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Must-Have Camping Bedding

Tonya Prater, Owner

What type of camping bedding should you use? It really boils down to comfort and preference but there are a few must-haves.

Camping is meant to be an affordable family activity, but truth be told, you can go a little crazy buying camping gear and accessories. 

Some people might say shopping for gear (and snacks!) is half the fun of camping. 

Camping truly becomes affordable when you’ve already purchased your gear and only have to compare the price of a campsite against the cost of staying in a hotel. 

No matter what type of camping you enjoy the most, the bedding you bring along can make or break a trip. Most camping trips also involve other outdoor activities like hiking, biking or fishing and if you don’t sleep well, forget about having a good time on your trip. 

In this post, we’ll discuss the various types of camping and which bedding works best for each camping style. 

What Type of Camping Bedding is Preferred? 

An RV driving along the highway

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Choosing RV Camping Bedding

RV camping is basically a home on wheels, so you can really have any kind of bedding you want for your RV. 

If you are just getting started, you can even use an older set of sheets from home. You can start out with the mattress that comes with the RV, but you may eventually want to upgrade to something better, especially if you are spending a lot of time camping. 

Memory foam mattresses are relatively inexpensive and having the right mattress can make all the difference in how you feel the next day. The beauty of getting the right bedding for RV camping is that you can start with whatever you already have at home, and adjust your approach after a few trips out. 

We drive a Dodge Promaster van when van camping.

Van Camping Bedding Options

Van camping is an interesting mix between tent camping and RV camping and your choice of bedding can depend on how you have your van outfitted for camping. 

If you are just getting started, then it makes sense to throw your tent camping equipment in the back of the van and hit the road. 

As your van setup evolves, you may upgrade to an air mattress, or some foam padding to start. They even make special air mattresses that conform to the consoles of your van, so you can maximize space. 

We decided we wanted a real mattress so after a lot of research, we purchased a memory-foam mattress that fits our van

With a system like this, shopping for bedding is easy because it takes full-size sheets for any kind of bed. 

If you plan to use the back of the van for storage while driving, you might consider a waterproof mattress pad in the event of any leaks or spills. 

camping in a scenic location

Bedding Options for Tent Camping

Growing up, camping in a tent meant throwing a sleeping bag on the tent floor. 

Easy, peasy. 

Somewhere around age 30, maybe 35, sleeping on the cold, hard ground is not only unappealing, but it’s also downright painful! A body needs some cushioning, and insulation for the cooler months. 

Again, you can go with an air mattress; these come in any form from self-inflating backpacking pads to mattresses that will require a pump. (You can get battery-operated pumps or ones that plug into your car outlets. Battery operated is better so you can inflate the mattress right in your tent.) 

When it gets too hard to get up off the ground every morning, then a camping cot is a great option for tent camping. A cot with an air mattress built in is almost as comfortable as sleeping at home. And the great thing is, you can use sheets and blankets from home, or a sleeping bag on the cot or air mattress; whatever you are most comfortable with.

limited parking is available by the roughrider cabins

Cabin Camping Bedding

Cabin camping is probably the “easiest” way to camp, but you still have to be prepared. Cabins (and yurts) are popping up all over in popular camping destinations. KOA campgrounds often have cabins, and many state and national parks have camping cabins as well.

Camping cabins are not usually fully-equipped cabins, but most of them will only have a bed and a mattress. Everything else is up to you to provide.

Again, you can bring bedding from home for whatever bed sizes are in the cabin, and a sleeping bag will work, too. (Although, many of these cabins have a waterproof mattress which can get slippery with a sleeping bag.)

camping in the backcountry

Bedding for Backcountry Camping

When it comes to backcountry camping, weight is what matters most, even more than comfort. 

If you are backcountry hiking, you will be carrying everything you need on your back over miles of trails, so this is not the time for a heavy air mattress and fleece blanket from home. 

Typically, a backcountry sleep kit will include one or two mattresses plus a sleeping bag. Keep in mind, the lighter your equipment, the more it will cost. 

For mattresses, you can choose between a lightweight air mattress, which provides cushion but no insulation, or a closed-cell foam mattress which has insulation but does not pack down as small. Neither weighs very much, so you can even take one of each. 

As you can see, a lot of camping bedding can transition from van to tent to cabin, but it’s helpful to identify your camping style before investing too much money in bedding. 

What kind of camper are you?

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