Best camping air mattress and sleeping pad – Jan ’17 Update

This very website was started by a group of camping and hiking zealots and that’s why this guide, the guide on best air mattresses for camping and top sleeping pads, receives our special attention every time it’s updated. As some of you might remember we broadened the scope of this guide 4 months ago to include top products in a few other categories, this guide now covers: air mattresses for car camping, travel airbeds (backseat of cars, SUVs and minivans) and specialized airbeds for trucks.

For this update, our featured testers were some of the most-trusted names in camping and hiking blogosphere.

FEW OF OUR FEATURED TESTERS

Our featured testers

 

How we test and rate the airbeds

 

Let Oli explain what you’ll see in the guide

 

As we mentioned, we broadened the scope of and included more categories. All we did is tweak the structure of the guide so that the list covers a wider scope of needs.

 

 

Use the links bellow to skip to the part you are interested in:

 

Best camping air mattress overall

 

The best camping mattress today – SoundAsleep Camping Series

Sound Asleep camping air mattress queen and twin size

Queen and Twin size of the Camping Series

We first tested and reviewed this bed in October 2015, and after seeing what the Dream Series from the same manufacturer were doing (dominating) we were very excited to see if this would live up to the expectations.

It did!

SoundAsleep Camping series has been the best rated camping airbed for about 4 months after it hit the market (because we had to have enough time to test, review and rate it).

It’s rated at a high 93/100, with an impressive 94 and 95 in comfort and durability respectively and there’s no bed, high or low-rise that comes close to the rating.

Ratings, main PROs and CONs:

The camping series of the SoundAsleep comes in two sizes – queen and twin. Naturally, it’s also the best rated low rise bed in the guide.

Comfort – 94/10

They call the technology used in the SoundAsleep camping series ComfortCoil – the coiled design is patented as I-Beam Air Coils.

However, we have seen to many fancy names of new technologies to take their word for it – instead we had our featured testers test and compare this piece of camping gear to other similar models and the SoundAsleep passed the test with flying colors.

Durability – 95/100

pvc thickness of camping series

Measuring the PVC thickness of the SoundAsleep Camping Series

The coiled designed is what makes all the difference when it comes to durability. The rating of 95 in this category is only superseded by the luxury models of airbeds that cost a couple of thousand dollars and are for home use.

The PVC used to make this bed is extra thick, so that it can withstand the great outdoors with the minimal risk of punctures and pinhole leaks. Among camping beds, this durability rating was unheard since we started 3Beds.com about a decade ago.

Pump – 95/100

The pump that comes with this inflatable is all a pump for a camping bed should be – simple, small, rechargeable battery operated. You can charge it on a 110 V outlet at home or using your car charger.

It takes about 6 hours to fully charge the pump.

Our testers had almost no problems with the pump as the reviews below will reflect it and the rating of 92 proves it – it’s not higher since our rating formula include speed of inflation/deflation and there are faster pumps out there.

This one reaches full inflation in about 2 minutes 50 seconds. Make a note of this – hen it arrives it holds power for one or two charges and then has to be fully charged.
However, the faster ones require and outlet and can’t be used on their own and are much bulkier.

 

 

 

Maximum weight allowed

The bed comfortably sleeps two adults weighing up to 500 pounds. The coil design allows you not to sink to the middle, whether you’re sleeping alone or with a partner.

soundasleep camping unboxing

Warranty – one year limited

We never fully understood why a reputable brand with a superior product like this one wouldn’t explicitly list the warranty and one has to contact them directly to ask.
Anyway, we did just that and it’s one year limited.

Product details:

  • Dimensions – 78x60x9 “
  • Shipping weight: 14 lbs (deflated and packed in the bag it’s just under 12 lbs)
  • Carry bag (approx 18×30) and car charger included
  • ComfortCoil design for extra durability
  • Rechargeable battery pump – in our tests it fully inflated in just under 3 minutes
  • Sizes available: twin and queen

Experiences our testers shared with us in their reviews – PROs:

  • I’ve used about a dozen beds or pads in my time and the SoundAsleep seems just as good as any (including those I paid two or three times more), I was especially surprised by how fast it inflated and the fact that it didn’t loose any air starting from the first night
  • You can see that’s it’s well made right out of the box. I’ve been camping for two decades and you can feel the quality and the thickness of the PVC just by touching the thing. It’s been 4 months of using it 2-3 times a week and it looks and feels as the day it came.
  • Just the right height. I owned a Lightspeed before this and I was just too close to the ground and, as fellow-campers will know, bringing a full-blown high rise can be a hassle.
  • If you’re old-school and think that a tent and a sleeping bag is all you’ll ever need and you enjoy telling the stories – you shouldn’t try this bed. I did and it changed camping for me forever.
  • We started testing this camping bed last season and it didn’t flinch. Apart from a bit of color-change it works and holds air just as well and improved my quality of sleep on camping nights in Shenandoah
  • This is so much more comfortable than my old Coleman Quick-bed that I used to order and reorder pretty much every year. Solid product.
  • It was great seeing customer service being so responsive and going the extra mile. It started leaking air two weeks after we received it for testing. We called the customer service and had it replaced no questions asked – we called on Monday and a new one was with us on Wednesday.

