Stretchers vs inflatable mattresses

Submitted: Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 14:08
ThreadID: 98192 Views:15434 Replies:12 FollowUps:9
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Hello all. Just after a few opinions. I have settled on purchasing an RV3 oz tent, that I know for sure. Next is deciding on sleeping options. I have 2 single oz trail inflatable mattresses which have been fine in the past. For some reason lately I have been looking at single stretchers, even a queen inflatable mattress. Im just after what people see as pros and cons of one vs the other.

Most of my camping is long weekends, even longer, mostly just myself and my daughter. Camping is always done over summer. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Grant
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Reply By: Member - Boobook - Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 14:22

Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 14:22
Stretchers are easy to get in and out of, allow you to store clothes etc under your bed, creating more room in the tent, but take up space when packed.

If you go for mattresses, get the self inflating ones, even the ones about 1" high are comfortable.

The blow up ones should be banned from camping, they leak, are freezing and you nearly die blowing them up. They are the best way to have a crap camping trip.
AnswerID: 495478

Follow Up By: Robert H2 - Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 14:52

Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 14:52
Earlier this year I started my transition to retirement. I wanted to do some of the things we did before children. This included camping.

My wife insisted that her participation was contingent on being warm and comfortable overnight.

I purchased the best goose down sleeping bags we could afford and some inflatable bed mats (brand is Exped). These are designed for hiking and so are only 880 grams and roll up to 230 mm x 90 mm. They have a built in hand pump for inflating, but this does take a while so I purchased a 12v compressor. The most important features is that they are filled with down.

We camped in the tent at Cooma in April with overnight temperatures down to -2C.
The mats were surprisingly comfortable but more importantly we were warm. Highly recommended.

For more details see this link

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Follow Up By: grunta1970 - Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 17:18

Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 17:18
I have an exped down filled mat, have had it a few years. It has mainly been used for adventure motorbike touring or when I have been mountain climbing overseas. As great as they are for that sort of thing, they arent something that I would use for camping here in Aus, unless lightweight is important, eg when Im away on my motorbike. As with your wife, comfort while sleeping is paramount for me. If Im away with my 4wd camping I can affort to be a little more luxurious.
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Reply By: Dennis Ellery - Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 15:19

Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 15:19
If you go for an inflatable buy good quality and get another one as a spare, as they are difficult to repair.
I’ve seen near divorces over mattresses that have deflated miles away from replacements.
I have 2 Colman queen size (they each have 2 separate inflatable compartments in them).
With 4 compartments - I would have to get 3 punctures before on of us was sleeping rough (and it wouldn't be the missus).
We use them one stacked on top of the other – so that we get a bit of height.
AnswerID: 495481

Follow Up By: grunta1970 - Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 17:22

Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 17:22
I have had 2 oz trail single inflatables for a couple of years. They have served me well. I was in bcf a few weeks ago and decided to test out he stretchers, and some were so comfortable, so thats why im tossing up between the two. The only negative i can see is that in an rv3 oztent, 2 stretchers would take up alot of space. With 2 single inflatables it is easy to move them out of the way, lean them against the tent, stack them etc.
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Reply By: - Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 19:50

Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 19:50
If you have plenty of space and no weight requirements, then I can see the attraction in the stretchers. You are off the ground and you can make it more like a bed.

The air mattresses whilst look great when they are all blown up and without leaks....but....spring a leak, and you could be in for a miserable time. I dont know what the queen size mattresses are like in terms of warmth - remember your body heat will not be enough to warm the air contained within that mattress. We have had a SHOCKING time, sleeping on the individual blow up air mattresses. They are like sleeping on a block of ice. One camping trip using them - and they were binned on our return.

Our choice is the self inflating mattresses (like Thermarest or Black Wolf or Denali). They are light, you don't need a pump and they don't take up much room when rolled up. We find them very reliable and the warranty on these products shows how much the companies stand by their products.
AnswerID: 495498

Follow Up By: DesF - Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 19:19

Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 19:19
Have to give a vote for the Thermarest Self inflatables, Bought 2 about 16 years ago, and still going strong, a bit large for bike trips but now days there is usually a back up, always had rubber blow ups before, no leak problems but they are freezing in the outback, if they dont leak,
Well worth the extra expense, gotta be warm and comfy when camping,
Cheers Des.
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Reply By: Member - Peter H1 (NSW) - Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 20:23

Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 20:23
Depending on your age, getting up out of stretcher is easier than getting up off the floor.
I know as I have been sleeping on a stretcher with an self inflating mattress for two months and will be till the house is sold [sold all the furniture] the floor is along way down as you get older.
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Follow Up By: grunta1970 - Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 21:33

Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 21:33
Oh, i should say that Im young, fit and having to get down to lay on a self inflating mattress is of no concern. And as far as self inflating mattresses and the cold, Im not sure why people dont prepare for conditions, I have a range of down sleeping bags to suit 4 seasons, so that has never been as issue with the self inflatable. It seems that from the replies so far no one has a real preference from one to the other, thank you.
FollowupID: 771118

Reply By: scoots68 - Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 23:13

Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 23:13
Hi Grant, we have self inflating mats, blow up mats and stretchers - the type that join together to make bunks, and by far the most comfortable are the self inflating mats. Given a choice the kids & I would chose the self inflating over all other options. Cheers Rachael
AnswerID: 495509

Follow Up By: grunta1970 - Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 23:20

Sunday, Sep 23, 2012 at 23:20
Hey thats not fair, if your kids are like my 5yr old daughter, they would sleep on anything lol. But yes, the self inflating mats are comfortable, but the stretchers I layed on at bcf felt oh so good.
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Reply By: Cravenhaven - Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 07:44

Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 07:44
I use the Lilo style rubberised cotton inflatable mattresses. They used to be only available in the tubular style single and double sizes, but you can also get them in queen size and with quilted (ie flat) center section. They dont take anywhere near as much air to inflate as the vinyl mattresses, are warm, and dont puncture easily. Their only downside is that they are too heavy for hiking.

