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

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.

Self-inflating camping mats may not be the lightest or most packable, but they save effort and can offer more comfort.

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 – so 5cm thickness and over
  • 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 all 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’re not keen on their new range of blow-up mattresses with integrated pumpbag (which folds into the stuffsack). They take too many puffs and we couldn’t see why it wasn’t easier just to blow into the valve. For lightness and  quality, though, they’re hard to beat.

Top choice for car camping comfort
4.3/5

Sea to Summit 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

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.

  • Size: 183cm x 64cm (regular rectangle)
  • Packed size: 18.5cm x 64cm
  • Weight: 1840g
  • Price: Around £140
Best for lightweight comfort
3.7/5

Sea to Summit Comfort Light Self-Inflating (SI)

At just over 5cm thick, this is one for smaller packs. It’s still comfortable, though.It comes in small or regular sizes and is a tapered shape to keep weight and pack size to a minimum.

Same great valves and Delta Core construction that spreads the insulation evenly across the mat. A choice of green or blue.

  • Size: 183cm x 51cm (regular)
  • Packed size: 14cm x 26cm
  • Weight: 650g
  • Price: Around £90

Although Decathlon have some great prices, there’s a compromise on comfort and weight. If you’re on a budget, then you might be happy with that. 

Cheap and cheerful
3.5/5

Quechua Comfort Mattress

Sneaking into our list at 4.5cm thick, this is a budget buy. It has the advantage of a non-slip surface, but you can expect to have to top it up by blowing into it for the last 20% or so. It’s nice and long.

It’s shown here on one of Decathlon’s air-frame beds – a blow-up base for ultimate comfort (£50).

  • Size: 190cm x 65cm
  • Packed size: 18l
  • Weight: 1700g
  • Price: Around £35
Massive but you need a pump
3/5

Quechua Air Seconds Camping Mattress

A big bad bed for campers with no shortage of space. This is a massive 18cm deep and you’ll need a good pump to inflate it (30 seconds). We’ve included it, though, because it’s pretty good value at less than £30.

  • Size: 200cm x 80cm
  • Packed size: TBC
  • Weight: 3000g
  • Price: Around £30

Klymit sleeping mats

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!

Best pick all-round
4.7/5

Insulated Static V Luxe

For comfort, the best choice from the Klymit range is the insulated version of 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 lighter weight and double versions available too. Best of all? No crinkly crunchy noise when you roll over!

  • Size: 193cm x 76cm
  • Packed size: 14cm x 25cm
  • Weight: 992g
  • Price: Around £100 (prices for the whole range start at around £30)
Superlight
4/5

Klymit Inertia mats

For backpacking, have a look at their wacky superlight Inertia options. Lots of designs and price ranges, but the basic technology gives you comfort where you need it…and holes where you don’t!

The lightest X Frame is under 250g!

 

Affordable and lightweight
4.5/5

Static V Lightweight mat

Comfortable and under £60, which isn’t bad for such a techie piece of camping gear. How could you not want a camping mat with “sleeping bag reservoirs”!

  • Size: 183cm x 58cm
  • Packed size: 7.6cm x 20cm
  • Weight: 513g
  • Price: Around £55 (more for insulated and larger sizes)
Clever hammock comfort
4.5/5

Klymit V hammock pads

We also love their hammock pads with special side bits to keep the hammock fabric from engulfing you. Insulated and non-insulated (lighter) available.

We’ve added this one to our recommendations for hammock and bivvy camping, by the way.

Exped camping mats

Lie-flat valves for comfort and durability

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. 

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.

Light and packable
3.7/5

Lightweight Synmats

Exped Synmat 9Have a 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. 

We’ve avoided their Downmats because we think down should stay on ducks and geese.

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 £90

Megamat Lite camping mats

A great blend of light weight and comfort, these are a whopping 12cm thick but weigh less than a 1400g. Ouch…the price, though! Around £160 at Outdoor Gear (the cheapest we found at the time of writing)..

Supercomfy quality
4.6/5

Exped Comfort mats

Exped Comfort 10

We tried the Comfort LW 10. Fantastically comfortable and warm. Slightly tricky to deflate and get back into the bag, and you pay for the quality! Sleep well, though!

  • Size: 197cm x 65cm
  • Packed size: 68cm x 18cm
  • Weight: 2150g
  • Price: Around £135

 Exped Megamats

Then there’s the mighty Megamat range. These are more like guest-beds than travelling mats, with edge-to-edge comfort and a 7.5cm or 10cm height. Weighty and pricey, but superior comfort.
 

  • Size: 197cm x 77cm (LXW)
  • Packed size: 25cm x 79cm
  • Weight: 2605g
  • Price: Around £170

Here’s our Dutch friends’ lovely little Quechua pop-up tent with their MIGHTY megamat double mattress inside. They say the comfort is the reason they camp!

Robens camping mats

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.
Top comfort at reasonable price
4.2/5

The Moonstone

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 200cm length and superb comfort. 
 
7.5cm – pack-size 68cm x 19cm. £110
10cm  – pack-size 75cm x 23cm. £120
Comfy right to the edge
3.7/5

 Breath 80

 The Breath 80 is very comfy thanks to its width, its 8cm depth and the clever design that keeps you on-board!
 
