No one should be deprived of the pleasures of camping just because they have a bad back. If you’re an avid camper who’s finding it increasingly difficult to sleep on the hard ground, perhaps it’s time to invest in some extra padding.
Our in-depth reviews should help you select the best camping mattress for bad back.
In A Hurry?
Our Top Pick – Cumbor Luxury Queen Air Mattress With Built-in Pump
- WELLAX Ultralight Air Sleeping Pad
- Overmont Inflatable Camping Tent Mattress Pad
- Cumbor Luxury Queen Air Mattress With Built-in Pump
- AirExpect Camping Mattress—Queen Size
- Willpo Certipur-US Memory Foam Camping Mattress
Shopping For A Camping Mattress: What You Need To Know
Even if you already own a sleeping pad, you’ll need to follow a different set of criteria if you want to find the best fit for your bad back. Here are the most important factors to consider before you begin your search.
Benefits Of Sleeping On A Camping Mattress
Comfort is the most obvious answer, but it’s more multifaceted than you might expect. A mattress provides an extra level of insulation in addition to cushioning and support. When it’s properly constructed, it will also give you a more stable surface on which to rest.
Which Is Better: A Foam Mattress Or An Air Mattress?
Each style has its own pros and cons, and only you can decide which one might be a better fit for your camping lifestyle.
While foam mattresses tend to be more durable and inexpensive than their inflatable counterparts, they’re also bulkier and heavier to carry. They don’t insulate as well, either, so you may require additional padding between your sleeping bag and the mattress.
Conversely, air mattresses are lighter and often more comfortable, but they’re prone to punctures and require more maintenance. Another important factor? Air mattresses can be extremely noisy. If you’re a light sleeper, you would probably prefer a foam sleeping pad.
For a closer look at the foam vs. air rivalry, take a look at this video tutorial.
Features You Should Look For In A Camping Mattress
First and foremost, you’ll want to select a camping mattress that’s big enough for you to rest comfortably. When you’re dealing with a bad back, it’s even more important—you don’t want your head or legs to dangle awkwardly off the edge.
It might be a good idea to take some basic measurements before you make a purchase. Lie down in your normal sleeping position and have someone measure you from head to toe. Then do a perpendicular measurement across your torso and arms. This will give you a clear picture of how much space you’ll need in order to be comfortable.
The thicker the camping mattress is, the more distance there will be between your tender muscles and the hard, cold ground. Inflatable mattresses are often a good choice because you can adjust the height once you’ve set them up.
As a bonus, they don’t take up much room in your duffel or knapsack. No matter what type of mattress you choose, try to find one that measures at least three inches thick when fully expanded.
Poorly made mattresses—especially the inflatable variety—are prone to weak spots and air leakage. An unstable surface will disrupt your slumber more quickly than anything, and could even exacerbate your back problems. Look for a camping mattress that won’t shift around when you change positions in the night.
If the mattress is too heavy, you’ll have difficulty getting it to the campsite in the first place, especially if you’re backpacking. Choose a model that’s lightweight—under five pounds, if possible.
No matter how comfortable your padding is, you won’t get a good night’s sleep if you’re constantly being woken by the cold air that’s seeping from the ground below. To determine how well-insulated the mattress is, take a look at the R-value. This term refers to the material’s level of thermal resistance.
If the mattress has a high R-value, it provides a high level of insulation, meaning your body won’t have to work as hard to keep warm. An R-value of 2.1 is suitable for three-season camping, while numbers of 3.3 through 5 will provide you with proper insulation throughout the cold winter months.
Downsides To Sleeping On A Camping Mattress
You probably shouldn’t sleep on a camping mattress every night, especially if you’re prone to back problems. Try to limit your camping trips to four nights at a time. If that’s not a possibility, you might want to consider investing in a camping cot instead.
Aside from these two caveats, there’s no real reason not to take advantage of the stability and comfort that a mattress pad can provide.
Also, check out this article on great camping chairs for bad back.
Best Camping Mattress For Bad Back: Product Review Guide
1. WELLAX Ultralight Air Sleeping Pad
The unique design of this inflatable air mattress provides you with excellent support in a lightweight package. Weighing in at just 14.5 ounces, the WELLAX can be easily inflated with just five or six breaths, and deflated even more quickly.
It’s constructed of waterproof 20D rip-stop nylon, with “flexing air cells” that mimic the springs of an actual mattress. With an R-value of 2.1, it’s suitable for camping in the spring, summer, and fall.
The WELLAX makes almost no noise when fully inflated to its maximum height of 2.5 inches—an unusual and welcome feature for an air mattress.
2. Overmont Inflatable Camping Tent Mattress Pad
The Overmont is an extra-thick mattress that measures 4.72 inches when fully inflated, offering an R-value of 5. That makes it a great choice for winter camping, when the temperatures drop below freezing.
The 80D polyester rip-stop fabric features a PVC coating, so it’s fully waterproof. It can even pull double duty as a float for aquatic adventures (note that it’s not to be used as a lifesaving device).
This model can be inflated and ready to go within three minutes, and it packs down to a manageable 14x6x4 inches. As far as weight goes, it’s impressively light for its size—just 2.65 pounds.
3. Cumbor Luxury Queen Air Mattress With Built-in Pump
The Cumbor is an oversized inflatable option, measuring a whopping 18 inches high when fully inflated. The built-in pump is convenient and helps to cut down on packing space—an especially welcome touch considering how large this mattress is to begin with.
This mattress is made from PVC material measuring .45 millimeters thick, which is considerably tougher than similar models.
The air-coil technology, coupled with the durable cover, ensures that the mattress will remain firm and stable for several nights before it needs re-inflating. If you have the space for it, this could be an excellent option.
4. AirExpect Camping Mattress—Queen Size
Like the Cumbor, this offering from AirExpect is large enough to accommodate couples. The PVC coating measures .45 millimeters thick, and a sophisticated air-coil system provides superb spinal support. At 9 inches high when fully inflated, it’s not the thickest model on our list, but it offers plenty of protection from the cold ground.
The main complaint we have with this model involves the rechargeable air pump. We think this component is a bit cumbersome, not to mention quirky. Fortunately, you can find alternate methods if necessary.
On the whole, this air mattress delivers as advertised. There are even a few patches included in case you should spring a leak.
5. Willpo Certipur-US Memory Foam Camping Mattress
The Willpo is a twin-sized foam camping pad that weighs in at just under ten pounds, making it a suitable choice for backpacking. An optional waterproof sheet keeps the memory foam from suffering damage in wet weather, and the non-slip padding on the back provides stability, even on hard surfaces.
The outer layer is machine-washable, in addition to being soft and comfortable to sleep on. There’s even a travel bag included for your convenience.
Unless space is a major issue, we would highly recommend the Cumbor Luxury Queen Air mattress. While certainly not suitable for backpacking, this ultra-thick inflatable mattress offers more stability and comfort than any of the other models listed here.
The built-in pump is an especially appealing feature, as it eliminates the hazard of leaving your inflator behind. Also, since this is a queen-sized unit, couples won’t have to invest in a second mattress.
We hope our roundup has given you all the information you need for a good night’s sleep beneath the stars.
Best of luck with your new mattress, and happy trails!