A good night’s sleep is vital when you have an action packed camping trip planned. Therefore, it is essential that you aren’t sleeping on the cold, hard floor at night. Here we look at the advantages and disadvantages of sleeping mats, camp beds and airbeds.
Sleeping mats – sometimes known as carry mats, sleeping pads or ground pads – are the cheapest option available, but not the most comfortable. They are lightweight and roll up to a compact size, making them ideal for backpackers and campers who wish to pack as a light as possible. Closed-cell foam is used to produce these mats and can be trimmed to size should the user choose to do so. To maximise comfort when using a sleeping mat you should try to pitch on soft ground and remove any stones, twigs etc. before laying down the groundsheet.
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Camp beds, also known as cots in America, offer a comfier sleeping option than a sleeping mat and do not need to be inflated. Often featuring an aluminium frame, they simply fold up to a more compact size during transportation. The construction varies from bed to bed; some may feature a raised function at the top for alternate sleeping positions. Camp beds allow you to sleep in a raised position, away from the cold, hard ground. The disadvantage of a camp bed is that they are heavy in comparison to mats and airbeds, meaning they are only ideal for campers who are travelling to the campsite in a vehicle. They are also not ideal for smaller tents, particularly pyramid or ridge shape tents as they may not fit properly.
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Airbeds, or air mattresses, offer comfort and allow you to sleep in a raised position away from the cold, hard floor. They are inflatable, meaning they also deflate to a compact size for easy carrying during transportation. A pump is often needed and there a various types available. Many airbeds come with a foot pump when you purchase them. The quickest and easiest method is to use an electrical pump, many of which can be powered via the lighter socket in a car. Another option is to inflate the airbed orally, however this is obviously the slowest and most difficult method. Some air mattresses are self-inflating due to open-cell foam that fills the internal cavity when activated.
Airbeds are lightweight and compact to transport, however they are the less durable and run the risk of a puncture. Many do come with a puncture repair kit included should this occur.
To see our selection of airbeds click here