11 Ways To Camp Comfortably Without An Air Mattress

Air mattress went flat again? You’re in the right place!

Using a cot, sleeping pad, futon mattress or even a bean bag chair can help you to sleep comfortably without an air mattress. Although we might see air mattresses as an essential part of camping trips, there are many other options out there that are likely better suited to your needs.

There are more options out there to help you get a good night’s sleep in nature than you might think. Continue forward and you’ll learn why air mattresses might not be as perfect as they seem.

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

After that, you’ll get to see all of the other options out there that can help you sleep comfortably while camping. Let’s get to it!

Why Would You Want An Air Mattress Alternative?

Here are just a few reasons you might want to look for something that can suit your needs better than an air mattress.

Your Air Mattress Is Damaged

As you’re going down your camping checklist, you discover that your air mattress is in no shape for a trip. Do you run out to get another one as quickly as possible or consider some options that might not go flat quite so easily?

You Forgot To Pack Your Air Mattress

We all forget something from time to time. Unfortunately, once in a while that something is too important to just go without for a few days. If you make it to the campground to realize your air mattress didn’t make it with you, it could be a good time to try something new.

You’re Planning To Go Backpacking

An air mattress just isn’t quite suitable for backpacking trips. While smaller options may be able to get quite compact, they can still be just a bit too heavy for the ideal backpacking setup. It’s worth taking a look into some other sleeping choices that won’t weigh you down as much.

You’re Sick Of Air Mattresses

Can we be completely honest here? With air mattresses it can often seem like it’s not a matter of if the mattress will go flat, it’s a matter of when. Even the tiniest hole can turn your comfortable bed into a thin sheet of rubber. Thankfully there are some other options out there.

Cons Of Air Mattresses

Air mattresses can be incredibly comfortable, there’s no doubt about that. If they were a bit more durable, they could solve sleeping problems for most campers. Sometimes the flaws just outweigh the benefits.

Here are a few common cons of air mattresses:

  • Air leaks. This is indisputably the biggest issue with air mattresses. Especially when they are used for camping, they puncture entirely too easily and go from a sleeping haven to a waking nightmare in a matter of minutes.
  • Size and weight. For car campers, air mattresses may be easy enough to use. However, they really aren’t built for anyone who needs to carry their bedding very far. They can be awkward to set up and sometimes end up taking up more space in a tent than you’d expect.
  • Cost. Considering the lack of durability in many air mattresses, you often either get to pay the cost of replacing your air mattress often or the cost of buying one durable enough to hang in there for a couple of years. The expenses can really add up over time.
  • Inflation. Unless you want to dish out the money for a self-inflating air mattress, you’re stuck either putting in the effort to pump it up manually or using an extremely loud pump that immediately brings all the attention of the campground to you.

11 Ways To Camp Comfortably Without An Air Mattress

Most of us might not really be aware of how many different camping beds are out there! With a little bit of exploration, you’re sure to find the one that suits your camping trips perfectly.

1. Cots


Campers who like a durable, straightforward option should take a close look into camping cots. They are often a prime choice for those who are just sick of bedding options that deflate and leave them on the ground within a few hours. Because cots are simply made up of a frame and a sturdy covering, they allow you to stay off the ground for the entire night.

While it is possible to push two standard cots together for closer sleeping with a partner, most cots are made for just a single sleeper. Larger options are available if you take a look around for cots that are labeled as oversized, XL or XXL. That said, these larger choices tend to be quite a bit heavier and more difficult to move around.

The Teton XXL is a super-solid (and super popular) option. The cot weighs 26 lbs, but it supports up to 600 lbs. Check it out here on Amazon.

If you tend to be a car camper, there isn’t usually too much worry about the weight of the cot itself. Cots often range between about 10lbs to 25lbs when you’re shopping for a single person.

However, there are also cot choices that will work perfectly for backpackers as well. It only makes sense that if you have to carry all of your supplies a long way into the woods before settling down, you’ll want something light. Cots that are closer to the ground can provide you with much lighter frames that range from 3-5lbs.

