Air mattresses old topic.

Don’t often get the bride to come camping with me. When she does she needs an air mattress, not a thermo rest.

Ever air mattress I buy lasts one two outings then doesn’t hold air 4-6 months later when I talk Janie into going out with me. The leaks are always small so I can not spot them until I have an irrate wife fussing at me at 2 in the morning. Has anyone tried stop leak to seal off the microscopic pinholes that the gremlins put in the mattresses in my garage?

She doesn’t like the really thick
Thermorests or REI clones? We have REI pads that are about 2.5" thick when inflated, and they’re as good as our mattress at home.

What’s this Stop Leak? You’re not going to hook a can of Flat Fix to that air mattress, are you?

try these

– Last Updated: Sep-30-09 11:15 AM EST –

The 2.5 thick Thermarests are quite large and awkward.

These pack down to the size of a Nalgene.. .

On backcountry portage trips for me space counts. I get better sleep than the Prolites in Thermarest but cant compare to the really thick Thermarests since I dont have room for them.

Dont know if packing light is important..but another thing I have is a four inch thick Coleman air mattress . If you have an inflator pump they are fine for car camping.

There are also Aerobeds also very thick..and plush. We use them at home for extra beds. They are heavy.

would fix a flat work? It is only a slight leak from an indetiremine source. Oh it is a cole man style mattress. Worked great out of the box. 5 months later ptouey.

Had this same problem with two coleman mattresses and now with this ozark trail.

try a cot
We(the Mrs and I) used to use air mattresses, and had the same problem. Cots cured that, and are a lot more comfortable.

if money is no object
the new Thermarest NeoAir (size large) are the best thing since… well, Thermarest :slight_smile:

The amount of cush is almost indecent.

Cheap air matts usually don’t hold air.

There is an old Chinese saying: Cheap, Good… pick one.

(Not really a Chinese saying but could not help myself)

Soapy water to find the leak, same thing you would do for a car tire. Aqua seal to stop the leak.

If it’s a cheap air mattress you might wind up spending more on aqua seal than you did on the mattress.

Look at the Big Agnes insulted air mats or the Exped mats. Spending less does not always save you money. How many air mattresses have you bought? Add to that cost your time and frustration. I bought several “great deal” backpacks before I bought one good one, I should have bought good one right away and saved some money.

Being Cheap
I’ve run into the same problem. Now have an Aerobed with no problems. It is heavy though.

The most expensive stuff is not always the best quality. But it could be. I like Consumer Reports 'cuz they do some pretty good testing. Otherwise, it can be hard to tell. And home testing can get expensive.

Think about REI Camp Pad
I bought a couple REI Camp Pad 3.5’s for the wifey and me. That’s 3.5 inches thick when inflated. Way less expensive than the equivalent thickness Paco Pads, although maybe a little more fragile. Compared to my backpacking thermarests, these are ultra cushy. They do require some upkeep and careful usage to avoid holes (groundcloth!), but they can be easily repaired in the field with a Hot Bond patch kit (backpacking store) and some boiling water. If you puncture in the middle of the night, not much can help you until morning, but that’s doable, typically. I have also successfully patched thermarests like these at home with a simple hot glue gun and a piece of patch fabric (comes with the Hot Bond kit).

Great pads. Too heavy for backpacking, but for river trips or car camping, they are pretty sweet. Highly recommended.

I second that. I have one.
I got it last year for around $35 on clearance from REI on their website. Keep an eye out (I think they’re normally around $90?).

I’ve slept on it camping at least a dozen nights now, and have used it half that many times in the house for my kids’ overnight guests. Not a single problem with it yet, and it’s very comfortable. Like a firm, traditional mattress.

I also second that I wouldn’t backpack with it. Stuff’s down small enough to pack in a trunk, but it’s big and heavy for bp’ing . . . .


old school
I use one of the old school style rubber/cotton air mattresses sometimes. Heavy, but packs down small and is the most comfortable sleeping pad I’ve ever tried.

I know you didn’t ask for suggestions for a new mattress, but coincidentally I had to buy a new mattress this week. I read lots of reviews and talked to a lot of sales people; also went to REI. These are the top mattressess my research turned up:


– Thermarest Luxury Camp mattress. This is what I ended up buying. Felt very comfortable (much better than the average Thermarest); reasonably light; just about as comfortable as the REI Camp Bed.

–REI Camp Bed: very comfortable, but heavier and bulkier than the Thermarest. Salesperson told me the Thermarest valve is better than the REI.


– Big Agnes Insulated Air Core. I own this. Very comfortable, light, rolls up very small. You have to blow it up by mouth. 15-degree rating is not too realistic; I’m comfortable down to 25 degrees with a BA sleeping bag.

– Exped Synmat 7 or 9: probably warmer than the BAIAC.

The heartbreaker with all of these is the price, if you’re used to paying $30 for a mattress. Hunt for sales on the internet—no reason to pay full price, ever. I got the Thermrest Luxury Camp mattress, size large, for $100 from Everest Gear, with free shipping. You can get the regular size at Backcountry Edge for $85.

Just to give valve feedback

– Last Updated: Oct-03-09 7:46 PM EST –

Not nitpicking your post here, I just want to share my side of the 'valve' story as compared to the sales rep's. I own and regularly use 4 thermarests and two REI Camp Bed 3.5's (not all at the same time, of course!). The valves are basically identical and there is certainly no difference between the two worth making a buy or no buy decision over. The REI ones have two valves since they need to take on much more air to fill up the 3.5" of cushy thickness.

There, said my peace. Carry on.

I’ve heard the exped down mats are really nice, if you can swallow the price.

Old-style open cell foam can also make a comfortable mattress, albeit bulky and needing to be kept very dry.

bear skins
or open foam is comfy too, if dry. Air mattresses just leak, no way around it. I tried thermarest, but being rather restless while I sleep they proved too small. Now I just sleep in my bag on the ground. If anyone of you wants to invent a weightless pad that doesn’t leak, is 6 inches thick, packs down into a coffee cup, and is the size of a regular bed, I will buy one. Oh - and it’s gotta be under a hundred bucks…

Victirianox air mattress
A few years ago i got a victorionox air matress for a pretty good deal. I’ve used it repeatedly over the last 3 summers and it still holds air perfectly, no leaks at all. It has a built in pump that runs off 4 D batteries and a hand valve to pump it up to pressure after the pump is done. I got mine at a bargain shop who had a pallet of them from someplace that closed down, but if you can find one online somewhere it’s well worth the money

Just break down
and buy a good, quality air mattress. I’ve had my Exped air mattress for several years with not the slightest leak.

Knock on wood, I have used this for at least 4 years:

Both kids took it to Mexico for a week or more. My kids friends have slept on it. And now I have been using it for 2 seasons. I make sure to deflate it completely, fold it in half long wise and then roll it up. I store it in the dark in a cool place. I am car camping and nothing below 40 degrees. I inflate it and then before going to bed, inflate it again as colder nights cause it to lose some pressure.

Nothing beats this for me, and I have tried all the foam core(Thermorest) types. Even have a French made cot that looked real comfy, but not wide enough.


Boat camping or car camping?
If bulk and weight are no issue, one of the giant inflatable-foam pads such as ThermaRest’s fattest pad would be comfy and airtight. I still car-camp on what was their thickest pad in 1995; they have since added a monstrous 3" thick version.

I believe you. Just want to add that it was the REI salesperson who said the Thermarest valve is better. I assume that’s based on feedback, possibly returns??