3 Reasons Why Self-Inflating Air Mattresses Are The Best Choice For Car Camping

by retreadfitness

Do you want the best possible sleep while tent camping? Learn why self inflating air mattresses are a better choice.

Even if you sleep on a pile of rocks with a self-inflating air mattress, you will sleep soundly all night and hardly feel any bumps. If you are an avid tent camper and like to stay in National and state parks, then you know that most don't offer very level or smooth sites. A bad night of sleeping equals bad camping trip.

Self Inflating Air Mattress Offer You At Least 3 Major Benefits

  1. Dump the pump!  With a self-infating air mattress like a Therm-a-Rest or REI Camp Bed, you can leave the battery operated pump at home.  Just open the valve and air rushes in and will fill up the air mattress in a few minutes without any effort on your part.
  2. Self-inlating air mattresses shield your body from feeling rocks, bumps, sticks, and almost any object that gets in between you and a decent night of sleeping.
  3. Most self-inflating air beds like REI's Camp Beds are puncture resistant.  The air chamber is covered with a thick material that prevents accidental punctures.  Additionally, because of the small foot print, you don't have fill the air mattress outside where sharp objects are usually located.

These are not the only benefits.  I have been using a self infating air mattress for over 20 years and find them so convenient that I have packed a small one in my luggage when staying over night at a friend or a relative and slept on it rather than the proverbial uncomfortable guest bed.  We use these air mattresses at home when guests spend the night.  Kids love them!  You don't have to be camper to use a self-inflating air mattress. 

Thermarest DreamTime

Now featuring contour-hugging memory foam, the DreamTime mattress provides unmatched support and pillow top comfort. A machine-washable cover encases this foam and a ...


I am not saying that a self inflating air mattress is the only way to roll when you go on car camping trips.  They have a few draw backs.  The first being size.  While an individual REI Camp Bed 3.5 rolls up quite small, 4 of them consume a lot of valuable real estate space in the back of our Subaru Outback wagon.  The 4 of them also weigh more together than our tent.  It's a give and take situation.

REI and many other quality outdoor companies sell extremely light weight and comfortable air mattresses that are nearly as durable as the self-inflating versions. Just be prepared to blow them up with either an electric pump or your lungs.  Big Agnes has many light weight options available.  I have never used one so I could not tell anything positive.

Hybrid Air-Mattresses

Camping Air Mattresses With Built In Pumps

I have used air mattresses that have built in foot pumps.  These are extremely useful.  We have a queen size Intex air mattress that has a built in foot pump that works great to make the mattress extra firm.  A decent queen size air mattress like the Intex is lighter than 2 REI Camb Bed 3.5s.  A pump is required for the initial fill.  I have never tried filling the entire mattress with the foot pump.

The ultimate hybrid air mattress is the Exped SynMat 7.  These air mattresses weight approximately 2.5 lbs each and can be filled with air in less than 2 minutes.  They pack extremely small.  The reviews on REI are excellent.  I trust user reviews much better than corporate reviews.  Some users complain about the pump.  But what can you expect?  It's going to  require efffort.  I use a portable MSR water filter that requires pumping and I disdain using it untill my water bottle is filled with crystal clear glacial mountain water.

At the end of the day-literally, it's all about comfort.  I am sure that you want to sleep comfortable and not be bothered by a deflated air mattress.  Technology has advanced so much in the last twenty years that there is no reason to sleep on a foam pad that is not inflatable.  A camping mattress with an air chamber will keep you warmer and more comftorable guaranteed.

Exped SynMat 7 Pump Sleeping Pad

Warm, comfortable, compact and affordable. The reference standard in mats. Includes repair kit.

Exped SynMat 9 Pump Sleeping Pad

214692 Features: You stay comfortable the night through with this 4-season, durably laminated, microfiber-insulated pad with baffled chambers that eliminate cold spots Use ...

Only $169.00
Updated: 03/16/2012, retreadfitness
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Mladen on 03/17/2012

These self-inflating air mattresses are very usefull. I have one, and they give new deffinition to sleeping outdoors.

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