Are you a camper? Some people are, some people think they could be, and some people are not. I like the idea of camping, but when I think about sleeping unprotected — except for a sheer nylon tent barrier protecting me from wild animals, snakes, bugs, and the elements out in the middle of nowhere — it freaks me out, no joke. Car camping, though? That’s a possibility; with the Luno Air Mattress, it’s now possible, safe, and, most importantly, comfortable.
I’ve never been much of a camper; in fact, the one time I went tent camping was in high school. The family that took me chose a spot not far from the campground’s shower and restroom facilities, so it wasn’t too bad — even if the ground was hard (even with a roll-up sleeping pad), and I was afraid of bears. Plus, it rained, and that wasn’t fun at all.
My husband, on the other hand, grew up camping with his brother and father; he tells me regularly that he would love to take me, and I say, “Yeeeah, that sounds fun, but can we wait until it’s cooler?” In the 12 years that we’ve been together, we’ve never been camping — probably because I purposely don’t bring it up, and he knows me. It’s not that I don’t enjoy being in the great outdoors. I enjoy hiking, driving jeep trails, and seeing sights that many don’t have access to, but again … wild animals, snakes, bugs, and the elements out in the middle of nowhere. I like to have a bed to sleep on and access to a shower and toilet. Kev, on the other hand, has frequently been camping in the past few years. He doesn’t think anything of loading up all of his gear to sleep in a tent at various blacksmith gatherings in different states (even if he has to fly there to do it), and he just loves it. He has a tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, all the other gear, a proper gear bag to store it in. He sends me photos on his trips, and while it kind of looks like fun, I still shudder at the thought.
It wasn’t until I heard about the Luno Air Mattress that I thought maybe I could give camping another try. As they say on their site, the perks of car camping include:
- Adventure: Your own two feet can get you places, and a bike might take you a few miles further, but a good set of tires are boundless.
- Romance: Movie theaters are cheesy. Dinner dates are dull. Car-camping balances intimacy with adventure, comfort, and excitement.
- Community: With all the travelers and digital nomads zipping across the country, it’s never been easier to make friends and feel at home on the open roads.
- Affordability: Booking hotels, cabins, and Airbnbs take a hard bite into your budget. A few Luno Life essentials are a one-time investment that last a lifetime.
- Safety: Nylon tents give you the illusion of safety. In your vehicle, you get the real thing. Weather or wildlife, you can rest easy knowing you’re covered.
- Comfort: You can get the outdoor experience without the backaches, bug bites, and grumbling belly.
To get started and to see if the Luno Air Mattress will work in your vehicle, Luno Life’s site has a dropdown menu that includes all of the SUV models their beds will fit. Luno Air Mattresses are available for over 1800 vehicles, so if you have an SUV — even a smaller one like my Jeep Wrangler Unlimited or a Toyota Rav 4 — there’s bound to be a match.
Each Luno Air Mattress is designed for maximum comfort and support; they are made from a tightly woven fabric that has been laminated with a durable PVC coating. The set includes base extenders that go in the passenger footwells to support your head or feet, depending on which way you prefer to lay. Since this is an air mattress, you can make them as firm as you’d like, or you can adjust their firmness by letting a little bit of air out until the bed is softer. The kit comes in a storage bag that includes the Luno Air Mattress, two base extenders, a 12V air pump, and built on the side of the storage bag, there’s a pocket labeled “mattress repair kit,” which includes a repair patch. All Luno Air Mattresses have a one-year warranty.
There are some SUVs with features that may cause issues with getting the Luno Air Mattress to fit perfectly. If your SUV has captains chairs in the middle seat section, for instance, that can cause a hole underneath the mattress where there should be a flat surface for support. Back center consoles and high front consoles can also cause issues, as can side-folding seats, large row gaps, or cargo gaps. But let’s say your SUV, like mine, has seats that fold relatively flat when the front seats are scooted all the way forward. Everything should work properly in that case. Luno Life says that their mattresses will comfortably sleep up to two people who are 6’2″ with a combined weight of up to 600 pounds; Kev is 6’1″ and I am 5’11”, and together we are nowhere near that weight limit, so that was a good sign. But I still wasn’t sure that the two of us could comfortably fit, much less sleep in the back of my Jeep. It doesn’t look that wide, even if it is long enough! But we’d soon know for sure.
Kev and I took a recent four day trip to Terlingua, Texas; while there, we decided it would be the perfect opportunity to set up the Luno Air Mattress and try it out. One of the handy features about my Jeep is that I don’t have to remove the rear seat headrests to fold the seats down, they just flip up, but that simply means that the Luno Air Mattress would have to stop at a point before them. Of more significant concern was my high center console that butts into the back seat area just a bit, but we didn’t know if it would be a problem until we actually blew up the air mattress and tried to make it fit.
My Jeep has what should have been a handy DC outlet in the rear area that I thought would be perfect for running the included air pump. This was the first time since I had bought the vehicle brand new that I’d ever even tried to use the port, so it was a bummer to find out that it was dead; I’ll be getting that checked the next time I take it in for service. 🙁
We didn’t need the included base extenders as we had no gaps to fill, so Kev laid out the Luno Air Mattress in the back of my Jeep, and we were pleased to see that the fit was nearly perfect; it was even sized to be slightly wider in the rear seat area, which was a bonus.
