Best Camping Mattresses of 2019

The best camping mattresses are essential to a fun and relaxing outdoor vacation. If you’re not getting a good night’s rest, you’re not going to enjoy the wilderness to its fullest. Camping mattresses offer comfort, insulation, and are subject to a number of individual preferences. Do you like a firm or soft mattress? Are you sleeping alone or with a partner?

We’ve identified the best of the best and assembled a thorough list for you below. After examining each camping mattress for qualities such as R Value, weight, and comfort, we listed out the best camping mattresses across a variety of construction types. Each is unique with its own restful merits, and you’re sure to find one that fits the bill.

This list is more geared towards camping mattresses used in car camping, road ripping, and overlanding. If you’re looking for backpacking sleeping options, check out our guide to the Best Sleeping Pads for Backpacking.

The Top 5 Best Camping Mattresses

  1. The Best Camping Mattress for Couples: Exped MegaMat Duo
  2. The Best Camping Mattress for One Person: Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D
  3. The Best Camping Mattress on a Budget: REI Camp Bed
  4. The Best Budget Camping Mattress for Couples: Klymit Insulated Double V
  5. The Best Camping Air Mattress: NEMO Cosmo 3D

Camping Mattress Comparison Table

Best Camping Mattresses MSRP Weight Type Height See Camping Mattress
Exped MegaMat Duo $369.00 9 lbs 14.7 oz Self-Inflating 3.9 in. See Mattress
Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D $179.95 5 lbs 8 oz Self-Inflating 4 in. See Mattress
REI Camp Bed $99.00 4 lbs 9 oz Self-Inflating 3.5 in. See Mattress
Klymit Insulated Double V $159.95 3 lbs 10 oz Air 3 in. See Mattress
NEMO Cosmo 3D $179.95 2 lbs 9 oz Air 3.5 in. See Mattress
Therm-a-Rest Luxury Map $139.95 4 lbs 3 oz Self-Inflating 3 in. See Mattress
REI Trekker 1.75 Self-Inflating $69.96 2 lbs 8 oz Self-Inflating 1.75 in. See Mattress
Coleman ComfortSmart Deluxe Cot $99.99 16 lbs 8 oz Cot 15 in. See Mattress
REI Kingdom Sleep System Insulated 40 $279.00 15 lbs 9 oz Air 6 in. See Mattress
Lightspeed Air Mattress 2-Person $85.99 6 lbs Air 7 in. See Mattress

The Best Camping Mattress for Couples

Exped MegaMat Duo

best camping mattresses of 2019 exped megamat duo

  • Weight: 9 lbs. 14.7 oz
  • Cost: $369.00
  • Best For: Car Camper

The Exped MegaMat Duo is a category-defining product and has helped to assure people that you can be as comfortable in the woods as at home. This premium camping mattress is constructed with thick self-inflating foam, has a nearly 4-inch height with 3D edges (like a real mattress), and is pretty much beyond comfort.

The MegaMat Duo comes in two sizes, but we think the biggest version (the size of a Queen mattress) is where it really shines. There are two flat valves, one for inflation and one for deflation, and it comes with a mini pump for getting it super firm. Finally, it is packed in a SideWinder stuffsack, a new take on a typically-awful process of packing up your large camping mattress. The Exped MegaMat Duo doesn’t pack down very small, but it is still portable, and is really the best camping mattress out there. For those that want the single person version, check out the MegaMat 10.

Exped-MegaMat-10-review-logo
We tested and reviewed the MegaMat 10, the single-person version of the MegaMat Duo. Read the review here!
Exped Megamat 10 Star Rating
  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Inflation and Deflation
  • Packability
4.6

Summary

The Exped MegaMat 10 is more than a sleeping pad, it’s a real bed that happens to pack up small and fit in tents. If you want to know true comfort while sleeping at camp, experience the MegaMat. It is high off the ground, full of premium foam, holds air extremely well, and is pretty easy to pack up come morning.