Whether you choose something closer to the ground or farther from it, you can rely on a cot in all weather conditions. As is, they are great for warmer climates. If you want to use them in colder weather, all you’ll need to do is add blankets, foam or other air-blocking materials between you and the cot.

That being said, a cot can be very cold in very cold conditions. Insulation is the name of the game and the need to stop airflow underneath the cot. Draping blankets off the side of the cot and help stop that airflow.

If you’re new to using a cot, it may be tough to get it set up in a tent without destroying the thin flooring. Before you end up with holes in your tent floor, take a look at our article on Using a Cot in Your Tent Without Ruining The Floor.

Reasons To Use

Cots are one of the most popular sleeping options for a number of reasons. Here are just a few:

  • They keep you off the ground. Many of us feel like we are less likely to have to worry about creepy crawlies if we’re away from the ground. This is also a feature that helps to keep your sleeping bag or blankets from getting as dirty.
  • Durability. Cots won’t deflate, and quality options are made to last you for years. That’s not usually something you can expect from an air mattress.
  • Lightweight. Most single-person cots hang out right around the 15-pound range, but the lightweight options can help backpackers to stay comfortable as well.
  • Bedlike. With the proper additions, you can turn a cot into a pretty comfortable bed, allowing you a comfortable sleep for your longer camping trips.

Reasons Not To Use

  • Uncomfortable. In exchange for a higher level of durability, you may have to give up some comfort. Camping cots can be extremely firm and especially uncomfortable for campers who like to sleep on their sides.
  • Limited space. You’ll have to be careful to get a size that works for you. Unlike a bed, most cots are made to provide just enough room. They aren’t the ideal option for those who like to spread out while sleeping.
  • Size. It’s going to take a lot of luck to make anything other than a short cot fit into a smaller tent. Not to mention, they can be bulky as well as too heavy for backpackers. Just like anything, it’s all about priorities.

2. Inflatable Sleeping Pads


Inflatable sleeping pads are a fantastic choice if you want something that is similar to an air mattress. These sleeping pads are much smaller and lighter than air mattresses, making them easier to set up and much more suitable for backpackers and hikers.

There’s also no need to worry about hooking up a noisy electric pump. Typically, inflatable sleeping pads are simple to blow up yourself or with the help of a manual pump. Because they are so much smaller, they take a lot less time to get set up and provide comfort that many consider comparable.

Much like cots, sleeping pads are typically designed for just a single person. Unlike cots, it’s easier to push two sleeping pads close together comfortably than it is to do the same with your cots.

When deflated, inflated sleeping pads are also very lightweight and compact. They’re perfectly suitable for backpackers as they won’t add much to the weight you have to carry. Odds are, your sleeping bag and pillow will weigh more than the sleeping pad itself.

Inflatable sleeping pads are generally used directly on the ground or floor of your tent. They fit into small tents much more easily than cots and keep you low enough to the ground to stay cool in warmer weather.

The BEST and WORST Sleeping Pads of 2023

Reasons To Use

Here are just a few reasons an inflatable sleeping pad is worth trying out:

  • Comfortable. Inflatable sleeping pads are like air mattresses, but they require less effort. If you’re a fan of your air mattress but hate the price or effort needed to blow it up, you’ll appreciate the ease of an inflatable sleeping pad.
  • Easy to carry. Because they are so lightweight and compact, they’re easy to move, pack and use however you need. Setup is also exceedingly simple.
  • Firmness control. By adding or decreasing the amount of air you have in the sleeping pad, you can change the firmness of it. So everyone can adjust the sleeping pad to fit their preferences with little effort.

Reasons Not To Use

  • Leaks and punctures. Much like their larger cousins, inflatable sleeping pads can be more prone to damage. As a result, you may end up sleeping on the ground at some point.
  • More time-consuming. If you really want a form of bedding that is the fastest to set up and pack away, this might not be it. You do have to spend a few minutes inflating and deflating it.
  • Not ideal for the cold. Inflatable sleeping pads are great for the heat but don’t do a great job of keeping things warm. You may find yourself adding insulation. There are inflatable sleeping pads that are insulated. Check out the degree rating on your sleeping pad before you choose it for your next adventure.

