Advertisement

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Advertisement

Best camp bed 2021: Sleep better with our pick of the comfiest camping beds and sleeping mats

Advertisement

A good camp bed or sleeping mat will transform the comfort of your time sleeping under canvas. Here’s the best options available

Want to know the secret to a good night's sleep on a campsite? It’s a combination of a great sleeping bag, comfortable camp bed, and just maybe, a wee dram of something to take the edge off.

There’s a vast, and often baffling collection of sleeping mats and camp beds available at every size, weight and budget, but read on to find the best and most comfortable designs, whether you’re looking to head out on a solo wild camping adventure, need somewhere to recover at a music festival or have two weeks booked on a campsite with the family.

The cost of camping equipment can soon mount up, so we’ve made sure to include options that are great value for money, and will last for many happy summers. There’s nothing worse than waking up on cold, bumpy ground after your cheap air bed has sprung a leak.


UPDATE: It seems that everybody has gone camping this summer, as stock for camping beds is extremely limited. We'll be keeping an eye on this over the coming weeks, and we will update this list as regularly as we can.

The best camp beds still in stock

  • Coleman Comfort Bed Double | £35 | Buy now
  • Halfords Basic 4 Leg Camp Bed | £15 | Buy now
  • Dreamboat Double 12cm | £285 | Buy now

How to choose the best camping bed or sleeping mat

With so many options it’s important to narrow down your search based on the type of camping you’re doing, how long you would typically go away for (two days or two weeks?) and how far you’re likely to have to carry your camping equipment.

READ NEXT: Best air bed

If you’re travelling light – hiking, bikepacking, or maybe even just going to a festival on the train – a camping mat will be a good choice. These range from extra thick to ultralight and in both single and double widths. They fold up small and are generally easy to carry.

For a longer stay, where maybe you can park next to your tent, a larger metal framed camp bed or high-quality inflatable mattress will be ideal as they keep you warmer by lifting you off the ground, while also protecting your hips on bumpy pitches. These metal and material camp beds can fold down quite small but traditionally take a little more room in the car than a camping mat.

What features do I need?

Camping beds – Traditional camp beds are made using fabric stretched over a metal frame to create a cot style bed. With the exception of a few ultralight models, these designs have changed very little, and offer a warm, suspended night’s rest.

Check the length as some can come up short if you’re over 180cm, and also be mindful of the overall pack size and weight.

Premium designs have innovative folding mechanisms, like a modern camping chair, so you just remove from the bag, extend, clip the mechanism together and lay your sleeping bag on top. Cheaper options require a little more assembly, but we’ve not found one that takes more than five minutes to build.

Air beds – A big, cheap double air bed might seem like a great idea, but be warned: you really do get what you pay for. At the very least, make sure the top surface has a nice soft flock finish to prevent you from slipping around in your sleeping bag, and that the air valves have one-way flow. This means the air won’t escape as you’re inflating, and getting the air out again is much easier when it’s time to pack away.

If you need a double, look for designs with internal supports and bracing (the equivalent to mattress springs) to prevent too much roll. Waking your partner every time you move is never recommended. Many single designs can be clipped together to make a double, which eliminates unwanted movement.

Sleeping mats – Avoid the very cheap (and thin) roll-up foam camping mats as they offer very little in the way of support. You can find ultralight mountaineering mats that weigh next to nothing and have foil backs for insulation, but for most non-specialist camping needs an air mat (also known as air pad) or Self Inflating Mat (SIM) will be ideal.

Air mats and pads are the most compact option when packed, and ideal if you’re carrying all your kit. You can customise the firmness of the mattress by releasing or adding air from the valve. The lighter they get, the more expensive they’ll be, but of all the mats available they’re the most prone to punctures. Luckily most quality brands also supply a repair kit.

READ NEXT: Best sleeping bag

A SIM combines memory foam and air cushioning and can be found in every size, from super-thin backpacking designs right through to generous 12cm thick double mattresses that, while bulky to transport, feel staggeringly close to sleeping in your bed at home.

Once you take them from the bag, unroll and open the valves, they will slowly fill with air. The best designs just require a few breaths or pumps to top them up to your preferred level of firmness.

SIMs are generally bulkier than a sleeping mat, but generally offer greater comfort and make less noise thanks to all the foam.

The size and shape to choose depends on your needs, but it’s worth looking at the amount of insulation, known as the ‘R’ rating, if you plan on camping when it’s cold. Sleeping pad ‘R’ ratings range from less than 2 (minimally insulated) for summer to 5.5 or more (very well insulated) for colder environments.

The best camping beds and sleeping mats to buy

1. Coleman Comfort Bed Double: The best camping bed for couples

Price: £35 | Buy now from Amazon

A great value air bed from Coleman, designed to make life more comfortable for couples. The separated double-chamber design means you won't automatically get wobbled awake if your partner rolls over or gets up. What’s more, it also means that if one of you likes a firm mattress and the other prefers something a little softer, you can adjust each chamber accordingly.

To help with general comfort, the air bed also has a sturdy coil construction that minimises the amount of dip and roll as you move in the night, mimicking the springs found in your mattress at home.

At 188cm long the Coleman Comfort Bed will accommodate most heights, and with a load rating of 295kg you’ll be fine should the kids decide to join in the middle of the night, too.

It’s made from a super-tough PVC (the top is flocked to stop you slipping and sliding) and it has dual-sealed valves that make inflation and deflation fast and simple. It’s relatively light for carrying from the car, but we recommend inflating using your car’s power outlet and a pump (or a battery powered pump) rather than relying on your lung or foot power.

