The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

REI Co-op Camp Dreamer XL Review

All our favorite features we love from a camping mat at a great price.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $170 List | $169.00 at REI
Pros:  Bed-like comfort, easy inflation, great value
Cons:  Too big for some single person tents
Manufacturer:   REI Co-op
By Laurel Hunter & Matt Bento  ⋅  Nov 6, 2019
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87
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 15
  • Comfort - 40% 10
  • Ease of Use - 20% 9
  • Warmth - 20% 9
  • Versatility - 10% 6
  • Packed Size - 10% 5

Our Verdict

Our team of testers struggled to find something they didn't like about the REI Co-op Camp Dreamer XL. We wrongly assumed that since this pad was less expensive than previous award winners, there would be some serious design flaw, like it would be a pain to inflate or at least smell weird. This is fortunately not the case, and the competitively priced Dreamer XL has an easy inflation system, is as comfortable as our beds at home, and even has a convenient carrying/storage bag. The price and quality combo would earn it our Best Buy award, except that it's our favorite mat, period, making it our new Editors' Choice. The only thing that will limit your enjoyment of this mat is the size of your tent, as it's only available in a massive 78" x 32".


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $169.00 at REI$179.25 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$209.95 at Amazon$138.42 at Amazon$145.99 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
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Pros Bed-like comfort, easy inflation, great valueVery comfortable, R-value of 9.5 is super warm, good valuePacks to half the size of similar mattresses, easy to use, warm, comfortableWarm, comfortable, fits in a smaller tentComfortable, removable cover
Cons Too big for some single person tentsLarge packed sizeSlight bounciness, heavyHeavyVery large packed size, expensive
Bottom Line All our favorite features we love from a camping mat at a great price.This is the one we would lend to a friend.Four inches of foam camping mattress comfort that packs into a relatively small package.Our favorite option if you need a narrower comfy pad.Easy to use and pack away while offering top-level comfort.
Rating Categories REI Co-op Camp Dreamer XL Exped MegaMat 10 NEMO Roamer Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D Therm-a-Rest DreamTime
Comfort (40%)
10
0
10
10
0
10
10
0
9
10
0
9
10
0
9
Ease Of Use (20%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
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7
10
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7
Warmth (20%)
10
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9
10
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10
10
0
9
10
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10
10
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10
Versatility (10%)
10
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6
10
0
5
10
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7
10
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7
10
0
9
Packed Size (10%)
10
0
5
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
4
Specs REI Co-op Camp... Exped MegaMat 10 NEMO Roamer Therm-a-Rest... Therm-a-Rest...
Test Model XL Green LXWide XL Wide Blue Depths Long Large
Dimensions 78" x 32" x 4" 77.6" x 30.3" x 4" 80 x 30 x 4 in 77" x 25" x 4" 77 x 30 x 3.5 in
Length 78 in 77.6 in 80 in 77 in 77 in
Width 32 in 30.3 in 30 in 25 in 30 in
Thickness 4 in 4 in 4 in 4 in 3.5 in
Weight 6.38 lbs 6.37 lbs 5.25 lbs 5.5 lbs 6.68 lbs
R Value 5.5 9.5 Unavailable 11.4 10
Type Self-Inflating Self-Inflating Self inflating Self-Inflating Self inflating
Packed Size (inches) 11 in x 30 in 9.8 in x 31.1 in 10.5 x 15 in 7 in x 26 in 31 x 10 in
Storage Stuff Sack Stuff Sack Stuff sack Stuff Sack Stuff sack/Straps
Bed Material Stretch Polyester 50D Polyester with TPU Polyether film laminate 50D stretch 75D reverse diamond polyester 75D
Valves 1 valve 2 valves Zero profile 2 Valves Twist Valve
Accessories Air Pump/Pillow Mini Pump, Stuff Sack, Repair Kit and Manual Stuff sack Stuff sack Patch Kit
Breaths to Inflate N/A N/A N/A N/A 20-25

Our Analysis and Test Results

The REI Dreamer XL is built to compete directly with top-end camping mattresses. It gets you four inches off the cold ground just like other mats that are similar in design, and it has a foam inflation pump that works better than the other hand pumps. Its carrying sack makes it easy to tote around from the car to the tent. Most importantly, it is incredibly comfortable and at a friendly price, making it our Editor's Choice.

Performance Comparison


Our testers found it easy to sleep in despite the rising sun thanks to this huge pad. The combo of foam and air let us dial in just the right firmness  appeasing even the most finicky of sleepers.
Our testers found it easy to sleep in despite the rising sun thanks to this huge pad. The combo of foam and air let us dial in just the right firmness, appeasing even the most finicky of sleepers.

Comfort


REI seems to have taken many of our favorite features from other mattresses and combined them into a better and less expensive (crazy, we know!) camping mat. The polyester top is soft, silent, and not even the slightest bit sticky against your bare skin.