 

field testing

The same company makes a high-rise air mattress (the Dream Series) that’s better suited for home use. But if you have access to a 120V outlet at your campsite, its is possible to use it for camping. It will, however, render your warranty void. – (photo credit – Scott Gauvin)

 

CONs as per our testers:

  • It’s kind of hard to get used to inflating it, you need to hold the pump closely attached and handle the pump with the other; a hose of some kind would solve the issue.
  • This product arrived without a patch kit, it does sound petty but these kind of things really bother me
  • I was really excited about testing this bed and it was fine at first but after about 10 months it started leaking air. There’s a pinhole on the bottom and I’ll need to patch it.
  • I expected the “extra-thick” and “heavy-duty” material as they describe it to be puncture resistant.
  • I had an unpleasant experience with this bed – I was using it for about a month when the pump dies on me in the middle of a 7 day camping trip. Then I reached out to customer service and they explained that the pump needs to be charged within a month of using it – so, to be safe, I now charge the pump a few days before the trip. They were very polite and explained that the company is family owned, which explained their care for the buyer. Rare to see these days…

Our thoughts on the SoundAsleep camping bed

First of all – the testing that these mattresses go through and the rating it receives is as close to science as rating airbeds will be.

We’re saying to point out the simple fact that what makes or breaks a camping airbed is, statistically speaking, what’s the % of beds that we saw develop leaks – and this one has by far the lowest percentage.

The extra nozzle

We’ve seen too many brands trying to sell air pumps on top of the products and make sure that their product cannot be inflated using other pumps.

This bed comes with an extra small nozzle that’s works with pretty much any pump out there, so if the pump that comes with it fails at some point you can use your old one or get a new cheap one – we appreciate the extra effort.

The “filled” this bed under low-rise but it’s not really low-rise like, say, the Lightspeed Outdoors, which is 6 inches high, this one is 9 inches which makes it extra comfortable.

The conclusion is simple – after first appearing on our website (October 2015) this bed has stayed the top-rated product in every update of the guide on top-rated camping airbeds.

 

Runner-up – Lightspeed Outdoors PVC-free 2 person

 

lightspeed outdoors tpu 2 person lighweight camping air padIf you like the look of this bed, it can be with you within 2-3 days. The good people in Jurupa valley (CA, where their warehouse is) ship it the same or next day and it travels via UPS ground, so same-day delivery is not really an option.

Until the SoundAsleep hit the market, this was the camping bed to beat – the Lightspeed Outdoors. Quality aside, we just love the blue version of the bed and the looks it gets when you set it up on the site.

It’s the same looks we used to get when we got new bikes as kids.

In the last update it scored the rating of 88/100, which is one point lower since the last update. That’s well within statistical error and we don’t think anything has changed about the quality of the Lightspeed Outdoors.

The Lightspeed doesn’t have the “feel” of an airbed

This mattress is in a category of its own because it’s different in a few important ways.

Apart from not being PVC (which we’ll talk in about a minute) the sturdiness of the material changes the way the bed feels. It doesn’t have that bouncy feeling regular camping bed have – it’s firmer and easier to turn around.

It makes it a great choice for restless sleepers.

It’s the only PVC-free product on the list

carry_bag_pumpThis means it will be the choice of those who still have doubts of the safety of PVC (which you honestly shouldn’t because the airbed companies in USA have to adhere to very strict standards with the materials and adhesives they use – it all has to be phthalates-free, which is the chemical to worry about).

It’s laminated with TPU textile on the outside and made from Oxford polyester.

Frequently asked questions:

Here, we preemptively answer the common questions we receive through email or in the comments. That doesn’t mean you should hesitate to shot us a message to ask about your specific situations – we love mail.

What are these TPU and Oxford polyester materials?

TPU or Thermoplastic polyurethane is a PVC and phthalates-free material. It feels and looks like textile, doesn’t stretch and it’s 40% lighter. It’s more rigid then PVC which results in less stretching.

Oxford is a type of polyester fabric that’s typically used to make clothes (jackets), suitcases, backpacks etc. Its main advantage is durability and breathability.

Lightspeed Outdoors 2 PersonIs it true to size?

Not really, the standard queen size is 60×80 and we measured this bed at 55×79.

What is the max weight?

The name itself includes the words 2-person but we saw no listed capacity weight. Just to be safe, it is our opinion, that anything up to 500 lbs is safe.

What sheets does this fit?

Since it’s a bit smaller then queen size, it fits full-sized sheets just fine. If you include a comforter on top, queen sheets will also work well.

How bad is the plastic smell out of the box?

Unlike PVC airbeds that usually need to vent out (for at least a few hours) before the plastic smell is gone, the textile used here has absolutely no smell.

Are there any differences between the blue and the green version?

Apart from the blue version being the eye candy, there’s no difference.

valve_of_the_second_best_camping_airbedHow much does the pump weigh?

We measured it with batteries inside and it came to about 1 pound.

How long do the 4-D batteries hold?

We found that they hold much longer if you take them out of the pump after inflating the bed. If you do that, you’ll surely have about 10 inflations before you need to change them.

How long does shipping take?

As we mentioned, it’s shipped from Jurupa Valley (CA) and it takes 23- work days for delivery.

Can I use other pumps, like manual?

The opening on the valve is standard so pretty much every pump will work.

The pump that comes with it has an adapter with 3 pieces but YES, a manual pump can also work but it’s going to be hard to reach that level of firmness that makes this camping mattress so special.

So, if you want the full firmness and want to use the manual pump you can do it, but chances are you are going to top off the last 5% with the battery-operated one.