Read Full Review See Exped MegaMat Duo

The Best Camping Mattress for One Person

Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D

best camping mattresses of 2019 thermarest mondoking 3d

  • Weight: 5 lbs. 8 oz.
  • Cost: $179.95
  • Best For: Car Camper

The Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D is another top-of-the-line camping mattress that rivals your bed at home. It’s quite similar to the Exped MegaMat series, especially with the 4 inch height, vertical sidewalls, and uber comfortable foam core. The MondoKing 3D differs with an R value of 11.4, which is crazy high and therefore incredibly warm. It has 50D face fabric, which is decently durable, and two traditional twist and pull valves, which allow you to inflate and deflate. The sizing is also different from the MegaMat 10 and Duo.

Overall we think this is an excellent choice, and incredibly comfortable, but typically choose the MegaMat because of its stuff sack, its increased durability, and the Duo size. That said, the MondoKing 3D is one of the comfiest singles camping mattresses out there, and it’s worth every penny.

See Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D

The Best Camping Mattress on a Budget

REI Camp Bed

rei camp bed

  • Weight: 4 lbs. 9 oz.
  • Cost: $99.00
  • Best For: Car Camper

The REI Camp Bed is a surprising mix of comfort, warmth and portability for a camping mattress. The mattress has 2.5 inches of height, giving you a standard amount of space space off the ground. The mattress is constructed with a slip-resistant polyester top that keeps you on your bed all night. The Camp Bed features two new low-profile, quick-closing high-flow valves for easy inflation and deflation.

For the cost you get a very comfortable, extra-wide single camping mattress that will last many years when treated well.

rei-camp-bed-3.5-review-laying-on-pad
We reviewed the Camp Bed 3.5, which REI has turned into the regular “Camp Bed”. The main difference is new valves and 2.5 inches of height. Read the full review here!
REI Camp Bed 3.5 Star Rating
  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Inflation and Deflation
  • Packability
4

Summary

The REI Camp Bed 3.5 is a large and in-charge self-inflating sleeping pad, with over 3 inches of cushion between you and the cold ground. The sleep surface is soft and stretch polyester, giving it a nice feel, and the bottom is extremely durable. Packing it away is the main downside, as it takes a little while and is very hard to stuff in the included stuff sack. Only meant for camping, where it excels.

Read Full Review See REI Camp Bed

The Best Budget Camping Mattress for Couples

Klymit Insulated Double V

best camping mattresses of 2019 klymit insulated double v

  • Weight: 3 lbs. 10 oz.
  • Cost: $159.95
  • Best For: Car Camper

The Klymit Insulated Double V brings impressive and unique body-mapping technology to an oversized, two-person sleeping pad. Klymit shook the industry with their V-baffle design, meant to support you no matter what direction you lay. They have a whole range of pads that use this, and we think the best bang for your buck and comfort when looking for a couplecar camping mattress is the Insulated Double V.

This mattress has two easy-to-use flat valves, is nearly 50 inches wide, and has an R-Value of 4.4, which will keep you warm in most climates. Klymit also builds side rails into this pad (and others like it), which help to keep you from sliding off. Even with all that it packs up relatively small, and doesn’t weigh a ton for a couples camping mattress. Get this if you’re used to sleeping with two, or even if you really want to stretch out. If you want a luxurious single pad that also works for backpacking in a pinch, we recommend the Insulated Static V Luxe, which is the extra-large single person version of this pad.

Klymit-Insulated-Static-V-review-baffles-2
We reviewed the single Klymit Insulated Staict V, which is the same pad at about half the width! Read the full review here.
Klymit Insulated Static V Star Rating
  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Inflation and Deflation
  • Packability
4

Summary

The Klymit Insulated Static V is an air pad with a unique baffle system that provides 2.5-inches of thick, premium air cushioning. It’s a budget-conscious pad from an innovative company. Plus, it manages to blow up with only 10-15 breaths, which is less than other air pads.

