If you are new at camping or need to find something new, you might be asking what do you sleep on in a tent when camping or backpacking? You have a few different options but today we are going to go over the top 5.
You have several options for things to sleep on when you are camping or backpacking. The most popular options are an air mattress or a sleeping pad. Sleeping pads can be inflated or made of out of foam. Choosing a good option depends on whether you need something small for packing in a backpack or if you have the space and ability to haul something of a larger size.
If you are camping and don’t have a lot of limits on size, you will probably want to choose an air mattress or larger thicker sleeping pad. If you are backpacking, you may need to take size and weight of the sleeping pad before you make your choice. The length and difficulty of your backpacking trip could have a big impact on what size sleeping pad you bring.
Lets take a deeper look at options for both camping and backpacking below. Hopefully, we can find some great options that fit your budget and lifestyle to get you the best night sleep while camping. Lets take a look at what you sleep on in a tent when camping or backpacking!
Table of Contents
What Do You Sleep On In A Tent When Camping
Lets start this off by talking about what you sleep on in a tent while camping. If you are looking for backpacking options, please scroll down or use the table of contents above. If you are camping you probably have a lot more room and flexibility when considering what to take to sleep on. Odds are, you will be a lot more comfortable on a standard camping trip rather than a backpacking trip.
You will probably be bringing your equipment in a truck or car rather than fitting it in your backpack. Lets take a look at some different options below. I’ll try to rank them based on what they are best for. Hopefully you will find a solution below for your situation.
Last update on 2020-07-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Outdoorsman Lab Ultralight Sleeping Pad - Best Budget
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Last update on 2020-07-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The Outdoorsman Lab sleeping pad is a great sleeping pad if you are looking for a small and simple set up. You can blow this up with about 10 breaths and it’s ready to go. No need to plug anything in or power. It’s also extremely portable.
I often use my Outdoorsman Lab as my go to simply because it’s nice enough to sleep on but can also be pulled out of the tent and used to lay down by the river or lake. You can throw it in a hammock for extra padding. You can lay it next to the fire to look at the stars (watch out for coals).
There are so many practical uses to this sleeping pad other than just using it to sleep on, it’s a camping accessory that comes on every camping trip we go on whether it’s backpacking or camping.
You can see from the photo above of me holding it just how small it is and easy to pack. Whether you just throw in a backpack or one of your camping storage bins, it’s really easy to haul around.
When it comes down to it, it won’t provide as comfortable of a night sleep as the air mattresses or the King Koil below. If the comfort is your top priority this may not be the best option to sleep on. However, I can recommend getting one even if you aren’t sleeping on it for all it’s other uses. Check out the photo below of my youngest using it as a pad to dry off down by the lake.
Whether using it for sleeping on in a tent or just for laying down by the river or lake, it’s something you will want to bring camping/backpacking with you. It does come with a repair kit in the event that you get a hole. They are typically under the $50 price point so the investment is 100% worth it.
King Koil Air Mattress - Most Comfortable
The King Koil is probably your best overall option if your number 1 goal is comfort. If you are camping and you don’t have to worry about it taking up room or being a little on the heavier side, you can throw this self inflating air mattress in the back of your vehicle.
It comes in a few different sizes, Twin, Queen and California King. You can also choose between black and beige. It’s 20 inches thick so you sit well off the ground and is extremely comfortable. Especially when you compare it to other sleeping pads or air mattresses. It only takes about 2 minutes to inflate and is pretty easy to set up.
Keep in mind, you will need to plug this air mattress in to inflate so make sure you have a powerful enough source to plug it in and blow up. I’m guess most people use their vehicle but there are some portable power banks out there that could blow this up.
It may lose a little air on a cooler night but you can just flip the switch for a few seconds and fill it back up. It made for indoor use so you want to make sure you are putting it inside a tent. I also saw on the Amazon reviews that the customer service is top notch. King Koil is accessible and helps resolve any issues you might have. That combined with a 1 year guarantee makes this a pretty easy decision if comfort is your top priority.
Wellax UltraThick Sleeping Pad - Best Overall
The Wellax UltraThick Sleeping Pad might be the best option for what to sleep on in a tent when camping. You get some portability and you get a pad thats a little more thick and comfortable. It’s kind of the best of both worlds. It’s less comfortable than the air mattress and less portable than the OutdoorsmanLab, but it’s more portable than the air mattress and more comfortable than the OutdoorsmanLab.
This really comes down to what you need and what is most important to you. This pad is also great for taking out of the tent and laying on the ground. It’s not as portable or easy to carry but it works. You will get more comfort out of it.
It’s really easy to use as it’s self inflating and blows up pretty quickly. It’s about 3 inches thick when blown up and provides a pretty comfortable sleeping surface. It also has an R-value of 9.5 so it does a pretty good job on insulating and keeping you warm. It’s made out of laminated 20D rip-stop Nylon which makes it pretty strong. IT’s also water proof and tear resistant.
The dimensions also make it big enough for someone like me who is 6 foot 5 and 250 pounds. It’s 77 x 28 x 3 inches.
Its also portable enough to grab out of the tent and haul down to the river or lake shore as well, making it pretty versatile. You really can’t go wrong getting the Wellax sleeping pad, check it out on Amazon below!
What To Sleep on In A Tent When Backpacking
We are going to take a look at your best options when taking a backpacking trip. When you are looking at what to sleep on in a tent when backpacking you will want to be much more focused on pack size and weight. You need something a little more light weight and easy to pack.
