This Thing Rules

This cheap trunk-fit air mattress got me over my camping fears

At just $60, this durable mattress can turn just about any car into a weekend getaway.

I am not a camper. I did not grow up in a household that enjoyed the great outdoors, save for a yearly trip to the apple orchard (on a crisp, sunny day) and a few sweaty days on the Jersey Shore. At summer camp I chose anything that might keep me in the shade or, even better, indoors.

But pandemic-stricken times call for pandemic-sized measures. After months of being cooped up in my childhood bedroom, I did something drastic: I reserved a tiny plot of land in the Catskills and began watching a series of YouTube videos about how to build a fire.

It quickly became evident that I’d need a place to sleep. Putting a tent together didn’t exactly sound like something I’d be fit to do in the fairest of weather, so I gravitated toward what some might call a cop-out. I went for the trunk-fit air mattress.

There are so many air mattresses available on the internet. Many are geared toward camping aficionados — Luno’s car mattresses, for example, are custom-fit to your vehicle, with the option of adding lovely seat-back organizers for stowing nighttime necessities. Mattresses like this go for about $300, though — a bit steep given that I wasn’t sure if I’d use it more than once.

So I turned — as one does — to Amazon, and settled on Wey&Fly’s take on the backseat mattress. The mattress itself isn’t much to look at, greyish on one side and dark teal on the other, but the high review average (4.5 stars with over 1200 reviews) seemed promising.

I chose well. To my very pleasant surprise, the Wey&Fly mattress ended up exceeding my expectations. And all for just $60.

The air mattress comes folded up in a neat square inside a nondescript black tote bag alongside a complicated-looking pumping mechanism. All told it weighs just a few pounds and takes up less room than a couple of hardcover books. You won’t have to make extra space in your packing setup to accommodate for it.

All my preparations notwithstanding, I still found myself nervous as the sun went down. I rushed to unfurl my glorious mattress; I fumbled for the cigarette lighter and plugged in the air pump. It was around this point that I realized — the day’s light rapidly disappearing, my iPhone reading “No Service” for the first time in a long time — that my partner and I, along with my anxiety-prone dog, would be in something of a pickle if the mattress didn’t work as planned.

It’s not exactly memory foam, but I found it very easy to forget I was sleeping on the floor of my trunk.

The rush of air into the mattress mirrored my long sigh of relief. The first half of the mattress inflated in under two minutes; the entire process finished with enough time to spare for me to lay out some blankets and start the fire up before the sun had left us completely. Preparing our sleeping spot in the back of the Subaru was almost effortless.

And to my even greater surprise: the mattress is comfortable, too. It’s not exactly memory foam, but I found it very easy to forget I was sleeping on the floor of my trunk. I woke up with only the most minor of aches in my lower back — I’ve had worse nights of sleep on a full bed set. I expected sleeping to be the least enjoyable part of camping. Instead, it was genuinely relaxing. That’s novel, in 2020.

I slept on the Wey&Fly mattress two nights in a row with no problems at all. I deflated the mattress in the morning and re-inflated it at night. My dog’s admittedly-too-long nails did not create any air leaks in the durable-feeling PVC-adjacent material, though the package does come with a small repair kit if you run into that particular problem.

At the end of my first ever camping trip, I folded up my air mattress (not quite as neatly as when it first arrived) and slid it back in that nondescript black tote back, knowing I’d look forward to inflating it once again. Just as soon as it isn’t snowing outside.