Read Full Review See Klymit Insulated Double V

The Best Camping Air Mattress

NEMO Cosmo 3D

best camping mattresses of 2019 nemo cosmo 3d

The NEMO Cosmo has long been a favorite among campers who want the benefits of an air sleeping pad that’s nearly as comfortable as a self-inflating pad. The Cosmo received a major upgrade in 2019, and now features NEMO’s LayLow flat valves, which makes for easy deflation and minor adjustments of inflation. The Cosmo is now “3D”, which refers to new body-mapped baffles that dip slightly in the center, effectively hugging you (and keeping you in place) while you sleep. It still has 3.5 inches of thickness, and a built-in pillow bump to keep the head up slightly, and a foot pump at the bottom for easy inflation.

Finally, the Cosmo 3D is offered in four sizes, including a Long Double for two people, and in insulated and non-insulated versions. We prefer the Long Wide Insulated for most people, especially those who want a comfortable air-based camping mattress that can double for backpacking. There’s a premium in price for the Cosmo 3D (the listed price above is for a Regular Single!), but we find this pad to be exorbitantly comfortable for an air pad, and like the upgrades.

See NEMO Cosmo 3D

The Best of the Rest

Therm-a-Rest Luxury Map

best camping mattresses of 2019 therm-a-rest luxury map

  • Weight: 4 lbs. 3 oz.
  • Cost: $139.95
  • Best For: Car Camper

The Therm-a-Rest Luxury Map is a go-to sleeping pad that’s built for comfort and long-lasting durability. The “Luxury Map” refers to unique pressure point mapping in the foam, which allows you to settle more evenly on your pressure points while sleeping, creating one of the most comfortable sleep experiences on this list. The Luxury Map comes in three sizes, all of which are meant for a single person. We prefer the Large, as it isn’t terribly expensive, yet will more than accommodate most people. It has an R-Value of 6.8, which means you can use it all through winter, and it weighs just over four pounds.

The packed size is the main flaw, as it’s quite large when packed up (all that foam!), but for most car campers this is a non-issue. Therm-a-Rest has an outstanding warranty and has made this pad to last with a 50D slip-resistant top fabric, and a heavy duty 75D polyester fabric on the bottom. If you want a high quality, single self-inflating camping mattress that can roll up and feels like your bed at home, consider the Luxury Map. Compares most closely to the REI Camp Bed, but is more comfortable (and more costly).

Therm-a-Rest Luxury Map Star Rating
  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Inflation and Deflation
  • Packability
4.4

Summary

The Therm-a-Rest Luxury map is a self-inflating camping mattress that puts comfort over everything. With slip-resistant fabric, a 3-inch inflated height, and luxury foam, it’ll feel like you’re sleeping at home, on your own bed, night after night.

Therm-a-Rest Luxury Map review fully inflated luxury map
Read the full adventure of the Therm-a-Rest Luxury Map!
See Therm-a-Rest Luxury Map

REI Trekker 1.75 Self-Inflating

best camping mattresses of 2019 rei trekker self-inflating

The REI Trekker 1.75 is a self-inflating camping mattress that does a surprisingly good job at providing a soft, warm surface for sleeping outdoors while being budget-friendly. It has just 1.75 inches of thickness (thus the name), which is not a ton, but the foam inside is soft enough that you feel like you’re laying on very padded ground, rather than a fully raised bed like some mattresses on this list.

The Trekker has an R Value of 5.6, which is quite warm and would work well in four season conditions if necessary. At two and a half pounds the Trekker is no problem to throw in the car, and for those who don’t mind weight on their back it’s not even that heavy, so this could work as a dual purpose pad. We haven’t found a better camping mattress on the cheap, and find the Trekker to work very well.

rei-trekker-self-inflating-inflated
Check out the full REI Trekker 1.75 review!
REI Trekker 1.75 Star Rating
  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Inflation and Deflation
  • Packability
4.4

Summary

The REI Trekekr 1.75 is a self-inflating sleeping pad that shines in the campsite after a long night around the fire. Despite being just 1.75 inches off the ground, the pad has soft and comfortable foam in the middle, making it a restful experience. It inflates about 80% of the way by just opening the valve, and then you blow to top it off. The top fabric is anti-slip, keeping you on the pad all night, and the bottom of made of a durable polyester. Overall comfy, affordable sleep option if you’re driving to your campsite.

