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Air Mattress vs. Sleeping Pad (Getting A Good Evening’s Sleep On The Go)

When crafting the optimum tenting sleep system, it’s frequent for individuals to get caught when deciding between an air mattress versus a sleeping pad.

Avid campers will swear by their favourite technique however fact be instructed, each have their advantages and downsides.

What it actually comes right down to is your individual private wants.

The air mattress vs. sleeping pad debate may go on perpetually. However we’re right here that can assist you make the very best choice on your tenting wants!

Air Mattress vs. Sleeping Pad

Air Mattress vs. Sleeping Pad

Selecting between an air mattress and a sleeping pad will be tough. They each include their very own execs and cons.

However when it comes proper right down to it, selecting between an air mattress and a sleeping pad relies upon solely in your private tenting preferences and desires.

As an example, in case you’re climbing to your campsite, you’ll wish to go together with one thing much less cumbersome than an air mattress.

However, in case you’re automobile tenting, an air mattress may be the best way to go in case you’re trying to hold as many comforts of house as potential.

To find out the place you stand on the sleeping pad vs. air mattress debate, first work out how a lot room you’ll have for packing, how a lot room you’ll have for sleeping, how many individuals will you be accommodating, your price range, and most significantly, your consolation preferences.

Air Mattress vs. Sleeping Pad – A Fast Comparability

Air Mattress

An air mattress is an inflatable mattress that you could blow up utilizing your individual breath or a pump.

When not in use, you merely let the air out and roll it up for storage.

Sorts of Air Mattresses

There are three varieties of air mattresses you may select from when tenting: raised, self-inflating, and adjustable/convertible air mattresses.

1. Raised Air Mattress

A raised air mattress is simply that- raised! These sorts of air mattresses inflate to a peak that’s taller than your customary single-high air mattress of 10 inches.

That is useful as a result of it may be extra snug (learn: extra like your mattress again house!) and it retains you greater off the bottom (which is a plus when the bottom is chilly).

2. Self-Inflating Air Mattress

A self-inflating air mattress will be your greatest pal in case you hate having to blow air mattresses up by hand or at your automobile.

They work by way of an inner pump that merely must be turned on with a button or a knob, or by way of a valve that sucks in air as the inner foam expands.

So there aren’t any exterior elements it’s important to fear about shedding!

These air mattresses are fast to setup however can value greater than a conventional air mattress.

3. Adjustable/Convertible Air Mattress

If you happen to’re keen to place a bit of extra money into an air mattress, you will get a convertible air mattress that had adjustable settings!

These air mattresses help you management options comparable to firmness with only a distant management that may both launch or add air for you.

Advantages of an Air Mattress

Benefits of an Air Mattress (1)

Air mattresses have a ton of advantages for tenting, particularly for anybody who desires to deliver the comforts of house with them.

Number of Sizes

Air mattresses are available quite a lot of sizes. From twin-sized to a queen air mattress, there are many choices accessible for no matter dimension it’s possible you’ll want.

Whether or not it’s essential take up a small area or have a complete tent to take up area for consolation, there’s already an air mattress in the marketplace to satisfy your wants.


An air mattress is the tenting sleeping resolution that’s going to be essentially the most like your mattress at house.

This implies you may discover it extra snug than a sleeping pad.

Being off the bottom due to the air contained in the mattress, you received’t be feeling all of the tough bumps and laborious floor of the bottom.

Plus, air mattresses provide you with extra room to stretch out.


Air mattresses are extraordinarily moveable. When not inflated, an air mattress lies fairly flat.

This lets you roll it up finish to finish and slide it into its carrying bag so you may throw it in with the remainder of your gear.

All in all, when rolled up, an air mattress will solely take up an space the dimensions of a shoebox or smaller.


Whereas air mattresses may not provide the identical insulation as a sleeping pad, you continue to get the advantage of heat from not having to sleep on the chilly, laborious floor.

