Keeping kids cosy overnight when you’re camping outdoors
Kids up for an overnight adventure outdoors? Camping in the garden or on your first big camping trip away from home, I bet you’ve given plenty of thought to the kid’s tent, sleeping bags, even their camp chairs; but don’t forget about what they’ll actually be sleeping ON!
Whilst our camping is usually on the soft desert dunes, it only takes one night on a hard, rocky surface to teach you just how important a proper kids camping bed is for a good night’s sleep. Whilst a thin air-inflating sleeping pad worked fine for us on sand camping trips, something far more durable was needed for mountain camping.
Kids camping beds come in several designs which we’ll discuss in more detail below, but they are essential for any sort of family camping trip. You’ll need to pick the right sort of camping bed to fit your tent, your child’s size and the type of surface you’ll be camping on.
This post is part of our best travel products series and outdoor adventures with kids
Types of Kids Camping Beds
There’s no need to put off your camping trips thinking your kids won’t be comfortable. It’s true, not everyone sleeps as well away from the creature comforts of their bedroom, but looking out for the right sort of kids camping bed will go a long way.
There are the different sorts of camping beds you could consider for children:
- Foam Pads – These mats are made of closed-cell foam and don’t need inflation, they come in varying levels of thickness and are covered with a cotton liner.
- Cotton Mats – These mattresses are filled with cotton for extra softness and comfort, they can normally be easily rolled and are used for day beds and napping, mostly indoors.
- Foldable Beds – They are either tri-fold mattresses or cots with an aluminium frame, or you may find the type that folds up similar to a camping chair.
- Self-Inflating Pads – They have valves that suck air if opened and puff up on their own, you press and role them to deflate. These are ideal if you are hiking and need a sleeping pad that will roll up into your backpack.
- Air Mattresses – These can be filled with air when a pump (or some good old manual puff power) is used to inflate them, then roll and press the air out to deflate.
You’ll find mattresses of different qualities and sizes within each of these categories. Of course, it’s easier to go for self-inflating and inflatable air mattresses which can pack up much smaller when you’re on a camping trip, but the better the quality, the higher the price tag. It can also be hard to find one that fit’s “just right” for smaller children.
What to Look for in a Great Kids Camping Mattress
Here’s a quick look at the things to consider while buying a great kid camping mattress:
Type of Camping Bed
You have just learned that there are different types of camping mattresses. They differ based on the filling inside, i.e., foam, cotton, or air. They may also be different based on the presence of a frame, how they need to be inflated, or how they can be folded or carried.
Purpose of Mattress
How does your kid plan on using the mattress? Is it going to be your kid’s sleeping buddy during frequent sleepovers and backyard camping? Is your child a Kid Scout travelling outdoors frequently? Or are you planning a camping trip in the woods or beach?
You can also look into an eco-friendly mattress, just Visit Ecoy, which will surely give you a comfortable sleep while camping.
Air mattresses are of two types. You can choose a self-inflating air mattress that requires little or no intervention from the users. Your kid just needs to open the valve – and it will automatically draw air into it. The other type needs a pump with which your kid can inflate the mat in minutes, or failing which, they may need a considerable amount of manual puff-power to fully inflate.
Pillowtop air mattress
Many mattresses come with pillows that help you save some space. These mattresses for teens may cost a little more, but you’ll likely need to spend a little more on a separate pillow anyway. Pick a mat with a removable or non-removable pillow, depending on your kid’s comfort.
If you’re looking for a camping mattress for a toddler, it’s a good idea to pick a mattress that has side bumps. These will act like the grills of a cot or bassinet and keep them safe. These side bumps will prevent the child from rolling over and falling off the mat and keep your worries away.
Size and Weight
In both inflated and deflated states, the size and weight of a camping mat add to its portability. While size is essential to ensure comfort for your growing child, it’s an aspect that makes it convenient for you and your kid to carry it. Needless to say, the mat must be light for the same reason.
Deflated air mattresses are flat and fit into small spaces. Storing them in your kid’s travel bag or at home is easy. Foam or cotton mats are either easy to fold or are designed for tri-folding. So if you’re buying a foam or cotton mat, check its foldability. Check the same feature for camp cots.