Read Full Review See REI Trekker 1.75 Self-Inflating

Coleman ComfortSmart Deluxe Cot

best camping mattresses of 2019 coleman comfortsmart deluxe cot

  • Weight: 16 lbs. 8 oz.
  • Cost: $99.99
  • Best For: Car Camper

The Coleman ComfortSmart Deluxe Cot is a popular camping mattress that is a step away from most products on this list. It’s a cot that props you completely off the ground. It does this with a folding steel frame, which collapses when not in use, though it’s still quite large. On top the ComfortSmart Deluxe has a foam mattress pad that’s covered with a ripstop material.

If you are set on sleeping well off the ground, and have the space to haul it, the ComfortSmart Deluxe Cot is a good choice for those who prefer the most bed-like sleep possible and don’t want to spend too much. Otherwise, we find other mats to more comfortable, and most others much more portable.

See Coleman ComfortSmart Deluxe Cot

REI Kingdom Sleep System Insulated 40

best camping mattresses of 2019 rei kingdom insulated sleep system 40

  • Weight: 15 lbs. 9 oz.
  • Cost: $279.00
  • Best For: Car Camper

The REI Kingdom Sleep System may surprise you, in that REI offers a fully functional air mattress the size of a queen bed. Billed with “sleeping outdoors doesn’t have to mean roughing it” language, the Kingdom Sleep System is all about a convenient, fully featured bedding package that will take you from the car to your fully setup tent in a few fell swoops. We tend to prefer self-inflating pads as camping mattresses, but the extra goodies in the Sleep System, and the fact that’s it a one-stop purchase that includes your bedding as well, means it deserves a place on this list.

The REI Kingdom Sleep System has an R Value of 3.6, which is impressive for a 6-inch air mattress (usually they run cold!). Still, we wouldn’t use this in winter. The mattress is absolutely huge, and it weighs 15.5 pounds, so you’ll need a place in your car for it, and definitely won’t be lugging it far. The Sleep System comes with a quilted mattress cover that’s padded and an insulated top quilt and topsheet for maximum coziness. If you were really cold you could throw a double sleeping bag on top of that, but we imagine most people that want this will choose it for summertime leisure campouts. The REI Kingdom Sleep System will still cost a decent chunk of change, but if you plan to solely camp in warm climates, want a bed that looks and feels kind of like home, and don’t want to buy separate sleeping bags, this is a good option. You can also buy just the Air Bed for $129.

See REI Kingdom Sleep System Insulated 40

Lightspeed Air Mattress 2-Person

best camping mattresses of 2019 lightspeed air mattress 2 person

  • Weight: 6 lbs.
  • Cost: $85.99
  • Best For: Car Camper

The Lightspeed Air Mattress is a classic pump mattress, the kind you probably slept on in spare rooms as a kid or adult. This one has a slight camping bent, in that it’s made with durable materials, weighs only 6 pounds, and has a battery operated pump so you don’t need a wall outlet.

If you want a basic air mattress for the outdoors, this is a good choice. That said, air mattresses typically run quite cold because that they have no real insulation, unlike many of the mattresses on this list. If you plan to use it in warm weather only, and want a mattress that works in the home and camp (or car), this is a good choice!

See Lightspeed Air Mattress 2-Person

Camping Mattress Features

Below we list the most important features for camping mattresses. Make sure to choose the model that fits your lifestyle best!

