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  1. #1

    Default Do you trust inflatable air mattresses?

    Like many people from ancient times, I started off with a Thermarest self-inflating pad that weighed a ton. When the "new" inflatables came to market in the mid-oughts, I got one and was very happy with it (it weighed about a half a pound and was insulated). I used it for probably fifty or sixty nights, but then on the first night of one trip it wouldn't inflate. Uh oh.

    That was a one-week trip with half the nights sleeping on rocks and two nights at sub-freezing temps. After that experience I vowed to never again to trust an inflatable, instead using the z-pack pad. This isn't as comfortable as a two-inch air matress, doesn't have the r-value that many of them have now and it a nuisance to keep dry dangling outside of the pack, but I don't have to worry about it not working.

    Still, every year I consider going back to one of the air mattresses until I read a few reviews from people who have had them fail and I relive the horror once again as it all comes back to me.

    What about you? What is your experience and decision on this issue?

  2. #2

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    My 13 year old NeoAir is still going after countless nights in the woods. With care, it should last indefinitely.
    Follow slogoen on Instagram.

  3. #3
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    I will definitely be in the minority but I prefer CCF. I don't have issues sleeping on the deck, lots of people can't. I tend to obsess over the smallest gear worries so I stay as minimal as possible if it's not a big sacrifice.

    Obviously personal preference based on comfort. What's your threshold? Good luck finding your sweet spot.

  4. #4
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    I've asked durability question a lot and observed lots of inflatable users over last 4 years. Doesn't seem to be an issue that causes hikers to ditch them. Occasional patching.

  5. #5
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    i prefer ccf. not just for sleeping. but for breaks. you can throw it down on the ground whenever and wherever regardless of thorns or sharp stones and it's an instant couch (with your backpack (or a tree) as the back rest). inflation adds complication. for me, simplicity is key.

  6. #6
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    Do I trust my inflatable mattress? For comfort, yes. They've been reasonably reliable. I have patched one or two once or twice, but, not too often, and it's not hard. I had a first generation neo-air x-lite delaminate on me in a way that it lost air overnight being flat every morning. It was annoying and replaced by Cascade designs under warranty.

    Do I trust my inflatable mattress? For safety, not one bit! For winter use, I always double up with a CCF pad. CCF pads are better for stopping and using as a warm and dry place to sit or sort your gear or eat or whatever. And, although I've never had one of my inflatables fail in the winter, it's not a risk I'm willing to take. So, along with my inflatable, I always carry a CCF pad for winter use.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  7. #7
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    I choose CCF because it's a no-fail option, and thus it's one less thing to worry about. I'd also add that I don't like the pool-float sensation of inflatables.

    Minor benefits IME include:CCF need not take up any interior pack room; they're less noisy; they slide around less; less expensive; quicker to deploy and put away ...

    The obvious big negatives are packed size (even if attached externally) and for most, comfort.

  8. #8
    Is it raining yet?
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    Therm-a-Rest of 20 years still going strong. Had to send it in for a patch job 10 years ago but it's holding up well. You must store these things inflated, not rolled.
    Be Prepared

  9. #9
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    "Ah-wheww, Ah-wheww, Ah-wheww.....wheeze...Ah-wheww. No wait! I have this Inflat-a-Bag that my dirty undies have been in!!" Then wake up on your sore hip atop a deflated pad. No thanks.

    I'm joking, I'm joking...I kid. So many people require air mats for a decent night's sleep and a bunch more just prefer the comfort. I choose my gear based on weight and the least amount of failure variables. Neo-Air absolutetly owns the LD market.

  10. #10
    Registered User ldsailor's Avatar
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    I have a Klymit Static V insulated pad, which I have used on LASH's since 2017. Never had a problem and it provides a good insulating layer when cold. Problem is it's heavy - 22 oz. So I bought a cheap insulated pad from Amazon - Sleeplingo $40 14.5 oz. I'm going to give a try for a week at Zion NP. The seller makes no insulation claims so it will be interesting to see how it does (low temps in the low 40's forecast for Zion).
    Trail Name - Slapshot
    "One step at a time."
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  11. #11

    Default

    O course you can't trust an inflatable because you're relying on a sealed bladder filled with air under pressure---made worse by body weight and daily use. Wear, body oils, thorns, leaky valves, pinholes and delaminations are all part of the fun-filled world of Inflatables. And a pinhole is often very difficult to find in the field during a trip. One time I lucked out and put my Thermarest in a creek pool and found the leak. I always carry seam glue btw.

    Trip 165 287-XL.jpg
    This is a failure that cannot be fixed nomatter what. In 41 years of backpacking I've had this happen on at least 10 separate Thermarest pads. Emailed the company and they said "caused by overuse and body oils". Poor glue technology in my opinion.

    TRIP 134 040-L.jpg
    I bought 3 of these pads and all three had bladder delam blowouts. Crappy engineering.