Is it small enough for backpacking?

For most hikers/campers, YES. It weighs just below 6 lbs and packs down pretty small.

Can I use the pump to deflate it?

It can be deflated both using the pump and manually. If you want to deflate it using the pump just switch the designated position of the pump switch.

You cannot use the same valve to manually deflate it.

There are two valves, the upper and bigger is a Boston valve which means that if you open it nothing will happen, not even when you apply pressure. Instead, look for the smaller lower valve, open that and apply pressure. The bed will deflate.

What’s the warranty?

It’s 1-year limited warranty.

The “limited” in the warranty means that they are responsible and have to replace it free from any out-of factory defects. It means that it doesn’t cover natural hazards (pricks on the trail, cat claws at home).

Having said all that, our experience with the customer service of the Lightspeed outdoors tells us that they don’t abuse the terms of the warranty.

If you call them with a problem, they will likely ask for a picture to make sure it’s not something extreme and will be timely in honoring the terms of the warranty.

It needs to be mentioned, because so many companies today find their way out in the way a limited-warranty is worded.

Stable at temperature changes

One of the common issues with blow-up beds is the changes of temperatures you feel as the air circles around inside and you feel a cold air rush to the top at some point in the night.

That temperature transfer happens because of the very nature of PVC and that’s why campers tend to use sleeping bags on top on airbed.

The all-fabric Lightspeed Outdoors is much less responsive to temperature changes. For cold-sleepers, this makes all the difference.

However, particularly cold night out will call for a blanket between you and the bed.

Dimensions, weight, colors

  • Fully inflated – 79x55x6, packed: 18x9x9
  • Weights – 6 lbs
  • Size available – queen
  • Color choices: green and brown/blue

One of the most durable camping beds

It’s rated at 90/100 in durability which puts it in top 3% (not just camping, all airbeds).

The explanation is in the material and it’s very simple – textile is much harder to puncture than regular PVC and holds the seam connection better.

Battery operated – 4 D batteries (not included).

Adjustable firmness

Boston valve of the tpuIt featured what they call a Boston valve , which is just a word for any valve that allows the way to go in and not escape when you when you let go and before you close it.
It’s the same valve quality used in kayaks.

It’s unlike any other camping airbed

The Lightspeed Outdoors 2-person TPU is so much different than anything else you’ll find out there.

When we got it, we weren’t even sure that the testing methods we developed and tweaked over the years are applicable, but we went with it and the results (we think) painted a pretty good picture of the quality.

This bed will be the choice of those who are not fans of the feeling of an air mattress – this feels just a regular bed.

And again, the blue version looks so good jaws will drop at that campsite.

Trust us on this – take this out of your backpack and it will the talk of the site. We’ve seen it first hand and heard it from our testers.

 

High-rise camping air mattresses

 

Best high-rise camping air mattress – the Coleman SupportRest

coleman supportrestThis is not a category backpackers should be looking at. High camping beds are for people who are car-camping or traveling to a campsite.

We’re about to present two beds that are best used when packed in a car. Even when packed, they are bulky (especially the second one that comes on a frame).

Having said that, if you do travel by car and have the space to packs these and your tent is big enough to accommodate these, you’ll probably get better rest at night and kids will have more fun during the day.

Review of the Coleman SupportRest

Founded by William Coffin Coleman in 1900, the company is among the few oldest brands in the industry.

Back in 2005 when it acquired Newell Brands, our website was just starting out but we had our doubts about quality changes of Coleman airbeds.

They were unfounded.

The headquarters of the Company is in Wichita (KS) and they do outsource, but the quality and the gusto for innovation hasn’t changed much and we respect that.

Coleman Supportrest Quilted Top Airbed Queen

To date, Coleman is one of the most trusted brands of camping air mattresses. This is especially true in the category of high-rise airbeds for camping. Both the Winner and the Runner-up come from Coleman

What makes the Coleman SupportRest the best high camping mattress is the inner design of the chambers and coils.

The crucial features here are:

  • Comfort Strong extra sturdy beams makes for a flatter sleeping surface and more durable bed
  • Support lock that support the edges making them sturdier and more stable
  • The PVC used is extra thick to minimize the chances of leaks and damages.
  • The opening is standard so it fits most pumps, but features their patented AirTight system to minimize the chances of air leaks
  • Any potential leaks are covered by a 1-year limited warranty

Dimensions and weight:

  • Sizes: queen and twin
  • Height: 18 inches
  • Actual weight of the mattress: 5 pounds
  • Color options: green and brown

What people asked us over the years:

Does it come with a pump?

No. We recommend getting a battery-operated one like the Coleman 4 D QuickPump.

The bed can be deflated using the pump.

What is a double lock valve?

It’s a valve with two seals – the first one stops the air from escaping when you remove the pump and the second locks it in when the bed is used.

How’s the insulation?

Being extra high and sitting at 18 inches, the Coleman Supportrest probably has one of the better insulations in the industry.

With that said, if you are camping in the cold, you will definitely feel rushes of cold air as it circles inside. A good mattress topper or simply a blanket will help a lot.

Does it have that plasticky smell when it arrives?

Yes, it does. Airing it out for inflated for about a day for the smell to completely go away.

Can I mount this on a cot?

We’ve received this question a few times but we’re not sure why exactly.

So, yes, you can mount it on a cot but we don’t know why you would.

How big is it when folded up?