If tenting in chilly months with an air mattress, you’ll nonetheless need a zero diploma sleeping bag, or some thermal blankets for optimum heat.

Worth of  Your Cash

Air mattresses are simple in your pockets! A easy fundamental twin-sized air mattress might be as low cost as $20.

After all, you may at all times go for an air mattress with added bells and whistles comparable to self-inflation or adjustable firmness.

However even with added options, air mattresses are usually reasonably inexpensive.

Gives You With a Bigger Sleeping Space

As a substitute of being caught within the small area of a single sleeping space such as you would with a sleeping bag, air mattresses usually provide you with rather more room to unfold out, roll round a bit, and so on. providing you with a way more snug evening’s sleep.

After all, you’ll nonetheless wish to deliver your sleeping bag (particularly an excellent rectangular one), however in the summertime it’s solely potential to get away with out one in case you it’s heat sufficient at evening.

This may also be useful when tenting with a number of individuals, because it’s simpler to deliver double air mattresses that may pack down smaller than some sleeping pads.

Straightforward to Keep

So long as you’re taking care to retailer your air mattress correctly, they’re extraordinarily simple to take care of.

Merely wash it off every so often, and also you’re good to go.

And if it will definitely will get a gap in it, that’s a straightforward upkeep process, as nicely!

Merely throwing an easy-to-use patch over the opening will make your air mattress nearly as good as new very quickly.

Drawbacks of Air Mattresses

Drawbacks Of Air Mattresses Air Mattress vs. Sleeping Pad

Whereas air mattresses are great at making you are feeling such as you’re proper at house, they may also be a serious ache once you get right down to the logistics of utilizing one whereas tenting.

Poorly Insulated

Air mattresses are primarily made up of plastic, which isn’t insulating within the least.

So when sleeping on an inflated air mattress, your physique is heating the air inside however the mattress just isn’t doing something that can assist you retain the warmth.

All your physique warmth goes to the air contained in the mattress, leaving you chilly.

Staying heat on an air mattress, particularly in colder months, would require added gear comparable to a sleeping bag, or thermal blankets to assist insulate you.

Not Helpful for Winter Tenting

As we simply talked about, air mattresses are poorly insulated and might depart you shivering, particularly if it’s already chilly outdoors.

Tenting with an air mattress within the winter will be chilly and irritating in case you’re not correctly ready as you’ll want extra gear to remain heat and comfy in your sleep.

Unexpectedly Punctures or Leaks

One of many largest downfalls of air mattresses are their potential to get punctured and begin leaking.

Even in case you take all of the care on the planet, guaranteeing your campsite is freed from twigs and different particles that would poke a gap in your air mattress, it’s inevitable that it’ll start to leak someday.

Whether or not from basic put on and tear or a puncture gap, sleeping on a leaky air mattress is not any enjoyable, particularly once you get up to seek out your self flat on the bottom or sandwiched into your mattress like a taco.

Fixing a gap or leak in an air mattress may be so simple as slapping a patch overtop of the affected space. However it may possibly nonetheless be a trouble.

Battery-Operated Pump is Required

Many air mattresses nowadays use a pump to inflate. Sure, there are nonetheless some that solely require your individual breath to inflate it, however who has the time or power for that?

The draw back to a pump-operated air mattress is that you just often want batteries or another supply of electrical energy to get it up and operating, particularly in case you have a flowery air mattress that means that you can alter the air and firmness with the contact of a button.

Discovering an power supply to pump and keep the sort of air mattress may be tough when tenting.

Too Large for a Backpack

Whereas air mattresses are super-portable, they aren’t essentially small when deflated and rolled up. In reality, they’re too large for a single backpack.

This generally is a main ache level for anybody who’s climbing to their tenting vacation spot and require packing as small as potential.

Nobody desires to sacrifice necessary gear and provides like meals simply to avoid wasting area for his or her air mattress.

Find out how to Select the Greatest Air Mattress For Tenting

When choosing out an air mattress for tenting, it’s essential know the way you can be utilizing it earlier than you begin searching.

