Sleep is the cornerstone of a successful camping trip. Fail to get a good night’s sleep and you’ll wake up feeling too tired for all those country walks and action-packed activities. Camping mats and sleeping bags are the key to a sound night’s sleep but, with so many options available, choosing the best camp bed can be a challenge. Our guide to sleeping equipment is here to help.
How to find the best camp bed for you.
First and foremost, you need a comfortable surface to sleep on when you’re camping. Sleeping on bumpy ground is a miserable experience. Not only will you wake up feeling jaded, but you’ll wake up feeling achy too. As well as providing you with a snug surface to sleep on, camping mats form a layer of insulation to help you retain your precious body heat.
Self-inflating mats have an expanding foam interior which is filled with tiny pockets of air. Simply open the inflation valve and the pockets draw in air. As they draw in air, the foam interior automatically expands. In addition to mats with integrated pillows, we stock mats that range in thickness from 3cm to 10cm thick. As a general rule, the thicker the mat, the more comfortable it is to sleep on.
Pros: Compact, lightweight and require minimal effort to inflate. They also provide sensational warmth because the foam interior forms a layer of insulation between your body and the ground.
Cons: They’re a pricier option than foam roll mats and aren’t as soft to sleep on. They’re also less compact when deflated which makes them clunkier to carry.
As the name suggests, these mats are filled with air to create a comfortable, cushioned surface. They’re perfect for sleepers who like to sleep on their side because they’re less dense than foam mats and will shift and shape to your natural sleeping position.
Pros: Fold into a compact size and are lighter to carry than other mats which makes them great for hiking. Our air-filled mat also has an in-built foot pump to take the puff out of inflation.
Cons: Because they’re full of air, they provide less insulation. This makes them far cooler to sleep on than a self-inflating mat. Fine in the summer, but less so in the autumn.
Foam Roll Mats
The classic camping mat. And easily the most basic. Roll mats consist of a single sheet of closed cell foam which you roll out flat to sleep on and roll back up to pack away.
Pros: Foam roll mats are cheap to buy and a breeze to set up. They’re also extremely light because they don’t contain any plastic parts and don’t require a pump.
Cons: Foam roll mats are a pain to carry because they’re pretty chunky when rolled up. They’re also less comfortable to sleep on than other options and provide less insulation.
For ultimate comfort, airbeds reign supreme. Airbeds sit higher off the ground than a traditional sleeping mat for greater support and stability. Many have a flocked surface for extra warmth and a coil-beam construction which replicates the feel off a real mattress when inflated. Most airbeds come with an electric pump which allows you to inflate them in a matter of minutes.
Pros: Airbeds are easily the most comfortable surface to sleep on when you’re camping. They’re perfect for people who prefer their home comforts.
Cons: Airbeds are bulky and heavy to transport. There’s little chance of carrying an airbed with the rest of your camping gear. Many campsites don’t have electrical access points which makes them impossible to inflate without a manual pump. Because of their size, this can be a hard slog. Even when inflated, an airbeds size means it may not fit inside your tent.
How to find the best Sleeping Bag for you
Comfort will only take you so far when you’re camping. It’s equally essential that you keep warm, too. Sleeping bags are the top alternative to a duvet or blanket because they provide all-round warmth to keep you warm and cosy. Think of them as a camping cocoon.
Envelope Sleeping Bags
The most basic type of sleeping bag. They’re a traditional rectangular shape which makes them less restrictive and gives you plenty of room to move when you’re sleeping. Envelope sleeping bags are usually rated as 1-2 season which makes them ideal for warmer weather.
Mummy Sleeping Bags
Mummy sleeping bags are tapered at the bottom to sit closer to your body and keep warm air trapped inside. This keeps you far cosier when you’re sleeping. The only downside is that you don’t have a lot of wiggle room. Most mummy sleeping bags are rated 3-4 season.
Sleeping Bag Seasons
1 Season: Sleeping bags that are lightweight, compact and ideal for the summer months. Best used when the night temperature is 10ºC or higher.
2 Season: Slightly warmer and thicker. Great for the late spring to early autumn months when the night temperature is 5ºC or higher.
3 Season: Perfect for colder nights. Typically used early spring, late autumn and early winter when the night temperature dips towards 0ºC.
4 Season: Thicker sleeping bags that are perfect for camping during the winter when temperatures drop below 0ºC.
5 Season: These are the thickest sleeping bags available. They’re great for high mountain use and extreme temperatures.