Choosing Between an Air Bed vs. Memory Foam Mattress for Camping
Going camping can be an enjoyable experience, especially when you have the right equipment and supplies. It is relaxing and rejuvenating to be at one with nature, and you also get to experience being away from the hustle and bustle of the city, with family and friends. However, in order to have the best possible experience, it is important to sleep comfortably while away from home. This article will help you choose between an air bed vs. memory foam mattress for your next camping trip.
When comparing an air bed vs. a memory foam mattress for camping, an air bed is more suitable for shorter camping trips because it is not as comfortable as a foam mattress. However, an airbed is more portable and convenient. A memory foam mattress is better for longer camping trips since it is more comfortable and durable. However, memory foam takes up more space and requires an additional waterproof cover.
Mattresses that you purchase for a camping trip have several unique features that are not as important for home mattresses. These include storage, packing, comfort, durability, and portability. Mattresses that work well for camping trips are either memory foam or air. Read our article on the benefits of air beds to find out about the support that they offer.
Additionally, more and more people are using air beds more permanently in their homes. In doing so, you may wonder if you can use an air bed on an adjustable bed. Be sure to check out our related article to find out. Alternatively, if you are planning to make your air bed a permanent fixture, be sure to read up on some common air bed dangers and how to fix them.
What’s the Difference between an Air Bed and a Memory Foam Mattress
Air beds are manufactured from various materials such as PVC or a mixture of polyester and flocked velvet. Memory foam mattresses are produced using viscoelastic foam that conforms to the shape of your body to provide superior support, and retains body heat to ensure a warm and comfortable night’s sleep.
The difference between an air bed and a memory foam mattress is that an air bed is an inflatable, portable mattress, usually made of PVC. It is inflated manually or automatically using a pump, until it is firm enough for the user to sleep on. A memory foam mattress is more comfortable and is usually composed of viscoelastic foam which molds to the shape of the user’s body. A foam mattress cannot be deflated, making it less portable, but more durable.
Mattress toppers can also be made out of memory foam and can provide an extra layer of comfort. Read our article on gel vs. memory foam mattress toppers to learn more about the materials used in memory foam mattresses and toppers. One hybrid strategy to make a comfortable sleeping space while camping is to carry both an air bed and a memory foam mattress topper.
Features of Air Beds and Memory Foam Mattresses
Camping in nature should be enjoyable and comfortable. It is an opportunity to remove yourself from everyday stress and responsibilities. But one thing you should not be escaping from is comfort while sleeping.
Features of air beds and memory foam mattresses differ in that air beds are inflatable and portable allowing for moderate comfort. Memory foam mattresses contour the body and reduce pressure on the shoulders, hips, and back. They provide unparalleled comfort but are cumbersome to carry. Air beds are less durable as they can easily be punctured and tend to cool down during the night, whereas memory foam mattresses are durable and retain heat.
Memory foam mattresses provide excellent cushioning and support. Air mattresses, on the other hand, help to improve blood circulation and offer greater insulation, according to this article from Keystone Healthcare. Memory foam mattresses are also easier to settle into, and mold to the shape of your body. In most cases, we would agree that memory foam mattresses provide more cushioning comfort than air mattresses.
Air mattresses are generally less expensive than memory foam mattresses. Air mattresses are around $150 or less while memory foam mattresses could cost anywhere from $200 to $1200. The range in price for each mattress is due to a number of reasons, for example, some air beds come with an electric pump while others do not. Moreover, some air beds are made using higher quality materials such as PVC or flocked velvet. Conversely, memory foam mattresses that are made from latex or memory foam are more durable than polyurethane foam, as stated in this article by the manufacturer Sleeponlatex.com. Lastly, mattresses made for clinical use and prescribed by doctors, like this alternating pressure air mattress, are generally more expensive.
Air mattresses are slightly less durable than memory foam mattresses because they can get punctured by sharp objects. However, memory foam mattresses do get worn over time. Air mattresses can last well even after several inflations and deflations, but a durability issue to be mindful of is an air leak, which can be repaired using specialized kits or DIY solutions. Read our article on how to repair a leaking air bed for step-by-step instructions. The PVC used for air mattresses is generally more durable and less likely to puncture or tear.
Memory foam mattresses can be quite cumbersome to transport to a campsite, but they can be successfully rolled up and carried, like this one. It is however important not to fold the memory foam mattress, to prevent damaging it. In this article we discuss whether you should fold a memory foam mattress, and we offer tips and tricks on how to avoid damage and injury.
