My Self Inflating Mattress Won’t Inflate – What Should I Do

Going camping is a really great experience for nature and outdoor lovers. But besides the usual activities that people often perform during camping, they will need a nice and comfy spot to rest. The best way to regain energy is to sleep on a nice self-inflating mattress.

Your tent is the place of the comfort zone in the wild. So, to make sure you will have a cozy, good night’s rest, consider buying a camping mat. That way, you will be well-rested and prepared for new adventures.

Unfortunately, some people bump into problems with their self-inflating mats. They seem to be stubborn occasionally and would not inflate entirely on their own.

Many self-inflating mattresses aren’t supposed to inflate fully on their own. They would inflate to some point, after that, you have an option to blow in some air by yourself. If self-inflating mattresses won’t inflate at all by themselves, you should check them for possible manufacturing defects.

Besides manufacturing defects, you should consider a few more things when dealing with self-inflating mattresses. So today, we are going to give you more in-depth info about this camping and hiking necessity.

Table of Contents

Self Inflating Mattress Vs Air Bed

Compared to some ordinary blow-up sleeping mats, the self-inflating ones tend to weigh a bit more. But, despite that, they make up in many other practical ways. Self-inflating mattresses really have excellent attributes. They are very comfy, durable, easy to inflate (most of the time), more puncture resistant.

Some hikers point out the benefits of self-inflating mats, while some campers struggle with their air beds. The problem with air beds is that they can leak, and you will have to inflate them yourself. 

On the other side, self-inflating mats roll up to small cases and can inflate themselves. It might seem impossible that a little strip of foam could replace the comfort of a well-inflated air mattress, but it really can.

The mattress size is essential. If you need your tent bags to be small, you also need your mats in small sizes. It is good they are also very comfortable despite their size. You can find two basic types of self-inflating mattresses:

  1. Bonded Mattress
  2. 4WD or Non-Bonded Mattress

Bonded Mattress

A bonded self-inflating mat has a foam rubber layer coated in an air-proof and waterproof polyester box, sealed with valve caps. If you roll the mattress up-tight, with valve caps removed, it will expel the air and leave you a small and light package. Be sure to return the valves, so your mat is ready for transport.

To install it, remove the valve caps, roll out the mattress and leave it while you get on with your routine.

After 30 minutes to an hour, maximum, the foam rubber will return its shape, drawing in air. That way, a mat can easily inflate itself. Once again, you return the valve caps, and your self-inflated mattress is ready.

Non-Bonded Mattress

A non-bonded mattress has loose rubber pieces within the outer container. It is bulkier than a bonded mat, but it is also much cheaper. The non-bonded mat can inflate even more, to around 80-100mm. 

What to Do When Self Inflating Mat Won’t Inflate

Many self-inflating mattresses won’t fully inflate on their own, and people think that is some mattress defect. But, in many cases, it is actually supposed to be that way. Try not to overinflate your mat.

The sleeping mat does not need to be stiff to touch. It is best to keep it to a 75% full look. That way, the mattress will be comfy enough, but not too hard. 

Also, be sure to let your self-inflating mattress stay unrolled for 24 hours before first inflating. Bear in mind that some sleeping mats need a little help from your side during their first inflating, so you may need to blow in some air. After that, mattresses should be able to easily inflate on their own.

It’s good to know that you have the option to choose the amount of air inside the mat. Despite that, you need to know, if it’s too cold, refrain from blowing air inside the mattress at all. That way you’ll avoid moisture going into the mat and freezing it.

How to Get Rid of the Moisture

The frozen moisture may damage the foam or other cells on the inside. Also inflating the mat with your mouth may result in building bacteria and moisture inside the mat, which can damage it. 

So, if you have a mattress with foam insulation, be sure that no moisture remains inside the mat after you have done using it. To ensure this, simply open the valves and roll up the mattress to let all the air out of it. After that, unroll it and let it sit with the valve open for a while. That way, the fresh, clean, and dry air will dry it.

Of course, if your self-inflating mat won’t inflate at all, then it may have some defects, and it’s best to contact the manufacturer and check your warranty.

How to Deflate a Self Inflating Mattress

When it’s time to deflate your mat, make sure to open the valves and let them self-deflate. You could apply some light pressure on the mat by sitting. Lightly roll the mattress towards the valve, so all remaining air leaves.

After that, close the valves, and begin to fold the mat in the direction of the valves. Don’t fold it too tight, to avoid creasing. When you rolled the mattress close to the valves, open them once more to let out the remaining air. Close the valves tight. Your mat is safe and sound now.

What Thickness of Mat Will You Need

Besides the comfortable feeling that a mattress can give you, it should also shield you from tiny ground imperfections. The self-inflating mat needs to provide good support for the shoulders, knees, arms, and other parts of your body.

Every person is different, just like that, every mat comes in all shapes and sizes. The mat sizes can vary from 2 to 10 cm thick, in various lengths and widths. So, when choosing a perfect mat, you should consider the mattress weight and bulkiness, and your own measurements.

It is believed that a 3cm thick mat is very comfortable for a person that is slightly over 100kg. After this weight, consider a thicker mat, from 4 cm and upwards. Make sure to have the full-length mattress, so that your feet do not stick off the end.

The mats with a 3cm region should be adequate for the average size person. You’ll have nice insulation, and much-needed comfort and a small enough mat to be carried around easily. Of course, you can find mats with a thickness of 10 cm and larger.

They provide more insulation and comfort, but their downside is obviously size. If you love “car camping” then this size might be a good choice for you.

How to Care and Repair

Your sleeping mats are going to be used on various surfaces. So, it’s not uncommon for them to get some damages. Try to avoid sharp rocks and other pointy and rough places for your mat. But, even if your mattress gets some minor scratches, you’ll likely be able to patch it up yourself.

It’s good that most sleeping mats come with some sort of repair kit.

You’ll generally find some patches for the top and bottom, and some adhesive to fix the patch into the material. This is the easy way to seal up small holes, and use your sleeping buddy on future adventures.


Cleaning a sleeping mat after use is very easy. You’ll need to simply wipe the mattress with some damp cloth, and some light detergent. You can use washing-up liquid. Be sure to clean it when the mat is fully inflated, and the valve is closed. After that, rinse the bubbles thoroughly.

To prevent any mold, allow your mat to dry before deflating it and rolling it back up.

What to Look for in a Mattress

When buying your mattress, make sure to look for a mat that is sturdy and has rounded corners. They are less likely to leak than those with sharper edges. If you can, choose a mat that is more difficult to roll up.

This may sound like extra work, but the foam inside is higher grade and is less likely to fail to support your weight. Also, pay attention to the size of the mat. Many self-inflating mats are made primarily for hikers, so their sizes are often very small.Having the right self inflating mattress size helps you relax during camping

The good thing is there are various options of self-inflating mattresses nowadays. You can check some of them on this site.

When it comes to price, it’s up to you to decide, but with these types of mats, it’s pretty much a you-get-what-you-pay-for situation. Spending a little bit more money can ensure you have a good mattress, that has quality foam and nice antifungal treatment.

Have in mind that you don’t buy a self-inflating mattress every day, so choose a nice one, and enjoy it for many years.

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