This is the second part of the 4 part series on the ultimate camping air mattress.
The multi-day hiker
The right camping air mattress for the long distance hiker needs to meet a few requirements. It needs to have a proven track record of durability, it needs to be as light as possible so as not to slow the hiker down with extra weight, it needs to be easy to setup and break down quickly and last but not least it needs to be comfortable.
Lightweight sleeping pad
Let’s start with the sleeping pad. I’m going to provide 2 picks here and while both are easy winners they serve a slightly different customer. For the long hike I’m going to recommend the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core Pad. At the time of this writing this airbed has over 70 reviews and is still maintaining a high 4 star rating on REI and almost 5 stars on Amazon which is not easy to do. This camping air mattress weighs in at around 30 ounces so you may not even notice that it’s in your pack. It also comes with its own stuff sack where it compresses down to about the size of a Nalgene bottle so in addition to being light it’s not going to take up a lot of room.
Also it’s important to know, that you’re going to stay warm on this bed. As with all inflatable beds there is the concern that such a camping air mattress will take on the ambient temperature and have a lesser insulating value than the self-inflating type. That’s not the case with this airbed. Big Angus uses M3 synthetic insulation in this pad so unless the mercury goes crazy low then you’ll be as snug as a bug in a rug.
Some other notable features are the non-breakable brass valve with an EA-Flate mouthpiece, a durable 70D nylon top and bottom and internal polyurethane coating for extra strength. This sleeping pad is also constructed using the I-beam which eliminates welded seams that will reduce cold spots and makes inflation/deflation easier.
The general consensus on the comfort of this airbed is that it beats self-inflating pads every day of the week. The only notable downside has been that inflating the bed does take some time to inflate and deflate which is not difficult, just a little more time consuming that the self inflating.
If you’re a member or REI you can find the air pad there or on Amazon. Expect to pay in the neighborhood of $100 but buy with confidence. This is the real deal and you won’t be disappointed.
Car camper’s sleeping pad delight
The second camping air mattress that I’m recommending is the REI Camp Bed 3.5 Self-Inflating Pad. This item has 40 reviews on the REI website as of this writing and it still maintaining a stellar 5 stars. Considering the competition, that’s no easy task. The reason I’m recommending this one for car campers only is the weight. At 80/107 ounces as well as the large folded size of this camping air mattress it could be a bit cumbersome on a multi-day hike. Now just because this is a self-inflating air pad doesn’t mean that you can’t put more air in. In fact you can make the airbed quite plump but even at higher pressures I’ve read reports of individuals jumping on this mattress and it not bursting or even getting a puncture from ground debris. If you’re someone who sleeps on their side and has had the experience of having your hip hit the ground on other self-inflatables, well this airbed is going to have you around 3 inches off the ground which should be more than enough for even the heaviest outdoors person. The only con that I’ve seen noted more than once is that the roll-up can be a bit bulky, but again, I’m suggesting this model for car camping so that shouldn’t be an issue. This will be the last camping air mattress that you ever buy and you can find it at REI for right around $100.