Self-inflating Mattress Pads
There may come times when you miss having a real bed to sleep in. You may be camping. You may have attended a party that ran a bit too late and ended up sleeping on the floor. You may have unexpected guests drop in, and run out of beds for them. At times like these, you will appreciate self inflating mattress pads.
Self-inflating mattress pads are also commonly called camping pads. What a luxurious approach compared to the closed-cell pads I camped on as a kid. If you are looking to camp in style, luxury and great comfort, consider this pricier option to a backpack pad.
The term "self-inflating mattress pads" is a bit confusing. The item in question is a mattress that provides a pad to sleep on. No, it's not a mattress pad that provides extra cushioning atop an ordinary mattress. It's an airtight bladder with a high-volume, low-pressure electric air pump built into it. Depending on whether the self inflating mattress pads are designed for use at home or in the field, they may be equipped with corded or battery-powered power supplies.
Self-inflating mattress pads come in many shapes and sizes, again depending on where they are intended to be used.
Home self-inflating mattress pads come in standard mattress sizes, although it is rare to find a king or California king size. Home self-inflating mattress pads are generally thicker than the camping variety, from four to an impressive 20" thick. They typically have an electric air pump built into them, with a cord for standard house current. Cabela's Aerobed is a spectacular example of this breed of self inflating mattress pads. It's actually two air mattresses on top of each other, simulating a box spring and mattress. The 120-volt built-in motor has a one-touch comfort selection feature that inflates the two mattresses to your desired firmness in three minutes. The air-release valve deflates the Aerobed in less than one minute. The deflated bed can then be rolled up around the air pump for easy, compact storage. It comes in twin, full, and queen sizes.
While home self inflating mattress pads are fairly simple, camping self inflating mattress pads get pretty complex. These products are best described at sleeping pads rather than mattresses. They are not nearly as thick as a conventional mattress, often inflating to less than two inches thick. They are designed to take some of the pain out of sleeping on the ground, and to provide an insulating layer of air between a warm sleeper and the cold ground. Camping sleeping pads are often used inside of sleeping bags. There are camping sleeping pads shaped like "mummy" sleeping bags, as well as traditional rectangular models. A camping sleeping pad might be used atop a cot to provide extra support. In all cases, there is a trade-off between comfort and convenience. The thicker the camping sleeping pad, the heavier it is to backpack around. The more powerful the air pump, the heavier it is. But thinner camping sleeping pads often result in painful pressure points at hips and shoulders.
Self inflating mattress pads are convenient ways to provide for overnight guests or to get a good night's sleep under the stars.