HOW WE DECIDED
Our Top Mattress Picks
Cross-country road trips, weekend adventures, spontaneous star gazing: If your heart rate just spiked, you’re probably a fan of car camping or taking long trips with your truck. Lucky for you, we’ve complied a list of the best rated mattresses for your next adventure.
- Safe Pick For Couples – Brooklyn Bowery
- Washable Cover – Puffy Mattress
- Best Budget Mattress – Tuft & Needle Nod
- Ultra-Cheap Bed – AmazonBasics
The idea of sleeping in your car (or van or even your semi truck) might sound like a cramped and achy experience, but adding a mattress to the mix can really make things more comfortable. However, finding a new mattress online can be a chore. There are so many options and it’s hard to know which one will be right for you, especially when you can’t test it out before buying the mattress. Add in the plan to put it in your car, and things can start to get complicated. That’s why we’re here!
|AT A GLANCE||PRICING||HEADLINE|
|Soft Foam||25% Off Code: ANNIVERSARY25||Bowery is one of the top budget mattresses online today. It’s soft and comfortable, and sells for a really approachable price point.|
|Mixed Foam||$300 Off + Gift Discount In Cart||Puffy is one of the best known online mattresses. It has three layers of foam and a comfortable, accommodating “feel.”|
|Soft Foam||See On Amazon Applied in Cart||The Tuft & Needle Nod is a budget foam mattress that is exclusively sold on Amazon.|
|Memory Foam||See On Amazon Applied in Cart||The AmazonBasics memory foam mattress is cheap, but surprisingly comfortable. If price is your main concern, it’s hard to find a more affordable bed than this one.|
What’s The Right Size Mattress For Car Camping?
Now, let’s be logical here—you’re putting this mattress in a car or truck bed camper or van, so it can’t be big. Nothing larger than a Twin is practical for smaller spaces.
You might be able to shove a Full size into a larger van or truck bed camper, but it will be tight. Go for a Twin in most cases and definitely not a Queen, King, or California King. It’s perfectly fine for car camping and you can fit two people on a Twin if you cuddle. You should also pay attention to the thickness of the mattress, as well as the weight. You’ll want a bed that’s thick enough to keep you from bottoming out, but no thicker, and you don’t want anything especially heavy. It’s likely that you’ll be moving it around quite a bit, so a heavy bed with be a hassle.
Why Bowery made this list — We included the Bowery mattress because it’s from a reputable brand and checks a lot of boxes, including being highly affordable. We also think it’s one of those mattresses that most people agree is comfortable. In general, we say it’s best for individuals under 250 lb, but if you’re just using it every once in a while, it should be just fine. It’s not the cheapest bed money can buy, but Bower is very affordable.
Why It’s Great For Couples — The bed doesn’t have any memory foam, and, as such, it has a truly neutral, soft foam feel. We expect that the vast majority of people that put Bowery in their car or truck bed camper, etc. will be just fine with how Bowery feels. We think it’s quite comfortable even if you exclude the affordable price point.
Design — Bowery uses some unique foams, but for the most part, this is a three-layer foam bed that’s designed for individuals on a budget.
Why spend more for Puffy — The list of beds that have a machine-washable cover is short. Puffy is among the most accomodating and easiest to move of the bunch. On top of that, it’s very comfortable and really is a notch above many of the others on this list. It’s even backed by a lifetime warranty!
Washable Cover — Rather than purchase an additional mattress protector, it might be easier for you to just get a bed that has a machine-washable cover. The only thing is the cover is not waterproof so if you want to absolutely ward off stains and messes, you might still consider the protector. You can read more about the cover on PuffyMattress.com.
Feel — Puffy feels a bit like Casper or Tulo in that it’s responsive, comfortable, has a medium firmness profile, and we’d wage that the majority of people will really like it. Puffy is just fine for all types of sleepers.
Why Tuft & Needle Nod could be for you — Nod is an Amazon-exclusive bed from Tuft & Needle, which is one of the most respected bed-in-a-box brands. It’s about as simple as you can get, but that’s probably exactly what you should be looking for if you’re sleeping in your car, van, or the back of your truck.
Construction — It doesn’t get any simpler than two layers of polyurethane foam. Nod is an 8″ mattress, which might be in the sweet spot for your application. Interestingly, the top layer of the bed is the exact same as the mattress topper Tuft & Needle sells on Amazon.
Heavy People — If this is going to be your full-time mattress and you weigh over 230 lb, we can’t recommend Tuft & Needle Nod. In fact, we’d urge you to look at a bed with coils. If, however, you’re just using the bed on the weekends or every once in a while, Nod should be just fine for you.
AmazonBasics is cheap — The entire AmazonBasics brand centers around value. In other words, what can you get for your money? Price is the number one concern. If that’s the case, this is likely the bed for you.
Price — Again, price is king here. Typically, for the 8″ model, you can get the bed for under $200 if you select a full or twin. To put that in perspective, most budget-level beds are in the $400-$800 range for a full. You could buy multiple AmazonBasics beds for the price of some of these other beds.
Design — This mattress comes in three height profiles: 8″ / 10″ / 12″. The 8″ is what we were primarily thinking of when we put this list together. In any case, however, the bed has three layers of foam, including a very thin layer of memory foam on top. Even so, the bed has a neutral feel with memory foam mixed in and we think it’s comfortable. Only comes with a one year warranty, though, which is perhaps reflected in the price tag.
We’ve Tested A Lot Of Beds
After testing and reviewing so many mattresses, we are also very familiar with the online mattress industry. Our goal is to give you the content you need to make an informed decision.