3. Foam Sleeping Pads


If you just can’t handle inflatable beds of any kind, then opting for a foam sleeping pad might be your best option. Foam sleeping pads are like a miniature foam bed, whereas inflatable sleeping pads are like a miniature air mattress.

As you can imagine, foam sleeping pads can offer the convenience of avoiding deflation. You can use it on just about any surface without having to worry about rocks or sticks poking holes in it. They may succeed in poking those holes, but it won’t disrupt your sleep. The foam will remain intact and you’ll keep snoozing comfortably.

On the other hand, you don’t get that durability without any sacrifice. Many people find that foam sleeping pads are not quite as comfortable as their inflatable siblings. Naturally, this is something that can be quite subjective. If you like more firmness or are willing to pack more than one pad for added comfort, it may be worth a shot anyway.

Due to the thick padding between you and the ground, foam padding is also a more ideal choice for cooler weather. It allows heat to be trapped in more easily, keeping everything cozy and comfortable even if the world outside your tent is uncomfortably cold.

Foam sleeping pads used by backpackers are especially engineered to insulate and be extremely lightweight. The foam is designed to trap tiny pockets of air so that you can stay warm.

Reasons To Use

  • Durability. Unlike air mattresses and inflatable sleeping pads, holes are nothing to a foam sleeping pad. Because it’s filled with foam, there’s no need for excess air.
  • Easy setup. There’s no need to blow up a foam air mattress. All you need to do is unpack it, place it where you want it and you’re ready to go.
  • Warm. These pads keep you warm and cozy, whereas air-filled options and even cots tend to be better suited to warmer weather.
  • Versatility. Foam mattress pads can work double-time as a hangout spot, chair or even to add a bit of softness to a cot.

Reasons Not To Use

  • Lack of back support. Foam can have a tendency to flatten over time. Because foam sleeping pads are thinner than what is used in standard-sized full mattresses, this flattening can become more of an issue.
  • Firmness. Some campers can find that there isn’t enough foam to keep them comfortable. They instead end up on a bed that is entirely too firm.
  • Size and weight. Foam sleeping pads aren’t ideal for backpackers. They can be pretty bulky and weigh more than you might want to carry around.

4. Hammocks


Some campers swear by hammocks. They keep you off the ground, there’s no risk of deflation and they’re often very comfortable. You can also choose between a standard open-air hammock and one that includes its own tent covering for when you want to keep bugs out.

There can be a bit of a learning curve when it comes to setting up a camping hammock. Tying knots that won’t come undone and getting the tension just right can take some time. However, it becomes much simpler when you know how to do it.

If you enjoy sleeping under the open sky, it’s hard to go wrong with a hammock. Just imagine how comfortable they are in your backyard for an afternoon nap and extend that for a full night’s sleep! If you’re worried about a bit of rain, you can also bring a fly or tarp to ensure the water stays safely away from your bed.

Often, hammocks are a pretty lightweight option. Consequently, they can work well for backpackers, hikers, and those who just don’t have a lot of space. You also won’t have to worry about sleeping on the ground or dealing with the uncomfortable firmness of a cot.

Some of this lightweightness goes away if you have to carry more insulation in colder weather. Hammocks need a bit more attention if it’s colder than 60 degrees.

Reasons To Use

  • Comfort. There’s no need to worry about rocks, air leaks or uncomfortable bars.
  • Simple setup. Once you know how to tie your knots, setting up a hammock is simple and quick.
  • Backpacker-friendly. Hammocks tend to be decently lightweight. They’re easy to pack away into a backpack and won’t take up a ton of space.
  • Inexpensive. If you want a reliable sleeping setup that won’t break the bank, a hammock is certainly the way to go.

Reasons Not To Use

  • Limited space. Hammocks often only have room for one person and aren’t great for those who like to bring pets on their trips.
  • Trees are necessary. You can’t really set up a hammock in all landscapes. If there are few or no trees in your campsite, it’s going to be tough to put up a hammock.
  • Best for warm weather. There’s really only going to be a thin layer of durable material between you and the ground. Although you can add an underquilt, or a hammock sleeping pad to increase the warmth, they typically aren’t great for cold climates.

