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Spending some time in nature with your partner? Great. Sleeping on the ground in misery battling for the covers? Not so great.
Take our word for it: You can still enjoy a luxurious night’s sleep even if you’re miles from a hotel. Here are 11 couple-friendly picks for every budget and excursion, pared down to the most essential details like comfort, durability, weight, and ease of use.
We sought out a variety of camping mattresses made to fit different needs — from lightweight, backpacking-friendly pads to cushioned models better suited to car camping.
In all cases, we aimed for picks that scored high marks on functionality and durability. Convenience factors — a lighter weight, easy folding, fast inflation and deflation — were also big priorities. Mattresses designed for winter use also needed an R-value greater than 5 — an indication that they contained enough insulation to keep you warm.
Lastly, all of the mattress pads on our list specified that they were made for two people. But since camping mattresses don’t offer much in the way of standardized sizing, some models were definitely roomier than others.
Checking the measurements before you buy is the best way to determine whether a pad will be big enough for you and your partner as well as fit in your tent, if needed.
Clocking in at around 5 pounds, this queen-size mattress is both comfortable and relatively lightweight. It inflates easily with the included pump and holds up well over time (read, no tears!). Best of all, the patented stabilizing system distributes weight evenly for a comfortable sleep.
Cons: Some users found the mattress deflates somewhat over the course of the night.
Made with polyester foam that’s both breathable and damp-proof, this 11-pound mattress self-inflates to just about 3 inches. Specially designed wave systems on the surface of the pad cover offer extra comfort. It also comes with a repair kit and elastic straps for easy rolling.
Cons: You’ve gotta be patient — it won’t inflate instantly.
At just over 2 pounds, this self-inflating mat won’t weigh you down on backpacking trips. The laminated nylon and TPU outer coating is waterproof and reinforced to stop leaks and tears, too.
Cons: The size is between a twin and a queen, so be prepared to get cozy.
Best for car camping
Stable and quiet, this self-inflating mattress offers cushy comfort and cozy insulation thanks to the polyurethane foam. It’s on the heavier side at 7.5 pounds, but that won’t matter much if you can pack it in your car.
Cons: Even though it’s self-inflating, you’ll still need to top it off with some extra air.
Warmest camping mattress
If you’re camping in the cold, you need to know about R-value — the measure of a camping mattress’ ability to insulate. Higher R-values mean a warmer sleep surface, and at 6.1, this is one of the coziest options you’ll find.
The foam core expands and inflates quickly thanks to the dual valves, and since it’s waterproof and super thick, it’ll protect against wet or rocky ground.
Cons: At 10 pounds, it doesn’t exactly qualify as light.
Best budget option
The larger size means double camping mattresses will always cost more than their single counterparts. This is one of the most affordable options that still manages to be both comfortable and easy to use.
It’s self-inflating, boasts 2 inches of foam, and has a waterproof top and bottom layer to keep you dry.
Cons: The built-in inflatable pillows may or may not be your thing.
Best cot-style mattress
Just not into the idea of sleeping on the ground? A cot can be a good option if you’re willing to carry some extra weight. This one’s for more of a #glamping style situation.
This model’s metal frame is easy to set up, and the battery-operated pump makes easy work of inflating the mattress. And the sewn-in cover keeps the mattress from sliding off the cot while you sleep.
Cons: It’s 41 pounds, so yeah, not an option for backpacking.
With 3 inches of foam and an R-value of 8.5, this luxe option might remind you of your bed at home — with the added benefit of keeping you warm on the cold, hard ground. It self-inflates and deflates quickly, comes with a Velcro-strapped stuff sack for easy packing, and comes with a 5-year warranty.
Cons: You can get a dedicated pump and repair kit, but it’s sold separately.
Best for couples with back issues
Here’s another self-inflating option that offers 3 inches of foam and a high R-value for warmth (6.1). It’s not designed specifically for people with back issues, but the high-rebound foam has a reputation for easing pressure points and being particularly good for back pain.
Cons: It takes up to an hour to self-inflate, and some users found it reeeally hard to get the mattress back in its storage bag.
