Do you hate sleeping directly on the hard grounds just with a floor sheet on while camping? Then, you are definitely one of those people who prefer carrying an air mattress in the backpack for the purpose of sleeping a bit more comfortably inside the tent.
But the problem with air mattresses is that they can be a super cool option for summer camping, but in winter, they might spoil your entire night by making you feel extremely cold.
Hence, if you’re planning to use an air mattress while winter camping, it is a must to take some necessary steps for insulating the air mattress. Therefore, from this article, you will get to know how to insulate an air mattress for winter camping in the best possible ways. Have a look!
Tips for Insulating an Air Mattress While Winter Camping
Insulating an air mattress isn’t really tough. You just need to carry some additional stuff to insulate your air mattress just the way you insulate your body in winter. You guessed it right! By layering insulated wears. But apart from that, there are a few more tricks that will help you get insulated even smartly. Have a look at them below.
1. Place the Air Mattress Smartly
This might sound illogical at first, but the placement of the air mattress plays a significant role in maintaining its temperature. Suppose, if you place the air mattress attached to the wall of a tent, it will absorb more coldness from the environment outside the tent. Hence, it is always better to place the air mattress at the center of the tent, so that it doesn’t come into contact with the walls or the door.
2. Use Cold Blocking Barriers on Top
As we mentioned before, if you have to adorn your air mattress with the method you insulate yourself to keep it insulated. That is, wearing toppers that insulate the cold. The following options are great in this regard.
Thick Blankets: Blankets save us from the cold environment of the room by keeping us insulated inside it. Hence, in the case of air mattresses as well, they will do the same. Just make sure you cover the sides of the air mattress along with its top properly as well. And use blankets as thick as possible since you’re insulating a ball of air.
Sleeping Pad: Sleeping pads are thick and provide good insulation. Moreover, they’re more comfortable to sleep on than blankets as blankets stick to your body and move with your movement. But there are no such issues in the case of a sleeping pad.
Memory Foam Topper: Memory foam toppers are undoubtedly the best insulating option for blocking the cold from the air mattress to reach the body. But there is one problem with the memory foam topper which is that it is very hard to carry in a backpack.
It occupies a lot of space. Hence, definitely not a good option for backpackers. But if you’re not a backpacker, this should be the ultimate option you need. LINENSPA Memory Foam Mattress Topper is one of the best options in this aspect.
Space Blanket: When it comes to insulation, nothing can beat a space blanket. If you want something that would eliminate the coldness of the air mattress completely and will provide you with warmth, a space blanket is worth it.
But you need to make sure you place some other thick and soft blanket or topper on top of it to avoid the rough and crunchy surface.
Synthetic Fill: Synthetic fills also are excellent insulators. Besides, they are also not too difficult or heavy to carry. However, if you use a synthetic fill on the top of the air mattress for insulation, you need to make sure it doesn’t get wet due to the moisture of the environment as they lose their insulation if they get wet. For that, it is better to top it off with a thin topper.
3. Layer the Toppers and Blankets on It
By this time, we have already let you know the most effective and traditional way of insulating. That is, by layering up the wears. In the case of insulating an air mattress, it is layering up the toppers and the blankets. Though it is not easy to bring so many items for layering while camping. But at least 2 or 3 is better than just one.
4. Add Heat Using Warm Water
This is a very effective and easy tip to follow. Also, for doing this, you will not have to add weight to your backpack. Besides, through this trick, you will hit two shots at once. All you have to do is to use some bottles filled with warm water to heat up the bed surface you’ll be sleeping on for 15 to 20 minutes before going to bed.
It is better to not use boiling water for this purpose as it might damage the material of your bed surface. You can keep them between your sheets or toppers for better results.
5. Try a Mattress Pad Heater
Mattress pad heaters are for providing an extra level of comfort on colder nights. No matter how much insulation you provide, nothing will deliver you with warmth rather than a heater. And thus, if you want to get the utmost comfort, go for a mattress pad heater.
Just make 100% sure that the cord of the heater doesn’t get wet to avoid accidents. However, ignore this idea if the place you’re going camping won’t have an option for setting up an electrical outlet.
How You Should Not Insulate an Air Mattress
We have talked a lot about the ways of insulating an air mattress but it is also our duty to let you know how you shouldn’t be insulating your air mattress. And you might get a bit surprised if we suggest not to do this as this has been recommended by a lot of amateur bloggers on the internet. But you will get to know why we don’t agree with them.
Layering Below the Air Mattress
Yes, if there’s one point you felt you missed in this article while going through the tips to insulate the air mattress, it might be this one. But you need to trust us when we claim that layering below the air mattress will not help you insulate it. It is a waste of time and materials that could have been used more efficiently to insulate the air mattress.
It is true that the air mattress might absorb coldness from the cold ground, but even if you block it, it will collect the coldness from the surrounding anyway. So, what is the point of doing it?
