How To Inflate An Aerobed While Camping

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An air mattress or Aerobed is one of the most convenient and comfortable things to sleep on while on a camping trip. They are easy to fold up and pack away, and most are durable enough to place on the bare ground on top of dirt, rocks, and other debris without fear of damage.

The main downside to using an Aerobed is if you happen to forget to pack the pump with your other camping necessities, you could be left with a deflated mattress to sleep on. That is unless you use an alternate method.

What is the Best Way to Inflate an Aerobed While Camping?

The easiest and most preferred method for adding air to your Aerobed is to use an electric pump. You can find these pumps with a standard electric plug-in, a 12V plug to use with your car battery, or a battery-powered pump, ideal for when you are camping off the grid.

Additional options that work just as well but require a little extra labor include manual pumps such as a bicycle tire pump or a basketball pump.

  • Fastest and Most Effective: Electric pump with a standard plug-in.
  • Most Effective for Van Campers: Pump with 12V connection.
  • Most Effective for Off-Grid Campers: Battery-powered pump.
  • Least Effective and Uses the Most Energy: Manual Pumps

Keep in mind that as long as you create a secure seal between the pump and the mattress plug, you can successfully use any air pump with your air mattress. There are even some devices that you can use in a pinch when you do not have access to a pump, such as a hairdryer or a vacuum cleaner.

How to Use an Electric Air Pump to Inflate Your Mattress

Using an air pump that has a standard electric plug-in is simple and straightforward. All you need to do is spread the mattress out and make sure there is nothing in your way, such as rocks, sticks, or other types of debris. Then connect the pump valve to the mattress and ensure the connection is sealed security with no air leaking around the edges.

Next, turn on the pump and wait for the mattress to inflate. Make sure you are not stepping on the mattress or putting any pressure on it while it is filling up. Then confirm it is at the right level of firmness and plug the mattress closed.

The same applies to a 12V electric pump. However, there are a few differences since you are using your vehicle as a source of electricity.

If you prefer to use an electric pump but plan to stay in an area with no electricity, you can purchase a battery pack to power your electric pump while staying off-grid. Just be sure that you have fully charged your battery pack at home before heading out for your camping trip.

What You Should Know About the Different Types of Electric Air Mattress Pumps

There are a few options available when it comes to using an electric pump on your air mattress. If you are using a standard electric plug-in, all you need to do is find a campsite with a source of electricity available. If you are using a 12V electric pump designed for use with your vehicle’s cigarette lighter, however, there are a few things you will need to keep in mind.

If you plan to sleep inside your van while camping, inflating your mattress inside should be an easy task. A 12V electric pump is a good option if you are camping inside your van. While it may be easy to use, it needs to stay pulled into your vehicle while inflating the mattress.

This can sometimes be difficult when you are inflating a large or oversized mattress.

Although you do not have to leave your car running with most of these mattresses, you may still want to. Attempting to power your electric pump with your vehicle turned off could cause a major power drain to occur. And you do not want to end up with a dead battery when it is time to return home.

The good thing about 12V electric pumps is that you do not have to pack an additional pump or any extra batteries to use them. The downside is you will need to camp near your vehicle to use them or carry your inflated mattress back to your campsite.

The Pros and Cons of Using Manual Pumps for Air Mattresses

Manual pumps designed for use with air mattresses can be beneficial if you plan to camp in areas with little or no access to electricity. As long as you have one of these pumps available, you do not have to worry about your mattress going flat due to no electricity or dead batteries.

These pumps are versatile tools that can inflate all types of materials aside from air mattresses such as beach balls or floats.

The downside of these pumps is they do require a lot of labor to get the job done. Therefore, if you have a large air mattress, you will have to work hard to get it fully inflated. You can find manual hand pumps that require a lot of upper body strength to inflate a mattress and foot pumps that work the same but require less physical effort. For some users, foot pumps are the best option.

The pros of using manual pumps include

  • Affordable
  • They are sometimes included with an air mattress purchase.
  • No batteries or electricity is required.
  • Versatile enough to use with other inflatable products

The main disadvantage of manual pumps is the energy required, making it difficult for anyone with physical limitations to use. They are usually not recommended for larger queen-size air mattresses but are ideal for smaller twin mattresses.

Manual pumps take much longer to fill an air mattress, and you may begin to wonder if you are making any progress at all. You can be assured that as long as no air is escaping from the connection point, your mattress will start to rise eventually.

