A camping bed might seem like a bit of a luxury when planning an outdoor adventure, but come nightfall it'll suddenly be the most important thing you have ever owned, able to turn the remotest and coldest spot into a comfortable sleeping spot. The best camping beds will make a vast difference to your trip, giving you a full night's refreshing and re-energising sleep before the next day's adventure.
There are plenty of camping beds to choose from, at all the price points you can imagine, but while there are bargains to be had out there, generally the better brands and more expensive models are more comfortable, and last longer – the latter a vital attribute for a camping bed. And be sure to invest in a good sleeping bag, too.
In general, while cot-style beds and large mattresses are perfect for car camping and festival use, a lighter inflatable sleeping mat or pad will be better for hiking and general outdoor use, as they're easier to store in or on your hiking backpack, yet still surprisingly comfortable. (This article is dedicated to the best camping beds – if you want something more lightweight, head to our roundup of the best camping mats instead.) Whatever your outdoor needs, there will be a supremely comfortable camping bed out there, ready to be paired with a sleeping bag to deliver a fantastic snooze in any conditions.
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Best camping bed: our expert pick
- If you want to enjoy the best night's sleep possible when sleeping under canvas, save some of your budget for a camping bed. A quality one won't break the bank but it can make a big difference to your level of comfort. You can also pull it out of your tent in the day to act as a makeshift sun lounger when the weather's decent.
- Our top pick for the best camping bed is the Helinox Max Camp Cot. It's supremely comfortable, packable, and super-robust, albeit too weighty to carry far. As a base camp bed, car-camping home-from-home or festival crash-pad, it's perfect. If you need something a little more lightweight, then the excellent Sea to Summit Comfort Light is a great choice, as is the classic Thermarest NeoAir.
Choosing the best camping bed for you
There’s a big range of camping beds available, so how do you know which type is right for you? This question will help: how far do you need to carry your camp bed? If you’re car camping, for example, an inflatable mattress is the epitome of luxury camping. Bonus: you can also use it as an emergency guest bed when you’re back home.
However, if you’re hiking or exploring the wilds, you’ll want something lighter and packable, which is where the real fun starts. So when it comes to the best camping bed, there are two main areas to look at: inflatable airbeds and foam-based options.
Foam-based camping beds have been around for donkeys years, in the shape of a simple foam rectangle. Although technology has moved on since then, there’s still plenty to be said for a simple camping mat. It might not offer plush comfort in the way an inflatable air bed would, but it won’t absorb water and can’t be punctured – something airmats are at risk of.
That said, the camping airbed or airmat has bags of comfort on its side. The lightest modern versions need blowing up with a few breaths, but they do give you a mini-airbed experience for just a few hundred grams in weight, so if you pair one with a lightweight sleeping bag you still won't be weighed down. Their bigger siblings often require an air pump, but when car camping that’s less of an issue.
Does insulation matter when it comes to camping beds?
Yes. In fact, the most vital thing is to ensure when choosing the best camping bed for you is that you pick the right level of insulation for your planned use and personal preferences. Insulation is measured in an ‘R’ rating, and this indicates the thermal resistance of the mat – a higher value keeps you warmer through the night.
If you’re a cold sleeper, choosing a high ‘R’ value will be essential for a good night’s sleep. You’ll usually find these higher values among the premium quality camping beds. So don’t be tempted to scrimp on your mat – just like a normal mattress, the cheaper ones might look the part,but they won't last.
Thermarest is arguably the best known brand, but there are plenty of comparable, quality options out there too. Let’s take a look at the best camping beds now and find the perfect one for you…
The best camping bed to buy now
If you want ultimate comfort in the quickest time then this inflatable camping bed is for you. It features a built-in electric pump that will have this bed ready to go in a matter of minutes, and the 28 different air coils are designed to provide a stable and even surface to sleep on that you don’t always get with other air beds. It sleeps two, and is said to only make a little noise when moving around, so you can expect to get a good night’s sleep on this one. It would work just as well as a guest bed as it would a camping bed, so you’ll definitely get your money's worth from this one.
If you're after extreme comfort when camping, and maybe even a spare bed for home visitors, this really is the ultimate. A full-size inflatable single bed base which can be paired with another for a full (140cm) wide double bed, this really is luxury. It's a massive 25cm deep too, lifting your snoozing form up into the warmer air in the tent, as well as being so far from the cold floor that you may as well be in a hot air balloon. Another important benefit here is that the chances of puncturing your mattress on a sharp stone are near-zero, as it's safely elevated.