Camping Cot vs Air Mattress vs Self-Inflating Mattress

When it comes to camping mattresses, there are three standard forms that most people consider: self-inflating mattresses, air mattresses, and camping cots. You could always throw a pile of blankets on top of a bulky slab of memory foam, but then you’d have to wave sayonara to all of your vehicle’s storage space. Buh-bye rear window visibility!

The more compact camping mattress alternatives each have their own advantages and drawbacks, but that’s why we’re here — to give you the lowdown before you make your purchase.

Self-Inflating Mattress: Self-inflating mattresses can inflate themselves because of their unique construction. A layer of foam is encased in an airtight shell, so when the mattress is unrolled and allowed to decompress the expanding foam pulls in air through the inflation valve. How cool is that?

best camping mattresses self inflating sleeping pad camping mattress for camping
The REI Camp Bed self-inflating. This takes about a full minute.

They do inflate themselves, but you’ll have to put in a couple of breaths or squeeze a small pump to make the mattress firm. Self-inflating pads condense down much better than most large camping air mattresses and can be equally or more comfortable for a night in a tent or under the stars.

Most of the mattresses on this list are self-inflating, mostly because they are the most appropriate for easy portability, provide excellent comfort, and can take a beating. While they don’t offer the most height and “bed-like” experience, they are better suited to camping trips.

Some, like the Exped MegaMat Duo and Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D, are the most comfortable pads on the market. Others, like the REI Camp Bed and REI Trekker, are more like souped up sleeping pads.

Air Mattress: Classic air mattresses in the camping sense typically provide many inches of inflated ground separation to keep you comfortable and feeling at-home. Nearly every air mattress comes supplied with a battery powered pump these days, but it’s not a guaranteed feature. Foot pumps and corded electric pumps do exist, so be sure to get the pump that works best for you.

That said, there are thinner air mattresses that are modeled after backpacking pads, but souped up for camping.

Klymit-Insulated-Static-V-review-twist-and-pull-valve-logo
The single version of the Klymit Insulated Double V is an air mattress with a typical twist and pull valve.

Air mattresses can be quite comfortable, especially versions that are paired with padded mattress covers, but they can be annoyingly bouncy when shared by multiple people. For this reason you may prefer an individual mattress for each person. Either way, air mattresses deflate and can be rolled up tightly for decent storage. Depending on the model, they can be smaller packed than some self-inflating pads, but if they’re quite thick they won’t be.

You’ll find large air mattresses, like the Lightspeed Air Mattress, used as guest sleeping beds in houses as much as campsites, and a well-made one can be used for both! Other air mattresses, like the NEMO Cosmo 3D and Klymit Insulated Double V, are more like souped up air-filled backpacking mattresses.

Camping Cot: The primary benefit of a camping cot is that it lifts a person off of the ground for the closest bed-like sleeping experience available outdoors. Cots generally offer increased sleeping comfort by providing a flat resting surface that completely removes uneven dirt, gravel, and creepy-crawly bugs from the equation.

Cots have a frame, typically comprised of steel or aluminum, which folds flat for storage, though they are not nearly as compact as a deflated air mattress. They can be sizable and heavy. Many cots are topped with a nylon or polyester platform, but some, like the Coleman ComfortSmart Deluxe Cot, are equipped with a cozy foam layer as well.

Cots are most practical when you have a large vehicle with plenty of storage space or room on your roof racks.

What is R Value, and Why It Matters

R Value is a measure of how well a camping mattress will insulate you from the cold ground. The higher the R Value number, the better its insulation.

A good camping mattress will not only comfort you from the lumps and bumps of a campground, but it will also work with your sleeping bag to keep you warm. R Values are additive, which means you can put one mattress on top of another and add both of their R Values together for increased insulation — though this is a backpacking practice, and not one often used for car camping.

The R Values of the mattresses on our list are generally high and will provide you with great insulation no matter the weather, though we recommend an R Value of 5 or higher for winter camping. Common sense logic would assume that the higher a mattress’ R Value the thicker and heavier it will be, but that’s not always the case. The interior foam and air insulation components are what really matters.

rei-camp-bed-3.5-review-logo-close-up
Most camping mattresses will list the R Value right on the product (or at least in the specs). The REI Camp Bed has an R Value that works through winter.

