The best camping beds, with advice from a camping expert
We spoke to a camping expert to find the best air beds, self-inflating mats and foldaway beds for camping to help you get a sound sleep on your next trip.
When camping, it's best not to sleep directly on the floor of your tent. While it might not seem like a big deal, using a camping bed or mat will not only give you a more comfortable night’s sleep, but during cold weather, it will act as a much-needed barrier between the warmth of your body and the ground.
Depending on the style of camping you intend to do and the season you plan to do it, there are a few different types of camp beds to choose from, ranging from foldable camping beds to inflatable air beds and lightweight, self-inflating mats.
To help you find the best camping bed for your next adventure, The Recommended spoke to a camping expert to find out what features you should look for and avoid, as well as some recommendations for choosing the best bed type to match your camping style. In line with this advice, we’ve compiled a list of the bed camp beds, air beds and self-inflating mats to buy online.
The best camping beds at a glance:
- Best single camping mat: Outdoor Revolution Camp Star Self Inflating Mat
- Best two-person camping mat: Vango Comfort 10 Single Sleeping Mat
- Best camping mat for winter: ECOTEK Outdoors Hybern8 Inflatable Sleeping Pad
- Best sturdy camp bed: REDCAMP Camp Bed for Adults
- Best set of two camp beds: Nice C Folding Camping Cot
- Best double foldaway camp bed: Outwell Posadas Foldaway
- Best self-inflating air bed: Active Era Premium King Size Air Bed
- Best budget air bed: Milestone Camping Airbed
- Best double air bed: iDOO Queen Size Air Bed
Our camping expert
David Scotland is the owner of Outdoor World Direct, a Yorkshire-based, family-run camping equipment online retailer. David has been in the outdoors business for the past 16 years and is highly experienced in all things camping. He enjoys sharing his knowledge with customers to ensure they have the best camping experience possible.
What’s the difference between an air bed, self-inflating mat and camping bed?
As David explains, choosing between a self-inflating mat, an air bed, or a camping bed will depend on the style of camping that you intend to do.
- Self-inflating mats are a popular upgrade from regular camping mats, says David, as “the inflation offers extra protection from the ground, yet they are still thin and usually lightweight”. This means they’re a great choice for backpacking, as they pack down into a small size and don’t require a pump to inflate while still offering comfort from their foam mid-cores.
- Air beds, on the other hand, require pumping and are heavier, so they are not as portable as self-inflating mats. “That being said, they elevate the camper higher than a self-inflating mat, so they tend to offer better protection from the elements.” Despite being heavier, air beds fold smaller than self-inflating mats, so “you can use them for backpacking at a push, and many people use them for festivals”, says David.
- Camp beds are much different from air beds and self-inflating mats, as they are generally metal and fold out into a more traditional bed. “They are very cumbersome and heavy,” says David, “so not recommended if you aren’t taking a vehicle.” That being said, they are great for long stays in large tents for glamping holidays, as “they elevate you so far off the ground and provide a more stable base than an air bed”.
What should you look for and avoid when looking for a camping bed?
In terms of what features you should look for and avoid when shopping for a camping bed, “it really depends on what you want from your sleeping arrangements”, says David.
In a self-inflating mat, “pay attention to the R-value; the higher the R-value, the better the mat will be at resisting heat loss. So look for a high R-value for colder camps – you'll need 4-5 in winter and 1-2 in summer. Also, look at the dimensions – if you're a side sleeper, is it going to be wide enough for you to sleep comfortably on your side?”
With airbeds, it's worth considering whether you want a single or double. “Some singles can be ziplocked together, giving the option of single or double,” says David. “Some air beds also come with built-in pumps, which gives you one less thing to remember packing.”
Best inflatable mats
Best single camping mat: Outdoor Revolution Camp Star Midi100mm Self Inflating Mat
Protects from cold ground
This single self-inflating camping mat is 10cm deep, which our outdoor expert David says offers plenty of protection from cold ground.
Soft to the touch, this camping mat also features a non-slip polyester outer fabric, which helps to stop pillows from sliding around at night. The mat itself is described as “extra-wide” for a single camping mat, measuring 198 x 76 x 10cm. It self-inflates through a cyclone valve at the end of the mat and deflates by itself when rolled up after use.
