How To Choose The Best Air Mattress For Camping (Updated 2017)
Our beds are a luxury we tend to take for granted, and we only realize that when we’re sleeping without one!
When we venture out into the woods to reconnect with nature, what’s the one thing we wish we had more than anything else (besides the Internet and your phone)? The answer—our beds.
Just like thousands of people out there, I love my bed. When I escape to the woods to camp, I find the unleveled ground cause a nuisance on my body. And I’m sure a lot of you feel the same way!
Luckily for us, we live in a time when we get the next best thing to our beds. Air Mattresses. Air mattresses are a lifesaver for those who want to camp and still rest comfortably throughout the night.
But with so many options readily available, how can you make the right call and choose the best air mattress for you? To help you out, I’ve created this helpful guide on how to choose the best air mattress for camping.
*Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
What To Look For In The Best Air Mattress For Camping
Air mattresses come in variable styles. There are many designed specifically for inside use that are not recommended for camping. There are also others specifically designed for the active needs of the camper.
We will be focusing on outdoor air mattresses in this article, suitable for camping. Here are the main factors to consider when comparing camping air mattresses: Price, pump style, size, weight capacity, and ease of portability.
Price is often the deciding factor when making a purchase. We all have a price range in mind and try to stay within it. This goes the same when choosing your air mattress.
Like everything else, brand name companies will typically have higher prices from having a more established reputation over new companies. However, the best value for your dollar isn’t always the high-end brand name.
A newly founded company might have a better-quality product for its price tag. That’s why you shouldn’t choose the most expensive, but neither should you scrimp.
It’s best to stick with a price range suitable for your budget and to do your research based on what you can afford.
There are 2 main styles of pumps. Internal and external pumps.
Internal pumps are either battery operated, which may or may not require routine battery swaps, or can be AC/DC operated.
The latter requires electricity from your car or other external power sources, needing a cigarette lighter adapter for your car, trucks, or RV.
The external pumps are much more hands-on. It requires air to be inserted into the mattress physically. These pumps are predominantly hand/foot pumps.
This method does require some physical energy on your part. However, some air mattresses come with an external pump that is electrically based.
You also have an option of buying a special adapter that can inflate the mattress for you through battery or AC/DC current.
Internal pumps are a bit more expensive than external pump mattress, because you are technically buying a “self-inflating mattress”. But you can also get a good deal on an external mattress and adapter for electrically inflating it.
Camping air mattresses can be broken down into 2 separate subcategories. Height/thickness of the mattress and the mattress size (twin, full, etc.) These air mattresses come in 2 heights: Raised and low
Raised air mattresses are very thick. They are about the same thickness as a normal mattress. These raised mattresses tend to have a softer top surface compared to that of the low raised.
Low raised thickness tends to be significantly less thick to the raised style. This style of mattress is usually just a few inches thick. It may have the same style of thickness as inflated rafts as swimming pools.
Air mattresses also range from twin to queen in terms of size. It’s important to consider who you plan on sharing the mattress with. Or, if you’re not sharing at all, a single person tent will obviously not fit a queen mattress.
That’s why it’s important to know how many people would usually use the air mattress. If you’re planning a camping trip where more than one person is planning to use the air mattress, then a larger sized air mattress is ideal.
Weight capacity is the most overlooked quality in an air mattress. Most people forget that the mattress is made of some forms of plastic.
Pressure from the weight of the people on it can hit a breaking point where the mattress could rip or pop.
Like mentioned previously, it’s smart to keep in mind how many people are planning to use the air mattress. Air mattresses typically range in weight capacity from 250 lbs. to 600 lbs.
That means if 4 people are 150 lbs. and are sharing one air mattress, then the air mattress is pushing its maximum limit. Make sure to consider how many people and the combined weights of the individuals planning to use the air mattress.
I recommend always having the worst-case scenario in mind when it comes down to decide. That may mean for you to plan on a higher weight capacity mattress.
Ease Of Portability
Depending on the style and size of the air mattress, the ease of portability will differ significantly.Internal pump air mattress may inflate faster, but they also tend to be a bit heavier to lug around.
The internal pump alone could weigh from just a couple of ounces to a few pounds. It also could be more difficult to carry. Not to mention that they may take up needed space in your trunk or storage racks.
A larger mattress, similar to a raised queen air mattress, has more surface space. As you may recall from basic science and math classes, objects with more surface space take up more space and weigh a bit more.
Less material means less weight. However, you could get a raised queen air mattress without an internal pump and it may be significantly lighter and easier to compact and store away.
When it comes down to portability, consider the size, weight, and style of pump the air mattress uses. These factors influence the air mattresses ability to be packed up and carried.
Nobody wants to lug around a bulky air mattress or have their trunk shrunken by a space eating mattress. Consider how portable an air mattress is in terms of what you think you can handle.
