Typically, camping means heading to a campsite, pitching a tent, and sleeping in the great outdoors. However, car camping is becoming far more popular these days, especially with so many great products available to turn your vehicle into a camper’s paradise.
One essential component of any camping trip is having a comfortable bed. Fortunately, a car air mattress or similar bed can make your next adventure far more accommodating.
That said, choosing one of the best beds for your car can be a bit overwhelming, particularly if you’ve never seen one before. So, with that in mind, let’s grab some sleeping bags and see which car bed works best.
An Introduction to Car Camping
Technically, car camping can refer to two different types of trips. The first one is when you camp inside your car instead of in a tent. The second option is to camp in a tent that’s either next to your car or attached to it.
While the second type of car camping is still fun and convenient, the beds necessary for that kind of excursion are much different. So, we’re looking at air mattresses that work inside your vehicle to help you sleep better all night long.
Top 6 Car Air Beds for Your Next Trip
Many of the best beds for your car are air mattresses, but you can find other types of materials that work well for car camping and long trips. We’ve compiled a list of the top six models to help you feel refreshed and well-rested after a full night’s sleep.
We’re kicking things off with the best car air mattress that fits over 180 different vehicles. The way this model works is that it comes with two “feet” that fill in the gap between front and back seats. The mattresses then extend into your vehicle’s rear section for a full-sized experience that can fit most people.
One element we like about this Luno car bed is that it’s dual-sided, so you can use it for solo campers and couples. You can also adjust each side’s firmness by inflating it more or less.
This car air mattress also uses extra-thick 300 denier fabric, meaning it will hold up season after season. Finally, it inflates and deflates rapidly so you’re not waiting forever to set it up or tear it down.
- Fast and efficient inflation
- Extra-large size fits two people
- Durable 300 Denier fabric
- Folds and deflates for compact storage and transportation
- Dual-sided mattress allows you to adjust the thickness on each side
- Fits most vehicles
- More expensive than other car beds
- May not fit some vehicle makes and models
Inflatable mattresses are excellent for car camping, but the Zenbivy MotoBed takes the concept to another level. Yes, this is a car air mattress, but it also comes with a softshell casing and a hood so you don’t need to bring a sleeping bag. The mattress also comes with built-in inflatable pillows, making this an all-in-one option that works well for any situation.
That said, if you’re on the heftier side, the hood and cover may feel a bit constrictive. For example, if you like sleeping on your side, you might not be able to move around too much. Nonetheless, we like the MotoBed as one of the best car air mattresses available.
- Softshell casing makes you feel snug at night
- Hood to help keep you warm and cozy
- Dual-layer mattress for added comfort and durability
- Fast and easy rolling for more efficient transportation
- Can feel bulky and cumbersome when putting it into place
- Expensive compared to other models
If you’re looking for a car air bed that won’t take up your trunk space, this model from Hiraliy is an excellent choice. It lays flat on the back seat so you can stretch out without falling onto the floor.
This air mattress is extra-thick for added comfort, and even comes with two inflatable pillows and a flocked top so you can get good sleep all night long. Plus, since it has feet to cover the entire back seat area, you can feel free to move around.
This product also comes with a folding section that fits in between the front seats. This way, you can have a little bit of extra space. If there’s already something there (i.e., a middle console), the flap simply folds up.
Finally, we like that this air mattress comes with its own electric air pump. This way, you can inflate it quickly and efficiently. Also, the air pump plugs into the car’s 12-volt adapter, meaning you don’t need an outlet to make it work.
- Triple-layered wear-resistant material
- Flocked top for extra comfort
- Two inflatable pillows provided
- Electric air pump provided
- Fast inflation and deflation
- In rare cases, the mattress may develop a leak at the seams
- Doesn’t fit some vehicles
While air mattresses are common for car camping, you can use other materials like foam with this XXL camping mat from Teton Sports Outfitters. Technically, this bed is designed for use with a cot, but it also works for a back seat, too.
The open-cell foam is thick and cushy, and the pad is both breathable and well-insulated. So, no matter the weather conditions outside, you can feel warm and toasty inside your car. This pad also comes with a side pocket so you can keep items handy if necessary.
Because this car bed is made of foam, it doesn’t fold as compactly as an air mattress. However, it comes with compression straps to make it easier to store and transport.
- Lightweight at under five pounds
- Open-cell foam for better breathability
- Thick insulation to keep you warm at night
- Compression straps for better storage and transportation
- Side storage pocket provided
- Works best on cots
- Not as thick as it may seem
One problem with most car air beds is that it takes time to inflate and deflate them. The Nemo Roamer is one of the best beds for your car that gets around this issue by being a self-inflated air mattress. While you still have to do some work to get the air bed working, it’s much less of a hassle than other models. However, if you’re using an electric air pump to inflate the bed, you’re not saving that much more time overall.
Another thing we like about this best car air mattress is that it’s made from recycled materials. So, you can feel good about sleeping on it because it has less of an environmental impact. Finally, the Roamer comes in single or double-wide models. The double inflatable bed is almost the same as a queen air mattress, meaning you have more than enough space for you and someone else.
- Proprietary Flow Core system for faster inflation and deflation
- Self-inflatable bed for extra convenience
- Packs tightly for easier transportation
- Made of recycled materials for less of a footprint
- Single and dual models are available
- Thickness isn’t as noticeable as other air mattresses
- More expensive than other camping beds
Regular foam can make a relatively comfortable bed, but memory foam like this best bed for your car is a lot more accommodating. Because the material conforms to your body’s shape, you feel supported and relaxed, all night long.
This particular memory foam bed has two layers. The first is an extra-dense foam on the bottom for support, then softer foam on top to hug your body. This mattress also comes with a waterproof cover, making it ideal for car camping in any weather.