Hence, don’t waste your time and energy on layering below the air mattress. However, if you want to put a separating sheet below your air mattress in order to protect then you can definitely go ahead. But don’t do it aiming for insulation.
Why Does Air Mattress Feel So Cold?
If you have noticed, be it hot weather or cold, every time you lie on an air mattress it gives you a cool feeling. So, why does that happen? The reason behind it is in the name of the “air” mattress itself. An inflated air mattress is filled with air. And something that is filled with air is usually very cold.
Moreover, the cold surrounding makes the air inside the air mattress even colder. Also, your body while being in contact with the air mattress loses heat to it as it absorbs the heat of the body.
Now, here, the question you might have in your mind is that, if the heat from your body is getting absorbed by the air mattress, isn’t the air inside supposed to get warmer gradually, as it happens in case of all other usual beds?
But this doesn’t take place in air mattresses because the air inside the mattress is very flexible. It keeps on shifting from one position to another throughout the stay. So, the air that is absorbing heat from your body might easily get exchanged with fresh cold air. And again, the air that just got warmer will get cool due to the impact of the outer environment.
In the case of most air mattresses, the coating to enclose the air is made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic. They are too thin to provide insulation from the cold air inside the air mattress. This is the reason why air mattresses usually feel so cold in all types of weather, let alone winter.
Is Using Air Mattress for Winter Camping a Good Idea?
Not all campers are comfortable with sleeping on plain insulated sheets on the floor of the tent that aren’t ergonomic or flexible at all. For them, an air mattress is like a knight in shining armor. But, the problem of using air mattresses for camping starts to take place in cold weather and regions.
Thus, for those who plan camping in winter usually, air mattresses might not be the wisest option. Unless they take a few more extra insulating items with them to insulate the air mattress along with themselves. Now, if you’re a backpacker, you know the deal.
It’s always better for a backpacker to carry as few items as possible to keep the weight of the backpack minimal. Therefore, it is up to you what you prioritize the most; a flexible and comfortable bed to sleep on or a light backpack to carry.
Usually, professional campers who are used to sleeping on hard grounds will always prioritize the second option. But if for you, the comfort of sleeping on a flexible and bouncy bed comes first, then the following tips would be your best friends for every time you go winter camping.
What to Put Under an Air Mattress When Camping
Layering or putting something under the air mattress might not serve the purpose of insulation, but it can offer you many other benefits rather than that.
First thing first, it creates a space between the ground and the air mattress by lifting it up from the ground level for which the air mattress receives better protection from dirt, dust, and substances that can be damaging to it. Also, it ensures proper air circulation in the air mattress.
Moreover, one of the biggest reasons behind the discomfort while sleeping on an air mattress is that it is too flexible and mobile. And thus, sometimes, it might slip on the surface of the ground or can make annoying sounds of friction with your movement while sleeping.
It is possible to get rid of this irritating nature of the air mattress by putting the right type of material under your air mattress. Therefore, for your convenience, we are sharing below the best options to place under an air mattress. Have a look.
Dri-Dek is not only one of the best options to put under an air mattress, but it is also one of the most preferred flooring options for tents, garages, boats, and so on. Dri-Dek is usually made of a flexible plastic material which is quite durable as well. It creates just the right level of space between the ground and air mattress forming a smooth base.
While there are many other materials that are similar to Dri-Dek, among them the best quality and durability at the best price is provided by Dri-Dek. Hence, if you plan to get it for putting under the air mattress, you can be a little bit wiser and get a larger one for flooring the entire tent as well.
One of the best things about foams is that they are the least dirt magnet and super easy to clean. That is why it would be a great option for putting under the air mattress to protect it from dust and dirt on the ground.
Moreover, foams are very lightweight and easy to shape. So, if you place your air mattress on a corner of the tent, you can easily shape it as it is required to match with the corner.
Besides, foams bear a good grip, that is, they don’t slip on the surface too easily. Hence, it will also combat for you the issue of the air mattress slipping on the surface with the movement of your body.
Blankets or Tarps
Blankets or tarps are the most easily available options to keep under the air mattress when you’re camping. However, they might not be the best options as they do not provide the advantage of good ventilation or uniform air circulation. But you won’t have to carry an extra element in your bag pack just to put it under your air mattress.
If the only motive for you to put something under the air mattress is to protect it from dirt and damages from the ground, then blankets and tarps can be the most feasible you can go for.
What Kind of Air Mattress are Better for Winter Camping?
You can use any air mattress you have for winter camping with proper preparations taken to insulate them. But you need to remember that by taking an air mattress not designed to handle colder weather, you’re reducing the lifespan of the air mattress.
Because the air mattress will get affected every time it gets into contact with rougher weather. And that will cause it to get damaged even quicker. Therefore, it is better to select an air mattress that is designed for handling cold weather.
