How to Level a Camp Bed: A Straightforward Guide

Slopes in the ground can leave you tossing and turning. How on earth do you level out a camp bed? Is it even possible?

You can level a camp bed by placing blankets or other materials under your air mattress. Otherwise, you can also use bed risers to level a cot. Cots with adjustable legs also make for an easy way to level your sleeping space.

These tips are just the start of getting a truly comfortable night’s sleep. Continue on and you’ll learn about getting a level campsite, how to adjust for sloping ground and more.

By the way, as an Amazon Associate, I earn when buying qualified products through links on my site.

Choosing a Level Campsite

Your first line of defense against a poor night’s sleep is to get a campsite that is as level as possible. This might not always be easy, but it’s worth trying to beat the problem before it starts. Aim for a campsite with minimal sloping, few rocks and plenty of space for a tent. To go about finding the perfect site, try the following tips.

Plan Ahead

The sooner you start planning, the better. If you aren’t familiar with the campground you hope to visit, it never hurts to learn more about it. Take some time to research the area, including the climate, wildlife, and landscape. The more prepared you are, the better your camping experience will be.

Talk With Rangers

Prior to making your reservation, talk to a park ranger about the campground. If you aren’t already familiar with the layout of the campground, it’s a good idea to learn about it from someone who works there.

They’ll be able to help you with determining the best campsite. Often, the rangers have an idea about what most of the campsites offer. They know which ones are closer to bathrooms, docks or parks. Additionally, they are likely to have more of an idea about which sites are flatter than others.

Many times me and my wife have done this looking for campgrounds. Since we camp in Texas (and for more information about beating the heat, check out our post all about camping in Texas here.), it makes a huge difference if you can find a campground in the shade–the rangers seem to always know where the best camp spot is.

Scout The Campground

If you have the time, it also doesn’t hurt to take a look at the campground for yourself. In many cases, you can even park near the entrance and take a walk around the loops. Make sure to take note of any campsites that look like they will be suitable for sleeping.

You might even find that a park ranger is willing to take you on a quick tour if they aren’t already busy. This is another opportunity you can take to discuss what you’re looking for with a ranger and get their perspective on finding a level site.

Camping On a Slope

It’s practically inevitable while you’re camping that there will be some slope in the tent. What can you do about this?

If the slope is gentle, you can try laying perpinduclar to the slope so your body and camp bed are lined up as flat as possible. This doesn’t work if the slope is too steep because you will have a tendency to roll to one side.

If the slope isn’t severe, it’s ideal to align yourself with the slope so that your head is higher than your toes.

You may find yourself sliding slowly downwards as you sleep but it’s better than your face being smushed into the side of the tent.

If the slope is severe, then you can try and level out the tent as much as possible with clothing, backpacks, etc. Another option is to gather leaves into a pile and use the leaves to even out the slope of the tent.

Leveling Your Camp Bed

When the ground is sloped awkwardly or otherwise uneven, you might find that you need to make adjustments to your bed to get the best sleep. How do you do that? Well, it depends on the kind of bed you’re using! To aid you in finding a solution, I’ll cover the options you have for getting an air mattress, sleeping pad or cot leveled.

Comfort is something many of us expect to sacrifice when we’re heading out into the wilderness, but that doesn’t mean you have to deal with sleeping poorly. To learn more tips for staying comfortable while camping, take a look at our article on the subject here.

Leveling Cots

Because cots tend to be more firm, the slope of the ground they are on can be quite a bit more obvious than it would be on an air mattress. However, they can also be adjusted with relative ease. Some cots are actually made to help you with sleeping evenly wherever you may be.

No matter what cot you have, there are options out there to aid in making your sleep more comfortable. Take a look at these methods and try them out during your next camping trip!

Try Out Some Bed Risers

Whether you have a bedroom floor that isn’t quite even or need to make adjustments to your cot, bed risers are a great way to do it. These handy tools are often inexpensive, made from lightweight materials and are able to get things on the right level.

On top of that, bed risers can keep a distance between the feet of the cot and the floor of the tent. As a result, your tent will be able to remain damage-free.