It’s easy to deflate, roll and pack to the size of about 12×17 inches.

Our 2 cents on the Coleman SupportRest – the top camping air mattress choice

We believe that this Coleman is one of the most under-appreciated products in reviews on Amazon.

That’s mostly the case because people tend to get it for home use and find it a hassle to get and operate the external pump when then can just get one that’s electric and built in.

That’s one of the reasons the Overall rating isn’t higher (it’s 86/100) because interpreting existing reviews is included in the rating of a product.

But that aside, Coleman SupportRest is the best-rated high camping bed out there today.

 

Runner-up – Coleman Quickbed EasyStay 4-in-1

(Twin/King)

 

Coleman 4-in-1 QuickBed

 

 

The Quickbed 4in1 is different, mainly in terms of versatility.

It can be two beds, it can be one bed. It can be a high-rise, it can be a low rise, it can be a twin it can be King. It’s all because of the simple, but smart, buckles that firmly attach the two twin airbeds into one.

In terms of quality we can say that the Quickbed has been in the top 5 camping air mattress for about a year now, which is no small thing, having the competition in mind.

It’s currently rated at 83/100.

Specs:

  • Coiled design for increased durability
  • Flocked top
  • Minimized air leaks by the trademarked AirTight System and double lock-valve
  • Wrap and Roll carry bag included
  • Dimensions: 11x15x6 “
  • Materials used – rubber and vinyl

In-depth analysis of the camping air mattress and FAQs

When the design came out, the real question wasn’t about whether it’s useful, but if it really works.

It all came down to whether the two beds will stay together and really feel as one.

They did.

This made the Coleman Quickbed an instant classic and very popular with families that have a set of needs that is not met by a single size or height of an airbed.

People choose it for its versatility.

Comfort and air retention

Similar to the Supportrest, this Coleman also features the Comfort Coil construction which makes all the difference in terms of comfort and durability.

It also rocks the same double lock valve and the airtight system that covers the bed against air leaks with a 1-year warranty.

If you are camping in a cold area, a mattress top or simple blanket between you and the bed will eliminate the rushes of cold air.

It fits standard sheets as well as deep pocket ones, which might be even better because they “grasp” the bed more securely. There is no slipping because of the flocking on the top of the bed.

Packing and storing the bed

This is the only camping bed that has the carry bag attached (literally) to the bed and avid campers know how easy it is to misplace small items like a carry bag. Packing it up could be simpler, you just use the pump to deflate it, roll it and pack it into the carry bag.

Unlike some other models, the bag is big enough to fit the Coleman Quickbed even if you haven’t deflated it. Companies tend to make the bags to fit the products tight out of the factory and once you use it, you’re ever putting that thing in the carry bag again.

Coleman did no such thing here, the carry bag comfortably fits the bed.

Durability – 81/100

The lowest score of the Coleman Quickbed is in the category of durability. We heard too many reports of air leaks and seams separating to rate it any higher.

There’s a fine statistical line in the sand where reports of air leaks stop being acceptable as exceptions and become a true issue with a specific model.The Coleman Quickbed camping crossed that line well into the red zone of air leak percentages.

Bottom line – if it starts loosing air you’ll have to send it back and replace it. Luckily, you are covered by the 1-year warranty and the customer service at Coleman is, in our experience, very understanding and forthcoming.

Once more – this is the second best high-rise airbed for camping rated at 83/100.

 

Best camping bed with a frame – Coleman queen airbed Cot

The Coleman airbed cot is actually the best-rated Coleman on the entire site, including those for home use and the best rated airbed with a frame (including the EZ models from Serta and Insta).

That speaks volumes.

If you have the space to pack the steel frame (cot) of this Coleman, you’re in for a treat.

Not only because you’ll want have to worry about pesky insects and creatures climbing onto your bed, but you’ll feel much moiré like sleeping on a real bed then you would with a regular air mattress.

The side coffee tables don’t hurt either (they’re detachable).

Fact sheet of the Coleman Cot frame:

  • The cot and the bed are separate and can be used as two sleeping surfaces
  • Maximum support of the steel frame 600 pounds
  • Cup holders in the two side tables
  • The 4D batter comes included
  • Airtight system with no-leak 1-year warranty
  • Packs away easily into a compact carry bag
  • Maximum user height – up to 6 feet 2 inches

Tech info:

  • Dimensions: 78x22x59 “
  • Weight: around 40 lbs
  • Size: queen
  • Color: beige with a gray encasement that’s attached to the cot
  • The side tables are detachable

FAQs:

Can the air mattress be used on its own?

Yes, it’s a standard airbed and the sleeve it goes in is attached to the cot. So, yes, you can the Coleman Cot mattress as a standalone.

Can the pump be plugged in and used?

Yes, the 4D pump comes with a plug-in option. It can also be used to deflate it, just use the designated switch on the pump

Comfort coil explained

The first reason this bed feels more like a regular mattress is the sturdy frame.

The second one is the fact that the airbed is designed using ComfortCoil technology, which is basically a series of sturdy horizontal beams inside that distribute the weight more evenly and do not allow sinking into the middle of the bed.

How big is the Coleman Queen Cot when packed?

It’s roughly 10x10x38 inches and easy to set up and down, takes only a few minutes.

How big is the cot itself?

The cot measures 60×80”, which are standard queen bed dimensions.

How big of a tent do I need for this bed?

