Self Inflatable Mattress


As we become more experienced or regular campers we are constantly replacing or upgrading our equipment. Whether it is because our budget improves or our circumstances change or as we get older so does our equipment and it needs replacing – but are self inflatable mattresses really an answer?

Back in the early days a sleeping bag on top of a sewn in ground sheet was more than adequate for a good night’s sleep.  Then as the supermarkets moved in on the camping equipment and accessories market a blow up mattress could be bought on the same shopping trip as the food and drink shop. Were you one of the members of your group looking at a friend blowing up their air bed while all you had for comfort was an extra blanket or their donated foam sleeping mat? Me too. Then came the day when I purchased my first blow up mattress. Oh the excitement, the thought of a great night’s sleep on air!

But oh the disappointment of that first night’s sleep. OK I couldn’t hear the air escaping and I know I pushed the plug in correctly but when I woke up in the morning my shoulder digging into the ground while my feet were elevated on the inflated higher part of the mattress. Rubbish! However this first experience of buying my blow up mattress did not stop be buying another and another. Then of course I bought the automatic pump and a replacement one after that failed too!

I have lost count of the blow up mattresses I have bought over the years and none of them have provided a satisfactory bed for the night. And when I upgraded to the double mattress when the girlfriend came camping we had the same issues with night time deflation. And of course the earth moves all the time when two people share the same blow up mattress.


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Did I mention that none of these blow up mattresses lasted more than one trip even when used from the box for the first time. Whether it had a the night deflation issue or picked up a puncture, every time we went camping we needed a new blow up bed.  I shudder to think how much I have spent on replacement blow up beds.

The good news is that there is an alternative and a very good one at that too. Since I have changed my camping sleeping arrangements (not the girlfriend, I hasten to add) I have had no issues with a deflating bed, numb shoulder or hard floor waking me up in the early hours of the morning as we sink to the ground. Nor since my initial purchase have I had to buy a replacement or carry out any onsite repairs or look for someone to borrow a pump from.

I bought a self-inflating mattress  and it has been amazing. I have enjoyed some wonderful sleeps, I have woken up feeling great, not broken and regardless of how deep they can make a blow up mattress I won’t be going back down that road!

In fact I own three self-inflating mattresses, two singles and a double and I have been using them for over three years now on over 25 camping trips. The camping trips over the last three years  have included a fortnight, three or four week long trips and many, many weekends. And not once have I felt the ground through my shoulder.

You will know that a tired camper is a grumpy camper and this chap does not fall into that category anymore. I still look forward to my bed at home on my return but I am not filled with dread of another uncomfortable night on that rubbish leaky blow up mattress.

I don’t know what technology these self-inflating mattresses use, in lay persons terms they use the opposite of vacuum packing. When rolled up your self-inflating mattress has all the air squeezed out of it. You simply roll out your deflated mattress undo the cap and the self-inflating mattress, inflates itself! We put up the tent, (well the girlfriend does,) then roll out the self-inflating mattress in the tent and let it do it’s thing while we continue setting up camp. After 25/30 minutes I go back into the tent to re-screw the cap and the bed is made. It is as easy as that!

As I said we have been sleeping on our 10cm deep self-inflating mattress on every trip now for the last three years and the self-inflating mattress is still in great condition. I won’t lie to you, there have been a couple of occasions on the longer trips when we have undone the cap in order to pump up the self-inflating mattress. But there was no issue with the previous night’s sleep because of the loss of air. I can’t remember what the instructions said but  if you get a puncture it will not cause the whole self-inflating mattress to deflate, something to do with the ‘pockets’ inside. And it does come with a puncture repair kit.

There are many self-inflating mattresses available in the camping supplies shops, supermarkets and online. Brands that you know and trust sell them as well as companies you might not of heard of. My advice is to get the thickest one available for the best night’s sleep. I think they start at depths of 5cms and like I said I/we  use the 10cm version.

What is the catch? Two things may affect your camping trip. First they are bulky, rolled and packed up they are the size of a four or six person tent but obviously not as heavy. Ours gets to sit on the back seat of the car but if there are four of you and you have two self-inflating mattresses and one car, space is going to be tight. Secondly deflating a self-inflating mattress is a bit of a chore and depending on whether you have a single or double self-inflating mattress you main need some assistance but after a few attempts it can be repacked in a few minutes. But don’t think it is anything like putting  the pop up tent back in it’s pre-pop up state.


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