REI Co-op Camp Dreamer Insulated Air Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
Identifying the right camping mattress means looking at your priorities and needs. Is comfort a primary goal? Do you camp 25 days a year or five? Foam mattresses have proven to be the top choice for comfort, but the bulk and price might not be worth it for someone who camps only occasionally. REI's Camp Dreamer Insulated Air Sleeping Pad is a comfortable air mattress and packs into a pretty small space.
The material on the outside of the Camp Dreamer Insulated Air is quite soft and comfortable next to the skin. It is also very quiet, so you won't make a lot of noise when you shift positions during the night.
Like all air mattresses, the Camp Dreamer Insulated Air is somewhat bouncy to sleep on. If you are a deep sleeper or don't move much when you sleep, this might not be an issue. On the other hand, while foam mattresses dampen movement, they tend to be pretty large, even when rolled up. This mattress does blow up to 4 inches thick, which provides enough height to keep your body off the ground, but we found it to be most comfortable with a fairly low level of inflation. At only 25 inches wide, this is one of the narrowest mats in our test and is not available in a larger width. However, the vertical side walls are unusual in an air mattress and allow for full use of the entire width. But if you like or need more room to spread out, this might not be the best option.
Ease of Use
The Camp Dreamer Insulated Air is inflated with a provided pump sack. Snap the sack into the valve, fill it with air, and then roll the bag up to push the air into the mattress. Depending on how firm you want the mattress to be, it takes about 7-10 rounds of air pumped in. No topping off with the mouth is needed. This is quite easy to do, though not quite as simple as a self-inflating foam mattress, which will do much of the work for you.
This mattress operates with a rotating valve. You can easily lower the pressure by pushing in on the valve to release small amounts of air. To deflate, simply flip the valve open, and air rushes out. To keep air from getting back in as you roll it up, rotate the valve to the deflate position. The valve is a bit finicky, and we did have some trouble ensuring that it was locked in place. The screw cap provides added security in terms of keeping the valve from being nudged out of position, but we are not sure if this would prevent air from leaking if the valve gets out of position.
With an R-value of only 2.7, this mattress is not intended for cold nights out. The higher the R-value, the better your mattress will insulate you against the ground. This mattress has "Insulated" in the name, but we were unable to determine what the insulating material is. However, it feels like there are layers of fabric within the mattress, and it is certainly warmer than uninsulated air pads.
We found this mat to be plenty warm down to 50 degrees. On a cold night by the river, however, when the temperature dropped to 25 degrees F, it was not sufficient. Keep this in mind if you are a three-season camper, as spring and fall nights can dip unpredictably.
The Camp Dreamer Insulated Air pad is a high-quality air mattress that will provide the warm weather camper with a good night's sleep. While it is not the lightest air mattress, it rolls up into a pretty small package, making it easy to store, especially if you have one for everyone in the family. It is probably too heavy for the typical weight-conscious backpacker, but for a shorter trek, it would be a nice treat to sleep on in the backcountry.
Packed size is important when you need to stash a whole lot of mattresses into the family wagon, or for backpacking, or even for apartment dwellers. It is one factor to consider along with weight and comfort. The Insulated Air rolls up into a tidy little package and provides a decent amount of comfort, but for a great night outside, you will need to come to terms with a larger packed size.
While this mattress is a relatively plush four inches thick, the low R-value means that it has relatively limited use. However, if you only camp in the summer or in warm climates, and don't have much space to store a big foam mattress, this is an affordable option.
Foam always wins for comfort in a camping mattress. And for car camping, it is hard to beat. If packability is a concern, and you primarily camp in warmer temperatures, the Camp Dreamer Insulated Air is worth a look.
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