Then, you may decide which of those options will fit your wants greatest.


size (1) Air Mattress vs. Sleeping Pad

Since air mattresses can be found in all kinds of sizes, you received’t have any hassle discovering one to satisfy your wants.

You simply have to determine what dimension to go together with!

Have a small tent you don’t wish to fill? Go along with a twin-sized. Want loads of leg room for a stressed sleeper? Strive a double. Sleeping with a companion? There’s at all times a queen.


The kind of air mattress that you really want will depend on what sort of consolation you’re searching for.

If consolation isn’t a precedence, a easy air mattress that makes use of a hand pump may go well with you nicely.

Nonetheless, if you wish to make sure you get the very best evening’s sleep potential whereas tenting, you can select from increase, self-inflating, and adjustable air mattresses.

Don’t have the time to mess with inflation? Go along with self-inflating. Wish to be as far off the bottom as potential? Go along with raised.

Need to have the ability to management all of those components relying on what you’re feeling within the second? Go along with adjustable.

Inflation and Deflation

infaltion and deflation Air Mattress vs. Sleeping Pad

Figuring out how a lot effort you are ready to place into the inflation and deflation of the air mattress may even decide which one you should purchase.

If you happen to don’t have the time or power to inflate an air mattress by hand, select an air mattress that both self-inflates or inflates by way of an electrical pump.

On the flip aspect, in case you received’t have electrical energy, you’ll want a handbook or self-inflating air mattress.

Deflation is fairly easy regardless of the air matter, however some require a bit extra effort and time than others.

As an example, in case you select a self-inflating air mattress that makes use of the froth technique, you will want to bodily roll the air out of the mattress, or else the air will frequently be sucked in and it will likely be caught inflated.



Air mattresses include all kinds of pumps. What you will have accessible to inflate it coupled with your individual preferences will let you know what sort of pump you want.

No supply of electrical energy? You’ll want a handbook or battery-powered pump.

Be sure you examine batteries earlier than you allow if that is the choice you go together with! Not trying for lots of set-up work? You’ll in all probability need an electrical pump or self-inflating air mattress.

Sleeping pad

sleeping pad

Sleeping pads are an important a part of any tenting sleep system and are notably helpful for backpackers who wish to pack small and lightweight.

Nonetheless, they’re additionally nice for layering with different gadgets to create the very best evening’s sleep potential.

Sorts of Sleeping Pads

Types Of Sleeping Pads

There are three varieties of sleeping pads you may select from when tenting: closed-cell foam, self-inflating, and air pads.

1. Closed-Cell Foam Tenting Mats

Closed-Cell Foam Camping Mats

Closed-cell foam tenting mats are made out of dense foam that’s comprised of many small air cells.

All it’s essential do is roll it out and get to sleeping! There is no such thing as a setup or inflation needed for closed-cell foam tenting mats.

These tenting mats are light-weight, simple to pack, and might give you additional heat and insulation.

Nonetheless, they aren’t at all times essentially the most snug sleeping association as the froth is reasonably agency.

2. Self-Inflating Pads

Very like self-inflating air mattresses, self-inflating sleeping pads merely blow up on their very own.

Utilizing a mixture of air and closed-cell foam padding, self-inflating pads have foam inside that begins to increase as quickly as you open the valve to let the air enter.

The inflation course of may take between 5 and ten minutes however is comparatively easy and straightforward.

Some self-inflating pads are even sufficiently small to pack when climbing, however not all.

The nice half about self-inflating pads, is that they’re type a hybrid and might present superior consolation and insulation over an air mattress.

3. Air Pads

Very like an air mattress, air pads are merely the dimensions of a tenting mat however crammed with air.

Not like self-inflating pads, you will want to inflate an air pad by yourself. Some use hand pumps whereas others include an electrical pump put in.

These tenting pads additionally don’t come customary with insulation to assist hold you heat. Some fashions do.

