Air mattresses help you greet each day of your camping getaway in peak condition — and they can be the deciding factor in getting the more reluctant campers in your life to the great outdoors. Whether you're trekking trails or driving up to a lakeside site, there's an air mattress out there for every type of wilderness experience.
We kept the wide range of camping styles in mind when putting nine popular air mattresses to the test. We timed the setup and breakdown of each mattress, we measured the extent of deflation after a night of use, and — most importantly — we rated the comfort level of each.
The ALPS Mountaineering Vertex Air Bed was our favorite after two days of testing. It's easy to maneuver and inflate, made of long-lasting material, and plush enough for picky sleepers. Plenty of other air mattresses also impressed us, and they may be the best picks for you if you're looking for a cold-weather option or a budget-friendly pick.
These are the best air mattresses to bring on your next camping trip.
Why We Love It: The quick and simple setup makes it a breeze to get settled into your trip quickly.
What to Consider: Some testers could feel their partner's movements when sharing the air mattress.
Testers praised ALPS's highly portable, efficient, and indisputably comfortable queen air mattress. Taking less than three minutes to set up and less than two to pack away, the Mountaineering Vertex Air Bed would be a welcome addition to any camping routine. The pump was the most powerful of any we tested, and it's versatile to boot: You can use it with a wall outlet, a car outlet, or, as many campers will likely opt for, with a rechargeable battery. Maneuverability was one of the most important factors for our testers, and this air mattress didn't disappoint. It weighs only 6.4 pounds and comes with a carrying case for easy storage and transport.
On top of its impressive portability and efficient pumping process, the ALPS mattress showed absolutely no signs of air loss after being weighed down overnight, so you won't have to worry about re-inflating during a multi-day camping trip. Although it doesn't come with a patch kit, testers were confident in the durability of the mattress's polyester construction — which didn't emit the plasticky odor typical of some mattresses — and felt it could be a staple of their camping gear for years to come.
Dimensions: 77 x 53 x 6 inches | Weight: 6.4 pounds | Capacity: 2 people | Inflation method: Outlet- and battery-operated pump included
Why We Love It: It makes for a comfortable night's sleep and comes with a patch kit.
What to Consider: It took us 15 minutes to inflate with the manual pump.
By far the most affordable mattress on our list, the Intex Classic Downy Airbed is a reliable go-to for campers who want a straightforward comfort boost and don't mind putting in a little bit of extra work. The hand-powered pump requires effort, but it does come with the bonus of not having to worry about bringing an outlet adapter or extra batteries. You also won't have to break out the pump mid-trip: The mattress only had very minimal air loss during our overnight endurance test.
Despite its lengthy inflation time, Intex's air mattress scored points for convenience. It's relatively light, comes with a patch kit and two inflatable pillows, and it's simple to pack up.
Dimensions: 77.5 x 57.75 x 10 inches | Weight: 8.7 pounds | Capacity: 2 people | Inflation method: Manual pump
Why We Love It: It's surprisingly roomy and tall for an air mattress.
What to Consider: Inflation and deflation require either a portable battery pack or an adapter for a car outlet.
This plush Enerplex air mattress is almost the same size as a standard queen and might just rival your home mattress in comfort. Its velvet-like topper is cozy enough for a sound sleep yet suitably hardy for extended outdoor use. In addition to its generous length, the Enerplex is the tallest mattress we tested. For campers hoping to put as much space between them and the ground as possible, choosing the Enerplex queen is a no-brainer. Per the manufacturer's warning, there was a slight dip in the mattress after the overnight test, but the substantial height ensures it's still comfortable even after a little bit of air loss. And, although it had a strong showing in our durability test, it does come with two patches in case of any accidents.
It's on the heavier side in our group of air mattresses, but the comfort will be worth the extra weight to some campers, especially if they aren't pitching a tent very far from their car.
Dimensions: 79 x 59.5 x 16 inches | Weight: 16.89 pounds | Capacity: 2 people | Inflation method: Built-in pump that requires a portable battery pack or car outlet adapter
Best Lightweight (Twin):Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D Camping Sleeping Pad
Why We Love It: It's incredibly quick to blow up manually.
What to Consider: It doesn't include a pump for those who prefer non-manual inflation.
