What To Put Under An Air Mattress While Camping

Perhaps you want to protect your air mattress, or maybe you want to keep the cold out, does putting something under your air mattress help?

While you’re camping, you can place materials like Dri-Dek, foam and even blankets or tarps under your air mattress. These materials can help with increasing circulation or just protecting your air mattress from dirt or damage.

That said, there’s so much more to know about what you can do to keep your air mattress safe and make it more comfortable. Whether you need heat, ventilation or just a way to make sure your mattress doesn’t end up with dirt all over the bottom, you’re in the right place!

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

I wanted to share this video to show how this person insulated his air mattress so you can get a more visual example:

How to stay warm with an air mattress on a cold night. (Life hacks)

Why Would You Put Something Under Your Air Mattress?

Campers are often aware of just how helpful it can be to place something on top of your air mattress. Air mattress material can be somewhat inhospitable. However, you might wonder why anyone would feel the need to put something under their air mattress.

There are a few reasons why you might choose to do this. The first includes creating better circulation for the air mattress. You might find that the circulation an air mattress already provides just isn’t enough in some hot weather climates.

It may be tempting to put insulation underneath your mattress to keep you warmer. However, this will not be very effective since the air mattress is full of air which will inevitably become cold anyway regardless of whether you insulate it on the bottom. If you wanted to insulate the air mattress you would have to wrap the whole thing in insulation. A smarter idea is to put your insulation (blankets, closed-cell foam pad, etc) on top of the air mattress–this will be far more effective in keeping you warm then putting insulation underneath your air mattress.

Others may also experience issues with the air mattress moving around too much on the tent flooring. While this is less of a problem, it can be one that prompts campers to seek a little more comfort by adding a foam or other material underneath the mattress.

Finally, you may just want to protect your air mattress. If you’re anything like me, you know that air mattresses are really, really good at going flat. Even if there’s no obvious hole, many air mattresses start doing it at some point or another. Placing something soft and gentle under your air mattress can function just as a way to keep it from receiving as much damage from rocks or other materials on the ground.

Is It Better To Put Something Over Your Air Mattress, Or Under It?

To put it simply, there are two ends of the spectrum when it comes to air mattresses.

One end of the spectrum is one most of us are familiar with, which is the tendency for air mattresses to be cold and somewhat uncomfortable. Air mattresses are designed to keep you off the ground in a way that is lightweight and easy for camping, and they do a great job at that. However, sleeping on what is often a plastic-like material filled with cool air.

Consequently, there’s a lot of ventilation that can take place. In cooler weather, you may want to place something on top of the mattress in order to stop some of that ventilation so that you can stay warmer. Additionally, using some extra padding on the air mattress can make it a lot more comfortable.

For some more tips on staying warm and comfortable when you’re camping in cold weather, take a look at our article here!

At the less common end of the spectrum, you might find that you want even more ventilation at night. In places that are hot or humid even at night, placing something under your air mattress can be a lifesaver. It can help to keep you cooler, and it protects the bottom of the air mattress from the hard ground.

Additionally, some people may just want to keep something under their air mattress to keep it from getting dirty. All kinds of debris, sand, and dirt can get into our tents no matter how hard we try to keep it clean. With a bit of padding, you can help to keep that debris from attaching itself to your air mattress.

Protecting the bottom of your air mattress can also help you protect it from punctures. A flat air mattress makes for a long night! I wish I could tell you that I didn’t know that from personal experience.

What Can You Put Under Your Air Mattress?

Depending on what results you’re aiming to create, there are a number of different materials you can place under your air mattress. The following options are just a few that can add to the ventilation, protection and overall comfort of your air mattress.


Dri-Dek is a branded material designed to be used in a number of different situations. It’s made to both provide added comfort and keep people safe in areas that might be slick.

Essentially, the product is a plastic substance that comes in the form of tiles. Because of that, you can purchase only the amount you need to fill the space under your air mattress, or cover your tent flooring if you wish. Once you have it in place, the Dri-Dek can keep your mattress lifted off the ground. Additionally, the holes in the Dri-Dek will allow for better circulation of air up through the bottom of the mattress.

You may just find that this is the ideal solution for a number of other places as well, like garage or boat floors and a whole lot more in addition to your tent. There are likely other brands available as well that present a similar product, but the Dri-Dek brand is a great place to start.

So, if you’re looking for air circulation and for protecting the bottom of your air mattress, Dri-Dek could be an option for you.


Foam won’t help with ventilation, but may help with the overall insulation of the tent floor and keep you warm. Mostly, however, foam will provide the best insulation for you if placed on top of the air mattress.

Some people may not use their air mattress just for camping but might also provide it to house guests from time to time. If you’re someone who lends out your air mattress for guests to sleep on, then you might not want to have to clean the bottom of it every time you want to use it in the house. We all know just how dirty the floor of a tent can get!

Foam is another option that you can purchase in the form of tiles, making it very easy to add to your tent flooring while you’re setting up.

Blankets Or Tarps

If you’re not concerned with getting more ventilation, a tarp or blanket can be a suitable choice. These options are ones that are going to be more suitable for protecting your air mattress from rocks or keeping it clean. When cleanliness is your goal, these are wonderful options.

However, keep in mind that they won’t be a great help in cooling you down or keeping you warmer. These aren’t choices that help with ventilation, and it’s generally a better idea to place something on top of your air mattress rather than under it if you’re looking for more warmth.

What Can You Put Over An Air Mattress?

Whether you want to be warmer at night or just more comfortable, the best way to do it is to get something you can place on top of your air mattress. There are a plethora of options when it comes to materials you can use, suited to those of different budgets and more.

The following options are just a few you can try out.


For most of us, blankets are the easiest choice. This is especially true if you have plenty of them. It’s not hard to pack an extra blanket or two just to lay out on the air mattress before you lay down on it. Those blankets will help to keep you warmer and a bit more comfortable as you sleep.

You also have quite a bit of control over the blankets you bring. That might mean multiple blankets, one simple but effective blanket or even something like a comforter or quilt. For many, this is a choice that means they don’t really have to spend any money on extra camping goods.

Mattress Toppers

If you’re looking to provide a bit of warmth as well as added comfort, a mattress topper is an easy and effective way to go. You can select something with just the amount of extra fluff you need and it’s easy to take on and off the air mattress. This also tends to be a pretty lightweight option as most mattress toppers just use some kind of foam.

Choosing to buy a mattress topper just for your air mattress can also save you time while packing. Essentially, you can just wash it after each trip and toss it back in with your camping goods instead of having to use a mattress topper from your bed or somewhere else.

Take a look at our article on Using Mattress Toppers For Camping to learn more about the benefits of mattress toppers and more!

DIY Options

DIY options can also be a great choice when you need something that can just add some comfort or warmth to your camping experiences. There are many who want to aim for the least expensive choice on the market. While there might be many options that don’t quite cut it, you might also find that there are plenty of unexpected choices that work wonders.

Such materials can include things like egg crate and specially-designed forms of bubble wrap can also be highly useful when you want a more comfortable sleep. To continue seeking options that can make your air mattress more comfortable, take a look at our article on the subject here.


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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