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Best Camping Bed for You

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It's the time of year to gather the camping gear and start planning a weekend trip. Camping is ideal for bonding with your family and enjoying the great outdoors. Many people avoid tent-style camping, though, because they don't enjoy the discomfort of sleeping on the ground. For some, a painful night on the hard ground can be practically debilitating. It doesn't have to be this way. Camping can be an enjoyable experience for the whole family if you make sure and choose the right camping bed for each member of your family.

Inflatable beds are comfy

I recently compared prices and features of inflatable mattresses at several stores. If you have not slept on an inflatable bed in a few years, you should know that they have changed. Intex, a major manufacturer of inflatable beds, makes about 20 different styles. Many offer an inner construction that makes the bed sturdier and prevents bouncing and swaying every time someone moves. Some of the mattresses are raised, and therefore easier to use, and some even have built in pillows for added comfort. An inflatable camping bed could be ideal if you will not be camping on very rough terrain. Otherwise, a raised platform of some sort may be needed.

If you choose an inflatable bed, you will need to pay special attention to the power source used in the bed's pump. If you are buying a mattress for both home and outdoor use and will be camping near an electrical power source, consider getting a mattress with a built-in pump with a cord you can plug into an outlet. These are available in both sporting goods and housewares in many stores. A mattress with a battery powered pump will require batteries, but will give you the option of camping farther away from civilization. These mattresses are usually found only with the camping gear.

Cots can vary widely

When it comes to camping beds, some folks swear by the old military-issue canvas cots. I spent a few nights on those when I was young, and they aren't bad. One great thing is, they get you off the ground, so you never have to worry about rocks poking you in the back. On the other hand, they are very narrow and you have to heed the weight limit.

Cots are now available in many styles and sizes, from children's beds with built-in sleeping bags to adult-sized padded wonders. They are light weight and easy to set up, and require no power so they are ideal for remote camping. Shop carefully if you are considering using cots as your camping beds, and try them out in the store if possible. Prices and quality vary widely.

Sleeping bags for every situation

Gone are the days of the one-size-fits-all sleeping bag. Today's sleeping bags not only come in a variety of sizes and shapes, they are graded to let you know exactly in what type of weather they work best. Sleeping bags are made from high tech materials, and the insulation and style may be ideal for extreme cold or more breathable and light for summer camping. You can also purchase foam sleeping pads to go under your sleeping bag and make your bed more comfortable. Do some research before you hit the store, or ask a knowledgeable salesperson for help. Coleman offers a guide to their widely available sleeping bags online.

With a little research and planning, you can find the perfect camping beds for every member of your family. Camping is more fun when everyone gets a good night's sleep and wakes up ready to hit the hiking trail or jump in the lake!

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Tavia worked as a naturalist and recreation specialist at an Oklahoma lake during her college years. She enjoys using what she learned as an outdoor educator in her work with children today.

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