No one on our team is a sleep scientist or anything like that. We’re a group of normal people who value a good night’s sleep, just like you. We vary in height, body type, sleeper type, gender, etc., which means we can cover a decently diverse sleep experience. And our opinions are always 100% our own. We have complete control over our content and our number one goal is to provide helpful information.
Reasonable Pricing For The New Mattress
Mattresses aren’t a cheap product—we all know this. And it’s okay to spend a decent amount of money on the bed you’ll be sleeping on every night for the next decade or so, but it’s not necessary to spend a ton on the mattress you’re going to shove in the bed of your truck for summer weekends in the middle of Joshua Tree. It’s all about finding the best mattress for the money given what you’ll be using it for.
And as we already covered, you’re not looking for a large mattress. You only need a Twin, so we think it’s more than reasonable to keep your costs under $1,000 and in some cases under $500. You might just consider getting an Amazon mattress or a regular, cheap mattress.
Finding A Mattress For Couples
In most cases, we’re all about good edge support. No one wants to feel like they’re rolling off the edge of the bed in the middle of the night.
However, when the plan is to squeeze a mattress into a car, van, truck, or semi truck, it’s actually a good idea to look for squishy edges. Soft edges will give so that you can fit a bed into a tight space, like the trunk of your hatchback Subaru.
So, for couples, edge support isn’t really important to factor in. In reality, couples just need an accomodating and comfortable bed. It doesn’t have to be your every night mattress. It just has to be good enough for when you’re car camping or sleeping in your truck bed.
Construction Of Your Car Camping Mattress
There are two common types of mattress constructions: all-foam and hybrid. There are also gel constructions, but those are far less common and not a practical option for car camping anyway.
All-foam beds are, of course, made with all foam. The construction is different from mattress to mattress, with varying layers and types of foam.
Hybrid beds incorporate both foam and coils. Like all-foam beds, they vary in layers and materials, but hybrids tend to have better airflow and a bouncier feel due to the coils.
When you’re looking for the perfect car camping mattress, you’ll have to decide if you want the lighter weight of a hybrid or the squishable properties of an all-foam bed. There are benefits to both in this context, so it really comes down to your comfort preferences.
What Weight Has To Do With It
Camping usually means you’re going to compromise on comfort, but if you’re going so far as to buying a mattress for the express purpose of camping and/or sleeping in your vehicle, you might as well do what you can to be as comfortable as possible. That means shopping for a mattress that’s good for your body.
How a mattress feels to you is affected quite a bit by your body. The heavier you are, the softer a bed feels, and vice versa. So keep your body type in mind when you’re reading descriptions on feel and firmness. If you’re a heavier individual (say 225lb+) or a petite individual (say sub-115lb), mattresses will most likely feel different to you than how they’re described.
Sleeper Type Still Matters
Your sleeper type also plays a role in determining what kind of mattress is going to be comfortable for you. Here’s a breakdown of sleeper type basics that you ought to know when shopping for a new bed:
Stomach and back sleepers should look for beds with good support around the hips and trunk area. You want to be sure you keep your spine in alignment. A good rule of thumb is to be sure you don’t have an uncomfortable gap under your lower back. You should also avoid a bed to sinks too much all over. This generally means something on the firmer side, as opposed to a bed described as soft or medium-soft.
Side sleepers need to look for mattresses that provide pressure relief, again to keep your spine in alignment. That means you need the bed to give around your shoulder and hips and you don’t want to have a gap under your stomach. Side sleepers usually need a softer bed than back and stomach sleepers.
Combo sleepers will want something that caters to both the need for support and pressure relief. Look for a mattress in the middle-ground in terms of softness/firmness and pay attention to the material used for each layer of the mattress.
The Fine Print
The bed-in-a-box industry has some pretty standard policies in regards to shipping, returns, warranties, and the like. They generally include free shipping, a 100-night risk free trial period, free returns within that trial period, and a 10-year warranty should you keep the mattress. Some companies offer even more than what’s standard and will give you even longer trial periods and much longer warranties.
The risk-free trial period is an important part of buying a mattress online, particularly when you’re going to put it in your car. When you can’t actually lay on the bed before you buy it and you can’t see how it fits in your vehicle (although you can and should compare dimensions before making a purchase), you need that trial period to make sure it’s the right fit for you and your car. And with that trial period, you have the option of returning the bed if it’s not right. All you have to do is call up the company, and they’ll have it picked up for no charge. Plus, you get a full refund.
Mattress Care Is Really Important
If you’re car camping, you’re likely crashing after a long, lovely day of tromping around in the mountains or falling off rocks (on belay, don’t worry), so it’s probably safe to assume that you’re covered in dust and chalk and maybe some mosquito splats. And even though you’ll have a sleeping bag or blankets, your mattress will still need to be cleaned now and then.
Most mattresses have non-removable covers, which leaves you to spot clean. That’s totally doable – just warm water and some mild detergent – but we suggest a getting a mattress protector. A mattress protector is great. You can just take it off and toss it in the washing machine when you get home from your camping trip.
|What size mattress is best for car camping?||This depends on your vehicle. Usually a full or twin size mattress is best.|
|How much should I be spending?||Your budget should be around $500-$800 for a new mattress.|
|What happens if I need to return the bed?||Most brands give you have the option of returning the bed if it’s not right. All you have to do is call up the company, and they’ll have it picked up free of charge. Plus, you get a full refund.|
|How do I clean a mattress?||Most brands ask that you just spot clean stains, but a few beds do come with washable covers that can be thrown in the washing machine.|