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Whether you are backpacking or camping, equipment is fundamentally important to enjoy the trip. Since we all need to take a break from time to time, the camping mattress has become a staple for many outdoor enthusiasts. Since there are so many options available, most newcomers are overwhelmed when choosing the right camping mattress for their needs.
While there are many differences between the normal mattress you use on your bed and the camping mattress, the biggest benefit is the fact that a camping mattress is blown up using air. This means that mattresses are really portable and easier to with. While they might not feel the same as your bed feels at night, they will take the edge off from sleeping on the hardened floor when camping or backpacking.
Best Inflatable Mattress
The Lightspeed 2 Person Air Bed Camping Mattress is our pick for the best inflatable camping mattress. We have chosen it for the durability of the materials. Made predominantly from thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), the mattress holds up well under strenuous conditions.
Best Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad
The Lightspeed Outdoors FlexForm Premium Self-Inflating Sleep Pad is designed for backpackers and campers traveling light and looking for comfort. This is a great sleeping pad offering excellent heat retention and isolation.
Best Foam Camping Mattress
There can be no doubt that Teton is one of the leading brands when it comes to outdoor equipment. The Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Camping Pad is designed for the avid camper looking for excellent comfort. It is easy to understand why this mattress gets constant rave reviews.
Most Comfortable Mattress
Therm-a-Rest is one of the leading innovators in the world of mattress technology. The Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D Self-Inflating Foam Camping Mattress is a durable mattress that is designed for the professional campers and backpackers. It is self-inflating, bringing the convenience of not having to pump to a full-sized memory foam mattress.
Since we love going outdoors and taking on the elements, we got the opportunity to test a couple of the top camping mattresses. With a little bit of expert insight and some additional research, we not only found the best camping mattress, but also some of the key features you need to look for. In this article, you will learn all the ins and outs when it comes to buying a camping mattress.
There are essentially 3 different approaches to camping mattress design. Which one you choose depends on how you typically camp and what your needs are. You’ll have to pick from:
Self-Inflating Sleeping Pads
Foam Camping Mattresses
The Best Camping Mattress On The Market Today
These mattresses are ideally designed for outdoor lovers and we’ve included a Buyer’s Guide to help you choose . Here are the best options on the market today:
Best Inflatable Camping Matresses
The Lightspeed Outdoors 2 Person PVC-Free Air Bed Camping Mattress is the first entry on our list and we have chosen it for the durability of the materials. Made predominantly from thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), the mattress holds up quite well under strenuous conditions. PVC has also been avoided in the design and we have found this to regulate the temperature much better and keep it stable in warm and cold conditions.
The two-way Boston valve is something that not many people know about when they but this mattress. It might be indicated in the instructions, but you need to understand that this valve can help you adjust the firmness. Since a battery-operated pump has been included, the mattress can easily be inflated without too much effort and you won’t even need a power source.
While it is designed for two people, the camping mattress easily fits on your queen-sized bed. If you have a larger tent and you can add a couple of camping beds, this mattress will be the ideal addition for couples. The mattress folds up to a size of only 18.4 x 9.2 inches, making it the ideal addition for those looking to save some space and pack light.
On the downside, you have to deal with the weight. Unfortunately, it is not ideal for backpackers as the 6-pound weight might be a little excessive. If you choose this camping air mattress for backpacking, you will also need to increase the size of your average tent. However, if you and your spouse want to enjoy the ultimate comfort, this will be a great option.
It is worth noting that the mattress is available in different colors and the price also varies depending on the color that you choose. It is backed by a good 1-year limited warranty that should give you some peace of mind if you are new to the camping scene. We would highly recommend this camping air mattress to couples and those looking for enhanced comfort with larger tents.
The Etekcity Camping Portable Air Camping Mattress is a great option for those looking for various sizes. The mattress can be found in virtually any size for 2 people, but not for single people. TPU has been used in conjunction with PVC to create a multi-layered surface that will offer you excellent durability and make the mattress abrasion resistant as well.
With an anti-skid base, the mattress is actually perfect for slippery surfaces and it will keep you planted in one spot. The firmness can easily be adjusted and a state of the art rechargeable pump is included to help with the inflation. Adding on to the durability, you should note that this mattress could hold up to 650-pounds, which is more than enough for the average couple.
