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Sleeping Bag vs Air Mattress: Which Is Better for Camping?

Sleeping Bag vs Air Mattress: Which Is Better for Camping?

Whether you are a first time camper or a seasoned one, getting a good snooze in your sleeping bag or air mattress after staying out in the sun can be the most relaxing part of your day as a camper. This might be the only way to regain your energy for the upcoming activities. Whilst we all know that being in nature is scientifically proven to relieve stress and promote good health, it does not necessarily mean that we should forego comfort when sleeping outside. Most would want to experience a little roughing-it-out when camping, but some would still want to have the same feeling of relaxation as if they never left their homes.

Sleeping systems are not only about comfort but should also serve as a protective cover during the nights you spend outdoors. You might find yourself in a life-and-death circumstance and having the right sleeping system can make the difference. Basic sleeping systems must have a sleeping platform and a sleeping bag. Sleeping platforms are used to add more protection and to give you more insulation. It can be in the form of a cot, a sleeping pad, or even a sleeping bag. There are tonnes of products to choose from, ranging from sleeping pads, cots, hammocks, sleeping bags, camp beds, and air beds to air mattresses. So how do you know which one to choose for your camping needs?

Sleeping Bags

As the climate in Australia varies from one region to another, finding the best sleeping bag that suits you and meets all your needs may be taxing because the truth is that there is no perfect one. Sleeping bags, however, are very versatile and can be brought and used in all locations. When choosing a sleeping bag, you will need to consider temperature range, shape, material, and size. Warmer bags are heavier. The EN13537 system is a standard system created by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) in 2002. It uses temperature tests for the insulation value using a thermal manikin. You may also choose from different shapes such as rectangular, mummy-shaped, and tapered ones. The best bag for retaining heat is the mummy shaped one. If you are looking for comfort and more space, the rectangular bag is for you. These are bulkier and usually heavier than the other two. The tapered bag, however, combines the heat retention of the mummy bag and the space of the rectangular bag. There are two main choices for the insulation material: down and synthetic. Down usually uses duck or geese feathers and is the best material for sleeping bags. It is light, easier to compress, and best used in cold and dry conditions. However, it is not advisable for use during wet weather because it is slow to dry. Synthetic sleeping bags, on the other hand, are quick-drying and less expensive. Prices in Outbax for synthetic bags range from $44 to $86.

Different season ratings for sleeping bags


One-season sleeping bags are created with one targeted season. Most are specifically made for winter whilst some are designed for summer. Most one-season sleeping bags do not have hoods and can be zipped open all the way.


Two-season bags target a combination of two-seasons. Materials used are suited for the summer and the rain and snow.


This is known as the most versatile because it is designed to be used during summer, spring, and autumn. Some are even designed to handle early winter nights that are still warm.


This is a small upgrade from the three-season bags. You will be able to use this sleeping bag even during rainy autumn and cold winter days. This bag usually comes with a hoodie to protect the head from the cold.

Five-Season / Expedition

This is the most durable and is significantly heavier. Because you can use it in any season, it is usually made with a waterproof and breathable material that will allow air to flow through during the summer months. The water-proof material allows you to use it even during the rainy and snowy season.

Tips for using a sleeping bag

1. Change your clothes before sleeping. Make sure your clothing is dry and clean. Do not sleep in dirty clothes that you used for the day. If you are camping in a place where bears are active, change the clothes that you were wearing whilst cooking or eating, as these might have absorbed the smell of food and attract the bears. 2. Do not put on too heavy clothing when sleeping. Bulky clothes reduce the ability of the sleeping bag to trap your body heat. If you expect the sleeping bag to not provide enough warmth during the cold night, you may drape your jacket or other items outside the bag for more insulation. 3. Complete your bathroom activities before hopping into your bag. Having to relieve yourself in the middle of the night will be inconvenient and you will also lose the trapped heat inside your sleeping bag. In case you have to, make sure that a light is near your sleeping bag and your shoes or sandals are beside it. A solar panel 40-watt light can make a difference between stumbling in the dark and a safe return to camp. 4. If you usually eat or drink during the night, place water near your sleeping bag. This will prevent you from having to stand and lose the heat trapped inside your bag. Eating in your sleeping bag is not advisable and is, in fact, discouraged.

