REI Co-op Camp Dreamer XL: Definitive Review 2020
monthly FREE STUFF give aways
Table of Contents
TopNotch Outdoor is independent – we research, test, and rate the top products to help you make the right buying choice. We sometimes use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on your purchase. Learn more…
Looking for a good camping mattress for your next trip?
Then it was a smart move to join us here at TopNotch.
In this article, we analyze the REI Co-op Camp Dreamer XL features in-depth and compare the mattress with other top products in the category.
Keep scrolling to find out more.
Does a camping trip into the wilderness mean you’ll have to forego the comfort of your bed?
Not when you have a mattress like the Camp Dreamer.
We enjoyed both naps and nights on our REI Co-op Camp Dreamer XL and we’re sure you’ll like the same features as us.
It combines ease of use and comfort into one nicely designed package.
After using it in a variety of environments, we were really impressed by the bed-like comfort it provides – it’s so good.
Moreover, the high-class quality of the Dreamer XL really stood out…
… sleeping on cold or hard ground won’t be an issue, at all.
The soft feel of the polyester top against the skin is something we all noticed.
Then there’s the price…
If you’re looking for value, the REI Co-op Camp Dreamer ticks that box also.
Though the mattress is self-inflating, the pump (aka pillow) is a nice additional extra, giving it that edge.
We’ve all been there spending hours pumping up and trying to deflate our camping mattress, well…
..the Camp Dreamer uses a hi-flow TPR valve to ensure super quick inflation and deflation.
The mattress is not all perfect, though.
While it’s one of the top camping mattresses we tested, it’s a bit on the large side. This is great for anyone wanting extra comfort but if you have a small tent then fitting it inside could be a squeeze.
Also, the Camp Dreamer is only available in XL.
The good news is we have an excellent recommendation at our fingertips…
If you’re looking for a superior grade mattress – with EXCELLENT portability – take a look at our Editors Choice – the Nemo Sleeping Pad.
In fact, packing down to a neat 10.5 x 15 inches and weighing just 5.25lbs, the Nemo Roamer packs to half the size of similar mattresses. Check it out here…
Related: 8 Best Camping Mattresses
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis, Comparisons & Test Results
As a part of our self-inflating mattress review, we tried the Camp Dreamer through multi-day field use both at home and in our tents. The testing grounds varied from rough high-altitude Himalayan terrains to my colleague’s backyard.
The good performance of the mattress impressed even the most critical guys and gals in our team (not mentioning any names Laura!)
In addition, the large size provided enough space to stretch out comfortably after a tiring day.
We tested the product against each metric and determined a score.
After evaluating the complete results, we’re happy to rate this as a good mattress for car camping amongst all the current options on the market.
So, let’s dig deeper into each metric and find out what makes the Camp Dreamer stand out.
The fact is, for most buyers, comfort remains The Primary Factor when choosing from the best camping mattresses currently available.
The Camp Dreamer is TopNotch in the comfort stakes.
If like me, you’re a bit picky about the softness of your bed, it’s all good. The firmness of both the mattress and the pillow in this pad can be precisely adjusted to meet your personal preferences.
The polyester top of the mattress delivers the plush feel we loved.
The pump unit turned out (we were skeptical at first!) to be equally comfortable while being used as a pillow.
And there’s even more to get you pumped.
When inflated, the interior air chambers of the mattress were visible and we got a bit concerned at this…
But, to our surprise and delight, it was like the fairytale Princess and The Pea.
We couldn’t feel a thing.
And, we found the surface very quiet when we moved or turned – not like with some mattresses – when one person in a tent turns over, everyone wakes up.
We also used the Camp Dreamer over various rough surfaces, especially in rocky terrains, and the comfort levels were still awesome.
The large dimensions and the vertical sidewalls provided sufficient area for taller individuals in our team to sleep comfortably.
On the whole, we admired the level of attention that was paid to the small details while designing the mattress.
We found the excellent combination of foam and air made this one of the most comfortable camping mattresses we tested.
Ease of Use
Another reason for us to consider this mattress as a top car camping mattress is because of the all-round ease of use.
Know what is not so cool?
Pumping up a mattress in the dark and cold when you need to set up camp quickly.
But with this REI mattress, the self-inflating feature saves both time and effort.
The best part is…
…we found that the mattress takes only a few minutes to draw the necessary volume of air in. This is one area where it’s ahead of the competition.
To deflate the mattress, you just have to push the deflation valve in and apply some pressure.
