Camping is an age-honored way to get in touch with nature and the outdoors. Sometimes there’s nothing more rewarding than getting back to your campsite at the end of a long, wonderful day spent outside. Stepping out of your hiking boots, settling in to your tent – it’s even more relaxing to know you have a comfortable bed to stretch out on waiting for you.
There are a multitude of options on the market, mostly either inflatable or cot-style. If you have found yourself at this post, it’s safe to assume that you are interested in finding out how to find the most comfortable camping bed. In this guide, you will find several options with distinct features and characteristics that will help make your decision easier!
What is a camping bed?
Without sounding too tongue-in-cheek, a camping bed is anything that can make your sleeping experience while camping more comfortable.
There are some traditionalists who say that the only acceptable camping beds are an inflatable pad that measures no more than 2 inches off the ground when fully inflated, and rolls up to attach to your backpack without much added weight.
Of course, if you are backpacking or through-hiking, this does make sense as you will most likely be concerned about weight. However, if you are car camping with your family, you can spring for comfort and make everyone’s lives a little bit easier, especially if you have small children or family members who don’t have a lot of experience sleeping in a tent.
Cot-style camping beds are a newer invention, and there are some great models that fold to just a few inches flat and fold out to be quite comfortable; they feel like you’re sleeping hammock-style, without too much of the dip in the middle.
Then there are the inflatable mattresses, ranging in inflation height from just a few inches off the ground to almost 2 feet high, and come in standard bed sizes (twin, queen, etc).
Luckily, most tent buying guides nowadays will tell you how large of a mattress they can accommodate, which of course you’ll need to think about unless you want to sleep directly under the stars.
How to shop for a camping bed
Not all camping beds are created equal, so it’s only natural that you should do your research before deciding to invest in one. This guide should help you figure out what type of camping bed fits you and/or your family’s needs. The very first consideration when buying a camping bed is to determine what size makes the most sense in the long-term for you or your family.
Will you be using the camping bed for just camping? Or maybe you will want to also be able to use it as a guest bed when company comes over/you are invited somewhere? Once you have determine this particular need, it should be easier for you to find a camping mattress with the appropriate features.
Features to consider
Weight and size
Camping beds come in all shapes and sizes, but the most popular are queen-sized mattresses made from PVC or similar material. Obviously, queen-sized mattresses are going to be heavier than twin-sized mattresses, but some brands have a wider range there than others.
Twin mattresses are great for solo campers, or for families with fewer kids, but queens can be great for couples or families as well if you have the space for it. Air mattresses are heavier than you might think, but almost every single one comes with a carrying bag to make storage and transport easier.
Cots, depending on the model, can be both heavy and unwieldy to carry, but again, most come with either an ingenious folding system or a carry bag to lighten the load, so to speak.
As mentioned before, there are now mattresses made with phthalate-free and PVC-free material (these also tend to be lighter in weight), which is great if you have an allergy or are concerned about environmental impact of these materials.
Some mattresses will be waterproof, and others just water-resistant, so make sure to check the tags. Most cots are made of a combination of steel and/or aluminum and canvas, and so there is less worry here about whether or not these will be waterproof.
Cots tend to be more time-intensive when it comes to setup, and you will need to read the instruction manual carefully. Air mattresses will require an air pump that is either attached to the mattress itself or comes separately, and can be operated with an electrical outlet or batteries.
Which are the most comfortable outdoor beds?
Ivation Twin EZ-Bed
Dimensions: 22” tall X 77″ long X 40″ wide when set up, 24” long x 14” wide x 20” tall in the carrying case
Features: Self-inflating mattress, self-deploying fold-out base, two minute set up time, twin mattress with durable coils, textured surface to keep sheets in place, rolling duffel case and repair kit included, structured support along entire base
Best use: Guest bedrooms, car travel, vacation, camping
The Ivation Twin EZ-Bed has one of the easiest set-ups imaginable. Simply unzip the provided carrying case, plug the electrical cord into the wall, and select your desired inflation setting.
Be careful, as the box with inflation settings is sharp and can puncture the mattress (there is a patch kit included). Turn it on, and you can walk away while the bed sets itself up in two minutes.
It also deflates by itself, and you can collapse it back into itself with no problems. Additionally, the carrying case has wheels so you don’t have to worry about carrying the almost-50 pound bed. The bed can hold up to 300 pounds of weight, and stands as tall as a regular bed.
With sheets, blankets and pillows on it, you would hardly know the difference, and so is perfect for a guest bedroom. It is great for car camping and other vacations as well.
