That is easy words to say to your partner when you are turning in for the night at home in a comfy bed.  But what about out there in the bush?  Will you sleep warm?  Will your joints allow you to get up bright and breezy to enjoy another day under the African sun?

Shopping for a mattress can be daunting as there are many choices out there and of course each manufacturer will say that they have the ultimate solution and every traveler will convince you that his choice is the best, but what is your choice?

Our first trips we did with a big bulky foam mattress with a fully packed classic Range Rover, because that is what we could afford in those days.  Over the years things have changed, although we still travel with a Land Rover, and we have switched to an air mattress that is still giving us good service after 20 years and many kilometers in rough conditions on the African continent.

However, there are a couple of considerations when making your pick (that excludes you if you have a rooftop tent, because normally they come standard equipped with a certain type mattress).

How much space do you have?

Are you willing and able to inflate your air mattress?

What happens if your air mattress gets a thorn puncture?



What is important to you?  Are you going to give up something else for your preferred choice or are you going to bear it for two weeks with a bit of discomfort and extra effort?  In our setup, space is of importance, so we go with the inflatable version. 

Method of inflation

On a hot summers day when setting up camp are you able and willing to operate a manual hand pump and become sweaty in your workout?  On the flipside of the coin – if you go for the foam mattress option are you comfortable to sleep on a foam mattress in sweltering summer night conditions? 

Plan B

Plan B includes what is your next option if you go with an air mattress and it gets a puncture?  Believe me I can vouch that Namibian soil, without a mattress, does not promote a good night’s sleep.  You will realises the next morning that you have more bones in your body than you can remember!  We carry a simple repair kit and patches for this purpose, although since carrying it on each and every trip we never needed it once.


Be aware that during cold nights your air mattress might not be as comfortable as it feels as if deflates a bit.  To combat this we “over inflate” it when putting up camp in the late afternoon.  We found that the cold is mostly coming from the ground.   We also have a plan for this.  We use a thin foam-like sheet under the mattress to keep out the cold.  (We call her the Korean tannie, but we will introduce her on another day). 

Save up and buy the best mattress you can afford.  For us it makes a world of a difference when on a camping trip where several things can go wrong in one day to enjoy a restful night.  Your normal pillow, sheets and a duvet can go a long, long way to ensure a good rest and be invigorated to face the challenges of the next day. 

Good night, sleep tight.


For more camping decisions read the blog on Which One? Rooftop versus ground tent

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