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Inflatable air mattresses are making their presence strongly felt in campsites all over the world. One cannot deny that these mattresses are comfortable and convenient, like everything that is inflatable is. When deflated, you can easily fold them to the size of a bath towel and carry them in your backpack. When inflated, they can provide the sheer comfort of sleeping on your bed. And with some of the recent advancements in them, it is no wonder if you start liking them better than your bed at home!

The Structure

Inflatable mattresses are made up of a strong fabric in which air can be blown into through a valve. Textile fabrics are interweaved with plastic to make them stronger. You can blow air using your mouth but this is not preferable because the mattresses will require a lot of air. It is better to use a foot pedal pump or an electric pump.

Generally, they are not designed as single piece equipment. They have at least two compartments, each with their own valves. This makes inflating them an easier process. There might be slight variations too - like an inflatable compartment on one end that acts as a pillow, and an inflatable tube at the bottom that acts as a footrest.

In order to make the mattresses feel softer, a large number of options are used. Some of the mattresses use an air bubble structure on top - the same that is used in bubble wraps. This provides a soft layer above the bed and makes sleeping much more comfortable. Another way to add to the softness of the mattress is to weave a foam layer on the inside of the mattress. This adds to their cozy bouncy feel. The surface of the inflatable camping mattress is also provided with a large number of grooves and curves in the right places, which are built to increase the ergonomics of the mattress.

The Innovations

Today you will find a lot of innovations that are making them much more appealing to campers all over the world. Worth a mention are the massage mattresses. They have switch-operated controls for adding or reducing massaging pressure. Some manufacturers are also making thermal mattresses, which provide added warmth, and are quite good on bodies that are sore after a whole day of camping.

The raised mattresses have also become very popular. These mattresses, when totally inflated can elevate approximately to two feet above the ground level. This gives the person using the mattress the actual feeling of sleeping at home on a comfortable bed.

What takes the cake though, is the automatic inflatable mattress. These mattresses have a built-in pump. You only have to open the little plastic knob and the air will fill in automatically. It will suck in air up to a particular limit, and if you want more pressure, you will have to pump manually. But these auto mats, as they are also called, will fill the mattress up to 80% without any intervention from you. Good choice when you are dog-tired and do not have any strength, and just want to lay flat out on them!

The Advantages

Of course, the biggest advantage is convenience. These mattresses become very small when folded and so they are extremely portable. You have to only pull out the valve, remove the air, and roll them up. It will come down to a very convenient and manageable size, and you can take it wherever you want. Another advantage is that they are exceptionally light in weight - just a couple of ounces even when inflated to their full capacity.

The Buying Guide

When you are buying your mattress, do not hurry to make the purchase. You will need to look into a few things. Here is a checklist:-
  • Pay careful attention to all the valves of the mattress. They should close very securely. In some roughshod mattresses, the valves just pop out and the mattress will deflate even as you are sleeping on it!
  • Check the number of inflatable compartments present. Two are essential, but any more than three is a nuisance. Also see if there is a separate attachment for a pillow compartment, or will you have to get a pillow separately. Either way is fine - see what works for you.
  • Never buy an inflatable mattress without getting a full demo of it, and also waiting and watching for a while as to how it retains pressure. We are talking of inflatable mattresses here - they are supposed to remain inflated and maintain their pressure the whole night when a full-grown person is sleeping on it.
  • All inflatable mattresses come with warranties. Be sure to take yours.
  • Check what accessories that come along with the mattress. The accessories will raise the price of the mattress. If you don't want them, don't take them.
  • You must know about the prevailing prices of inflatable mattresses in the market. Let me warn you, the cheapest mattresses will have a string of shortcomings to them. And very soon you will be saying, if I had only put in a $100 more, I could have got a much more enduring mattress! Let that not happen with you. Select a good brand, and do not bother much about the prices.