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air beds, mattresses and stretchers for camping

see also:

  • I don't sell any of these nor do I receive any remuneration if you buy them, and I have not personally reviewed all of them, they are listed here to give you perspective


  • sleeping is perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of camping for many people and what you sleep on is only part of the issue
  • there are various options depending upon whether you are hiking or can carry the extra weight and bulk in your vehicle
    • stretchers and air beds are really only suitable for those with tall, larger tents such as touring tents, although some like to use a stretcher with their swag
    • self-inflating air beds are great for camping near your vehicle even in smaller 2 person tents
    • if you are hiking, a thermally insulated ultra-light air mat is probably your best bet


Lounge stretchers

  • these are stretcher beds which also can elevate head end and lower foot end to turn it into a lounge for added versatility
  • Coleman Converta Suspension Cot
  • Wanderer Premium Ultra Comfort Folding Stretcher King Single
    • 78 wide x 30cm high (adjustable feet height); 12.7kg; polyester over foam; packs to L82 x W21.5 x H88
    • each of the 6 feet are ~10cm wide to spread the load on a tent floor but I would still put a floor protector under them.
    • very comfortable but does not come with carry bag and is a bit bulky and heavy but otherwise highly recommended
    • head elevation plastic locking device needs to be well tightened - not for weak or arthritic hands!

Air beds

  • these are usually made of heavy duty PVC and are generally comfortable
  • PVC stretches from internal air pressure, body weight and temperature changes
  • most will need pumping up at least every 2 days
  • some have an internal dual pump system features a noisy primary pump which controls inflation, while a secondary pump works “silently” to maintain your support throughout the night - depending upon version, they will obviously require a 240V power supply or have an in-built rechargeable battery (eg. Bestway Alwayzaire Dual Pump QS Airbed)
  • come in either mat height (~12cm), standard height (~22cm high) and double height (~48cm high)
  • cons:
    • relatively heavy and bulky so not for hiking but not as heavy as stretchers
    • require inflating hence need a pump - most of these are very noisy
    • many have 240V internal pumps - you may not have access to 240V in your tent unless you have a powered camp site
    • most stretch and require further inflation
    • can be damaged requiring repair kit to get it inflatable again
    • air can make you colder
  • double height without 240V pump

Self-inflating air mattresses

  • these are larger and heavier than hiking air mattresses that you need to inflate but are also generally thicker and more durable
  • risk damage or loss of cap and not inflating
  • there are thicker versions which use foam as well - see in next section for these

Car camping foam mattresses

  • a double will generally fit snuggly in most 2P tents as these tents are usually 1.3m wide and more than 2.1m long
  • a double will NOT fit in the boot of a station wagon as the distance between the wheel hubs is only 1.1m or so
  • strongly consider buying a 3D wall styled mat as these support you better and you can bind two together
  • most are 197cm long, a few, such as the Thermarest MondoKing 3D are 203cm
  • singles are generally 65-70cm wide, king are 75-77cm, jumbo 90cm and twin or double are 132cm wide (the doubles fold in half before rolling up), while Queen are 148cm wide
    • Darch ATM models come in 90cm, 110cm and 140cm wide.
  • the better mats have one way valves (eg. Exped, Thermarest, Zempire Monstamat, Blackwolf Hexatherm 3D) so you can make multiple attempts at squeezing air out without more air coming back in when you are rolling it up
  • choose a mat with high R thermal insulation value of at least 6-8 if camping in snow or in a rooftop tent
  • these are very bulky, not suited to hiking
  • before 1st use, they should be left out in the sun for 45 minutes with the valves open to help undo the vacuum sealing process they go through (or left open overnight)
  • should be stored flat with valves open to avoid memory foam issues otherwise it will take longer to self-inflate
  • self-inflation for many mats only gets to around 90% inflation so if you want it more firm you will need to pump some extra air in (but doing so on cheaper mats may make them more bouncy)
  • avoid inflating with moist air as this may decrease the life of the laminate - delamination is generally the most common defect in self-inflating mats
  • cheaper versions of these tend to be unbonded - ie the outer is never bonded to the foam and thus the air can distribute away from your heaviest part - your butt - in this case, the less air you have in there the more even may be the support - consider sleeping with one valve open! Over-inflating by blowing air into them just tends to exacerbate the issue.
  • “3D” design means they have stiffened side walls that wont collapse easily and this also makes them easy to join together using straps.
  • the wider ones in particular can be more difficult to roll up tightly
    • with the valve open fold it into thirds then seat on it for a few minutes until the air is released
    • then open up and do a large roll up, again with the valve open then sit on it again to deflate more air
    • now, if it is a double, fold it in half, (an assistant can keep the valve end folded over while you roll it tightly)
    • then roll it up as tight as you can, finally, lock the valves closed
  • single stretcher bed mattresses
  • folding foam mattresses

