Insulated Air Mattresses

Discussion in 'Backpacking Gear & Clothing' started by Litehiker, Sep 2, 2018.

  1. Litehiker

    Litehiker Well-Known Member

    Sep 15, 2012
    The state of the art in insulated air mattresses has come a long way since they were first introduced. I recommend them as lighter, more comfortable and warmer-for-the-weight than self-inflating foam filled mattresses.

    Good insulated air mattresses in regular length (72") mummy shape are around 15 - 17 oz. Most are filled with Primaloft Silver.

    My new REI FLASH Insulated mummy shaped mattress is 15 oz. and has an R 3.7 value which, coming from REI, means it is a reliable number. This R value puts me comfortably into the teens F.

    BUT... to keep moisture and bacteria out of the mattresses you need a pump.
    REI has a nice little foam-filled hand pump, which I bought with my mattress. But now I'm going to exchange it for the alternative, a dry bag pump. So I ordered a Sea to Summit bag pump B/C luckily its nozzle fits my REI inflation valve.

    Why a dry bag pump? Well mainly to save weight B/C I can use it as a dry bag for clothing.

    REI also makes a "winter" version of this mattress with 4.4 more ounces of Primaloft Silver insulation and it has a R 5.2 warmth rating, good enough for sub zero temps. So for another measly 4.4 ounces you get a winter air mattress.

    If you don't mind the noise of a Thermarest Neo-Air X-Therm that sounds like sleeping on a bag of potato chips you get an even lighter, warmer winter mattress for R 5.7.

    Sea to Summit and NEMO also make very good, light and warm insulated air mattresses.

    Now I must post a warning (sorry Len, I know you're a BA fan). Most reports about Big Agnes insulated mattresses have owners griping that they are NOT warm enough. Why this is I dunno.

    FINALLY, if you find your mattress is still too cold you can put leaves, dry pine needles or fresh cut evergreen boughs under your tent floor and/or lay trousers and other non-sleeping clothing under your mattress. Works for me every time when I gamble and lose thinking I can get away with my summer TR Prolite R 2.2 self-inflating mattress.
    But now with my new Flash Insulated R 3.7 mattress weighing an ounce less than the colder Prolite I'll be taking it for shoulder seasons.

    ->Yeah, I know, fresh cut evergreen boughs and LNT (Leave No Trace) don't mix but if that's the worst LNT sin I do I think the Great Spirit and the red gods of the hunt will forgive me.

    Eric B.
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2018
    Barrelnut likes this.
  2. Coonhuntin

    Coonhuntin Member LRH Team Member

    Sep 3, 2018
    Thanks for the post
  3. claybreaker

    claybreaker Active Member

    Mar 22, 2013
    Great write up. Very good tip on putting clothing or other material under your pad to increase the R. I use a BA Q-Core SLX - about 16oz I think, Not sure of the R - rating I think about 4.

    I haven't given much thought on the moisture/bacteria issue. Any thoughts on maybe how to address those during the season or at the end of the season? Maybe some sun bake and air exchange with a pump at home, along with an aerosol shot of a disinfectant?