You have gone through your checklist and have assembled everything from your tent to your camp stove and now you are only needing to figure out what exactly you will be sleeping on in your tent. It can be a bit overwhelming when it comes to this selection, but don't fear I have all the answers for you!
Camping bedding can be as simplistic as a few blankets folded together or as elaborate as self pumping air beds. Really depending on your requirements for sleeping your options can be limitless. While some prefer the true concept of roughing it in a sleeping bag others prefer cots to elevate them or air beds for comfort. There really is no wrong answer as long as it makes your stay enjoyable.
I personally prefer a bed mat, sold separately or in addition to a travel cot, the mad can be laid on most surfaces and provide a slightly cushioned surface which makes harder terrain more manageable. This option also has proven to provide the firm layer of sleeping that I sometimes need with a back that goes through its ups and downs.
The mat which I have been using is about an inch and a half thick and is a Coleman product which can be purchased at most camping supply stores. It folds but does not roll, so for those looking to backpack this would not make a great option.
This particular option comes in a variety of sizes and brands, for this reason it can range in price. Typically this is on the lower end of the price spectrum however and can prove to be a great option for those on a budget.
Another option, similar in size is a traditional air mattress or pool float. When inflated these typically are about the size of a cot, however with these they will require owner inflation. This option is great for someone who does not want to take up a lot of space in their gear as they fold up very neatly and weigh next to nothing in your pack. The downside, some of the inflatables are a bit more time consuming to air up and can be fickle on certain terrain so you want to be very careful as to where you places these.
As these are available mostly during the summer months, I would not suggest looking for one during winter. They are relatively inexpensive and would be one of the easiest options for a quick find during these months however at the lowest price point.
Cots, small folding beds are an option which works well for those not wanting to be directly on the ground itself. Raised typically around 1 foot to 2 feet off the ground, this area provides you with less ground heat or cold directly on your body. These also are great for surfaces which are more rocky or primitive as they remove you from the feeling of discomfort throughout the night.
These however are again not great for those attempting to backpack as they are bulky. Another positive to this mode of sleeping, those which struggle getting up and down from ground height can still experience camping with less pain.
These are in the mid range price point, depending on the brand you could find a very solid option which will last a long time for around $30. Cots however can escalate quickly in price depending on your shopping location, so I would suggest shopping around before picking up one of these to get the best deal.
Sleeping bag, the most traditional way for those camping to travel these have come a long way from their first editions so many years ago. Now sleeping bags are designed for specific weather and temperatures in mind. Those in both cold and warm conditions can find the perfect fit for their needs at a local sporting goods store and though they do not have as much support on the ground they more than make up for this in warmth.
As they are found everywhere just about you can pick up a good sleeping bag for under $20 for a summer month bag, however do not skimp on a winter bag because the last thing you want to do is get caught in the cold in a bag that wasn't designed for the correct conditions. These bags depending on the amount of padding and materials can run upward of $100 but are one of the most solid options for temperatures 40 and below.
Air Mattresses are the last method of sleeping we will cover as they come in a variety of sizes and options. Much more durable than an inflated pool float or the traditional air mattress these now can fit any camping need almost with more sturdy materials and a variety of heights to accommodate any camper. Unlike the traditional mattresses many of these are able to be inflated using either battery powered pumps or adapters which can be used from your car for quick inflation time.
This also gives those using the air bed options to a more soft or firm inflation level for their personal pleasure when sleeping. One of the only downsides I have found with these beds is that the air platform tends to trap the cooler air and it makes for a chilly sleep in winter months. This issue however can be solved by simply placing a warm blanket on top instead of a sheet before sleeping which will trap your body heat versus allowing it to be lost to mattress.
Because of their many features these can tend to be on the higher end of your price spectrum. Again this is one of those you want to invest in by shopping around first. Assess your needs first then shop for your requirements. A good investment in an air mattress can be an investment which will bring you a lot of time not only camping but as a potential collapsible guest sleeping option at your home if need be. Think of this one as a piece of furniture when shopping and get what you really want if you are putting in the money.