Portability and Ease of Use
Air mattresses are portable since they can be deflated and carried in a compact form, so they take up less space than memory foam mattresses. For example this single memory foam camping mattress, rolls up into a 25-inch by 14-inch bundle that weighs 7.7 pounds. That being said, memory foam mattresses can be installed faster because there is no need to inflate them nor do you have to transport a pump. In order to package a memory foam mattress compactly, you might need a vacuum sealing bag. Lastly, transporting a queen or king size memory foam mattress would be more difficult than transporting a deflated air mattress of the same size.
|Type of Mattress||Comfort Level||Price Range||Durability||Portability||Example from Amazon||Price|
|Foam Mattress||Extra cushioning||Expensive||Adequate durability||Not portable unless you are car camping||Sweetnight 12 inch Memory Foam Mattress||~$520|
|Camping Foam Mattress||Sufficient cushioning and support||Less expensive than a mattress for home use||Adequate durability due to the protective outer cover||Somewhat portable when rolled up. Needs to be vacuum compacted.||Memory Foam Roll Up Mattress Twin||~$150|
|Air Mattress||Adjustable firmness levels based on inflation||Less expensive||More durable than a memory foam mattress meant for home use||Portable||Englander Twin Size Air Mattress||~$100|
|Camping Air Mattress||Adjustable firmness levels based on inflation||Less expensive||High durability, can hold 600 lbs||Portable||Intex Dura-Beam Airbed||~$80|
Whether you choose an air bed or a foam mattress, you might also want to consider using a padded sleeping bag and a self-inflating sleep pad for your next camping adventure. Both are included in our complete guide to air bed alternatives, so make sure to check that article out as well.
Pros and Cons of Air Mattresses vs. Foam Mattresses for Camping
There are several types of camping that will determine the kind of mattress you need to take along. Camping can range from car camping to RV Camping, to traditional tent camping or backpacking.
When determining the pros and cons of air mattresses vs. foam mattresses for camping, use air mattresses for car camping and backpacking because they can fit into smaller spaces and are more portable. However, air mattresses are less comfortable. Use memory foam mattresses for RV camping and tent camping as they are more comfortable but they will take up more space and are cumbersome to carry around.
All of the different types of camping have their own special requirements and considerations. For example, car camping requires a particular design, portability is important for backpacking, and comfort is more pertinent for RV camping. Read our article on how to make a truck bed more comfortable when camping to find some ideas. You might also find interest in our article, air bed vs sleeping pad for some additional information.
Due to a car’s limited storage options, an air mattress that can be deflated will fit better while traveling. Carting a memory foam mattress along, will reduce the available storage and seating space, and make the trip uncomfortable. There are several specially designed air beds that fit perfectly into the backs of cars to provide a comfortable place to sleep.
If you are camping in a tent, choosing the right mattress comes down to available space. If you are staying in a large tent and comfort is important to you, then a memory foam mattress can be a great option. On the other hand, if you are traveling on foot and need to carry your supplies, an air mattress will be a better choice because you can deflate it and easily carry it. Moreover, if you are planning to sleep in a small tent, an air mattress, which usually measures 6-8 ft long like this one, would fit better than a memory foam mattress.
RV Camping is more spacious than car or tent camping, so a memory foam mattress is a practical choice. As stated earlier, an air mattress can be stowed away easily, but if space is not limited, go for a memory foam mattress. Smaller RVs (usually between 10 and 20 feet) tend to have space for up to four to five adults, mid-sized RVs (between 20 and 30 feet) can hold about 7 adults, and larger RVs (around 30-50 feet) can sleep 12 or more people comfortably. RV beds are typically smaller and narrower than regular beds, so choose a narrower foam mattress. It is also important to consider the height of the beds in the RV.
If you must use air mattresses, check if your RV has electricity to automatically pump up the mattresses. Read our article about Murphy beds being comfortable in RV's and studios.
When backpacking, choose an air mattress because it is lighter to carry. Although a memory foam mattress sounds more comfortable, an air mattress still allows for a good night's sleep and can benefit your health by encouraging better circulation. An air mattress is portable and you can use a manual pump to inflate or deflate your air mattress when camping without electricity. Read our step-by-step guide on how to inflate an air bed, for unique ways to blow up your air bed. Lastly, memory foam mattresses are generally not waterproof, which could be problematic when outdoors.