Although using an air mattress doesn’t exactly scream “roughing it” when you’re camping, you don’t have to lay your head on dirt and stones to get the most out of your camping experience. Sure, sleeping pads may feature innovative technology these days but the reality is your face is still two inches from the ground. In truth, no amount of closed cell foam is ever going to feel as comfortable as sleeping on a proper air mattress.
Believe it or not, there exist plenty of air mattresses which make perfect camp companions. Some of which are even made specifically for outdoor slumber — and many have several features in common. First, air mattresses made exclusively for camping tend to be more lightweight, meaning you won’t likely be throwing your back out lugging it to your tent.
They also need to be more durable than your average air mattress. Ruggedness may not matter much when you’re throwing slumber parties or making a guest bed for visitors but if you’re going to be sleeping on a pile of mud and rocks, it needs to be tough enough to withstand the beating. Finally, heat and water resistance are big factors because even if you’re sleeping in a tent, your mattress is still exposed to the elements. You need one that won’t break down at the first sign of heat or moisture. That said, here are the best camping air mattresses on the market — and one we can’t wait to test when it releases.
Constructed with a blend of ultra-durable PVC materials, this heavy duty air mattress is rugged enough to handle rough-and-tumble wilderness excursions yet comfortable enough to evoke the sense of glamping. It features flexible coil construction and a velvety flocked top which provides a soft surface perfect for resting after a day of hiking or swimming at the lake.
It also features an outer ring that creates stability without being rigid and a puncture-resistant bottom that holds up to the sharpest of prodding ground elements. Best of all, its rechargeable pump inflates and deflates with the flip of a switch in just over a minute.
Though Intex’s model may look like a basic Walmart air mattress, it’s surprisingly durable given the price. Built with heavy-duty vinyl beams and equipped with an exceptionally tough bottom, it’s perfectly capable of withstanding a night on top of pointy pebbles or tough rocks. Its 20.8-gauge waterproof flocked top sits almost 9 inches from the floor, providing plenty of space to sleep in comfort.
Intext built the Queen Prestige Downy with a 3-in-1 valve featuring a roomy opening and packaged with it a handheld, battery-powered pump. It does take 15 minutes to pump up and the batteries aren’t rechargeable but at 30 bucks, it’s a tolerable tradeoff.
A solid all-around air mattress, REI’s Co-op Relax particularly stands out thanks to its ability to hold air — even after sleeping on it for a number of days, you’ll never have to worry about it sagging or needing to be topped off. This is largely attributed to its bomb-proof welded seams which are also what makes the mattress so durable and puncture resistant.
At less than seven pounds — including its pump — it’s also remarkably lightweight given its size, making it easy to lug around. It features a soft, comfortable surface and comes with a rugged stuff sack. The only drawback to this air mattress is that its included pump is manual, so you’ll need to exert a bit of elbow grease to get it fully inflated.
SoundAsleep Camping Series $80-90
Engineered with ComfortCoil Technology that features I-Beam air coils and proprietary PVC, this air mattress is custom designed specifically for the sleeping on the trail. It’s soft-as-silk on the surface where you sleep yet incredibly tough on the underside, constructed with an extra thick material at the base.
The bottom also showcases Sure-Grip technology which offers texture to prevent you from sliding around on the nylon tent floor. Its top is fully waterproof and the included, patented pump inflates the whole thing in roughly three minutes. All in all, it’s a superb blend of quality and value.
Coming soon: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Camper Duo $300
In the second half of 2018, Therm-a-Rest plans to release the highly anticipated NeoAir Camper Duo — a top-of-the-line glamping air mattress aimed at outdoorsy couples who want a bit of added comfort. This ultra-plush mattress features two independent chambers and valves, offering a blissfully soft yet bounce-free sleeping surface.
The dual-chamber design means each person can customize the degree of firmness they prefer, though it won’t have any sort of gap in the middle. The NeoAirt isn’t as tall as the others on the list but it does pack down into a smaller, more compact size. This high-end air mattress from Therm-a-Rest also plans to come standard with a lightweight stuff sack and repair kit.