Top Five Best Air Mattresses For Camping
Based on my research, testing, and overall customer reputation, here are my top five picks on the best air mattresses for camping:
Lightspeed Outdoors 2-Person PVC-Free Air Bed
The Lightspeed Outdoors is a twin sized air mattress designed for speedy inflation.
As the name implies, it gives the user ability to adjust its comfort level. With a unique system of pressure management and stabilizers, it will keep your mattress inflated and comfortable.
Its single seam design helps minimize potential leaks, which may be perfect for someone who goes camping frequently or a backpacker/vagabond.
Plus, the mattress is made from TPU, which is an eco-friendly alternative to plastics.
- Easily Portable (lightweight)·
- Folds Small·
- Minimizes leaks with single seam design·
- Made from Eco-Friendly material (TPU)
- Little Thickness (low to the ground)·
- Battery needs DC current (electricity)
Airlite Sleeping Pad
The Airlite Sleeping Pad is a single person air mattress. For its price, you could really enjoy this product if you’re a solo camper.
The air mattress comes equipped with a foot pump that is easy to use and requires very little effort on your part to use. It also conforms to the ground, which is beneficial if you’re camping on uneven surfaces.
This is my favorite air mattress for its price because as a solo camper or a camper who shares a tent, it’s very reliable and comfortable to use.
- Ultra-portable (folds up small, lightweight)·
- Extremely Comfortable·
- Inflates/Deflates with Ease·
- Comes with carrying case
- Very Narrow for a single person·
- 3.5 inches thick, may not be thick enough for some people
SoundAsleep Camping Series Air Mattress
The SoundAsleep Camping Series air mattress has been specifically designed for maximum durability. Its battery operated external rechargeable pump allows for easy inflation and deflation.
It can be recharged using AC/DC current and through your car. In under 3 minutes, the mattress will be fully inflated/deflated.
Crafted with thick material, it allows this air mattress to withstand uneven surfaces, as well as any possible punctures.
Another awesome perk? This mattress is waterproof!
Providing a comfortable sleeping surface with a long-lasting warranty, this air mattress may be helpful for those looking for added comfort while having the ability to use anywhere there is power.
- Extremely Portable·
- Long-Lasting Battery·
- Fast inflation time (under 3 minutes)·
- 1 year Warranty·
- Great Comfort·
- Great Value for Price
- Not Suited for Small Tents·
- Makes Some Noise
ALPS Mountaineering Velocity Air Bed
The ALPS Mountaineering Velocity air bed is a durable air mattress that can be used for camping and indoors. It’s super lightweight design makes it very durable for extended use.
The air mattress provides its users with a comfortably solid sleeping surface.It comes equipped with an external pump that has both AC/DC charging capabilities and a car charger.
Within minutes, the pump can inflate or deflate your air mattress. This could be ideal for those first-time campers or campers who bring their car along with their journey.
We recommend it for those campers who don’t like wasting more time than they must.
- Good Quality·
- Very Lightweight (6 lbs.)·
- Folds and Compacts Well·
- Car charger and AC/DC chargers’ a plus·
- Stable Surface
- Tends to be Overpriced·
- Loud Inflations throughout night·
- Battery does not hold a charge well·
- Uncomfortable Sleep·
- Only a 30-Day Warranty
Intex Classic Downy Airbed
Intex Classic Downy Airbed set provides some features that typically would only be seen in air mattresses at much higher prices.
This air mattress comes equipped with 2 pillows and a hand pump. Having a weight capacity of 600 pounds, this air mattress can support multiple people. It’s beneficial to families with children or above average sized people.
For a relatively low price, this air mattress does get the job done. Having a comfort level at this price is ideal for campers on a tight budget, like backpackers and campers with small children.
- Its queen size allows for a nice fit with queen sheets·
- Unique construction (Wave Beam System) allows for level sleeping surface·
- Hand pump is lightweight and easy to use·
- Vinyl Material has proven durable·
- Comfortable sleep
- The intake valve is NOT equipped with a stopper·
- Pillows are quite small·
- The Hand Pump does take a lot of time to get use to·
- Only a 30-Day Warranty
All types of air mattresses have their own pros and cons.
When it comes to selecting the best air mattress in terms of, price, style of pump, size, weight capacity, and ease of portability, our choice would be The SoundAsleep Camping Series Air Mattress.
Its external battery is known for its heavy-duty use and can charge with AC/DC or your car, so you can use it anytime, anywhere.
It also comes in either twin and queen sizes at low heights, making them ideal for tent campers and campers who don’t want to sleep in a sleeping bag.
This air mattress might be one of the few air mattresses that suit all types of campers.
With quick inflation time, unmatched comfort, a nice warranty, rechargeable battery, quick and easy travel portability, and for an unbeatable price?
You are assured that you have everything you need in one inflatable bed!
What do you say? Let us know your thoughts and experiences with any of these air mattresses. Think we got it wrong? Which would you pick as the winner? Like, comment, and don’t forget to share with your fellow campers!