One of the aspects that most worries campers is rest, essential to face a day of hiking in the mountains or not to end up with sore ribs. The necessary equipment in a tent is a mat and a sleeping bag; But, if we want to rest in a pleasant way to get up full of energy, choose a self-inflating camping mattress. You will not regret it.
If you dive a bit online, you will find many models, some of which will be more harmful than beneficial.
For this reason, in the following comparison, we have made a sieve to give you a hand and, based on the experts in camping, we have chosen the five best inflatable mattresses on the market.
Of the five, there is one that stands out for its brand and performance, the Prolite Plus from Therm-a-Rest. As it is said in the colloquial language, it is a model that inflates in a jiffy, offering maximum comfort and the best of breaks. Furthermore, its special valve prevents air from escaping and has the peculiarity that the size can be chosen according to size.
What is a self-inflating camping mattress?
It is a mat filled with high-density foam that regulates body temperature and prevents contact with the ground. The mattress has a valve that, when opened, expands the foam and absorbs the air. In this way, it inflates itself without using a pump. Of course, to achieve the desired firmness, sometimes it is necessary to blow air with the mouth.
Advantages over mats
One of the advantages, which has already been pointed out in the previous section, is that you do not need an air pump to inflate it. Also, these are other positive features:
- Provides better thermal insulation from the floor.
- They are comfortable to ensure a good rest.
- You can customize the firmness by blowing it up with your mouth or by releasing some air through the valve.
- They do not lose pressure after several nights of use.
- They are packed compactly in a carry bag, although they are somewhat heavier than the inflatable models.
- Although like air mattresses, they can be punctured, some brands include a repair kit.
- Size: Some brands have a single size and others that include several lengths depending on the height. Take a good look at the measurements before choosing a model. Some mattresses even fit inside the sleeping bag, as is the case with the Active Era.
- Thickness: This is another important aspect because, if there is no prior planning, we will not know what type of soil we can find during our camping. Hence the importance of thickness. The greater the thickness of the mattress, the more it will isolate us from the ground, but keep in mind that this feature adds extra weight. The average thickness is around 5 cm, but there are double models up to 7.5 cm thick and other single models up to 12 cm.
- R-value: This data indicates the resistance to cold that the mattress supports. The letter R is always accompanied by a number that refers to the thermal insulation it helps. To give you the idea:
- The R3 value is appropriate for the whole year except for winter.
- An R4 is suitable for cold seasons such as autumn or winter.
- An R5 withstands temperatures down to minus 15 degrees.
- Outer fabric: A good self-inflating mattress should have a waterproof outer lining, resistant to tears and abrasion. For this reason, most brands specialized in camping equipment use polyester and Oxford cloth. If you don’t have it, it is not the best option.
Now that you know in detail, the characteristics of this type of mattress, go shopping. Enjoy a camping trip often for an affordable outlay for all budgets. You will find them from 30 euros and up to 130.
The favorite: Therm-a-Rest Prolite Plus
Three engineers with a passion for climbing and the great outdoors combined science with a desire to improve the way we sleep outdoors to create the world’s first and best self-inflating mat for enjoying the open sky. Thus was born Therm-a-Rest, a specialized brand that develops innovative products whose maxim is to offer convenience, comfort, and ease of use.
Over the years, they have created different models of a mat according to each situation and person’s needs, but, without a doubt, the best valued by expert campers is the Prolite Plus.
It is a self-inflating mattress that, with a thickness of fewer than four centimeters, provides strength and comfort to anyone regardless of their size and weight.
It has an R-value of 3.2, which gives it resistance and thermal insulation. Additionally, the diagonal cut foam padding reduces weight by up to 10%. Another advantage of this material is that it is easily compressed, so, in this way, it can be folded and collected in the minimum space and then stored in its case.
One of the aspects most praised by experts is its Winglock valve. All you need to do is blow three or four times, and the foam core swells on its own. In addition to not allowing the air to escape to the outside, this valve has an airflow control three times higher than that of a traditional valve.
In terms of size, the Prolite Plus offers different models depending on your height. Take a look at the explanatory table, where you will see which size is right for you.