Another element we like is the skid-free bottom texture. This way, you don’t have to worry about sliding around by accident while sleeping.
- 2.75-inch thick material for extra comfort
- Rolls compactly, so you can store it more easily
- Waterproof cover provided
- Skid-free bottom to prevent slipping
- Dual-layered foam
- Can compress over time
- Not ideal for heavier individuals
Our final entry is the Saygogo SUV air mattress. Because it’s made for SUVs, it doesn’t work for smaller vehicles. However, car camping in an SUV is much more accommodating anyway, so you may prefer to travel in a larger rig.
One thing we really like about this car air bed is that it comes with inflatable pillows and a raised headboard. This way, you can feel more comfortable while sleeping, assuming you sleep on your back.
For best results, we recommend using an electric air pump for this inflatable bed. Otherwise, you might be blowing into it for a while. It has six separate chambers for stability, durability, and comfort.
- Dual-sided to work for couples
- Comes with inflatable pillows
- Separate chambers for added stability
- Durable construction supports up to three people
- Requires an air pump to inflate
- Doesn’t fit the back seat of non-SUV vehicles
How to Choose a Car Air Mattress
Although we’ve seen some of the best car air mattresses, it can still be somewhat overwhelming to narrow your search to just one or two. So, try to keep these factors in mind when looking at multiple beds.
As we’ve covered, many car beds are air mattresses, but you can also find foam insulation, too. The material matters because it affects things like:
- Airflow – You want something that will keep you warm while also drawing hot air away from the bed itself.
- Comfort – Thicker materials are generally more comfortable, but it really depends on the person.
- Cleanability – No matter what, you’ll need to clean your bed, and some materials are easier to wash than others. As a rule, foam beds require spot cleaning, while you may be able to soak a car air mattress to remove any dirt or debris.
- Setup Speed – While car air mattresses are convenient, they can take a while to inflate and deflate. So, if you want to be able to lay down sooner, a foam bed will work better. However, these beds take up more room in storage, so you have to plan accordingly.
One issue you’ll come across when car camping is that you have limited storage space for all your stuff. Since many car air mattress models fit in the rear section, you have to move your luggage to the front seat so you can lay down.
This lack of space means you want a bed that can fold compactly and tightly so it doesn’t take up much room. Most air mattresses are ideal for this reason because once they’re deflated, they’re pretty small and lightweight.
If you opt for a foam bed, you want something that’s relatively thin and easy to roll. You may also have to use compression straps to make it even more compact.
Although an air mattress is comfortable and easy to use, many models can wind up with rips and tears that lead to small leaks. So, you want to choose a car air bed that can hold up for multiple seasons at least.
Pay attention to the material of the mattress and its strength setting. Most air beds use polyester, PVC, or denier plastic materials. The thickness of the walls and the resilience of the seams are crucial in figuring out which air mattress is the most durable. For example, the Luno Life Air Mattress has 300 denier fabric, which is much higher than most other beds.
There are two things to consider when looking at the size of a car air bed. First, you need to know whether it’s long and wide enough to accommodate your frame. If you’re sleeping with another person, you have to double those specs to ensure you won’t feel too cramped or uncomfortable.
The second reason to pay attention to the size of your inflatable bed is that you have to make sure it will fit in your vehicle. Although most beds can fit most cars, some models (like the Luno Life) are designed a specific way, so they must be compatible.
Also, if you’re buying an SUV air mattress, you likely won’t be able to use it in regular sedans or compact cars.
Although a car inflatable bed may seem like a pretty straightforward product, some models have a few extra features like:
- Dual-Mattress Design – If you and your partner prefer different firmness levels, you may want to get an air bed that uses two separate pieces. This way, you can adjust how much you fill each side according to your needs.
- Pillows – As we’ve seen, some car air mattresses come with inflatable pillows to help you sleep more comfortably. While you can always provide your own, they can take up valuable space. So, having built-in pillows makes it easier to travel.
- Storage Pockets – Usually, an air mattress won’t have storage pockets, but some foam beds might. Since you’re sleeping in the car, you likely won’t need extra pockets, but they can be nice to have during your camping trip.
Other Considerations When Picking Car Air Beds
We’ve discussed how to choose the best air mattress or bed for your car, but there are some other factors that may influence your decision. Before finalizing your top pick, think about these elements and whether they’ll affect your preferences.
Number of Sleepers
Realistically, only one or two people can fit in the back seat or trunk section of a car. If you have small children, you may be able to get three people in a single bed. So, you just have to decide if you want a single or double-sized air mattress.
One benefit of going solo is that you can keep your luggage on one side while you sleep on the other. Otherwise, with two sleepers, you have to figure out where everything else goes.
Yes, your bed won’t be exposed to the elements, but it will still be affected by the weather outside. For example, if it’s raining and you’re wet when you get inside, water can soak into a foam mattress. While absorption isn’t a problem for air mattresses, you have to consider where that water will go (i.e., the trunk carpet or onto other belongings.
Another point to consider with the weather is how hot or cold it gets at night. Foam mattresses work well for cooler weather, but you’ll need some kind of cover if using an air mattress. Otherwise, the material can get pretty chilly. Even if you’re using a sleeping bag, the temperature of your mattress matters.
Duration of Trip
Typically, car camping is something you might do for a day or two. However, if you’re planning an extended stay, you need to consider how that will affect your bed. If you’re using foam, it will get thinner and more compressed each night you sleep on it. If you’re using an air mattress, it may deflate slightly, forcing you to re-inflate it before the trip is done.
Also, if you’re using a big bed that restricts the amount of storage space, you’ll have to consider whether that’s worth the price of a comfortable night’s sleep.