you have recently learned.
Q: Why won’t my air mattress stay inflated?
A: When you blow up your mattress, the air inserted typically is warmer than the outside temperature air. Once the air inside the bed regulates to the air outside the bed, then you will have a slight drop in pressure. In other words, a deflated mattress.
That, or you probably have hole in the lining somewhere, which will need repairing.
Q: How do I repair my air mattress?
A: Great question, my dear reader. Each air mattress should come with a patch kit and instructions to fix any slow leaks, but if you want to learn a few homemade techniques about how to fix your punctured pad, check out how to find a leak in an air mattress (and fix it).
Q: How do I store my air mattress at home?
A: First off, deflate your air mattress. Make sure to squeeze all the air out, fold it up, and store it in a sturdy storage container. The next step is to store it in your closet at eye-level to remind you everyday that you should be back at the campsite.
That last part is optional.
Q: My tent says it will hold a queen-sized mattress, but it doesn’t actually fit. Why?
A: Only considering a tent’s length and width, and not the height, may lead to a disastrous situation at the campsite. Since tents are typically shaped like a pyramid, the available surface area decreases the closer you get to the ceiling. Be sure to take this into account in your measurements.
Q: Why do I need an air mattress since my foam sleeping pad works better?
A: Honestly, you don’t. Use whatever outdoor sleeping method works best for you. If sleeping on rocks make you sleep like a rock, then go for it!
Q: Is my air mattress toxic?
Air mattress toxicity is a concern for anyone with sensitive skin. Many of them are constructed of PVC Vinyl, which may leach fumes over time and cause unwanted irritation. Make sure to contact the manufacturer if you are concerned with any potential health hazards.
Best Air Mattress For
Companies craft their products to appeal to the masses, but what about your needs? Let's go through the best air mattresses for various purposes so that you can find the best one to fit your (and your partner's) personal air mattress needs.
You can start with this quick index table.
76” x 8” x 20”
Built-in pump 120V AC
Firm w/ Enhanced Coils
75” x 58” x 19”
1-click internal pump
Thick, Waterproof Material
77” x 25” x 2.5”
Two way valve blow up
Great for size
Soft but durable
78” x 59” x 22”
4D battery pump
Warm and cozy
Sturdy frame and bed
80” x 60” x 8”
Firm when fully inflated
80” x 60” x 18”
Main and Never-flat pump
53” x 33.5" x 20.5”
Car air pump
Cramped but comfy
High quality Oxford
73” x 21.6” x 2.2”
Not great, but ok
84” x 24” x 33”
Like a cloud
50” x 25” x 4”
120 V AC Pump
Soft but noisy
Heavy duty PVX
For The Outdoor Couple: King Koil Twin
Snuggle up next to your loved one in the cozy King Koil Twin air bed.
While the mattress does come in both queen and king versions, it may be best for car camping couples to go for the smaller twin to ensure that there is enough room in the tent. Then snuggle up to each other for warmth.
This isn’t just your average inflatable bed.
King Koil has added features like a built-in pump, waterproof quilt top, and even a convenient raised edge that acts as a pillow. The unique coil beams offer enhanced back support, and you’ll rest easy knowing that it is constructed with eco-friendly PVC.
With an average inflation time of three minutes, you won’t have to wait long to close your weary eyes, but you’ll have to be near an electrical outlet. So, if you are heading out for a romantic getaway at the campground, or simply having a guest come over to visit for the night, I’m sure you’ll grade the King Koil twin an A+ for catching Z’s.
For The Luxurious Glamper: Sound Asleep Dream Series
If you want to experience the ultimate luxury sleep experience at the campsite, then the Sound Asleep Dream Series may be the mattress of your dreams.
Slightly smaller than a standard queen-size bed, this mattress boasts plenty of space for two people. When it comes to comfort, you may have to get used to the awkward ‘dimples’ on top, but they shouldn’t be too much of an issue since the ComfortCoil technology will give you ample support.
Sure, you may be thinking, “Jay, this just looks like a typical air mattress. What’s the big deal?” Well, I’m glad you hypothetically asked because the Sound Asleep Dream Series air mattress comes loaded with several unique features.
The patented 1-click internal pump allows for a four-minute inflation/deflation process, yet it must be plugged into the wall. The flocked waterproof top is not only comfortable, but puncture-resistant, so you’ll be able to use this bed in the outdoors (despite being designed for home use).
