Camping Experts Roundup – What is the best air mattress for a perfect camping trip? 2

camping experts roundupI am to thankful to all of the beautiful people who took the time to respond to my roundup.

I have asked a question to a part of my favourite camping and outdoors bloggers and experts and I was pleasantly surprised to get such a good feedback.

My thinking was to create a resource were people searching for a specific air mattress will find the answers given from people that have hands-on experience and could offer insight that one gets only through experience.

Some of the people answered with full descriptions, others offered their quick reply and a part did not answer at all.

I can only thank them all and hope that in the future we will create more resources of this type because I can only see benefits of such an endeavour.

I you are a proven expert and would like to participate in the upcoming roundups please feel free to contact me.

To the people that are getting their answers here I can say only this: take your time to digest all of the information here, and if you did not find a complete answer you can always contact me and I will do my best to offer as much help as I can, and also I have included the links to the Twitter & Facebook accounts for each of the camping experts below so that you can easily reach out to them and connect or share your thoughts.

Table with the air mattresses that the outdoors experts recommend:

PictureModelReviewed byMy Overall Quality RatingSee Amazon Offer
Therm-a-Rest ProLite Sleeping PadChris from "The Last Adventurer"5 / 5ratings
Therm-a-Rest ProLite PlusTherm-a-Rest ProLite PlusEmily from "Dirty Gourmet"4.9 / 5ratings
Big Agnes Q-Core Sleeping PadEmily from "Dirty Gourmet" & Stephen Berei from "Granite Rocx"4.7 / 5ratings
Therm-A-Rest Trail LiteTherm-A-Rest Trail LiteMeghan J. Ward
from "The Campsite"
4.8 / 5ratings
BIG AGNES Insulated Q-Core SL MummyBIG AGNES Insulated Q-Core SL MummyCraig & Kathy Copeland
from "Hiking Camping"
4.9 / 5ratings
Therm-a-rest NeoAir All SeasonKatie Levy
from Adventure inspired" & The Outdoorplay Team
from "Outdoor Play"
4.8 / 5ratings
Thermarest Neo-Air Xtherm Sleeping PadThermarest Neo-Air XthermKraig Becker from "The Adventure Blog"4.7 / 5ratings
Thermarest NeoAir Xlite Sleeping PadThermarest NeoAir XLiteSteven Smith from My Life Outdoors & Hendrik Morkel
from "Hikingin Finland"
4.9 / 5ratings
Thermarest NeoAir Camper MattressThermarest NeoAir Camper MattressAnnie from "Go Camping Australia Blog"4.8 / 5ratings
Insta-Bed Raised Air Mattress with Never Flat PumpInsta Raised Bed with Never Flat PumpCraig Eckert from "Camping Advice Blog"4.8 / 5ratings
I you are searching for even more information I have created a definitive guide to sleeping pads where you can get the full picture of what features are important and what you will need for your specific environment. So here we go:

“What is the best air mattress for a perfect camping trip and why?”


Wild Tide Mike from Wild Tide

Twitter & Facebook
When it comes to the airbed for the perfect camping trip, I’d have to admit to not having sampled that great a variety of airbeds so far.

However saying that I can definitely give some good advice!

As with most things you definitely get what you pay for, I had several very cheap and poorly made airbeds that leaked terribly, It was then that I took the plunge and spent a bit more on a higher quality bed and have never looked back. Buy cheap and buy twice!

You also need to think about a pump. A useless pump is infinitely far more frustrating than an airbed that you need to top up half way through your camping trip. I’ve had pumps that were so shoddy that it made it literally quicker to blow up the bed with a bit of old fashioned huffing and puffing – that definitely isn’t the perfect camping trip.

I use a double airbed in the back of my VW T4 all the time and have a fantastic little electric pump that simply plugs into the cigarette lighter. You just sit back and watch it fill up – awesome!

Hopefully during the summer I will try out a selection of airbeds and get an opinion in terms of my favourite branded airbed.


Last Adventurer Chris from The last adventurer



The best air mattress for a perfect camping trip depends on the trip – if it’s just me on an ultralight backpacking weekend, then the answer is no air mattress.

If I’m going on a mountaineering expedition, I’ve never gone wrong with my much patched Thermarest.

And, if I’m exploring with my family, we can’t leave without our Coleman – provided that a pump’s been packed as well.



Dirty Gourmet Emily from Dirty Gourmet

Twitter & Facebook
This is a difficult question to answer, because there are many different types of campers who are looking for different features in a mattress.

Mattress features to consider while camping:

  • Warmth, insulation from the ground, above all else
  • Comfort
  • Weight
  • Compressibility
  • Space

You use a mix of your body heat and insulation to heat up the air mattress, which will keep you warm while camping.

This means that the big, thick, luxurious air mattresses are not generally ideal for any type of camping, because they have too much air to heat up during the night. They also take up way too much space and weight, whether in your car or in your backpack.
An insulated air mattress around 2-4 inches thick is ideal for any camping situation that you won’t be required to carry your mattress on your back. My favorite is the REI Camp Bed 3.5.

If I were going to choose one air mattress that would be sufficient and versatile in almost any situation, I would choose the Therm-a-rest Prolite Plus sleeping pad.

A great superlight air mattress that would be ideal for backpacking when you are focused on decreasing weight and space while still keeping warm is the Big Agnes Insulated Q Core SL Pad.

