Camping Stretcher Vs. Air Mattress

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Jay Elliott

Chief Camping Officer

Two of the most popular sleeping pads used by campers today are air mattresses and camping stretchers. But how do they differ from each other? What are their pros and cons? We review both below.

Air Mattress

An Air mattress uses air as a support mechanism rather than foam. When inflated, it holds the weight of the sleeper and does not deflate. Many campers prefer them because they are inexpensive but comfortable.

Air mattresses serve the same purpose as camping stretchers, but they are lighter than stretchers and will not take up too much space in your backpack. Furthermore, they come in various sizes like a king, double or single sizes.


  • Cheap option
  • Comfortable
  • Adjustable
  • Available in different sizes
  • Lightweight


  • Pumping air can be stressful
  • Prone to tear
  • Bouncy
  • Not very ideal for cold weather situations

Camping Stretcher

A Camping Stretcher is a foldable bed made of canvas or other thick or lightweight fabric. The fabric is mostly stretchable with an aluminum support frame that can hold your body weight. Stretchers are easy to carry because they can be folded.

They are not bouncy, neither do they deflate overtime. Furthermore, you don’t need to spend any time whatsoever setting it up as you would with an air mattress; however, many do not find them as comfortable as camping stretchers.


  • Durable and rugged
  • It can be used in any location
  • Easy to set up
  • Versatile


  • More expensive than most air mattresses
  • Heavier than air mattresses
  • Not very comfortable

Which is better?

Using reliable bedding is very important if you want to enjoy blissful sleep throughout your time out in camp. Many campers prefer air mattresses, while others prefer sleeping pads.

However, what we do know is that some people make their choices based on the comfort the bedding will give them or the ease of transport.

If having a lighter backpack is a priority for you, an air mattress is your best bet. If you don’t want to spend too much, air mattresses are also better. However, if you want bedding that will last you for a long time across several trips, camping stretchers are far better because they are very durable, unlike air mattresses that can easily puncture.