A camping or bivouac mattress, an inflatable, self-inflating or foam mattress? Are you confused by the choice? Read our guide which will help you make the right choice and find the right mattress so you can enjoy a good night's sleep outdoors.

MT500 trekking mattress

Your choice of mattress should be guided by 3 criteria: weight, type of mattress and insulation. We will guide and support you in your choice so you can enjoy a comfortable night in your tent or bivouac.


The first criterion when choosing your mattress is weight.

After all, if you're a hiker and planning to go trekking with your mattress in your backpack, it's essential that you choose the lightest, most compact model possible. The low weight will help minimize the weight of your backpack and the compact size will reduce the amount of space taken up by the mattress. A trekking mattress also fits more easily into a bivouac tent compared to a thick, inflatable camping mattress which may rub against the tent wall. Some mattress models are, for example, narrower at the bottom to make them even more compact. And there's no need for a pump for this type of mattress. They're either made from foam or self-inflating. Everything is carefully calculated to avoid extra weight or unnecessary bulk !

Conversely, if you're going camping or looking for a mattress for sleeping indoors, you can opt for a camping mattress where weight isn't necessarily very important. These mattresses are generally thicker, wider, and more comfortable, like a real bed! Normally they need a pump to inflate them. They are usually rectangular and are big enough to accommodate restless sleepers ;) They are ideal for large camping tents. Some models are available in different widths: 70, 120 or 140 cm.


Foam, self-inflating or inflatable: there are several different kinds of mattress for camping or bivouacking.

Inflatable mattresses are designed for campers as you generally need to carry a pump to inflate them. They are normally thicker than other mattresses so you feel as if you're sleeping in a real bed. They can also be blown up using an electric pump. Some mattresses are fitted with a seconds valve that inflates the mattress in just a few minutes thanks to the venturi effect which increases the airflow into the mattress. There are also several self-inflating mattresses that are designed for camping.

If you're going trekking, it's better to choose a foam mattress which will be ultralight, and easy to fold or unfold, and carry on your backpack. Another option is a self-inflating mattress. A self-inflating mattress consists of an airtight envelope glued to an open cell foam in which the air circulates. When you unfold the mattress, it fills with air, regaining its shape and thickness. A self-inflating mattress generally inflates itself to about 60% simply by leaving the valve open. You will then need to blow up the rest yourself, so you can adjust the pressure to your desired comfort level.
Finally, we also have a number of inflatable mattresses, specially designed for trekking, which are still quite compact, unlike inflatable camping mattresses.


You can find out how much insulation your mattress provides by checking its R-Value. To find out the R-value of a Decathlon mattress, you just need to go to the "Product advantages" section on the appropriate product page.

The R-Value is a measure of the thermal resistance of a material. It measures the capacity of a mattress to retain body heat or prevent heat transfer to a cold floor. The higher the R-Value, the better the insulation of the mattress.
It's important to note that your sleeping bag has no effect whatsoever on the R-value.
Bear in mind that R-Values can be combined; this means that you can use two mattresses and add their R-Values.

All our mattresses are tested in accordance with the ASTM F3340-18 testing standard. This standard measures the r-value and, therefore, the insulation provided by the mattress. It's common to all manufacturers so allows you to compare different brands of mattresses.

What is the R-Value used for?
• R-value from 0 to 1.9: Hot season (summer) only
• R-value from 2 to 3: 2 or 3-seasons (spring-summer-autumn)
• R-value from 3 to 4: 4-seasons
• R-value of 4.5 +: 4-seasons and in extreme conditions (glaciers, extreme North and high altitude.)
Camping mattresses often have a higher R-value than an equivalently priced trekking mattress.

Additional advice to increase the R-value
Place a survival blanket under your mattress to optimize the thermal insulation of your camping or trekking mattress.


When the mattresses leave the factory, any air they contain is sucked out by a machine so they can fit easily into their cover. That's why it's important to inflate them a first time before you set off.

When using your self-inflating mattress for the first time, unroll it, open the valve for 24 hours on a flat surface, then inflate it and leave it for 24 hours with the valve closed, under pressure.

A final bit of advice for the road. For your comfort and to make your mattress last longer, it's important to avoid over-inflating. When you are sitting on the inflated mattress, you should be able to feel the ground near your buttocks. Therefore, when lying down, the air pressure will be distributed under your entire body and will provide you with optimum comfort.