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The 12 Best Camping Air Mattresses for a Peaceful Sleep in the Great Outdoors

Get a better night's sleep under the stars with one of these inflatable wonders.

a person putting an air mattress into a tent

Ah, the great outdoors — the fresh smell of pine trees, majestic mountain views, flowing rivers and meandering dirt paths through lush forests. Endless adventure awaits at every turn. Once darkness rolls in though, a fitful toss-and-turn kinda night can really kill the vibe. If you love camping, but dread camp sleeping, having a high-quality camp mattress and sleeping bag and a good can make a world of difference.

What Are the Different Types of Camping Mattresses?

Camping mattresses fall into three categories: foam pads, air-inflated pads and self-inflate pads.

Foam pads are the most basic and least comfortable. These are your classic thin, single layer of closed-cell foam. Air-inflated pads tend to be the lightest and pack down the smallest, but they are also the least durable. Self-inflate pads are the most popular among car campers and offer the most comfort and warmth. And unlike air mattresses for use in the home, self-inflate pads for camping don't need a wall outlet. (If you're looking for something elevated above the ground, we've also covered the best camping cots.

How to Choose Your Mattress

To choose one, “start with its intended use,” suggests Jeff Moberg, product line manager at Therm-a-Rest. “The main factors to consider are warmth, weight, comfort and packability.” Are you camping close to your car and have the luxury to go big? Or are you backpacking and need something small that fits in your pack? It's worth noting that warmth is measured in R-value, an insulation scale that ranges from less than 2 (barely insulated) to 5.5 or more (highly insulated). The R references resistance to heat loss.

“It is also important to understand which shape and size you will need,” he adds. “The width and thickness of the mattresses should factor in your sleeping style. A side sleeper may want a thicker and wider pad, especially if they flip sides throughout the night. This will offer more cushion and surface area and prevent the camper from pressing into the center of the mattress where the insulation layers tend to live.”

Regardless of what direction you face when you sleep, a high-quality camping mattress will make your nights more restful, your days more energetic and your whole adventure more enjoyable — not to mention safer. So, ditch that dated, musty-smelling mattress and upgrade to one of these. You won’t regret it.

How We Tested

camping air mattresses
Testing in the wild on a bikepacking trip to Catalina Island, off the coast of Southern California.
Hayley Helms

Our team of editors tested has been camping, and subsequently testing camping air mattresses, for years. During our testing, we took air mattresses out to the mountains, the deserts and next to the beach, testing them in ground tents, rooftop tents and even out under the stars on top of tarps.

During testing, we kept a few factors in mind: did the mattress stay inflated throughout the entire evening of sleep? How difficult was it to inflate and deflate and pack up each mattress? How did they transport, and were they packable? Was the material durable enough to withstand punctures and tears? After many cozy nights (and some sleepless ones), we determined our top picks.

REI Kingdom Insulated Air Bed - Queen


Kingdom Insulated Air Bed - Queen

REI Co-op rei.com
  • Thickness: 6 inches
  • R-value: 2.6
  • Size: 79 inches x 56 inches
  • Packed size: 10 inches x 20 inches

    For those who like to cuddle up with their partner, this bed is the ticket. The 6-inch-thick mattress comes with a manual air pump with a simple, 1-way inflation valve to keep air from leaking out during setup and a soft touch sleep surface. For such a big bed, it packs down quite well to roughly the size of a packed 2- or 3-person tent. Caveat: despite being called a queen, it measures four inches short on width and one inch in length from a true queen-sized mattress.

    Luno Air Mattress 2.0

    Best Mattress for Sleeping in the Car

    Luno Air Mattress 2.0


    • Great for extra bed space car camping

    • May not fit your vehicle model
    • Thickness: 4 inches
    • R-value: N/A
    • Size: Fits persons up to 6'2" tall, depending on your vehicle
    • Packed size: 16.5 inches x 29 inches (storage bag included)

      If the thought of pitching a tent makes you cringe, but you’re not part of the van life crowd, Luno might be your new favorite brand. Designed to fit over 1,800 different vehicle models, this four-inch double-pad has two independent air mattresses that connect via a top fabric layer. This allows each sleeper to adjust the firmness to their preferred desire. It includes base extenders that fill the footwells of your backseat so the main mattress can sit atop for additional length.

