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What to Put Under Air Mattress When Camping?

The best thing to put under an air mattress when camping is a camping pad or a foam sleeping pad. These provide insulation, cushioning, and help to stabilize the air mattress, reducing the chances of it getting punctured or deflating.

Camping is a wonderful adventure, but getting a good night’s sleep in the great outdoors can be challenging. One essential consideration is what to put under your air mattress to ensure comfort and a restful night.

In this article, we will explore the various options and factors to consider when making this crucial decision.

Table of Contents

Why Would You Put Something Under Your Air Mattress?

There are several reasons why you might want to put something under your air mattress, here are the details:

  • Keep Your Air Mattress Warmer: Placing a barrier between the air mattress and the floor can keep your air mattress warmer, preventing the cold or heat from the floor from affecting your comfort while sleeping. This is especially useful when camping or using the mattress on a hard, cold surface.
  • Protection: Placing a protective layer under your air mattress can help prevent punctures and damage to the mattress. Sharp objects or rough surfaces on the floor can potentially pierce the mattress, so adding a barrier like a tarp or groundsheet can help protect it.
  • Comfort: Depending on the surface you’re placing the air mattress on, it may not be perfectly even or comfortable. Adding something underneath, like a foam pad or a camping mattress, can provide additional cushioning and make your sleep more comfortable.
  • Hygiene: When camping, it’s essential to keep your bedding clean. Placing a clean, waterproof tarp or groundsheet under the air mattress can help protect it from dirt, moisture, or mud, ensuring a cleaner sleeping environment.
  • Elevation: Elevating your air mattress slightly off the ground can help with getting in and out of bed more easily, especially for individuals with mobility issues. You can achieve this by placing the mattress on a platform or using a raised cot.
  • Air Circulation: Air mattresses can sometimes trap moisture underneath, leading to condensation or mold growth. Placing a breathable material or using a raised platform can promote air circulation under the mattress and reduce this issue.
  • Noise Reduction: Some air mattresses can make noise when you move on them, which might disturb your sleep or those sharing the sleeping area with you. Placing a soft material like a rug or carpet underneath can help dampen the noise.
  • Protection from Insects: When camping in areas with insects, a barrier under your air mattress can help keep them away, reducing the chances of encountering bugs during the night.

Is It Better to Put Something Over Your Air Mattress, Or Under It?

It is better to put something under your air mattress for added stability and protection. Placing a thin layer, such as a camping pad or a non-slip mat, can prevent the mattress from sliding around or getting punctured by sharp objects on the ground.

Additionally, having some insulation underneath can help retain warmth, especially when camping in colder temperatures.

What Can You Put Under Your Air Mattress?

You can put various materials or items under your air mattress to enhance comfort, protect the mattress, or improve your sleeping experience. Here are some common options:

Tarp or Groundsheet

waterproof tarp

Placing a waterproof tarp or groundsheet under your air mattress can protect it from moisture, dirt, and sharp objects on the ground. This is particularly useful when camping.

Foam Pad or Camping Mat

A foam pad or camping mat can provide additional cushioning and insulation between the air mattress and the ground. It helps make the sleeping surface more comfortable and can also help keep you warmer in cooler conditions.

Camping Cot or Elevated Platform

Using a camping cot or an elevated platform provides elevation and support for your air mattress. It can make it easier to get in and out of bed and improve air circulation underneath, reducing condensation.

Rug or Carpet

Placing a rug or carpet under your air mattress can dampen noise and create a more comfortable, homey feeling in indoor settings. It also protects the mattress from abrasive surfaces.

Cardboard or Cardboard Boxes

In a pinch, you can use flattened cardboard boxes or cardboard panels as a barrier between your air mattress and the ground. While not as effective as other options, it can provide some insulation and protection.

Thermal or Reflective Blanket

Reflective Blanket

When camping in cold weather, using a thermal or reflective blanket underneath your air mattress can help trap heat and improve insulation.

Rubber or Vinyl Mat

If you’re concerned about spills or accidents, placing a rubber or vinyl mat under your air mattress can protect it from liquid damage.

Inflatable Camping Pad

Some inflatable camping pads are designed to be placed under air mattresses to add insulation, cushioning, and protection. They are specifically designed for this purpose and can enhance your camping experience.

Pallets or Wooden Boards

In situations where elevation is essential, you can use wooden pallets or boards to create a raised platform for your air mattress. This can be particularly useful for avoiding moisture or uneven ground.

Bunkie Board

Bunkie Board

A bunkie board is a thin, solid support platform designed for mattresses. Placing one under your air mattress can provide additional support and stability.

What Can You Put Over An Air Mattress?

You can put various items over an air mattress to enhance comfort, hygiene, and overall sleeping experience. Here are some common options:

Mattress Topper

Air Flow Mattress Topper

Placing a mattress topper over your air mattress can improve comfort by adding extra cushioning and support. Mattress toppers come in various materials, such as memory foam or latex, to suit your preferences.

Electric Blanket or Heated Mattress Pad

In cold weather, an electric blanket or heated mattress pad can be placed over the air mattress to provide adjustable warmth throughout the night.

Quilts or Comforters

Quilts or comforters add warmth and insulation, making your sleep more comfortable, especially in colder conditions. They also provide an extra layer of cushioning.

Sleeping Bag

When camping, using a sleeping bag on top of your air mattress can provide insulation and warmth. It’s an efficient way to stay cozy during outdoor adventures.


What is the ideal thickness for an air mattress when camping?

The ideal thickness depends on personal preference, but a mattress around 4-6 inches thick provides a good balance of comfort and insulation.

Can I use a yoga mat as insulation for my air mattress?

Yoga mats can provide some insulation but are generally less effective than closed-cell foam or thermal mats designed for camping.

Is it necessary to elevate the air mattress if I'm using a camping cot?

Elevating the air mattress isn’t necessary when using a camping cot, but it can add extra comfort and insulation.

Can I use a regular mattress with a camping cot?

While it’s possible, camping cots are designed to work best with air mattresses. Using a regular mattress might not provide the same level of portability and convenience.


A comfortable night’s sleep is the cornerstone of a successful camping trip. Knowing what to put under your air mattress can make a world of difference in your outdoor experience.

Whether you opt for groundsheets, camping pads, blankets, remember to consider factors like weather, campsite selection, and comfort to ensure a cozy night under the stars.

Author: Jessica

Jessica is a lover of both life and gardening. She loves to share his passion for both on social media. He often posts about his latest gardening projects, as well as tips and tricks for others who might be interested in starting their own gardens. She also frequently posts about the different aspects of his life that he enjoys, from spending time with friends and family to exploring new places.

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