We received a great question on our Facebook fan page. Much of the information contained in this article came from replies to this inquiry:
“How do you protect your air mattress?”
When I was in college, I slept on a few different air mattresses as a cheap alternative to purchasing a “real” mattress. Over those months I became extremely well versed at patching holes in the middle of the night while half asleep. As soon as I’d hear that slight whistle of air leaving my mattress, or on more than one occasion a stream of air blowing directly in my face, I’d reach for the patch kit I kept in my night stand to start repairing the hole.
I’ve noticed that with air mattresses, as with many things, you get what you pay for. The more expensive models tend to have reinforced seams and that is a great benefit. The cheaper ones will often have seams that start pulling apart after a night or two of usage. However, taping those seams with tent tape may help prevent them from pulling too much.
Air mattresses are made of a plastic or rubber shell, sometimes with foam added for comfort and insulation. As with all plastics, they are stiffer and less flexible in colder temperatures and more elastic when they become warm, like car tires. When a warm mattress cools at night (and with the added weight of your body) it can lose air and deflate a bit. It’s important to keep that pump handy!
Be sure to put a sheet on top of the mattress to help prevent those pesky car keys you may have left in your pocket from puncturing a hole in the bed. It will also make the mattress much more comfortable and less noisy to sleep on than just laying on the rubber.
While you’re protecting the top of your bed, don’t neglect underneath your mattress. I have seen everything from a tarp, to an extra blanket, to foam exercise mats used to help prevent stones from attacking your bed from below. That reminds me, don’t forget to clear your campsite of debris before setting up your tent!
Here is a list of some great ways you can easily protect your air mattress, as well as a few maintenance tips.
Clear campsite of debris (sticks and stones) before setting up your tent
Empty pockets before climbing into bed
Remove shoes before entering the tent to prevent sharp stones from rolling under the mattress
NO unsheathed camp knives inside the tent
Keep the mattress away from hot surfaces such as candles and tent heaters
Use a tarp or ground sheet under tent
Lay a tarp under the mattress inside the tent
Purchase an air mattress cover that goes around it like a large pillow case
An extra sheet on top of the mattress helps stop wear and tear, adds insulation and comfort
Inflatable or foam exercise pad under the mattress, also adds a layer of insulation
Make sure the mattress is dry inside and out before storing
Do not fold or roll the mattress too tight
Be gentle when forcing air out of the mattress while breaking camp
Store in dry location
Keep out of excessive heat (hot attics are bad, mmm’kay)
Have a good repair kit handy
Spray the mattress with soapy water to look for bubbles made by air leaving any puncture
Use the repair kit that comes with your mattress. It is specifically designed to work on your mattress. Follow instructions (Read ’em Before you Need ’em!).
Bicycle inner tube repair kit works well
Rubber cement and a piece of bicycle inner tube will work well if you’re able to give it time to dry
Electrical tape with the use of Gorilla or super glue will seal a hole temporarily
*Before patching a hole, be sure that the area around the hole is clean and dry. Let the patch dry completely before filling the mattress again.
If you have any tips or tricks to add to this article, please leave them in the comment section below! I’d also like to invite you to visit our Facebook fan page, it is a great community of outdoor experts of all skill levels.
Here are some other articles that may interest you: