What is the best thing to sleep on when camping?

What Is the Best Thing to Sleep On When Camping?

A good night’s sleep is essential to a day of adventuring in the great outdoors. Find the best gear to sleep on when camping so you can work and play hard.

What is the best thing to sleep on when camping? Whether it’s in a tent or under the stars, sleeping while camping requires a 2-part foundation. First, you’ll need something between you and the ground. Next, you’ll need something cozy to protect you from the elements.

Between You and the Ground

Between You and the Ground
Source: Pixabay

A soft, comfortable, and insulated foundation is key to a good night’s sleep in the great outdoors. Your foundation needs to not only be cozy but also easy to pack on your adventures.

Air Mattresses

Both small and comfortable, air mattresses are a great way to get off the ground without taking up precious storage space. With a portable air pump, these mattresses expand fairly quickly and don’t require any fancy construction. Ranging from child and twin to queen and king sizes, you can opt for a simple or luxurious mattress based on your needs and budget.

The only downside to air mattresses: chilly weather. Because these mattresses are full of air, they lack insulation. On cold nights, don’t forget to lay a blanket beneath and on top of the mattress to keep your body heat from leaking. 

Self-Inflating Mats

Like air mattresses, these backpacking sleeping mats are filled with air, providing comfort from the hard ground. Unlike air mattresses, these mats are much thinner. They are specifically meant for backpackers and fold down to a small size. When you’re setting up camp, just pull them out and they’ll expand automatically. You might have to blow just a bit more air into the mat to meet your comfort level.

The best part of these mats is their pack size and surprising comfort. These are much lighter than air mattresses and fold down even smaller. Plus, you won’t need an air pump. This is a great option for those short on space, and it will keep you much warmer in cool temperatures.


A cot is a great way to get well off the ground. If you struggle to get off of low beds, a cot is the best option for you. A cot will require more construction skills at your campsite than an inflatable bed, but they are designed for easy setup.

Cots come in many different styles, including hammocks. There’s something for everyone. However, cots take up more packing and campsite space. They are generally harder to carry around and provide less comfort. As a compromise, some campers place an inflatable mat on top of their cots. Assuming you have the storage space, a cot and mat combo is a highly comfortable way to spend your nights in the outdoors.

Sleeping Bags

Sleeping Bags
Source: Pixabay

Finding the best sleeping bag depends a lot on the kind of camping you’ll be doing. For instance, sleeping bags have different ratings for the temperatures they can withstand. Plus, there are sleeping bags designed specifically for children, warm weather, and small storage space. Keep your needs in mind when looking for the best sleeping bag for you.

As an alternative, you can simply bring a few blankets to sleep in, especially if you’ll be opting to sleep on an air mattress in warm weather. Just remember that blankets and sheets will take up more space when you’re packing and that many sleeping bags have special materials intended to keep you warm. You may be surprised by how chilly temperatures become at night.


Sleeping bags carry temperature ratings to help you pick the best one for your intended experience. In the past, sleeping bag companies struggled to accurately list the rating of their bags.

Today, there are two standards by which to measure the range of a sleeping bag: EN (European Norm) and ISO (International Standards Organization). Both the EN and ISO standards are very similar, and you can usually compare them to each other with no problem.

There are also two temperature ratings to pay attention to when browsing sleeping bags: comfort and lower level. The comfort rating indicated the temperature at which a sleeper might be comfortable in the sleeping bag. This rating is most commonly found on women’s bags. The lower level rating indicates the coldest temperature at which a sleeper might be comfortable. This rating is most commonly found on men’s bags. The lower level rating is always lower than the comfort rating.

It’s important to remember that all temperature ratings are estimates, not gospel truth. To find what is the best thing to sleep on when camping, grab a sleeping bag with a higher rating so you don’t wake up cold in the middle of the night.

Sleeping Tips

Sleeping Tips
Source: Pixabay

Extra Gear

Regardless of what is the best thing to sleep on when camping, have a complete sleeping system with a foundation, sleeping bag or blankets, and a pillow. Bring some extra blankets and the best camping pillows for cold or uncomfortable nights.

The great outdoors is not only wonderful but also noisy—not to mention your camping buddies. Bring some earplugs, noise-canceling headphones, or a fan if that’s likely to bother your sleep.

Some people don’t mind some extra light pollution and love waking up to the sunrise. If you’re not one of those people, consider bringing an eye mask.

Tent Set Up

Always look for a level area to pitch your tent and clear out as much debris as possible. Then, even if the ground is mostly level, be sure to sleep with your feet pointed downhill. The last thing you want is a head rush in the morning.

To avoid claustrophobia or just create a sense of larger space, set up your sleeping area so that your head is under the taller parts of the tent. Sleeping with your head directly under the slope of the tent is uncomfortable and actually takes up space.

So, What Is the Best Thing to Sleep on When Camping?

Sleep is essential for work and play. Choose an appropriate foundation and don’t forget those important comfort items for a restful night’s sleep in the wilderness. Find what is the best thing to sleep on when camping to wake up feeling refreshed!

Happy Camping!

Written by Abigail Honbarger

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