Wheels up! It’s time to roll. You’ve got your car packed with a weekend’s worth of gear and the stoke is high. You’re ready to park your rig in the woods, build a fire, roll out your sleeping pad and enjoy a comfy night in the great outdoors. But about that sleeping pad … are you using a legit car camping mattress yet? And are you still sleeping in a restrictive, ultralight mummy bag while on road-side adventures? If you haven’t upgraded to a plush car-camping sleep system, here are a few tips on how to do it right in the front-country.
Go Big with the Mattress
When your car is hauling the weight of your gear, there’s no reason to skimp on your mattress. Get a thick, plush, luxurious, super fatty mattress and rest your bones in true comfort. Our Camp & Comfort mattresses are built for this sole purpose and provide the ultimate outdoor sleeping experience when carry-weight isn’t an issue. Check out the MondoKing 3D. This ultra-thick monster sports 4 inches of foamy loft and swallows a few uneven bumps on the ground like an aardvark wolfing down a row of ants.
What’s that? You’re driving a Prius and that MondoKing won’t fit next to all your gear? OK, we get it. If pack size is an issue, consider going with an air mattress instead of foam. This doesn’t mean you have to give up comfort though. Check out the loft of our NeoAir Camper SV, for example. This 3-inch-thick blue beast provides the stabilized comfort you want in a car camping mattress, plus it packs down small to fit inside tight spaces. An added bonus is the Camper’s SpeedValve, which will save you time inflating and deflating the mattress—saving you precious moments that you can use to, say, snap an Instagram of the sunset, or sleep a few minutes longer before packing up on a chilly morning.
Speaking of chilly mornings, another key consideration when building your car camping sleep system is the R-Value of your chosen mattress. If you’re planning on running the gamut of seasons with this pad, a foam core is a warmer option. To compare, our 2-inch thick Basecamp mattress with a foam core has a robust R-Value of 5, making it warm enough for all-season camping. A NeoAir Camper air mattress, on the other hand, has greater loft with 3 inches, yet the R-Value hovers down around 2.2—warm enough for spring, summer and fall, but not a winter pad.
OK, so you’re super picky and want the packability of an air mattress but the warmth of foam. No worries, you can have your cake and eat it too. Check out the NeoAir Dream.
The Dream holds a lightweight, 3-inch thick NeoAir mattress core inside a 1-inch foam pillow top. Take the air mattress out and go backpacking, put it back in and sleep on 4 inches of cushy, warm loft during a car camping excursion. Pack it up small either way, thanks to the compressibility of the NeoAir core.
Go Roomy with Your Insulation
Front-country camping is all about convenience. And when you’re rocking an extra-comfy mattress, there’s something about pairing it with a roomy, semi-rectangular sleeping bag that just makes sense. Sure, you can plop down your ultra-lightweight, efficiently compressible mummy bag, but that’s kind of like eating a slider on a full size bun. In truth, it’s hard to beat the feeling of sleeping like a starfish in a warm but roomy car-camping bag.
We created a couple of sleeping bags to nail that feeling. Check out our Dorado Duo HD and Ventana Duo. These two bags rock the traditional semi-rectangular shape, but there’s more. The added bonus is that you can unzip both of these bags completely and create a comfy quilt for two.
Wait, there’s even more. Both the Dorado and Ventana are built for mating adaptability so you can create the ultimate sleep system. For example, connect the Ventana sleeping bag to the included Ventana Duo Coupler—a soft sheet that hugs two mattresses—and lay down in a luxurious car-camping bed for two.
And, wait for it … there’s actually more. If you really want to sleep in the ultimate car camping bed, mate two Dorados or Ventanas together, then lay those down over two plush mattresses connected with one of our coupler sheets and prepare to lie down in a queen size bed of pure bliss.
Last, but certainly not least, there’s also the camp quilt solution for front-country amazingness. We’ve already laid our claim as to why camp quilts are rad, which you can read here: Understanding the Underestimated Camp Quit, but for car-camping specificity, we want to turn you on to the Vela HD Quilt.
This lightweight, 650 Fill down quilt is a baller set-up for warm roadside adventures. With perimeter side baffles to keep out drafts, an elasticized foot-box, and snap loops lining its edges allowing you to pair it with blankets and sheets, the Vela is the epitome of warm car camping luxury. And if you’re a snuggler, simply double down with Vela HD Double Quilt—built for two car-camping lovebirds … or really good friends!
And one more thing, don’t skimp on the pillows! Sure, if you’re a hard-core backpacker you can rest your head on a pair of dirty socks, but this is car-camping remember? Check out the Compressible Pillow, which is stuffed with recycled foam from our mattress factory and packs small but expands for big-time comfort.
Hopefully we’ve given you plenty of options when considering your next car-camping sleep system, but if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us!