10 Unforgettable Camping Air Mattress Hacks

Can’t seem to get comfortable on your air mattress? Check out these hacks for a better night’s sleep!

Camping air mattress hacks like treating your air mattress like a real bed, adjusting your ventilation and choosing the perfect camping pillow can make every night spent camping much more comfortable.

There’s so much more to know about making your air mattress more comfortable and even repairing it or inflating it when you can’t take the usual routes. Continue on to find the tips that can make your air mattress experience one you’ll love.

By the way, as an Amazon Associate, I earn when buying qualified products through links on my site.

I wanted to share this video to show how this person insulated his air mattress so you can get a more visual example:

How to stay warm with an air mattress on a cold night. (Life hacks)

Unforgettable Camping Air Mattress Hacks For Comfort

There are so many things to love about camping. The fresh air, peaceful atmosphere, warming campfires and time spent with family are some of the reasons many people enjoy getting out into nature.

However, sleeping on an air mattress isn’t often included in the list of reasons why someone might want to go camping. Even those who absolutely love camping might just accept the fact that they probably aren’t going to get a great night’s sleep. Whether it’s waking up to realize the air has leaked out, or just being unable to stay warm, there are so many imperfections that come with using air mattresses while camping.

You might even be wondering, are air mattresses even good for camping? Learn more about the topic in our article on the subject here! There, we’ll take a closer look into air mattresses and explain whether or not they actually are always a terrible experience.

While it might seem unfixable, your air mattress experience doesn’t have to be a bad one. Take a look at these fantastic hacks and you’ll learn all the secrets to making an air mattress more comfortable.

1. Start On The Right Foot – Get a Nice Air Mattress

The easiest way to have a great sleeping experience without having to spend a lot of extra money is just to start out with a high-quality air mattress.

That doesn’t mean getting the fanciest, most expensive option with all the bells and whistles. In fact, it’s better to avoid those extra additions. If you have any familiarity with air mattresses, you know they just don’t tend to last long. However, if you get a solid one, you may be able to get at least a couple of years out of it, and plenty of comfortable sleep, before having to buy a new one.

So if you’re shopping for a new air mattress, take your time to really look for something with a high level of quality. Check out the reviews for any air mattress you’re interested in and don’t forget about the warranty. Consider the aspects that are most important to you and the ones that might represent a more reliable air mattress.

Some of these features might include things like the material the air mattress is made from, the thickness it offers, and whether or not it has an internal pump. The weight capacity the air mattress allows can also be a great indicator as to how durable it may be.

Buying the cheapest option may mean you will be sleeping in an air mattress puddle at 3:00 AM. That being said–decent Air Mattresses are out there that aren’t that expensive.

Empty tent set up outdoor in the nature. concept photo of travel outdoor.

2. Treat Your Air Mattress Like a Real Bed

Are you someone who simply tosses a sleeping bag onto your air mattress and calls it good?

This may seem like what you’re supposed to do while you’re camping, but it’s not the most comfortable. Sleeping bags can be restrictive and the zipper may have problems with opening up a little bit every time you move around.

Instead, try making an actual bed on your air mattress. Add some kind of topper if you want to, along with sheets and blankets. Don’t forget a nice, warm comforter or quilt to finalize the experience. Really turn the air mattress into a place of luxury, rather than an experience based only on necessity.

It’s likely that you’ll find it to be a much more appealing place to sleep, even if it does take a little more work to set up.

Considering Your Sheets And Blankets

If you’re someone who camps in all kinds of weather, then you’ll likely want to consider having more than one set of blankets and sheets that you use on your air mattress. While most people may just toss a sleeping bag onto the surface, having some real sheets will make you feel like you’re sleeping in your own bed.

For the different seasons, consider having blankets and sheets that are either lighter or heavier. In the colder months, you can even add a sleeping bag into the mix. If you have one that is large enough, they work very well as comforters!

It’s a good idea to just have a couple of sets of camping blankets and sheets. That way, you won’t need to worry about moving your bedding too and from your bed at home. You can also just wash them after each trip and then pack them back up so they’ll be ready to take on the next trip.

What To Do With Your Sleeping Bag

If you’re going to be making a full bed on your air mattress, you might wonder what you should do with your sleeping bag. Has it become completely useless?

Not at all!

Sleeping bags can be great comforters. They’re incredibly warm and you won’t have to worry about keeping it zipped up. Just unzip it completely and throw it over your other blankets and sheets for the final touch.

Otherwise, if you’re looking to add some extra cushion to your air mattress in a pinch, laying the sleeping bag under your other sheets can provide just what you need. It may not be as thick as a foam pad or mattress topper, but it will work when you don’t have the time to run out and get one!

