The Camping Stretcher Vs Air Mattress

Camping Stretcher Vs Air Mattress

Camping stretchers and inflatable air mattresses are two sleeping options that can be used when camping outdoors. Camping stretchers are typically a single piece of canvas or nylon material folded out to make a “bed”, while air mattresses have an inflatable mats bed that is covered with a piece of fabric.

In this article, we’ll look at the advantages and disadvantages of each sleeping option so you can choose the best one for your tent camping style.

What Are Camping Stretchers and Air Mattresses?

Camping stretchers are solid one-piece canvas or nylon folded out into a bed that is used for sleeping purposes when camping outdoors. An old blanket, comforter, or mattress can be used as a place to sleep on this type of camping stretcher. Some models have comfortable backs and sides so that you can sit up in bed while you are still in the sleeping bag or air mattress.

Air mattresses are made of a thick piece of vinyl-coated fabric that has small air cells in it. The mattress inflates by blowing air into it with an electric or battery-powered pump. Some air mattresses have a built-in pump and mattress, while others use an external one. The mattress can be deflated to a smaller size, usually rolled up and stored in its own pillowcase.

What Are the Advantages of Air Mattresses?

Air mattresses have many advantages over traditional camping stretchers:

No assembly required: 

Air mattresses need no assembly, and they are easily stored in their pillowcases. Just unroll the mattress and inflate it to start using it.

Less material to carry/pack: 

One of the biggest advantages of air mattresses is that they take up a lot less space than a camping stretcher. Space is usually a real issue when you go camping and backpacking, so every little bit helps.

More comfortable: 

Air mattresses are more comfortable to sleep on than camping stretchers because they have more padding and curves in the mattress to give you support as you sleep. Since they are also open on both sides of the bed, you can move around in them more freely.


Air mattresses are extremely portable. It is easy to deflate them and store them in their pillowcases. The mattress, along with the electric or battery pump, can be stored conveniently in your car or a closet. They can be rolled up and stored in pillowcases or similar carrying bags, making it convenient to take camping.


Air mattresses are waterproof, so even when you get caught in a rainstorm or a stream, you don’t have to worry about getting wet. They can also be used with sleeping bags on them to get extra insulation from the cold ground. The air mattress is an ideal choice for areas near lakes, swimming pools, rivers, or other water sources outdoors.

What Are the Advantages of Camping Stretchers?

While air mattresses have many advantages over traditional sleeping options like camping stretchers, there are still some advantages to having this type of folded-out canvas bed for campers:


Camping stretchers are typically made of canvas or nylon and come in many different sizes. Because they have padding, the overall sleeping option is more comfortable than an air mattress.

Easier to store:

Many sleeping options like sleeping bags and air mattresses, tend to take up much space when you want to store them for travel or storage. Folding a camping stretcher out shows its outline and makes it easier to store.

More durability:

Camping stretchers are typically more durable than air mattresses because they don’t have the open sides that allow for more movement and breathing while getting into bed. The structure is more solid than many other sleeping options like air mattresses.


Camping stretchers usually have a built-in frame that provides good support for the mattress, allowing you to rest more comfortably. Air mattresses have no frame, so you have to find a way to support your body without it.

More comfortable for side sleepers: 

Camping stretchers usually provide more comfort to people who sleep on their sides because they have a structure to support the mattress. Air mattresses can make it easier to roll over and get into bed, but they have no support.

Is Air Mattress Good For Everyone?

Air mattresses are a good choice for tarp camping or tent camping that are shorter in length than the typical weekend trip, for example, a weekend trip to the lake or river for 4 days. However, air mattresses are not suitable for longer camping trips, such as hunting trips or family vacations. The reasons are :

No back support: 

Air mattresses do not provide any back support due to their flat and hard design. Also, the mattress does not provide any support for your head when you sleep on it. Many people develop back problems when they spend any time in bed without proper back support.

No side support: 

Air mattresses are also not good for people who sleep on their sides. The flat and hard design of the mattress allows you to roll over and change your sleeping position but does not provide any support while you sleep.

Not good for rough terrain: 

Air mattresses are not a good choice for camping in rough terrain. They are prone to punctures and tears that may cause you to lose air while you sleep. They also tend to move around too much when you are trying to sleep on them.


If you plan on using your air mattress for an extended period of time, then it can be very expensive and not worth the investment.

Can be difficult to deflate: 

You could have a difficult time trying to deflate your air mattress at night because it is thin and inflatable. If you are trying to use an air bed in your vehicle, then the air mattress won’t fit properly because it is too big and bulky.

Should You Use an Air Mattress?

If you are in a city with paved roads, it may be hard to get a flat hiking trail. If you are in areas with gravel paths, then the air mattresses can be more useful as they will give you some back support while maintaining some comfort on their own.

For shorter camping trips, it may be beneficial to use both an inflatable air mattress and a folding camping stretcher so that you can get the best of both worlds in terms of material-less packaging and comfort.

There Are Various Types Of Camping Beds.

There are many options available when it comes to camping beds. 

1. Folding camping stretchers are probably the most popular.

Many people like the simplicity of this model, which makes it easy to use and store.

The top surface is made out of a foam material that will conform to your body shape and provide you with comfort while sleeping. The bottom surface is made out of durable plastic that will hold up over time and give you a sturdy place to sleep.

2. Heavy Duty Camping Beds

These beds are made out of high-quality materials and are therefore designed to last. As such, they usually do not require you to sleep in the same position for long periods of time, even when you are sleeping on rough surfaces.

The bottom surface can be made out of heavy-duty vinyl or a mattress material. The top surface is also durable and can be easily washed when it gets dirty.

