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Whether you’re planning to backpack trips or going to a festival, a car camping trip, or out on a family road trip, you’ll need a comfortable and reliable mattress to rest your head at night. In terms of a tent mattress pad, this means you can get something more comfortable, easy to use, and packable. From an ultra-comfy sleeping pad to our top pick for budget savings, these are the best car camping mattresses and pads of 2021. And to complete your camping gear, we’ve also researched and written about camping kitchens, camping tents, and sleeping bags.
How We Choose the Best Camping Mattresses and Pads
While comfort, simplicity, warmth, and packed size are the primary criteria most people use to choose a sleeping pad. We went further considered things like inflation process, valve quality, and surface texture. And while no one camping mattresses can fit everybody, we’ve broken down the primary criteria to assist you in finding the best tent pad for you.
Our primary considerations:
Comfort: This is, in our opinion, an essential feature of any air pad or mattress because good sleep is necessary for the job and the main reason to add one of these mattresses to your Overlanding adventure kit.
Essentially, we’re rating this section for how comfortable it’s to sleep on the mattress and how easy it was to adjust the firmness from very firm to more cushioned. We also looked at how comfortable each bed was for sleeping in various body positions, such as the back, stomach, and sides.
Ease of Use:
Who wants to blow a large mattress with their lungs or wrestle with deflating and packing up a bed when you can be out of camp having fun?
The ease-of-use ratings shows how simple, quickly, effectively it’s to set up and inflate and deflate and store away. If you’re going to use your tent mattress once in a while, though, packing convenience might not be necessary.
‘We all sleep comfortably at different temperatures. To rate for warmth, we primarily relied on the stated R-values. With R-value, the higher the number, the greater the material’s ability to resist heat and cold.
Even in your car, particularly if you have a family, there is a small amount of space for lugging all of your camping gear around. Because of the need for portability, having a strongly packable sleeping pad is advantageous. The positive news is that all of our review models are petite in height, making them easy to transport. While for hiking or backpacking, the 2.15 Pounds Sable Camping Sleeping Pad and Mat have a neat trick of packing into small spaces.
Our Favorite Camping Matresses of 2023!
Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D
The Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D is the car-camping mattress that offers the best balance of comfort, features, and value for most campers – it’ll keep you exceptionally warm and comfortable on any surface all year long. It comes with some clever updates with new TwinLock valves to pushed it into our favorite option with easy-to-use valves and pump sack for easy inflation and deflation.
At 4 inches thick, the Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D does an excellent job insulating you from the cold ground and thick enough to provide a super cushion to support your pressure points, no matter what sleeping position you prefer. The 30-inch width and 80-inch length allow you to stretch out and sleep like a king while still allowing your dog to snuggle close by. For the perfect amount of comfort, we suggest adding a little extra air before you settle in for the night and releasing air as required.
It’s lighter than the previous version (Therm-a-Rest LuxuryMap). Yet, we think it’s a bit bulkier and heavier for backpacking or some extreme hiking, but it’s ideal for traveling and pitching a tent near your home, as well as RVs, trailers, and visitors. It’s also on the more expensive side. Still, compared to standard solid-foam pads or more expensive air mattresses, a self-inflating mattress is easier, more comfortable, and feels more like an actual mattress. We believe you’ll find the MondoKing 3D Self-Inflating Mattress well worth the money.
- Easier to inflate, deflate, roll, and store.
- Warm and highly comfortable
- Warm enough for all-season use
- The stuff sack doubles as a pump
- For Overlanding it is a bit large when rolled up
Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Topo Luxe Sleeping Pad
For a dedicated car camper, the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Topo Luxe Sleeping Pad is the standout option. It offers excellent comfort, sturdy construction, and a much thicker pad in the NeoAir line. It also features the new TwinLock valve with two dedicated valves for more efficient inflation or deflation, releasing air five times quicker than the standard release valve.
The NeoAir Topo Luxe a bit bulkier and heavier than I’d typically carry on a backpacking pad. However, it excels at packing up small. It folds down to a water bottle-sized package that’s easily packable for a backpacking trip. It’s very comfortable to toss, turn, and roll around for its size, but if convenience is a top priority, you’ll have to accept a bigger packed size.
It’s no surprise that the Topo Luxe is not nearly as comfortable as the Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D.
However, it’s still one of the most comfortable pads we review, as well as the lightest and most convenient to use. If you ever intend to upgrade your camping mattress, the NeoAir Topo Luxe becomes a good backup for backpacking or car camping that you can expect to pack for decades to come.
- Lightweight and very packable
- Mega comfortable
- Warm enough for three-season use
- Incredibly easy to use
- Not Warm enough for Winter camping
- Slightly bouncy
YSXHW Self Inflating Camping Pad
The Ysxhw Self Inflating Camping Pad is a cheaper self-inflating pad that will provide a good basic sleeping mattress convenient to any camper looking for a decent night’s sleep on the trail. It’s quick and easy to inflate and comfortable for backcountry, though not as comfortable and durable as the other self-inflating pads we reviewed. The setup is relatively simple, like most self-inflating camping air mattresses.