One of the other things we like about this camping air mattress is the additional support that is added. Compared to many of the lesser models, it can hold your back in position and allow you to improve your specific sleeping position without too much trouble. The seamless stitching all ensures that you won’t have to deal with any potential leaks or even abrasions.
Weight is somewhat of a problem for backpackers, but this can be overcome with the versatility that is offered and other uses. It is also worth noting that Etekcity claims that the mattress will never lose firmness or sink in and this has been supported by a 2-year warranty for you to test this claim. The warranty also shows the trust they have in the mattress.
For all these features, you would expect something really expensive. However, that is not the case with this camping air mattress. It is reasonably priced and you can find in different sizes that will accommodate your specific tent size. We highly recommend it for camping and to be used potentially as extra bedding when you have guests coming over.
The Best Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad
Lightspeed Outdoors is still a younger company making their name in the outdoor industry. However, they have already joined the cause of making self-inflating mattresses. The Lightspeed Outdoors FlexForm Premium Self-Inflating Sleep Pad is designed for backpackers and campers traveling light and looking for comfort.
Once again, foam insulation is used and this helps the mattress to inflate once it comes in contact with air. The inflation period should not be more than 2 minutes and you can easily regulate the firmness to your needs. FlexForm technology is relatively new and it enables the foam of the mattress to conform to the shape of your body, giving you much more comfort.
Lightspeed Outdoors are passionate about using non-harmful materials in all of their products. While no PVC has been used, it might lessen the durability, but long-term safety should be greatly improved for avid campers. An R-value of 9.66 has been assigned to the mattress, giving it excellent heat retention to be used in your average winter conditions.
The packed size could be an issue if you are also taking along a large sleeping bag. This camping mattress does fold into a bag, but it will still have a large size. You might need to buy an extra-large backpack if you are to add it to your kit. However, the carry bag is quite large and you can easily add a couple of additional tools in with the mattress.
Compared to the normal mattresses that come with a pump, these self-inflating mattresses tend to be a little expensive. However, they make life so much easier as well. This mattress is available in 2 different colors, giving you the opportunity to find the one the meets your needs. Unfortunately, it is only available in one size and this only accommodates one person.
TNH Outdoors is another exquisite brand that has been around for quite some time now. The release of the TNH Outdoors Premium Self Inflating Sleeping Pad was a turning point that every backpacker seemed to wait for. Since it is only 2-pounds, it really comfortable and light enough to be used for longer backpacking journeys.
Using the same foam packed inflation method as the Therm-a-Rest brand, you no longer need to carry along your massive pump and run out of batteries. This also makes it much easier to regulate the firmness and the company claims that the mattress will not lose its firmness over time. The 75D polyester outer shell is the main addition that ensures great durability.
Since the company heavily promotes using sustainable materials and improving the future, we like the design and believe they have gone through a lot of trouble to ensure all the materials are sustainable. With a little bit of hardness, We believe it could offer you some additional back support and the size will perfectly fit most sleeping bags.
Unfortunately, the thickness is a little too thin. At only 1.5-inches, you might feel some of the rocks sticking through the bottom and this might be painful to heavier users. While it is perfect to be used by smaller users, the heavier individuals might feel like adding another pad or even an air-inflated camping mattress for the best results.
With a lifetime warranty and many of these elite features, you might be expecting to pay a fortune for this mattress. However, they are really affordable and designed specifically for the avid backpacker. You might not use them for couples camping trips, as they are not wide enough. We definitely recommend them to backpackers looking to endure the tough conditions of the backcountry.
Once again, we have a Therm-a-Rest mattress that is designed for those who love camping in style. The Therm-a-Rest LuxuryMap Self-Inflating Foam Camping Mattress is designed with a foam insert that self-inflates once you expose it to air. It is also really lightweight and this makes it perfect for backpacking prolonged distances.
The R-value is around 6.88 and this gives it a decent warmth value that should keep you insulated in basic temperatures, but not in the coldness of the Polar Regions. 2 valves are once again added and this allows the user to adjust the firmness and ensure that comfort is guaranteed. We also found the soft-knit fabric to be really comfortable for those looking to avoid potential abrasions.
