The Best Air Mattresses for Camping of 2024

I slept on half a dozen self-inflating foam pads to find out which is the best for campers
Pairing your smallest adventurer with a safe outdoor-ready sleep sack and a comfortable sleeping pad is a winning combination.

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Whether you’re coaxing a first-time camper into the outdoors or upgrading your truck build, a high-quality air mattress for camping is an important investment. After all, a good night’s sleep is the foundation for the next day’s adventures, whether that’s a day hike with the family, an early morning deer hunt, or all-day trail running. To help you choose, we evaluated top options from Exped, Nemo, Big Agnes, Sea to Summit, and Klymit for comfort, warmth, packability, and more. 

How Your Air Mattress for Camping Keeps You Warm

Many people struggle with sleeping cold while camping, and the culprit is often their air mattress. We’re used to thinking about how sleeping bags protect us from the cold while camping. But we forget that sleeping bags can’t always protect us from the cold ground pulling heat from our bodies. If you are using a quality sleeping bag and struggle with staying warm in the outdoors, it’s time to upgrade your air mattress for camping. 

While sleeping bags are often rated for the warmth they provide, air mattresses are instead rated for their thermal resistance, or their ability to block the cold of the ground. Air mattresses that are filled with nothing but air (such as you would use in your home) do nothing to block the cold of the ground. If the ground is cold (and it usually is), the air inside the mattress will be cold. If the air inside the mattress is cold, you will be cold. Even high-quality sleeping bags can’t protect you from this issue, as the insulation that is underneath your body is unable to fully loft, preventing it from reaching its insulation potential.  

Two air mattresses sit in a tent.
Air-only camping mattresses may look like they are protecting you from the ground, but in reality they provide no insulation. Laura Lancaster

Fortunately, there are many high-quality air mattresses for camping that can block, or resist, the cold of the ground. This is measured by third parties and expressed as an R (for resistance) value. Higher R values do more to resist the cold of the ground, while lower R values will be more susceptible to it creeping through. For the dog days of summer, you can typically get away with R values as low as 2. If it will be colder, with the evenings seeing you wrapped in one of the best camping blankets next to a campfire, then you’ll want an R value between 4 and 6. If you’ll be camping in colder climes where there might be frost on the ground come morning, aim for 8 or higher.

Do not pack an air mattress for camping with an R rating lower than 2 (or, worse, that doesn’t have an R rating at all) unless it will be so warm that you expect to not even need a sleeping bag or blanket. 

Read Next: What Is R Rating? It’s Why Your Sleeping Bag Doesn’t Keep You Warm

How I Tested the Best Air Mattresses for Camping

As staff writer for the gear team at Outdoor Life, I’ve slept countless nights in the woods, both while backpacking and car camping. I’ve slept on all of the below mattresses while camping (many of them multiple nights) and had other individuals sleep on them as well. Based on that field experience, I’ve evaluated camping mattresses on the most important metrics for campers and overlanders: price, warmth (R rating), warranty, comfort, and ease of use. I’ve additionally provided an at-a-glance look at the different sizes available for each mattress as well as their weight limits. 

Air Mattress for CampingPrice*R Rating*Available Sizes (inches)Weight Limit*WarrantyTest Results
ComfortEase of Use
Sea to Summit Comfort Deluxe $2206.572 x 25
79 x 29
79 x 51 
350 poundsLimited lifetimeVery GoodDifficult
Exped DeepSleep$1608.572 x 25.6
77.6 x 30.3
72 x 40.9
77.6 x 52
330 pounds 5 yearsOKDifficult
Exped MegaMat$2408.172 x 25.6
77.6 x 30.3
72 x 40.9
77.6 x 52
80 x 49.8
330 pound 5 yearsExcellentEasy (inflation); difficult (deflation)
Big Agnes Captain Comfort$2508.378 x 30
72 x 41
78 x 52
UnavailableLimited lifetimeExcellentEasy
Nemo Roamer$250678 x 30
78 x 52
300 pounds Limited lifetimeExcellent Easy (inflation); difficult (deflation) 
Klymit Klymaloft$1602.372 x 23 
78 x 29
78 x 53
UnknownLimited lifetimeExcellentSomewhat difficult
*For a standard single mattress

Weight limits for the sleeping pads were verified with each manufacturer. Typically, the welds on the seams of the air mattresses are the limiting factors for weight. Additional notes are provided on how to maximize the weight limit of the different sleeping pads in the full reviews, including when a lower PSI is recommended for heavier users. 