The Coleman cot would take almost half of an 8-man tent, have this in mind. A 10×10 is just right and the bare minimum is a 4 person tent.

It’s pretty big, does the bag it comes with have wheels?

Yes, once it’s packed it’s easy to move around. The bag is sturdy and it comes with rollers on the bottom.How do you set up the frame?

We keep getting questions about this and we get it, people are afraid they’ll need to set up this frame manually.

You won’t. It arrives assembled and all you need to do is unfold it.

To unfold it, just pull out the both sides and then expand the center portion (instructions provided). Then you put the deflated (or partially inflated) mattress into the sleeve – the holes on the upper end of the sleeve allow you to pull the corners of the mattress to the corners of the sleeve.

Then you just inflate the bed and it fills the sleeve perfectly. Zip up the sleeve and you’re set.

The tables are very useful and not just a marketing trick. To “install” them all you need to do is find the slots on the side of the frame where and fit the tables in. Do this before you inflate the bed,

it’s much harder once inflated.

Do the legs leave marks on the floor?

No they don’t, they come with plastic caps and cannot do any damage.

Reminder – this is the best-rated Coleman on our site

Rated at 88/100 with 89 and 91 in the categories of Comfort and Air retention, the Coleman framed airbed is the best bed out there if you don’t to distance yourself from the ground.
It’s versatile, good for camping but also great for having guest over. The design is smart, especially the fact that the sleeve is attached to the cot and if, by any chance the airbed starts leaking all you need to do is get another one in queen size.

Well-deserved high ratings!

 

Best car camping air mattress – top single and double

 

The car camping mattresses we are about to present here is one of the most comfortable pieces we have ever tried – it’s safe to say that it’s more comfortable than many a regular beds.

If you are car camping, you are saving a lot on all the gear that comes with regular tent camping – it’s wise to invest a shred of those savings into a mattress that’s specialized for car camping instead of going with a regular airbed.

It received a rating of 92/100 in the Comfort category but this is one of the products where the opinions of our team and of our testers differ – if it was solely up to us we rate this car camping mattress at roughly 96/100.

 

So yes, this is one comfortable mattress.

And that’s what you want from a mattress that will be used for car camping – comfort over anything else. The packing size, inflating/deflating time and similar things are not that much of a factor.

Single or double car camping mattress?

If you can afford and if the back of your car can fit it we definitely recommend a double. After all, when car camping, that’s your home and it’s hard to beat the feeling of having “wall to wall” soft furnishing.

The mattresses that we looked at and tested to find the best for car camping are not cheap but they might be more comfortable than most people’s beds.

As opposed to regular air mattresses, these are not simple PVC or fabric – these are combinations of:

  • High-quality fabrics
  • TPU
  • Open-cell foam

 

Best car camping mattress – the Exped Mega Mat 10

 

Hefty 4” of foam filling does a very good job at making this bed one of the most comfortable pieces out there, as well as a very good insulator.

It feels like a memory foam mattress.

There’s no bouncy feeling you would have with a regular air mattress. It’s not cheap but it is our opinion that it’s the best value for money among the mattresses we looked at.

Other products of similar quality cost about 50-70% more.

Tech:

  • Materials: TPU film and 50D nylon tricot
  • Self-inflating open-cell foam
  • Size: two sizes available – both 77.6×30.3 (length x width), but different thickness, one 3 inches thick and the other 3.9 inches
  • R-value: the thicker model has an R-value of 9.5 and the one that’s 3 inches thick sits at 6.4 R-value

It does NOT inflate/deflate fast compared to the competition and the reason is the foam, but we wouldn’t think that how fast it inflates or how small it packs should be a factor for somebody planning to car camp.

Think about it – you set it up and down once but the few extra minutes bring unparalleled comfort.

We sincerely mean it – we are rarely being this open about liking a product and we try to stick to facts and test results but we can’t hold it in with the Exped, we love it!

It’s self inflating – generally, self-inflating pads do not pack small and are not convenient for backpacking. It’s because the open-cell foam cannot be fully deflated.

The way open-cell foam works is that the cells suck in air and as they fill the mattress inflates. When you deflate it, you use pressure to squeeze the air out.

But you can’t squeeze all the air out and that’s why they don’t pack small.

The Exped Mega with all the extra foam and the sturdy side walls does not deflate fast. But, as we mentioned, it’s the very things that make it such a great car camping bed that also make it a bit slower to set up and down.

Comfort – 92/100

It’s all about the combo of the foam and the sturdy sides. One of the common issues with a regular air mattress is sinking and pressure points at the hip and shoulder.

Nothing like that here.

Naturally, you control how firm you want the mattress to be, inflate/deflate it until it’s just right. The fabric used is soft to the touch, feels good against the skin and it’s not slippery. This means you can sleep or rest by lying directly onto the mattress but it also means that you won’t have that slippery feeling if you are using a sleeping bag.

Well insulated – this car camping mattress has an R-value of 9.5, by far the highest among the products we looked at. Again, we have all the extra foam to thank for that.

In spite of what many people think, R-value is not a measure of how warm the mattress/pad is, it’s a measure of how good of a job it does at insulating you from the temperature changes.

So, this means that the Exped will do a great job of keeping you warm when it’s cold and providing a cool sleeping surface when the floor of your car is hot.

Longest warranty we’ve seen in an air mattress – 5 years

The warranty Exped offers speaks volumes, we’ve never seen a 5-year warranty on a product that is supposed to be prone to damages like an air mattress.