As for us, we simply laid on it for a few minutes to assist in the deflation process – personally I just love doing that!
While the valves on the mattress are durable, the ones on the pump seemed a tad fragile to us. Our team felt that long term use and rough handling might take a toll on their life – so just go easy on them to make your mattress last.
Hang on, there’s more.
The mattress is constructed from horizontally cored foam making it surprisingly lightweight for the overall dimensions.
On top of that, the pump can be easily used by hand (or foot) for any fine-tuning of the firmness.
The high-flow one-way valves can displace air at a fast rate with minimum effort on your part.
Rolling up the mattress in a compact shape took a little effort, but nothing out of the ordinary.
The REI Co-op Camp Dreamer XL has an R-value of 6.6.
In case you don’t know, the R-value indicates the resistance an insulating material offers to conductive heat flow.
So the higher it is the better the insulation quality.
REI promises this camping mattress is even good enough for extremely cold conditions.
In our field tests, we found this to be very true.
But it gets even better…
We had the chance to use it over damp ground on a high altitude Himalayan trek.
Amazingly, the mattress kept us snug and warm and the cold didn’t affect our sleep at any time during the freezing night. Super impressive!
We also used it at lower altitudes with higher temperatures. The comfort levels were equally good.
Anyone looking for a mattress for car camping to use in cold weather will find the REI Co-op Camp Dreamer XL the perfect choice .
The synthetic insulation not only delivers warmth but it’s also compressible.
To sum up, our team absolutely agree this mattress will provide TopNotch warmth through years of use.
The truth is, a versatile mattress not only allows you to use it in a wide variety of situations but also offers more bang for your buck.
So what about this mattress?
We noted the size of the Camp Dreamer will make it a tight fit in smaller tents.
However, it’ll be totally at home in SUVs, truck beds and family-sized tents.
It’s best you check the available space in your car before choosing this as the best car camping air mattress.
Also – while preparing for solo camping trips, don’t forget to measure the area of your tent to check if the mattress fits.
When you’re camping with a partner, fitting two of these mattresses in a small tent might be difficult.
On the positive side, the mattress comes with welded seams that improve the durability. You can use it on hard and rough grounds without ever worrying about punctures or leakages.
Since we used a mule to carry equipment in the Himalayan trek, transporting this mattress was relatively easy.
But for backpackers, the large size would be an issue.
Our team considered it one of the least versatile mattresses because of its large size.
But if space isn’t an issue for you, this mattress should be on your kit list.
We felt we had to put a low score for it under this metric.
Here’s what we think.
With XL being the only size of mattress available, packing a few of these for your family will take up a large space.
It’s definitely not for you if you need the space for other gear or you want it to be portable.
So that’s just how the cookie crumbles.
If you do need an alternative – why not check out our Editor’s Choice – the Nemo Roaming Camper Pad. The Nemo packs down to a neat 20.5 x 15 inches and weighs just 5.25 lbs – half the size of similar mattresses!
The given packed size is 11 x 30 inches but we know that to achieve it you’ll need to put in some effort.
Keep in mind this involves taking some time to squeeze all the air out of the mattress.
However, even if you don’t deflate it fully, the carry bag is big and stretchable enough to accommodate the mattress comfortably.
The compression straps are a great addition from REI – helping to make the package further compact.
Sounds easy enough.
But, the straps are not attached to the mattress or the bag. So they can get lost if you don’t store them properly.
To sum up…
..the large packed size and the relatively heavier weight made us feel that this camping mattress won’t necessarily be the best choice for light backpacking.
BUT – if you’re planning to drive right up to the camping spot, the Camp Dreamer is one of the best car camping mattresses you’ll have the pleasure to slumber on and our choice every time
Conclusion: REI Co-op Camp Dreamer XL
Let’s sum up…
We liked the generous size and excellent comfort levels provided by the REI Co-op Camp Dreamer XL.
It’s a queen size foam camping mattress that ensures you a comfy night while camping.
For us, it hit the sweet spot with a good combo of comfort and warmth.
We consider this mattress one of the best camping mattresses – it ticks the right boxes.
Be assured it’ll provide you with the right quality of sleep to leave you refreshed the next morning.
In addition, the flexibility to fine-tune the softness of the bed for individual users.
We’ve done the legwork to find and rate this.
One thing’s for sure…
…it’s not the best tent mattress for backpackers, there are other choices if you’re looking for excellent portability.