Don't be fooled by this sleeping pad's manual inflation: Setting up will be quick and easy no matter how grueling of a hike you had before arriving at your campsite. Campers prone to last-minute excursions will appreciate the inflate-anywhere capabilities, the nylon carrying case with an adjustable shoulder strap, and the mattress's light weight.
Although the Therm-a-rest pad is super portable, it also provides adequate support for resting on rough terrain. It sustained full inflation all night long, is padded enough that the concrete floor was undetectable beneath it, and is made with sturdy material that prevents sleeping bags from sliding around.
Dimensions: 80 x 31.5 x 4 inches | Weight: 5.39 pounds | Capacity: 1 person | Inflation method: Manual
Related: Everything You Need for a Car Camping Trip
Best Lightweight (Queen):Sierra Designs 2-Person Airbed
Why We Love It: It's a great value.
What to Consider: Inflation is relatively slow with the included pump, and it did begin to sag after the overnight weight test.
Weighing under 6 pounds, this Sierra Designs queen is incredibly light for a two-person mattress. The drawstring bag, included D-battery-powered pump, and flexible material were factors in our testers' high score for portability. Testers also appreciated the instant neck support from a built-in raised ridge. Inflation and deflation via the two-way valve took more than five minutes, but we loved how easy it was to pack up into the generously-sized storage bag. Some duos may find the size leaves something to be desired, and the mattress lost a small amount of air during our overnight test, but its affordable price point makes it a great option for campers on a tighter budget.
Dimensions: 77 x 54.5 x 7 inches | Weight: 5.7 pounds | Capacity: 2 people | Inflation method: Battery-powered pump
Highest Weight Capacity:Etekcity 9" Camping Air Mattress
Why We Love It: It's a comfortable, durable option and offers great value.
What to Consider: While it can bear a heavier load, it also weighs more making it bulkier to travel with.
Got clingy dogs and nightmare-prone kids? They'll thank you for choosing this Etekcity air mattress with room for the whole family thanks to its 650-pound weight capacity. Setup is also great for families on the move: The pump can go cordless after charging at home, inflation and deflation took us less than three minutes each, and it comes with a storage bag so you can do a quick grab-and-go. The pump kit also includes an adapter for car outlets in case you need a boost during your camping trip.
The Etekcity queen is one of the most affordable, comfortable, and stable mattresses on our list. No one likes to wake up soggy, so we love that its water-resistant material provides another layer of protection from morning dew and rain. However, it is also one of the heaviest mattresses we tested, so car campers are the most likely to appreciate all of its other attributes.
Dimensions: 57 x 76 x 8 inches | Weight: 16.13 pounds | Capacity: 2 people | Inflation method: Rechargeable pump
Related: The Best Family Camping Tents
Best All-Weather:Exped MegaMat Duo 10 Sleeping Pad
What We Love It: Production of the supremely comfortable mat is carbon neutral.
What to Consider: It's expensive and best for solo sleepers.
Although it's only 3.9 inches high and just under 8 pounds, the Exped has top-tier insulation that can protect you from frozen ground all the way down to temperatures of 54 below. When asked about the process of designing a pad for extreme conditions, an Exped representative said: "In choosing fabrics and materials for the MegaMat collection, this tinkering began with the dual requirements of high quality and sustainability. All fabrics are Oeko-Tex 100 certified and MegaMat Duo is part of Exped's carbon neutral sleeping mat line." The material felt thick and sturdy to our testers, but the pad does come with a patch kit just to be safe.
Beware that the Exped mat's instructions say to lay it out and wait an hour before inflating the first time you use it, and to wait a full 24 hours after inflation before lying on it for the first time. It maintained inflation during our overnight test.
Dimensions: 73 x 32 x 5 inches | Weight: 7.95 pounds | Capacity: 1 person | Inflation method: Hand pump
Related: The Best Waterproof Hiking Boots
Our Testing Process
A group of editors gathered at our New York City lab to put camping air mattresses to the test. The price of each mattress was concealed from testers as they scrutinized their portability, ease of setup, durability, comfort, sustained inflation, and overall value.
First, the judges timed how long it took to unbox and inflate the mattresses, paying attention to how loud the pumps were and whether it took one or multiple people to get it sleep-ready. Then came the comfort test: Testers laid themselves down on the air mattresses and observed whether the texture of the surface was comfortable to lie on without a cover, how much sound it made when they moved, if there were any unpleasant odors coming from the product, and if it provided sufficient cushioning between them and the concrete floor.