Zenph, the best model with a built-in pillow
The most demanding campers who want to enjoy their days at the campsite like at home cannot miss the great features offered by this second model of the self-inflating mat from the Zenph brand.
The first thing that catches your eye is its integrated pillow that offers optimal rest with good neck and head posture.
It has been manufactured with the best materials, so its useful life is extended. The exterior is made of polyester silk, an ideal waterproof material for camping equipment as it prevents abrasion and wears. The interior, for its part, contains a 5-centimeter high high-density elastic foam mattress that, combined with the self-inflating air chamber, reaches 19 cm.
Thanks to the combination of high elasticity with high density, the mattress swells faster. The unique valve facilitates both inflation and deflation without the need for a pump.
Another feature highlighted by specialists is that it is hushed. In other words, when it rotates, it does not emit any irritating sound. So, with the Zenph mat, we ensure the best rest.
Finally, it is worth highlighting its lightness and compactness. It weighs only 1.6 kilograms and measures 192 x 65 x 5 cm when open and 65 x 18 cm when closed.
Overmount: extra thick mattress
The third model in this comparison is distinguished from the rest by its great thickness of 12 centimeters, giving it excellent insulation and, therefore, a pleasant rest even in the most abrupt and rugged places.
It has been designed and created by the Overmount company, which has a great professional team in charge of providing the best of comforts to lovers of outdoor sports. That is why it is one of the most chosen brands by experienced campers.
This camping mattress has another unique feature, and it is that it includes an air pump inside that is operated by hand or foot and inflates it entirely in a couple of minutes. Practical and straightforward, right?
Once inflated, its wavy shape conforms to the body and offers optimal support in any position.
It is made of high-quality 80D polyester covered with waterproof PVC plastic with a category 5 R-value that guarantees thermal insulation even at -15ºC. It weighs 1.2 kg and has measurements, when open, of 190 x 60 x 12 cm. Also, it supports a weight of up to 180 kg.
To deflate the Overmont, open the valve and press the mat to release the air. It is then rolled up and stored in a tiny bag (36 x 15 x 10 cm).
Ultralight and compact, from Active Era
Less than a kilo is what you will carry on your back with the Active Era Premium self-inflating camping mattress. If you love adventure, surely you already know the brand. Otherwise, we will tell you that the company specializes in outdoor sports and its beds are the best sellers in the online market.
In addition to its lightness, it has been designed in such a way that it fits inside the sleeping bag. This option is ideal if we are in icy areas or do not want to outside the mattress while sleeping. Because it is designed for this, it is a narrower model. It measures exactly 183 x 51 x 4 cm. Keep this in mind if you are a tall person.
On the one hand, the mattress core contains a high-density thermal foam that prevents contact with the ground. On the other, the outer lining is waterproof and robust so that it does not tear easily.
It is only necessary to activate the valve to inflate it, and the air will enter until it is filled. You will only have to blow a few times in the end if you want to give it more firmness.
When setting up the camp, it is easily deflated and then rolled up and stored in a travel bag measuring only 28 x 15 cm.
Two-person favorite: Kingcamp
The story of King camp has its protagonist, Shu Guoking, who, at the age of 24, decided to travel the Silk Road until reaching the summit of the Pamir. The top’s solitude came to his inspiration, and he decided to create a camping brand that would allow him to enjoy those moments of adventure and improvement with his loved ones.
It has been almost three decades since then which the brand has grown exponentially, creating camping equipment that is easy to use and at an affordable price. Their camping mattresses are also among the best sellers, which is why they could not be missing in this comparison.
Specifically, we have sought which is the best double model and, without a doubt, the winner has been the Double Exluxe Pad Mat, which measures 198 x 130 x 7.5 cm so that two people sleep soundly without feeling soil.
The interior is made of perforated foam that reduces weight, lets you breathe, and maintains body temperature. The outer material is made of 150D Oxford fabric, resistant, like the rest of the mattresses in this guide, to water and abrasion.
For self-inflation, it includes two brass valves, a durable and anti-corrosive material. Open them and let the mattress inflate while you finish setting up camp.
Although it is not suitable to carry on a hike due to its weight of 5.2 kg, it is ideal for camping in the car’s trunk and once folded in its transport bag. It only occupies a minimum space of 67 x 32 x 32 cm.