A Personalized Approach: Best Sleeping Pad for Car Camping for Your Next Camping Trip

Are you planning on spending a night in the great outdoors with the family? Then you need to consider getting a sleeping mat. We here at KAMUI have worked hard to prepare an all-around article for choosing the best sleeping pad for car camping.

You are the one who chooses your car camping sleeping arrangement. Regardless if you like to stare up at the night sky, or protect yourself with a tent, you’ll need a sleeping pad to make it work. We’ve found the gear you’ll need for car camping, listed its specifications, and what to look for in a sleeping mat. This article should tell you how to find the best fit for you and your loved ones when it comes to camping mattresses.

What is car camping?

When you hear the term ‘car camping’ your mind might instantly jump to an image of someone sleeping in their vehicle. Although this is a possibility, car camping refers to taking your car to the campsite, rather than hiking there or traveling another way.

There are many benefits of car camping, with the most obvious one being the extra space that you have to take your gear. However, there’s a fine line between packing the essentials and bringing too much stuff. An optimal sleeping pad for car camping is always going to be a must.

Drinking Coffee while Car Camping

The importance of a good sleeping pad

We can put our theme of interest in the spotlight because it’s in the top three essential things to bring camping with you. No camper ever leaves home without their shelter, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. This is the reason why we believe that you need the best sleeping pad for car camping!

Besides the comfort and insulation your sleeping mat gives you, it is also a great way to protect you from the cold ground. When you’re sleeping in your sleeping bag and compressing the insulation inside of it, the ability to store heat minimizes. When sleeping without a sleeping pad, the ground will “steal” heat from your body and make you constantly cold. Your health might depend on it too, because when sleeping without a sleeping pad, you are risking hypothermia.

In conclusion, we can say that the reasons why you do need a sleeping pad are:

  • Insulation
  • Cushioning
  • Comfort
  • Portability
  • Convenience
  • Heat conservation
  • Health reasons

Types of sleeping pads for car camping

Getting a good night’s sleep every night when you’re camping means you’ll be ready for the next day and full of energy to tackle anything that comes your way. Just like in any other type of camping gear, there are different types of sleeping pads, with different purposes and targets. These might include self-inflating sleeping pads, open-cell sleeping pads, air pad mattresses, closed-cell foam pads, and memory foam camping mattresses.

All of these different camping mats are designed for different purposes, some for vehicle camping, others for backpacking, and some for general camping. Let’s look at what they offer when it comes down to size, weight, comfort, price, use, and insulation.

Self-Inflating Sleeping Pads
Self -Inflating

Air Pad mattresses
Air Pad mattresses
Closed Cell Foam Pad
Closed-cell Foam pads
Memory Foam
Memory Foam
Small size
Small weight
High comfort
Low price
Best useBackpacking
Car camping
Winter camping
Car camping
Car camping
Winter camping
Car camping

So far we here at KAMUI compared only self-inflating sleeping pads and air mattresses but came to the same conclusion: finding the best sleeping pad is essential. There are some things you can look for to ensure you will be happy with your sleeping pad of choice. It’s no matter whether you are car camping or hiking.

car campers

What to look for in a sleeping pad for car camping

After giving you a short how-to on car camping and comparing the different types of sleeping pads, their pros, cons, and use, we believe it is time to help you choose your ideal camping pad. Why? Because you’re probably here for that.

Without further ado, we will list the features by which you might want to choose your pad for a good night’s sleep. The most important features an air or foam sleeping pad can possess include:


When car camping, the weight of your pad might not pose a great ordeal, but when backpacking and thru-hiking, it isn’t easy to carry all that weight on your back.

Length and width

Make sure the length of your sleeping pad isn’t too short for you. If you are a wider person and like to roll around when sleeping, you might consider getting an extra-wide sleeping pad. They come now in all different shapes and sizes, so it won’t be a problem for you to find one that fits.


Another key factor would be how elevated from the ground do you want to be. Extra inflation results in extra comfort.


Last but not least, we might want to think about where you will use the pad. If we are planning on winter camping, you might want to choose a pad with a higher R-Value. Don’t know what that is? Our article titled What Does R-Value in Sleeping Pad Mean and What Its Use? is here to help you out.

sleeping pad for car camping in tent

Packed Size

Sleeping pads come in different packed sizes, and even if you don’t need to skimp on space and weight when camping, your pad’s stored size is worth considering when organizing your car camping essentials. This information is usually found on a sleeping mat’s product details page.

Easily Attaches to Other Pads

The built-in snaps on the sides are a practical feature that the KAMUI self-inflating sleeping pad offers. This advantage allows each pad to easily snap with other sleeping pads for a wider sleeping area for family or car camping. If you need extra insulation during the colder months, stack up two pads together and secure them with the side snaps to keep them attached even if you’re tossing at night. 

