Best Truck Camping Sleeping Pads

Truck bed camping is fun and convenient, but you need to have the right equipment. The right sleeping mat, for example, can make your trip enjoyable, but the wrong one can make it miserable.

That’s why it’s essential to plan and pick the best sleeping pad for a truck bed. There are other supplies that you can’t go without when truck camping, but those that affect your sleeping arrangement are essential.

There are specific features that you need to consider when purchasing the best sleeping pad for truck bed camping. However, the features that you require depend on your particular style of truck camping and your personal needs.

What Are The Essential Features Of A Sleeping Pad For Truck Camping?

Part of figuring out how to choose the best camping mattresses is knowing which features affect comfort and performance. While there are many things to consider, you should focus on the few that will be truly important to you. These are the traits that should inform your decision making.

Here, you’ll learn how to choose the best sleeping pad product based on product features and your unique needs.

What Size Mattress Will Fit in a Truck Bed?

The best camping sleeping pads should fit your truck properly to offer the best comfort. Most trucks with a full-size bed (about eight feet in length) can fit a full-size or queen mattress. Even a “short” bed typically measures 6.5 feet long, which is long enough for most air mattresses.

However, fitting a king-size bed of any type in your truck will be a challenge. The wheel wheels will force you to bend the mattress, so smaller sizes are preferable.

Insulation and R-value

The R-Value of a sleeping pad is a measure of its ability to resist heat and cold. A sleeping pad with a high R-value will provide more warmth at night, while one with a lower R-value will work fine in warmer conditions.

If your truck bed is like mine, then it can get cold at night. In such cases, a warm sleeping pad is vital.

You should select a sleeping pad based on the lowest temperatures you expect to experience on your camping trip. If you’re camping in the winter, you’ll need a sleeping pad with a much higher R-value than if you’re camping in the summer.

The bulk of sleeping pads on the market will have an R-value in the range 1-10. Some of the bulkiest mattresses go over 10. Most campers don’t mind a sleeping pad with an R-value between 2 and 5 for spring, summer, and autumn. In winter, though, you require an R-value higher than five.

Inflation and Cushioning

Inflation and cushioning are two other critical features to consider in sleeping mattresses. Take closed-cell foam pads, for example. These tend to have the same amount of cushioning, even though the thickness may vary. That said, most of them are typically about an inch thick.

Cell shape can affect comfort regardless of thickness. In general, hexagonal patterns are the cell shape of choice on some high-end models.

For inflatable sleeping pads, the total amount of air in the sleeping pad directly influences the amount of cushioning. The higher the volume of air, the higher the level of cushioning. Most people prefer models with more cushioning.

Like with foam pads, the comfort level of an inflatable sleeping pad can improve with air chamber layout or the use of multiple air pockets.

One benefit of an inflatable sleeping pad is that you can adjust the air volume to fit your desired level of comfort. That adjustment is not possible with a solid sleeping mat for truck beds.

Sleeping Pad Weight

Weight is less of a concern for truck camping, but it is critical if you’re backpacking. Closed-cell foam sleeping pads for truck beds are light, but they are not the most compact. Inflatable sleeping pads win out here. They are both light and compact. As a result, they are prevalent among backpackers.

Sleeping Pad Sizes

You want to get a sleeping pad large enough for you. It should, at least, be wide enough to fit your hips and shoulders. It should also be long enough to fit your body from head to toe. Most regular sized sleeping pads are six feet long, while the XL models reach about 6’6″, or 78 inches.

Standard sized sleeping pads are about 20 inches wide. However, there are broader options available on the market.

There are also small sleeping pads designed for children. These are typically about 48 inches long. For an average height person, a short model will accommodate their torso, but not their legs. Some people prefer short models because they are more compact. However, these models are not a very good option in the event of cold weather.

Common Sleeping Pad Shapes

Sleeping pads are either rectangular or mummy-shaped.

Rectangular pads have a larger surface area suitable for active sleepers (those who move around in their sleep).

Mummy-shaped pads have a tapered design to match the profile of the human body. They are wider in the middle and narrower at the top and bottom. Most of these sleeping pads don’t have much wiggle room, so they are best suited for those that don’t move around a lot during their sleep.

There are also two-person sleeping pads that are heavier and bulkier than the average sleeping pad. You need to make sure this type of pad can fit in your truck bed.

Sleeping Pad Materials and Construction

The construction methods and elements used for the sleeping pad also matter a great deal. Materials directly influence the R-value, durability, and comfort level of the sleeping pad.