It speaks towards how heavy-duty this car camping bed is.

Not for backpacking

Unless you are carrying only this and a bottle of water you don’t want this mattress in any situation where you’d need to carry it around.

It does not pack small or light – it’s heavy and bulky.

Value for money – 90/100

We already said that this is a high-end item and it is not cheap, but it does a good bang for your buck.

Compared to other car camping mattresses we looked at, it’s bargain. We mean it.

The Exped is the best car camping choice for side-sleepers

If you are a side-sleeper or have back pains, you really don’t need to look any further.

We can’t imagine, let alone find, a better mattress for eliminating the pressure points at the hip and the shoulder and aligning your spine (which is what you want to keep in check as a side-sleeper).

Final thoughts on the Exped Mega car camping mattress

There are air mattresses that are OK for car camping, mattresses that are very good for it and then there’s the Exped Mega.

It’s in a category of its own and no single camping bed comes close to it.

This is one of those items that you’ll likely still be in 10 years.

The only real competition is the mattress we are about to present as the best double – the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir Dream, rated at 90/100.

 

Runner-up in car camping – the NeoAir Dream

 (by Therm-A-Rest)

 

While the Exped was simply a good choice for car camping, the NeoAir Dream is somewhat different. It packs small so it can be used for backpacking.

Apart from that, the reason you should consider it is simple – nothing beats covering the whole back area of your car with a comfy foam mattress and you can do that with NeoAir Dream

On the other hand – it’s more expensive.

Make no mistake; this is a high end product. It’s the type of air mattresses we rarely mention because of the hefty price tags called adaptable air mattresses.

This refers to the fact that you can separate the foam casing and use just the mattress inside as light carry-friendly option.

Bottom line – if money is no object (and who can put a price on a good night’s sleep in the great outdoors) this is THE CAR CAMPING MATTRESS to own.

Specs:

  • Soft cover on top on an air mattress and foam – adds up to 4” inches
  • Dimensions of the XL – 77x30x4 “
  • Weight – just under 5 pounds
  • R-value of 6
  • Sack included

The carry bag that comes with it can also be used to blow it up – the video below explains all the options

 

 

Comfort 90/100

The NeoAir Dream is a combo of the air mattress on the bottom, which is superior to regular inflatables because the inner design comprises of baffles that are well-insulated.

On top of the air baffles is a layer of foam that evens out the sleeping surface and minimizes pressure points and finally, the outer sleeve/encasement. The encasement is made with a soft plush top and tough and sturdy sides and bottom.

The 3 parts we mentioned add up to about 4 “, which is about as thick as the Exped above. The R-value is 6.0 which is just a tad lower than the thinner version of the Exped.

It’s fair to say that the material used for the top is the single most comfortable plush top we’ve seen (and not just in car camping air mattresses).

It’s OK not to use any sheets because the sleeve is washable.

Triangular Core Matrix and ThermaCapture technologies

Really fancy names, but let’s see what they are really about.

The Triangular Core Matrix is what they call their pending inner structure of the air mattress that consists of two layers of triangular baffles. The design is aimed at distributing pressure better, which means better stability and comfort.

(Image)

The trademarked ThermaCapture layers used in the mattress are designed to minimize heat loss.

(Image)

Easy to use, set up and down

This car camping mattress is not self-inflatable.

You have the option to get it with the NeoAir Torrent Pump which can be plugged in into the car DC outlet and inflates it in just less than two minutes. The pump can also run on batteries (CR123A).

Alternatively, you can just blow it up using your mouth, the air mattress part is pretty small and it also takes just a few minutes to blow enough air in. It takes about 30 blows.

To deflate and pack it just apply pressure and the air just whizzes out, then you simply fold and roll it. It comes with buckles that you use to secure it once it’s rolled, so you don’t have to use the sack if you want to carry it. You can simply attach it to your backpack.

Commentary on the the runner-up in car camping mattresses

It’s rated at 88/100, and took a blow in the category of value for money. It is a great mattress anyway you look at it but it comes with a hefty price.

This mattress for car camping is far from your average air mattress or a sleeping pad, it includes a thin but sturdy air mattress topped with open-cell foam and the soft flocking we praised so much.

Big and lofty, it doesn’t feel that different than a regular home mattress.

It’s camping luxury embodied.

It is well worth the money if you camp often and are willing to spend this much on your comfort

Best SUV, car & minivan back-seat air mattress – the DYZD

 

After getting requests to rate and find the best among backseat air mattress for cars, SUVs and trucks, we finally got to it so the information you see here is presented for the first time after 4 months of compiling data.

The 4 months gave us enough of sample to confidently choose the winner in this category – the DYZD extra thick air mattress.

We thought that including the review here was a good fit.

Let’s get to it – the DYZD did not have much of competition here – the runner-up was the Opar Gray which was a whole 4 points behind and the Napier sports, which is better suited for trucks.

Review of the best backseat airbed for SUVs, cars and minivans – the DYZD

Rated at 88/100, the DYZD car backseat airbed blew the competition out of the water. It’s by far, in our opinion, the best choice if you need and air mattress for your car, SUV or a minivan.