3. Try Adding A Mattress Topper

One of the biggest issues that people can have with air mattresses is that they just aren’t soft enough! The surface is hard and may feel like plastic, cold and uncomfortable. Instead of dealing with that, consider getting some kind of topper.

There are numerous choices out there that you can use, whether you prefer a standard mattress topper or something you can lay underneath your fitted sheet. DIY options are abundant, and you may find that you want to try out a few different methods before finding the one that allows you to get the best possible sleep.

For a more detailed guide on mattress toppers, check out our article on using mattress toppers for camping!

Standard Topper Options

If you don’t want to bother with the effort that can go into DIY options, then you can always look for a mattress topper that will fit your air mattress. Just keep in mind that it may be a little more difficult to find a topper that will fit the air mattresses that stand a bit taller.

Another option you may choose is to look for a new air mattress that has a topper already. While these might be more expensive options, they are also ones you can easily use to improve your sleeping experience while camping. You won’t need to purchase or pack anything extra, and you can get the comfort you need.

DIY Solutions

If you don’t want to purchase a standard mattress topper, or your mattress is a bit too tall to find one that works well, there are still other things you can try out for a softer bed.

Materials like foam pads, egg crate, and even bubble wrap can be used to soften up your air mattress and make it more comfortable to sleep on. All you have to do is lay down that material under your fitted sheet, or under a blanket, if you don’t use a fitted sheet on your air mattress.

On top of being less costly than standard choices, these are also fully customizable. You can easily add or remove layers to get the best results.

4. Get The Right Ventilation

Ventilation may not be something we always think about when it comes to sleeping on an air mattress, but it can make all the difference! Increasing or decreasing the ventilation between you, the mattress, and the ground can add to your overall warmth or take it away.

Depending on whether the environment is too cold or too warm, you can adjust the ventilation in your setup to allow you to sleep more comfortably. Check out the following sections to learn exactly how you can do that.

What To Do When You’re Too Cold

The cold is something that so many of us have dealt with while out on a camping trip. Even areas that are in the 90s during the day can sometimes become extremely cold when the sun goes down.

On top of that, air mattresses are made to provide quite a bit of ventilation. This is something you might notice just by considering what an air mattress is. The majority of the cushion you’re sleeping on it just that, air. Because of this, air mattresses can become cold quite easily, leaving you shivering all night long.

However, you can choose to combat that cold by laying down something between your body and the air mattress. This could be something as simple as a blanket, or you might decide to take the opportunity to add a bit more cushion as well as providing a border between you and the cold air.

What To Do When You’re Too Hot

The heat is typically something we worry about less while camping. Most of the time, it seems to be easier to get cold while you’re sleeping outside at night than hot. However, it’s definitely something that can happen from time to time. In climates that are particularly hot and humid, it can be hard to escape that heat, even with the ventilation that the air mattress already provides.

The good news is that you can get even more ventilation from your air mattress. By using something to get it off the ground, the air mattress can stay even cooler. Some people choose to use materials like Dri-Dek or other makeshift surfaces that get the air mattress away from the ground.

If you’re looking for a surface to use to lift your air mattress up, make sure it’s sturdy. Additionally, choose a material that has holes in it. Otherwise, you won’t get the ventilation you’re trying to achieve.

5. Get It Off The Floor

This tip is one that ties into keeping yourself cool at night, but it solely applies to keeping yourself a bit more comfortable. Most of us may just place our air mattress on the tent floor, but using something a little softer can help you to have a better night’s sleep.

If you’re not sure what to place under your air mattress, some simple foam tiles can be a great choice. You know those soft tiles that are sometimes used in nurseries or the bedrooms of children? They work great for softening up the area under your air mattress.

If nothing else, the foam tiles will make the entire tent much more cozy than just a layer of tent fabric and tarp.

You can even use them on the rest of the tent floor to make walking around more comfortable too. Because they are tiles, you can make the space as large or small as you need. They’re inexpensive and very versatile!

Another option you can try out is using a cot. Some may choose to sleep on the cot with a smaller mat or pad, or with none at all. However, you can also find cots that work well with an air mattress. This is a great choice when you don’t have a tall air mattress and want to get it farther from the ground. A huge bonus for those where getting in and out of bed is more of a chore.

Green camp bed with sleeping bag isolated on white background

6. Choose The Perfect Pillow

What good is a comfortable air mattress without a quality pillow? Some air mattresses may come with a built-in pillow, but it’s often not enough to create the highest level of comfort. You’ll need a reliable camping pillow that can handle the elements while helping you to sleep well.

