A More Comfortable Air Mattress for Car Camping

Courtesy Nemo Equipment

What It Is: This 6-inch thick car-camping air mattress is like having your bed from home in the backcountry. It’s a superior alternative to a heavy, plastic-y department store air mattress or a thin camping mattress that makes you feel like you’re sleeping on the ground. A built-in foot pump makes it easy to inflate, and it’s wide and long enough — 30×80 inches — that you won’t slide off in the middle of the night. One side of the pad has toggles, and the other side has loops, so if you’d prefer a queen to a spacious twin, you can link two together.

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Why We Like It: Each night we slept on this pad while car camping in New York’s Adirondacks was the most comfortable we’ve ever been while using an inflatable mattress. It keeps you way off the ground. The nylon face fabric didn’t feel clammy even when we slept on it with just a sheet. Because the pad isn’t insulated, it’s compact when rolled — and, at under three pounds, possibly even small enough to take backpacking, depending on how much weight you prefer. The pump is built in; you pump one corner of the mat with your foot to inflate it, which means no getting dizzy from huffing and puffing into your mattress valve. Plus, there’s no need for the bulky plastic pump used to inflate some mattresses or for an electric inflator. Pull the cover off dual ports at the end of the mattress, and it deflates instantly for easy rolling. And, if you don’t want to or can’t use the foot pump, there is a blow-up valve near the deflation ports to top it off. It takes around 175 pumps to inflate it — or around three minutes.

Nitpick: Three minutes of inflation can feel like forever at the end of a long day. And you need to make sure the open side of the pump is facing up when you inflate it, and that you fully cover the hole with your foot as you pump for maximum efficiency. With the pump cover off — the pump is a block of springy foam inside a sleeve in the mattress — if the hole is facing the ground, dirt and grass can also get sucked into it.

[Available January 2016, $199; nemoequipment.com]

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