Key specs - Size: 188 x 137 x 22cm; Weight: 3.5kg; Max load: 295kg


2. Halfords Basic 4 leg Camping Bed: The best cheap camp bed

Price: £15 | Buy now from Halfords

It’s the most basic camping bed in this feature, but for the bargain price of £15 (in fact, you can often find it on sale for even less) you get a surprisingly comfortable single cot design that keeps you well off the floor as you sleep.

Being off the ground means you stay warmer at night, and at around 18cm from the ground, it is easier to get in and out if you have mobility issues. It has a maximum weight of 100kg and is only 180cm long, so big people may need to invest a little more in their sleeping arrangements.

Small and relatively light to carry from the car to campsite, it’s a doddle to assemble, with the metal side tubes clipping easily together to create a stretcher style cot, and it even comes with a carry case for easy portability.

Key specs - Size: L180 x W60 x H18cm; Weight: Not listed; Packed dimensions: TBC; Max load: 100kg

Buy now from Halfords


3. Quechua Ultim Comfort 70cm: The best camping bed

Price: £79 | Buy now from Decathlon

Self-inflating mattress (SIM) technology has come on a great deal in recent years, with the combination of easily compressible foam and air pockets offering superb levels of comfort that put bulky airbeds to shame.

The Quechua Ultim Comfort 70 is a generous size for one adult (110kg, 200cm tall) and while 7cm doesn’t sound that thick, unless you’re at the very top of the weight range, you won’t feel the floor, even when lying on your side. The top has a plush finish that feels nice on the skin.

Supplied in a carry bag that’s around the size of a pillow, this camping mat has two valves to make inflating and (importantly) deflating super simple. If you wait for an hour, air will naturally be drawn inside and it will just need a few big breaths to top it up to the firmness you like – or, if time is tight, it doesn’t take more than a couple of minutes to inflate manually. It can also be clipped to a second mattress to make a double, which is a well thought out bonus.

And unlike traditional inflatable mattresses, when it comes to packing away, the one-way valve means you’re not fighting to get every last breath out in order to wrestle it back into the bag.

Key specs - Size: 200 x 70 x 8 cm; Weight: 2.9kg; Packed dimensions: 72 x 50 x 11cm; Max load: 110kg

Buy now from Decathlon


4. Dreamboat Double 12cm: The best sleeping mat for comfort

Price: £285 | Buy now from Outwell

With none of the wobble of a standard air bed, and all the comfort and support of memory foam, the Dreamboat Double 12cm self inflating mattress is the comfiest design we’ve ever had the pleasure of camping with.

It’s a big investment, but at 12cm thick it is more than deep enough to be used at home as a spare bed for unexpected guests without them hating you in the morning. It also rolls up remarkably small for a double sized extra thick camping mat and, with both in- and out-valves, inflating and deflating is quick and won’t leave you breathless.

What’s more, the Dreamboat will also keep you warm in all seasons. In the summer, sleep on the side with the smooth sculpted columns and the air will flow keeping you cool, but when the temperature drops, flip it over to the flat side for added insulation.

Finally, and unlike virtually any air bed, the mattress stays remarkably firm right to the edges, so even if your partner is hogging the middle you won’t instantly hit the floor.

Key specs - Size: 200 x 140 x 12cm; Weight: 5.5kg; Packed dimensions: 65 x 28cm; Max load: n/a

Buy now from Outwell


5. Quechua Camp Bed Air 70cm: The best camp bed for comfort

Price: £60 | Buy now from Decathlon

Decathlon has done it again, with this innovative inflatable camp bed base that gives superb support and home-like comfort for extended camping trips. It uses the same inflatable beam technology found on its tents (you’ll need a pump to inflate as it requires 6psi pressure), so it is brilliantly stable, but forgiving, while the pre-fitted slats support your camping mat just like a traditional divan.

The downside here is it doesn’t come with a mattress, which increases the overall cost, but it does fit the super value £35 Quechua Self-Inflating Camping Mattress Comfort 65cm perfectly, and works with most standard sized mats. When used together, you have a fantastic camping bed you can happily sleep on for a week or more, but when you’re away for one night, or at a festival, you can just take the mattress, which weighs only 1.7kg.

It’s bigger than most, and you need to factor in the pump and mattress, too, but the generous 25cm height off the ground is a bonus, and the space in the middle is ideal for storing clothes and camping kit when not needed.

Key specs - Size: 200 x 70 x 25 cm; Weight: 3.8kg; Packed dimensions: 70 x 14 x 14cm; Max load: 125kg

Buy now from Decathlon


6. Jack Wolfskin Trail Mat Air: The best camping mat for backpacking

Price: £110 | Buy now from Jack Wolfskin

Ideal for backpacking adventures in warmer weather, or if you’re heading to a festival on the train, the Jack Wolfskin Trail Mat Air weighs just 490g and packs down so small you might lose it in the bottom of your rucksack.

Packed down, the Trail Mat Air is about the same size as a water bottle, which given the relatively low price for ultra-light gear, is really impressive. It has an R-value (insulation) of 1.8, which means it’s ideal for summer, but might leave you chilly in late spring or early autumn.

We love the fact the air chambers are interconnected so the air inside can flow freely between the zones, flexing as you move or roll over. For such a light camping mat it’s surprisingly comfortable as a result, and its 6.5cm thickness is generous, too.

The top layer is soft and textured and feels really durable, minimising the chance of punctures, and eliminating inflatable Lilo-style squeaks and rustling.

Key specs - Size: 182 x 54cm; Weight: 490g; Packed dimensions: 22x10cm; Max load: n/a

Buy now from Jack Wolfskin


Read more

Best Buys