However the extra fundamental air pads will merely be crammed with air.

Advantages of Sleeping Pads

Benefits of Sleeping Pads

Sleeping pads generally is a tremendous useful piece of apparatus so as to add to your arsenal of tenting gear, particularly in case your predominant concern is portability.

Light-weight and Packable

Lightweight and Packable sleeping pad

Sleeping pads are tremendous light-weight and straightforward to pack, particularly in comparison with air mattresses.

There isn’t as a lot bulk concerned of their building, so they’re often the primary selection for anybody who’s backpacking, hammock tenting, or simply wants to avoid wasting area when packing.

AssociatedGreatest Sleeping Pad For Hammock Tenting: Prime 5 Reviewed

Gives Nice Insulation

The place air mattresses can get chilly because of the lack of insulation, sleeping pads are made out of supplies comparable to foam that present a lot better insulation.

Sleeping pads are good for tenting in colder months as a result of their insulation. They will hold you good and heat even when it’s chilly outdoors.

Extra Moveable Than Air Mattresses

More Portable Than Air Mattresses

Air mattresses take up a lot room, even when deflated and rolled up, that they aren’t ideally suited for backpacking. They’d take up most of your packing area!

However sleeping pads are a unique story. They take up a lot much less area than an air mattress when they’re rolled up and packed away.

They’re additionally a lot lighter. So, you received’t be sacrificing area or comfortability in case you go together with a sleeping pad!

Associated: Tenting Storage Concepts

Ease of Use

Sleeping pads couldn’t be any simpler to inflate, use, after which deflate. Most simply have to be rolled out to make use of!

Closed-cell foam sleeping pads are already good to go when you roll them out. And self-inflating sleeping pads do all of the give you the results you want.

Air pads might take a bit of extra work than both of the previous choices, however it’s nonetheless a fast setup!

Lasts Longer

lasts longer

Sleeping pads are very sturdy and have a tendency to last more than an air mattress.

Air mattresses get quite a lot of put on and tear between all of the inflating and deflating. Plus, there’s the entire pesky puncture danger you at all times have to fret about.

With most sleeping pads, you don’t even have to fret about an unintended puncture! Which means you can be utilizing it for a really very long time.

Drawbacks of Sleeping Pads

drawbacks of sleeping pads (1)

Sleeping pads will be nice for saving area and time when organising camp, however in addition they have their fair proportion of drawbacks, together with not being essentially the most snug evening’s sleep.

Much less Cushioning

Sleeping pads have considerably much less cushioning than an air mattress. They’re made out of denser materials and are a lot thinner than an inflated air mattress, making you nearer to the bottom.

Whereas this will profit your tenting packing, it may also be a downside in case you’re searching for consolation.

Not A lot Consolation

Due to having much less cushioning, sleeping pads aren’t as snug as an air mattress.

Air mattresses are the closest factor you get to the comforts of your mattress again house if you end up tenting.

Since they’re thinner and extra dense, sleeping pads don’t present the identical form of consolation.

They’re much extra agency than an air mattress and depart you nearer to the bottom which is simply as more likely to make for an uncomfortable evening’s sleep.


It’s customary for sleeping pads to be reasonably slender.

Because of this it accommodates just one sleeper at a time and also you would wish to have one sleeping pad for each camper versus becoming a number of sleepers on an air mattress.

Find out how to Select the Greatest Sleeping Pad

When choosing out a sleeping pad, you will want to have a good suggestion of how you can be utilizing it and what your predominant considerations are when tenting.


Sleeping pads usually are reasonably light-weight, however they will run from tremendous light-weight to considerably dense relying on which sort you get.

Self-inflating sleeping pads are the heaviest form of sleeping pads whereas closed-cell foam sleeping pads are the lightest.

If the burden of your sleeping pad is one thing that it’s essential take heed to, this may assist slender down the kind of sleeping pad it is best to get.

