We’ve all camped out on a mattress and wished we’d chosen a better one. Even if you’ve done nothing but sleep on the same few models for years, it’s still worth learning how to choose one. This article will guide you through choosing the right camping mattress – from what to look for, to testing it, and even choosing the best one for you.
Camping Mattress Buying Guide And Review
There are a variety of options for sleeping under the stars: inflatable, self-inflating or foam mattresses. Here are some tips on how to find the one that’s right for you whether you’re the “cozy” type or the hardy type for wilderness or car camping.
After being confined in the spring of 2020, many opted to return to nature during their summer vacation. Some may even have discovered (or rediscovered!) the joys of camping.
Is this your case? To make the most of your stay, you need the right equipment, including a “bed” on which to sleep soundly. A sleeping pad is a matter of taste.
You’ll want it to be not only comfortable – a very personal matter – but also able to keep you warm on cool nights, especially if you plan to stretch the fun into the fall. In addition, your mattress should be appropriate for the type of camping you do, whether it’s luxury or minimalist.
To help you choose a mattress, we interviewed experts, as well as reviewed products available on the websites of various big box stores and some more specialized stores. At the time of our research in July 2020, prices ranged from under $20 to over $400.
Camping not far from your car? You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to get a mattress that’s both practical and comfortable: an inflatable or self-inflating model will satisfy you.
If you’re looking for a lighter, more compact, insulating mattress, you’ll have to invest more or compromise on comfort by opting for a closed-cell foam floor mat.
Air mattresses are popular with camping enthusiasts because they are comfortable and affordable. A single-size mattress can cost from about $20 to $100 at big box stores and some specialty stores. These mattresses are simply inflated with a hand or electric pump (sometimes included, but not always). Some products are up to 45 cm thick.
The problem is that such mattresses are rather heavy and sometimes cumbersome, in addition to not being insulating. They are not suitable for cooler weather.
If you want to extend your camping season, there are insulating air mattresses, in which a sheet of aluminum or a layer of down or synthetic microfibers is inserted. These mattresses are more expensive than the first ones: their price varies from 80 to more than 400 $.
Such insulating products also happen to be lighter and more compact than air mattresses, as they are designed for those who like an adventure. They are filled with air using a pump built into the mattress or a pump bag, or by blowing with your mouth.
Do you tend to move around in your sleep? Try the mattress (or a demo model) you’re interested in before you check out, as some insulation inside is noisy at the slightest movement.
Mattresses made of foam
If you’re impatient with the idea of inflating a mattress, look into self-inflating models. When you open the valve, you’ll see the open-cell foam inside the mattress expand in just a few minutes.
They inflate themselves to 80 percent, supervisor of the outdoor department at. The rest you have to blow with your mouth. “These mattresses have the advantage of being insulating and offering appreciable comfort. However, they are heavier and less compact than air-insulated mattresses. Their price ranges from $50 to over $300.
Finally, there’s the option that offers Spartan comfort: mats made from closed-cell foam, which are very thin, very firm and therefore uncomfortable for the average person. However, they are also very affordable: some retail for less than $20.
These floor mats are lightweight, but they can be bulky for those who want to minimize the volume of their equipment. They can, however, be rolled or folded like an accordion and attached to a backpack.
Insulation and R-value
You will notice that some mattresses have an R-value. This represents the thermal resistance of their materials. On a scale of 1 to 10, it indicates whether your model is suitable for summer nights (1-2), spring and fall nights (3-4) or even winter nights (4.5 and above).
Note that the R-value is calculated differently from one manufacturer to another. However, only some small manufacturers dare to overestimate it. In his opinion, it is not in the interest of reputable brands to exaggerate the R-value of their products.
A comfortable mattress: between thickness, size and warmth
For this specialist, the thickness of the mattress has a direct link with the comfort it provides. “If you compromise on thickness, you compromise on comfort,” he says. If that’s your primary criteria, or if you have a physical condition that requires a very comfortable mattress, look for a thickness of about 10 cm or more.
In addition to the height of your mattress, you should also consider the quality of the support and your personal taste. If it doesn’t matter how much space it takes up in your luggage, opt for a self-inflating mattress for better support; the foam will fit your body better and provide some insulation to keep you warm.
However, if you enjoy the comfort of an air mattress (firm or softer, depending on your preference), add a closed-cell foam mat just underneath to keep your heat in; plus, it will keep your expenses down.
And if you’re a larger person and need a larger surface area for a more comfortable sleep, there are longer (up to 196 cm) and wider (up to 76 cm) mattresses available.
Reduce the size and weight of the mattress to travel light!
If you’re calculating every ounce of gear in your backpack, consider insulated or self-inflating air mattresses that fit the human body: they’re narrower at the head and foot.
Note that these compact, lightweight mattresses are more expensive than others. If your budget is limited, choose a closed-cell foam mat. However, you will have to compromise on comfort, especially if you like a soft bed!
What you need to know about double mattresses
Prefer to sleep on a double air mattress with your significant other, but worried about tossing and turning? Check to see if your model has a structure on the inside that attaches the top of the mattress to the bottom, so it will be more stable when moving. Both insulated and non-insulated inflatable models have this feature.
Otherwise, the few self-inflating double mattresses that exist, such as the Base-Rest from Woods, are known to be stable.
However, compact-sized double mattresses are in short supply. For couples who want to sleep in a spoon after a long hike, he advises using two single mattresses instead; some have attachments that allow them to stay in place all night. When you’re not with your partner, you won’t be lugging around a big mattress
Can inflating a mattress with your mouth lead to mold growth?
It’s not a myth: by blowing with your mouth, you push moisture into the mattress. Add pollen, dust or skin cells and the whole thing becomes a perfect breeding ground for mold
In short, nothing major to report, according to the experts, neither for the equipment nor for health. Indeed, you don’t deflate the mattress with your mouth. If it were the case, it would be a problem because we would breathe in significant quantities of mold spores.
Still, to prevent mold growth, the microbiologist recommends getting all the air out of your mattress and storing it after removing the cap or leaving the valve open. Ideally, you should store your mattress spread out or hanging, without compacting it in your carry bag, to limit the presence of moisture inside.