Air Mattress Alternatives for Guests and Camping

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Written by: Alex Savy
Read 8 minLast updated on July 18, 2022

Sleeping on an air mattress while camping or as an emergency bed is fantastic. It feels like sleeping in the air; until the whole thing starts leaking, and the sleeper ends up on a flat, deflated PVC sheet. And what about having to go about with an air pump? Moreover, air mattresses are not comfortable or supportive.

But the good news is there are better options than air mattresses. From sofa beds to hammocks, there are a lot of air mattress alternatives for guests and campers.

In this article, we will suggest the best air mattress alternatives for camping and use as an emergency sleeping solution at home for guests.

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Why Shouldn't You Sleep On An Air Mattress At Home or While Camping?

Generally, sleeping on an air mattress can be pretty uncomfortable. First, the sleeper will feel hotter. Secondly, the squeaky noise from the PVC materials of an air mattress can be annoying and deprive one of sleep. 

But there are also several reasons an air mattress isn't recommended as a guest bed at home or camping. First, while in the woods or mountainside, an air mattress is quite a fragile mattress since it's all a film of PVC and air. A dry twig poking in from underneath is enough to deflate the mattress. The claws from a pet or a troublesome kid are also enough to send the bed flat in minutes. In this case, this can leave the camper stranded for the rest of the night and days camping.  

On the other hand, guest beds are usually located in less-spacious rooms. So, instead of having a Full or Twin size air mattress covering up around 2850 to 4,000 square inches of space, there are better space-saving options. These include a sofa bed or futon that can be turned into sitting furniture during the day. Memory foam pads and rollaway pads look more practical too.

Best Air Mattress Alternatives for Guests at Home 

Air mattresses are not the perfect option for guests who need to rest comfortably after long hours of travel or after a busy day. Below are some great options which are comfortable and supportive, practically storable, and versatile. 

Memory foam pads

Memory foam pads are perhaps the most available air mattress alternatives for guests. Although they are designed to be added to a mattress, they can be used independently and occasionally. They are like a mattress topper, although some are quilted and have well-designed covers. 

With a foam guest bed, sleep is much more comfortable. The material is more flexible and can support the body better.

Rollaway Beds

Rollaway mattresses are also ideal air mattress alternatives for guests. These models are space-saving but do not offer an exceptionally high level of comfort because they are usually much thinner. Also called folding mattresses or floor mattresses, they are lightweight and easy to store. They can be rolled away into a ball after use or for easy transport to a campsite. 

Some rollaway mattresses also offer a high level of sleeping comfort when made of memory foam or have a thickness beyond two inches. In addition, most models have a removable and washable cover, so cleaning will not be a hassle. 

Sofa beds

Sofa beds are also known as clic-clac, convertible sofas, pull-out guest beds, pull-out couches, or pull-out sofas. These options make a bed needless in a room as they're easily convertible from a sofa during the day to a bed at night. A sofa is usually part of every apartment. In very cramped living conditions, pull-out sofas are used as regular beds and sofas in one. 


The first futon was invented in Japan in the 17th century [1]. Japanese futon mattresses consisted of thinly padded mattresses that could be rolled on the floor. Although the original design of the traditional Japanese futon was simple, utilitarian, and widely considered a mattress alternative, this product category has evolved to include low-profile couches and multiple sizes. In the 1980s, frames were added to allow them to serve as a sofa and a regular bed [2].

So, the best futon mattresses come with frames as a complete sofa. But the sofa can be converted for sleeping just like a sofa bed. Futons are more expensive than air mattresses. However, the versatility of futons is where they shine. Futons are a fashionable addition to any room, whether they serve as a sofa or sleeping area. They can also be recessed into walls in Murphy-style configurations. However, the best murphy beds are more comfortable for sleeping, except that they may not be an option for rooms with less space.

Best Air Mattress Alternatives for Camping

Although the idea of an air mattress is fascinating for campers due to its portability, low cost, flexibility, and more. But if they pop flat or get burst by a sharp object during use, that's the end. And what about the comfort side of things? Thankfully, with the following air mattress alternatives for camping, there'd be no surprises while resting at a remote campsite or campervan

Foam Sleeping Pad 

A foam sleeping pad prepares a camper for many different situations. It offers campers an opportunity to sleep peacefully and restfully. Also called a sleeping mat, the only difference is it is made of foam and can be rolled into a backpack, just like an air mattress.

Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad

Now, this is much like an air mattress. But the design concept is different. The self-inflatable sleeping pad is becoming increasingly popular with campers, trekkers, and backpackers, but hardly anyone knows how these sleeping pads work.

The principle is simple: when the mat is rolled up, the air in the foam's pores is pressed out through the valve. When the valve opens, the foam sucks air back into its pores. The foam now carries 50% of the body weight and the remaining 50% by the air pressure in the sleeping mat. This makes it possible to look like light foam. So, it's more comfortable than an air mattress. 


A camping hammock is not like a bed, but it's still an air mattress alternative for camping. It is ideal for relaxing on a hike, at the beach or the campsite. A camping hammock is used for sleeping in the air, with support from its provided frames or two tree trunks or branches. For those dreading sleeping on the floor with all the creeping and walking creatures, it's a way to sleep in the wild or the garden. 

Camping Cot

Another air mattress alternative for camping is the camping cot. Although not as portable or quite much comfortable as an air mattress, a camping cot is a bit higher off the ground. Also, some models are now padded with foam and have a raised head support, eliminating the need for a pillow. 

Usually made of metal, aluminum or steel, wood or plastic frame, and a stretched polyester canvas, the camp bed is practical for sleeping and easy to transport.


What are the disadvantages of an air mattress for guests and campers?

First, an air mattress isn't resistant enough for camping. It can be punctured easily. Also, it's not that great for summer camping because the plastic or rubber doesn't help remove heat from the body and makes one sleep warm. As a guest bed, an air mattress may also not be as comfortable as other options. Also, it can be noisy and may require frequent pumping. 

What's the best air mattress alternative for guests and camping?

Those who need an all-in-one air mattress alternative for guests and camping can choose to get a sleeping pad; whether it's a self-inflating or memory foam sleeping pad, this is versatile, comfortable, portable for transport, and easy to store. Hammocks, sleeping bags, and bed rolls are also suitable for camping.


An air mattress is great, but some people have dropped the idea of making it an option because of its downsides, which affect comfort and convenience and disrupt sleep. 

The overall best air mattress alternatives for camping and hosting guests are the sleeping pads. However, those who need a solution for use at home as an emergency bed and on a camping trip will want to ensure the product is versatile enough

We, therefore, hope you have found something that meets your needs. So, if the article helps you find an ideal option, kindly let us know in the comment section.


  1. Jo Werne and Knight-Ridder (Jul 18, 1993). Supporting Futons. Retrieved from
  2. Lila MacLellan (January 6, 2021). Futons. Retrieved from

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