Home Beginners Camping Guide Air Mattress Alternatives For Camping

Air Mattress Alternatives For Camping

by Rayhan
Air Mattress Alternatives For Camping

An air mattress is a great sleeping material while camping. We all know that. However, sometimes you may need an alternative. There are many reasons you may not find the air mattress an ideal choice for you.

There are many air mattress alternatives for camping. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, so it’s essential to choose the one that is best suited for your needs. Some of the most common air mattress alternatives include camping cots, air mattresses with built-in mats, quilts or blankets, sleeping bags, hammocks, and sleeping pads. 

It’s essential to consider your specific needs when choosing an air mattress alternative for camping, such as whether you want a lightweight option or a more durable one.

Today I’ll tell you about the perfect alternatives to an air mattress and explain their pros and cons so that you won’t get confused, let’s get started and pick the best one.

What are the Air Bed Alternatives?

So that now you know the reasons for getting alternatives, why not share them with you? These air mattress alternatives are the most reliable ones, and some of them are my personal favorite.

1. Camping Cot

Camping cots are a fabulous air bed alternative for campers. A camping cot is one of my favorite camp sleeping materials because it gives me a bedlike feeling. It’s a steel-framed canvas-type thing in which you can sleep. You can tie a foam mattress or regular topper to add more comfort.

The camping cots are durable, portable, and convenient. They don’t get deflated like air mattresses. You can easily fold them and take them everywhere. They come in various sizes so that you can choose your preferred ones.

These are very reliable as they are not prone to damage. Camping cots are waterproof. So, you can use them in the monsoon as well. Besides, you’ll be evaluated from the ground, so creepy crawlers like snakes and insects can’t touch you.

There are a few drawbacks, however. The first one is that you may not sleep comfortably with your partner as most cots are manufactured for single campers. Yet if you’re lucky enough, you may find one in the extra-large size.

The second one is that you may find it hard to carry the camping cots and most probably not ideal to fit in your backpack.

2. Quilts / Blankets

If you don’t want to spend many bucks for an air mattress alternative yet want a decent flooring option, this one is for you. This is also a lifesaving hack that you can use when you have no other flooring material.

You can use your traditional quilts or blankets for this. This is very warm and soft, which can give you a comfortable sleep. Besides, you can use this with your sleeping bag for a more layer of protection. You can purchase the camper quilts or make some waterproof coverings if you want waterproof options.

Among the cons, the first one is that it may feel heavy to carry. And, it will be very close to the ground.

3. Sleeping Bags

Quality Tent and Sleeping Bag

The sleeping bags are a part of your regular camping gear. You may not have thought of this as a sleeping mattress alternative, yet it can be one. These bags are lightweight and portable. Besides, they won’t break or deflate.

Moreover, these are perfect for cold nights as they provide comfort and warmth. However, these are technically not made for bed-making. As a result, the bags will compress and lose their stability soon.

Besides, these are very close to the creepy crawlers. You can use this occasionally when air mattresses or the alternatives are not available for some reason. This alternative is also known as the “Air mattress hack.”

4. Hammock

The hammock is one of the favorite sleeping tools for many campers. Why not? It’s really fun to sleep under the open sky and count the stars. Besides, it keeps you very far from the ground. So no creepy crawlers anymore!

Hammocks are very lightweight and stable. You can hang your hammock with or without a tree, and they are ready—nothing to break or be inflated. Moreover, the hammocks provide natural support for your neck and back.

The only negative part is that you may not be able to use this alone in the winter or rainy season. As it won’t give you enough protection, you may need other equipment.

5. Regular Bed Mattress

Like blankets, bed mattresses are also a great alternative to air mattresses while camping if you want to buy nothing new. It’s better. Because the mattresses are more fluffy inside that gives more evaluation.

Besides, the regular mattress is more stable. It doesn’t need any pump. You’ll have a home-like feeling when you use it. But carrying it is easier when you have a car. Except this, you may not carry this easily.

6. Sleeping Pad (Foam)

Sleeping Pad

A foam sleeping pad or sleeping mat is another good thing that I can suggest. These are stable and non-breakable. You can find many thickness options to pick from. Besides, these are more comfortable during summer.

The setup is straightforward. There are no parts or equipment to carry. Besides, it provides more warmth and comfort than air mattresses. It doesn’t make any noise at all. And there is no fear of breakage or leakage

The thickness and stability are not too low. So even if there is any sharp object on the sleeping ground, it won’t disrupt your sound sleep.

There are only a few concerns here. One is that it may not be ideal for backpackers. The other one is that the pad may tend to get flatter. Now, all pads are not the same. Only a few have this issue.

7. Sleeping Pad (Self-Inflatable)

I know this is also an inflatable sleeping material. But wait a second. Do you know the difference? You’ll be amazed to know that.

These self-inflatable sleeping pads are much different than air mattresses. These are much easier to carry because of their convenience and smaller size. Besides, it’s very lightweight to carry when not inflated.

You don’t have to pump this pad manually. Just open the valve, and the memory foam will suck the air inside. And as it’s memory foam inside, the mat will not get deflated easily.

Moreover, you can use this in winter as well. It doesn’t get deflated, unlike the air beds, because of its build quality. Furthermore, you can find it in single or double sizes.

The only issue is that it’s also very prone to leakage. As it’s an inflatable material, it can rupture completely even with minor damage.

8. Big Rugs

Remember the big rugs from home? Yeah! You can also use them as an air mattress alternative while camping. This is also a method in which you don’t have to bear any additional expenses.

Just bring the rug and fold it as per the needed size. You can use wool rugs for more comfort. I know this is not waterproof. Why fear? Just use some waterproof fabric for coverings, and that’s it!

I know there are some issues here. For example, I’ll say that it’s very close to the ground and maybe tough to carry. Moreover, organizing the flooring can be time-consuming sometimes.

9. Foam Topper / Mattress

Foam topper is another name of comfort to me. It’s so relaxing that words won’t be enough to explain it. But did you know that you can use this same topper as an air mattress alternative?

Cut the foam topper as your preferred shape and use a cover. You can either use it above the cot or hammock or use that single. Besides, these foam toppers are very lightweight. So, you can easily carry them.

The only con is that you may feel it is time-consuming and hassle to cut the foam as per the shape. Otherwise, it’s a decent alternative, in my opinion.  

10. Inflatable 2-in-1 Sofa Bed

These sofa chairs are a spontaneous invention. Though I never thought of this as an air mattress alternative before. However, now I can see that it can be a fantastic alternative.

These are self-inflatable or manually inflatable. However, if you want a similar thing like an air mattress, you can also use this. It’s a foldable sofa, which can also be used as a bed when unfolded.

Surprisingly, this is already available in many houses. Even if not available, you can invest in a 2-in-1 sofa bed because you can use it for camping purposes and it’s useful for your home.

The cons are the same as the air mattresses. However, if there is no damage, you can use it for years without any hassle.

11. DIY Natural Air Mattress Alternative

It’s a trick when the situation is not in your favor. Take a mattress cover first. Then fill up the cover with grass, dry leaves, sand, moss, and other available things at your campsite.

And here! Your DIY natural air mattress alternative is ready. I know this is not ideal sleeping material at all. Still, something is better than nothing.

12. Sleeping In Ground

Last but not least, an alternative is sleeping on the ground. When you have absolutely nothing left to use, you are welcome to use this. Just clean the ground and close your eyes while lying down. The night will pass. Enjoy the scene. Don’t worry.

Reasons You Need an Alternative to Air Mattress?

There are many reasons that I can tell you about when you would need an alternative to an air mattress. Some of them are:

1. The air bed may get punctured or leak due to damage.

Air mattresses are prone to leakage. They can get punctured even to a very tiny leakage. Even a tiny rock or pin can rupture your brand-new mattress. And, if you have a rough or messy campsite, then I suggest you look for an alternative.

Because the small but sharp rocks or other objects on the surface can damage your air bed. And a small leakage is enough to deflate the mattress completely.

2. It May feel hard to carry sometimes.

Air mattresses are not easy to carry as they are huge even when not inflated. If you’ve to carry a backpack only then, they may not fit in that. Of course, you’ll need an alternative if you search for a more carry-friendly option.

3. Always need to be inflated

The air beds are all about being inflated. If they are not blown up properly, you can’t find peace and comfort while sleeping. You always need to carry pumps or their alternatives to inflate the mattress.

As they don’t always remain inflated, you may need to inflate them every time after a certain period. Carrying the pumping materials may feel like a hassle also.

4. Air mattresses can be uncomfortable.

Sometimes you may feel the mattresses are a bit noisy and uncomfortable. They are unable to give strong support beneath the back. As they are made of PVC, you may feel sweaty because PVC is a non-breathable plastic material that doesn’t absorb your sweat.

5. Can deflate anytime

Air mattresses can deflate anytime and at any moment, even while you’re sleeping! They don’t only deflate leakages. Even they can deflate for temperature fluctuations. That’s why you may consider getting an alternative.

6. It May not be suitable for all seasons.

In winter, the air inside the air bed can get cold, and it may suck your body temperature due to the fluctuation. As a result, you’ll wake up cold and pale. In summer, as I said before, you may feel too hot and sweaty because of the mattress material.

7. Can be expensive

Air mattresses are not very affordable in price. In addition, you’ll need additional pumps to inflate them. You may save that expense by using the pumping alternatives, but what about the repair expenses?

As I said before, these mattresses are very prone to damage. Yeah, you can fix them with DIYs. But that will be time-consuming and temporary. For a permanent repair, you must take it to the repair shops, which will cost you more bucks.


I know many of you are die heart fans of air mattresses. However, air mattresses may not be the ideal choice in many situations. In this case, I’ve mentioned the air mattress alternatives as well.

Comment below about which method you’re going to apply next. Don’t forget to share this with your camp lover mates. Have safe camping.

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