The most comfortable way to sleep in a tent is to invest in one of the best camping beds. It 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 camp into a cosy sleeping spot. And you can pull it out of your tent in the day to act as a makeshift sun lounger when the weather's decent, too.
There are plenty of camping beds to choose from, from cheap inflatables to luxurious setups that'll cost you a fair bit more. These are all aimed at car campers (backpackers who need something that'll fit in their hiking backpack should refer to our best camping mat guide instead), but you should still be aware of the packed size – you'll still need room in your boot for your tent and rest of your luggage!
While there are bargains to be had, generally the better brands and more expensive models are more comfortable and last longer – the latter a vital attribute for a camping bed. We've reviewed beds at a range of prices to help make sure you're getting value for money.
Whatever your outdoor needs, we've got a supremely comfortable option for you in our list, ready to be paired with a sleeping bag to deliver a fantastic snooze in any conditions. Read on for the best camping beds around today.
The best camping bed 2021
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. Head to our Decathlon Quechua Inflatable Camp Bed Base review for more info.
For serious comfort with very little weight payoff, the Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Extreme is our top choice. Inflated, it's 10cm thick, which is admittedly thinner than most options on this list, but it employs a clever Air Sprung Cell design that allows each cell to adapt to your body shape, offering greater comfort. It also boast a super-cosy R-value of 6.2, which means it'll keep you warm even on the chilliest of nights. Deflated, it's about the same size as a 500g bag of pasta (11 x 24cm), which is small enough to be packable in a hiking backpack for backpackers who are willing to add a bit of weight for that extra comfort at night.
There are four versions in this range – our Sea to Summit Ether Light XT Extreme review focuses on the Regular version, but there's also a Long version, and two rectangular models in similar lengths. There's a payoff of extra comfort to extra weight here, so make sure you pick the version that fits your needs best.
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. Head to our Coleman's Extra Durable airbed review for more info.
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?
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 in 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, 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.
The next entry in our best camping bed list another excellent air bed from Coleman. 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. While this isn't 'extra durable', the reliable brand name means we're confident you won't be plagued with punctures, either.
Another option for those who just don’t like sleeping on the ground, the Therm-A-Rest Ultralite Cot is quick and easy to use. It’s very lightweight (even more so than an air bed), making it easy to carry and set up on site, and it's lined with ThermaCapture foam to helps keep you warm at night. 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.
Camping bed types and buying tips
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.