How to Inflate An Inflatable Sleeping Pad?

Want to know how to inflate your inflatable sleeping pad?  Want to buy or you bought a hiking mattress and want to know how to inflate it? You did not even ask the question by telling yourself that it is enough to inflate it in the mouth? Not that easy…

The query may sound funny but by reading these explanations, you will realize that there are several techniques, methods and tools to inflate your camping mattress.

To help you choose your inflatable mattress, I invite you to do a search on the search engine of the blog by indicating the keyword “mattress” because we regularly publish information on hiking mattresses. For example, a comparison of the inflatable and self-inflating mattresses .


Inflatable hiking mattress


You will find that there are several types of inflatable mattresses: classic, ultra light, insulated …

To get back to the subject, know that each brand has an “owner” system of inflating valve. For example, you can find hiking mattresses,  Thermarest, Big Agnes, Exped, Klymit and Nemo brands that offer different or almost similar inflation systems but are not necessarily compatible with each other.

Thermarest, Big Agnes and Nemo have screw valves, Exped and Sea to Summit equip mattresses with flat valves, Klymit has screw-type mattresses and mattresses with a pressure connector.

However, rest assured, there are currently 2 ways to inflate his inflatable mattress: to the mouth or with a pump.


Inflating a mattress in the mouth

This is a simple and effective system to inflate your mattress. It does not require any additional means. You only need your breath! Some campers find the system tiring, especially after a long day of walking. Mouth inflation has a major disadvantage: by blowing, moist air is expelled into the strands. This moisture is stored in the structure of the mattress, which should be avoided in the case of the use of an insulated mattress: synthetic or natural insulating fibers (down) will gorge themselves with droplets of water and will ensure less the insulation function. In addition, one can also ask the question of the bacteria that develop in the mattress and the durability of the floor mat.

Conclusion, it is only necessary to inflate to the mouth the mattresses that are not insulated . Generally, these are 2 seasons mattresses that have a low R-Value.

To facilitate inflation and avoid blowing damp air into the struts, mattress manufacturers offer 3 types of pumps:


Inflate a mattress with a pump


Inflating an Exped Mattress with a Pump Bag: Explanations

Integrated pumps

Your mattress incorporates a pump into the mattress. It is an effective system. Simply position your hands on the inflation valve and apply many pressures to make the mattress take shape. Depending on the type of soil, the inflation time may be longer or shorter.
Example: It is easier to press the mattress pump when the ground is harder than when trying to do it in tall grass or on snow.

Pump integrated into the Downmat 7 Pump


External Pumps

Mini pump or hand pump:  they connect directly to the mattress. They are lightweight and take up very little space in the bag. Like the integrated pumps, the inflation can be more or less easy depending on the type of soil (it is necessary to take support on a surface). They are intended for a single use: they only serve to inflate! (is not that right?)

The mini-pumps of the manufacturers:


  • Exped Mini Pump


  • Mini pump NeoAir Thermarest (battery operated)


  • Book with its ultra-light mattress Inertia X-Frame, Inertia XL and Inertia XLite an efficient and lightweight pear pump. Unlike other mini-pumps, to cation the pump, it is not necessary to bear on a surface (ground). However, it only adapts to these 3 Klymit models.


Nemo Hand Pump



  1. The pillow pump: the system is identical to the mini-pump but also serves as a pillow. As the name suggests, it is a 2 in 1 pump: pump + comfortable pillow! The system is generally larger than the mini pump. Example: Exped pump pillow .
  2. The pump bag: it is the most efficient system to inflate its mattress. Very versatile, the pump bag allows you to store your belongings and inflate the mattress (or use it as a pillow by stuffing it with clothes). The operation is simple: a connector allows to attach the bag to the mattress. Simply open the bag so that the ambient air fills the bag. Then, close the bag and then expel the air contained in the bag in the direction of the flanges. In 4 or 5 openings/bag closures the turn is played!


Depending on the brand, there are several pump bags that are more or less lightweight, more or less waterproof and more and more or less versatile:

Sea to Summit

  • Air Sack Dry Air Bag
  • Jet Stream Pump


  • Neoair Pump Sack: This is a 40 lilitretorage bag with sealed seams and a handle. The bag also converts its Neoair mattress into a camping seat. This lightweight bag is not waterproof.

Big Agnes

  • Pumphouse  : The Pumphouse is a waterproof bag that acts as a pump. It is compatible with all mattresses equipped with screw valve (Big Agnes, Thermarest, Nemo …). Totally waterproof, it can even be used to transport water to the bivouac (and even mini-shower …).


  • Bag Pump Schnozzel PumpBag UL M  : a very light and waterproof pump bag (45 liters) which connects to the flat valves of Exped mattresses. Not compatible with other brands but formidable efficiency!
  • Bag Pump Schnozzel PumpBag UL L : same as above but in capacity 95 liters.
  • Bag Pump Schnozzel PumpBag  : same as the UL versions, but in standard version (not light but more robust) – 85 liters.
  • Waterproof Shrink Bag Pro + Schnozzel  ( Exped ): Like the Schnozzel Pumpbag, this system connects to the flat valves of Exped mattresses. Unlike the Schnozzel Pumpbag, this system is more versatile: it is possible to choose the volume of the bag: from 2 to 50 liters and the bag is more resistant and more robust. It is a real waterproof bag that will be slipped inside the backpack or in a bike bag …


Schnozzel Pump Bag Pump BagWaterproof bag Exped Schnozzel Pumpbag


To conclude, there are 2 ways to inflate an inflatable hiking mattress: to the mouth or with a pump . If you use a mattress that does not have insulation inside the flanges, you can inflate it in the mouth. If your mattress is filled with insulation (down, synthetic fibers …) then you will need to opt for an external pump unless your mattress already has an integrated pump. In any case, a pump facilitates and increases the speed of inflation .

By choosing an inflatable mattress and adding a pump you will be in possession of the perfect kit to sleep well at the bivouac and camping! You can finally enjoy a restful sleep after a long day of hiking! It is enough now to choose your mattress pump well … Good nights!

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