To test the mattresses' level of impact absorption, testers leapt into them and recorded the amount of movement it caused. We wanted to make sure the mattresses we recommended wouldn't lead to the dreaded experience of overnight deflation, so we also weighed them down with dumbbells overnight and re-measured them the next day to see if any air loss had occurred. At the end of all the testing, we carefully inspected each mattress to see if they had sustained any damage or wear.
Other Camping Air Mattresses We Tested
Three of the air mattresses we tested did not make our list of recommendations but had unique features that may suit specific camping needs.
Coleman Camping Cot: If being raised off the ground is your number one priority, Coleman's cot is probably the mattress for you. Although it comes at a great value and with amenities like two pull-out side tables with cup holders, it was too unwieldy to make our list of the best camping air mattresses.
REI Co-op Kingdom Insulated Air Bed: REI's queen air mattress is as durable as they come, but the long, laborious inflation process using their manual pump did not make our testers happy campers. Shoppers who don't mind contending with the pump for roughly seven minutes can take advantage of the mattress's firm support, handy carrying case, and reliable inflation hold.
SoundAsleep Camping Series Air Mattress: The SoundAsleep Camping Series Air Mattress impressed testers with its portability, quick and easy inflation, and cozy yet durable material, all at a budget-friendly price. However, since the mattress was almost completely deflated after being weighed down by 100 pounds for a night, we couldn't recommend it after this round of testing.
Tips for Buying a Camping Air Mattress
Err on the side of smaller
Bigger isn't always better when it comes to camping equipment. While you'll want to make sure your mattress is large enough for all sleepers to be comfortable, keep in mind whatever space your bed takes up will leave less room in your tent for everything else. A larger mattress also tends to mean a higher weight, which is something to consider if you'll be carrying your gear or even trying to fit it into a tightly packed car. If you'll be sharing your air mattress, think about each person's sleep style and whether a more generously sized bed is worth sacrificing portability and tent space.
Pick a pump that works for your environment
From hand pumps to rechargeable batteries and outlet-only inflation, there's a wide range of equipment you may need to prepare your air mattress. It's important to know what type of electricity, if any, will be available ahead of your trip. If you'll be far off the grid and want to be certain inflation won't be a problem, opt for a manual pump or self-inflating mattress. Before relying on a pump that needs a car outlet, make sure the plugs are compatible with your specific vehicle. Test all of your inflation equipment, including adapters, plugs, and pumps, before heading out into the woods, and stock up on extra batteries if applicable.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find a hole in an air mattress?
None of the mattresses we tested should rupture easily, but this is good knowledge just in case. First, closely inspect the valve to make sure it is fully sealed and hasn't been damaged. Once you've ruled out valve malfunction, run water over the fully inflated mattress. Any bubbles that form will point you to the leak. You can also look for growing bubbles after running a soapy sponge over the mattress and then gently squeezing to release air. If using water isn't an option, fully inflate the mattress and lay on top of it with your ear pressed down. Carefully listen to see if you can locate the tell-tale hissing of air escaping through a hole.
How do I patch a leak in an air mattress?
The mattresses we tested all have good durability, but knowing this will help you get more years out of your air mattress. Most air mattresses come with a kit for fixing holes. You can also find repair kits for most air mattress materials available for purchase online. After you've located the leak, make sure the area surrounding the hole is clean (a microfiber cloth dampened with isopropyl alcohol or all-purpose cleaner will do) and then follow the manufacturer's instructions for using the patch kit.
If you aren't able to get a patch kit before leaving for your trip, at least make sure you have tools for an emergency repair. Makeshift patches using adhesives like duct tape, super glue, and E6000 should only be used as a last resort, as there is a possibility that they'll damage the air mattress when being removed. To minimize the chance of causing more tears, only apply them to a pristinely clean, dry, and deflated air mattress. Weigh the patch down for several hours before re-inflating.
Why Trust Travel + Leisure
A team of travel editors designed a thorough testing methodology and then spent two days evaluating camping air mattresses at our New York City lab space. In addition to studying their reports, writer Lydia Price did extensive research on the best air mattresses available and drew from her own outdoor experience to curate this list.
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