Sleeping well is another important key
to having a fun camping trip.

When assembling your camping kit, you must decide what type of bed best fits your camping style. To a large extent, the best type of bedding depends upon the size and type of tent you have. For example, if you plan to camp in a small 2 or 3-person dome tent with a companion, you will certainly want self-inflating air mattresses because these small mattresses fit well into the small tent space. If you camp in a mid-sized 4 to 6-person tent, you could choose a self-inflating air mattress, air bed, or cots but cots will feel crowded even if they have short legs. If you camp in an 8-person or larger tent with near vertical walls, you could easily fit cots inside and still have ample floor space to move around. If your tent has a sewn-in floor, cover the floor with a large carpet to protect the floor from damage, soak up any moisture that may get in the tent, and provide insulation from the cold ground. If you have a canvas tent with no floor, place a tarp on the ground to block moisture and a carpet on the tarp to provide a clean warm surface for walking inside the tent. Since we have always used small and mid-sized tents with sewn in floors (that can be set up in any campsite), we have always used self-inflating air mattress and believe they are the best option for most families-even in large tents.

Self-inflating Air Mattress

. Requires minimal packing space
. Requires minimal set up space.
. Very warm and comfortable.
. Allows physical contact with camping companion.
. Does not require a pump or extra inflation effort.

. Hard to stand up when need to get up during night - especially for older campers.
. Easy to puncture.

. Pack a repair kit in your tool bag.
. Place carpet or blanket on floor under bed.
. Place a non-slip yoga mat under each mattress to add comfort and provide
minimum comfort if air mattress leaks.
. Cover two mattresses with a standard double fitted sheet or three mattresses
with a king-sized fitted sheet.
. Use large king-sized quilts or wool blankets rather than mummy sleeping bags.

Therm-a-Rest MondoKing Large $135
Exped MegaMat 10 $240
REI Camp Bed 3.5 $ 70 sale price

Air Bed

. Keeps you up away from water that may leak into tent.
. Keeps you up away from spiders that may crawl on floor.
. Allows physical contact with camping companion.
. Easy to stand up from bed
. Comfortable

. Frequently spring leaks after brief use.
. May not support heavier campers.
. Requires electrical service or a hand pump.
. Requires extra inflation time.
. Requires extra set up space.
. May be cold in cool weather.

SoundAsleep Dream Series Queen $120
Fox Air Bed $110
King Koil Queen $120
Intex Comfort Plush Queen $ 55


. Cooler in hot weather.
. Keep you up away from water that may leak into the tent after a storm.
. Keep you up away from spiders that may be crawling on floor or ground,
especially in tents with no floors.
. Can store clothing and personal items under cot.

. Uncomfortable for side sleepers.
. Requires extra packing space.
. Requires extra set up time.
. Requires considerable floor space in tent.
. Can quickly tear or wear holes in a tent floor.
. Colder than insulated air mattress.

. Place an insulated mat or wool blanket on cot to block cold air from bottom of bed.

Coleman Trailhead II $ 40
Coleman ComfortSmart $ 65
Teton Outfitter XXL $105
KingKamp Compact $125
Therm-a-Rest Mesh $180


. Are great for short daytime naps.
. Requires very little packing space in warm weather when extra insulation
will not be needed.
. Keeps you up away from spiders and other critters on the ground.
. Can be used on steep sloped, rocky, bushy, or wet ground. And can be hung
across a small stream.

. Cannot be used in campsites that do not have two or three conveniently situated trees
or in Florida campgrounds that prohibit hammocks.
. Are not comfortable for long nights - especially if you are a large person, if you are older,
and if your trip will last several nights.

. Pack under-quilts and extra insulation in cool weather.
. Pack tarp and mosquito netting.

Clark Camping Hammock $480
Hennessey Explorer Deluxe $170
ENO Single Nest Hammock $ 30


. Use soft duffel bags or day packs filled with clothing. Cover with pillow case.


. Large quilts and wool blankets provide ample warmth allow physical contact.
. Synthetic sleeping bags are better than down-filled because they keep you warm
when wet and dry faster.



To stay warm on cool nights, campers will need sufficient layers of warm clothing. Begin with a polyester or wool short-sleeve T-shirt and a pair of nylon or polyester shorts. As the temperature drops, add comfortable layers of wool socks, long-sleeve polyester or wool thermal T-shirt, polyester or wool thermal pants, a polyester or fleece hoodie, and polyester athletic pants. The complete combination of these garments with a good synthetic quilt or wool blanket should keep you comfortably warm down to 35 degrees F. Avoid all cotton garments - such as socks, underwear, pajamas, sweat shirts, and sweat pants - because cotton absorbs moisture (sweat) and will chill the body.

More Information

For more information about modern tent camping equipment, click on this MORE link.