Tents typically say how many people they can sleep, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be comfortable by cramming the maximum number of people in there.
Ross and I have a three-person/three-season tent for this exact reason.
We’re just two average-sized people, but we find that two-person tents are a little too tight for our liking—especially with our air mattresses, clothing, and miscellaneous gear we like to bring inside with us.
If you’re wondering what size of air mattress can fit inside your tent, you’ve come to the right place.
The average size of a tent
No tent is exactly the same, so there’s really no standard dimensions.
However, you can go off of floor space:
- A 2-person tent should have 30-35 square feet of floor space.
- A 3-person tent will have 40-50 square feet of floor space.
- A 4-person tent will have 60-70 square feet of floor space.
- A 6-person tent will have 90-120 square feet of floor space.
- An 8-person tent will have 120-140 square feet of floor space.
If that still leaves you scratching your head, consider these very rough dimensions to get a general idea of how wide and long each type of tent might be:
- A 2-person tent is approximately 4.5-5 feet wide and 7-7.5 feet long.
- A 3-person tent is approximately 6-8 feet wide and 7-8 feet long.
- A 4-person tent is approximately 8-10 feet wide and 7-9 feet long.
- A 6-person tent is approximately 10-12 feet wide and 10-14 feet long.
- An 8-person tent is approximately 12-14 feet wide and 12-16 feet long.
Keep in mind that the dimensions will be different depending on whether your tent is square or rectangular-shaped.
For instance, a 4-person tent that’s square might be 8′ by 8′ whereas a rectangular one might be 9′ by 7′.
Both have roughly the same square footage, but your mattress of choice may only fit in one of them because of a more favourable shape.
Extra details to consider about the size of your tent
Just because a tent is classified as “4-person” doesn’t mean you should put four people in it.
In most cases, you’ll need to go up a size for the number of bodies you’re sleeping.
Here are some things to think about:
- The average adult requires about 25 square feet of tent floor space.
- A 2-person tent will be tight for 2 adults—and may work better for 1 adult and 1 child, or 1 adult and 1 pet.
- A 3-person tent will comfortably sleep 2 adults, but will be right for 3.
- A 4-person tent will comfortably sleep 3 adults, or possibly a family of 2 adults and 1-2 small children, but will be tight for 4 adults.
- A 6-person tent will comfortably sleep 4 adults, or a family of 2 adults and 2-3 small children, but will be tight for 5 or 6 adults.
Get the idea?
The big lesson is here is that the number of people a tent specifies it can sleep is really the maximum number of people (average adults) it can fit.
It doesn’t mean you’ll be comfortable.
The average size of an air mattress
Average sizes for air mattresses can vary too—especially for single/twin mattresses.
Some brands call them “Regular” to differentiate them from other sizes.
Full/double, queen, and king sizes are pretty much the same across the board.
So what size mattress will fit in your tent?
Here are some general guidelines:
- A 2-person tent should fit 1 single/twin mattress in regular, wide, or wide/long or 2 single/twin mattresses in regular only.
- A 3-person tent should fit 1 full/double mattress.
- A 4-person tent should fit 1 queen mattress.
- A 6-person tent should fit 1 king mattress.
- An 8-person tent should fit 2 queen mattresses.
Keep in mind that these are just guidelines, and there’ no guarantee that they’ll apply to your specific tent and/or mattress.
How to get a more accurate idea of what will fit
The best thing you can do is consider your tent’s specific dimensions as well as the dimensions of your air mattress.
If you don’t know your tent’s dimensions, look up the brand and model online to see if you can find them listed under the specifications of its product page.
You can do the same with your air mattress.
Alternatively, you could grab a tape measure and measure both of them.
You don’t even need to set them up.
Just pull them out of their stuff sacks and measure their widths and lengths.
Once you have the measurements, see how they compare.
For example, let’s say your tent is 6 by 8 feet and you have a queen-sized air mattress.
In inches, your tent is 72″ by 96″.
A queen mattress is 60″ by 80,” which has a smaller width and length than the width and length of your tent.
This means that it will fit!
What else to consider when choosing the right size air mattress for your tent
Measuring is half the battle.
The other half requires considering a bunch of other variables that can impact the comfort of your sleeping situation.
How many people do you need to fit inside your tent?
More people may require multiple air mattresses, which could mean that your queen-sized mattress might need to be downgraded to a single.
Are your camping companions tall or short?
Ross is 6’5″, which means he needs an extra long size in everything—including his air mattress and sleeping bag.
Extra tall people will take up more space in your tent, and even though it may not be much, it will matter more than you think given how limited space tends to be inside a tent.
Are you fine with sleeping on the same mattress as others?
If you’re a couple, or you have young kids, you may not have a problem piling into one big queen or king-sized mattress.
But if your kids are older, or you’re camping with friends or extended family members, everyone might prefer their own mattress.
Are you bringing any pets to sleep inside your tent?
Even if your dog or cat is small and prefers to sleep on or in the bed with you, you’ll probably want a larger mattress than a regular single to feel comfortable.
If your pet prefers their own space while they sleep, you’ll need to consider making room for their own bed.
What gear do you want inside your tent?
If you have a mattress taking up all the floor space inside your tent, you’re not going to have any extra room to store clothing and gear.
You may not need much extra room, but a little goes a long way.
Does your mattress touch the walls of the tent?
If it does, it could get wet from condensation that develops on the tent walls overnight and early in the morning.
This is also the case for your sleeping bag and any other gear that touches the walls.
To minimize your risk of getting everything wet, you’ll want to choose a mattress that isn’t the maximum size for your tent.
For instance, if your tent fits a queen mattress, but leaves no extra floor space and is pushed right up against the walls, consider going for a full/double mattress instead.
Does weight and bulk matter to you?
If you’re car camping, you can get away with bringing a bigger tent and a bigger mattress.
But if you’re backpacking or need to travel light, it’s worth considering a smaller tent and mattress that don’t take up too much space or weigh you down.
What personal preferences are you not willing to give up?
Some people need a lot of room to stretch out while they sleep, and if that’s you, then it makes sense to get the biggest mattress you can fit in your tent.
On the other hand, if you don’t mind snuggling up with someone else or squeezing into a smaller space, you might consider going for a smaller mattress.
Other things to consider include the level of firmness you prefer (especially if you have a bad back), the material of the air mattress, and any additional features—such as built-in pumps or insulation.
It’s important to weigh all of these factors when choosing the right size air mattress for your tent so that you can find the perfect fit for a comfortable night’s sleep.
Elise is an experienced backcountry canoe tripper and winter camper from Ontario, Canada. She loves cooking up a storm over the campfire, taking in all the backcountry views, and enjoying a piña colada or two while relaxing at camp. She’s also certified in Whitewater Rescue (WWR) I & II and Wilderness First Aid (WFA).