Top 10 Choices for the Best Camping Bed for Kids
Now let’s take a look at all the best camping mattresses and sleeping pads that are suitable for kids at different ages and stages, weighing up product size and practicality for your next family camping trip.
Best self-inflating kids camping mat: Klymit Static V Sleeping Pad
If it’s lightweight comfort you’re after for your kids then the Klymit Static V Sleeping Pad Shorty is what you’re looking for. Engineered with many innovative features including V chambers to create additional support at pressure points and inbuilt rails.
- Shorty (also comes in thinner, longer models for teens & grown ups)
- Inflated size: 50. 4″ X 23″ X 2. 5″
- Rolls back into its own carry pouch 3″ x 8″
- Weighs just 13 oz
Best suited for:
- No inbuilt pillow. You may want to separately invest in the Pillow X inflatable, just an extra 2.5 oz for added comfort.
Runner Up kids camping mat: Coleman Company Youth Self-Inflating Camp Pad
A reliable camping bed ideal for youths and when you’re short on space is the Coleman Self inflating camping pad. Quick and easy to use, it’s great for kids who are learning to camp independently.
- 50 x 7.75 x 1.75 inches inflated
- Easy fold and light for transportation at 1.6 lbs
- Available in green and pink
Best suited for:
- Independent campers 3 years+
- Not entirely self-inflating, may need a little puff-power to complete
- May be a little thin on very hard surfaces
For your growing kid who loves to go camping, the ZOOBELIVES is an excellent choice. Super thick and comfy, it weighs a little more than some of the products for juniors we’re reviewing here but works as a great 4 seasons sleep pad.
- 74.8 x 24.41 x 3.94 inches
- Waterproof and durable 75D polyester
- Built-in air pump for self-inflation and easy release valve for deflation
- Snaps allow the product to be connected to another
- Resistant to dust, moisture and odor
- Folds down to a compact 6″ x 14″ and weighs 3.3lbs
- Available in blue, grey and orange
Best suited for:
- Tweens to teens looking for something light they can carry themselves
- All-weather camping where a thick, comfortable bed is needed
- Takes an hour and a few blows from users to inflate on the first attempt, practise at home first
Best inflating kids camping bed: Ozark Trail Kids Camping Airbed
An air mattress for kids that not only provides comfort but also looks fantastic, the Ozark Trail Kids Camping Airbed is one of the top options for the best camping air mattress for kids.
- Firm bed for comfortable and stable sleeping
- Armrests to provide security and comfort, can be used as side bumpers for younger kids
- Heavy-duty mattress with a repair patch for more durability
- Quick deflation thanks to the interlocking valve
- Easy portability, even for kids, thanks to the built-in bag
Best suited for:
- Younger children who want a more comfortable sleep than offered by thin sleeping pads.
- Pump for inflation not included so add this to the cost v other inflatable brands
Best value air inflating camping mattress: Intex Cozy Kidz Inflatable Airbed
Ideal for your slightly older kids that no longer require side bumpers, these inexpensive air-inflating camping mattresses by Intex provide a quick and easy camping bed solution that easily fold up and store away when not in use.
- Made from rayon and PVC
- 62 x 34.5 x 7 inches
- Comes with a carry bag for storage and transportation
- Max capacity 100 lbs /45kgs
- I-beam interior construction for stability and support
Best suited for:
- Approximately 3 to 10 years of age
- No pump included
- Not recommended on rough surfaces
Best Toddler Camping Bed: The Shrunks Toddler Travel Bed
The Shrunks Toddler Travel Bed is one of the best choices for an inflatable camping mattress for toddlers and kids. This portable air mattress is perfect for camping trips, be it in your garden or during a hiking trip in the woods. It keeps your kid safe and comfy all night.
- Takes just 30 seconds to get inflated and get ready for your kid
- Designed to tuck a crib sheet or blanket into the inner mattress
- Keeping your child safe with the guard rails while sleeping
- No squeaky noises due to the soft flock-covered top
- Easy adjustment of air levels for the comfort of your child
- Comes with the pump
Best suited for:
- A good transition bed from toddler to preschoolers
- A strong plastic smell noticed by some users
- Due to the bumpers, it’s wider than a normal air inflating mattress so can take up more room in the family tent
Runner up best toddler camping bed: Sleepah Blow Up Mattress for Kids
Looking for a kids camping mattress that can come in handy during all kinds of trips? The Sleepah Blow Up Mattress for Kids can do the job perfectly for you. It comes with a pillow and a toy to make your kid excited to lounge on their very own mattresses while you enjoy your time.
