TYPE OF CAMPING
The first thing you should consider when buying an air mattress is the type of camping you’re going to be doing. Whether it’s quick overnights backpacking or weekend-long camping trips at the lake, the best air mattress for camping is going to play off the environments you’re most commonly staying at.
If you’re backpacking, a camping air mattress that packs up fast and is lightweight should be prioritized. If you’re doing multi-day camping trips at a site, you can go with a mattress that’s bigger and provides more comfort.
We all know a bad pump can ruin an air mattress, so it’s important to invest in an air mattress that doesn’t have any trouble inflating. Some small camping air mattress pads only inflate via a convertible air sack or via breath, which is nice because you don’t have to carry a pump around. Any regular air mattress should have a high-quality hand pump or a battery-powered pump—built-in battery pumps are especially great due to the fact they save space.
If you’re shopping for a backpacking pad, both size and weight are a major consideration. We look for sleeping pads that weight in well under two pounds, and pack down as small as possible to save room in your pack for other essentials. When it comes to car camping pads, we recommend buying the largest mattress you can fit in your tent without touching the walls, so long as its size and weight are within the confines of your vehicle’s storage space.
The number of max sleepers also plays into size, and it’s worth mentioning that if you’re buying a mattress for more than one person you’ll want to prioritize comfort and a strong build, which typically means a larger investment. Pay extra close attention to the width of the pad, and whenever possible we also recommend getting one with a foam core to cut down on noise and energy transfer throughout the night.