Ivation Air Mattress (Queen)
Dimensions: 78” long x 60” wide x 20” tall
Features: Queen-size inflatable mattress, built-in electric pump, 28 dual-sleep AirBed coils and FirmaCoil technology, 500 lb. weight limit, made of puncture-resistant and waterproof PVC material, Carrying bag and patch repair kit included, textured surface to keep sheets in place
Best use: Guest bedroom, travel, car camping
The Ivation Air Mattress (Queen) looks similar to a traditional air mattress, but goes the extra mile. When it is fully inflated, it stands almost as high as a regular bed for added comfort. Additionally, it has air coil technology inside, plus a soft surface on top, so it’s just as comfortable.
Once it is inflated through the attached electrical power cord, it shouldn’t need to be re-inflated for a couple of days. Even when it starts to deflate a little, you won’t notice right away, as the bed is inflated so high off the ground. The mattress fits standard queen-sized fitted and top sheets, and has a textured surface to avoid slippage.
It comes with a carrying case and patch kit just in case, though it is made with tear-resistant fabric (the exterior is also waterproof, which makes it great for camping).
iBed in a Box Guest Bed
Dimensions: 13” tall X 32” wide X 74.5” long
Features: Folds flat for storage, no assembly required as 2” foam mattress is attached to steel frame, portable, supports up to 275 pounds.
Best use: Guest bedroom, car camping
This simple yet sturdy iBed in a Box Guest Bed is a great alternative to an air mattress. The It weighs about the same, and set up requires about the same amount of time as well. However, no electricity is needed to set up this bed, and so if you are planning to go car camping with your family, this is a great option.
It folds flat, and can easily have other gear and bags piled on top of it for easy transportation in the trunk. It arrives already assembled, and you can sleep on it as soon as you take it out.
Be careful with the middle spring, as it has been reported to snag on clothing. The bed is made of steel frame, for sturdiness, and springs around the perimeter attach to an almost hammock-like flexible mesh support, on which the 2 inch foam mattress sits.
TETON Sports Camping Cot
Dimensions: 85″ long x 44″ wide x 19″ tall
Features: Fold-out canvas cot, aluminum frame with S-style steel leg supports that lock in place, 600-pound weight capacity, carrying duffel bag included, lifetime warranty on the product
Best use: Car camping, guest bedroom
XXL is right! This large, collapsible TETON Sports Camping Cot supports up to 600 pounds and has space for two adults to sleep comfortably. It keeps you high off the ground, which is beneficial both for camping and for guest bedrooms, depending on how you plan to use the cot.
It is compatible with mattresses to be set on top, but it is not necessary, as it is just as compatible with a sleeping bag on top. During setup, the canvas will feel tight and difficult to stretch, so it is recommended to set it up once before you will actually need it. Legs support the frame in three places: at either end, and across the middle.
This cot is a great alternative to an air mattress, as you do not need to worry about it deflating throughout the night or electrical outlets to refill the mattress. It folds into a duffel bag, similar to one you would use for carrying a camp chair, for easy carrying and storage.
SoundAsleep Camping Air Mattress
Dimensions: Queen: 78″ long X 60″ wide X 9″ tall | Twin: 75″ long X 42″ wide X 9″ tall
Features: Rechargeable cordless air pump, durable material, waterproof and textured top-side of the mattress, three minute setup, no-slip grip underside of mattress, 500-pound weight capacity
Best use: Car camping, travel, guest bedroom
The SoundAsleep Camping Air Mattress series comes in either a twin or queen size. There is not a huge difference in weight, so the main thing to consider when deciding between the two is what you will use it for, and how much space you have.
Included is also a cordless air pump, which is rechargeable (and you should only need to recharge it every month or so, on average).
This cordless feature makes it much easier to bring on family camping trips, as you won’t need to worry about finding a plug out in the wilderness. It is recommended to inflate it and add air for 2-3 times before using it, to stretch the material of the mattress. This also ensures it won’t lose air when you are out on the road.
This mattress works great for when you have company over or want to sleep off the ground when you’re out camping (though make sure you add a tarp or blanket between the mattress and ground to avoid tearing).
ALPS Mountaineering Rechargeable Air Bed
Dimensions: Queen: 60″ wide X 80″ long X 8.5″ tall | Twin: 39″ wide X 74″ long X 8.5″ tall
Features: Rechargeable cordless air pump (chargers for wall and car included), easy to set up and take down, textured top for comfort and no-slip for sheets, durable PVC material, air coil system provides extra support, welded seams for extra durability
Best use: Car camping, guest bedroom
The ALPS Mountaineering Rechargeable Air Bed is great for weekend warriors hitting the trail or keeping your overnight guests comfortable. Included is a powerful cordless air pump, which is rechargeable (and you can charge it in your car on your way to your location, or in a regular wall socket).