The denier rating helps consumers understand this factor. The denier rating of a sleeping pad measures the thickness of the fibers in the sleeping pad. The higher the denier rating, the more durable the sleeping pad.

Most sleeping pad range between 30-denier and 70-denier. 40-denier and above should be good enough for truck camping, though some high-end models have a 100-denier rating.

Anything below 40-denier will be fragile. It is rare to find a sleeping pad with a denier rating under 30, and if you do find it, don’t even consider buying it; it won’t last very long.

The type of fabric also matters. Most inflatable sleeping pads are nylon or polyester. These are durable materials, though nylon has a higher denier rating than polyester.

Many inflatable pads also use ripstop fabric. This fabric is a tear-resistant material that is highly durable.

Another aspect of the construction is the type of air chambers used. The most basic type of air chamber for inflatable sleeping pads is a single air chamber. In these sleeping pads, the air is in one air pocket.

On the one hand, this means that inflation happens quickly. On the other, all you need is one puncture, and the whole thing deflates.

Multiple air chambers solve this problem. One puncture does not necessarily lead to your entire sleeping pad becoming useless.

That said, there are other advantages to multiple air chambers. These offer more comfort since they prevent you from forming large depressions in the sleeping pad. They also reduce the ‘bounciness’ of the inflatable sleeping pad, providing a more stable and supportive sleeping surface.

Sleeping Pad Extras

Some sleeping pads come with extra features, particularly inflatable ones. Side baffles, also known as sleeping pad rails, are large inflatable baffles designed to keep you in place while you sleep and prevent you from rolling off the pad. Pillow baffles follow the same design philosophy and act as inflatable pillows.

Memory Foam Mattresses Vs. Air Mattresses Vs. Sleeping Pads

Which sleeping pads are best for truck or car camping? Here is a closer look at the options.

Memory Foam Mattress

Memory foam mattresses can be a massive benefit to your truck camping experience. Sure, they are bulky and cumbersome to set up, but they have many positives.

For starters, memory foam mattresses have excellent insulation, which ensures you get proper warmth all year round. They are also the most comfortable mattresses. You get the same good sleeping experience as you get with your bed at home.

You can also easily customize a memory foam mattress to fit your truck bed or car. All you need is a sharp knife and some sewing skills.

The downside of a memory foam mattress is that it is very bulky and takes up a lot of space on your truck. It also tends to be stiff in cold weather. It only softens after it’s had some time to absorb your body heat.

Air Mattress

Air mattresses are great for storage since they occupy very little space when deflated. That means you have much more room for the rest of your gear when car camping.

They are also much more comfortable than traditional sleeping pads (though not softer than memory foam mattresses).

The big problem with air mattresses is that they have low insulation compared to foam mattresses and pads. A common trick is to lay a blanket beneath your air mattress to improve the insulation. However, this is not an ideal solution.

Air mattresses are also less durable than memory foam mattresses and foam sleeping pads. Of course, this depends on the quality of the model. In general, however, air mattresses truck camping leaves the possibility of punctures.

Sleeping Pads

Sleeping pads are the traditional solution for truck camping. They are durable and inexpensive and offer more comfort than a sleeping bag on a hard truck bed.

Sleeping pads are easy to customize to fit your truck bed. They are also very compact when folded or rolled up, which means more space for your other gear.

On the other hand, sleeping pads got designed with tent camping in mind. They are not specifically for truck camping. They are, therefore, not always the most comfortable option for truck camping.

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Editor's Choice

REI Co-op Camp Bed Sleeping Pad

Ratings

  • Easy to inflate – 10/10
  • Sleep quality – 8/10
  • Lightweight – 5/10
  • Durability – 10/10

Bottom line

The REI self-inflating sleeping pad is one of the most durable air mattresses for truck camping. It is guaranteed to keep self-inflating for many years. It also has a high R-value of 6.8 and will keep you warm throughout the year. This level of insulation is very high for an air mattress.

All you have to do to inflate this sleeping pad is to unroll it and open the valves. It will expand on its own and inflate partially. You can top it off if you want by blowing into it or using an air pump, but the initial inflation is comfortable enough for most sleepers.

Deflating it is also just as easy. Though rolling it up does require a bit of strength. It’s also highly portable and affordable.

