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How We Tested Camping Pads & Mattresses

By Andy Wellman and Maggie Brandenburg
Monday
For our 2017 Car Camping Mattress review, we tested all eleven products over the course of six spring and summer months in Colorado. After extensively testing each of the mattresses in our review during the spring, one review editor was offered the opportunity of a lifetime to travel and work in Asia, and was thus unable to summarize his results on this website. However, he was able to pass on his test scores and notes to second review editor for completion. Not wanting to simply pick up where the first reviewer left off, we decided to extend the review period another season and re-test all of the car camping mattresses, comparing notes and scores as we did so. This ensured that we brought the best results to publication, as for this review two of our most experienced reviewers have literally double tested every single product before making our recommendations.

We take car camping pretty literally  usually preferring to sleep in the back of our emptied out minivan. Most of the testing for this review occurred right here  as we don't own a giant multi-person family tent. Whether in the car or on the ground  these mattresses are the ideal in luxury.
We take car camping pretty literally, usually preferring to sleep in the back of our emptied out minivan. Most of the testing for this review occurred right here, as we don't own a giant multi-person family tent. Whether in the car or on the ground, these mattresses are the ideal in luxury.

To test car camping mattresses, we began by simply taking them car camping and sleeping on them. We used them in tents, in the back of pickup trucks, and in the back of vans. The products that were designed for two people, we were sure to sleep on with two people. On camping trips where we were sleeping out for multiple nights, we were sure to bring many different mattresses with us and would trade off which one we slept on night-to-night in order to get a better comparison between separate mattresses. We also lent the mattresses to friends for their camping trips and even brought enough mattresses so that people we met up with could use one of ours for the night. Lastly, most of these mattresses were used indoors when our friends and family came to visit. The cumulative knowledge gained from all these camping trips gave us a good idea of the relative strengths and weaknesses of each mattress.


However, in order to fine tune the comparison rating scores you find in this review, we invited friends to a campsite near our home where we tested all of the products against each other at one time. Here we carefully measured how long it took to inflate and deflate each product and spent plenty of time moving from mattress to mattress, cementing our opinions and each product's relative merits and weaknesses. We reached consensus by talking with everyone who had spent a night on one or more of these mattresses, and who had laid on all of them, and then set about summarizing our findings for this review. With such exhaustive testing conducted both in the field and head-to-head, we are confident that you will be happy with what we have recommended.

Air mattresses are great for family car camping  but can also be a viable option for watching a free evening concert in the park... why not?
Air mattresses are great for family car camping, but can also be a viable option for watching a free evening concert in the park... why not?


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