Easily Choose the Best Self-inflating Mattress for Camping

Overall, when it comes to camping, it is very important to bring with you an air mattress. With the mat, you will not have to worry about getting cold or being affected by the dampness in the wilderness at night. In fact, there are different types of air mattress for camping out there for you to choose from. However, I personally think that one of the criteria a good air bed has to have is great comfort and ease of use. Therefore, it is not a bad idea to choose an air mattress which can inflate itself. Just scroll on to figure out how to choose the best self-inflating mattress for camping.

How do these self-inflating camping mats work?

Before we move onto the main part, I need you to know how these self-inflating camping mattresses work.

In details, in order to inflate, there must be a valve at a corner of the mattress. When you lay it out flat on the ground and unscrew that valve, air will go in. When it fills up the mattress, you will have to tighten the valve, thus, keeping the air locked inside.

On the other hand, for deflating, you just have to undo the valve again and simply roll it up. When rolling the mattress, you will squeeze out the air inside, when it’s done, just tighten the valve so as to keep the air out.

How long does a self-inflating air bed take to self-inflate?

To be honest, how long it takes a self-inflating air mattress to inflate can range from a few minutes to even an hour. In fact, it is a little longer when it is the first time you inflate it. For me, I bought a Dozer which is a new version of the Fat Airic. It took the air mattress an hour and even more than that to self-inflate. Furthermore, after that 1 hour, the mattress was still quite slim.

I recommend you not to worry too much about your mattress inflating too long. Actually, you guys need to inflate it yourself by blowing it by mouth and leave it there inflated for a few hours. After that, you can open up the valves again and roll the mattress up if needed. Or else, you can leave it flat on the ground until you have to roll it up to put in your car.

What should I look for in the best self-inflating mattress?


Just look at the length because you always want your air mattress to be long enough so that you can have your legs on it. Also, you want your legs as well as feet insulated, particularly on cold winter days. The 3/4 length mattresses are more suitable for hiking than family camping.


Image source: YouTube


Keep in mind that the wider, the better, especially when you are a person who always toss and turn a bit. You never want to keep rolling off during the night on a skinny mattress, don’t you?


Actually, this factor is what manufacturers rate their mattresses in terms of insulation. Remember that people are likely to feel the cold at different levels. I don’t know about you but if you are like me, (tending to feel the cold), just choose a mattress with a high R value.

Self-inflating air mattress FAQs

Here are some common questions about these air beds that may help answer some of your questions.

How comfortable are the mattresses?

As I said, everyone knows that these self-inflating mattresses are very comfortable as you don’t have to do much to inflate it. However, this is not enough when it comes to comfort. Well, to check whether a mattress is comfortable or not, you need to do is lie down on it as well. And don’t forget to compare it with others to choose the best one.

How comfortable are the mattresses

Image source: Costco Wholesale

Besides, when lying on the mattress, you also need to roll over in order to see what sort of cushioning it has. Remember to ask for a demonstration on storage as well as inflating and deflating. Is it really comfortable when you doing that or does it give you an idea on bulk and weight when you roll it up?.

It is a good idea to buy bonded or non-bonded?

The term “Bonded mattress” means the outside material of the mattress is attached to its foam inside. Therefore, the foam will not move around and the trapped air will stay where it should be, providing the insulation. Also, the air will keep you off the ground.

Just like that, non-bonded means the outside material is not bonded to the foam inside. When you lie on the mattress, the air will move away from you. You are lying on the foam and it needs to get thicker, or else, you will probably hit the bottom of the mattress.

In general, bonded mattresses are going to cost more than non-bonded ones, however, you will get what you pay for. This is because the bonded are much durable and they can suit almost everyone. On the contrary, the non-bonded mattresses are quite cheaper. But they are not as comfortable as well as durable and only suited to young campers.

What does an R value mean?

For those who don’t even know what it means, it is quite complicated. However, you just need to understand that a R value measures thermal resistance. Hence, you can rely on this number to compare the insulation properties of the mattress. With so many different mattresses out there in the market, it may get a little confusing for you to choose the best product. However, just keep in mind that the higher the R number, the more insulation a mattress provides.

It is possible for me to add some more air to my self-inflating mattress?

Overall, experts suggest us not add air by blowing into the mattress. But why’s that? This is because by blowing the air into it, you will introduce moisture into the mattress, this will encourage mold to grow. Also, in case you are in very cold conditions, the moisture can easily freeze. That’s the reason why people think that pumps are a better choice.

What if you still want to blow your mattress up a little (and some of them don’t even seem to inflate as you want). In this case, make sure you leave the valve open for a few days on return from your camping trip. This way, you can let the moisture in there, if any, evaporate.

Self-inflating Mattress Care

Choosing the best self-inflating mattress for camping is very important but you also have to know how to take care of it. Remember even if your mattress is an expensive one, it will never last long if you don’t maintain it well. However, don’t worry because here is a guideline on how to care your self-inflating mattress:


Keep in mind that larger pads generally feature 2 valves to the same air chamber. You need to open and close both of them to inflate and seal the shell. While inflating a mattress which is new or has been compressed for a long time, grab one end and give the pad some gentle whips. This can encourage the foam to expand.

Additionally, valves on self-inflating camping mattresses seal differently from valves on inflatable ones. Furthermore, twist valves on self-inflating pads may have a screw cap. This cap can twist a quarter turn counter closewise to open and clockwise to close. This way, air can enter through slots in the top of the cap.


Image sourcE: YouTube

Besides, twist valves are much easier to seal than plug valves on standard inflatable air mattresses. In fact, a plug valve requires a great deal of air to inflate and it can attach to an inflator.


For transport, the pad has to be rolled up and compressed just like a rectangular sleeping bag. The valve will be closed and the pad will stay compressed.

Unlike a sleeping bag, a self-inflating mattress cannot be folded in half before it is rolled. Therefore, a rolled mattress is usually wider, but much smaller in diameter than a rolled sleeping bag. In addition, compression straps or a transport bag will be wrapped around your rolled-up mattress to keep it from unrolling while transported.

However, you can’t fold a double, self-inflating mattress in half before it’s rolled up and bagged or strapped for transport. These are not common at all but sometimes, are used by couples.

Here are some steps for you to transport a self-inflating mattress

  • Open the valve
  • Roll up the mattress compressing the air out of the inner chamber
  • Close the valve
  • Unroll the pad and then start over, rolling the mattress more tightly, forcing the excess air out.
  • Open the valve when the mat is 3/4 rolled up, then roll out the excess air
  • Close the valve
  • Unroll the mat and repeat the whole process until it can be easily bagged or strapped for transport.


Unlike inflatable air mattresses, self-inflating ones should be stored fully inflated with the valve open. Once you get home from a camping trip, it is necessary to treat the rolled up mattress like a sleeping bag. Actually, you guys often put it in the corner of the room until the next trip. However, remember that doing so will shorten the life of your mattress.

Here are some tips for storing your mattress:

  • Standing on its side behind a couch
  • Standing on end behind a door or in a closet
  • Hung in case the pad has straps
  • Lying flat under a bed or on a shelf

Storing a mat which is fully inflated also allows it to self-inflate in the shortest amount of time while you’re setting up your camp. Moreover, leaving the valve open during storage can allow the moisture inside the mattress to completely evaporate out.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, if you are a camper and not willing to spend much money for a luxurious caravan or camping trailer, then a self-inflating mattress is the best choice. Actually, choosing the best self-inflating mattress for camping is not that hard as long as you know what to look for in a mattress. If you know what you are looking for, I’m sure you can choose the best product on your own. At last, I hope you guys enjoyed my article and found it helpful for your next camping trip.