Time for bed – the best camping mats

Can you get packable and comfortable when it comes to camping mattresses and pads? We’ve been testing the most promising options. We especially like self-inflating camping mats…does that make us lazy?!

Sea to Summit Comfort Plus insulated mat

Self-inflating mats aren’t the lightest or most packable, but they can save some effort and offer more comfort.

The top mat here is the non-SI Sea to Summit Comfort Plus. The blue one is the Sea to Summit Comfort Deluxe SI and the big red one is the Exped 10.

We’ve huffed and puffed and tossed and turned and now we know what works (and what lets us down). On our wishlist;

  • A camping mat that rolls up fairly small – preferably self-inflating
  • Comfortable enough for long trips
  • No shiny plastic-like surface for sleeping bags to slide off
  • Reliable valves

Far too many supposedly self-inflating mats still need a LOT of blowing up after the valve’s done all it can. Far too many have sharp edges that rub the fabric and eventually cause a leak. To be fair, that can be years down the line, but there are much better options.

Here are our favourite comfort camping mats – tried and tested.

Sea-to-Summit camping mats

Comfort Deluxe SI camping mat

As comfortable as a bed, the Comfort Deluxe self-inflating camping mat

We’re blown away by Sea to Summit’s mats. Apart from the price, they’re everything we could want in a sleeping mat. Comfort, very well-designed valves and a decent weight and pack size. There are two ranges – self-inflating and airsprung cell – with a choice of rectangular or space-saving mummy shapes, thickness and sizes. We tested one from each range and they’re now top of our list.

Comfort Deluxe Self-Inflating (SI)

Ultimate 10cm comfort and extremely fast inflation thanks to the two-layer valve. This feels like a memory foam mattress and has deep sides so you don’t roll over the edge. The fabric is soft and smooth too.
Comfort Deluxe SI

Excellent valves on all the Sea to Summit range. This is the 10cm sidewall of the Comfort Deluxe SI

The valve has also been designed so that when you deflate you’re not fighting against the air rushing in. Getting SI mats back into their bag can be exhausting, so finding one that doesn’t make you want to go straight back to bed is a big plus. This has to be our number one choice for camping with a car.
  • Size: 183cm x 64cm (regular rectangle)
  • Packed size: 18.5cm x 64cm
  • Weight: 1840g
  • Price: Around £140

Comfort Plus Insulated  

Not a self-inflater, but VERY fast to blow up, either by mouth or using one of the Sea-to-Summit mattress pumps that double as a drybag. The advantage of a non-SI is that you save on weight and size. They’re also easier to deflate and pack away without a struggle. We were worried about the rustling fabric of this model as we unpacked it, but once lying down and with a sleeping bag, it’s not too noisy at all. It’s extremely small and light, but the dual-side design means you can achieve good support and fine-tune to suit your sleeping position. The insulation is superb. You can feel the warmth as soon as you lie down. An ideal choice for backpacking or wild camping.
  • Size: 183cm x 56cm (regular rectangle)
  • Packed size: 12cm x 23cm
  • Weight: 920g
  • Price: Around £100

You may not have heard of this company, but their mats are fantastic…and fairly affordable. They also look like no mat you’ll have seen, especially the ultra lightweight ones made of holes!

For backpacking, have a look at their wacky superlight Inertia options. We also love their hammock pad with special side bits to keep the hammock fabric from engulfing you. 

We’ve added it to our recommendations for hammock and bivvy camping.

Klymit specialise in designing gear to help you sleep comfortably outside. A great range.

For comfort, the best choice from the Klymit range is the Static V Luxe

They’re super light and the V-shaped baffles keep air in place for a more restful sleep. This one is around 7.5cm deep and well-insulated. They’re not self-inflating, but the company promise it’ll take just 10-20 breaths!

There are insulated and doubles available too.

  • Size: 193cm x 76.2 cm
  • Packed size: 11.5cm x 20.5cm
  • Weight: 765g
  • Price: Around £95 (prices for the whole range start at around £30)

The first thing you notice with the Exped mats is that they seem a cut-above many of the high street brands in the choice of materials and quality of manufacture. And you certainly pay for the difference!


The mats inflate themselves through a single flat valve (there’s a second valve for deflation) and have foam strips inside to increase the comfort. 