  • Size: 195cm x 65cm
  • Packed size: 25cm x 10cm
  • Weight: 960g
  • Price: Around £80
 
 
You'll need this air pump for most of the Robens mats, but the Moonstone is self-inflating
Mummy-shaped for lightness
4.1/5

Highcore 80

For the best balance between weight and depth, we’d go for the slightly mummy-shaped Highcore 80. The Highcore has a tiny pack size of 25cm x 10cm but is a bit shorter at 186cm. Three-season insulation too.

  • Size: 186cm x 60cm
  • Packed size: 25cm x 10cm
  • Weight: 720g
  • Price: Around £70
Light with height. Pretty perfect
4.7/5

Primacore 90

The Primacore is nicely insulated with Primaloft and look how small it is, despite being 9cm deep. Yummy.

  • Size: 195cm x 60cm
  • Packed size: 33cm x 11cm
  • Weight: 830g
  • Price: Around £85

Vango self-inflating mats

The range of Vango self-inflaters is enormous. Basically, though, you choose between the Comfort and Shangri-La, then the size (single, double, grande). Thicknesses range from 7.5cm to 15cm. We haven’t included the Odyssey range as it didn’t live up to our expectations. If you’ve used one and love it, please put us straight! The valves on the Exped and Sea-to-Summit are way better, but those mats are more expensive.
Maximum depth and width
4/5

The Shangri-La

For mattress-like comfort, the Shangri La mats come in 10cm or 15cm depths and in grande or double for around £100-£150. 

  • Size: 200cm x 76cm (10 Grande)
  • Packed size: 80cm x 23cm
  • Weight: 3500g
  • Price: Around £100
Plush but weighty
3.6/5

The Comfort range

A wide range including a 5cm, a 7.5cm and a 10cm in singles, doubles and grande. Prices start at around £55.

  • Size: 200cm x 60cm (10 single)
  • Packed size: 63cm x 28cm
  • Weight: 3000g
  • Price: From £55

Thermarest camping mats

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! Six top ranges to choose from in our favourites.

Fast inflation, very light
4.6/5

Thermarest NeoAir Camper

Thermarest Neoair camping mat

 

The NeoAir Camper SV isn’t 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. 

It’s also very lightweight, reasonably comfortable at 7.5cm thick and packs away easily into a generous 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.

  • Size: 183cm x 51cm (regular size)
  • Packed size: 14cm x 23cm
  • Weight: 910g
  • Price: Around £120
Washable cover
3.4/5

DreamtimeThermarest Dreamtime camping mat

With 8.6cm of comfort, (two sizes), the Thermarest Dreamtime mats are a bit heavier at more than 3kg, but we like the protective washable cover. 

Extreme comfort and pretty good on self-inflation (just a couple of extra breaths for more firmness).

  • Size: 196cm x 63cm (large)
  • Packed size: 25cm x 66cm
  • Weight: 3004g
  • Price: Around £175 (large)

 

Supportive quality
4/5

Thermarest Luxury Map mats

Highly supportive to avoid those pressure point pains, the 7.5cm thick LuxuryMaps 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: 196cm x 63cm (large)
  • Packed size: 16cm x 66cm
  • Weight: 1900g
  • Price: Around £115 (large)
Comfiest Thermarest
4.7/5

Mondoking by Thermarest

The biggest, comfiest Thermarest camping mattress that’s more like a bed than a mat. 10cm deep and available in large and XXlarge. Vertical sidewalls.

  • Size: 196cm x 63cm (large)
  • Packed size: 23cm x 66cm
  • Weight: 2500g
  • Price: Around £140 (large)

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 question we asked Trail, who told us they buy in bulk from the Chinese manufacturer.

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: 186cm x 53cm
  • Packed size: 20cm 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 £20 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.

Camping gear must-haves – our 60 best finds

When we find a new piece of camping or outdoor equipment that we love and that really works, it’s here. Everything you see – from barbecues to mosquito repellent – has been tried and tested by a member of the Campfire team and is now one of their actual camping essentials …
Read More

Bookmark the permalink.

5 Comments

  1. Bought a Vango comfort double 10. Took 2 days to inflate, even blowing into it! Then can get the bugger down, won’t fit in the bag! And I’m usually excellent at packing small. It may be going back! ED: Oh no! Thanks for letting us know, Jackie. All self-inflaters do take a while to puff up the first time as they’ve usually been stored rolled-up for a while. We also find that double mats can be troublesome because they just need so much air inside. They certainly aren’t as versatile as two singles. Fingers crossed you sleep well eventually!

  2. Nice article, possibly out of our price range when having to purchase multiple units.
    As previous, puncture resistance would be a great measure.
    My current preferred supplier is ALPKIT who provide decent well priced equipment.
    Would be good to see some reviews for Alpkit equipment (and less Amazon links).Thanks for the comment, Mark. We also rate Alpkit, but we haven’t been able to try any of their mats yet. We’ll certainly add them when we do as the price is good. We link to the cheapest place to buy products at the time of writing. It’s often Amazon, but OutdoorGear UK, GoOutdoors, Decathlon, Winfields and even Ebay come up trumps sometimes. The added advantage of Amazon is that the ranges are huge, so if someone doesn’t like the medium size in a mat, for example, they can easily look at the large. As we said about the puncture question before, without sticking a pin in every mat we test, it’s hard to judge their durability. However, we’ve never had a mat punctured through the fabric; it’s always the valves or seams that let them down.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *