We’ve traveled a lot so we know what it is like to sleep in all kinds of beds and even on the floor or ground. As you can imagine, some are more comfortable than others. And then there is the problem of whether or not we have to carry our own bedding along.
I remember the time our mother made us take our own sheets because the last time we vacationed somewhere, the sheets supplied in the rental home kept falling off the bed in the night. She thought they were haunted, so we started packing sheets in our luggage. And remember, we had to carry those suitcases on the plane and in the taxis!
Although our parents like to rest at a hotel, resort or rental property, us guys have done a lot of camping, too. And while we believe that you need the right gear for the weather, we don’t want to lug around a bunch of stuff that takes up space.
One of those items that used to be a necessity but is rather a pain to carry is an air pump. Instead we decided that we were going to invest in a self inflating air mattress for camping. We could be reasonably comfortable, but not have to worry about that pump.
A couple other reasons we thought the new system would be better is it was more convenient and it was fast. Many times we arrived at our destination late in the evening, wickedly tired, and had no desire to start pumping air into a canvas or plastic bed. Letting it do its own thing was more our speed.
Having something under our backs was more comfortable, too. If we were sleeping in a tent, it is protected, but still, if you have to sleep on the ground, it was a rough sleep, for sure. Having a nice blowup underneath was much more desirable. Plus, it was warmer because it broke the cold of the ground and tent floor from touching the body.
When you think about it, having a mattress works in many situations.
- You can use one outside while hiking or canoeing,
- You can use it inside a tent,
- You can keep it handy in the trailer for an extra bed when family comes to visit,
- Or use it at home for the grandkids to bunk down.
We’ve even used one for lying in the water at the beach. Of course, if you have to carry it while walking, you’ll want one that is super light, but otherwise, you can choose a model that meets your other needs such as size and price.
Anyway, once we made the decision to get the mattress, we made a list of important features for us to choose.
- Made in the USA
- Big enough to fit a solid body. At least for a 6 foot person and 250 pounds.
- Lightweight if possible
- Lots of people who have tried it out. They needed to say it was as comfortable as the company says.
- Operates on valve system for easy inflation or deflation.
- R-Value of at least 4. This is the warmth or insulation number.
- Good set of instructions or video
- Carrying case to roll up very small
- No pump neither individual or built-in
- No rechargeable batteries
Then we found five models that met those requirements as we narrowed down our final list.
As you can see, the best way to find the perfect sleeping pad for your outdoor activities is to first write down what you expect out of it. Plus, have an idea of how much you want to spend. Then you can move quickly through the selection to eliminate those that don’t meet your specifications and find the one you want to buy.