Air matress vs foam

Anyone have experience with both? Would like to know what you prefer now.

The problem with my air mattress, and others as well it seems, is that they leak throughout the night and I have waken up with a super deflated bed before.

Form what I hear about foam mattress, specifically memory foam, is that are not good insulators in cold weather, although I plan on putting it on a cot, and that unless you are pretty light, it will crush down to not much of a pad. I am about my weight for my height but I am still close to 190 lbs.


We’ve had both over the decades.

Air mattresses are more convenient as they pack smaller but there is the issue with loosing air (we have a better quality one now that holds air much better and is sturdier).

Foam is great if you have room to pack and store it, get the right thickness and the right density (never tried a topper but would think it would not be a great option as it is intended to be used alone). We had a queen size, 4” thick, high density foam pad which we zipped into a plastic mattress cover. Very comfortable and provided better insulation than an air mattress.

Thank you Glen. Most helpful especially from one with the experience you have had with both. When you say get the right thickness, are you refering to using the memory foam for the top of cot or air mattress? Seems you would not need it to be as thick if it were for an air mattress, cot may be a little different.

I’ve used both; if space and weight is not an issue, I will go foam 100%. I have had problems with air mattresses leaking, puncturing, “taco-ing”, melting (stove/campfire mishaps), and they’re colder.
When trying to save space and weight, I will go with the combination sleeping pads that have both insulation and inflate; like ThermaRest Trail Pro. I used to use their Prolite series, but I’m not 22 any more and rocks feel…more rocky than they used to :laughing:

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Than you KT, I appreciate the input. I have been on the air mattress 3 times now and this last time I forgot how it deflates over night. Got up at 3 am to top off the air. I am done with that crap.

No, foam can be bought in different thicknesses and densities. And having foam as a topper on a cot will require less thickness than having it directly on the ground

We’ve used thermarest backpacking pads - the same ones - for probably the past 20 years. As we’re in our late 60’s now we’re not doing much backpacking but … we still use these pads for all our car camping adventures…and we’re talking weeks of camping a year. Currently we put down the pads first and wrap them together with a utility quilt (the same one we use to cover our cooler while we’re driving!) then 2 down bags zipped together… and we are snug and comfy…. 3 seasons … and we’re talking Wisconsin seasons. Our weight differences are significant at 200lbs and 130lbs - and we’re going strong. As we camp out of a minivan for weeks at a time space is premium so we love the compactness to the thermarests. BUT - find a place (REI??) where you can check them out for real first in the store. It might help you answer some of your concerns.

If you have room, foam. Unless you have a tent that leaks in the rain…

I have a couple of self-inflating sleeping pads which have foam interiors, which is what expands when you let in air to do most of the inflating, and they’re great. I’ve got an Exped and an REI (4" and 3.5" thick respectively). Both are super comfortable and pretty tough. We also use them at home for guests. They’re super bulky and only suitable for car camping, but really comfortable. I have back issues and am a side sleeper and I find them both very comfortable. They both have super high thermal ratings as well.

I had the same problem with the air mattress, but after I got a good quality one, I understood how important it is where you get it.