Tips, Tricks and How-to's for fun, comfy and easy trips!

Comfortable Camping Mattresses and Sleeping Pads

Aside from leaking tents, the second biggest camping compliant is "I couldn't sleep well, my air mattress was uncomfortable!"

That is an easily solved problem!

Don't buy an inflatable air mattress.  You'll have having to blow it up each night, and I can guarantee, it will leak and go flat sooner or later.

The answer is a self-inflating air mattress.  Not one with a pump built in (they fail, too), instead it has foam inside and when you open the valve the foam expands by itself and sucks the air in.  Then you just close the valve!

These are made from very tough canvas and won't leak.. I have one I bought in 1991 that still works great! I have the one shown at right and it works great!  I sleep better than in my bed at home!

If you do insist on a purely air mattress (with no foam inside, that you must inflate your self, This one gets phenomenal reviews and has a lifetime replacement policy. I'll admit that if you are backpacking, this mattress would be good.  But the focus of this website is road trip camping, not backpacking...

What you need to know

  • Unless you are a Boy Scout going on backpacking trips, get at least 2 inches thick.  2 inches is fine for someone up to 195 lbs.  Over 200 lbs, you should get a 3" thick mattress. The heavier you are, the thicker it will need to be. Hint: if you need more than 3 inches, you need to worry about an imminent heart attack and should lose weight!
  • My preference, after 50 years of camping is the self-inflating, with foam inside type air mattress, with NO pump needed. You just open the valve, the foam inside expands and sucks air in, then you turn the valve. Even if they should eventually leak from a 300 lb man jumping on them, they still work.
  • The air mattress keeps the ground from sucking the heat out of you, especially important in cold camping months.
  • Be sure to check the reviews. If you get it on Amazon, it should be 4 starts or better and have a thousand reviews or more.
  • When it is not in use, leave it flat and open. This will keep the foam inside able to expand! Do not store it rolled up and compressed. 
  • A simple air mattress with foam inside is self-inflating and still conformable if it should ever leak (due to the foam inside)



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