Since this mattress is available in different sizes, you should be able to find one with ease when looking for larger sizes. According to the manufacturer, it should not take more than 2 minutes to have the mattress fully inflated and ready for sleeping. Rolling it will release some of the air and the large carry bag gives you additional storage space.
The biggest downside we found it the bottom that is somewhat slippery. Unfortunately, this means that you could potentially slide around in your tent. However, using a camping cot will ensure that the camping mattress remains in place. It is also not recommended for those with serious back problems, as this could be escalated.
If you need something affordable that can be used for a very long time, this is definitely a great option to choose. The weight makes it perfect for backpacking and with a decent warranty; you should have some peace of mind as well. We would certainly recommend it to backpackers and campers looking to reduce the weight.
Any backpacker knows the importance of heat insulation and comfort when they are on a backpacking trip. The Klymit Insulated Static V All Season Camping Compact Sleeping Mattress is designed to be used in all conditions and it is constructed from durable polyester with a v-shape design that adds more comfort and molds to the shape of the body.
Since the mattress is only 1.5-pounds, it is extremely lightweight. The inflation process needs to be done manually and the manufacturer claims that 10 breaths should be enough for you to have it fully inflated. Additional valves are included for adjusting the firmness and it can hold up to 300-pounds for even the largest of individuals.
Body Mapping Technology is a new addition added to improve comfort. According to tests, this can help place emphasis on the pressure points of the body. If you have injuries or you need to have your muscles heal for the next day, this is one of the best options that could potentially allow you to be ready for the next day.
Sizing might be an issue for some users. It is only designed for one person and if you are camping with your family, you need to have more mattresses. It is also prone to punctures that could be frustrating for newcomers. However, a patch kit has been included and this should enable you to easily fix the mattress once this happens.
The mattress is also designed in different colors for anyone to match their current equipment. The price is not too expensive, making it a great option for beginners. While it can be used for camping as well, we would recommend it mostly for backpacking purposes as the lighter weight will be perfect for long distance trekking.
The Best Foam Camping Mattresses
There can be no doubt that Teton is one of the leading brands when it comes to outdoor equipment. The Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Camping Pad is designed for the avid camper looking for excellent comfort. It is filled with foam, eliminating the need for you to have it inflated and making it much easier for you to roll up once you are done.
Many people might not understand how to have it rolled and ready. Fortunately, for this camping mattress, the manufacturer has also included a roll-assist feature. We have found this addition to be ideal for helping newcomers have the mattress ready for use and to help them pack it up once they are done.
While it can be used as a standalone pad for sleeping on the grounds, it can also be used for adding another layer of comfort to your camping cot. The overall durability is actually highly rated and with foam being used instead of air, the mattress cannot be prone to punctures when you least expect them to happen.
While many pockets have been included for attachments, the folded size can be a little too large for backpackers and this is really frustrating. If you need to have your specific camping pillow, you can even use the pillow pocket to keep it in place during the nights’ sleep. Unfortunately, this mattress is not recommended for extremely cold weather conditions.
When you look at a big brand like Teton, it is not uncommon to expect the prices to be really expensive. However, this mattress is not too expensive, making it perfect for beginners to get started. We would definitely recommend Teton as one of the top brands for all campers and the limited lifetime warranty should give you additional peace of mind.
Therm-a-Rest is one of the leading innovators in the world of mattress technology. The Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D Self-Inflating Foam Camping Mattress is a durable mattress that is designed for the professional campers and backpackers. It is one of the lightest models and since it can be self-inflated, you need not worry about frustrating pumps that have mechanical failures.
While this mattress is only designed for one person, the design is made to allow you to add a second mattress to integrate and form a queen size bed for couples. Urethane foam is used for the inflation process and this can be regulated with 2 valves. We found this to be great for regulating the firmness and giving you the utmost of comfort when sleeping.
This camping air mattress is definitely rated as the best air mattress for camping amongst the Therm-a-Rest lovers. We also like all the additional features and you can find it in two sizes. The extra-large size should be ideal for a mother and a child to sleep close to one another at night. It is also worth noting that the mattress does not really lose any heat and the heat retention should keep your warm and comfortable.
While the mattress does have all of these excellent features, it is too small for couples and carrying two mattresses will definitely be much heavier and more of a drag. The comfort cannot be rivaled, but you need to be willing to carry another mattress. Fortunately, Therm-a-Rest also includes a couple of features that make the joining of mattresses easier and more comfortable.