If you’re intent on using a hammock even in cooler weather, take a look at our article comparing the benefits of Underquilts vs Top Quilts so that you can be best prepared to stay warm.

I Wish I Knew This Sooner About Hammock Camping!

5. Foam Padding


Some like to put their creativity to use when it comes to developing the ideal camping bed. Whether it’s due to a tight budget or just an attempt to find the most effective camping comfort possible, trying out some foam padding might be exactly what you need to sleep well.

Foam padding can come in many forms. It could be a matter of something like a mattress topper. Otherwise, you may choose to explore something like actual foam pads, foam blocks that connect together or even egg crate foam. You may even choose to combine two or more of these options to create the most comfortable solution.

A foam pad in a tent

What’s appealing about this option is the ability to make it all your own. You have full control over the firmness, size and amount of warmth the bedding offers. It’s a great way to create the perfect bed that is all your own.

More comfortable bedding can also be ideal for pregnant campers who need a bit more than the standard air mattress or cot. Our article on camping comfortably while pregnant can provide some more tips for pregnant campers here.

Reasons To Use

  • Customization. The most obvious benefit is the ability to make your camping bed fit you perfectly.
  • Comfort. Because you have control over the bed, you can make it into a sleeper’s dream. Who needs to hike or make s’mores when you have the most comfortable bed in the whole campground?
  • Budget-friendly. You can make your bedding fit with your budget by using different materials, amounts of materials and adding in items you already have.

Reasons Not To Use

  • Hygiene. You’re going to need to know the best way to clean each material you use. Otherwise, germs and general dirtiness will build up over time and you’ll have to replace all of the bedding.
  • Not waterproof. Many materials that are used in making bedding aren’t waterproof, so you’ll need to be careful to keep them dry or find another solution.
  • Too many materials. Depending on your needs, you may find that it takes too many materials for the perfect bed. Those materials may take up too much space, and they aren’t usually going to be ideal for backpackers. Even for car camping, several trips with your arms full of bedding may put a strain on your mind–but a comfortable night sleep can make that work worth it.

6. Blankets


Blankets are another great way to customize your own bed. This choice can also often be a less costly one if you’re someone who tends to hoard blankets anyway. If not, it may get expensive but who doesn’t need more blankets?

When you need to add enough softness to a bed, blankets can be a great choice. Something thick and fluffy makes for a perfect surface to sleep on. If you gather together two or three comforters, you may even have enough to create a bed without the need for an air mattress, pad or cot.

If you want blankets that are suitable for camping, you can also look for options that are waterproof. Old sleeping bags with those broken zippers can work really well here. You can even get creative and zip a couple of waterproof sleeping bags together and stuff blankets into it for a comfortable, soft bed.

Old blankets, sleeping bags and comforters are all options

The world is your oyster when it comes to making your own camping bed!

Reasons To Use

  • Plenty of warmth. With enough blankets, you can stay cozy in just about any weather.
  • Customization. Whether you’re a hot sleeper or a cold one, you can add or subtract blankets at any time. That makes it easy to stay comfortable and get the most from your blanket nest.
  • Budget-friendly. There is no end to the ways you can save using just blankets. You can use blankets you already own, save up blankets over time, make your own or feel free to splurge. It’s up to you!

Reasons Not To Use

  • Heavy. As you can imagine, a lot of blankets can be extremely heavy and take up space.
  • Time-consuming. Setting up your camping bed is going to take longer than it would with an air mattress or other standard forms of camp bedding.
  • Laundry. All those blankets will likely need to be washed when you get home, which is going to mean a lot more laundry for you when you’re done with your trip.

7. Futon Mattresses


When it comes to comfortable sleep, it’s hard to beat a mattress. That said, not many campers are going to be interested in packing a full-size mattress to take on their weekend camping trip. It just isn’t logical. Mattresses are huge, heavy and enough of a pain to deal with when you’re moving to a new home.

However, there are some similar options you can make use of if you have them around. One such example is a futon mattress. There’s no denying that a futon mattress is still heavy, but it’s going to be much easier to handle than a standard mattress. Not to mention, futon mattresses can often fold up.