Granite Rocx Stephen Berei from Granite Rocx

Twitter & Facebook
The air mattress we use is the Big Agnes Insulated Q-Core Pad. It’s been great! Below are some pros and cons:


  • Comfortable
  • Packs easily
  • Lightweight
  • Warm


  • Not super easy to inflate



Meghan J. Ward's profile photo Meghan J. Ward from The Campsite

Twitter & Facebook



My pick for a camping mattress is the Therm-a-Rest Fast & Light Series.

My first mattress was a Therm-a-Rest and I have never looked back!

I prefer to camp off the beaten track and in the backcountry, so I need something compact and lightweight but comfortable.

The ProLite has always performed well, so I’ve stuck with it.




Craig Copeland's profile photo Craig & Kathy Copeland from Hikingcamping




The perfect camping mattress?

It has to be versatile: reasonably light and compact for backpacking, yet sufficiently thick, long, and comfortable for car camping.

And it has to be insulated, so it keeps you warm regardless how cold the ground — without wearing extra layers of clothing, or the addition of a closed-cell foam pad, or the need for a heavier sleeping bag.

Plus it should be durable.

Even with a patch kit, a deflated mattress can ruin your night, or even your trip. We nominate the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Mummy.

We’ve been using ours for several years — car camping and backpacking — and we’d buy them again.




Katie Levy Katie Levy from Adventure-inspired

Twitter & Facebook


Overall, I’m a huge fan of Therm-a-rest air mattresses, specifically the NeoAir All Season.

It’s lightweight, durable, packs down well, is easy to carry on backpacking trips and comfortable enough to sleep on anywhere.



OutdoorplayKayak's profile photo The Outdoorplay Team from Outdoorplay




The best mattress is going to depend on the type of trip, season, and whether the camper is male or female.

Therm-a-Rest makes a great selection of mattresses for camping, and I use several, including a MondoKing for car camping trips, and a NeoAir All Seasons for backpacking and camping trips.

You can view their line-up of mattresses here. For multi-day river trips, it’s hard to beat the durability and versatility of Paco Pads from Jack’s Plastics.


Kraig Becker's profile photoKraig Becker

from Theadventureblog

Twitter & Facebook
I’m a fan of the Thermarest NeoAir XTherm. it’s lightweight, comfortable, packs down small and warm. Everything you’d want out of a good sleeping pad.

Thanks for the note and I appreciate you reading.

Glad you like my blog!




Steven Smith's profile photoSteven Smith

from MyLifeOutdoors

Twitter & Facebook


For backcountry adventures I sleep on a Thermarest NeoAir XLite.

At 2.5 inches thick and under 12 ounces in weight it is easy on my back weather I’m carrying it or sleeping on it.

All folded up its a little bigger than a can of coke leaving plenty of room for a bear canister or other bulky supplies.




Go Camping Australia Annie

from Gocampingaustraliablog

Twitter & Facebook


In terms of mattresses for family camping – we only recommend self inflating mats (ie. mats that require no additional accessories, like pumps, to inflate).

Our information on self inflating is here: We have tried air mattresses in the past, and have found them not to be suitable for camping in a tent – if the ground is cold, then the air mattress becomes like a block of ice to sleep on.

To avoid this, plenty of insulation would be needed under the mattress and that means taking more gear.

Plus the thought of a leak or puncture on air mattresses isn’t something I want to contend with during the night.

For size, ease of use and packing up and storage, we find self inflating mats to be the mattress of choice for us.




Hendrik Morkel Hendrik Morkel

from Hikinginfinland

Twitter & Facebook


It’s hard to beat the Therm-A-Rest XLite in terms of weight and warmth for a three season camping trip.

It rolls up to the size of a half litre plastic bottle, weighs 350 g in Regular length and offers backpackers and campers a comfortable & warm night in the outdoors.

It’s a highly functional mattress that’s also very durable, and ensures you sleep well after a day on the trail.




VLUU L110  / Samsung L110 Craig Eckert

from Campingadviceblog


We reckon the Insta-Bed with pump is the go. We have a small inverter that plugs into the cigarette lighter socket and pumps it up in no time. Since we’ve had the air bed, our friends call our tent ‘The Palace’! Cheers and Happy Camping


Now it’s your turn. Please use the comment section below telling us what pad or air mattress do you usually take in your camping trips and why. Also please feel free to make any comment on this roundup on just leave your thoughts on it. Sleep tight !

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James Menta

Camping Gear Reviewer at
Three things you need to know about James - he holds a degree in Materials Technology from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, he is a zealot for the great outdoors and he can never find his glasses.       In brief intermissions between looking for his glasses, he is the Editor-in-chief of

2 thoughts on “Camping Experts Roundup – What is the best air mattress for a perfect camping trip?

  1. Reply Tim Moss Mar 1,2014 5:37 am

    Nice article James. My two cents:

    I’m currently using an Exped SynMat UL Basic on an around the world cycling and it’s absurdly comfortable (as well as only weighing about 450g). I combine it with a super thin 2mm, 85g foam roll mat for protection/diversity.

    • Reply James Mar 1,2014 9:05 am

      To be perfectly honest I’ve never tried one, but just went on and got the specs for it. It seems very high quality. Maybe I’ll actually buy one and make a review on it.
      Thanks Tim.

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