The price might be a little too high for some of the beginners, but this should not stand in your way. Therm-a-Rest is definitely a reputable brand and they have been developing and enhancing current mattress technology all over the world. We definitely recommend this mattress for light campers and the avid backpackers. We usually recommend that you spend the extra money and buy something that is better known. We trust Therm-a-Rest!
Memory foam is not something we always see in the top mattresses. However, the Better Habitat SleepReady Memory Foam Floor Mattress aims to change this and create the ultimate level of comfort. It has been designed with memory foam fitter in the core and a cotton terry sheet to offer more comfort and insulation on the top.
No pump is required for this mattress and you can simply roll it out on the floor and have it ready to sleep. Since 3-inches of memory foam is used, the mattress tends to mold to the shape of your body, giving you comfort and alleviating some of the pain. The company also claims that it is waterproof and should endure all outdoor conditions to keep you warm and insulated.
Understanding the benefits of memory foam is really important when you are confronted with a mattress like this. Medical tests have shown that it can be used to alleviate the body of stress and even pains around the joints. The premium stitching also allows you to avoid any potential abrasions that can be found in some of the lesser models.
Weight is the biggest problem when it comes to this mattress. Since it features a weight of up to 17-pounds depending on the size you choose, you will not be using it for backpacking. It also takes up quite some space when you are packing. However, it is one of the most comfortable options on the market today. We would also like to let you know that the kids’ version is available as well. This camping mattress offers phenomenal support. If you are taking your car on a camping trip we recommend this mattress for the added comfort. It is important to note that people have complained about memory foam being on the warmer side and making you a bit hot in hot weather. Perfect for winter and fall as it is insulated well.
Camping air mattresses are not always cheap and this mattress definitely falls into a different price category. Having memory foam will offer you a ton of benefits, but it also spikes the price. However, the comfort is definitely unrivaled. Additionally, you also have a limited lifetime warranty to test out the mattress and see if it does meet all of your needs.
A Bed To Go With It…
Regardless of which camping mattress you settle on, unless you plan to go backpacking we suggest you consider getting a good camping cot to round off your sleeping arrangements. Here’s a good one we think you should look at:
Last but certainly not least, we have the Teton Sports Outfitter XXL Camping Cot and while this might not really be the same as the camping air mattress, it is definitely an essential piece of equipment that could make life so much easier for you. Aircraft-grade aluminum has been used for the frame, keeping the weight down while adding to the durability.
With such a large size, this cot is definitely designed for 2 people to use comfortably. When comparing the size to beds, you will notice that it is also larger than a twin-sized bed. With connecting pins being used, it is really easy to set it up and this makes it possible to have it ready when you arrive at the camping spot late at night.
Teton has a proven reputation for delivering quality goods as we have already seen. This camping cot is no different. Having a pivot arm included ensures that you have full adjustability and will make it much easier for you to get the right angle. Most normal camping air mattresses can be used in conjunction to make it even more comfortable.
While you don’t need to add an air mattress, it does make a difference. The additional lift from the ground will keep you out of the way from harmful insects and you can even avoid being flooded with late night rain. However, it is really heavy to carry along if you are backpacking longer distances and trying to keep the weight down.
Compared to many of the top air mattresses, this cot is actually really affordable and this means that you can easily use it when you are camping. With a lifetime warranty included, we would definitely recommend it to everyone looking to add a new level of comfort to his or her overall camping experience and keep off the ground.
What Should You Look For When Buying The Best Air Mattress For Camping?
The camping mattress seems like it is rather plain, but whilst doing some research, we found many intricate features that set them apart from one another. Once you understand these features, you can easily choose the best air mattress for camping. Here are the most important features to keep in mind when making your pick:
Air mattresses are divided into different types and while we have touched on each of them, you should see this small breakdown of these types. When choosing your air mattress or even sleeping pad, you need to distinguish between these options. Here is a small breakdown of each to ensure that you can make the right choice:
- Foam-filled: The foam-filled mattresses are generally a little heavier and they are larger when folded. However, they will eliminate the possibility of punctures and ensure that you have comfort when sleeping. Unfortunately, they are occasionally a little thin, which means you need to have a thick sleeping bag.
