Here’s how to find a mattress that is comfortable, light and within your budget.
There’s a number of fills – high-density open-cell foam, down, synthetic and plain air – which are wrapped in a waterproof nylon or polyester shell. Antimicrobial treatments will prevent fungal and bacterial growth inside the mat, caused by moist breath (from inflating the mattress). Foam-filled sleeping mats are die-cut or horizontally cored to reduce their weight.
Fabrics and finishes
Fabrics are patterned and coated to provide grip so the user doesn’t slide off during the night. They have a durable water repellant (DWR) coating to provide water-resistance.
Controls airflow in and out of the mat. Some mattresses have two valves; one used to inflate and the other to deflate.
Thickness correlates directly to warmth (measured as an R-value) – the thicker a mattress, the warmer it will be.
Shape and size
Most mats come in short, regular (or medium) and large sizes. They can be tapered to save weight, bulk and to make laying two mats side-by-side easier. Shorter, tapered models are perfect for summer camping. Winter models are full-length and likely to be insulated. Prices vary depending on size.
Many mats are self-inflating – drawing air in as the mat regains its unfolding shape. They only require a few puffs at the end to reach the desired firmness. Synthetic and down filled mats often require a pump to ensure moisture from your breath doesn’t cause mould to grow inside. Air-filled models only need your lungs to inflate.
Store the mat in a cool, dry place, unrolled, with the valve open.
Usually between 2 and 7, R-values are an important measure for sleeping mats; the higher the number, the greater the mat’s ability to keep you warm. To be truly thermo-neutral (no reduction of core temperature) at 0° on the ground, the R-value should be at least 5.
Big Agnes Q-Core SLX Insulated Double $519.99
Three-season two-person mat with WRM HL synthetic insulation, offset I-Beams for stability, heat reflective, internal antimicrobial treatment, quilted top, double ripstop fabric. R-value N/A Dimensions 102x183cm, 11cm thick Weight 1180g.
Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XTherm $429.99 (reg)
Four-season mattress, ThermaCapture lining, baffling system with over 100 internal cells to trap air, stuff sack doubles as pump, repair kit included. R-value 5.7 Packed size 10x23cm (reg) Dimensions 51x183cm, 6.3cm thick Weight 430g.
Therm-A-Rest NeoAir UberLite $419.99 (reg)
The lightest insulated air mattress available, Triangular Core Matrix foam insulation, two layer baffle construction, stuff sack and repair kit included. R-value 2.0 Packed size 9x15cm Dimension 51x183cm, 6.4cm thick Weight 250g.
Big Agnes AXL Insulated $399.99 (reg)
Three-season mat with PrimaLoft Silver insulation, double ripstop nylon fabric, heat reflective barrier,
interior antimicrobial treatment, repair kit included. R-value N/A Packed size 8x17cm Dimensions 51x183cm, 9.5cm thick Weight 450g.
Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite $399.99 (reg)
Three-season mattress with reflective ThermaCapture technology to trap radiant heat, Triangular Core Matrix construction, tapered design, soft touch fabrics. R-value 3.2 Packed size 10x23cm Dimensions 51x183cm, 6.3cm thick Weight 350g.
Exped DownMat HL Winter $349.99 (med)
Four-season mattress with 700-fill power goose down fill, anti-slip GripSkin coating, thicker side air cells prevent roll-off, welded seams, Schnozzel pumpbag prevents moisture entering the mat, two year warranty. R-value 7 Packed size 11x22cm Dimensions 52x183cm, 9cm thick Weight 480g (medium).
Big Agnes Q-Core SLX Insulated $339.99 (reg)
Three-season mat with WRM HL synthetic insulation, offset I-Beams for stability, heat reflective, internal antimicrobial treatment, quilted top, double ripstop fabric. R-value 4.5 Packed size 12x19cm Dimensions 51x183cm, 10.8cm thick Weight 453g.
Therm-A-Rest ProLite Apex $299.99 (reg)
Four-season self-inflating mattress with StrataCore construction featuring a layer of thermal foam between alternating ridges of air and foam. R-value 4.0 Packed size 13x33cm Dimensions 51x183cm, 5cm thick Weight 630g.
Klymit Insulated V Ultralite $269.95
Lofted air pockets, side rails prevent roll-off, Klymalite lofted synthetic insulation, inflates with 7-10 breaths, 20D polyester fabric. R value 4.4 Packed size 11.5x18cm Dimensions 51x183cm, 6.3cm thick Weight 450g.
Klymit Insulated Static V Lite $229.95
Four season use, Klymalite lofted synthetic insulation, 10-15 breaths to inflate, v-shaped body mapping design for support, side rails prevent roll-off, antimicrobial treatment, 30D polyester fabric. R-value 4.4 Packed size 8x20cm Dimensions 58x183cm, 6.4cm thick Weight 555g.
Klymit Insulated Static V $199.95
Four season mat with Klymalite lofted synthetic insulation, 10-15 breaths to inflate, v-shaped body mapping design for support, side rails prevent roll-off, antimicrobial treatment, 75D polyester fabric. R-value 4.4 Packed size 13x23cm Dimensions 58x183cm, 6.4cm thick Weight 709g.
Macpac Deluxe Single Mat $179.99
Self-inflating car-camping mattress with horizontally-cored memory foam, 230T stretch fabric with TPU coating, two valves for inflation/deflation, stuff sack and repair kit included. R-value N/A Packed size 35x76cm Dimensions 76x198cm, 10cm thick Weight N/A.