Specs

  • Weight – 3 lbs
  • Dimensions – 72 x 25 x 2.5 inches
  • Price – $100

Pros Cons
  • Great price
  • Easy to inflate and deflate
  • High R-value for inflatable mattress
  • Durable and long-lasting
  • Not very thick
  • A little on the heavy side
  • You can’t alter the size to fit your truck if needed

Premium Pick

Exped Megamat 10 Insulated Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad (Single & Duo)

Ratings

  • Easy to inflate – 10/10
  • Sleep quality – 9/10
  • Lightweight – 3/10
  • Durability – 9/10

Bottom line

The Exped MegaMat 10 is one of the best truck bed camping mattresses on the market. It is spacious and self-inflating. It’s four inches thick when fully inflated, so you can count on it being very comfortable on a hard truck bed. It feels a lot more like a memory foam mattress than an inflatable, thanks to its open-cell design.

This mattress also has a very high R-value of 9.5, which means you can use it in any season. Due to its large size, it is ideally suited for truck bed camping, though not so much for backpacking and tent camping.

Specs

  • Weight – 5.9 lbs
  • Dimensions – 72 x 25 x 4
  • Price – $198

Pros Cons
  • Very spacious
  • High R-value
  • Very comfortable
  • Very large
  • Very heavy
  • Too expensive for casual campers

Bang for Your Buck

Nemo Switchback

Ratings

  • Easy to inflate – 10/10
  • Sleep quality – 4/10
  • Lightweight – 10/10
  • Durability – 8/10

Bottom line

If you’re on a tight budget, it’s hard to do better than the Nemo Switchback. This budget-friendly sleeping pad is highly durable, with nearly indestructible closed-cell foam pads.

When it comes to comfort, it may not be the most comfortable sleeping pad out there. It’s only one-inch thick, after all. That said, it has a hexagonal nesting pattern on top, making it softer than if it were flat.

This design also improves the insulation of the pad and makes it more compact when folded up. Unfortunately, the R-value isn’t listed, but it is rated for temperatures down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it’s best for use in temperatures over 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

Specs

  • Weight – 14.5 ounces
  • Dimensions – 72 x 20 x 1
  • Price – $50

Pros Cons
  • Budget price
  • Highly durable
  • Very light
  • Hexagonal nesting pattern for more comfort than a flat pad
  • Not very comfortable compared to pricier models
  • Low insulation
  • Not as compact as an inflatable mattress

Exped MegaMat Duo 10 Sleeping Pad

Ratings

  • Easy to inflate – 10/10
  • Sleep quality – 9/10
  • Lightweight – 3/10
  • Durability – 8/10

Bottom line

If you’re primarily concerned about comfort, which is a valid concern when it comes to choosing a sleeping pad, then the MegaMat is an excellent option. It may be bulky and pricey, but it’s hard to beat the comfort.

It consists of open-cell foam, which cushions and insulates your body. It’s also a double sleeping pad, which means it can hold two people.

This inflatable mattress comes with a minipump, which means that you won’t have to blow into it. If you get a tear or rip, the included repair kit should help you deal with it.

Specs

  • Weight – 9 lbs
  • Dimensions – 77 x 52 x 4 inches
  • Price – $299

Pros Cons
  • Very comfortable
  • Large enough for two
  • Comes with air pump
  • Repair kit included
  • Pricey
  • Bulky
  • May not fit in a smaller truck bed

Alps Mountaineering Outback

Ratings

  • Easy to inflate – 8/10
  • Sleep quality – 9/10
  • Lightweight – 3/10
  • Durability – 9/10

Bottom line

This mattress with open-cell foam pads is an air sleeper designed to feel like a foam mattress. It’s not only comfortable but also very spacious at 80 inches long and 32 inches wide. It’s great for sleepers who find themselves rolling around in their sleep.

The downside of this mattress is that it is very bulky and not suitable for backpacking. However, that makes it perfect for truck bed camping. It’s ideal for winter camping due to a high R-value of 9.

Specs

  • Weight – 6 lbs
  • Dimensions – 80 x 32 x 4
  • Price – $128

Pros Cons
  • Very comfortable
  • Very spacious
  • High R-value
  • Bulky
  • Very heavy
  • Could seem overpriced if you only use it for summer camping

Lightspeed Outdoors Queen-Size Mattress

Ratings

  • Easy to inflate – 10/10
  • Sleep quality – 8/10
  • Lightweight – 4/10
  • Durability – 4/10

Bottom line

This air mattress marries comfort with space. It feels like a traditional bed despite being an air mattress. It has a battery-operated pump included in the package, so you don’t have to worry about inflation. Deflating is also easy due to the wide opening.

