I'd like to see my friends again sometime this year...
May 7, 2011 8:48 PM   Subscribe

Is there any substitute for an air mattress for mobile, comfortable sleeping on floors?

My husband and I live in the middle of nowhere, and have friends who live in all the major metropolitan centers nearby. But none of them have guest beds, so when we visit, we have to sleep on the floor. We used to have three air mattresses from when we camped often, but all three of them have sprung leaks that leave us flat on the floor in the morning. We really don't want to buy another air mattress, even an expensive one, because of how easily they can develop leaks, especially if they sit for any period of time without being used.

So is there anything else we could try? It would have to be something that would fit in the trunk of a car and could be carried fairly easily by one person. To make matters a little more complicated, I have a bad back, so I need to find something I can spend a night on without agony. With pharmaceutical assistance, at least.

Any ideas?
posted by threeturtles to Grab Bag (16 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't tried them, but I am considering getting a couple of these Japanese futons.
posted by ian1977 at 9:03 PM on May 7, 2011

Also considered by me was something like this trifold mattress but I think I like the more malleable fold-up-ability of the Japanese futon better.
posted by ian1977 at 9:04 PM on May 7, 2011

I have slept quite comfortably on just mattress "toppers" -- featherbeds and memory foam. A few inches of memory foam is not too too hard to wrangle -- it will be a trunk-hog, but, certainly a comfy night's sleep.
posted by kmennie at 9:05 PM on May 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

We got sick of air beds too. Some stores in the U.S. sell dense foam pads -- more dense than memory foam. My sister-in-law lives near a store (Smith's in Utah) that sells them, and man am I glad we bought them. They don't pack up very small but they're wonderful to sleep on and we enjoy them more than air beds.

About 4" thick, I think.

Having lived in Japan for a while though, I'm pretty sure I'd choose a Japanese futon given the choice.
posted by circular at 9:33 PM on May 7, 2011

I've had good luck with the large sized thermarests. The thick ones can be really comfortable, if you like a firm but soft surface.
posted by sully75 at 9:36 PM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I love army cots. You can buy them on Amazon.
posted by hermitosis at 10:03 PM on May 7, 2011

I bought thick tufted lawn chair cushions from Pottery Barn for a built in day bed we have. They are meant for the long lounger lawn chairs but they fit my day bed perfectly. I bought them pretty cheap on close out at the end of the season.

I've slept on them camping and they were very comfortable. They can even be rolled up and tied to save space. They come in two parts a long part and the top short part. In a pinch (if you need to save packing space) you can just use the long part and let your feet and calves hang off the end.

You may be able to get something similar at a hardware store but be warned - the cheap kind of lawn chair cushion is horrible to sleep on. The ones I bought are the high end - tufted and they have piping around top and bottom. This is what I mean - chaise cushions.
posted by cda at 10:15 PM on May 7, 2011

I've been sleeping on a foam pad and a heavy sleeping bag (the car-camping sort, not the stuff-in-your-serious-backpack sort) for about 3 years now. I've tried to go back to the usual sort of mattress, but just can't quite bring myself to do it. I've got a Therm-a-Rest for camping, but I've been seriously tempted to just take a cheap foam bedroll instead. They're relatively bulky, but they weigh next to nothing, they're warm, and they'll never deflate during the night...
posted by brennen at 10:17 PM on May 7, 2011

I bought one of those thick foamy pool floaties, the kind that look like floating mattresses, which they really are. I cover it with a thick comforter I bought at a thrift store as insulation and extra padding and sleep on top of it. If I'm camping, I'll also have a sleeping bag on top. I've survived two Burning Mans and many camping trips using this set up and I'm thrilled. To store it, I roll it up and use bungee cords to wrap it tighter.
posted by HeyAllie at 10:42 PM on May 7, 2011

Airbeds are great, and you should be able to find a 12v one to plug into your car if you want to be able to car camp with it.
posted by rhizome at 2:28 AM on May 8, 2011

I've had a couple of those foam tri-fold mattresses like the one ian1977 linked to. They're great, as they're lightweight, don't take up much space, and are fairly comfortable. They're also much easier to set up than something like an air mattress, leading to the nickname "flip-and-f***."

The one we have right now, which probably came from Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond, has a nice velcro closure to keep it folded together while you're carrying it around.
posted by maxim0512 at 4:59 AM on May 8, 2011

I sometimes travel with a fold-up cot, which sleeps beautifully, but it's strictly a one-person bed - if they made it wide enough for two, the center sag would be unpleasant.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:12 AM on May 8, 2011

Sorry - forgot to include a link to the kind of cot I use. All frame & canvas, no mattress required.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:15 AM on May 8, 2011

Seconding Thermarest and a good sleeping bag. Makes a fine car-camping setup.

The Coleman airbed is a little more comfortable, but a lot more bulky, and takes longer to set up.
posted by DaveP at 12:56 PM on May 8, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for all the suggestions. Look like none of this is very cheap, but I guess it would save potential hotel rooms, so probably worth it.

Question: are the Japanese futons really that comfortable? They look so thin, and with just cotton, I have a hard time seeing them being that comfy, but obviously some people really like them.
posted by threeturtles at 1:44 PM on May 8, 2011

The Coleman airbed is a little more comfortable, but a lot more bulky, and takes longer to set up.

The queen that I use is about the size of a medium-sized cooler rolled up, and it takes less than 5min to unpack and inflate with the included pump (for which there appear to be 12v version). Thermarests are nice, but airbeds are more like a real bed.
posted by rhizome at 4:18 PM on May 9, 2011

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