Their only issue tends to be that the risers themselves aren’t always the most adjustable themselves. Either you raise the cot all the way or leave it on the ground. That said, there are some you can make adjustments with more easily, such as those available from Home-It.

Look For Cots With Adjustable Legs

One of the easiest ways to get a great sleep on level ground is to invest in an adjustable cot. Cots such as the Chinook 29250 and Adjustable Moon Lence allow you to change the height of the legs as needed. Consequently, you can change up the legs to match any slope in the ground. The end result will be a comfortable, even sleep.

If you’re looking to make the change to a cot, be careful while you shop! Most cots don’t offer adjustable legs. They’ll keep you off the ground, but they won’t be able to remedy a slope as easily.

You’ll also find it worthwhile to learn how to use a new cot in your tent without ending up with holes in the floor of your tent. Our article on the subject can help you to enjoy your cot and keep your tent in great shape.

Leveling Air Mattresses and Sleeping Pads

For the most part, air mattresses and sleeping pads are pretty straightforward. This can mean that they don’t adjust as easily as other options. That said, some might say that they start off more comfortable than something like a cot.

Typically, adjusting these sleeping spaces includes placing something under the pad or mattress or going all out and investing in a frame. Below, I’ll cover each of these options with a bit more detail.

Place Something Under The Mattress

One of the easiest ways to get an air mattress or sleeping bad leveled is to add something underneath the spot that is sloping downward. For this, you can use folded tarps, blankets or even foam tiles.

Foam tiles are also a great way to make your sleeping situation a bit more comfortable. To pick up some more tips on hacking your air mattress for the best possible comfort, take a look at our article on the subject here.

It may take a little time for you to make all the adjustments needed, but the good news is it isn’t too difficult to accomplish. Just make sure you start off with a campsite that is as even as possible and work from there. This is all easier when you have a bigger tent. Our two-man tent always seems to be packed full of blankets and water bottles and clothes and whatever whenever we camp, so any kind leveling material will also add to the chaos.

Try a Frame

If you’re desperate to get the most even setup, you can choose to look into a camping bed frame. There are a variety of frames out there designed to be used with air mattresses. Because air mattresses are designed only for temporary use, the frames made from them are often more compact and lightweight than a regular bed frame.

However, keep in mind that they still are going to be a bit more heavy-duty to pack and set up. It’s not going to be a great option if you aren’t camping right next to your car, or just don’t have enough room in your vehicle. If you can, take a look at the air mattress bed frame options in stores to get an idea about the size and weight of them.

Adjust Your Air Levels

If the ground isn’t too uneven, sometimes all you need to do is adjust the air levels a bit in your air mattress to solve the problem.

How, you ask? Let me explain!

Let’s assume that your head is at the higher end of a slope, with your feet on the lower end. With a fully-pumped air mattress, you don’t really change the slope much. On the other hand, letting out some of the air can even things out. The rest of your body will sink in slightly, pushing more air towards your feet.

The result is an even sleep that may not be perfect in all situations, but it certainly works in a pinch!

Try Something New!

If you’re just sick of trying to sleep on the uneven ground, you can try not sleeping on the ground at all. Moving up to an RV can make it easier to get better sleep. Campers, motorhomes and the like are often built with leveling tools on them to help you with making adjustments as needed.

It’s not a simple or trivial task… while sleeping in a tilted tent is something you can get over, it’s not really acceptable for an RV, so the leveling process is kind of involved.

That said, not everyone wants to take the step to what might be considered a traveling hotel room. In that case, you can opt not to sleep on the ground at all. Hammock tents allow you an even sleep when set up properly, and you won’t have to deal with air leaks, rocks under your sleeping pad or other annoyances.

Whatever the issue may be, there are creative camping solutions to help you with enjoying the experience as best you can.


Peter is a software developer who loves to take every opportunity to go outside that he can get. Peter grew up going on long backpacking excursions with his family every Summer and now enjoys staying at the beautiful Texas State Parks and swimming in the amazing Texas Rivers.

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