» Camping Mattress Types

Camping Mattress Types

Camping mattresses for leisure tent camping are available in several types. They use air, foam, or a combination to provide cushion and insulation from the ground.

These mattresses vary from about 1-1/2" to 9" in thickness, 20" to 60" in width and 48" to 78" in length.

They can be inflated to various levels of firmness to suit a variety of preferences.

They pack in a reasonable amount of space for the comfort they offer and inflate or expand to use.

Sleeping on the ground

A camp mattress generally requires the camper to get down onto and up off of the ground, which is part of the charm of tent camping.

Getting onto all fours from a standing or a lying position is often the easiest method for less spry campers to make the transition inside a tent.

Although campers sleep on a cushion on the ground, the closed tent body will protect them from insects and other outdoor critters.

The more campers can, over time, acclimate themselves to sleeping on the ground with less sleeping gear, the more rewarding camping can be for them. This reduces the packing and setup and frees campers to try new experiences.


Some considerations in purchasing a camping mattress are:

  • Will it provide enough separation from the ground?
  • Is it soft or firm enough for me?
  • How comfortably will I sleep on warm or cool nights?
  • Is it long and wide enough for me to sleep on?
  • How much room will it take up inside the tent?
  • How does it inflate or expand?
  • How much does it weigh?
  • How small does it pack?
  • Will it hold my sleeping bag in place?
  • How durable is it?
  • Is it waterproof?
  • Do I prefer a ground level (1" to 9") or a raised/elevated (16" to 22") sleeping surface?
  • Can I sleep comfortably with a partner on it?

Getting a good night's rest in a tent is important to having a good camping experience.

Fortunately, campers have a variety of choices for sleeping comfortably in a tent...

Mattress types used for tent camping

Inflatable Camping Air Mattress or Air Bed
These mattresses are inflatable air chambers that cushion the camper from the ground. They range from 4" to 9" thick. Raised air mattresses range from 16" to 22" thick.

Self Inflating Air Mattress (Pad/Mat)
These mattresses or pads are about 1" to 4" thick and have a foam core inside a durable, airtight synthetic shell with an air valve. They roll up and compress to pack and unroll and expand to use.

Truck bed, SUV or Minivan air mattress
This is an in inflatable camping air mattress that is shaped to fit in the back cargo area of a truck, SUV or minivan. It is usually notched on the sides to fit around the wheel wells.

Various Foam Camp Mattresses
There are various foam mattresses available for camping, including egg shell foam and standard foam with a protective sleeve cover, which can be unzipped and removed for cleaning. These are not inflated, and the foam provides the cushion and insulation.

Double-foam sleeping pad or mat
These mattresses are made by laminating a thin, dense foam mat (1/4") to a thicker, less-dense and softer foam mat (1" to 2-1/2"). The denser foam sits against the ground and the combination of dense and lighter foam cushions the camper.