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REI Co-op Camp Dreamer XL Review

This plush pad is comfortable, warm, and affordable, but does take up a lot of space, even when packed
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REI Co-op Camp Dreamer XL Review (The Camp Dreamer is nearly as comfortable as your mattress at home.)
The Camp Dreamer is nearly as comfortable as your mattress at home.
Credit: Laurel Hunter
Price:  $179 List
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Manufacturer:   REI Co-op
By Laurel Hunter and Matt Bento  ⋅  May 23, 2023
86
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#2 of 16
  • Comfort - 40% 10.0
  • Ease of Use - 20% 9.0
  • Warmth - 20% 8.0
  • Versatility - 10% 6.0
  • Packed Size - 10% 6.0

Our Verdict

Our team of testers struggled to find something they didn't like about the REI Camp Dreamer XL. We wrongly assumed that since this pad was less expensive than some of the other foam mattresses, there would be some serious design flaws or inconveniences, but this was not the case. The competitively priced Camp Dreamer has an easy inflation system, is practically as comfortable as our beds at home, and even has a convenient carrying/storage bag. The only thing that will limit your enjoyment of this mat is if your tent is too small for all its luxury. To see how it stacks up versus the competition, check out our review of the best camping mattresses.
REASONS TO BUY
Bed-like comfort
Easy inflation
Great value
REASONS TO AVOID
Too big for some single person tents
Editor's Note: We updated this review on May 23, 2023, after fully retesting the newest version of this mattress.

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Bottom Line All the favorite features we love from a camping mat at a great priceFoam car camping comfort that packs into a smaller and lighter package than its peersA budget-conscious mattress that is quite warm, if a little less comfortableComfortable enough for car camping and backpacking, this is a versatile and packable mattressA great price, but it was just too narrow and not that comfy
Rating Categories REI Co-op Camp Drea... NEMO Roamer Exped DeepSleep 7.5 Therm-a-Rest NeoAir... Coleman Silver Springs
Comfort (40%)
10.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
Ease of Use (20%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
Warmth (20%)
8.0
7.0
9.0
5.0
6.0
Versatility (10%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
10.0
7.0
Packed Size (10%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
Specs REI Co-op Camp Drea... NEMO Roamer Exped DeepSleep 7.5 Therm-a-Rest NeoAir... Coleman Silver Springs
R-Value 6.6 6 8.5 3.7 5
Thickness 4.0 in 4.0 in 3.0 in 4.0 in 3.0 in
Length 78 in 78 in 78 in 77 in 72 in
Width 32 in 30 in 30 in 30 in 20 in
Weight 6.4 lb 5.9 lb 5.8 lb 2.3 lb 3.9 lb
Packed Size 11 in x 30 in 16 in x 10 in 32 in x 8 in 12 in x 6 in 20 in x 7 in
Type Self inflating, inflation sack Self inflating Self inflating Pump inflation Self inflating
Test Model XL XL, XWide LW XLarge Standard
Bed Material Recycled polyester 75D polyester 75D polyester Polyester 75D polyester
Valves Two valves Three valves One-way TwinLock One valve
Accessories Air pump, pillow Stuff sack, pump sack, repair kit Stuff sack Stuff sack, pump, pump sack Stuff sack, straps

Our Analysis and Test Results

The REI Dreamer XL is built to compete directly with the highest-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 very effective inflation sack that works better than many of the others of this type. A side-opening carrying tote makes it easy to pack without getting the tightest roll. Most importantly, this mattress is incredibly comfortable and has a friendly price. You won't be disappointed.

Performance Comparison


rei co-op camp dreamer xl - the camp dreamer is a top option for car camping adventures.
The Camp Dreamer is a top option for car camping adventures.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Comfort


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


Like your mattress firm? You can pump this mat up to nearly bursting with the nylon inflation sack and not lose any air due to the one-way high-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. 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 under-inflate the mat.

rei co-op camp dreamer xl - the pronounced ridges on the camp dreamer are not at all noticeable...
The pronounced ridges on the Camp Dreamer are not at all noticeable when you sleep.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Ease of Use


The Camp Dreamer features a dual valve system — one for inflation and one for deflation. The nylon pump sack that comes with this mattress is similar to those that come with other mattresses in our lineup but is especially effective. Basically, you fill the bag with air by gently waving it around and then roll it down, forcing the air into the mat via a connecting fabric tube. This heavy-duty tube lies horizontally off the bottom of the bag, directing air easily into the mattress. We noticed that the mattress self-inflates quite fast if you push and hold the inflation valve open, though you have to press it by hand, as there is no built-in way to do this. You can then top off the mattress with about 4-5 bags of air, depending on your preference for firmness. It takes very little time or effort to get this mattress fully inflated.


To deflate the mat, just open the flap marked “deflate” that covers the deflation valve. The valve is covered by a rubber membrane that opens with pressure to let air out and then closes to prevent air from getting back in. After the initial burst of air pushes through, the rest will dump out as you roll it up. The horizontal channels that run across the mat make rolling the pad up quite easy, but we recommend rolling it up once to get most of the air out, then opening it flat before doing a second roll to get it as small as possible.

The REI Camp Dreamer deflation valve opens to let air out without letting air back in.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Warmth


An R-value rating measures the level of insulation from the ground and air temperatures. With an R-value of 6.6 in the Camp Dreamer, you'll have plenty of insulation between you and the cold ground for most car-camping style adventures in the lower 48, even in winter.


Higher R-values typically mean more foam, which adds weight and makes a mattress a bit harder to use and store. This model has found a sweet spot in usability and warmth. 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 lower R-value.

Versatility


This puppy is one of the most significant single-person mats we've ever seen, and at 32 inches wide, it will take up quite a bit of real estate in your tent. Depending on the length of your truck bed, it may not fit there, either. Though all that space to sprawl on may offer unparalleled and indulgent comfort, it makes this pad less versatile. This is something to consider for those of you who camp with a significant other. Unless you have a huge tent, you will have a tough time getting two of these to fit (and one, though nicely sized, just isn't big enough for two people). 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. However, 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.

rei co-op camp dreamer xl - not tiny, but easy to carry from the car to the tent.
Not tiny, but easy to carry from the car to the tent.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

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 single-person size available (there is a double version, however). This pad packs away to 10 x 32 inches 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 is roughly similar to other pads in this category.

rei co-op camp dreamer xl - the carrying tote for the camp dreamer is stretchy and large making...
The carrying tote for the Camp Dreamer is stretchy and large making it easy to stow away the rolled up mat.
Credit: Laurel Hunter

Should You Buy the REI Camp Dreamer XL?


The Camp Dreamer is easily one of the most comfortable mattresses in our test. It's also a breeze to use and costs much less than other top mattresses we tested. For car campers and travelers with enough room in their vehicle, there is almost no better option for a good night's sleep. It is quite large, so be sure to measure your tent and consider your storage space before purchasing to ensure that it will fit, especially if you need to fit two.

What Other Camping Mattresses Should You Consider?


REI knocks it out of the park with the Camp Dreamer XL. However, if storage space is at a premium, take a look at the NEMO Roamer, which is nearly as comfortable while rolling up into a package about half the size. If your adventure plans include camping out in really frigid temps and you want to ensure you are as insulated as possible, the Exped MegaMat Max 15 has an R-value of 10.6, toasty enough for almost any conditions.

Laurel Hunter and Matt Bento