I used these for years and found them very comfortable.

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Follow Up By: pling - Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 17:26

Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 17:26
I used lilo's for years, then went to self inflating ( thermarest) at suggestion of son.
They are fantastic, wife and I are in late 60's and wish we had purchased earlier.
We use a 9x9 tent with a centre pole and use the pole to assist getting up off the floor in the morning.
Getting down is not a problem, single malt whisky works wonders.
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Reply By: Robin Miller - Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 09:11

Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 09:11
Just watch the pressure points if you go for stretchers as legs can damage an RV3 . This and there bulk tends to be off putting - but they do work well for friends of ours.

Really one needs to have different options to match conditions.

Some don't like the cold Li-Los but some of our most uncomfortable nights in tents have been because its to hot from groundside.

The various synthetic materials and down can be to hot and also do not handle the litre or so of water the body can loose overnight whereas natural materials can be much more comfortable provide sufficent is taken to also remain warm.

Also beds get warmer as your body warms them and one can wake up to hot.

Any on ground mattress requires that you have reasonably flat ground - less of a problem with stretchers , but still an issue.

So our solutions have been to have options , blankets , no sleeping bags, we have (no longer available) Nomad brand 4inch thick self inflaters and always have cotton based sheets and good pillows and a means of building up the mattresses if ground has humps, and always take hot water bottle.

Recently we brought and interesting device - a 12v electric blanket , haven't done sufficent camping just yet to be sure of its viability but its looking good, as
preparing hot water bottle takes time and care.
They effectively use little power as they are operated by a push button which times out after 45 min.
The idea being to just warm the bed as required.
The hope is that this will mean a colder type mattress (possibly lilo) can be taken and it can be warmed if needed.

Nett idea is to be able to match a range of conditions better and carry less bulk.

Robin Miller

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Reply By: Top End Az - Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 13:06

Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 13:06
We went through all of this earlier this year. We ended up throwing out the blow up mattresses as they kept going down all the time. The earlier post that they should be banned is absolutely spot on.

We got some Oz Trail self inflating mattresses (2 x King Singles, easier storage than a queen). Then, we got 2 stretchers that zip together and put the mattresses on top of them. This way we have flexibility on our set up depending where we go. Friends that have seen it have gone the same way.

If the ground is clear with no sticks or sharp items and we are only staying 1 night we'll just use the mattresses, but if the ground is uneven or has too much debris, we'll use the stretchers and the mattresses. We don't use the stretchers on their own as it's more comfortable with the mattress on top. My wife is the first to let you know if she doesn't get her uninterrupted 8 hours. Haven't had a complaint since.

The stretchers don't really take up that much more space, although a little heavy. But they are great for storing stuff under them to keep the rest of the tent clean. And it keeps you off the ground so you don't feel the cold as much.
AnswerID: 495535

Reply By: Member - Min (NSW) - Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 18:34

Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 18:34
Make sure you measure the tent and measure the stretchers carefully before you go down that path.

AnswerID: 495558

Reply By: Member - michael H (NSW) - Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 22:25

Monday, Sep 24, 2012 at 22:25
Hi grunta1970
We have two Rv5 oz tents and we use Oztent King Goanna stretchers with thin foam mattresses and the kids have Thermarest self inflating mats but they would sleep on almost anything and still be comfy
We find our combo just right storage under the frames and ease of getting in and out but my feet do touch the tent and Im only 5'10
We put the beds at each side and have a small corridor down the centre with our heads at the door end

Cheers Michael
AnswerID: 495581

Follow Up By: goldcoastwestie - Wednesday, Sep 26, 2012 at 18:29

Wednesday, Sep 26, 2012 at 18:29
x 2

We have RV4 with same stretchers and Denali self inflating mattresses (which we got in Anaconda for 50% off.) Comfy as :-)
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Reply By: Rebecca H - Thursday, Oct 04, 2012 at 13:12

Thursday, Oct 04, 2012 at 13:12
We purchased a Dune 4x4 mattress when we bought our oztent and it has been great. It is self inflating but also has a couple of inches of foam so even if you dont inflate it or if it were to puncture it would still be warm and comfy. I had a couple of stretchers with mattresses on top but found that everytime someone rolled over it was a bit noisy.
AnswerID: 496137

Follow Up By: mikehzz - Friday, Oct 05, 2012 at 05:58

Friday, Oct 05, 2012 at 05:58
I agree with the noisy comment. I have a stretcher I don't use because it creaks and groans whenever I roll over.
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Reply By: Capt. Wrongway - Friday, Oct 05, 2012 at 08:35

Friday, Oct 05, 2012 at 08:35
I'm a big boy and would l'd love to find a stretcher that is rated over 150k and doesnt feel like it's going to fall apart.
AnswerID: 496173

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