Not all camping mattresses have listed R Values as it’s not a measurement required by any regulatory body. The NEMO Cosmo 3D has a recommended outdoor temperature limit instead of an R Value, while others don’t provide any relevant rating at all even if they have decent insulation. It’s up to you to be a conscious consumer.

Know that R Values typically apply to self-inflating mattresses and thin air mattress, whereas very thick air mattresses typically have very little insulation, and cots rarely have any.

Pro Tip: R Values are a metric you can trust. If you choose a camping mattress without an R Value rating, check the manufacturer or retailer return policy. It’d be best to test an unrated mattress at least once in cold conditions to see if it meets your needs.

Camping Mattresses for Couples vs. Single

We’ve all shared an air mattress at one point or another. And I’m sure everyone knows what it feels like when your partner gets out of bed and you drop to the hard ground like a sack of potatoes. There’s also the dreaded bouncy-air-castle-effect when one person’s tossing and turning results in the other embarking upon a motion-sickness inducing midnight ocean liner ride.

But camping mattresses for couples have come a long way in recent years. With modern partition designs like the Klymit Insulated Double V, there’s little chance you’ll disturb your sleeping partner when you step out of the tent in the middle of the night. And with much more robust foam, like in the Exped MegaMat Duo, you get a true bed experience with relatively no bouncing around.

Couples sharing a mattress have the benefit of shared body warmth. It’s a lot easier to snuggle under a sleeping quilt when you share a single mattress rather than two individual mattresses. A double wide mattress could also be worth it for a singular sleeper who likes to stretch out without touching a cold tent floor.

Single camping mattresses have none of that displaced air nonsense experienced in shared mattresses. Having your own defined space can be quite nice in a tent shared with friends or family. With your own mattress you can dial in the ideal firmness you desire. Forget about snuggling, though, because someone is bound to slip between the mattresses and come into contact with the frigid ground.

rei-trekker-self-inflating-inflated-in-tent
A single’s camping mattress has a 25-inch width (or more) because comfort is the key factor, but not all do. The REI Trekker pictured here isn’t extravagant, but gives a surprising amount of comfort for the cost.

Best Valve Types for Camping Mattress

It’s important to consider the type of valve you prefer in a camping mattress.

Twist and pull valves have been a camping mattress staple for ages. If you’ve ever inflated a camping mattress or sleeping pad, you’ve probably used a twist and pull valve.

They are easy to use and work well, but they’re often not as air tight as we wish they were. Many, though not all, don’t hold air in while you’re inflating the mattress, so you have to prevent this by using your mouth as a makeshift gasket or twisting the mechanism closed between breaths. They’re also protruding and bulky, but they do get the job done.

rei-camp-bed-3.5-review-twist-and-pull-valve-instructions
A classic twist and pull valve. REI has since updated the REI Camp Bed with new flat valves, which is the way things are trending…

Flat valves are the new kid on the block. Flat valves are less conspicuous and hold air in better during inflation than traditional twist and pull valves. As a result, mattresses equipped with flat valves like the NEMO Cosmo 3D can pack down smaller and are easier to inflate or deflate. Some mattresses, like the Exped MegaMat Duo, have separate flat valves for inflation and deflation.

Exped-MegaMat-10-review-flat-valves
The Exped Megamat Duo (and MegaMat 10) have dual flat valves. One inflates automatically, and has a small pin to let out a small amount of air for fine-tuning. The second is a full deflate valve.

Bag-style or stuff sack pumps can also attach to flat valves, making for a quick-and-easy hand pump for those of you who would rather not waste your breath.

Exped-MegaMat-10-review-inflation
Here’s a hand pump for the Exped MegaMat Duo. They come in many shapes and sizes!