Camping mattress for minimizing motion transfer
Side rails and a patented V-shape design keep you and your partner from rolling all over the place while delivering top-notch support no matter your sleeping style.
The pad is also super light (less than 3 pounds), packs up small, and can be inflated in just 10 quick pumps. It comes in insulated and uninsulated versions for more or less warmth, too.
Cons: Some users have found that the pad doesn’t adequately support the weight of larger bodies.
Best couples sleeping bag
Snuggling in a bag on top of your camping mattress can give you more warmth than blankets or sheets and is much more practical for camping.
This soft and cozy sleeping bag has racked up more than 10,000 positive reviews on Amazon and works for temps as low as 32°F (0°C). The 210 thread-count fabric feels almost as soft as your sheets at home, and get this — you can also use it as two individual sleeping bags.
Cons: You’ll still need a mattress for padding underneath you.
If you’re still on the fence, here are some general camping mattress pros and cons to sleep on:
Here are some key things to look for in a camping mattress:
- Firmness. Most camping mattresses aren’t gonna be pillowy soft, because they’re either a mat that’s gonna be laying directly on the ground, or an inflatable that needs to be filled with air, and therefore, on the firmer side. But if you prefer a soft sleeping surface, be sure to get one that comes with extra foam padding, along with a super-comfy sleeping bag.
- Portability. If you’re backpacking, you’ll want something lightweight, compact, and easily foldable/rollable. OTOH, if you’re not backpacking, you can spring for something that takes up a little more space.
- Durability. A mat will probably have a longer life than an inflatable bed, because unfortunately a well-placed twig or an energetic puppy can take out an inflatable in one fell swoop. How deflating.
- Motion isolation. If you’re sharing the mattress with a partner, you’ll want to look for one that minimizes motion. A thinner mat is naturally gonna be a better option for this. You might sacrifice a little comfort, but it may be worth it if your partner is a literal mover and shaker.
- R-value. The r-value refers to how warm the mattress will keep you. If you’re winter camping or if you’re body tends to run cold, you’re gonna want to look for one with a higher r-value.
Here are some frequently asked question about owning a camping mattress:
What are camping mattresses made of?
Most camping mattresses are made from foam. The thinner pads that don’t self-inflate are made from closed-cell foam, which is super dense.
The self-inflating mattresses are made with less dense foam that allows the open areas in the foam to fill up with air (and also to deflate easily and be rolled up tightly).
The simplest and least expensive camping mattresses will be 100 percent made of this foam, but more expensive ones may offer additional padding for comfort, waterproof covers, etc.
Why should I go with a camping mattress instead of an air mattress?
Air mattresses are great and you could totally go camping with one, but there are a few drawbacks.
- They’re waaaay too bulky for backpacking.
- They require an electric pump and hook-ups, unless you have an alternate power source.
- A regular air mattress won’t hold up as well over time if you’re an avid camper.
Camping mattresses aren’t just for travel, but are designed with that extra layer of convenience and durability for the outdoors, specifically.
Do I need a sleeping bag too?
Yup, camping mattresses are designed to be used under your sleeping bag for some extra support and to keep you from getting too cold.
How should I care for my camping mattress?
It’s a good idea to keep your mat in some kind of case or bag (even if you’re backpacking) to give it some extra protection while it’s not in use.
You should spot clean your pad with a mild soap and water to remove things like mud, sunscreen, bug spray, remnants of camp snacks, etc.
When putting your pad away for the season, lay it out and wipe down the entire outside of the pad, then let it air dry. Give it time to air dry both inside and out (in the case of self-inflating models) so that it won’t grow mildew.
A camping mattress will keep you from sleeping directly on the hard ground, so you may actually get a refreshing night of sleep while tent camping without weird twinges or aches the next morning.
Additionally, a good camping mattress can help keep you warm on cooler nights or during fall or winter camping. And all the ones above have the added benefit of allowing you to cuddle with your boo-thang.
If you’re an avid couples camper, and you have room in your budget (and your backpack) you can do worse than getting a camping mattress.