Kev used the front DV port to charge the air pump, and it worked perfectly; it took just a few minutes for each side to be fully aired up.
You’ll notice that the “head” area of the mattress in this photo is inclined a bit, and Kev was already starting to grumble about how that was going to be a problem.
And it was after I had taken this photo of the 4″ air mattress all made up for sleeping that I realized we just needed to pull the mattress down the extra 5″ or so (that you can also plainly see in this photo) so that the air mattress’s end would be at the edge of the Jeep’s cargo area (sometimes, I just amaze myself). That left only the smallest bump in the middle at the very top of the mattress from my dratted center console. Seriously, the center console is just big enough to rest one person’s arm, and the storage area inside is nothing to brag about anyway; I don’t know why it needs to be so protruding! But I digress.
With the mattress now flat enough for comfortable sleeping, Kev and I crawled in — fully expecting to be squished together. That didn’t happen. Our pillows made the small center console bump disappear; it was quite comfortable!
We had plenty of room to spread out; it felt like our air mattress was just a little bit smaller than a full-size bed. We have the back door of the Jeep open here to enjoy the view of the Christmas Mountains at Terlingua Ranch.
If you are Jeep camping by yourself, you’ll feel absolutely spoiled by all of the room — and there will be plenty of space if you bring along your large dog.
Being able to camp in your car means that you can stop when you want and enjoy everything you see — whether you are on a long highway trip or a camping specific trip. You’ll be protected in your metal vehicle while sleeping, so you won’t have to worry about “psycho trail people” with knives attacking you (one happens to feature prominently in a book I’m currently reading, so my mind immediately went there), wild animals, or any of the other things that can happen when sleeping on the ground inside a flimsy nylon tent. If it is colder outside, you can roll up all your windows and use your blankets to stay warm. If it is warmer, you can crack the windows and let the cross breeze cool you down. Obviously, this won’t work when it’s scorching outside, but you’re not going to catch me camping when it’s that hot anyway. Like many popular camping destinations, in Terlingua, there are places where you can pay a fee to use their showers and restrooms. On the road, there are bathrooms at just about every exit, and many commercial truck stops have segregated showers you can use. This is an inexpensive way to get away from it all or go cross-country without dealing with hotels or multiple coronavirus vectors.
You might wonder what you’re supposed to do with all the stuff that you have in your car while you are camping inside it and using the storage area as your bed. Well, that’s where roof racks, the front seats, and the front seat footwells can come in handy. My Jeep doesn’t have a roof rack yet, so we use a removable metal cargo carrier that plugs into my Jeep’s trailer hitch (similar to this one); it’s where we keep our coolers and other large things, and it is easy enough to add or remove. Our bags go in the front seats, and there’s extra storage in the front footwells. You just have to look at things a little bit differently, but if you are setting up a traditional campsite, the only difference would be that you’re sleeping in your car versus in a tent, so you could place your coolers on the ground by your hammock or by your vehicle.
I have the first version, and the Luno Air Mattress 2.0 is now available. The differences between the two versions aren’t huge, but they do show Luno Life’s dedication to offering a long-lasting, easy to use product.
Maintaining the Luno Air Mattress is very easy. When you are ready to pack up and go, it quickly deflates and stores in its storage bag; the bag can be kept in the back of your car — ready for your next adventure. If your Luno Air Mattress gets dirty, Luno Life recommends that you never put the air mattress in the washing machine. You can simply clean it off with a hose or in a bathtub — you don’t want to forget to close the valves while washing it because you don’t want to get water inside. For spot cleaning, you can use Formula 409, BioClean All-Purpose Cleaner, or other general household cleaners.
These are some strange times that we are living in, and for whatever reason, you might find yourself wanting (or needing) to sleep in your car at some point. Maybe you need to travel to another state, but you don’t feel comfortable getting on a plane or staying in hotels, or perhaps money is tight, and paying for a place to stay isn’t an option. Maybe fires are raging in your state, and you want to know that you’ll have a place to sleep should you have to evacuate. Or perhaps you’re attending a festival, and you want a safe place to sleep and leave your gear while you enjoy yourself. There’s something comforting about having metal walls around you as you sleep on a comfortable bed, and you can have that with a Luno Life Air Mattress.
The Luno Air Mattress retails for $224.99, and it is available for preorder directly from the manufacturer.
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Everything you need for a quick set-up is included in a handy storage case with a strap for easy carrying; The Luno Air Mattress is 4″ thick, adjustable, and very comfortable; Bring along your pillows and blankets for a super comfortable night’s sleep; Perfect for anyone who doesn’t feel safe or comfortable sleeping inside a tent — you can lock your vehicle’s doors at night when you are sleeping, which adds a tremendous sense of security; Easy to disassemble and store; Easy cleaning; Patch kit included; Safe for use with pets
What Needs Improvement: May not work with all vehicles — it just depends on your SUV’s seating and console situation