Here are the details of the car airbed:

  • New and improved style – high quality PVC used
  • Soft velvet-like surface
  • Two separate parts can inflated separately
  • Adjustable firmness
  • Inflated size – 55×35 “
  • 3.1 “ thick, maximum weight capacity 800 pounds
  • Recommended for temperatures between -13 and 140 F
  • Includes the pump and patch kit
  • Inflates in under 3 minutes

What you need to know about the DYZD car, SUV and minivan airbed

The backseat mattress fits almost all cars (90% in fact, according to the company), minivans and SUVs because you can adjust the firmness and the inflation levels. You inflate the mattress to your desired firmness and then move the backseat back and forth to lock in the lower part

Depending on the inflation the size varies between 53 and 57 “long and between 31 and 35 “wide.

Having said that – it’s smart to measure the relevant dimensions of the backseat of your car and see if any of the seat positions are within the dimension ranges. Again, most are.

If you plan to inflate and deflate it on the go, you’ll need a portable charger. We recommend 12-V DC plug. Other than that, the car inflatable is simply set up using the cigarette lighter plug.

It’s light – combined weight of the backseat airbed, the pump and the patch kit is about 7.7 pounds.

PROs as per our featured testers:

This car airbed is much more comfortable than I expected, it changed the way we plan and travel.

  • It stayed firm and inflated for the whole two week trip. I’m pleasantly surprised.
  • I use the DYZD as backseat airbed for my minivan – I wasn’t sure about the fit but a bit of adjusting the sits and playing with the firmness levels made it just right. The kids love it.
  • I have a lot of back problems as is and I travel to work and back every second weekend (7 hour drive). This made my life much easier, it allows me to relieve some of the stress of my messed up discs. I just take a half an hour break about halfway and it feels much better.
  • Perfect if you want to go car camping, I set it up in five minutes and enjoy the watching people at the Mount Tom Traverse site struggling with the cots inside their tents or sleeping sitting down in their cars.
  • I’ve been used this pretty much daily for 8 months now to give the kids a lift to their grandparents or school and picks them up. I don’t even have to describe the abuse this minivan inflatable bed takes from my hyper-active kids. It holds strong and I add air just once every 3 or 4 days.
  • It’s the perfect solutions if you are traveling with dogs – my two French bulldogs love taking naps on it.
    CONs:
  • This SUV air mattress arrived defective and I had to go through the hassle of sending it back.
  • I’m really not happy with the position of the valves. It could bee closer to the cigarette outlet and make life easier for people.
  • I do use it every day and I do have a Dogo Argentino but I though they said high-quality PVC. Two weeks with Bruiser and it’s done. It was good while it lasted, I might get it again but get a foam topper with it, the PVC is just not cutting it…
  • No color choices available – the gray doesn’t really work with the beige interior of my Infinity FX35

Conclusions about the car, SUV or minivan backseat air bed

Rated at 88/100, the DYZD really has little competition with the closest competitor (Opar Gray) being full 4 points behind it rated at 84/100.

The CONs that we’ve seen here are not deal-breakers.

The most important thing is that this backseat airbed works for most cars, minivans and SUVs and the fact that it doesn’t loose air.
We have seen reports of air leaks but the % is well within the statistical norm we’ve set over time and if it does happen, if the airbed starts leaking just send it back and replace it.

It’s as simple as that.

Best truck bed air mattress – the Airbedz Lite PPI

If you are looking for the best air mattress for your pickup truck, we’ve got you covered here.

None of us at the office drive a pickup truck so we had help of a few friends while putting together this section of the guide. SO, a special thank you to Aaron and Carl of the Gittard Front auto shop in Fairbanks.

 

It’s a funny thing, this category of top truck air mattress – the bed that is the best rated costs at least 7 times less than the closest competitors.

Introducing – The Lite PPI truck air mattress

The main strengths of this truck air mattress is that it fits the bed of almost every truck – the add-on parts that you remove to fit into a truck are long enough for the wheels of every truck to fit under.

It doesn’t take a design genius to do that.

However, when you make the side indents so long, you have the problem of the edges in the area not being firm enough and feeling flimsy.

In the Lite PPI pickup truck air mattress, the coils that completely cover the wheels are extra sturdy, which makes the surface nice and even.

Now that’s smart.

Specs of the best truck bed air mattress:

  • Wheels covered with air coils (as we mentioned)
  • Extra-thick high grade PVC used
  • Flocked comfortable top
  • DC pump with a 16‘ long cord
  • Comfort coil system – weight distributed evenly for a better night’s sleep
  • Dimensions: 76x63x12” when set up

What you need to know about this pickup truck airbed

It can be used as a regular air mattress – if you are not using it in your truck and need it in your home, just inflate the inserts that come separately and fit into the cutouts. Again, smart design.

The truck airbed will, of course, loose some air over time on long trips. The 12V pump allows adding air on the go as it uses the car cigarette lighter outlet.

Overall, by far the best option among airbed for the back of a pickup truck, especially in “value for money” category.

Similar truck air mattresses cost 5-6 times as much.

Now that we’ve covered our main categories of airbeds campers and travelers might be interested in, let us get into the world of sleeping pads and cots.

The very difference between what you call a sleeping pad and an air mattress, one might say, is a gray area and that’s the reason we decided to present them in the same guide.

Here are the types of camping sleeping pads we’ll be looking at and presenting the best in each category:

  • Regular sleeping pads
  • Self-inflating
  • Foam mats
  • Ultralight models
  • Memory foam camping sleeping pad

Remember, some of the most trusted hikers, campers and adventurers in the community are our featured testers on the project.

