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Buying Guide for Camping Mattresses and Cots


By Steve Kopitz


Mattresses and cots are often used for the occasional camper or car camper. If you’re in the market for a cot or mattress just remember that someone is going to have to lug this stuff around and that person may be you.


Air Mattress:Camping with an Air Mattress


Air Mattresses offers a very comfortable way to sleep outdoors. They are thicker than foam pads and are often very easy to inflate with the proper pump. You’ll mostly use these as a car camper when you are relatively close to your vehicle or have a guest staying in your house.


You’ll want to use Air Mattresses in mild conditions because there isn’t any insulation. A downside to Air Mattresses is it does have the possibility of being punctured or springing a leak.


Some Air Mattresses are designed for when the kids have a sleepover, some are designed to take some wear-and-tear that the outdoors can dish out. When you’re buying an Air Mattress take a look at price, size, weight capacity and how to inflate/deflate.


Size: Not just length and width but height as well. If you’re sleeping on the ground you won’t want to get a flat sleeping pad unless you’re in a tent but you probably don’t want a bed the size as the one you have at home. Mattresses designed for truck beds should not exceed the top of the truck bed.


Weight Capacity: Obviously you don’t want to exceed the weight capacity so don’t forget to consider any clothes, blankets, other people, etc. that may add to the overall weight.


Inflate/Deflate: This is all for your comfort level. Some Air Mattresses can inflate in under a minute electronically, some you have to hand crank. If you are going to be car-camping the most convenient option may be to have the ability to inflate via car charger or battery-operated remote.


Price: You’ll get what you pay for, sort of. The higher-priced Air Mattresses will offer more comfort, ease of inflating/deflating, and they’ll be bigger and taller with more features like remote inflating.


If those features don’t interest you and you’re looking for a twin-sized Air Mattress that’s relatively easy-to-inflate and is comfortable then you can shop the lower-price points.


Cots:Camping Cot


Cots do not offer insulation but they do get you off the ground which may be cold or wet. Some cots offer pouches so you can stash gear, clothes or anything you want within easy reach.


Cots have the disadvantage of being bulky and weighty. This means that they are best for the car camper or short distance camper.


How to choose the right one?


Size: Make sure it’s bigger than you. Unlike a sleeping bag or sleeping pad, your whole body is going to need to be on a cot including a pillow and a blanket. Think about the length of the bed you sleep on and measure your shoulder width to get the best idea of how big it needs to be.


Weight: How much do you weigh? How much does the cot weigh? Take a look at the tech specs and make sure that you will be able to carry it and make sure you will be able to lay on it without it collapsing. Are you going to share the cot with someone like a partner or child? Make sure to figure out the intended overall weight capacity of the cot.


Comfort: This has to do with the kind of padding a cot offers. Without any kind of padding your comfort level may be equivalent to sleeping on a good sleeping pad or sleeping bag.


Cots with coils will offer more comfort without as much drag on the cloth and ones with built-in mattresses will be more comfortable but both will cost more than a standard cot.


Some Assembly Required: Go for the easy assembly. The last thing you want to do after a long drive is to have to spend time assembling the cot. Give it a test run before taking it out on the road.


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