For most people, R rating is by far the most important consideration for your air mattress for camping, even more so than its size, amount of foam, or warranty. Look for R ratings that are done according to the ASTM F3340 (“Standard Test Method for Thermal Resistance of Camping Mattresses Using a Guarded Hot Plate Apparatus”) as this is considered the gold standard for third-party, apples-to-apples testing. 

If you are looking for something with a smaller packed volume or lower weight than what appears on this list, check out our story on the best backpacking sleeping pads.

Best Air Mattresses for Camping: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: Big Agnes Captain Comfort

Best Overall

Big Agnes Captain Comfort

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Key Features

  • R Rating: 8.3
  • Available Sizes: 78 x 30 inches; 72 x 41 inches; 78 x 52 inches
  • Weight Limit: Unavailable

Pros

  • Very comfortable
  • Great range of sizes
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Easy to pack away
  • High R rating means its appropriate for all seasons

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Not compatible with Big Agnes pump sacks
  • Not tested to a specific weight limit

In a field of some strong competitors, the Big Agnes Captain Comfort just squeaked ahead to nab the top slot. During testing, I was impressed by how comfortable this pad was (I slept like a baby), and its limited motion transfer. I shared the medium-size version of this pad with my partner, who reported that he tossed and turned all night. I didn’t feel a thing. The 8+ R rating was also greatly appreciated, as I tested this one during a mid-November rainstorm in the lower foothills of the Cascade Range. 

The medium size of the Captain Comfort fit comfortably into a smaller space while still providing plenty of room for two average-sized adults.
The medium size of the Captain Comfort fit comfortably into a smaller space while still providing plenty of room for two average-sized adults. Laura Lancaster

I also liked that they offered the medium, 41-inch wide option. For families, the 52-inch versions of these sleeping pads can sometimes take up too much room in the best family tents, making the rest of your living space unnecessarily crowded. But what really won me over was how little I struggled to put this pad away again at the end of the trip. After deflating and rolling, I was able to use the provided velcro straps to scrunch it down. The provided sack for the pad was generously sized, with side-entry. With other air mattresses for camping, I’ve had to roll and reroll the pads to get it down small enough to fit back in the bag. Not so here. 

The only dings here are the price, which was on the higher side, and the lack of a pump. In my experience, self-inflatable pads hardly inflate at all the first time you use them. While there is always the option of purchasing a pump (which I recommend), it would have been nice if the Captain Comfort was compatible with the same air pump sacks used by its line of backpacking sleeping pads, which cut the difficulty of inflating these pads down by a factor of 10. 

While Big Agnes, unlike other best-in-class air mattress manufacturers, was not able to provide weight limit information for the Captain Comfort series, they did say that they don’t have any indication that a user’s weight would impact the pad’s durability. You can then trust that if you did run into an issue caused by excess weight, it would be covered by the warranty. Their manufacturer welds the pads using the same technology it employs on highly-regulated aircraft, medical, and military inflatables. 