      Hest Sleep System

      Best Upgrade Mattress

      Hest Sleep System


      • Memory foam feels like sleeping on a cloud

      • Bulky, heavy and expensive
      • Thickness: 7 inches
      • R-value: 11.8
      • Size: 78 inches x 25 inches
      • Packed size: 16 inches x 28 inches

        This two-part sleep system features a two-layer top pad that includes memory foam with a durable drop-stitch inflatable base (used in standup paddleboards) that’s waterproof. It's seven inches thick and has a huge R-value of 11.7. Setup and breakdown is just as easy, if not easier, than most air mattresses. It may be heavy, bulky and pricey, but there’s a pretty good chance it’s more comfortable than your bed at home. This is hands down the most comfortable portable bedding you can buy. Pair it with Hest's super comfortable packable camp pillow ($79) and sleep like backcountry royalty.

        REI Camp Bed Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad

        Best Overall Camping Air Mattress

        REI Camp Bed Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad

        REI Co-op rei.com

        • Soft and cozy

        • Too heavy for backpacking
        • Thickness: 2.5 inches
        • R-value: 7.6
        • Size: 72 inches x 25 inches (Regular); 78 inches x 30 inches (XL)
        • Packed size: 5.5 inches x 26 inches (Regular); 8.5 inches x 30 inches (XL)

          You’d be hard-pressed to find a better price-to-comfort car camping mattress. This self-inflating pad offers up a plush 2.5 inches of open-cell foam for a cozy spot to rest your head. Soft, stretch polyester top fabric feels soothing against your skin, so you can just sleep directly on top with a sleeping bag. The pad self-inflates 90 percent of the way on its own, needing just a few puffs to get your desired firmness. Suited for the darkest and coldest winter nights, its impressive 7.6 R-value keeps you insulated from the ground. The pad comes in regular and extra-large, but we recommend going big. No one ever wishes they had less sleeping surface.

          Sea to Summit Camp Plus Self Inflating Mat

          Best Budget Mattress

          Sea to Summit Camp Plus Self Inflating Mat


          • Self-inflating means easy set up

          • Standard version is a little narrow
          • Thickness: 3 inches
          • R-value: 4.3
          • Size: 72 inches x 20 inches (Regular); 78 inches x 25 inches (Large)
          • Packed size: 8 inches x 10.2 inches (Regular); 8.5 inches x 13 inches (Large)

            The issue with most budget inflatable mattresses is their questionable level of durability because one small leak can wreck your camping trip. Thankfully, this self-inflating 3-season pad is the perfect blend of value and performance. Sea to Summit's Horizontal Delta coring process removes more than 40 percent of the foam in delta-shaped cores, without sacrificing comfort and quality. Need a little more space? Wide versions of the regular and large mattresses are also available. And rest assured (literally), you won’t wake up flat on the ground with a deflated pad.

            Therm-a-Rest MondoKing

            Most Comfortable Mattress

            Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D


            • Plush and easy to set up

            • Bulky when packed up
            • Thickness: 4.25 inches
            • R-value: 7
            • Size: 77 inches x 25 inches (Large); 80 inches x 30 inches (XL)
            • Packed size: 10.3 inches x 26 inches (Large); 10.3 inches x 31 inches (XL)

              The MondoKing is likely to turn any tent into a cozy sleeping den. The brand's plushest pad comes in two sizes and is suitable for all four seasons. It features Therm-a-Rest’s StrataCore technology, which uses a continuous layer of thermal foam nestled between alternating ridges of air and foam. Bottom line: no more sleepless camp nights with this thick, cozy mattress.