How Thick Ought to a Sleeping Pad Be?

The customary thickness for sleeping pads, particularly for self-inflating and air pads, is about 2.5 inches.

Though, there are a ton of variations in the marketplace that supply thinner or thicker pads.

Some air pads come as thick as 3 inches in case you are searching for a bit of extra cushion and a few self-inflating sleeping pads come as skinny as 1.5 inches to accommodate packing and climbing wants.

To not point out, closed-cell foam sleeping pads are usually 1 inch thick or much less.

Packed Measurement

The common dimension of a packed, light-weight sleeping pad is about 9 x 4 inches rolled up, which is concerning the dimension of a giant water bottle.

These are often closed-cell foam sleeping pads or skinny air pads.

If you happen to’re going for a light-weight sleeping pad for backpacking, you can even discover one which packs right down to the dimensions of a small, one-pound (16-ounce) bundle.

Nonetheless, the froth sleeping pads can be a bit of denser.

Variations in sleeping pads would change their packed dimension, as nicely.

A bigger sleeping pad with extra cushion might weigh nearer to 25 ounces and measure about 11 x 5 inches. These are often self-inflating or air pads.

The most important dimension of sleeping pads rolls as much as about 25-30 inches vast and weighs 3-5 kilos.

These are often air pads and ideal for automobile campers or anybody searching for extra consolation.

Insulation and R-Worth

The R-Worth of a sleeping pad is a measure of its insulation and heat.

In order for you the technical definition, it’s a “measure of thermal resistance, or the power of warmth to switch from scorching to chilly, via supplies.” R-Values are even used to fee house insulation.

When taking a look at sleeping pad R-Values, they’ll vary anyplace from 1 to 10 with 1 being nearly no insulation and 10 being essentially the most insulation potential.

Something with an R-Worth between 1 and 4 may have much less insulation and received’t be as heat.

If you happen to’re tenting throughout winter, you’ll need one thing with an R-Worth of 5 or extra.

Learn: Sleeping Pad R-Worth defined

Air Mattress vs. Sleeping Pad – Head to Head

Air Mattress vs. Sleeping Pad – Which is Higher?

Backpacking & Via-hiking


What’s the distinction between an air mattress and a sleeping pad?

An air mattress requires inflation to make use of whereas sleeping pads don’t essentially have to be inflated as some don’t require air.

Air mattresses are additionally taller and have extra cushioning than sleeping pads that are just a few inches thick.

What’s one of the best ways to pack a sleeping pad?

There are a number of strategies are packing sleeping pads. First, begin by releasing any air inside.

Then, fold it up in both halves or thirds. Then, roll it up like a cylinder, urgent out any remaining air as you go.

Which retains you hotter, an air mattress or a sleeping pad?

Sleeping pads hold you hotter than air mattresses as they’re often extremely insulated.

You find yourself warming the air in air mattresses along with your physique warmth and shedding the heat for your self within the course of in case you don’t have any added insulation.

What ought to I do if my sleeping pad is just too tender?

To appropriate a tender sleeping pad, add extra air in case you can. This can assist agency it up so your pad doesn’t really feel too squishy and tender.

Which one is the very best worth for cash?

Air mattresses present extra worth on your cash than sleeping pads.

For the value you pay, they provide you all of the consolation of sleeping at house and accommodate a number of sleepers whereas sleeping pads solely accommodate one sleeper and aren’t as snug.

The Verdict

Irrespective of which you go together with, both a sleeping pad or air mattress can be an important a part of your tenting gear arsenal.

They each have their execs and cons and can finally make sure that you’ll get an excellent evening’s sleep whereas tenting.

Additionally, don’t neglect that you could at all times mix a number of sleeping strategies! If you happen to discover that you could’t discover a joyful medium between the 2, it’s possible you’ll contemplate attempting each on the identical time.

There are every kind of the way to arrange your tenting sleeping system and in the case of a sleeping pad vs air mattress, you may’t go flawed both manner!

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