Most Deluxe: Exped MegaMat

Most Deluxe

Exped MegaMat

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Key Features

  • R Rating: 8.1
  • Available Sizes: 72 x 25.6 inches; 77.6 x 30.3 inches; 72 x 40.9 inches; 77.6 x 52 inches; 80 x 49.8 inches
  • Weight Limit: 330 pounds (single); 660 pounds (double) 

Pros

  • High R values appropriate for all seasons
  • Extremely comfortable
  • Range of sizes to choose from
  • Includes the widget pump

Cons

  • No lifetime warranty
  • Expensive

Assistant editor Ashley Thess tried out the top-rated Exped MegaMat on a trip to the high desert of Colorado in June, where temps dropped down to the 50s. She found the pad to be both exceptionally comfortable and durable. She had no qualms dragging it out of the tent to lounge on in the grass and then tossing it back in the tent again when it started to rain. But what really won Ashley over was the inclusion of the Exped Widget Pump as part of the package, which also serves as a backup power bank and night light. 

While the Exped MegaMat has an excellent reputation for durability, it was one of the few air mattresses for camping that we considered that did not include a limited lifetime warranty. 

Best Value: Exped DeepSleep

Best Value

Exped DeepSleep

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Key Features 

  • R Rating: 8.5
  • Available Sizes: 72 x 25.6 inches; 77.6 x 30.3 inches; 72 x 40.9 inches; 77.6 x 52 inches
  • Weight Limit: 330 pounds (single); 660 pounds (double) 

Pros

  • High R values appropriate for all seasons
  • Low price compared to the competition
  • Range of sizes to choose from

Cons

  • No lifetime warranty
  • Less comfortable than other pads

If you’ve been eyeing the MegaMat but just can’t commit to that price point, then the Exped DeepSleep may be just what you’re looking for. While noticeably less comfortable than air mattresses for camping with plushier foam, it was still plenty comfy for a weekend of casual camping. Part of that is because its higher R rating means it excels at keeping you warm. On my testing trip to the eastern Cascades, temps dropped down to the 40s. But the DeepSleep’s insulation from the cold of the ground was so excellent that I ended up kicking off a blanket in the middle of the night because I was overheating. 

Exped sits in field.
The 75D polyester used for the EXPED is exceptionally durable—something I appreciated when I found a dangerously placed rock under it after the first night of use. Laura Lancaster

While the valves of the Exped DeepSleep were more straight-forward to use than other air mattresses for camping that I tested, I struggled with the vertical-entry stuff sack, even after cinching down the pad as tightly as I could with the provided Velcro straps. 

Smallest Packed Size: Klymit Klymaloft

Smallest Packed Size

Klymit Klymaloft

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Key Features

  • R Rating: 2.4
  • Available Sizes: 72 x 23 inches; 78 x 29 inches; 78 x 53 inches 
  • Weight Limit: Unknown

Pros

  • Very small packed size
  • Just as cushy as larger, more expensive mats
  • Light enough to take on a low-key backpacking trip
  • Affordably priced

Cons

  • Low R values means this is a summer-only pad
  • Must be inflated by blowing into it

The Klymit Klymaloft is an unusual pad. It includes foam in the construction, but it’s not self-inflating. It’s either the heaviest of the best backpacking sleeping pads or the smallest of the best air mattresses for camping. If you’re a fair-weather camper with a smaller car, it might be exactly what you’re looking for.

This pad is extremely comfortable, with a plush foam top that is more noticeably cushy than others that I’ve tested. It’s so comfortable that my husband has claimed it as his go-to sleeping pad for all future summer family car camping trips. However, it has a very low R rating compared to others on this list. Don’t take this one car camping if you expect overnight temperature to drop below the 50s. Where I think it excels is in packing up your car. Space is often limited when I pack for a long weekend of car camping. This means leaving behind goodies like the best inflatable paddle boards if I also have one of the best air mattresses for camping. The Klymit Klymaloft takes up about as much space as a football, and is easy to cram into small nooks and crannies. 