The bottom part of the mattress is made up of “Sure-Grip” technology, so you won’t be sliding around the tent floor. On top of all that, it has a full one-year warranty. Now that’s what I call camping with style.
For The Solo Backpacker: Therm-A-Rest Neo Air X-Lite
Conquer the outdoors in comfort with the Therm-A-Rest Neo Air X-Lite sleeping pad.
Weighing only 12 oz., this lightweight pad was specifically designed for long-distance backpackers, but it’s compact enough to be used on any wilderness outing as it packs down to about the size of a 1-Liter water bottle.
At only 2.5” thick, you may think that the Neo Air X-Lite will leave you shivering as you lay close to the cold ground, but that’s truly not the case. This sleeping pad has an R-value of 3.2, which is a rating of insulation.
Basically, the higher the R-value, the warmer you’ll be (an R-value of 4.9 is considered sufficient for wintry conditions).
Camper's tip: The higher the R-value, the warmer you’ll be. An R-value of 4.9 is considered sufficient for wintry conditions.
While there are endless positive features of this sleeping pad, there are a few downfalls. If you are a broad-shouldered person, the narrow width of the Therm-A-Rest Neo Air X-Lite may be an issue. Also, the two-way valve (used to blow up the pad), can be a little finicky.
Other than that, if you’ve got a few dollars to spare and you’re hankering for adventure, you’ll be on cloud nine with the Neo Air X-Lite.
For The Winter Warrior: Coleman Queen Airbed Folding Cot
Known for their wide variety of reliable outdoor gear, Coleman has developed a product to bring the convenience of a normal bed straight to the campsite: the Queen Airbed Folding Cot.
For both indoor and outdoor use, this versatile mattress provides an elevated support so your body doesn't have to come in direct contact with the frigid tent floor. Plus, that leaves some extra space underneath the mattress to store your additional gear.
Some features that allow this air mattress to rise above many of its competitors. On either side of the mattress, there is a slide-out table that acts as a makeshift nightstand (with cup holders too!), so you don’t have to worry about fumbling around for your phone or your flashlight in the middle of the night.
Camping convenience at its finest.
On the other hand, the Coleman Queen Airbed Folding Cot does have a few downsides. The 4D battery operated pump doesn’t always output enough air to fully inflate the mattress sometimes, but at least you won’t be restricted by an electrical cord.
Weighing just over 40 pounds, this camping cot may make you sore as you haul it to the campsite. Afterwards though, you’ll be able to soothe those aching muscles as your body is cradled by the ComfortStrong coil construction.
Finally, if you (or someone else with you), tosses and turns at night, then you might want to look at other options since the fabric may squeak even for subtlest of movements.
For The Frugal Adventurer: Sable Camping Air Mattress
Sleek. Snug. Simple.
The Sable Camping Air Mattress cut out the bells and whistles compared to the fancier products on the market, yet has delivered a quality, affordable bed that will get you back to the basics.
Unlike many of the other “dimpled” mattresses, the Sable Camping Air Mattress has an I-beam constructions why helps to distribute your weight and adjust to your preferred sleeping posture. Even though the price is lower than its competitors, this air bed is still made of eco-friendly PVC with a 0.6 mm flocked, skin-friendly, top.
Sable even claims that you can use this mattress down to temperatures down to 22°F; perfect for any cold-weather camper.
Unfortunately, the Sable Camping Air Mattress comes without an inflation method of any kind, so you will have to separately purchase an air pump or electric pump. Still, with a 12-month warranty, you’ll have a wonderful experience knowing that you, and your bank account, are resting easy.
For The Impatient Camper: Insta-Bed Raised Air Bed with Never Flat
One of the biggest problems of any air mattress is that it slowly loses air overnight, but the Insta-Bed Raised Air Bed with Never Flat technology solves this issue.
The simple but effective two-pump system allows your mattress to maintain the same firmness at dawn as it had at dusk. To set it up, you simply choose the desired comfort level (plush, medium, or firm), and the primary pump inflates it. During the night, the silent secondary sensor detects any changes in the mattress air pressure, and either inflates, or deflates to adjust.
Although this is an amazing feature that will lull you to sleep at night, the Insta-Bed does have some flaws. The pump itself requires an electrical cord, which will limit you to a campsite with outlets, but I don’t think you’d want to hull the 22.4 lb. mattress deep into the woods anyways.