    TRIP 151 040-XL.jpg
    Exped downmats are not immune from blown baffle welds and unwanted bladders---this happened in Snowbird wilderness on Day 1 of a 19 day winter trip. Cursing followed.

    Trip 165 122-XL.jpg
    One solution for the inevitable is to carry an inflatable with a CCF pad of high Rvalue---this shows a Thermarest Solar pad at 3.5R---discontinued of course. In case the yellow pad dies I can double up the Solar along with the dead inflatable.

    TRIP 152 027-XL.jpg
    Another viable solution is to take two inflatable so if one dies you've got the other.

    TRIP 152 028-XL.jpg
    Two such pads can be joined using homemade walmart elastic cut to size and sewn in loops.

    TRIP 170 001-XL.jpg
    My current solution for a Dead or Dying inflatable is to carry this NeoAir spare so if I'm on a 24 day trip and my Thermy dies I can inflate the NeoAir and use it in tandem with my ccf pad to provide both comfort and warmth.

    Trip 202 (321)-XL.jpg
    I pull out the never used NeoAir at home before a trip for inspection.

  12. #12

  13. #13
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    And of course in a bear attack a Thermarest cannot be fixed---

    BEAR DAMAGE 008-L.jpg

    Aw, come on, TW, a couple of patches and some repair glue and that pad will be just like new.
    Ken B
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  14. #14
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    It's a tool. It's not so much a trust issue as a know it's limits and plan and use accordingly. Most things fail at some point. Most things we use, we use because they are useful. Some things I "trust" to fail because they inevitably will. That doesn't mean I don't use them.

    My water bottles always seem to run out of water. But, I still use them. I just plan and use them accordingly. ;-)
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

  15. #15
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    I have a NeoAir but I don't trust it. I would love to use a CCF but I have never been comfortable on my Z Lite. It's a conundrum. Sometimes I think that I should just take the CCF pad on a trip and if I'm tired enough, I'll learn to sleep on it, but the NeoAir is so much more comfortable. I take it out and test it prior to every trip and it has lasted several years now, but do I trust it? No.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigcranky View Post
    Aw, come on, TW, a couple of patches and some repair glue and that pad will be just like new.
    Oh so right and wrong at the same time. I used 600 feet of ripstop tape and one gallon of McNett's seam sealer (at the cost of $4,000) and still couldn't get it to hold air.

    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    It's a tool. It's not so much a trust issue as a know it's limits and plan and use accordingly. Most things fail at some point. Most things we use, we use because they are useful. Some things I "trust" to fail because they inevitably will. That doesn't mean I don't use them.

    My water bottles always seem to run out of water. But, I still use them. I just plan and use them accordingly. ;-)
    "Plan accordingly" means to me to buy a new pad before the old one blows. I call it Precautionary Procurement. Two years of hard use?? Shelve it for backyard or car camping and upgrade to new before the old dies.

  17. #17
    Some days, it's not worth chewing through the restraints.
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    Any inflatable can fail, and they don't fail after you've had a good night's sleep . So I always carry a short (6-8 sections) z-rest pad as a backup. It's good for other things, too.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by nsherry61 View Post
    ...Do I trust my inflatable mattress? For safety, not one bit.
    I too have a Static V for comfort but I carry a thin CCF to supplement. I see it as a multi use item. It can supplement my insulation if temps are colder than expected. It can go under the Static V to provide some extra puncture protection. It is extra back padding in my pack. It is a sit pad for breaks. It is a vestibule floor. It is a wind block for my stove. But it can be an emergency pad if the inflatable fails. Will it be comfortable or warm? No. But my strategy is to have a backup plan for all critical gear, but the backup doesn't have to be as effective as the primary gear. It is a temporary fix to keep you from not dying.

  19. #19
    Garlic
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    I heard a good tip on a thru-hike once--don't carry anything that has a repair kit next to it on the store shelf.

    I also used the old Thermarest back in the last century. I switched to the Z-rest when I started the long trails twenty years ago. I sleep fine on it, and don't plan on changing as long as that's the case. In snow, I add a roll of Reflectix for a little more insulation at zero cost (leftover from a job).

  20. #20
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    I trust my usage of inflatable sleeping pads. I'm not going to join a naysayer crowd that blames gear for my poor choice of gear for the conditions or my rough handling of the lightest wt and material inflatable pads. Still, on some remote hikes, and since my go to packs of choice are non integrated frameless requiring a virtual folded partly inflated pad as the virtual frame, I sometimes carry a reduced size Instant Field Repair Kit https://www.thermarest.com/sleeping-...kit/03588.html or .25 oz tube of Aquaseal +UV https://www.gearaid.com/products/aquaseal-adhesive-uv or .25 oz GearAid Seam Grip WP(Not Seam Seal) https://www.litesmith.com/seam-grip-...lant-adhesive/

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