Exped valves lie flat for comfort and durability.

It takes 24 hours to get the mat fully inflated the first time it comes out of its carry-bag and a bit of puff helps the process. 

A tip we’ve learnt over the years: if you’ve got the space, leave your self-inflating mat semi-inflated (you can fold it in half to take up less room) rather than keeping it scrunched up in its bag.

Lightweight Synmats

Exped Synmat 9Also look at the Synmats with built-in pump. They come in different thicknesses, have  great insulation and are very light. The Synmat 9 (shown here) weighs just over a kilo.

Exped also make a huge range of other camping mats that come with mini pumps or have built-in pumps.

The built-in pump versions are not so great if you need to inflate them on an unstable surface, such as in a car). There’s a knack to pumping, but watch one of their videos for instructions (and a laugh). Comfort is excellent.

The Synmat 9 details are:

  • Size: 183cm x 52cm (M); 197cm x 65cm (LW)
  • Packed size: 22cm x 17cm (M); 27cm x 16cm (LW)
  • Weight: 915g (M); 1155g (LW)
  • Price: Around £100

The Comfort range includes single and double mats ranging in thickness from 5cm to 10cm.


Then there’s the mighty Megamat range (pictures below). These are more like guest-beds than travelling mats, with edge-to-edge comfort and a 10cm height. 

We tried the Comfort LW 10

Exped’s LW models have a Velcro strip along the side so that two mats can be joined together.

Fantastically comfortable and warm. Slightly tricky to deflate and get back into the bag, and you pay for the quality! 

  • Size: 197cm x 65cm
  • Packed size: 72cm x 18cm
  • Weight: 2500g
  • Price: Around £135

The best prices we’ve found for the Megamats are on Ebay, by the way. New, of course.

Robens make some very robust and sensibly-designed camping gear (we love their tipi tents, for example). Their mats are great too.

They use what they call a Peak Valve, a flat valve designed to make it quicker to inflate/deflate and to adjust the firmness.
Some of their mats come with Primaloft insulation to keep you warmer on cold camps. 
What’s surprising about their mats is that there are so many to choose from with between 8cm and 11cm of sleeping comfort.
For the best balance between weight and depth, we’d go for the slightly mummy-shaped Highcore 80 (720g) or the Primacore 90 (830g). The Highcore has a tiny pack size of 25cm x 10cm but is a bit shorter at 186cm. The Breath 80 weighs 960g and packs to 25cm x 10cm. The Primaloft is 195cm long and packs to 33cm x 11 cm. You inflate these using the pump sack.
For self-inflating and for putting comfort first, then it has to be the Moonstone in either 7.5cm or 10cm deep. These are 1.8/2.7kg biggies but you also get a longer length. 
Prices range from around £35 to £175.
You'll need this air pump for most of the Robens mats, though they also do some self-inflating.
The self-inflating Moonstone is comfy indeed.
The Highcore 80 – low weight, high comfort
The Primacore 90 – 195cm long and weighs just 830g
The Robens Breath 80

Vango self-inflating mats

Vango self-inflating camping mat

The Comfort camping mat range offers thicknesses of between 5cm and 10cm and there are single, double and a ‘Grande’ extra-wide single to choose from.

The top material is fairly soft and slip-resistant and the self-inflation works with just one valve. These are slightly heavy and we weren’t so keen on the sharp edge of the valve inside the fabric, as this could wear through the fabric over time. The valves on the Exped and Sea-to-Summit are way better, but they’re nearly three times the price!

Vango self-inflating camping matWe tested the Comfort single 7.5cm.

  • Size: 60cm x 200cm
  • Packed size: 64cm x 20cm
  • Weight: 3000g
  • Price: Around £40

The Shangri-La

For mattress-like comfort, the Shangri La mats come in 10cm or 15cm depths and in single and double for around £200. The one shown here is 15cm deep – the deepest we’ve found. At the time of writing, the best price we found (£150) was at Winfields Outdoors – apologies if that’s changed.

Thermarest camping mats

The Camper NeoAir

Thermarest Neoair camping mat

Wow! That’s fast. Thermarest NeoAir camping mat

Thermarest invented the self-inflating mat, so they ought to know what they’re doing. They certainly do know when it comes to the amazing Speedvalve!