The downsides are that this is a bulky item even when packed, and not light enough for long-distance carry, in spite of the handy stuff sack. However, when in search of a literal home-from-home sleeping experience, this is at the top of the list – just add the inflatable mattress of your choice and sink deep into dreamland...
Coleman's Extra Durable airbed the best camping bed for you if you're looking for a simple but comfy option that will last. Strong PVC makes it resistant to punctures – one of the big drawbacks of air mattresses – while a double-lock valve system ensures no leakages. It folds and rolls into a cover with a handle for easy transportation, and this is attached to the mattress so you don't have to keep an eye on where that extra bag has gone. Flocked PVC isn't too noisy when you sleep on it or wriggle about in your sleeping bag. You can opt for regular height or a deeper version for a little more luxury.
There are plenty of pretenders to the camping bed crown, but for a real night of comfort the tension-cot offers a level of support and space that will accommodate the largest and thrashiest of sleepers. Four simple tension locks brace the aluminium structure into a taut and springy platform, raising you off the cold floor entirely, enhancing your overnight snoozing abilities.
As a basecamp or car-camping bed this is very much up at the premium end of the market, and unlike inflatable options this is pretty much indestructible, ideal for families and less-careful folk of all types. There's even an extension kit available to increase the height to that of a standard home bed, for those who refuse to compromise in any way at all. The only real snag here is the 2.7kg weight, which makes long-distance portage impractical, but there are plenty of lighter options for the dedicated hiker. This is for folk who want multi-night comfort in the outdoors, and who are we to argue with that?
There are many lightweight camping mats out there, but this hits the comfort nail right on the head. That luxurious feeling starts with a 30-denier woven polyester fabric shell, and continues into the polyurethane foam core, designed to keep high-contact areas warmer. An ingenious Pillow Lock System adds little in weight, but much in comfort, keeping your pillow in place automatically.
A mere 2" thick – thus extremely packable – the Sea to Summit Comfort Light Sleeping Mat also has a decent R-value of 3.1, making this ideal for three-season camping, four seasons at a slightly chilly push. Last but not least, the multi-function valve allows rapid inflation and deflation, critically also preventing air getting back into the mat as you roll and pack it away – a minor but important innovation. In short, this camping bed will serve you well for many years, whether car camping, hiking, wild camping solo or on a campsite with the family – money well spent.
For the quickest set up possible, try this Outwell foldaway camping bed. With no assembly required, this bed simply folds out in seconds for a ready-made bed. It’s not the lightest on the list by any stretch, so it's better suited to car camping and longer camping holidays where comfort during sleep is exceptionally important. So it depends what you feel is more effort – carrying it or setting it up. There's a built-in padded head cushion for extra comfort, further boosting your chances of sleeping well (and feeling rested) when camping.
Robens is a tried and trusted name in the world of camping and outdoors gear, and the Prima Vapour 60 camping air bed doesn’t let the side down. We’ve used it multiple times this summer and early autumn and have found it to be comfortable throughout the night. Three-season PrimaLoft insulation helps it protect you from the cold ground beneath your tent, which in turn ensures you sleep better because you’re warmer. The Prima Vapour 60 is very lightweight too, at just 575g, and rolls up easily when not in use – we attached ours to a clip on the side of our backpack.You won’t find yourself rolling off this camping air bed either, as Robens has designed it with multiple air chambers – hence the funky looking design – to keep you stable while relaxing and sleeping on the mat.
This is the best camping bed for a home-away-from-home feel. It is of standard height which means it’s just like a regular bed, and you’ll be able to sit on it with your feet on the ground, plus the 32 air-springs are designed to create a soft but firm surface that reduces the bowing in the middle when two people are sleeping on it. Despite its size, it is said to be quick to inflate, and more importantly, easy to roll up and pack away. For anyone who’s not a fan of the great outdoors, this camping bed should make you feel more at home.
For those who just don’t like sleeping on the ground, this pop up camping bad is quick and easy to use. It’s so lightweight, even more so than an air bed, making it easy to carry and set up on site. It is lined with ThermaCapture foam which helps keep you warm at night and the multiple feet keep the bed sturdy so you can expect a sound night’s sleep without risking waking up on the floor. It comes in a handy carry-pack to make your camping trip a hassle-free experience.