The material used is thermoplastic urethane, or TPU, which makes it light, yet durable and safer than PVC, commonly used in air mattresses.

Specs

  • Weight – 6 lbs
  • Dimensions – 80 x 55 x 7 inches
  • Price – $80

Pros Cons
  • Very large
  • Comfortable
  • Easy to inflate and deflate
  • R-value not very high
  • Questions about long-term durability
  • Only for truck camping

Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D Sleeping Pad

Ratings

  • Easy to inflate – 6/10
  • Sleep quality – 8/10
  • Lightweight – 5/10
  • Durability – 6/10

Bottom line

The Therm-a-Rest has plenty of room to move around and is very warm. It also has vertical sidewalls, which increase the sleeping space by about 20%.

Considering the price, it’s a good deal for comfort and warmth. That said, there are other sleeping pads on this list that provide more features, but they are far more expensive. The Therm-a-Rest is one of the best values on this list.

Specs

  • Weight – 5 lbs 8 oz
  • Dimensions – 77 x 25 x 4
  • Price – $209

Pros Cons
  • Very warm with an R-value of 8
  • Very thick for a sleeping pad
  • Good value for those who want to invest in quality sleeping pad
  • A little bulky for a sleeping pad
  • A bit pricey for those seeking a budget option
  • Not for smaller truck beds

Kelty Tru.Comfort

Ratings

  • Easy to inflate – 7/10
  • Sleep quality – 6/10
  • Lightweight – 5/10
  • Durability – 6/10

Bottom line

This quality sleeping pad can function well for truck camping, though some people will question whether it is worth the investment.

It is thick at 4.75 inches, which is generous for a sleeping pad. It also has excellent cushioning for comfort and is well-designed to keep you from rolling off the mattress and onto the ground.

That said, the amount of foam insulation is a bit lacking for the price. More foam insulation would have made it more comfortable and also improved performance in the colder seasons.

Specs

  • Weight – 4 lbs
  • Dimensions – 80 x 40 x 4.75
  • Price – $120

Pros Cons
  • The stuff sack doubles as an inflation bag
  • Very thick for a sleeping pad
  • Hard to roll off to the sides
  • Not the best overall value unless you’re camping in warm conditions
  • Low insulation
  • Poor option for winter camping

REI Camp Dreamer XL

Ratings

  • Easy to inflate – 7/10
  • Sleep quality – 9/10
  • Lightweight – 4/10
  • Durability – 6/10

Bottom line

This memory foam mattress is four inches thick and provides very good cushioning. It also has a decent R-value of 5.5. Not very warm during winter, but good enough to keep you warm on a chilly spring or fall night.

The core foam is well-designed, packing tightly and lending significant baffling to the mattress, though this is not the most portable option on this list.

Specs

  • Weight – 6 lbs 6 oz
  • Dimensions – 78 x 32 x 4
  • Price – $180

Pros Cons
  • Very comfortable
  • Easy to inflate and deflate
  • Reasonably spacious for a single person
  • Very bulky
  • Not very warm for winter camping
  • Not suitable for tent camping or backpacking

REI Kingdom Insulated Sleep System 40

Ratings

  • Easy to inflate – 9/10
  • Sleep quality – 6/10
  • Lightweight – 4/10
  • Durability – 6/10

Bottom line

And to conclude our list, we’ll look at luxury camping at its finest. This sleeping system has a six-inch thick mattress, a quilted mattress cover, warm sheets, and a comforter. You also get a pump as part of the package to make inflation and deflation very easy. It also comes with a large duffel bag for easy packing.

I particularly loved the mattress, which had the feel of a real bed and was very warm. You don’t want to be in icy conditions with this mattress because the R-value of 3.6. In other words, it isn’t for anything under 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Specs

  • Weight – 15 lbs 9 oz
  • Dimensions – 79 x 56 x 6
  • Price – $300

Pros Cons
  • Includes sheet and a blanket
  • Very comfortable
  • Easy to inflate
  • Bulky
  • Low R-value
  • Big investment

Do You Need a Sleeping Pad for Camping?

Camping on the hard ground is no fun. But sleeping on the hard metal of your truck bed is worse. Ideally, you’ll find the best sleeping mat for the truck bed based on the bed size and your comfort preferences.

So, what is the best sleeping pad for car camping? The REI Co-op Camp Bed Sleeping Pad is the best option for many campers. Ultimately, the right mattress is essential for comfortable car camping, and you can’t go wrong with any of these top ten choices.

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