The valve technology on this mattress is such that no air leaks out in that time between removing the pump and closing the valve. It is recommended to inflate it and add air for 2-3 times before using it, with weight upon it, to stretch the material of the mattress. Refill when you notice it’s deflated.
This will ensure it won’t lose air when you are sleeping under the stars, or putting up your friends for the night. It comes in either a queen or twin size, and both are lightweight compared to other air mattresses.
There is almost no difference in weight, so just consider what you will use it for, and how much space you have when deciding between the two sizes.
Lightspeed Outdoors Air Bed Mattress
Dimensions: 79” long x 55” wide X 6.25” tall
Features: PVC-free, lightweight, temperature stable, durable and abrasion-resistant thermoplastic polyurethane material, battery-operated pump, carrying case included
Best use: Camping, car camping, guest bedroom
A PVC- and phthalate-free, lightweight alternative to traditional air mattresses is finally here. Lightspeed Outdoors Air Bed Mattress is made of thermoplastic polyurethane, this mattress holds up against the elements and wear and tear like no other.
A battery-operated air pump included means you can take this mattress pretty much anywhere and have a comfortable night’s sleep guaranteed. This mattress fits queen-sized sheets, and doesn’t slope off at the edges for maximum sleeping space. There is also built-in technology to minimize bounce from disturbances on other sides of the mattress.
It is recommended to inflate it and re-inflate it several time before using it, with weight upon it, to stretch the material of the mattress. Refill it when you notice it’s deflated, 3-4 times.
Even though this mattress only inflates to 6 inches tall, the leak-proof seams ensure you never sink and touch the ground. Attached handles on two corners make adjustment once the mattress is inflated a cinch!
Intex Comfort Airbed
Dimensions: 22” tall X 60” wide X 80” long
Features: Queen-sized mattress inflates in 4.5 minutes, uses Fiber-Tech construction, has a built-in pump, waterproof textured top lifted 22 inches off the floor, duffel carry bag, 600 lb. weight capacity
Best use: Car camping, traveling, guest bedroom
The Intex Comfort Airbed is not your typical air mattress. Standing 22 inches tall when the mattress is fully inflated, it feels like you’re sleeping on a regular bed. Additionally, it has fiber-tech construction to increase stability, plus a soft surface on top, so it’s just as comfortable.
You can inflate it through the attached electrical power cord, or through the provided alternative air pump if an electrical outlet isn’t nearby. For the first time you inflate it, you might notice some sag in the mattress. This is just the vinyl fabric stretching out, and so you should refill it a few times before using it.
Once you use it, It shouldn’t need to be re-inflated for a couple of days. The mattress fits standard queen-sized fitted and top sheets, and has a textured surface to keep the sheets from slipping around. It works great as a guest bedroom for you, for family members, or car camping!
Coleman Double-High Supportrest
Dimensions: 76” tall X 58” wide X 16” tall
Features: Queen-sized mattress, 35 internal comfort coils for support, airtight system is anti-leak, wrap and roll storage system, carry bag included
Best use: Car camping, traveling, guest bedroom
The Coleman Double-High Supportest is like two air mattresses stacked on top of one another; twice the height, and twice the comfort!
The extra height makes getting in and out of bed a lot easier for the user. The mattress fits standard queen-sized fitted and top sheets, and has a textured surface to keep the sheets from slipping around.
Additionally, it has 35 internal comfort coils for support, so you feel like your weight gets distributed evenly across the bed. It works great as a guest bedroom for you, for overnight guests, or for your family going on a car camping trip.
The mattress fits two adults comfortably. You can inflate the mattress using any standard air pump, battery-operated of 120 V (not included).
For the first time you inflate it, you might notice some sag in the mattress. As the mattress is so tall, though, you may not even notice this right away! No need to worry, this is just the PVC fabric stretching out, and so you should refill it a few times before using it.
As you can see, there is no shortage of high quality camping beds that can offer you a great night’s sleep while in the wild. It’s all about knowing which features to look for in a camping or hiking bed. With these reviews, hopefully you were able to find the bed that fits your needs and requirements.
What do you think of our selection of camping beds? Any other beds that you think should have made our list? Let us know in the comments!