- Air-filled: The air-filled mattresses are generally lighter and cheaper. These mattresses are accompanied by a pump that is either battery operated or electric. Inflating them will be easy, but we have found them to be weak when it comes to withstanding punctures, and eventually, they need to be replaced.
- Sleeping pad: The sleeping pad is much thinner and it is only used for backpacking purposes. These mattresses are foam filled, but with the smaller design, they are small when folded and can easily be stored in your backpack. However, they are a little weak when compared to the thicker mattresses in terms of overall comfort and heat retention.
- Camping cot: The camping cot is not considered to be a mattress, but it also works well when you need to sleep. The biggest benefit is that you will be efficiently lifted from the floor. However, the additional add-ons will make them somewhat heavier and tough to carry along on longer trips. They work well for open-air camping.
No matter which one of them you decided to choose, they all serve a distinct purpose of offering you a comfort when sleeping. We would recommend all of them and as you might have seen, we have included at least one of each in this list.
The size is generally indicated by the dimensions of the product. However, this is one of the most important aspects to look at when you buy a camping air mattress. If you are looking for one that can be used by you and your spouse, you will be looking at one with larger dimensions. This also means that it could be heavier to carry around.
Those looking for something smaller for backpacking purposes can easily find one that accommodates one person. These air mattresses are much cheaper and they also have a lighter weight that makes them easier to carry along. We recommend determining the purpose of why you will be using it before looking at the dimensions.
If you are traveling by car and you don’t need to carry the equipment too far, you can buy a heavier mattress. The weight is generally determined by the construction of the mattress. Foam mattresses might help you to avoid any potentially punctures, but they are heavier and take up much more space when folded.
Alternatively, you can choose the air mattress that needs to be inflated. While it takes somewhat longer to inflate them if you don’t have an electric pump, you will be saving some space in your backpack that can be used for other essential pieces of equipment. We recommend the air mattress for those looking to keep the weight to a minimum.
The constant debate of using PVC is ongoing and many brands have removed the presence of this material. However, this can be harmful to users in the long run. The upside of PVC is durability and it enables the mattress to be much more resistant to the elements and the environments that campers need to face.
Memory foam is not used in most of the mattresses and this is due to the price being high. However, if you are suffering from injuries that could be plaguing you, you might need to invest in a memory foam mattress to ensure that you have the utmost comfort. Memory foam easily molds to the shape of your body and keeps this shape as long as you are using it.
We consider thickness to be really important when you are sleeping on the ground. Rocks and other objects can be underneath your tent and they will compromise your sleeping experience. The recommended thickness for a good sleeping mattress is around 2-3 inches. This will neutralize the effects of painful rocks.
With technology moving forward, newer methods of inflating your mattress are being developed. Using the older pump method is reliable, but can also be frustrating if your pump does not have an electrical power source or the batteries die. Self-inflating methods are becoming more popular and these mattresses are the ultimate combination of foam and air.
While the self-inflating mattress might be a little more expensive, they are highly reliable and the chances of having a puncture are not as common. Fortunately, most mattresses also come with puncture repair kits. We also highly recommend adding the patches and brushing up your puncture repair skills before taking on nature.
Air Holding Ability:
Whilst choosing these mattresses, we put an emphasis on this feature to ensure that the mattress does retain its firmness. Nothing can be more frustrating than having to adjust the air levels and re-inflate the mattress in the middle of the night. Fortunately, valves have been included to ensure that the mattress remains firm and it enables adjustments.
When looking for your ideal air mattress, it is definitely recommended that you look at the quality of the valves that are included. Having more than 1 valve enables you to easily deflate the mattress and also helps you when it comes to making the firmness perfect for your specific body type and needs. It is worth noting this feature also relates to the maximum weight limit of the mattress.
The weight limits are not always indicated by manufacturers. However, most mattresses will have a high weight limit of around 300-pounds if the mattress serves 1 person. If it is designed for 2 people, we recommend looking for a weight limit of around 650-pounds for you and your spouse.
The outdoor niche is a large niche that many people choose to enter and try to make a quick buck. However, we believe the quality is important and while a quality brand might be a little more expensive, they will offer more durability. The durability factor is what companies build their reputation on when competing with one another.
