questionswhat camp bedding option do you prefer?

vote-for14vote-against
vote-for3vote-against

We use air mattresses but I am looking to slowly transition to cots as the air mattresses just eventually develop leaks.

You could probably get away with pads since you're young and hardy! I wouldn't recommend camping out without some kind of padding though. Or, if you do, make the first time a short trip!

vote-for4vote-against

I swear by my Therm-A-Rest camping mattress.
It's a self-inflating pad that's not terribly thick (mine is less than 2 inches). I too prefer to sleep on a firm surface and I have no trouble getting it inflated enough to be comfy for me. It's also very insulative, much more so than a regular air mattress (which actually tend to be colder than just sleeping on the bare ground).
I have a kit that lets it fold into a seat (padded bottom and back you can lean into) which is very handy and also provides the pad a bit more protection from getting punctured. Therm-a-rest pads can be kinda pricy but Campmor.com often has deals.

You might want to look into a Therm-a-rest Ridge Rest. This is a non-inflating foam pad that provides a bit of cushion (more just evens out the bumps) and a lot of insulation.

vote-for3vote-against

I like memory foam. It's firm but yields and insulates very well. For medieval camping I like the thick stuff, but for a more "roughing it" approach you could get the egg-crate style thin stuff. It would compact down pretty small if you insisted.

vote-for3vote-against

A friend of mine has a 2 person term-a-rest that self inflates to about 2 inches.

My wife and I bought a 2 person synthetic sleeping bag that has quite a bit of padding that works enough for us. Also allows us to cuddle at night.

vote-for3vote-against

I have been camping regularly with the boy scouts for 10+ years. I have tried a number of mattresses, pads, etc but it wasn't until I finally broke down and purchased a cot that I recognized how uncomfortable I had been before but didn't realize it.

The biggest downside to cots is they are heavy and not good at all for backpacking or winter camping. They can also take up quite a bit of real estate in the tent.

If you have have the tent space and aren't backpacking then a cot is definitely the way to go. It supports your body better, ignores that mysterious bump, and even provides storage underneath.

vote-for3vote-against

In a sleeping bag on top of a pad (thermal insulator) in a tent. Everything is fold-able, easy to carry, and provides more than enough warmth.

If you go with a cot, I'd double up with a sleeping bag.