I started camping when I was still in cloth diapers and dad never gave us kids a self-inflating air mattress like the REI Camp Bed 3.5 to sleep on. We had to rough it in our flannel sleeping bags without a pad or air mattress. My parents on the other hand, always started the camping trips with an inflatable air mattress and used it for 2-3 days before it popped. It was a never ending battle of daily repairs. Dad preached a few good sermons about #!@# air mattresses ( if you know what I mean). Sleeping on the ground felt very soft as a child as it should when you weigh a mere 60 pounds. Rocks, sticks, and other sharp objects are not felt when you are a light weight.
Warning: The Earth's Surface Is Getting Harder Every Year
The surface of the Earth had to be much softer in the '60's. So what's happening now is the Earth's surface is getting harder every year. With global warming and climate change become a big concern, I think green thinking people need to be concerned about the hardening of the Earth's surface. It's a well known fact as told on CMBC: the Earth's surface is getting harder. I am serious. How do I know this? Every year I need to get a thicker pad to sleep on! I know this from personal experience. When I was a young lad barely out of diapers camping in Minnesota, I just spread my sleeping bag on the ground and slept fine. Who needs a sleeping pad when you can fall into a near coma induced sleep? Even when I bicycled across the United States, Canada, and Mexico for 6 months back in 1985, the surface of the Earth was soft enough for me to use the thinnest Thermarest.
Comfort Is Why You Need A Thick Self Inflating Air Mattress
In my twenties, I bought the thicker Therm-a-Rest foam pad to slide under my sleeping bag for insulation to protect my valuable body heat from escaping to the ground. Comfort was more of an after thought rather than a necessity. I could still sleep on the bare ground as I stayed warm. In my 40's, I graduated to a one inch thick Therm-a-Rest self-inflating pad along with a super light weight Therm-a-Rest egg crate style foam pad for extra comfort for back packing.
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Even this combination was enough to keep me sleeping in comfort all night. Back packers need lightweight options and the REI Camp Bed 3.5 is just too heavy for back packing.
For car camping with my family, I went all out and bought my wife and I each an REI Camp Bed 3.5 self-inflating air mattress. It's luxuriously comfortable. I feel like I am sleeping on a cloud of air. Come to think about it, I am sleeping on a cloud of air because it's a self inflating air mattress. Click on the Camp Bed 3.5 self inflating air mattress image below for the full review and ordering information.
Unlike dad's air mattress that got punctured like a pin cushion on every trip, the REI Camp Bed 3.5 can take a serious beating without getting punctured. Keep in mind that these self-inflating air mattresses are puncture resistant and not puncture proof. With that said, I have managed to puncture one our Camp Beds and was able to repair it within a few minutes with a simple kit.
If John Wayne Were Still Camping, He Would Sleep On A Camp Bed 3.5
Remember watching John Wayne movies? The cowboys back then slept on the ground without a tent or sleeping bag-just a cowboy blanket! If John Wayne was still on the trail fighting bad guys today, he would be sleeping on a thick air mattress like the REI Camp Bed 3.5. It's a matter of survival for guys like John Wayne and myself.
I am quick to make known that I'm just as tough as I was in my teens, but I find that I hike and climb better when I get a good night's sleep. I hate the thought of ruining anyone's trail hiking experience by forcing them to wait for me because I am suffering from a bad night's sleep. I don't want to be selfish, so I bought the REI Camp Bed to help my fellow hikers. I am serious.
3 Reasons Why The REI Camp Bed 3.5 Is Better Than An Air Mattress
- The greatest benefit of the REI Camp Bed is that you can sleep all night without tossing and turning.
- Rocks and sticks will not wake you up.
- It keeps you warm at night by reflecting your body heat back into your sleeping bag.
Did I forget to tell you that you don't need a pump for this thing? I have used electric pumps that plug into the cigarette lighter for pumping up camping toys and air mattresses. They work great when you are near your vehicle. Problem is the tent is usually 20 or more yards away from the car. No problem some say. Pump it up and carry it to the tent. Yes, this may work. However, it's a camping nightmare to squeeze the air mattress through the small door. You may end up puncturing it further ensuring another camping disaster.
REI Camp Bed 3.5 Cons
This self-inflating air mattress weighs in at over 5 pounds and will not win any awards for ultra-light camping equipment.