If you are considering buying a manual pump but are unsure about all the physical effort, it would be best to choose a foot pump instead of a hand pump.

How to Use a Battery-Operated Air Mattress Pump

Battery-operated pumps are a good option when you are planning to spend some time away from civilization. If you stay away for an extended period, you can always purchase more than one battery to ensure you have enough power.

Packing two batteries for your trip is often lighter and much easier than carrying around additional battery packs. When purchasing a battery-operated pump, be sure to do enough research on all the brands available and find out which are best in terms of longevity and versatility.

Many of these pumps will only work with their brand’s battery type, and if you are unaware of that, you could pack the wrong type of battery for your trip that will not work with your air mattress pump.

Alternative Options When No Pump is Available

If you do a search on YouTube for different ways to inflate an air mattress, you may be surprised to find some alternative methods that do not require a pump at all.

Using a Hair Dryer to Inflate an Air Mattress

Electric and manual air pumps are ideal for inflating your Aerobed while on a camping trip. But what if you are out camping and forget to pack your pump? If you remembered to bring along your hairdryer, you might still be in luck.

Because hairdryers work similarly to air pumps, these devices can help get the job done with a little extra effort. To start, be sure to switch your hairdryer to ambient or cool air because hot air could damage your air mattress’s plastic or vinyl material.

You will need to find a way to create a seal between your hairdryer and air mattress. This will vary since hairdryers are available in different styles and sizes. One of the easiest ways to achieve an airtight seal is to wrap duct tape around the hairdryer and the valve.

The great thing about using a hairdryer to inflate your air mattress is that it can work just as well as an electric pump if you have a secure seal. And there is little physical effort involved. The downside is figuring out how to create a secure enough seal so that it works correctly. Also, if your hair dryer does not have an ambient or cool air setting, it cannot be used.

Using a Vacuum Cleaner to Inflate an Air Mattress

Another method for inflating an air mattress when you do not have a pump handy involves using a vacuum cleaner. While most people do not pack their vacuum for a camping trip, some who travel with an RV may have a handheld vacuum cleaner or a shop vac handy. This can be an extremely useful hack if you do not have a pump, have a broken pump, or if your kids want to go camping in the backyard.

To use a vacuum to inflate your air mattress, you will need to put your vacuum in reverse mode. This causes the vacuum to blow air out instead of sucking it in. Remember that not all vacuums have this feature, so you will want to check for this first.

To use your vacuum as an air mattress pump, you must ensure it is clean and free of any dirt and debris. To do this, simply allow the vacuum to run in reverse mode for a few minutes.

Next, spread the air mattress out and open the plug. Make sure you have a secure seal between the vacuum and the air mattress before you get started. Duct tape can help you create a strong seal if needed. After that, power on the vacuum in reverse mode and allow your air mattress to inflate as usual.

Using Your Breath or a Bag Full of Air

While using your breath to add air to your mattress will work, it is the most time-consuming and labour-intensive method of them all. But it will work as a last resort. Another slightly easier method is to use a bag of air. A few videos are available on YouTube that show you how to do this, but here are the basic steps for this DIY airbed trick.

  • Get a large garbage bag and shake it out so it is wide open and can capture a lot of air.
  • Clamp the top of the bag shut, capturing the air inside.
  • Wrap the top of the bag around the mattress plug and create a tight seal using your hand.
  • Push the air out of the bag onto the mattress and repeat these steps until the mattress is inflated enough to be comfortable.

What About Built-In Air Pumps?

Some air mattress models feature built-in air pumps that work either by electricity or battery power. These can be extremely convenient because they save space since you do not need to bring along a portable pump, and they save you from worrying about forgetting to pack the pump as well.

Air mattresses with battery-operated internal pumps are ideal when camping in areas that do not provide access to electrical outlets. But you will have to ensure your batteries are fully charged before you head out and keep extra batteries on hand at all times.

Air mattresses with built-in pumps that work using electricity are also very convenient options, but keep in mind that these handy air mattresses are much more expensive than standard versions with no internal pumps installed.

Even if you always remember to pack your air mattress pump with your camping necessities, it is highly recommended that you always bring along another device to use for backup in case your pump stops working.

Whether it is an additional electric pump, or an unconventional option such as a hairdryer or leaf blower, bringing along these extras can help ensure you will have a comfortable night’s rest while you are sleeping under the stars.

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