Like your mattress firm? You can pump this mat up to nearly bursting with the large foam pump pillow and not lose any air due to the one-way reversible hi-flow TPR valve. For a plusher sleeping experience, you can press on the valve to fine-tune the mat to your preferred level of softness. The foam pump doubles as a pillow; while car camping, you're probably just going to carry along your pillow of choice from home. However, the pump/pillow is actually pretty comfortable, and you can adjust the firmness the same way you would the mat. You can also squeeze all the air out of the pillow for more compact storage. When we first laid eyes on the Camp Dreamer, we thought the visible air chambers would feel lumpy. After testing, we can assure you that you won't notice the chambers, no matter how much you over or underinflate the mat.

We wondered if the obviously visible air chambers would cause uncomfortable ridges when the pad was inflated. They don't! The surface of this pad feels flat and uniform.
We wondered if the obviously visible air chambers would cause uncomfortable ridges when the pad was inflated. They don't! The surface of this pad feels flat and uniform.

Ease of Use


Our lead tester has used a plethora of camping mats, and truth be told, there are more exciting things to test than an inflatable pad. When we unpacked the Dreamer XL, and he saw the tightly packed pump/pillow, he elicited a taciturn "whoa cool" under his breath.


Not only does the pump make a comfortable pillow, but it also inflates the mat easily, drawing air in through a one-way valve and pushing it through another one-way valve into the mat while you pump it with your hands or feet. It takes very little time or effort to get this mattress fully inflated.

This huge foam pump makes inflation quick and easy  and it doubles as a pillow.
This huge foam pump makes inflation quick and easy, and it doubles as a pillow.

To deflate the mat and the pump, you push the valve in and flip it around so you can squeeze all the air out without any getting back in. The valve feels flimsy, and while we are concerned that it may not stay locked in place and could flip around on its own after a lot of use, we didn't experience this at all during our testing period. The horizontal channels that run across the mat actually make rolling the pad up quite easy.

Warmth


With an R-value of 5.5, you'll have plenty of insulation between you and the cold ground for most car-camping style adventures in the lower 48. The R-value rating is exponential, so this mat is 5.5 times as insulative as a pad with an R-value of 1, which we would comfortably use all summer long. Also, remember that while the mat will keep a nice layer of warm air trapped under you, it won't make you feel any hotter on warm nights than a pad with a lesser R-value.


Versatility


This puppy is one of the biggest single-person mats we've ever seen, and it's going to take up quite a bit of precious real estate in your tent. It may not even fit in the back of your truck. Though all that room to roll may offer unparalleled comfort, it makes this pad less versatile. This is something to take into consideration for those that camp with a significant other. Unless you have a very large tent, you will have a tough time getting two of these to fit (and you are going to need two… for sure). This may not be a problem if you camp solo, but even then, measure your tent before you make the investment.


There are better options for folks on the move who are sleeping in places where space is at a premium. If your backcountry mission is mule assisted, we wouldn't hesitate to load one of these suckers up and have the most comfortable nights imaginable.

Though easy to pack  this pad still takes up lots of space in the trunk.
Though easy to pack, this pad still takes up lots of space in the trunk.

Packed Size


A set of these mats for the family will take up a ton of space in the car, and currently, XL is the only available size. With the pillow/pump, this pad packs away to 11 x 30" if you take the time to squeeze out as much air as you can. Otherwise, it's even bulkier when packed away.


The carrying sack is generously sized and stretchy, so if you're in a hurry or just feeling lazy, it's not difficult to fit the pad inside even if there's still a little air in the mat. REI also includes a pair of helpful compression straps, but they aren't attached to the pad, so they're easy to lose. Considering the vast sleeping space provided by this pad, we think it packs away to a respectably compact package, and it doesn't take up more space than other pads in this category.

This mat comes with a huge carrying sack  making it easy to stow away even if you don't completely squeeze all the air out.
This mat comes with a huge carrying sack, making it easy to stow away even if you don't completely squeeze all the air out.

Value


The retail price gets you the pad, the pump, and the carrying sack. A great deal. Our current Best Buy Award Winner is a bit more, and we like the inflation system on the Dreamer better. The Outback does have an extra two inches of length, but you won't need them unless you're over 6'6.

If you really want to cram as much in the car as you can  the dreamer comes with compression straps to help free up some space.
If you really want to cram as much in the car as you can, the dreamer comes with compression straps to help free up some space.

Conclusion


REI knocks it out of the park with the Dreamer XL, earning it our Editors' Choice Award. It provides a level of comfort that rivals and sometimes exceeds that of our own beds. For car campers and travelers with enough room in their vehicle, there is no better option for a good night's sleep. We will hands down never go car camping again without this mat. Weight is no concern when you're walking from your car to your tent site or sometimes simply putting the mat down next to your car. With the Dreamer XL, we got great sleep away from home so we could play hard the next day.


Laurel Hunter & Matt Bento