Thermarest sent us a NeoAir Camper SV to test. Not self-inflating, but wow! Actually, when we read the instruction to blow five or six times a distance from the huge opening, we laughed…a lot. How could that possibly work? In fact, it’s the fastest to inflate and deflate that we’ve ever used. Costs around £100.

It’s also very lightweight, reasonably comfortable at 7.5cm thick and packs away easily into a generous sized stuffsack. As with many Thermarest (and other lightweight) mats, however, the one problem is the fabric. It rustles as if you’re sleeping on greaseproof paper. That aside, an amazing fast and comfy mat for backpackers.

Thermarest comfort mats

Thermarest Mondoking sleeping matThe most comfortable in the range is the bedlike MondoKing 3D, with its 10cm thickness. The L version (there’s an XXL too) still weighs only 2.5kg.

DreamtimeThermarest Dreamtime camping mat, with 8.6cm of comfort, (two sizes) are a bit heavier at more than 3kg, but we like the protective mattress idea. Extreme comfort and pretty good on self-inflation (just a couple of extra breaths for more firmness). Not cheap at £175-ish.

Thermarest camping matsOur favourite Thermarest mats?

The 7.5cm thick LuxuryMaps, which come in regular, large and extra-large sizes. They’re a good compromise between portability and comfort. The internal foam varies in thickness so that you get support where it’s needed without adding unnecessary bulk and weight.

We tested the large, and liked the single valve with its nicely rounded inside – no sharp edges to wear through the fabric. Comfortable, lightweight, but a bit harder than the Exped, which might suit some sleepers.

  • Size: 183cm-196cm long, 51cm-76cm wide
  • Packed size: 16cm x 53cm to 17cm x 79cm
  • Weight: 1500-2300g
  • Price: From around £95

Trail Outdoor Leisure camping mats

Trail camping matTrail Outdoor Leisure is a new name to us, but they make exceedingly cheap self-inflating camping mats, ranging from 2.5cm to 10cm in depth, and ranging in price from…£10 to £25! How does anyone make and transport a product and get a profit out of that? It’s a worrying question. They’re basic in design, and a little heavy, with a shiny surface and a single valve, but they seem fast to inflate and the 10cm one we tried was comfortable. They are a little narrow (at 50cm), so wouldn’t suit larger bodies. The integral straps make them easier to pack away.
  • Size: 180cm-50cm
  • Packed size: 25cm x 55cm
  • Weight: 2440g
  • Price: Around £25

Buy a decent travel pillow

The best travel pillows we’ve found are these memory foam mini pillows, with breathable, zip-off bamboo covers (you still need a pillowcase, mind). Two for under £22 and absolute comfort. They pack away fairly small, but give good support and retain their shape.

TOP TIP for ordinary airbeds

If you do have a mouth-blown airbed, save yourself some time and effort. Once you’ve blown some air into it, roll it down from the valve to the other end (making sure you’re not letting air escape out of the valve). This moves the air to the foot end. That way, you won’t have to blow air all the way down to the bottom. Clever, eh!

Got a camping bed, mattress or mat that you love (or hate!)? Leave a comment below. And have a look at our sleeping bag recommendations too.

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  1. One of the most important points of any of these mats is puncture resistance, you made no comment on this which for me is where I start. Discard any flimsy or vulnerable mats, then look at the features that are a match from what’s left.

    Which are the toughest?ED: All the mats we’ve tried and recommended are as tough as they come, and they also have the advantage (as mentioned in the article) about not having sharp-edged valves. Our experience is that the material very rarely the problem, but rather cheap valves that start to leak air. All these mats come with a little repair kit for the material, but we’ve never had the need for them.

  2. Just another note regarding the Aldi mattresses. We didn’t realise that these would tear so easily at the seam where the elastic band that keeps the mattress rolled up.

    So, if you do have an Aldi one, be gentle when you are trying to get the elastic band around the rolled up mattress!

  3. Mark Pittam

    I recently purchased a couple of the adventurer self inflating mattresses for £13.99 from Aldi and found them to be pretty good for the price.

    It was the first time the both of us had slept on them and we wasn’t sure what to expect. We was actually warmer through the night than we would have been on an airbed!

    We saw that the self inflating mattresses are on sale in Aldi for £9.99. Grab them whilst you can!

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