self-inflating memory foam mattresses

single or king size

90cm wide mattresses

110cm wide mattresses

  • Darche All Terrain Mattress (ATM) roof top tent mattress
    • 10cm thick, bonded, 3D, premium open cell high density foam 23kg/m²;
    • top: hardwearing 75D peach finished polyester with PVC coating
    • Bottom: waterproof 300D oxford with PVC coating
    • heavy duty materials but the price to pay for this is they are bulky, heavy, hard to deflate fully and hard to roll up
    • ATM 1100: 195cm L x 110cm W x 10cm H, 7.23kg; 6 valves; packs to 117L x 25W x 25.5H cm; $AU329 on special $AU284

twin/double mattresses

  • Dune 4WD Mat Grey
    • 10cm thick; air tends to go to head and foot ends leaving your butt sinking;
    • double: 7.7kg, packs to 136 x 24 x 21 cm; $AU149
    • 201x132x10cm thick; 30D super stretch ripstop polyester (surface); Open cell foam, cross cored ; 30D top / 75D bottom;
    • 9.5R thermal rating; 6kg; packs to 70 x 33 x 33cm; needs to be stored flat with valve open to prevent foam memory issues; 30min to self-inflate then can blow into it for final inflation;
  • Blackwolf Hexatherm 3D “Queen” Leisure Mat
    • 201L x 130W x 10H cm; R7.9; 3D; 5.5kg; 30D / 190T material;
    • single 360deg rotating valve (yellow side is deflate) as with the Zenfire Monstamat
    • not as firm as a Zenfire Monstamat due to different foam structure but you can top the air up with supplied bag pump to make it firmer so it is easier to adjust firmness than the Zenfire
    • $AU449;
  • Darche All Terrain Mattress (ATM) roof top tent mattress
    • 10cm thick, bonded, 3D, premium open cell high density foam 23kg/m²;
    • top: hardwearing 75D peach finished polyester with PVC coating
    • Bottom: waterproof 300D oxford with PVC coating
    • heavy duty materials but the price to pay for this is they are bulky, heavy, hard to deflate fully and hard to roll up
    • ATM 1400: 195cm L x 140cm W x 10cm H, 9.37kg; 6 valves; packs to 148L x 27W x 28.5H cm; $AU379 on special $AU299
    • 201 x 132cm x 10cm thick; R7.3 thermal value; 4.5kg; packs to 70 x 30cm; 30D top / 190T/75D bottom;
    • $AU439
  • Exped Sim Comfort Duo 7.5:
    • 197 x 125 x 7.5cm; packs to 67 x 23cm; R 7.6 rating; 3.35kg;
    • $AU469 but now discontinued.
  • Exped Megamat Duo 10 LW:
    • 197 x 132 x 10cm; packs to 70 x 30cm; 4.6kg; R8.1 rating; 3D side wall mat design; minipump (hand pump) included to top it up; sidewinder stuff sack;
    • completely fills a wide 2-person tent; 50D top / 75D bottom;
  • Nemo Roamer Double
  • Exped MegaMat Max Duo 15 LW+

Queen size mattresses

Hiking air mattresses

  • these are the most compact and light of all mattresses
  • many have thermal insulating materials but many of these are very noisy each time you move
  • risk damage and not inflating

Hiking foam mats

  • these are generally carried on the outside of backpacks as they are somewhat bulky
  • have the advantage that they won't fail on your trip but not really comfortable
  • one could use a yoga mat but they are a bit too thin for comfort
australia/beds.txt · Last modified: 2022/12/16 08:47 by gary1

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