All the options to grab a sleeping bag and turn your SUV or car into a free place to sleep on a road trip.
Ummm, can I go out and say, best camping ever?! Free-99! Check out the best mattresses for cars and SUVs.
---> including downloadable spreadsheet for us nerds.
What Can a Car Travel Bed Offer?
If you’ve got an SUV and you’re on a 1 or 2 person journey, why waste money on a hotel or overpriced camp spot.
Your SUV or back seat of your car makes a perfectly good place to get a great night's sleep with car air mattresses.
Early & Non-Drowsy Start for Outdoor Adventures
So you’ve planned:
a hut to hut hike in the Dolomites or White Mountains
a multi day hike
hunting, fishing, bird watching
All that stuff begins annoying early in the morning and...
You don’t want to get up at zero-dark-thirty to get there in time.
Table of Contents Best Mattress for Sleeping in SUV
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The aim of this article is to talk you through all the features and considerations that go into choosing the best mattress to sleep in your SUV. I’ve only included the products that I love and that have a proven reputation of being a sound investment for car camping.
I’ve included an easy-to-use comparison chart of all the best mattresses, as well as in depth reviews of each product that make finding the best mattress for sleeping in an SUV, much easier.
Our Pick Best Car Mattress
The Self Inflating Foam and Air Hybrid Pad is my top choice of all the mattresses we’ve reviewed below! It has great potential for SUV camping and backpacking.
I much prefer multi-functional mattresses to other types of mattresses. It self inflates so you don't need to carry a pump nor have electricity.
It has a great insulation R value to stay warm and offers enough thickness for side sleepers. It’s by a well-known and trusted brand so you know you’re getting quality and it has a great price point so buying it doesn’t break the bank.
If you get hot like me but hate bugs, this car window screen will let the air in and keep the bugs out.
Comparison Chart Best Mattress for Sleeping in SUV
Here’s a quick comparison of all the top mattresses I’ve reviewed in this article.
Protip: Fold down your seats and take accurate measurements of the space you have in mid row and back row with special attention to wheel wells.
Do not forget to measure between wheel wells like I did and end up having to return a mattress that was slightly too wide.
SUV Mattress & Mattresses for Cars Reviews & List
Choosing the best mattress for sleeping in SUV can feel a bit overwhelming. Read these detailed mattress reviews to help you find the best way to sleep in your SUV for your next trip.
Top Pick: Best Mattress for Sleeping in SUV
Can be used in SUV, tent or backpacking as it has fabric wrapped around 3 inches of premium foam with localized support and self inflating air to make it extra insulated and comfortable. R value of 4.4. Great for use in backpacking also.
Measures 77x25x3 inches inflated, packs to 13x9.3 inches, and weighs 39 ounces; stuff sack included; made in the USA
Pros: Backpacking function, lightweight
Cons: Small width
Most Comfortable SUV Mattress Foam : Fold Flat Seats
The foam camping mattress is equipped with ultra-soft bamboo cover. Simply unfold it to sleep on it and you can also use it in the home for an extra bed or TV cuddling mat.
Tri-fold mattress in flat position measures 73in x 52in x 6in, when folded it measures 52in x 25in x 18in.
Pros: durable, fast setup, multifunctional
Cons: takes up space when not in use, heavy
Electric Pump SUV Air Mattress
This electric pump mattress can be used as a middle row only or used for the entire back if all seats are stowed. Plug into cigarette lighter.
The size of QDH SUV Air Mattress is 72.8 x 51.2x 4.7 Inches, Plugs into cigarette lighter with 3 min pumping time.
Pros: electric pump, small storage when not in use
Cons: air leakage, no pillows
Best for Car Camping in Rear Seats
For use in the middle row sideways of a car or SUV only. Good for solo travellers. Electric pump mattress.
Mattress inflated: 69 inches x 32 inches x 6 inches
Pros: Do not have to rearrange entire car for sleeping
Cons: comfort, solo only
Self Inflating SUV Air Mattress
No power or pump needed. Can be used in the back of an SUV with seats folded down and is very lightweight and thin.
Use in tent camping also.
Measures 74 inch x 52.8 inch x 1.4 inch
Pros: No power, lightweight
Cons: Small thickness, not great for side sleepers
Most Adjustable SUV Mattress
Great for SUVs that have a narrower trunk and wider space where the middle row is folded down.
Multiple compartments of air so you can adjust as needed.
Measures: 76 inches x 47 inches wide near trunk, upper half 51 inches wide x 5 inches
Pros: thickness, adjustable
Cons: air leakage
Most Reliable SUV or Car Air Mattress
Worried about power? No problem this one comes with a manual pump and is fitted perfectly to the middle row so could even fit an SUV or car.
