How to choose the best camping bed?
Everyone's different, and like many things in life, what's best for one person might not be best for the next. The best camping bed for you depends on your particular needs:
- Where you'll use the bed (will it be hot or cold, and will the ground be rocky?)
- How you're getting your bed there (are you taking a car or 4WD, or going hiking?)
- What position you sleep in (on your back or on your side and do you toss and turn?)
- If you have a bad back or bad knees (so need a bed that's easy to get in and out of)
- Who'll be using the bed, both now and in the future (anyone tall, or is it for kids?)
- How fast you want to be able to set it up and pack it down (in seconds or minutes?)
- How often you'll be camping and for how long (on weekends only or for a few weeks?)
- How long you want it to last (for a few short trips or for many years of camping?)
Working out which bed to buy is easier when you break it down in into these five steps below.
There are different types of camping beds, and they all have different benefits.
Think about what's important to you and which type you'd prefer to sleep on.
- Sleeping mats are the lightest, most compact and easiest to set up.
- They're perfect for hiking, backpacking, expeditions and festivals.
- Can be used on the ground, on top of a fold-out bed, in a swag or back of a 4WD.
- Higher-density mats with a higher R-value keep you warmer and more comfortable.
- If you're a cold person in general you'll want a mat with an R-value of at least 4.
- If you sleep on your side, you'll need a thick mat to be able to sleep comfortably.
- Foam mats are foam on the inside with a fabric coating and you just roll them out.
- Self-inflating mats have a valve, and when you open it air inflates around the foam.
- Some have a waterproof bag so your bed doesn't get wet in the rain when hiking.
Fold out bed
- A folding bed or stretcher keeps you up off the ground while you sleep.
- Keeps you off sharp rocks, pointy sticks, creepy crawlies and cold, damp ground.
- They're perfect for those struggle getting up and down so prefer a higher bed.
- Keeps you cooler on hot nights because air flows under you (but colder in winter).
- You can store your gear under the stretcher bed to create more floor space.
- Best for those who sleep on their back (but they can wobble if you move a lot).
- May include a mattress (if not, adding a mat or airbed makes it a lot comfier).
- Criss-crossed bed legs are sturdier so they're better if you're heavier or move a lot.
- An airbed is inflated with air so they're compact when deflated and folded up.
- Self-inflating - airbeds that fill up with air on their own are the easiest to set up.
- Manual - you inflate it with a battery-powered pump (foot pumps take forever).
- Some manual airbeds come with a battery-powered pump included, so check.
- It's normal for airbeds to lose some air overnight so you'll need to top them up.
- Don't have much insulation so you can feel cold and may need a blanket under you.
- Double height air beds are as high as a real bed so they're easy to get in and out of.
- Good if you sleep on your side or toss and turn a lot (but may disturb your partner).
- Having a nap during the day in a hammock is heaven.
- It rocks as you read, and before you know it you're sound asleep.
- You'll need to tie it to two trees or take a free-standing frame.
- Keeps you cool on hot days and nights because air flows under you.
- Best suited to longer camping trips or holiday destinations you drive to.
- Comfort - do you want to sleep in a single bed, large single, double or queen bed?
- Height - the bed has to be long enough for anyone tall who'll be sleeping in it.
- Width - more width is important for those who have a bigger build or turn a lot.
- How heavy is it? Stretchers are the heaviest so they're difficult to carry far.
- What's it's weight limit? Some double stretchers have a 200kg weight limit.
- Transport & storage
- How compact is it when packed up, and how much space will it take up?
- Folding beds take up the most space in the car and storage space at home.
- Bunk beds
- Two vertically stacked beds take up less floor space in the tent.
- Kids love bunks but need to be old enough to be safe on them.
- Make sure there's enough head height in your tent to fit bunks.
- Some bunk beds can also be set up as two separate single beds.
How easy do you want setting up the bed to be, and packing it up when it's home time?
- Roll-out foam mats and self-inflating mats are the quickest, easiest beds to set up.
- An airbed with a built-in pump is set up a lot faster than a manually inflated airbed.
- Stretcher beds are the heaviest to carry and take a little longer to set up.
- Bunk beds need to be put together so they're better for longer camping trips
The materials a bed is made from determines how waterproof and long-lasting it'll be.
- The fabric's thickness is given in denier (D).
- A higher D bed is more waterproof and durable.
- RipStop fabric helps prevent rips growing into big rips. Making it easier to repair.
- Thin and light so good for backpacking
- Used for making lightweight hiking mats
- Waterproof (so ground dampness doesn't seep through)
- Used for most fold-out beds and mats
- More breathable than polyester
- Stronger and lighter than cotton
- Usually has a waterproof coating
How sturdy a folding bed's frame is will determine:
- How much weight it can bear.
- Whether it wobbles when you toss and turn.
- How long the bed will last.
When it comes to the strength and sturdiness of the bed frame:
- Thickness - thicker legs are sturdier and last longer (but are also heavier).
- Shape - beds with legs that cross over are sturdier than straight-legged beds.
- Many beds have steel frames but these can get rusty if they ever get wet.
- A powder-coated steel frame that's rust resistant will last longer than steel.
- An aluminium frame is lighter than steel, but steel is stronger so lasts longer.
When you're weighing up which bed to buy, think about quality versus cost:
- Fold-out stretcher beds are usually cheaper than self-inflating and foam mats.
- You can buy airbeds and mats in similar sizes for fairly similar prices.
- Airbeds you have to inflate manually are cheaper than self-inflating mats.
- Airbeds with good valves and seams won't deflate as much during the night.
- Double height airbeds usually cost more than lower-to-the-ground airbeds.
When it comes to how much you should spend on a bed:
- Think about much sleep matters to you and how well future guests will sleep.
- Cheaper beds don't tend to last as long, so you get what you pay for.
- If you camp regularly or for more than a few days a time, spending a bit more:
- Gives you years of comfortable camping.
- Is an investment in being a happy camper.
- Find out if it comes with a repair kit or how you can buy one in future if needed.
- Factor in the cost of anything else you may want to buy like an airbed pump, inflatable pillow or sleeping bag.
Ranging from $40 to $450, the majority of Anaconda's camping beds are $50 to $200.
When you go to the sleeping section on the Anaconda website, you'll see tick box filters down the left hand side of the page. Using these filters makes working out which bed to buy easier and faster because you can choose to filter what you see by:
- Categories - so you can choose to only see hiking mats, 4WD mats, airbeds, hammocks, or stretchers and beds or all of these options.
- Price - so you only see beds that are within your budget on the page.
- Deal - so you only see all the beds that are on sale or at clearance prices.
- Size - so you just see all the beds in the size you want.
- Brand - so you can find specific brands like Spinifex beds, Coleman beds or the Dune 4WD mats and stretcher tent.