This roomier Pad gives more flexibility to roll and turn around, as well as one of the best thicknesses at 4.7 inches you’ll find. The extra thickness provides more comfort, and you won’t find any bumps or other uncomfortable factors on the ground. The Pad itself is a decent size, measuring 75 x 27 inches and weighing 2.7 pounds (regular).
It’s also foldable and comes in a fantastic bag with clasps that make for easy storage allowing most average-sized campers to carry it easily. The material appeared sturdy and durable, but we didn’t like it wasn’t quiet when you moved while sleeping. The Pad can handle weights up to 700 pounds, and it’s designed for four seasons of unrestricted service.
- Easy to inflate/deflate
- Decent comfort level
- Long enough for tall people to fit
- Great for unexpected guests
- Somewhat bouncy
- Warm to shoulder seasons
Etekcity Upgraded Camping Air Mattress
The Etekcity Upgraded Camping Air Mattress is worthy of your attention for the price alone. Fortunately, for a camper who likes a good night’s sleep, it also offers a good level of comfort and support. It comes with an additional secondary valve, similar to that of the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir, for quick inflation or deflation, a big plus for Etekcity.
We appreciate how easy it’s to set up without any additional pumps or devices; all you need to do is plug in and turn the control dial. You can experiment with different levels of firmness by quickly adjusting the control dial. If you’re a side sleeper, we suggest a slightly softer feel to relieve pressure on your shoulders and hips. For back sleepers who prefer a plush feel may want to let some air out until the bed is not quite so firm.
The Upgraded is a great queen-sized mattress that measures 80 x 60 x 22 in soft feel sleeping surface that puts a very insulating, 22-inch Double-layer between you and the cold hard ground. It’s also one of the most sturdy mattresses than most similar products, with a weight capacity of six 650 lbs for the Queen size.
- Inexpensive and lightweight
- Easy to set up
- It included a rechargeable inflator
- Easy to store and travel with.
- Deflation occurs daily
- The electrical cord is a bit short
Sable Camping Sleeping Pad
This popular, budget-friendly choice from Sable is comfortable—but not as much as our other top picks. The portable, fast inflatable Pad relies on its flexibility, easy setup, and “cozy comfort” to win the minds of hikers and festival-goers. Although it won’t have the same level of comfort and warmth as the rest of the pads in this review, it’ll provide a fantastic cushion at a low cost.
We were impressed that it has a built-in pillow, 40 denier thickness, and an R-value of 5, which is worth checking out. We also like how evenly it distributes air, making it an affordable option for side, back, and stomach sleepers. And at 4-5 inches when inflated, you can bet it’s wide enough to offer you enough comfort and insulation during the shoulder seasons. However, it’d not be ideal in much colder months.
It works well, but as one reviewer put it, “makes sure you close all valves completely before use because you might end up on the ground.” We find that it’s not as easy to pump (though it doesn’t require a separate air pump), and the seal wasn’t as secure as we’d like for a 400 pounds sleeping pad and mat. But we’re okay with that based on how lightweight and compact it’s for a backpacker or car camper who wants to save space and enjoy a good night’s rest.
- It comes with a storage bag.
- Open-cell foam in the pillow and duvet cushion
- Lightweight and takes up little room in a backpack
- It takes 5 mins to inflate
- A bit small
- It slowly leaks some air thus requires regular inflation
WEY&FLY SUV Air Mattress
You’ll be happy to know that there’s an air mattress specifically designed to turn the backseat of an SUV into an ultimate camping oasis. This Wey & Fly’s SUV Air Mattress creates a soft and comfortable cushion to form a mattress using your back seat and the space between the back seats. Just fold down the seats, and the mattress sat just right, providing you with a twin-sized bed that goes a long way in making your car trips, camping outings, and travels more comfortable.
The entire setup process is straightforward and easy. It took about 6 minutes. The pump plugs into the car’s cigarette lighter, and it works well, with no rips or tears in the mattress. There were no air leaks and held up well with two people. We think this product is worth its cost.
As we expect, it loses air if you leave it pumped up for too long. We suggest adding more air every few days. It’s super easy to add air and deflate. You can inflate it for 2-3 people or only increase the parts that fit your SUV space and your needs. It’s a helpful product for a night away to hang out by the lake or a camping road trip as you traveled through different campsites. Very convenient, one reviewer, “did not have to get a motel.” “I just climbed into my SUV and fell asleep.”
- It seems well-made, durable, and comfy
- Incredibly easy to install and maintain
- Double-sided flocking
- 570 Pound weight limit
- Deflate in colder temperatures
- It can bounce a bit, especially when fully inflated