3. Instant Camping Beds

There are many models currently available that are not inflatable but rely on air pressure to provide you with comfort while sleeping outdoors. These beds are easy to set up and use. Of course, they are not as portable as some of the other models described above, but they are an excellent alternative for campers who prefer a more solid sleeping surface.

4. Air Mattress

Air mattresses are another extremely popular bed among outdoor users, offering a comfortable sleeping environment while at the same time not allowing its user to sink into muck, water, or mud. Air mattresses are constructed with thick foam that is wrapped around an inflatable plastic core. Air mattresses are available in twin sizes, queen sizes, and king sizes and are also available with or without the built-in self-inflating mattress electric pump. Some air mattresses have a built-in pump that works with an AC outlet, while others are battery-powered.

5. Camping Hammocks

Camping hammocks are a type of bed that allows you to sleep in almost any position you can imagine. They are constructed using durable nylon string that is attached to two trees or other strong supports. The hammock and its supports are suspended in the air on the ground and can easily set up. The bottom layer of the hammock is made of a comfortable material that is breathable to allow air to pass through while preventing you from getting uncomfortable.

The Benefits Of Camping Cots Over Air Mattresses

The main benefit that camping cots have over air mattresses is that they provide support and structure to the sleeping surface. Whereas air mattresses are typically flat surfaces, camping cots offer a more supportive place to rest your body during sleep.

  • Provide Space Underneath To Store Items: Camping cots offer a lot of extra storage space underneath them to store items. A camping cot can be made out of waterproof fabric material and can therefore work under many different conditions.
  • Provide A Place To Sit And Get Dressed: Camping cots offer a place to sit and get dressed. Because a camping cot is usually made of waterproof material, you can sit on it while you brush your teeth, put your shoes on, or do any other activity that requires you to sit and move around.
  • Rugged Enough To Handle Any Weather: Camping cots are designed to survive almost any weather. They offer you a place to sleep that is not prone to tearing or puncture.
  • Sleeping Off The Ground: Camping cots offer an alternative sleeping option for campers that are not into sleeping on the ground. Many people do not like to sleep on the ground and find it uncomfortable.

Cons Of Camping Cots Over Air Mattresses

Camping cots cost more money than their air mattress counterparts. They also are not as portable as air mattresses and therefore do not fit well in compact areas or small cars.

  • Bulky And Difficult To Store And Transport: Camping cots are made out of a heavier material than inflatable mattresses and therefore take up a lot more space. Camping cots are also more difficult to transport than other models.
  • This Allows For Heat Loss: Because camping cots offer more structure under you, heat loss can be an issue. If it is freezing outside, then the body heat can escape from under you and you will be uncomfortable.
  • It’s More Expensive: Providing the camping cot with a mattress can make it more expensive than an air mattress. You can pick up a camping cot and mattress for the same price as you can an air mattress.
  • You Can’t Roll Over:  Whereas an air mattress allows you to roll over without any issue, a camping cot does not. If you are a side sleeper, then you may not be able to get as comfortable as you would on an air mattress.

The Benefits Of Air Mattresses

Unlike camping cots, air mattresses do not offer any structure to the surface where you will sleep. This is one of their main benefits.

1. Easy To Transport: 

Air mattresses are normally smaller and lighter than most other bed options that allow you to sleep outdoors, and hence you can easily transport the air mattress in your car or your travel bag.

2. Lower Cost: 

Air mattresses are an affordable option for campers. They can cost as little as $10 or less, whereas camping cots and hammocks can cost a few hundred dollars.

3. Easier To Set Up: 

Air mattresses are very easy to set up for sleeping outdoors. All you need to do is open it up and lay it on the ground. You can also use a foot pump to inflate the mattress quickly.

4. More Comfort: 

Air mattresses offer a lot of comforts. They are not very thick but are made out of a soft material that allows air to pass through them while also providing support to your body.

5. Allows You To Sleep In Any Position: 

Air mattresses allow you to sleep in any position you like without having to worry about rolling off the bed. This is perfect for people who are used to sleeping on their sides.

Sleeping Accommodation Option

There are many options available to you in terms of your sleeping accommodations, like:

1. Air Mattresses

Air mattresses are very versatile, allowing campers to sleep on the ground or any flat surface. Besides being an excellent choice for camping or recreational purposes, air mattresses are also used in hospitals and rehabilitation facilities.

2. Sleeping Pads and Pillows

Sleeping pads and camping pillows are commonly used on RV and tent camping and can help keep you warm during cold temperatures by adding insulation between your body and the ground. Sleeping pads are one of the safest and most comfortable options available to campers.

3. Stainless Steel Beds

Stainless steel beds are one of the best choices for camping because they can resist rust, stains, and water. They also can withstand temperatures up to 220 degrees Fahrenheit. These camp beds are light enough to be carried in any type of vehicle and provide a more comfortable night’s sleep than other sleeping options available.

4. Foam Sleeping Pads/Sleeping Bags

Foam sleeping bags or pads are great options for cold weather camping, making sure you stay warm by using insulation between your body and the ground while sleeping. There are also models available that are filled with foam that can fold up for easy storage.

5. Air Beds

Air beds are an excellent choice for campers who enjoy sleeping on a soft surface that provides comfortable support, especially during the warm summer months. Air beds can be inflated using a hand-powered pump or a motorized pump.

6. Foam Mattress Pad

Foam mattress pads provide comfort similar to sleeping on a mattress at home and can be used with air beds or foam mattresses to help regulate temperatures and add comfort while sleeping in the great outdoors.


A camping mattress is a practical and economical choice for those who may need to camp in the wilderness or while on a survivalist trip. There are many styles of camping mattresses, but all are designed to be carried anywhere and to offer some support while keeping you comfortable. Traditional camp stretchers and air mattresses are both good sleeping options for camping. The best sleeping option depends on each camper’s personal preferences and needs.