What Is A Self Inflating Mat/Mattress?
A self inflating mat or mattress, also known as a SIM in camping, is a lightweight and easily compressed foam mat. They can be rolled up tightly for easy transportation and are perfect for a range of camping activities, whether it’s for a good night’s sleep at a festival or taking on an expedition. You can lie on in with your sleeping bag in a tent, or even in a camper van.
Unlike a standard inflatable mattress or air bed, a camping mat doesn’t require a pump to fill it with air. Sleeping mats also provide better insulation, as they offer a solid layer between your sleeping bag and the ground, rather than air alone.
How Do Self Inflating Mats Work?
A self inflating camping mat is a clever little piece of kit. Inside, they comprise a special type of cell foam attached to a valve.
When the valve is open, air is sucked in to expand the foam. You can then close it off when it has expanded to your liking. To deflate your sleeping mat, you just open the valve again and roll it up to squeeze the air out. The valve acts like a vacuum, so your mat can be compressed tightly and fit into a carry bag - just make sure you close the valve when you are finished.
Camping mats are much easier to transport than a camp bed or air bed, so they are a great option for hiking camping trips. Once at home, sleeping mats are best stored inflated with the valve left open. If they are left compressed, this can shorten the lifespan of the foam.
How Long Does It Take A Self Inflating Sleeping Mat To Inflate?
How long a self inflating camping mattress takes to inflate depends on its size. As you would expect, a thicker mat takes longer than a thin mat to fill up. For a small mat, it may be ready in a couple of minutes, while larger ones could take up to an hour. Bear this in mind when buying one, though for most leisure camping trips, it shouldn’t pose too much of a problem.
The first time you use your mat, it might take a little longer to inflate, so take it out at home first to prepare it. If you think it needs some help inflating, you can blow into it yourself. Deflating and inflating it again can also help breath life into a new mat!
What Does A Sleeping Pad Do?
There are many benefits to buying a sleeping mat. Here are some of the top things a sleeping pad can do for you:
- Provide better insulation against cold ground
- Help make a more comfortable night’s sleep with its padding
- May provide relief for those who get aches and strains from sleeping on the floor
- Offers a more portable option than air beds and camping beds, making them good for backpackers
What’s The Best Self Inflating Camping Mattress?
When looking for the best self inflating camping mat, there are a few features to look out for. To find the most comfortable and best performing sleeping mat, you could choose one with the following:
- Two valves or a larger valve size for quick inflation and deflation
- Soft upper fabric for a cosy feel
- Extra insulation such as foil backing or thermal properties
- Non-slip bottom