It used to be that the only type of sleeping comfort on offer to the camper was a carry mat. A carry mat was generally made of foam, but because it needed to be easily portable, the foam was never thick enough to really offer a soft bed. But these days, the range of mattresses on offer to campers is amazing – and brilliantly comfortable.
From blow-up double mattresses and self-inflating airbeds to camp beds and cots, there is a mattress that will suit your comfort levels, budget and your needs for various camping trips.
Guide to buying a camping mattress
Self-inflating airbed: For campers that like to be on the move and will need to carry their mattress in a rucksack or easily portable luggage, a self-inflating airbed is the best option – see here. When un-inflated the airbed rolls up into a small, lightweight and compact pack and can easily be carried on multi-day walking or cycling trips, for example. When you are ready to sleep, you simply unroll the airbed and let the surrounding air do its work. With only a few extra puffs from your own lungs, these airbeds offer enough of a cushion under your body for a great night’s sleep.
Because of the pocket of air kept between you and the ground, these airbeds offer extra warmth, too. You’ll also save weight in your luggage because you don’t need to carry a pump or inflator.
If you are looking for a little extra comfort choose a self-inflating airbed with a built in pillow.
And when you are done with sleeping, you simply open up the valve, roll up the airbed while rolling out the air and pop it back into its carrying bag.
The choice of airbed will depend on your height, weight and needs. You could easily get away with a shorter – and therefore lighter – self-inflating airbed if rucksack weight is an issue. Self-inflating airbeds also come in male and female versions to fit different body shapes and sizes.
Blow-up mattress: For the ultimate comfort while camping, a blow-up mattress makes a great choice – example. These come in a range of sizes, including single and double. You will need to buy a pump, either a foot pump or a pump that can run from your car battery, for inflating the mattress but because of the amount of air added to a blow up mattress you’ll easily enjoy a great night’s sleep.
A blow-up mattress is perfect for a family camping trip that sees you driving to the campsite and unpacking straight on to your pitch. These mattresses are bulkier and heavier than self-inflated mattresses but they are much more comfortable!
Our top tip: Make sure you fully inflate a double mattress if you are sharing with your partner otherwise you’ll spend the whole night rolling into one another. A firmly inflated mattress is much more comfortable and will keep both sleeping people on their side of the mattress. An alternative is to buy two single mattresses and place them side-by-side. You should top up the air every evening or every other evening to keep your mattress nicely inflated.
Airbeds for kids: A clever design is an inflatable cot-style mattress – example here. This looks similar to a shallow paddling pool but is fully inflated underneath and at the sides to offer a comfortable night’s sleep for a young child and without the worry of them rolling out o to the ground at night.
Camp bed: If you prefer to keep yourself off the ground, a camp bed is a great option – see here. Most camp beds fold away into a small pack and would suit a camping holiday that doesn’t require much in the way of moving luggage around. Once the camp bed is up, it requires very little further maintenance. Simply pop on your sleeping bag and fall into a peaceful sleep every night. Modern campbeds are made from lightweight but strong metals and have cushioned canvas fabrics for even better dreams!
Great additions: Add an inflatable pillow and a cosy sleeping bag for many, many nights of great sleeping while camping.