» Camping Air Mattress

Camping Air Mattress
Camping Air Bed

A camping air mattress offers tent campers the comfort of sleeping at home—many trailer campers do not have as comfortable a bed.

The main purpose of an outdoor air mattress is to cushion a sleeping camper from hard ground and provide a smooth, flat, comfortable sleeping surface inches above any roots, sticks, stones, acorns, or small depressions.

An inflatable mattress is often too large to be blown up by breathing and is instead usually inflated with a pump or inflator.

These mattresses are about 8" high and available in standard, bed mattress sizes and widths:

Size Width Metric
Single or Twin 36 to 39" 76 to 99 cm
Full or Double 54" 137 cm
Queen 60" 152 cm
King 72" 1.83 m

Air mattresses can be inflated to different levels of firmness to suit just about any tent camper.

Among all types of outdoor sleeping cushions, an air mattress is usually the least expensive and packs down to the smallest size.

Raised air mattress

Some campers prefer to sleep higher off of the ground, in order to get in and out of bed more easily.

To provide an elevated sleeping surface, raised air mattresses are available that stand 16 to 22" off the ground. This is roughly knee height for most people and is comparable to the height of a home bed.

These double-high mattresses are usually divided into dual over-and-under air chambers. The lower air chamber is often referred to as the "box spring or the "frame", and the upper chamber as the "mattress". A raised air mattress is also referred to as a camping air bed.

A raised air mattress won't give much more sleeping comfort than a standard, but it will get campers higher off of the ground, so they can stand more easily.

Due to the height, campers will need a large tent for these raised air beds.

Air beds are mostly available in queen size, but raised, twin-size beds can also to be found.

Pillow-top mattresses

Many camping air mattresses and almost all camping air beds include a raised cushion for the head. This surface is built into and inflates with the rest of the mattress.

An air mattress with this feature is referred to as a 'pillow-top' mattress.

This feature saves campers from needing to bring extra pillows from home.


Many air mattresses have flocking on top, which is fine hair-like fiber strands that are bonded to the top surface of the mattress.

Flocking provides a plush, suede, velvety surface that keeps sleeping bags or covers from sliding around.

A flocked air mattress and a flannel, rectangular sleeping bag offer the comforts of home to campers at a campsite.

With flocking, a sleeping bag is less likely to shift as campers turn in their sleep, and they can turn inside the bag just like they would under sheets and blankets.

If the top surface of the mattress is not flocked, a fitted sheet or mattress pad can be used instead to help keep a sleeping bag or covers in place.


Air mattresses have developed home-mattress features to make camping more comfortable.

The top surface can be tufted (dimpled), featuring "pillar construction" or "coil construction". Tufting means that the top and bottom fabric surfaces of the mattress are connected inside the air chamber by cylindrical pieces of fabric.

Tufting maintains an even distance between the top and bottom fabric surfaces when the mattress is fully inflated. It better distributes the air pressure inside the air chamber.

Camping air mattresses on frames

camping air bed frame (or stand) provides a raised platform for a standard camping air mattress.

It is usually an accordion-fold stand that folds compact and extends out in both length and width to form a frame, which consists of a set of legs that runs the length and width of an air mattress.

Air-bed frames usually have a heavy fabric (canvas) top.

An 8" inflatable air mattress is then placed on the frame fabric to provide a raised sleeping cushion.

It is recommended that raised air beds should always sit on level and even ground.

An accordion frame is not quite as stable as the ground, and the combination of a somewhat-wobbly, dual-chamber, raised air bed on top of an accordion frame could be unstable, not to mention waist high.

Camping air mattresses and cots

Placing a twin single-high air mattress on a narrow cot is a risky endeavor.

An 8" high mattress will raise the center of gravity without widening the base of the cot. The air mattress will also likely extend beyond the edges of the cot, and campers may well find themselves "man overboard" in the middle of the night!

An integrated cot & mattress combo is a much better solution. The mattress is shallower and sized to the cot frame, making it a much more stable combination.


Camping air mattresses are probably the most comfortable sleeping cushion for campers. They pack away in a small space, offer a large sleeping space, and are available in standard bed sizes.

If you are interested in further information about air mattresses, have a look at the links at the bottom of this page.

Air-mattress brands include: Aerobed, Coleman, Greatland (Target), Intex, Kelty, Northwest Territory (Sears/Kmart), Ozark Trail (Walmart), Sevylor, Stansport, Swiss Gear (Wenger), Texsport, and Wenzel.

More Camping Mattress Articles

Air Mattress Inflators
Air mattresses can be inflated by several means: blowing into the valve, hand pump, foot pump, 12V inflator with cigarette lighter adaptor...

Air Mattresses and Weather
Although camping air mattresses are great cushions, they are poor insulators...

Air Mattress vs. Tent Size
The size and shape of the tent play a major role in the number and type of camping beds that can be used inside...

Air Mattress Leaks and Repair
Finding an air mattress leak can be done with different methods. The method you choose depends on how quickly you need to use the mattress...

Air Mattress Buyer's Guide
Air mattreses and beds are available in indoor and outdoor versions. Outdoor air beds for camping can also double as indoor guest sleeping accommodations and are priced between $20 and $100...