- High bumpers all around for the safety of your child
- Certified as a lead-free and phthalate-free bed for children
- Thick, reinforced design and heavy-duty valves for longevity
- Has a weight capacity up to 300 lbs
- Super-quick inflation and deflation in less than a minute
- Comfortable lounging with sufficient space for children of up to 4 feet
Best suited for:
- First-time users who need a complete package with all required elements
- Takes up considerable tent space with its width but only lasts up to when you’re child is 4′
Also consider: BABYSEATER Toddler and Kids Travel Bed Air Mattress
A camping trip with a toddler or a young child can be made easier with the BABYSEATER Toddler and Kids Travel Bed Air Mattress. It’s designed to provide comfort and safety with a high bumper and velvety soft mattress topping.
- Anti-leakage valve and reinforced vinyl that’s resistant against puncture
- Designed with super-wide seams to tackle high pressure
- Supports up to 310 lbs
- Providing everything from pillow to pump in an all-in-one pack
- Has a repair kit to extend the life of the air mattress
- Mattress inflating takes just 30 seconds with the electric pump
Best suited for:
- Development of holes possible if kids jump on the mattress or its mistreated.
Best foam camping bed: Milliard Toddler Tri Folding Mattress
A foam mattress that you can fold and pack into a handy travel bag, the Milliard Toddler Tri Folding Mattress is a great choice for traveling and camping. It’s soft, thick, and comfortable, and your kid will love to relax on this mattress, hitting the temporary bed early during a camping trip.
- Soft bamboo covering that’s easy to remove and wash
- CertiPur-certified, high-quality foam without harmful materials
- Light and easy to unfold and use, even for toddlers
- Folds into a carry bag for ease of transportation
Best suited for:
- Backyard sleepovers, camping trips for kids from toddlers to grade school kids
- Difficult to wash the entire mattress regularly
- The carry bag needs purchasing separately
This one is our bonus pick – not a traditional pad or camping mattress but a bed that elevates your child off the floor. Particularly good for camping in winter and on cold, hard surfaces, a full-sized travel bed may be your best choice. Certainly a fair bit heavier than the more compact camping pad and camping mat choices but still fold up conveniently into its own travel bag for transportation.
- Offers 10 sturdy legs with anti-slip feet
- Made from a durable 600D Nylon, it has a weight capacity of up to 220 lbs
- Includes a handy side pocket for books, flashlights, toys
- No assembly or pump needed, fold-out in 10 seconds
- Comes with its own carry bag with shoulder strap for transportaiton
Best suited for:
- All-weather camping conditions
- Children up to 4′ 5″
There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution when it comes to camping beds for kids. Space in your vehicle will often dictate what is practical to pack, whilst comfort may reign supreme for longer camping trips where something with extra padding is required. As your kids grow, they are less likely to roll at night do you can do away with large and bulky bumpers, transitioning to much neater more compact and easy to set up camping pads.
Sleeping With Infants While Camping
When it comes to camping with an infant, they have slightly different sleep needs to consider. We take a more detailed look at baby travel beds over here – but a couple of options to consider when sharing your bed or tent with a baby:
Not all the kids camping mattresses listed above come with their own pump. Pumps can either be manual, where you need to put in a bit of elbow grease or foot power, or alternative electric where they are run with batteries or need a power point or car socket to run off. The former tend to be cheaper than the later but not by much; several kids = invest in the electric pump!!
While kids can sleep directly on the mattress, inside a sleeping bag, for long-term use of the camping mattress, you may also consider packing some sheets that are much easier to wash in the (likely) event they get dirty and stained. Unfortunately due to the odd sizes that the camping mattresses come in rather than traditional bed sizes, you will need to shop around for a good fit or go with a flat sheet rather than a fitted sheet.
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