Such air mattresses are usually built with internal synthetic materials. Though still, that won’t provide enough insulation, so it is better to pair it up with thermal toppers. And bingo! Some air mattresses also come with thermal toppers free with them.
Now the question is, how are you going to know which air mattress is designed to fight cold weather and which is not? To measure the capability of the air mattress to combat cold weather, you will need to know its R-value. The more R-value the air mattress bears, the better insulation it provides.
What is R-Value?
If you’re thinking about what R-value actually is and how it measures the insulation capability of the air mattress, let’s clear out this curiosity too. R-value is the thermal resistance of a substance per unit area.
Hence, when the R-value is higher, the product is a bad conductor of heat and thus, a good insulator. And it is just the opposite when the R-value is lower. Thus, you should always look for air mattresses with a much higher R-value for winter camping.
Also, make sure the R-value the mattresses provide isn’t estimated. If they’re so, then there is a good chance they are not properly tested. So, make sure you choose an option that states the accurate R-value.
Special Tip for Snow Camping
For snow camping, make sure you always layer the top of the air mattress. And try to go for air mattresses with an R-value of more than 10 that also comes with a complimentary mattress topper with an R-value of 3.
This would help you combat the freezing weather of snow camping. One of the best options in this regard is the Therma-a-Rest MondoKing camping air mattress which has an R-value of 11.4.
Tips to Keep Yourself Warm on an Air Mattress While Winter Camping
We have talked a lot about how to insulate the air mattress during winter camping. But the point you should note properly is that if you don’t keep yourself warm, nothing will be able to help you much. Hence, let’s discuss a few ways to keep yourself warm on an air mattress while winter camping.
1. Layer Your Clothes
You can’t deny the fact that layering is the most ancient but effective method for blocking colds. Therefore, make sure you’re wearing layers of clothes while sleeping as well.
You might put off your jacket as it might get uncomfortable to sleep with it. But wear some layers of thermal inners. Also, have your winter face and head covers and gloves on while sleeping as well.
2. Use a Well-Insulated Sleeping Bag
We have previously talked about thick blankets. But don’t even think of substituting them for sleeping bags. You should always wear your sleeping bag while winter camping even when you are in a tent, lying on an air mattress, and have blankets with you. And make sure your sleeping bag has a good R-value as well.
3. Carry a Heater
Now, this can definitely be a troublesome idea if you’re a backpacker. As it will add a lot of weight to your backpack which you won’t prefer at all. But in case you’re not a backpacker and you’re carrying other heavy camping tools like stoves with you, then a mini heater beside your air mattress won’t be too tough to manage. But this would surely provide you with a comfortable warm sleep at night.
4. Use Hand Warmers
Hand Warmers are the most useful tool for warming up during winter camping. It doesn’t only help to warm up your hands, rather you can use it to get yourself warm wherever you feel cold.
While sleeping, hand warmers can be a great source of pre-heating your sleeping bags. Just keep them inside your sleeping bags for some time before sleeping and then just enjoy the warmth inside your sleeping bags.
5. Eat Full Stomach
This might not be a suggestion you were expecting from this article. But we just have to let you know what you should do. Eat more and more warm and calorie-rich foods. Because you’re camping, that also in winter, your calories will burn more than double times than regular days. And hence, you will feel colder.
Especially, at night if you don’t sleep with a full stomach, the insulating processes for air mattresses won’t help you much. Thus, increase your calorie intake for dinner during winter camping.
6. Use a Thin Thermal/Electric Blanket
The purpose of designing a thermal blanket is to provide you with a warm and sound sleep on shivering cold nights. You can put them over your sleeping bag and sleep carefree.
But try to get thermal blankets that are heated by battery instead of an electrical outlet as it might be a hassle to arrange an electrical outlet while camping. Moreover, be aware of getting the cord of the thermal blanket wet.
When you’re smarter, there’s always a way to make sure of your complete comfort. So, don’t compromise the comfort of an air mattress just because it’s cold, after all now you know how to insulate an air mattress for winter camping.
Thanks for reading till the end. We’re happy to help!
Pavel is a true outdoor enthusiast with a passion for nature and a love for the great outdoors. He started Outdoor Fun Mag to introduce people from all walks of life to everything the outdoors has to offer and hopes that you’ll find something that excites you every time you stop by.
When not exploring nature Pavel works as an Electronics Engineer — a job that gets him thinking and makes sure he pays attention to all those fine details. This means that when he leaves work for the week, there’s no better contrast than the calmness and serenity of the natural world. By giving Pavel the chance to switch off and relax, his time spent camping and hiking allows him to feel refreshed.
In the future, Pavel plans to explore new areas and corners of the world with nothing more than a backpack and a tent. It’s an authentic way of seeing new places that allow him to de-stress and enjoy life, and he wants you to make the most of your life too.