Connectable self inflating sleeping pads for family and couple

Verdict on how to choose the best sleeping pad for car camping

In conclusion, the best sleeping pad for car camping has these features:

  • Length and width should match your body; consider purchasing a connecting or double sleeping pad
  • Inflation should be as thick as possible for the highest comfort
  • Weight and insulation are not key factors when car camping
  • Packed size is optional
  • Easily Attaches to Other Pads
KAMUI sleeping pads in tent

Our pick: KAMUI self-inflating sleeping pad

We would like you to take a look at our self-inflating sleeping pad, but we are not the only ones recommending it. Wilderness Redefined conducted thorough tests on it, compared it to other pads, and gave the KAMUI sleeping pad the Great Value recommendation. Here are some of the features the KAMUI mat has to offer:

  • Weight: 3.5 pounds
  • Measurement: 75.6 x 25.6 x 2 inches
  • Available colors: blue and green
  • Designed for family camping
  • R-Value 5.7 makes it a 4-season pad
  • Comes with a storage and compression bag
  • Durable and stable
  • For campers with up to 275 lbs weight and 6 feet height
  • Self-inflating valve
  • Connectable with other pads
  • Stacks up
  • Quiet inflation

We think these are some convincing statistics and that this might be one of, if not the best, sleeping pads for car camping out there. Don’t trust us? Here is what others say about our pad:

tripsavvy portrait

“The KAMUI Self Inflating Sleeping Pad is a standout self-inflating choice. The 2-inch thick high rebound foam acts as insulation to keep you comfortable away from the cold ground, and also provides excellent back support (which is crucial when you’re sleeping outside).”


KAMUI self inflating sleeping pad

I want to literally car camp

If you are here to find some ideas on car camping, which is sleeping in your vehicle, either SUV, minivan, sedan, or bus – it’s your choice.

The first thing you need to remember is that cars can get as cold as other shelters, like tents. So make sure you’ve packed a sleeping bag whose temperature rating matches the one you expect during the night. Optional are also quilts and blankets, offering optimum heat during the evening.

Make sure you position the bed in the back seat, trunk, or on a DIY van or truck sleeping platform. Since you are sleeping in the car, bulkier foam pads, air mattresses, or even memory foam mattresses are all welcome. The key factor for car camping is comfort!

If you love car camping so much, you are probably thinking of building a sleeping platform yourself; we have some great facts you might want to know here. Our tips and tricks are applicable even if you plan on sleeping in the comfort of your car, so don’t stop reading just yet; there are still some facts that might interest you.

sleeping pad for car camping camping in car

FAQ: sleeping pad for car camping

How can I make my car more comfortable when camping?

You need to invest in a memory foam mattress, memory foam pad, or another type of air mattress that will make your camping night as comfortable as the one back home.

Is a sleeping pad necessary for camping?

Yes, a camping mattress, foam, or air pad is crucial when camping; unless the night temperature is above 80°, you aren’t sleeping outside, and you can risk getting hypothermia.

Is sleeping in a car warmer than a tent?

Yes, cars and tents tend to cool down very easily, but a car will protect you from the wind and cold better than a tent.

What do you put under your sleeping bag?

Any kind of camping mattress or pad, and your clothes in the stuff sack.

Can a yoga mat work like a sleeping pad?

No, a yoga mat is too thin for sleeping on it and offers no comfort or insulation whatsoever.

What is the best mattress for car camping?

The best mattress for car camping should fit well on your car camp interior, provides insulation and cushioning, packs up quickly, and doesn’t take up much space when stored in your car. The KAMUI self-inflating sleeping mattress passes all these criteria that guarantee you warmth, cushioning comfort and hassle-free car camping.

Is memory foam good for car camping?

A memory foam pad is an answer to your camping needs if you wish to relieve pressure and need extra padding inside your vehicle. This sleeping setup is ideal for car camping, where weight and carrying capacity may not be a problem because these sleeping pads are bulkier and heavier than air mattresses.

Can I put an air mattress in my car?

You can easily fit an air mattress inside your car because it tends to be adjustable or bendable to adapt to the size of a car’s interior. If you need more padding, you may add an underlayer of closed-cell foam mat under your insulated sleeping pad. Otherwise, you can stack two sleeping pads together to double their insulation and cushioning capacity. If you need a wider sleeping area because you’re family camping, snap two sleeping pads together if you’re pad has built-in snaps like the KAMUI self-inflating sleeping pad. 


Conclusion: Sleeping pad for car camping

Having the space and storage of your car, as well as the added convenience, is a luxury that many people prefer when they’re planning a free camping trip. Having the best sleeping pad at your disposal means that no matter where you go, you’ll be guaranteed a comfortable evening.

A sleeping pad works in so many different setups regardless of how you like to organize your campsite. You can sleep on the ground, in your tent, in a hammock, and even in the back of your car if you want to enjoy the literal definition of car camping. This one little accessory can have a huge impact on your comfort and health, so never leave home without it.

We hope that our short introduction, thorough research, and to-the-point facts helped you in choosing the one sleeping pad for car camping you want to buy.



KAMUI Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad

  • Connectable with multiple sleeping pads
  • 4-season sleeping pad
  • Provides great back support
  • Comes with a storage bag
KAMUI Self-inflating Sleeping Pad Green with Blue variation