Wheels up! It’s time to roll. You’ve got your car packed with a weekend’s worth of gear and the stoke is high. You’re ready to park your rig in the woods, build a fire, roll out your sleeping pad and enjoy a comfy night in the great outdoors. But about that sleeping pad … are you using a legit car camping mattress yet? And are you still sleeping in a restrictive, ultralight mummy bag while on road-side adventures? If you haven’t upgraded to a plush car-camping sleep system, here are a few tips on how to do it right in the front-country.
Go Big with the Mattress
When your car is hauling the weight of your gear, there’s no reason to skimp on your mattress. Get a thick, plush, luxurious, super fatty mattress and rest your bones in true comfort. Our Camp & Comfort mattresses are built for this sole purpose and provide the ultimate outdoor sleeping experience when carry-weight isn’t an issue. Check out the MondoKing 3D. This ultra-thick monster sports 4 inches of foamy loft and swallows a few uneven bumps on the ground like an aardvark wolfing down a row of ants.
What’s that? You’re driving a Prius and that MondoKing won’t fit next to all your gear? OK, we get it. If pack size is an issue, consider going with an air mattress instead of foam. This doesn’t mean you have to give up comfort though. Check out the loft of our NeoAir Camper SV, for example. This 3-inch-thick blue beast provides the stabilized comfort you want in a car camping mattress, plus it packs down small to fit inside tight spaces. An added bonus is the Camper’s SpeedValve, which will save you time inflating and deflating the mattress—saving you precious moments that you can use to, say, snap an Instagram of the sunset, or sleep a few minutes longer before packing up on a chilly morning.
Speaking of chilly mornings, another key consideration when building your car camping sleep system is the R-Value of your chosen mattress. If you’re planning on running the gamut of seasons with this pad, a foam core is a warmer option. To compare, our 2-inch thick Basecamp mattress with a foam core has a robust R-Value of 5, making it warm enough for all-season camping. A NeoAir Camper air mattress, on the other hand, has greater loft with 3 inches, yet the R-Value hovers down around 2.2—warm enough for spring, summer and fall, but not a winter pad.
OK, so you’re super picky and want the packability of an air mattress but the warmth of foam. No worries, you can have your cake and eat it too. Check out the NeoAir Dream.
The Dream holds a lightweight, 3-inch thick NeoAir mattress core inside a 1-inch foam pillow top. Take the air mattress out and go backpacking, put it back in and sleep on 4 inches of cushy, warm loft during a car camping excursion. Pack it up small either way, thanks to the compressibility of the NeoAir core.