If you have a futon mattress around that doesn’t get a lot of use, there’s really no reason not to recycle it into a camping mattress. The hardest part will be getting it into place in your tent. After that, there’s no inflating and no worry about debris on the ground.

As you can probably imagine, this option is really only suitable for car camping. Carrying around a futon mattress on your backpacking trip just isn’t feasible. But it is hilarious to imagine.

Reasons To Use

  • Comfort. There’s no denying that a mattress cannot be beaten when it comes to comfort.
  • Warmth. If you’re camping in a cooler climate, a solid futon mattress will keep airflow blocked, helping you to stay warm and comfortable all night long.
  • Eco-Friendly. Instead of buying an air mattress or other camping bed that may only last a couple of years before being thrown out, why not recycle a more durable piece of furniture?

Reasons Not To Use

  • Heavy and bulky. It’s going to take a bit of extra effort to load and unload a futon mattress.
  • Expensive. Unless you already have a futon mattress you can use, buying one just to camp with can be rather pricey.

8. Sleeping In Your Car


When a large enough vehicle is available, it’s not impossible to make a nice bed in the back using some of the sleeping setups I’ve discussed here. Because I want to focus on different setups to sleep on, this section is largely going to consider sleeping on your car seats. It’s not a common choice, but one you may need in a pinch.

Whether it’s due to a trip too short to warrant setting up camp, forgotten sleeping materials or fear of wild animals outside, sleeping in your car is an option that can be used when you have nothing else. Because of the limited space and lack of comfort, it’s not usually an ideal choice.

However, if you’re in a dangerous area, there’s more safety when sleeping in your car. It only makes sense that wild animals could get into a tent easier than a metal vehicle.

That said, you may still find yourself worrying about some of the stronger animals out there, like bears! Can a bear still manage to get in? Our article on whether or not a bear can break a car window can provide some insight here.

Furthermore, if you are car camping and a thunderstorm arrives, the safest place to go is indoors (not a gazebo or other open structure, but a building with plumbing). If there is no “indoors”, then your next best option is your car. Your car can work as a Faraday cage, protecting you from the electric shock. Check out our article on camping in a thunderstorm for more options.

If you choose this method, it’s wise to make sure you place enough cushion under you if you can. Things like seat belts or breaks between the seats can add to the discomfort.

Reasons To Use

  • Safety. Cars are harder to break into than tents, and can actually protect you from lightning (unlike tents).
  • Sturdy shelter. If you need to escape rain, snow or wind, a vehicle is a great place to do it.
  • Potential for comfort. If your vehicle has enough space in the back, you could make a bed that is quite comfortable.
  • A great last resort. Let’s say you forgot your air mattress or tent. Your car is there to give you some form of shelter when you have no other option.

Reasons Not To Use

  • Uncomfortable. If your car doesn’t have a ton of space in the back, you’ll be stuck trying to sleep on the seats, which aren’t exactly made for sleeping on.
  • Limited space. Seats are typically not very wide and if you’re sleeping in a front seat, good luck spreading out.

9. Sleeping Bags


Maybe you don’t want to bother with finding something to sleep on. Why not just take it the old school route and use your sleeping bag alone? If humans could do it once, we can do it again, right? Whether you still choose to use a tent or not, using only a sleeping bag is certainly an option.

Those who are really looking to aim for something lightweight may prefer this option. They may even avoid a tent altogether and lay out a sleeping bag right on the ground. It’s a great way to really get into nature if you aren’t concerned about snakes or bugs.

Brave is the soul that chooses to sleep out in the open, but there are certainly some who enjoy it. It’s best to try this option in areas where the weather is mild so you don’t have to wake up in a mud puddle.

There’s no denying that this is the option with the least amount of effort when it comes to packing and unpacking.

Reasons To Use

  • Close to nature. If you are someone who really enjoys roughing it in the wilderness, you can’t go wrong here.
  • Less to pack. Sleeping with just a sleeping bag keeps things light and easy, making it a great choice for backpackers.
  • No deflating. You won’t have to worry about a sleeping pad or air mattress leaving you on the ground because you’ll already be on the ground.