Just a brief look displays numerous options when it comes to pillows designed for camping. Options like the compressible ThermaRest are ideal for those who are looking for the most comfort at a budget-friendly price. Meanwhile, those who want something that is incredibly lightweight and easy to travel with may appreciate the Aeros offered by the Sea To Summit brand. If you tend to be picky about your pillows, the adjustability of Nemo’s Fillo will make sure you get the exact comfort you want every night.

Taking your time to find the right pillow will ensure you get the best when it comes to a good night’s sleep. Poor sleep can be such a huge factor when it comes to enjoying a camping trip. You might as well put in the extra effort for a good night’s rest every night.

7. Think About Your Air Levels

As you’re filling up your air mattress, it’s worthwhile to think about the level of firmness you want. Many of us may have a tendency to fill up the air mattress all the way, as if we’re inflating a pool toy or other item that actually needs to be completely blown up. However, that just tends to lead to sleeping on an air mattress that might be too hard.

If you usually like a firm bed, then there’s no problem at all with totally filling up your air mattress! However, if you like a little more softness then you might want to hold back just a bit.

The one instance when this might not be the best choice is if you know your air mattress has a small leak that hasn’t been fixed. Naturally, it’ll take longer for you to end up on the ground if your air mattress starts out completely full.

When it comes to leaks, not to worry! I’ll include a couple of tips for stopping air mattress leaks with relative ease.

8. Easy Ways To Protect Your Air Mattress

To keep your air mattress in good shape for a longer period of time, you’ll want to make sure that it’s well-protected. Air mattresses can end up with small holes or tears quite easily for the most part, and even the smallest hole can really damage the quality of your sleep.

One of the best ways to protect your air mattress is to keep something between your air mattress and the ground. This will mean something aside from the base of your tent because tent floors can really be quite thin. It’s really not going to be suitable enough to keep sharp objects from stabbing at your air mattress. Think rocks, twigs, and roots.

Instead, you can try sweeping up the ground where you plan to place your tent. It might seem weird to sweep the ground outside, but it’s a good way to keep rocks and sharp sticks out of the space. You can also choose to lay down a tarp either under the tent or inside your tent under the air mattress.

If you look around, you’ll also find that there are specialized covers designed to keep your air mattress safe, but keep in mind that these might affect the ventilation of the bed as well.

The tip above about keeping the air mattress on a softer surface can aid in this aspect as well as keep you comfortable. You’ll be able to achieve multiple benefits with a single addition, making this a truly great hack!

9. Hacks For Inflating Your Air Mattress

Most air mattresses include a tool for inflating them. For most, that means an electronic pump that fits easily into the entry point. That said, there are some that contain a pump attached right to the air mattress itself. These are fantastic for adjusting the firmness of your mattress whenever you need.

What if your pump stops working, or you forget to pack it? If that happens, you’re going to need a backup method in order to avoid sleeping on the ground.

If you happen to have a hairdryer with you, then you can use that as a backup air mattress pump. All you have to do is combine it with the top half of a plastic water bottle, which will narrow the air and allow it to go right into the air mattress.

Though the hairdryer method is a great one, it’s still one that involves the use of electricity. If you don’t have electricity available to you, then you’re going to need yet another hack to get your air mattress pumped up! Check out our article on inflating air mattresses where we go into a ton of detail on how to inflate your air mattress without an electrical outlet. You’d be surprised what a simple trash bag can do!

Using an Inflatable Canoe Pump to inflate an Air Mattress

10. Hacks For Repairing Your Air Mattress

You just never know when an air mattress is going to spring an unexpected leak. If you wake up in the morning and find that your previously-perfect air mattress has left you on the ground, you’ll need a reliable way to fix it. Just remember that repairing a leak in an air mattress is often a temporary fix. The amount of time you are able to use that air mattress after fixing it may vary, but it can be helpful when you have no other option!

When you go camping, make sure that you pack along something to repair your air mattress. One hack that can really be beneficial for this is to just pick up a kit made for repairing bicycle tires. In that kit, you’ll find everything you need to patch up your air mattress.

Another simple option is to make use of some Krazy Glue. This tends to be a much better option than similar kinds of glue because it’s more flexible. This hack may not be as reliable as patching the air mattress up, but it’s one that can help you out when you need something right away.

Now you’re all set to sleep comfortably in your air mattress. You’ll be able to repair it when a problem pops up and inflate it even when you don’t have a pump with you. There’s nothing stopping you from getting a great sleep while you’re camping.


Peter is a software developer who loves to take every opportunity to go outside that he can get. Peter grew up going on long backpacking excursions with his family every Summer and now enjoys staying at the beautiful Texas State Parks and swimming in the amazing Texas Rivers.

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