The right camping air mattress makes your outdoor experience that much more enjoyable and relaxing. Choose wisely and you will enjoy a truly restful night of sleep beneath your tent.
Buy any old camping air mattress or the cheapest one on the market and you run the risk of tossing and turning, ending up with a puncture that deflates the mattress or another problem that makes it difficult to sleep. Instead of sorting through the seemingly endless number of camping air mattresses on your own, let our team do the work for you.
We have narrowed the field down to a couple of the top camping air mattresses. Let’s take a closer look at the cream of the crop.
This page contains some affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I’ll earn a commission, at no additional cost to you. Read my full disclosure here.
How To Choose
There is a common misconception that the vast majority of camping air mattresses are all the same. Though camping air mattresses serve the same purpose, they vary quite widely in terms of quality and price.
Furthermore, there are different sizes, styles, softness levels, etc. So don’t buy the cheapest camping air mattress and assume it will suffice.
Perform your due diligence, check out a wide variety of camping air mattresses and carefully consider their strengths and weaknesses before making a commitment.
Consider whether the camping air mattress you have your eye on has the right level of firmness. Some camping air mattresses are firm while others are soft.
Ideally, the mattress you select will have an adjustable firmness level. In fact, some such camping air mattresses with adjustable firmness are comfortable to the point that people opt to use them as permanent sleeping mattresses.
The right level of firmness keeps the spine aligned, mitigates back pain and saves a ton of money. The proper firmness level gets rid of pressure points and even helps reduce aches and pains from the lumbar portion of the back all the way to the cervical region.
Consider the Pump
Camping air mattresses must be filled with air using a pump. The days of leg pumps and hand pumps are long gone. Today, electric pumps are en vogue as they blow up mattress in comparably little time.
After all, the last thing you want to do is spend half an hour blowing up an air mattress after a long day of hiking or fishing. If you are like most campers, you won’t have a source of power so make sure the camping air mattress you select can be operated by battery.
There is also the option of a never-flat pump. Never-flat pump air mattresses are essentially two-pump mattresses.
One pump deflates the mattress while the other inflates it. As soon as there is a reduction in pressure, the other pump acknowledges the drop and starts to fill it with air.
This design eliminates the problem of air loss.
Mind the Size
Consider how many people will be sleeping on the camping air mattress. If you are buying a mattress for a little one, do not lose sight of the fact that he or she will grow in the years to come so a comparably small mattress will eventually prove insufficient.
Camping air mattresses are sold in the same lengths and widths as conventional mattresses. Twin size mattresses, twin xl varieties, full, queen, king and California king are all available.
Consider the tent size, your specific hiking plan and your height when attempting to determine which mattress size is best for you.
The R-Value Matters!
Take a close look at camping air mattress descriptions and you will find mention of the R-value. This is the measurement of the air mattress’s resistance to warmth.
The greater the R-value, the more resistance the air mattress has to permitting air to move through it. In other words, a high R-value has comparably better insulation. This is important, especially if you plan on hiking in the cool fall or winter months.
If you do not want to fuss around with a pump after a long day of hiking, consider buying a self-inflating air mattress. The self-inflating variety tends to have comparably strong fabric that proves more durable.
This type of mattress is typically comprised of air as well as open-cell foam. However, self-inflating mattresses are not as compact as other varieties and usually prove comparably heavy.
No air mattress is guaranteed to prove 100% resistant to punctures. Even if the company in question advertises the mattress as resistant to punctures, there is no guarantee it will not deflate after extended use or exposure to something sharp.
Consider the material’s thickness and whether it is reinforced with one or several layers of rubber or textile. Choose a mattress with a reliable material along with considerable reinforcement and you won’t have to worry about purchasing an air bed patch kit or buying a brand new mattress after the seemingly inevitable puncture.
Consider the Safety of the Mattress Material
Camping air mattresses have somewhat of a tarnished reputation as those of yesteryear posed health hazards. Though most of today’s camping air mattresses are built with materials that do not jeopardize human health, some companies still use cheap materials that might prove harmful.
From chemical fumes to PVC and beyond, there are plenty of potential issues with camping air mattress materials. Furthermore, some camping air mattresses are not made with eco-friendly materials.
Be on the lookout for mattresses that used PVC with chemicals known as phthalates. Though most of the leading makers of air beds no longer use these toxic chemicals, a couple brands still do and older secondhand mattresses might also contain these chemicals.
Best Camping Air Mattress for the Money
Here’s a quick look at our favorite options for tent camping with an air mattress.
1. REI Co-op Kingdom Insulated Air Bed – Queen
Review: This queen size camping air mattress features top-notch internal insulation that will keep you nice and toasty even if the temperature dips toward 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This mattress is highlighted by a soft sleeping surface sure to keep you comfy while sleeping in the wilderness.
The mattress includes a manual air pump with a valve for one-way inflation that ensures air does not leak amidst the setup. The mattress also features a separate valve for deflation so you can eliminate air in a timely manner.
Deflate the air after a restful night of sleep, roll up the mattress and stuff it into the sack provided in-box for a quick and nearly seamless transition back to hiking.
- 2.6 R-value, meaning it is perfect for camping in the fall and winter months
- Welded seams reduce the chances of a leak and also boost mattress lifespan
- Sized at 79 x 56 x 6 inches to accommodate larger campers
- Priced comparably high
- Manual air pump will prove time-consuming
- Imported (not made in America)
Takeaway: This soft large queen size camping air mattress is perfect for campers in the northeast and those who camp during the fall and winter months as its high R-value prevents cold air from the ground from moving into the mattress.
2. ALPS Mountaineering Velocity Air Bed
Review: Built with an state of the art internal coil system, the ALPS Mountaineering Velocity air mattress is uber-comfortable. This mattress fits in tents of nearly every size.
In fact, the ALPS Mountaineering Velocity air bed is suitable for both outdoor and indoor use. This is a well-built, reliable mattress.
The makers of the ALPS Mountaineering Velocity Air Bed are so confident in their product they sell it with a lifetime warranty.
- The queen variety accommodates upwards of 500 pounds (250 pounds for twin size)
- Rechargeable pump for rapid inflation/deflation
- Elite internal coil system maximizes comfort
- Affordably priced
- Ugly green color
- Some reviewers state the mattress does not remain inflated beyond four hours
Takeaway: This camping air mattress accommodates considerable weight, quickly inflates and deflates and proves quite comfortable thanks to its exemplary internal coil system. The icing on the cake is its comparably low price.
3. Coleman SupportRest Elite Quilted Top Double High Airbed
Review: This queen size camping air mattress is comprised of PVC, has a medium level of firmness and measures 15.5” by 6” by 11.75”. Built with coils that contour to the sleeper’s body, this air mattress provides ample support.
In fact, this mattress is sturdy to the point that it accommodates sleepers with weights upwards of 600 pounds.
- Double high height facilitates entry/exit
- Uber-soft cushioning for optimal comfort
- Reinforced for additional stability
- Dual seal valve reduces the chances of leaks
- Coleman air bed pump is not included (sold separately)
- Limited one-year warranty as opposed to the lifetime warranty provided by other camping air mattresses
- Some reviewers state the bed begins to deflate after repeated use
Takeaway: An affordable camping air mattress with a factory-tested AirTight system that mitigates the potential for leaks. The mattress is highlighted by its Wrap ‘N’ Roll convenient storage system for quick folding, rolling and storing.
As you can see, there are some great options available that will last you through several years of sleeping in the great outdoors. For the best value for the money, we highly recommend the REI Co-op Kingdom Insulated Air Bed.