              Sea to Summit Comfort Deluxe Self-Inflating Sleeping Mat

              Sea to Summit
              Best Oversized Mattress

              Sea to Summit Comfort Deluxe Self-Inflating Sleeping Mat


              • Roomy enough for restless sleepers

              • Won't fit well with another sleeping pad in a 2-3 person tent
              • Thickness: 4 inches
              • R-value: 6.5
              • Size: 80 inches x 51 inches
              • Packed size: N/A

                Go ahead, sprawl those limbs out knowing they’ll never hang off the edge. Measuring over four feet wide and 6-feet-7-inches long, this mat is large enough for all but the tallest of basketball players. This oversized version of Sea to Summit’s most comfortable car camping mattress boasts 4 inches of plush foam wrapped with 30D stretch knit fabric on the upper surface. They say money can’t buy happiness, but you can buy a good night’s sleep with this rather pricey self-inflating mat.

                Therm-a-Rest Trail Pro Sleeping Pad

                Best Mattress for Short Backpacking Trips

                Therm-a-Rest Trail Pro Sleeping Pad


                • Great for backpacking

                • May not be supportive enough for some sleepers
                • Thickness: 3 inches
                • R-value: 4.4
                • Size: 72 inches x 25 inches x 2.5 inches (Regular); 72 inches x 30 inches x 2.5 inches (Large)
                • Packed size: 5.5 inches x 26 inches (Regular); 8.5 inches x 30 inches (Large)

                  When shorter weekend backpacking trips mean you have a little extra room in your pack, fill that space with this ultra-cozy packable self-inflating pad. Packed down it weighs less than two pounds and is roughly the size of a paper towel roll — the perfect blend of size and overnight comfort. The three-inch-thick pad with stretch knit top and extra-thick built-in foam is far superior to any ultralight air-inflating backpacking pad.

                  Nemo Switchback Sleeping Pad

                  Best Closed-Cell Foam Pad

                  Nemo Switchback Sleeping Pad


                  • No-nonsense, classic design makes setup and break-down a cinch

                  • Not as comfortable as luxe inflatable options
                  • Thickness: 0.9 inches
                  • R-value: 2
                  • Size: 72 inches x 20 inches
                  • Packed size: 20 inches x 5.5 inches x 5 inches

                    If you prefer a more intimate, close-to-the-ground sleeping experience, the Nemo Switchback Sleeping Pad is for you. This closed-cell single-layer foam option is just shy of an inch thick and features a heat-reflecting film for an R-value of 2. It may not be as comfortable as its air-filled counterparts — and yes, it defies this guide's title — but for old-school single-layer foam diehards, it’s one of the best.

                    Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad

                    Best Mattress for Ultra-Lightweight Backpacking

                    Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad


                    • Excellent weight:comfort ratio

                    • Best for warmer weather
                    • Thickness: 2.5 inches
                    • R-value: 4.2
                    • Size: 72 inches x 20 inches (Regular); 77 inches x 25 inches (Large)
                    • Packed size: 9 inches x 4.1 inches (Regular); 11 inches x 4.6 inches (Large)

                      When pack weight is counted in ounces, not pounds, the Therma-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad is sure to lighten the load. Similar in size to a 32oz Nalgene water bottle when packed, the small and regular size pads both come in under one pound. At 2.5 inches, it’s one of the thickest and most comfortable ultra-lightweight backpacking sleeping pads. Patent-pending, reflective ThermaCapture technology gives this pad an impressive 4.2 R-Value, making it suitable for all conditions, except arctic.

                      New and Upcoming Releases

                      Big Agnes Boundary Deluxe Insulated: This brand-new sleeping pad from Big Agnes is super cozy, but still lightweight enough for backpacking trips. The top is a quiet, stretch material that won't wake up fellow campers when you roll over in your sleep, and the bottom is made from durable, recycled material that will stand up to tough conditions. The R-value is 4.3, and the pad weighs 25 ounces — keeping things nice and trim.

                      Inflating an Air Mattress: What to Know

                      You can pick one of two methods to inflate your air mattress: you can blow it up manually, using your breath or a hand pump, or you can get an electric pump. Some are corded, some are not — unless you have a generator with you, that corded option isn't going to do you much good out in the wild. If you're into convenience or have multiple, large mattresses to blow up, you may want to go with an electric pump. If you're backpacking and have a thin, self-inflating camping mattress with you, odds are a pump would be useless extra weight. Here are a few electric options to consider:

                      Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Micro Pump

                      Therm-a-Rest rei.com

                      Coleman QuickPump 4D Pump

                      $19.99 (20% off)
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