I have created a grid for you below so you can easily see the weight and dimensions of my favorite options for backpacking below. All of these will pack down super small and are light weight. They have different R-Values which isn’t important unless your backpacking in cold weather.
Personally, I own the Outdoorsman Lab sleeping pad and I love it, it’s alos the least expensive of the bunch below. I wrote about it above for the camping section as well. You will get a little more comfort with the Outdoor vitals but you will also spend more than twice as much.
I’ll break down each sleeping pad below as options to sleep on in a tent when backpacking.
Last update on 2020-07-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
I’m not going to spend a ton of time going over this sleeping pad since I already covered it in the camping section. But even with backpacking this is a great sleeping pad. It will be hard to find a sleeping pad that is as compact and comfortable at the same price point. You will be doing yourself a favor by grabbing a couple of these for you and your family!
Check out my list of best budget sleep pads below all under $50.
Klymit Insulated Static V - Best Mid Level
As long as your backpacking in weather that isn’t super cold this sleeping pad will be a great backpacking companion. It’s a little more expensive than the Outdoorsman Lab but also provides a better R-Value. If staying warm is more important than this pad might be better for you.
It’s really easy to inflate with only about 10 breaths. If you want something that keeps you a little warmer than a standard low price sleeping pad, this might be the best option for you. You can check out the price and user reviews below on Amazon!
Outdoor Vitals - Best Overall
Out of all the sleeping pads for backpacking above this one is the best option. You will also spend the most money, so it kind of depends on what your looking for. This sleeping pad is more than twice as expensive as the Outdoorsman Lab. If price is important you may want to consider the lower cost but if money is no concern, I would strongly recommend going with this sleeping pad.
This sleeping pad gets as much as 4.5 inches thick and has an R-value of 4. It will do a good job keeping you warm in reasonably low temperatures. One of the really cool features here is the included pump sack. This is a bag that you can use to pump air into the sleeping pad sparing you from having to blow air into the pad.
It’s extra thick compared to the other sleeping pads and is made out of very strong material making it very durable. If you are okay spending a little more on this sleeping pad, you will not be disappointed. It will keep you comfortable and warm without taking up much room in your backpack! Check out the price and user reviews below on Amazon.
Tips For Sleeping Comfortable In A Tent
I wanted to give some general tips to help you sleep more comfortable in your tent. Picking the right sleeping pad is a bit part of that, but there are some great tips to help you have the best night sleep when camping that you can.
Make sure when you go camping you pack a comfortable pillow. If you are backpacking you can get pretty comfortable inflatable pillows. I have been backpacking and camping and forgot a pillow, it ruins my night sleep.
An eye mask will help you sleep in the morning when the light comes up. If you are an early riser, this probably isn’t necessary but if you want to sleep in a bit use an eye mask to douse that bright morning light.
There will be noise outside of your tent, it could be a bear, but it’s probably not. In the middle of the night a mouse walking through the bushes can sound like a Grizzly tramping through your camp. Once you hear the noise and your heart rate jumps it’s hard to calm down and get back to sleep. Ear plugs can help you drown out all the noise and enjoy the peace of the outdoors!
Make sure when you pitch your tent you find the optimal level area. If you find yourself keeping yourself from rolling all night, it can be hard to sleep comfortably. This might be harder when your backpacking but usually you can find something level. If you are forced to pitch your tent on un-level ground, make sure the slope goes head to toe vs side to side. It’s easy to avoid sliding up or down rather than rolling side to side.
The clothes you are wearing can really dictate how warm and comfortable you will be at bed time. Having warm dry clothes can really help you sleep well at night. Also, if it’s really hot make sure you have light and airy clothes to wear. Never go to bed with anything wet if you can avoid it. This will ruin a night sleep and make you wish you had changed before bed.
Go Pee, then Go Pee Again
Going pee in the middle of the night when camping is typically very unwanted. Also, holding pee all night to avoid getting up and going can ruin your sleep. Stop drinking liquids if possible around 6 then make sure and go pee as many times as possible before bed. I will say however, if you get up and go pee at 3AM make sure to look up. Some of the best starry skies I have ever seen were during my early morning pee break. I have found myself just gawking at the sky, it’s ALMOST worth it!
Have Water Close
Okay, you stopped drinking stuff at 6 so you didn’t have to pee in the middle of the night. You might get thirsty! This is really similar to needing to go to the bathroom. If you wake up thirsty and don’t have water you will either sleep bad because your thirsty or you have to get up and go find water. Keep a bottle of water in the tent with you and avoid this problem altogether.
Keep A Light Close
Whether it’s your phone, a lantern or a head lamp, keep it close and easy to find. If your tent has an easy to reach pocket, keep it in there. Try to avoid putting it on the floor as it might be hard to find in the middle of the night. If you have to get up and go to the bathroom you will want to be able to find your light easily.
Hopefully some of those tips will help you get a better night sleep. Combine a good sleeping pad with the above, and you will sleep like a baby!
When considering what to sleep on in a tent it’s important to pick the right sleeping pad. Your situation and sleeping style will kind of dictate what you are looking for. Also, camping vs backpacking has an impact on what you will choose to sleep on in a tent.
I hope this has helped you find the best option for what to sleep on in a tent when camping or backpacking. I hope you will take some time to share this article with all your friends on your favorite social media platform. Also, check out some of our other content below!
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