We recommend sticking to the well-known brands when making your purchase. These brands like Teton have massive Research and development sectors that are always testing the latest technology on the market. If you are looking for a camping mattress that includes all the best new features and technological advancements, you should stick to reputable brands.
In the modern economy, we are all strapped into some sort of budget and this is something that is what is discouraging many people from going outdoors. Fortunately, there are also many more affordable options on the market today. It is also considered a waste of money to buy something larger than you might not need.
Nevertheless, we would like to reiterate that even though the top brands are really expensive, they do offer the best durability and longevity. Thanks to the durability and longevity, these mattresses will save you a couple of bucks in the long run.
The warranty is really important as the manufacturer might have flaws from time to time. Since the top brands are generally expensive, they also add good warranties that will keep you protected if anything does go wrong that shouldn’t. Instead of buying something cheap that lacks a warranty, you should consider looking for a camping air mattress that enables you to be protected.
The heat retention and insulation are generally indicated by the R-value on the product. The higher the value, the better it will be when it comes to keeping you insulated. When choosing a mattress, you should also keep in mind where you will be camping or backpacking. This will give you a clear indication of the mattress that you need.
In most cases, we recommend having an R-value of at least 6 when you are camping. The versatility will allow you to also use the mattress when those unexpected storms are setting in. However, the higher value mattress you choose, the more expensive it will also be and you need to keep this in mind as well.
Frequently Asked Questions:
While most people fully understand the concept and the features of the air mattress, there are still a couple of questions that many people might have. To help answer these questions, we have done some in-depth research to find the answers that many of you might be wondering about. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions:
Do I need a camping cot for using the camping mattress?
The camping mattress is designed for those who love to have some additional comfort when camping. Whilst the camping cot will make a difference when it comes to sleeping higher and elevating you off the ground, it is not something that you must have. The air mattress is generally quite thick and this can offer you some protection from the hardened floor.
The camping cot is also an expensive addition and only recommended for those who are avid campers, using it quite often.
Which mattress type is best for backpacking?
As we have already mentioned, backpackers tend to look for something light and easy to carry. While the sleeping pad and foam mattresses are generally considered the best options for durability, the air mattress is the better option when it comes to weight. These mattresses are much easier to fold and they take up less space.
However, you will most likely have to use a pump for inflating the mattress. These pumps can be quite heavy and if you have an electrical pump, you might need to ensure you have a power source that can be used as well.
Are there any additional accessories that can be added?
In the older days, people were mostly concerned with the product itself. However, we are more inclined to look for additional accessories and benefits. Newer models do have some of these features and small pockets are one of the top accessories. These pockets are generally waterproof, allowing you to easily store all of you electronic devices. Now you can store your special camera for catching every moment without too much worry.
Another great addition we have seen with brands like Therm-a-Rest is the ability they offer you to merge your two mattresses. Since the mattresses are small, you can now have your very own queen-sized mattress that enables you to sleep with your partner. We must also mention that this accessory is sold separately.
Who should buy a memory foam mattress?
Since memory foam is expensive and not everyone can afford it, we only recommend it for those who are suffering from pain or if you have difficulties sleeping. Memory foam will mold to the shape of your body and it also maintains this form for as long as you use it. Unfortunately, these mattresses are quite heavy and take up more space than inflatable ones. We have found that the combo mattresses are the best.
We have also found that many of the elderly will enjoy using memory foam if they are new to the camping scene. Memory foam will help you rest more efficiently and you won’t have to worry about feeling tired and drained the next day.
What are the best sheets for the camping?
If you have to take along your sheets for the journey, you need to measure the size of the mattress to ensure that they are the correct size. Using fitted sheets will ensure that you have a much better chance of them fitting. However, there are also many mattresses that come with cotton on the top area, making them comfortable to sleep on.
The camping mattress is designed to make your camping experience more fun and comfortable. Now you should have all the knowledge to choose the perfect option for your needs. All of the options on this list has been carefully selected and with the help of some experienced campers, we believe that all of them will be a great addition to your camping kit.
We would like to thank you for reading this article and encourage you to share some of your thoughts on these camping mattresses. Let us know in the comment section if we might have missed your favorite camping mattress and why you like it. We look forward to reading your insightful thoughts.