Measures 40 inch x 35 inches x 8 inches
Pros: No power needed, Super thick, perfectly fitted for middle row and can be used in tent
Cons: short length
Most Versatile Mattresses for Cars
Super thick air mattress with electric pump and comes with pillows and 6 adjustable air chambers so it can fit almost any SUV.
Great for comfort with the middle row or middle + 3rd rows folded down.
Measures 71 inch x 51 inch x 12 inch.
Pros: Versatile, comes with pillows
Cons: Air leakage
Types of SUV Car Mattresses & Tips to Pick the Best
First of all, you’ve got to decide which kind of mattress you’re looking for or if you need a few different kinds. Do you want something just for the middle row or do you want to fold down the middle and 3rd rows and take up the entire back of your SUV?
Or perhaps the thickest cushion? Each kind of mattress will have different benefits but the one you choose should be based on your needs.
Camping Pad – A camping pad typically used for backpacking or tent camping that is very thin and rolls up to be carried in a backpack for hiking. Not as comfortable for side sleepers and doesn't offer as much insulation warmth. Great if you want double duty for SUV sleeping and backpacking. More expensive than typical air mattresses.
Inflatable Air Mattress Manual Pump – This kind of mattress is cheaper and you get a little bit of a workout. You’ll definitely need to take up space for the pump itself but the mattress should fold down quite small when not in use.
Inflatable Air Mattress Electric Pump – Like the manual one but with a much smaller pump that plugs into your car and is inflated by your car battery.
Memory Foam – A tri folding memory foam mattress will offer no air leakage throughout the night and plenty of insulation. It can be flexible to take into your house to use as a spare portable guest mattress but also take up quite a lot of space in your SUV when not used for sleeping. Washable and fire retardant covers.
Custom Made Mattress – The most comfortable and custom fit to your vehicle. This is typical for long haul truck drivers or transporters of RVs from the manufacturing facility to the dealerships. This is the most expensive option. Contact standard mattress makers directly in your home town.
Tips and Features of Mattresses for Sleeping in SUV
So, you’re looking for the best SUV mattress available? Then you need to pay attention to these key features and qualities to find the best match for you and your family.
This is a major consideration – you’ll likely be camping in your SUV on the way to a big backpacking trip so taking the time to manually pump up the mattress may be a bummer.
Personally, I really like electric pumps for the ease of use and also not having to pack a manual air pump that takes up precious sleeping space. I want to stay stealth when SUV camping so everything must stay inside the car.
This may or may not be a big concern to you. If you regularly sleep on your side some of the thinner mattresses not be your jam.
Size & Weight
If you’re looking for the perfect SUV mattress then you’re probably looking for one that doesn’t take up too much space and doesn’t weigh an absolute ton. A large bulky mattress that takes up half your trunk space isn’t very practical.
The best mattress needs to be compact but still be comfortable, as well as being durable, and long lasting.
Measure twice, buy once.
If you’ve got a large space with the third row folded down you’ll want to maximize the size of the mattress for comfort, but if the wheel wells decrease your width it may not be possible to squeeze it in even if the head fits.
Safety and Cleaning
The mattresses that we’ve selected in our article have all passed safety standards and have proven records with safety.
However, safety is always something to be on the lookout for. Especially when in a car, you want to limit the potential of fire hazards. The best mattresses have fire retardant covers.
You’ll also want something easy to clean.
It doesn’t require full on millennial youtuber #Vanlife conversion to sleep in an SUV.
It’s easy and simple to make it a great place to sleep the night before a big backpacking trip or the night after a music festival, kayaking or bike trip.
The best part is that you’re able to go stealth -- camper vans and other conversions are pretty obvious for law enforcement to get into your business -- or residents get annoyed with your squatting.
But an SUV?
It’s not so obvious and you’ll have more options. Of course you should always be legal, but it’s been my experience that many popular outdoor locations do not allow parking for RVs or campers. Those areas do allow overnight car parking with people inside.
Have you converted your SUV into a place to sleep before an outdoor adventure?
We would love to hear about your experiences.
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I hope you enjoyed this buying guide and review and you make plans to get outside and save a little money with SUV car camping.
Until next time,
💖 Crave the Planet
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Author profile: Morgan Fielder is a passionate hiker and writer, physical therapist, and the European Cornhole Commissioner. She is living near Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany and featured giving science-based hiking tips and advice. When not out exploring the mountains or sea, she’s writing articles and gear reviews to empower Outdoor Journeys that include family and good food. She is actively involved in the community and advocating for connection and sustainability with her community projects at Cornhole Europa and Sustainable Investors Group.
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