More like this
Best two-person camping mat Vango Comfort 10 Single Sleeping Mat
Quickly self inflates
With a depth of 15cm and a soft, knitted upper material, our outdoors expert says this two-person self-inflating camping mat is “so comfortable you will forget all about your bed at home”.
This camping mat self-inflates in just 30 seconds and can be topped up by blowing into the valve to meet your desired firmness. It measures 10 x 200 x 132 cm, which is plenty for sleeping two people, and weighs 5.4kg.
Best camping mat for winter: ECOTEK Outdoors Hybern8 Inflatable Sleeping Pad
Four-season camping mat
With an R-value of 4.5, this camping mat is well suited to winter use, offering protection from cold ground and minimising heat loss.
This camping mat has a depth of 6.35cm, is made from a waterproof polyester material, and has a slip-resistant bottom. It inflates via a rapid inflation valve designed to fully inflate with 10 to 15 breaths. The whole mat weighs 694 grams and packs down to the size of a 1-litre bottle, making it a great option for backpacking.
Best camp beds
Best sturdy camp bed: REDCAMP Camp Bed for Adults
Designed to withstand up to 500lb of weight, this folding camp bed features 12 heavy-duty legs for support and stability, as well as a thick, double-layered fabric sleeping area.
This folding camp bed also features a quick setup design and is said to unfold fully within 10 seconds. It is fitted with a side compartment for storing items and a carry bag for portability. The whole bed measures 190.5 x 71.1 cm when set up.
Best set of two camp beds: Nice C Folding Camping Cot
Fitted with removable pillow
This set of single, foldable camp beds is ergonomically designed, allowing you to alter the angle of the headrest to suit different sleeping positions.
These beds are made from an easy-clean mesh fabric and feature a removable pillow for convenience. Each bed weighs 5.8kg, comes with a storage bag for carrying between your campsite and car, and is designed to withstand weights of up to 500lbs.
Best double foldaway camp bed: Outwell Posadas Foldaway
Ideal for pairing with a sleeping mat
This two-person foldaway camping bed features high strength and durable steel legs, padded cushions designed to keep you cool, and elasticated corner straps for attaching sleeping mats.
This camping bed requires no assembly and is designed to open and fold away quickly. It comes with a carry bag for portability. The whole bed measures 192 x 132 x 45 cm when folded out.
Best air beds
Best self-inflating air bed: Active Era Premium King Size Air Bed
No need to pack a pump
Featuring a built-in electric pump, this king-size air bed is designed to self-inflate in three minutes and is made from a thick PVC plastic designed to support up to 250kg of weight.
The air bed itself has 35 internal air coils, which are designed to offer spinal support, and also features an 8cm integrated pillow for added neck support. When fully inflated, this air bed measures 152 x 203 x 50cm and weighs 6.65kg.
Best budget air bed: Milestone Camping Airbed
Simplistic and lightweight design
This single air bed is great for campers on a budget. It has a waterproof finish for longevity and easy cleaning, as well as a non-slip fabric on top to stop pillows and sleeping bags from moving around.
Measuring 191 x 73 x 22cm when fully inflated, this air bed is big enough to sleep one person and is designed to inflate through a built-in safety valve within one minute. The bed itself features a vinyl coil beam construction, which the manufacturer says provides durability.
Best double air bed: iDOO Queen Size Air Bed
With a built-in pump
With a capacity of 295kg, this double air mattress is designed to sleep two adults and comes fitted with a built-in pump for quick and easy inflation within four minutes.
This airbed weighs 8.2kg, measures 44 x 18 x 34cm when deflated, and comes with a storage bag to help when carrying between your car and campsite. The bed features 40 internal air coils for back support and to stop it from tipping over and is made from a puncture-proof PVC plastic with a non-slip bottom.
If you want to read more expert-recommended round-ups and product guides, check out our Camping page, where you’ll find more home recommendations, including the best camping stoves and the best camping chairs.
Luke Chamberlain is a Staff Writer for The Recommended, and interviews some of the world’s most knowledgeable product experts to help readers make smarter decision about the products they buy online.