Air Mattress

An air mattress is more comfortable because it is inflated and you don't have to feel the ground under you. The air inside an air mattress cushions you, which means you won't have to feel rocks or lumps when you are sleeping. It will also give you the comfort of sleeping in a bed and you have more space to move around in. They are also light and can be deflated. However, because it is inflatable, it is less sturdy and very prone to leaks and puncture, depending on the material used. It also provides less insulation compared to the sleeping bag. In addition, the air mattress is sometimes slippery when you lie on it or when you place your sleeping bag on it. It is also uncomfortable to lie on when the camp terrain is in a slope because you will end up sliding down. Likewise, sleeping with just an air mattress can become problematic during cold weather, as you will be exposed to the elements. You can, however, add a sleeping bag or place an extra one between the air mattress and yourself. What's good about an air mattress is that you can bring it back with you after your trip and store it at home where it can serve as an extra bed when guests stay overnight. Sleeping bags are more of a personal thing, as it has limited space and is used by just one person. The Bestway air mattress costs only $84 at Outbax. This has a built-in pump that allows easy inflation and has a rib design that will prevent you from rolling off. It is also very durable and can handle up to 295 kilograms of weight. Memory foam mattresses are also available, and prices range from $188 to $225, depending on the size.

Things to Consider when choosing between a sleeping bag and air mattress

To help you make the right decision, you must first consider the following:

1. Weather

The weather should be your main determinant whether to go camping or stay at home. Aside from the climate, you should also check the weather forecast to prepare yourself and make the necessary adjustments to your camping gear. If the temperature is high, you may use thinner sleeping bags and hammocks that will allow the air to circulate. If you are expecting snow or rain, you may have to adjust your plans as well. During the Australian spring from September to November, the temperature of 20 to 30 degrees Celsius across Australia is suitable for backpacking and camping. In the summer months of December to February, temperatures can go as high as 45 degrees. which makes camping uncomfortable. These months, however, are the best months if you want to hit the beach and enjoy the Christmas holidays. Camping in Tasmania during this time is also a good option because the temperature is between 25 to 28 degrees there. Winter is the best time to visit the outback because the temperature during this time is cooler and dry.

2. Location

Aside from determining the weather of your target location, you also need to know the condition of the area and terrain. Do a little research about the area where you will be camping. Know if this area has rodents, bears, and other wildlife. Check if the terrain is sloping and if the ground is prone to flooding either from rising water levels or rain. The location of your camp should also dictate the clothes and camping gear you need to bring for the trip. If your campsite is accessible by car, you will be able to use heavier and bulky objects. If it is near the beach and tends to be chilly at night on the shore, your camping mattress might need to be thicker and you would need layers of clothes.

2. Personal health

You have to take note of your health and evaluate the temperature your body can tolerate. If you easily feel cold, get tired, or have a hard time carrying a bulky or a heavy camping gear, you need to adjust your sleeping system.

3. Weight of the camping gear

When going on an adventure, it is important to consider the weight of your camping gear and other necessities. If your campsite is near your car, carrying a lot of things will not pose a problem. However, you should limit your camping load if you will be trekking and camping elsewhere. A 5-kilogram bulky bag might not be easy to carry if your campsite is miles away from your car.

4. Car or tent camping

Car camping is now becoming an option for most campers and it meets the two primary needs in campingâ” sleeping space and transportation. You don't need a camper or a trailer to enjoy camping outdoors, as you can use your own car for it. If you have a smaller car, however, sleeping inside your car might not give you a comfortable position but you can always bring a tent for back-up. The main benefit of car camping is that you have all the things you need inside your car. You can also bring bulkier and heavier things with you. You just need to organise your camping materials and you are good to go. The downside of car camping is that you will not be able to stretch and lie down comfortably as space is very limited. Tent camping, on the other hand, allows you to really feel the great outdoors. You will be able to stretch your legs and have more space than when you are inside the car. You have to prepare provisions, however, for when it rains. Tents will also be warmer and provide better cover, and they do not usually take long to set up. You won't need to move things around every time you go to sleep.

5. Durability

You would want to have a sleeping system that will last. Look for quality products that you may use during different seasons. Whilst one-season sleeping systems target a specific season, a good sleeping bag can be used in different seasons. If you are looking for comfort and warmth and carrying a few extra pounds does not bother you, invest in a quality mattress or a great sleeping pad to match your sleeping bag. If you will stay inside an enclosed space like your car, you may only need a sleeping bag. Choosing which one to use depends on the comforts you are looking for when camping. Head over to Outbax.com.au and select one of the quality products on sale. Almost all items are shipped for free Australia-wide and within 24 hours. Camping gear and accessories can be found at the best guaranteed price. Visit the site now!