Reasons Not To Use

  • It’s cold. You’re on the cool ground. Unless you pack on a ton of blankets and don’t mind getting them dirty, you’re going to need a really solid sleeping bag to keep you warm.
  • Critters. The ground is home to all kinds of varmints, snakes, and bugs. It’s not difficult to imagine some of them might be attracted to your warmth.
  • Lack of shelter. If the weather decides to change suddenly, there will be little protection from wind, rain or storms.

10. Camping Quilts


If you love your sleeping bag but want something with a bit more cushion then a camping quilt may be exactly what you need. Camping quilts are quite similar to sleeping bags but tend to offer more comfort, heat, and even safety from the weather.

A great example of a worthwhile camping quilt is the Revelation Quilt. This quilt is designed to keep the weather out and keep you in. It even closes up entirely, which is great for those who would normally prefer to just take a sleeping bag on their camping trips. It will help you to avoid the cold and curious creepy crawlies.

Another great benefit to the Revelation specifically is that if the standard options don’t quite suit your needs, you can also get a custom option. It may be a bit more pricey, but these are quilts that are designed to last for the long term.

Reasons To Use

  • Cushion. With more cushion, you’ll get more comfort than a typical sleeping bag. This makes it much easier to sleep in without anything between you and the ground.
  • Protection. The ability to close the quilt all the way up keeps you protected from critters, cold, and rain.
  • Options. The creators of the Revelation quilt make a variety of choices for different temperatures and even custom quilts to suit your needs specifically.

Reasons Not To Use

  • Price. These quilts are not for those who are working on a tight budget. The cost is worthwhile, but it may not be feasible for all campers.

11. Bean Bag Chairs


Here is an idea you may not have thought of before – a bean bag chair. You may have seen those large bean bags that work as a bed. Along those lines, the CordaRoy is an option that just might be the camping bed you’ve been searching for.

Unlike other bean bag chairs, this one does double the work in a completely unique way. When unwrapped, it works quite well as a queen-sized mattress with plenty of space to enjoy. During the day, you can also choose to roll it up into a chair for when you want to hang out in your tent. Either way, two adults can share it quite comfortably.

With a cover that you can pop right into the washing machine, it’s pretty easy to clean up after your trip as well. You can definitely try using a standard bean bag bed, but they are likely to be heavier and tougher to clean after the camping trip. That said, either one could be worth a try if you’re adventurous enough!

Reasons To Use

  • Unique. Not many people would expect you to use a bean bag chair as a bed, and I’m sure you’ll make those people jealous. I mean… I would be jealous.
  • Easy cleanup. The cover is useful for keeping the actual foam clean and can be washed easily.
  • Versatility. You can use a bean bag as both a bed and a chair.
  • Comfort. No deflating, no bars, all foamy comfort.

Reasons Not To Use

  • Cost. This isn’t an inexpensive way to go, so make sure it’s going to work for you before spending the money.
  • Weight. The CordaRoy weighs a hefty 42lbs. Many people may need help getting it to and from the tent.

Tips For Sleeping Comfortably While Camping

A good night’s sleep is about more than the bed you’re on. These additional tips will keep you safe, happy and sleeping soundly.

The KEY to Great Sleep Outdoors

Wear The Right Clothing

No matter what sleeping setup you’ve chosen, it’s important to dress appropriately for your camping trip. It never hurts to bring warm clothes, just in case things get cooler than expected during the night. Remember, even sun-baked deserts can become incredibly cold when the sun goes down.

It’s also a good idea to make sure you have thick, long socks, long pants, and a hoodie. If you know it’s going to be cold, dress to stay warm in your bed. Additionally, those who intend on sleeping outside of a tent should wear covering clothes that will aid in keeping bugs on the outside.

No amount of clothing will help you if your clothes are damp. Make sure your clothes are completely dry or else you’ll be shivering all night.

Use Nature To Your Advantage

This is a great tip for those who do want to just grab their sleeping bag or quilt and head out into nature. Unless you plan on sleeping on sand or mud, the ground isn’t going to be soft. However, nature can sometimes offer you a bit of help.