Best inflatable sleeping pads for camping

Let us get into it by presenting the top-rated pad overall:

Best camping sleeping pad overall – Therm-a-Rest Xtherm

 

We’re not gonna name names but we’ve seen reports on other websites about this pad not being comfortable and that’s how we know they didn’t test anything, they just gave their opinions.

Anybody who slept on the Xtherm camping pad will tell it is one of best-made products in the niche.

In our tests, it came out on top, beating such great pads like the Sea To Summit Comfort Plus by 7 points in the overall rating (95/100)

This makes the NeoAir Xtherm one of the 3 best rated products ever on our website (along with the SoundAsleep Dream Series home air mattress and the luxury home air mattress Innomax Medallion, which costs thousands of dollars).

The specs of the sleeping pad:

  • Air baffle design for better weight distribution and perfectly flat and stable sleeping surface
  • Packs small – about the size of a 1L water bottle
  • 2.5 inches thick
  • Ultralight – 1.08 lbs
  • R-value – 5.7

The specification provided above seems pretty basic but it says a lot for anybody who knows about camping and sleeping pads.

For example – the R-value of 5.7 at the weight of just over 1 pound is unheard of.

To get to those kind of values, camping pads and mattresses usually rely on bulky insulating materials, while this modern pad relies on modern ThermaCapture technology.

In terms of comfort and stability, it relies on a unique design of the air baffles – Triangular Core Matrix™.

That’s the main forte of this camping pad – the comfort and warmth to weight ratio. That’s what makes it, according to our ratings, the best sleeping pad on the planet.

Let’s make our point by comparison – this pad is just 2.5 “ thick and has the R-value of 5.7 while, for example, the Big Agnes ZZ that’s 4 inches thick has the R-value of only 1.5.

How is this possible?

Let’s take the time to talk about the mechanism of heat loss to understand what goes on here and what makes this camping pad so special.

Conductive heat loss

This is energy loss that happens when two objects that come in contact try to even out each other’s temperatures.

This means that the bottom of the pad which is usually placed on a colder surface will try to even out with the top surface of the pad, which creates micro-currents of cold air rushing towards the top surface. This is otherwise knows as convection and is also a mechanism of heat loss.

So, less air movement means less heat loss and a better R-value, that’s why the many triangular baffles inside the NeoAir Xtherm make all the difference – the cold air moves to the top of the lower set of baffles while the top set of baffles stays warm.

The NeoAir Xtherm is special because it minimizes conductive and convective heat loss.

We already described how it minimizes the convection heat loss (4 layers of triangular baffles, see image).

The other technology that makes the pad so special is (as the company calls it) the Reflective ThermaCapture – it works similar as an emergency blanket – by reflecting the infrared energy our bodies radiate and capturing the heat.

The material used contains particles of silver that captures the energy (heat) between the top of the pad and our body or sleeping bag.

The combo of the two allows this camping pad to have such a high R-value at such low weight and thickness.

Superior camping pad to anything that’s out there for most campers and hikers.

An overall rating of 93/100 with an unparalleled rating of 96/100 in the category of comfort.

 

Best sleeping pad for women – NeoAir XLite Women’s

(by Therm-A-Rest)

Thank God that a few years back the industry got honest and smart enough to recognize the different needs of the female hiker and camper when it comes to sleeping pads.

No more shrink it and pink it philosophy.

It used to be that a women’s version of a sleeping pad for camping is made by changing the color and adding the word Woman to the name of the product – and a few companies still do that.

Anyway, the reputable brands recognized the differences and made came up with products that are genuinely different and adjusted to the needs of a woman (wide at the hips area and warmer – women tend to be cold sleepers).

The X-lite women’s version is the best-rated among the camping sleeping pads for women with the rating of 90/100.

Packs very small and light

This sleeping pad for women has no real competition when it comes to the size it packs down to.

It weighs just 12 oz, yet, it’s designed so that it’s warm and suitable for at least 3 seasons.

It packs down to about 8.5×4 “, so if you are trying to go small as well as light, you’re in luck because the best-rated pad also happens to be the lightest and packs the smallest.

The issue of crackling noises

Up to 2015, this was an issue that many users complained about, the noises the friction were loud enough to bother either the users or the people sleeping close by.

Not any more.

In 2015, it was back to the drawing board for the X-lite designers. So, they came up with a new soft velvety material that makes virtually no noise that feels better against the skin.

Warm and comfortable

We already talked about the design and technologies used to achieve the high ratio of weight and size vs. warmth.

In the review above (of the NeoAir Xtherm), we mentioned the triangular core baffles (which minimize heat loss between the bottom and top of the pad) and the ThermaCapture material (that uses silver particles to trap the heat from our bodies and reflect it back).

Is it worth the price?

The X-lite for women is superior to its competitors in every aspect that matters.

It also costs more than most of the said competitors.

As you can see from our ratings, we don’t rate “Price” we rate value for money and we sincerely believe that the X-lite is worth every dime

 

Wrapping things up

 

This guide is updated every 4 months and our featured testers include many reliable hikers and campers. If you, however, don’t like any of the camping mattresses we talked about, do your research and stay smart.

 

Start with this informative video:

Our point is that the list of best camping air mattresses and sleeping pads is always fresh and relevant, as it is now.

It is a jungle of a market out there and if we helped you narrow down your search for the right piece of camping gear, our work is done.

Be a smart buyer and sleep tight

The 3Beds team

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