Camp bed, air bed, mattress topper or self inflating mattress? Which is the best for camping?

Camping with Kids

I posed the question ‘Camp bed, air bed, mattress topper or Self inflating mattress? Which is the best for camping?’ on my facebook page the other day and the comments went crazy. You can read the full thread here.

People definitely have an opinion on this sort of thing, mainly down to many a cold night, not sleeping in a field, when they get it wrong. It’s also really important for a late season camping trip.

So I decided to put this post together with a summary of their comments and some of the recommendations so you can get a feel for what people recommend.

AD | I have been or could be if you click on a link in this post compensated via a cash payment, gift or something else of value for writing this post. See our full disclosure policy and privacy policy for more details.

I should point out that there is no obvious winner in the comments below but our recent discovery is a Duvalay! They are amazing. Yes they are big and a fairly bulky addition to the car but honestly once you’ve tried it you won’t go back. It’s a mix of a sleeping bag and a duvet and it’s a game changer!

I’m sharing a stock photo as the time we used them it was torrential rain and my photos are truly awful, but if you’re planning a late or early season camping trip then I’d definitely invest in one of these!

Self Inflating Mattress

So these are definitely what’s required according to lots of my readers, comments like

Self inflating mattress is the way forward. We used to get through so many airbeds which would be comfortable but would get a puncture after one or two uses. We tried a camp bed and it was awful. But our self inflating mattress is brilliant. We’ve had it for over two years now and it hasn’t failed us. Very comfortable. 


It’s a 10cm thick one… (Vango Double Comfort 10 if memory serves?) Negatives: relatively expensive, even packed away it’s one of the biggest bits of kit in the car, and packing it away is hilariously difficult. For even more money they now sell them ~15cm thick with some sort of pocket springs…

Kate’s husband!

Definitely self inflating mattresses, we got an Exped megamat 10 and we have a Vango double sleeping bag with a cotton twill lining

SIM with a duvet and fitted sheet in top to make it super soft.


Self inflating mattress (ours is 5cm) with foil backed picnic blanket underneath to stop the cold coming through. 

Camp bed, air bed, mattress topper or self inflating mattress? Which is the best for camping?

Blow Up Mattress/Air Bed

If you’re using an inflatable mattress, I would highly recommend putting a picnic blanket under the bed (the ones with the foil on the under side), it makes such a difference as the cold ground makes the air in the bed freezing, hence you feeling colder.


Memory foam topper for a normal bed . Take it with me everytime . 😊 on top of air bed of course not on own 

Lix from Sporty After Forty

Definitely use roll mats or foam exercise/Pilates mats underneath your bed, it makes a huge difference. The insulation stops the air bed deflating as the night gets cold and also stops you feeling the chill of the ground through the mattress.

Sarah from The Penniless Parent

Camp Beds

When we camped years ago we tried everything. In the end we found really sturdy camping beds (single ones) worked better than air beds. Fleece blankets on the bed, then your sleeping bag (we had pretty decent Vango ones that were more of a duvet material and really comfy and warm), then another fleece blanket on top. I always took my own pillow as camping pillows are rubbish. Husband also used to sleep in a fleece hat but that was a step too far for me. Also hot water bottles popped in your bed before you get in, and wrap your pjs round it so they are toasty when you put them on

Tracey from The Williams World

After numerous failed inflatable air beds that I find just deflate constantly we swapped to camp beds instead and they were so much better!


Futon Mattress

We brought a futon mattress for our awning and it’s so comfortable
We always take our duvets and use those bags that the air sucks out so don’t take up as much room


Other Ideas!

After many years of camping still say get dressed to go to bed and socks are a must you can always take layers off if you get too hot. 


A bit weird but the most comfortable night in a tent was with those foam jigsaw pieces that kids play with. You put them down as a carpet in the sleeping area. Helps to insulate the floor


a couple of years ago we got these double sized, square sleeping bag each (cotton I think, not that shiny stuff) and they’ve made the world of difference!


I think you’ve got enough “how to keep warm “ top tips but one of mine is ear plugs. Ever since I started wearing them while camping my sleep is sooo much better.


if you can, sleep with you feet pointing into the tent rather than towards the edge


If it’s cold then we have sleep bag liners to add extra warmth and sleep with the hood over your head. They come in fleece, cotton or silk. I also have to wear bed socks! Fleece blankets over your sleeping bag helps too

Holmsley Campsite in the New Forest with Camping in the Forest

I also got some really helpful comments like:

 My advice is to go glamping with a proper bed or book a cottage/apartment instead lol – ignore me, i’m not a camper, i like my bed too much


Stay in a hotel nearby! 


Really sorry to say this but I used to love camping, I now find it less comfortable. I think it’s about getting older!!


Since adding a caravan to our camping trips we’ve stayed very warm over night


Get a folding camper 😂 or a caravan always warm then x

Fan heater on all night



+ posts

Karen Beddow founded Mini Travellers in 2014 while doing what she loves most...going on holiday!

Mini Travellers is for parents looking for holiday ideas, destination reviews, days out and things to do with the kids. We also have family travel tips, activity ideas and all other things family holiday related. Take a look at some of our latest reviews for holidays and day trips in the UK.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.