This pad is not, however, self-inflating. It also doesn’t come with a pump sack, which means that you’ll be blowing it up by blowing into it. Which can take a while. But if you don’t mind spending a little extra, then there is always the option to purchase Klymit’s Rechargeable Air Pump

Best Air Pump: Exped Widget Pump

Best Air Pump

Exped Widget Pump

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Key Features

  • Price: $50 
  • Two pump speeds, fast and quiet
  • Compatible with most air mattresses 
  • Can be used as a lantern
  • Can be used as a power bank

Pros

  • Compatible with several different air mattress I’ve tested
  • Also a power bank
  • Also a light

Cons

  • Expensive

If you camp on the regular (or just hate inflating air mattresses manually) then an air pump is a must. The best I’ve used is the Exped Widget Pump. It’s tiny, it’s fast, it’s also a power bank you can use for your phone, and a backup lantern for inside your tent. Sure, it’s a little pricey, but it’s one of those luxuries that, once you have it, you can’t leave at home. 

Nemo Roamer

Nemo Roamer

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Key Features

  • R Rating: 6
  • Available Sizes: 78 x 30 inches; 78 x 52 inches 
  • Weight Limit: 300 pounds (single); 500 pounds (double)

Pros

  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • Comfortable
  • Comes up with a pump sack for easier inflation

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Limited available sizes
  • Lower R rating is not ideal for winter conditions
  • Aggressive self-inflation mechanism makes it difficult to pack away

While the Nemo Roamer didn’t quite shine enough to win an award, it’s still an excellent pad that I would recommend. It’s exceptionally comfortable with a high enough R rating to see you through the summer season and into the shoulder season. Though pricey, it does include a compatible pump sack (similar to those used for backpacking sleeping pads) which makes the process of fine-tuning the inflation level fairly painless, without the need to spring for a pricey air pump.

Unusually, the Roamer comes with two sacks, the one that it’s tightly packed into when you purchase the pad (good luck ever getting it into that again), and a larger sack that works well for travel, especially after it’s been cinched down using the supplied Velcro straps. Given that the Roamer is partially made from recycled materials, and NEMO’s well-earned reputation for eco-consciousness, the inclusion of a basically unusable stuff sack is a little surprising. It’s also a fairly minor ding. 

The Roamer lived up to its claim of virtually instant self-inflation, but this proved problematic when packing away the air mattress. The self-inflation would kick in as soon as I let the pressure off the roll, making it difficult to get it squeezed down tight enough to add on the Velcro straps. Nemo did provide some directions on the side of the pad indicating the best combination of valves to use during deflation. But this still proved more of a challenge that I would have liked. 

Keep in mind that the self-inflation mechanism won’t work terribly quickly the first time you use the pad or after it’s been packed away for extended periods of time. 

Sea to Summit Comfort Deluxe

Sea to Summit Comfort Deluxe

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Key Features

  • R Rating: 6.5
  • Available Sizes: 72 x 25 inches; 79 x 29 inches; 79 x 51 inches 
  • Weight Limit: 350 pounds (single)

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Limited lifetime warranty
  • High weight limit

Cons

  • Difficult to pack away
  • Lower R value is not appropriate for winter conditions

The Sea to Summit Comfort Deluxe is a comfortable air mattress for camping that came in at a slightly lower price point than some of the top-rated options. While I slept soundly on this mattress on my testing trip for the best 8-person tents, the carrying sack made it unusually difficult to pack away again. I had to roll it multiple times to get it to fit. It does not come with an air pump or pump sack, so expect to put in a little extra effort to inflate it if it’s been in storage for a while.

When queried, Sea to Summit had done the most weight testing of their pads of any of the manufacturers I talked to: up to 350 pounds for a single-person pad. Sea to Summit additionally shared that users that are closer to the upper weight limit for the mattress should plan to inflate the pad to between 2 and 2.5 PSI. Three PSI is the maximum pressure the mattress can support, so don’t go beyond that. 

Things to Consider Before Buying an Air Mattress for Camping

We tested the best air mattresses for camping.
Consider the packed size of your air mattress so it fits with the rest of your kit. Laura Lancaster

R Rating

It’s worth repeating: The most important factor for comfort is warmth, and your sleeping bag will be minimally effective at insulating you against the cold of the ground unless it’s rated 4 or higher on the R scale. Look for ASTM certification before making a final purchase. 