Also, since the pump is built-in to the fabric (and is housed with different materials), it's prone to manufacturer defects. Just contact Insta-Bed about any potential issues.
For The Backseat Lounger: Shelterin Inflatable Car Air Mattress
Convert your automobile into a dream mobile with the Shelterin Inflatable Car Air Mattress.
Unique but cheap, it comes with a simple Shelterin car-pump setup. This versatile lounger is perfect for any cross-country road tripper or car camper who wants to literally camp in their car.
Shelterin constructed this mattress out of a durable “nanometer” Oxford material so it will have a long lifespan. Unfortunately, since vehicles come in different shapes and sizes, it doesn’t fit snug in all cars.
You don’t just have to sleep in your car; the Shelterin Inflatable Car Air Mattress can be used almost anywhere - well - as long as you’re close enough to plug-in the car pump. Also, it even comes with a storage bag, a “children safety baffle,” and two-inflatable pillows.
For The Savvy Survivalist: Outdoorsman Lab Ultralight Sleeping Pad
Do you want to hike the extra mile, but don’t want to shell out a pretty penny for an expensive lightweight air mattress?
Well, you may be in luck. At only 16 oz., the Outdoorsman Lab Ultralight Sleeping pad will not only lighten your load on the trail (packs down to 8”ｘ3”ｘ3”), but help you take a load off for the night.
The interconnected air cells provide ample cushioning for your sore backpacking body, without sacrificing all the weight. They also will help keep you warm, giving the mattress an R-Value of 1.3. With this clever construction, it only takes 10-15 deep breaths to fully inflate.
Sure it may sound like the perfect sleeping pad for the long-distance hiker, but there are few downfalls to this product. For one, it’s only 22” wide, which may not be ideal for larger campers. Next, the cell- design is not for everyone, as you may have to go through an adjustment period before you are able to sleep comfortably.
Made with durable 20D Nylon and a waterproof polyurethane layer, Outdoorsman Lab has provided backpackers and travelers with a versatile, durable sleeping option.
Oh yeah - did I mention it has a lifetime warranty?
For The Stylish Soul: Chillbo Baggins 2.0 Inflatable Hammock
The Chillbo Baggins 2.0 Inflatable Hammock is designed to hold air for 4-5 hours, so it's not ideal for sleeping through an entire night. But since it actually feels like lying on a cushion of air, it's perfect for casual campsite lounging.
In true Chillbo Baggins fashion, you can choose from a bunch of eye-popping color combinations that will brighten your day and make you the talk of the campsite.
Even the inflation is a bit of a spectacle. Unlike with your typical air pump inflated mattress, you fill this up by holding it out like a windsock, scooping a ton of air, and then quickly tying it off. Sure some of your friends and family may giggle at your attempt to inflate the hammock, but you’ll get the last laugh when you’re lounging comfortably at the campsite.
But, why stop at the campsite? Relax in the inflatable lounger as you get a tan on the beach or lay back at a music festival.
The lightweight, versatile Chillbo Baggins 2.0 Inflatable Hammock will transform any setting into a chill session.
For The Kiddie Camper: AeroBed Mattress For Kids
You don’t need an entire air mattress for the little ones. Simply look into the AeroBed Mattress for Kids to give them a comfy camping adventure.
The included AC pump inflates the bed quickly, but you’ll have to be near an electrical outlet to blow it up. The heat welded PVC seams make it great for rambunctious kiddos, and the washable mattress pad is a nice touch for any tots that are prone to ‘accidents.’
Unfortunately, one major downfall of the bed is that it is extremely noisy. Any small movements may wake up the entire forest. Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but if you are a light sleeper like myself, you may want to look for a different option.
While it is made for children between the ages of 1-6, the mattress makes a perfect portable dog bed. So, whether you want to give the kiddos a cushion or Fido a futon, the AeroBed is ideal for all families who enjoy the outdoors.
Which Air Mattress is Good For You?
That concludes our trip through the inflatable dream world. Hopefully our journey has provided you with some important information, and all of your hypothetical questions about air mattresses have been answered. Check out more about the aforementioned air beds to see if they fit your camping needs and soon you’ll be resting easy in the outdoors.
In the meantime, continue perusing In Case of Camping’s wide variety of reviews, tips, and tricks to help ease your camping blues.
Jay toes the line between hiking enthusiast and vagabond as he treks across the world, soaking in it’s natural wonders. When he’s not exploring the trail, he writes articles to help guide others through their outdoor conquests.