Camping on an Air Mattress in Cold Weather
What’s the worst thing about camping? Maybe you don’t like the mealtime restrictions. It is harder to prepare food, and there is not usually a backup McDonald’s plan. Maybe you don’t like the bugs… Sprays and running away get tiresome. Maybe you don’t like being stuck with that particular person that you didn’t know was THAT annoying, and now you can’t get away.
But for most of us, the worst thing about camping is the change in sleeping arrangements. Particularly when it is cold. Or when it is really cold. Or when it is really, really, really cold. And staying warm is important! I like the comfort of an air bed, but camping on an air mattress in cold weather might seem problematic.
I have found, though, that even the cold can be dealt with. Sleeping while camping in the cold does not have to be tragic. In fact, with a little thought and care, and the right air mattress, you can sleep quite comfortably.
Step One: Think
The first step, as with every aspect of camping, is to be prepared. Know your camping environment and your own limitations. I know that I will not be able to sleep if the temperature gets below zero, Fahrenheit. No matter how many blankets, or heaters, or layers of thermals, or campfires, that is just beyond my ability. But within my limits, I also know what I need to deal with the colder temperatures. I check the weather, and pack accordingly. But what to pack?
Step Two: Pack
There are plenty of equipment options to help make the cold bearable. The ground will be cold, and separating yourself from that cold source is the goal of packing. A frame to keep you off the ground is ideal. Frames can be used for sleeping bags, foam mattresses, and even air mattresses. I don’t like the inconvenience, but you might find it worthwhile.
Insulated air mattresses are also available. Some even include heaters that can be plugged into a vehicle, although again, I find them inconvenient. And easier methods of providing insulation exist.
If, like me, you want something simpler and more versatile, then consider packing extra insulating material and using it properly. My air bed is my favorite camping gear for sleeping. And with some additional material, I can still use my air mattress for cold weather camping.
Step Three: Using the Material
Remember, if the weather is cold, the ground will be miserably cold. Your main goal in sleeping warmly is to separate yourself from that cold, cold, ground. Whatever material you choose, do not place it against the ground, but rather use it between the air mattress and your body. Let the air in the mattress take the initial sting out of the cold, and then the insulating material will be used efficiently.
A foam strip, perhaps high density or memory, is the best. It is designed to keep you insulated while you sleep. It is also the most inconvenient, being hard to pack and not multi-use. Old fashioned felt is also very good. I use old felt from other projects. It packs up well, and can be used for other needs, like a blanket or picnic table. Sometimes I have used an extra sleeping bag, zipped up and placed between the air mattress and myself. Warm, but bulky for packing. And finally, in desperate times, a folded sheet of plastic will help keep the cold away from your body while asleep.
If you want to take an extra measure, you can separate yourself from the cold ground with a cot style air mattress. We recommend the Coleman QueenCot. Check out our recommended camping air mattresses here.
Cold weather does not have to ruin your sleep. Camping on an air mattress in cold weather is easy, and can be warm and comfortable. Think, pack, and use your material and you will rest easy!