What Are The Best Air Beds For Camping?

Cool Camping Inspired Camping Glampit

If you wake up with aches and pains that last for days each time you visit a campsite then you might need to think about buying an air bed, but what are the best air beds for camping and glamping?

When we get older… and dare we say it, heavier… our bodies need a little bit of extra comfort. Simply sleeping on a mat or on the ground just won’t do. A few days are fine but any longer than that can cause aches and pains that last for days, especially if you suffer from back pains or any other medical ailments. The added bonus is that a bed off the ground will also insulate you from ground damp and cold, which can also lead to an uncomfortable camping experience.

But what are the best mattresses to buy and how do you pump them up at the campsite? We’ve used the Outwell Flock Excellent Air Bed, but we’d heard some good things about the Coleman Raised Quickbed too. So we were very pleased when one of our readers made his own decision and wanted to share his experience of purchasing the bed and air pump in the hope that it might help others.

We’re loving comfortable camping in an Outwell Montana 6 three roomed tunnel tent. Usually with the two of us space isn’t normally an issue so when the old inflatable mattress decided to go come apart and bulge at the seams I searched for a long-term comfortable alternative. My search ended on a recent trip to Bristol when I came across the Coleman Raised Quickbed Queen.

Impressed by the sheer size of it and the extra layer of mattress my thoughts that it could be used as an occasional bed at home for unexpected guests proved well founded. However, after 30 minutes using a track pump and it still resembling a soggy beige lump I was less than impressed. I imagined I’d either be here at home or on my perfect campsite toiling like a chain gang.

With the Port Eliot Festival in mind I decided to source an electric pump, but then remembered the campsites are far from the car parks so a 12V DC lighter plug pump wouldn’t do and a 240V mains was only of use in the house.

I searched the web and found a few likely candidates for the best air beds for camping. I found the Easy Camp Mistral Battery / DC Pump I was a little surprised how small it was at first and after loading the 8AAA size batteries, and selecting the correct sized nozzle from the choice of three, I set it to ‘On’.

The pump started in a relatively quiet whir. It took 8 minutes to inflate what is a massive air bed. The instructions say don’t let the pump run for longer than 10 minutes continuously. So if you’re pumping anything up that requires more than 10 minutes I don’t think this is for you and your bouncy castle at the weekend!

Comfort and stability are key for a tall mattress and my partner and I were pleasantly surprised by the  Its dimensions are: 168cm wide x 213cm long x 47cm high and it comes with a 2 year limited warranty. The box contains a repair patch and instructions. The flocked surface provides grip for blankets or sheets and clothes if it remains exposed. It doesn’t feel plasticky and sweaty, which is good as that’s always been the worst part of other inflatable camp beds for me. The edge of the mattress is slightly raised with a recessed regular pattern in the centre that would allow moisture and air to move to maintain a dry comfortable feeling. With two people on there’s very little wobble. When one moves the other is barely disturbed and testament to this was a dinner we had whilst sat on it with wine and food on our laps that stayed where it was meant to for the duration of the meal as we tested its stability for a day bed type set up, should the need arise.

To us the mattress seemed a well priced, sturdy, comfortable, leak free air bed that packs down to a good size, weighing in at 8 kg. This coupled with the Easy Camp Mistral Battery / DC Pump make a superb combination that should enable some great full nights sleep at the campsite.

A big thank you goes out to Simon Jacklin who took the time to share his tips with us.

If you have any advice to share then we’d like to hear from you… and don’t forget to add your email to the updates and bonuses box to get more free glamping and camping inspirations and unique giveaways and competitions.

Inspired Camping

Picture Credits: Simon Jacklin and Glampit

Update: Here’s an  interesting and inspiring Kickstarter airbed inflatable project from Windcatcher, with a totally new approach to inflating an airbed.

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7 Responses to “What Are The Best Air Beds For Camping?”

  1. casey
    23 August 2012 at 11:51 am #

    I was going to buy the coleman but as you say pumping it would be a hassle, in the end for my tentipi i chose the original Aero-bed , in the pack you get a car pump, a mains pump & also a rechargable pump, great matress comfy as any home bed & pumps up in less than 2 minutes

    • 23 August 2012 at 12:13 pm #

      That’s a great tip. Thanks for getting in touch. Sarah

  2. 23 August 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    A good air mattress is key for serious glamping. I have a great queen mattress that inflates via integrated battery-powered pump to over 1/2 meter tall.

    But what truly makes the difference is what you choose to put between your body and the airbed. Even if your airbed features that velvet-like substance on top, the thin wall of vinyl provides no insulation, and can make for a cold night if merely covered with a sheet.

    I’ve found that a piece of memory foam or an old polyester comforter placed on the air mattress (under the bottom sheet), will transform most any air mattress into a thing of luxury.

    Give it a try next time.

    • 23 August 2012 at 12:14 pm #

      …”transform most any air mattress into a thing of luxury.” I like the sound of that! Great tip… thanks for sharing. *smile*

  3. 24 August 2012 at 3:23 am #

    I think air mattresses are a lot of work for tent camping. You want protection from the ground below, and air mattresses are just like sleeping on ice. The air inside cannot be warmed by body heat, and the ground keeps the air within nice and frigid. Air mattresses are OK, if you are off the ground on a cot or in a camper, but for tents, would avoid at all costs! And taking a pump is one more thing our overloaded car doesn’t need – and if you forget it, you are in BIG trouble!!

    We think self inflating mattresses like ThermaRest or Black Wolf are easier, lighter and less work, and of course, better insulation. Yes, they cost a lot more, but for camping you really do get what you pay for (the good brands of self inflating come with lifetime warranties too, so they stand behind their products).

    • 24 August 2012 at 8:24 am #

      Thanks for your great advice. We’ve also heard good things about the self inflating mattresses.. but for me personally I’d have to get one of the deeper mattresses or I’d still have those dreaded aches and pains. Then there’s also roll-up mattresses. Heavy… yes, expensive… yes, comfortable… yes. Oh decisions, decisions! *Big smiles* Sarah

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    […] You will know when you’re glamping as you will have a real bed with a comfortable mattress and maybe even a goose down topper. Sleeping outside will never feel the same again with this glamping essential. However, if it has to be an air bed then make sure it’s one of these. […]

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