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The Best Car Camping Pad

Updated on April 14, 2014

My Exped Mega Mat 10 with its 9.4 R Value rating suits my car camping needs in style. It cradles my decades old body in comfort so I actually look forward to nights slept in the SUV. This pad couldn't be easier to inflate to the depth and firmness I want.

All I need to do is to open the inflate plug and unroll the pad after storage. In a flash the memory foam core pulls air inside and the pad fluffs up. Most people can be ready to go without a further step.

My back wants more, though, so when I stop at a campground I secure the soft pump over the inflate plug and squeeze it together, each squeeze pumping more air inside. I pump for a couple minutes, then remove the hand pump from the pad's airlock valve. After that, simply cover the valve to lock all the air inside.

There's nothing left to do but spread out my sleeping bag and enjoy the comfort. A foam lined Exped Mega Mat delivers an exquisite night's sleep because my body is always cushioned, even when the heaviest part of me compresses.

Compare the 4.5" loft to a slim mat that depends solely on air to provide the padding because everyone knows it's possible to press a hand (or other big part) down, to flatten the mat to the ground or car bottom.

Having a brand new car that's a delight to drive is a plus; turning that SUV into a self-contained motel on wheels is a bonus possible only because I bought the best car camping pad in town.

My Exped Mat rides along inflated in the back of the car when I leave on my roadtrip. It fits in the far back, ready to use at my destination.

Please be sure to measure your car space to ensure that this pad will fit. In order for me to use it in my CX5 I need to set the front passenger seat up close to the dashboard. It works for me because I'm traveling solo. Also, I travel it in the relaxed stage so it flexes a bit, in order to prevent it from popping up above the front seat while driving.

I enter and exit my sleeping quarters through a passenger door, leaving the hatch closed so that my sleeping items don't slip out of the big back door. That way I can be more relaxed about where I store my pillow, clothes stuff bag, change of socks, etc.

Any of these three pillow options is a winner.

Exped Air Pillow, Medium
Exped Air Pillow, Medium

Here's the tiniest car camping pillow ever - made to the same rigorous standards as my Exped Mat.

Thermarest Compressible Pillow
Thermarest Compressible Pillow

For a slightly larger compressible pillow that's full of memory foam shreds the Thermarest can't be beat.

Bucky Utopia Neck Pillow, The Original U-Shaped Travel Pillow, for Comfort and Convenience in Travel - Black
Bucky Utopia Neck Pillow, The Original U-Shaped Travel Pillow, for Comfort and Convenience in Travel - Black

This is my car camping pillow of choice. It cradles my head, calming my sensitive neck, keeping it in position with lots of support.


Seeing is believing. The wonders of this camping pad are self explanatory.

Simple to use for simply the best night's camping sleep.

Three dimensional softness keeps your body flat.

Do you spend your camping nights in your car too?

See results

Have you tried the Exped Mega Mat yet?

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    • Kim Milai profile image

      Kim Milai 3 years ago

      Great idea good for drive in movies too!

    • takkhisa profile image

      Takkhis 3 years ago

      Thanks for the great review, it is a useful product.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 3 years ago

      I haven't, but it sounds like something we need. I love idea of the comfort.

    • profile image

      marsha32 3 years ago

      we need some of these!

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 3 years ago

      @GrammieOlivia: Yeah, remember those days of those Army surplus air mattresses. Oh, to have the resilience of the young.

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 3 years ago

      @Merrci: Now I can choose when to car camp and when to choose a B&B.

    • profile image

      GrammieOlivia 3 years ago

      Wish they had these years ago, sure beats air matresses......hands down!

    • georgepmoola2 profile image

      georgepmoola2 3 years ago

      Excellent idea!

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      It sounds like so much fun to camp that way. What a good idea, and a great lens!