Self-Inflation Mechanism

In my experience, the self-inflating mechanism on air mattresses only gets you so far, because after being stored all winter it takes a bit for the foam to spring back into shape. Be prepared to inflate some, if not all, of the air manually. Snagging a battery-operated pump can help alleviate frustration.

Packing Up Your Mattress

Inflating an air mattress for camping is one thing; deflating is another thing entirely. Before heading out on your camping trip, check that you can get it back into the provided stuff sack (this was easier said than done with several options I tested). If it’s more arduous than you expect, consider straps to help cinch it down more efficiently. When deflating your air mattress for camping, be sure to open the valves per the manufacturer instructions to maximize air flow out of your mattress and minimize air flow inward. 

Storage

Several of the brands I spoke with indicated that the best way to store their air mattresses for camping was to unroll them and allow them to partially self-inflate. If you have space under your bed, or in another part of your home to do this, it’s a recommended way to increase the lifespan of your foam. 

FAQs

Q: Are air or foam camping mattresses better?

While air-only mattresses are not always as comfortable for camping, air-and-foam mattresses typically pack down quite small compared to their foam only counterparts. They’re also nearly as comfortable. 

Q: How do I keep my air mattress warm in my tent?

If you are using an air mattress for camping that either has an R rating under 2 or no R rating at all, chances are you’ve gotten chilly on a cold night. That’s because the cold of the ground is running straight into your body. While adding a few additional blankets between you and the ground can help, you’d be better served by upgrading to an air mattress for camping with an R rating of at least 4 and ideally 6. 

Q: What can I use instead of an air mattress pump?

Air mattresses for camping typically self-inflate, to an extent, and then can be topped off by blowing into the intake valve. Some air mattresses for camping, such as the Nemo Roamer, also come with a pump sack that can make inflating an air mattress a breeze. 

Q: What is the most weight an air mattress can hold?

When queried, the highest weight limit of an air mattress for camping was the Sea to Summit Comfort Deluxe at 350 pounds for the single-person version. 

Q: Are air mattresses good for camping?

The air mattresses that you use for out-of-town guests in your home are not a good choice for camping. These mattresses lack any sort of insulation against the cold ground. Look for an air mattress for camping with an R value over 4, and ideally as high as 6, to ensure you are warm and comfortable throughout the night. 

Q: Is a thicker air mattress more comfortable?

A thicker air-only mattress is typically not more comfortable once it’s over four inches thick. However, a thicker layer of foam can often make an air mattress more comfortable. 

Read Next: What Is R Rating? It’s Why Your Sleeping Bag Doesn’t Keep You Warm

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Since 1898, OL has been a leading authority in testing and reviewing hunting gear, fishing tackle, guns and shooting equipment, and much more. We have more than a century-long history of evaluating products, and we’re now bringing that expertise to online reviews. Our editors are experienced outdoorsmen and women, and most importantly, we’re trained journalists. We prioritize field testing and objective data when reviewing products. We conduct interviews with gear manufacturers and engineers as well as outdoor experts so that our readers have an understanding of how and why a product works—or doesn’t.

Advertising does not influence our gear reviews and it never will. While we always focus our coverage on standout products—because we want our readers to be aware of the latest and greatest gear—we also cover the flaws and quirks of any given product.

Final Thoughts on the Best Air Mattresses for Camping

Getting a quality air mattress for camping can elevate your outdoor sleeping experience. Fortunately, there are many quality brands offering comfortable, compact options that will insulate you from the cold and hard of the ground. Choose the one that best fits your body, budget, and sleep needs. 

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Laura Lancaster

Staff Writer

Laura Lancaster is Outdoor Life's gear staff writer where she focuses on in-depth testing of backpacking and camping gear, with a particular interest in lightweight and ultralight gear. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and daughter.

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