Single-cap valves are found on mattresses such as the Lightspeed Air Mattress, which require a pump to fill. These valves are huge and deflate with great speed like an untethered party balloon, but you do need a pump to inflate them, so make sure you bring extra batteries.

Height Off Ground

A critical consideration, though a subjective one, is the thickness of a camping mattress.

Typically, sleeping height directly correlates to how soft or firm a camping mattress will feel. Thick mattresses like the 6-inch REI Kingdom Sleep System will feel undoubtedly softer (and bouncier with all that air!) than the 1.75-inch REI Trekker. Both will keep you warm (the thinner REI Trekker actually has a higher R Value), but the type of comfort each offers is vastly different.

Exped-MegaMat-10-review-3D-walls
The Exped MegaMat Duo has an impressive 3.9-inch “sidewall”, which basically models a true mattress in terms of thickness. This is done with foam — lots of foam.

The construction and insulation type also have an effect on the sleeping feel of a pad. The open-cell foam insulation in self-inflating pads is more rigid than a fully air-insulated mattress which can feel soft and floaty.

Be sure to try some mattresses in-store if possible, as you’ll get a better sense of the thickness that suits you best.

How to Buy Camping Mattresses

Now that you have a good idea of what type of camping mattress you’d like to get, how do you buy it?

Camping Mattresses Online vs In Store

Either online or in store is a great location to buy a camping mattress. At a physical store you’ll have the opportunity to ask the staff specific questions about the product, and they may let you unroll a mattress out of its packaging to give you a better look.

Outdoor retail stores often have a wide assortment of smaller sleeping pads that you can try out in store. Thinner options that can work for backpacking like the REI Trekker and NEMO Cosmo 3D will likely be inflated and waiting at your local REI, but you’re not likely to find the larger mattresses already blown up.

More options exist online, many with various sizes and trims to choose from. If you’ve figured out the model of pad you want, it will be easier to scan and scrutinize the array of regular/long/wide options available online so that you can pick the right size for your body.

Used Camping Mattresses vs New Camping Mattresses

You can find used camping mattresses for cheap on Craigslist or the Facebook Marketplace, but not in any outdoor retail stores — camping mattresses are considered “bedding” in most states, and stores can’t sell used bedding.

Though it’s possible to save big bucks by purchasing used, the quality may not be what you desire. For instance, $20 may get a new-to-you camping mattress with a pinhole leak that’ll completely deflate overnight. That’s not something you want to find out during the first night of your week-long road trip.

It’d be best to test any used mattress you’re considering buying. Don’t just pay the seller and walk away, instead ask to inflate the mattress on location and sit on it. This is a good opportunity to listen for leaks and look for any tears or stains. Keep in mind that it may be difficult to detect a tiny leak initially, but you’ll feel it after a full night of attempted rest.

If the risk of a slowly deflating mattress isn’t too much of a concern for you, go for the bargain. If you prefer zero-risk coupled with a manufacturer’s warranty, buy it new.

Lighter and Stronger

Camping mattresses are closing the gap between themselves and their smaller sleeping pad brethren. It’s like how sport utility vehicles were once the behemoths of the road, but now they’ve become leaner and more comfortable as manufacturer’s have refined them over the years.

The best camping mattresses are lightweight and packable while providing solid insulation and a comfortable sleep. This trend will only continue as lighter fabrics and better insulation are engineered.

New flat valves are being introduced on many mattresses, and the next camping mattress innovation can’t be far out!


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arthur mcmahon bio pic

Arthur McMahon

Arthur loves to walk. It's as simple as that. Whether it be in the mountains, on the beach, or along the city streets -- he believes walking is the best way to experience the world. Thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail was his first backpacking foray, and he hasn't stopped since. He and his wife chronicled their journey in their book Adventure and the Pacific Crest Trail. They now regularly travel into the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest seeking new trails to hike. Follow his adventures at arthurmcmahon.com and on Instagram.

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