If there are leaves and other kinds of soft debris around, feel free to nudge it up under your sleeping bag. It can help to make you a bit more comfortable. Just be very careful, as loose debris can be homes to spiders, snakes, and bugs.

Grass can also be very comfortable–just watch for snakes. If you’re worried about it, learn more about snakes and their risks while camping here.

Prepare For The Noises Of Nature

Some campers are hard sleepers, and that’s a fantastic ability to have! However, for those of us who tend to wake up at every little noise, precautions must be taken to allow for a decent night’s sleep. The good news is, there are a few options.

An easy go-to involves a simple pair of earplugs. Aim for a nice pair of soft foam earplugs, and be careful while putting them in and taking them out. It may feel odd, but you will definitely not be waking up every time a bird caws.

Second to that, a personal white noise machine can also be a suitable solution. Make sure to try it out at home first. If it helps there, odds are it can help while you’re in nature.

I can’t recommend this enough for light sleepers. We live in Texas, and the critters scurry around all night long. Armadillos are amazingly loud creatures–it honestly feels like a troop of scouts playing in the leaves while you’re trying to sleep.

These creatures are harmless while you’re in a tent, but your brain can make things much more difficult to sleep. Earplugs, while a bit unnerving to try and sleep with, are much easier to get used to than random critters.

Bring A Pillow

A quality pillow is a key part of sleeping comfortably. While many of us might just bring along our pillows from home or use a standard pillow, others may prefer something they can use specifically for camping. Depending on what you’re looking for, there are a lot of options!

If you’re a backpacker who thrives on bringing along only lightweight equipment, the Fillo is a great choice. It packs up into a compact bag and you just need to blow it up before going to bed. Otherwise, campers looking for comfort might enjoy the Trailbreak pillow, made with comfortable foam.

Some of you might wonder whether you need a pillow while you’re camping at all. If you’re unsure, we have just the article for you. Check out why you might need a camping pillow in our article here.

Keep A Flashlight Nearby

A flashlight can be your best friend while camping. At the very least, it allows you to see where you’re going. Additionally, it can also be a helpful critter deterrent for animals that really prefer being shrouded in darkness.

On top of scaring away animals with the light, a heavy-duty flashlight can help you to feel a bit safer. This is doubly true if you bring along a hefty Maglite. The Maglite may add some weight to your pack, but it helps to know you have something that can work as protection in the rare event animals decide to get too close.

Protect Yourself From Bugs

While being attacked by an animal is highly unlikely, being attacked by bugs is often a sure thing when you decide to go camping. Whether you’re in a tent or not, you’re going to need some protection to avoid becoming the new buffet for hoards of mosquitoes.

Bring along plenty of repellents. There are sprays, lotions, candles, and even tiki torches that you can use to warn bugs to stay away. If you need a bit of extra help, the National Pesticide Information Center also offers you a handy guide to make sure you get the right repellent for every situation.

I also did some work and looked for studies about natural bug repellents as that’s a concern for many people. I found over 30 alternatives, check out my post here for more information about natural ways to repel bugs (that actually work).

Be Safe

It only makes sense that you’re going to sleep better at night if you’re safe and healthy. That means you’ll have to make choices during the day that help to keep you and anyone with you from danger and discomfort.

Just a few tips for staying safe include the following:

  • Use your sunscreen! Aside from concerns about skin cancer, a sunburn can make sleeping comfortably much more difficult.
  • Store foods in safe ways. Use bear-proof containers and hang your food from a tree if needed. Keep foods at the correct temperatures. Both bears and food sickness will keep you from sleeping well.
  • Exercise safely. Be careful while hiking, biking or swimming. Follow the rules and be prepared to keep things safe and fun.

For more safety tips, we wrote a post about some of the ways camping can be dangerous–at least it can give you a heads up of things to be careful of.

Have Fun

Whether you’re at home or out in nature, there can be plenty of things to worry about. It’s great to be prepared for those things just in case, but don’t spend your whole vacation worried about them.

Pack up your camping gear, make sure you have everything you need and focus on enjoying your time in nature. You’ll sleep better without all that anxiety.


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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