I had no idea REI had been around since 1938. You’d think they’d know a thing or two about using and making air mattresses. Turns out they do. And with a good price at that.
In this REI Camp Dreamer XL mattress review we’ll see how it is to inflate, sleep on and pack up and why it earned the rating it did.
What is the REI Camp Dreamer XL mattress?
The REI Camp Dreamer XL is large, comfortable air and foam mattress for camping in tents, trucks and vans. It’s 78″ long, 32″ wide and 4″ thick. It packs down to 11 x 30″ and weighs about 6 lbs 6 oz (2.9 kg).
It comes with 2 velcro straps and a generous-sized side entry bag. The foam inside is horizontally cored so it rolls up easier. Two one-way valves, one ‘in’ and one ‘out’, sit flat on one end of the mats vertical sides.
Best Camping Mattresses of 2023
The Camp Dreamer was part of our Best Camping Mattresses of 2023 test. See the rest of the mattresses here:
- Exped MegaMat Max
- NEMO Roamer XL
- Big Agnes Captain Comfort Deluxe
- REI Camp Dreamer XL
- Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D XL
- Alps Mountaineering Vertex Twin Air Bed
- Elegear Double Sleeping Pad
- Very comfortable
- Good price
- Large to pack
- Slightly slower to inflate/deflate
- 78 x 32 inches
- packed 11 x 30 inches
- 6 lbs 6 oz (2.9 kg)
- $179.99 USD
- Two High-flow TPR flat valves, one in, one out
- Horizontally cored foam
- soft, stretch-polyester top
- 100% recycled polyester top and bottom
Inflating the Camp Dreamer is pretty straightforward.
It has two valves, one in and one out.
Opening the ‘in’ valve let’s it self-inflate and then you can add air with a pump, pump sack or breathe.
I found the self-inflating a little slower than other mats. Sometimes getting the foam and fabric away from the ‘in’ valve helped and I could hear air going in. I had to get it started a bit and then could walk away. If it was stuck, it could take 20 or 30 minutes to self-inflate compared to 5.
Once it was self inflated it was only 30 or 40 seconds to fill depending on how you do it.
Inflating from scratch was a little faster than waiting for it to self-inflate but more work. It’s really nice to let it self inflate when you set up camp and then close the valves and top it when when it’s done most of the work for me.
The valves are easy to tell apart, the ‘in’ being orange with three tabs and ‘out’ being grey with 1 tab. Feeling around in the dark the three tabs on the ‘in’ valve were easy to find.
Inflating with the pump sack was just like other pump sacks. REI recommend catching air with it and rolling it down instead of breathing into it. The pump sack is long enough to do this although I wish the opening was a little bigger and had a stiffer material to hold it open. The nozzle stayed attached to the mat well.
|Inflate from self-inflated – Blowing up
|Inflate from self-inflated – Pump sack
|Inflate from self-inflated – Pump
|Inflate from nothing – Blowing up
|Inflate from nothing – Pump sack
|Inflate from nothing – Pump
The Camp Dreamer was as good or better compared to all the mats we tested.
The ridges from the horizontal coring couldn’t be felt. The top was soft and flat all the way across. I didn’t slid around at all on the soft polyester top.
The extra 2 inches of width was noticeable as I moved around at night. The 78″ length was more than enough for all my pillows and blankets or sleeping bags.
As with all the mats, I have to have a taller pillow than at home and usually end up raising it with clothes or a towel since I sleep on my side. That’s been the same across the board.
The 4″ thickness was plenty to keep me off any kind of ground and was plenty warm. With an R-value 6.6 it could easily do cold-weather trips and keep you off the cold. It’s been warm for all the trips in this test.
For micro-adjustments while laying on it, the ‘in’ valve can be used to let a little bit of air out. Just pop the cover and press on the one-way valve inside to let a bit of air out.
Deflating and Packing
Deflating the Camp Dreamer is simple: pull the out plug and roll up.
I usually do a quick roll to get the air out and then a nice roll to get it rolled tightly. The one-way valve keeps the air out while you’re doing this.
It took me about 1:30 to deflate, roll and pack the Camp Dreamer.
|Deflate and pack time
The big, side access bag is easy to pack. The elastic around the opening takes a bit to get used to but actually helps when you get packing. Chucking the mat in the bag and clipping the top on doesn’t take long. The bag is plenty big even for a loose roll of the matt.
The bag has a handle on either end of the bag and a carry strap. These haul handles are nice when you’re packing and throwing the mat around.
The Camp Dreamer is on the heavier end of the the mattresses we tested at 6 pounds 6 oz (2.9 kg) but only by a bit.
When a mattress is this big, being a pound heavier than another probably doesn’t matter.
At 78″ x 32″ the Camp Dreamer XL is a nice big mattress. Most mattresses this size stop at 30 inches but REI decided to tack on another 2″ which is very welcome. With a few mattresses this size, you’ll need to check the size of your tent. I usually car camp with an 8 person for 4 people so we’ve got extra room for gear.
Packed up it’s just rolled, not folded, so it’s still about 30 inches long. After rolling it ends up being about 11 inches across.
Who is REI?
In 1938, 23 climbing friends decided to get together and start sourcing quality and affordable gear for their adventures.
REI Co-op was born.
Today, they have 23 million members, 16,000 employees, and 181 locations.
They help people get gear and knowledge to explore wild and natural places. They also help protect them too.
They have no shareholders so they can decide to donate $7 million to non-profits that help people get outside and protection those places. Read their Stewardship Report.
And, instead of partaking in the mayhem that is Black Friday they #OptOutside.
If you can find a Camp Dreamer XL, grab it. They’re out of stock at REI right now and I’m not sure if they just restocking or it’s gone for good.
The valves on the Camp Dreamer are simple and it takes a little longer than other mats to fill and deflate but it’s well worth it. Sleeping on the Camp Dreamer is literally a dream. I’ve got some of the best sleeps on an air mattress on this one right here.
My only issue with the mat is ‘in’ valve being blocked slightly for better self-inflating but other than that it’s a great mat for a great price. Just make sure you have room to travel with it.
Verdict: Highly Recommended see our ratings system
Usual Price: $179.99 USD