Sleeping in the bush is never ease. There could be a rock in your back, temperatures are too cold and you just can’t get comfortable. Thankfully you’ve driven yourself to exhaustion so it won’t take much to get some shut eye.

On the trail, a peaceful night’s sleep will help you stay rested and alert. For those who have trouble sleeping outdoors it’s important to invest in a quality cot, air mattress or sleeping pad. There are plenty of options to choose from, but they each have their own unique traits, meaning there are several factors to consider when choosing which one is best for you.


Cots are fairly comfortable and big enough for you to move around on, meaning a good night’s sleep. They also offer solid construction, as most employ a lightweight aluminum frame. Cots are also raised off the ground, which helps with air circulation in warmer temperatures and separates you from the cold ground in colder temperatures. Their elevated design allows you to store gear underneath the cot. With cots, you’ll find a wide price range among available models, which will appeal to different budgets. As far as drawbacks go, their design can be too bulky and heavy for some, especially ultralight backpackers or those with smaller tents.

Air Mattresses

The difference between air mattresses and sleeping pads is a thin line. Air mattresses tend to be larger, cushier inflatable options, while sleeping pads are smaller and easily transportable. Sleeping pads are available in both inflatable and foam models, and come in a variety of sizes, letting you pick a model to match your body size and sleeping requirements.

Sleeping Pads

Thicker mattresses and pads offer loads of cushioning, comfort, and insulation, but the thicker and bigger they are, the heavier and bulkier they are, as well. When using a tent, I’d consider going with a mattress with gripping material on its side. This will keep the mattress from sliding on the tent floor and shifting from underneath you while you sleep. 

Reliable Options

Quality sleeping pad models include the Therm-a-Rest LuxuryMAP, REI Camp Bed 2.5 Self-Inflating Pad, and the Sea to Summit Comfort Light. For camping air mattresses, I like REI’s Relax Air Bed or the Velocity Twin Air Mattress by ALPS Mountaineering. Where cots are concerned, I love the Cot Lite from Helinox and the Therm-a-Rest LuxuryLite UltraLite Cot.