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Pump or Pump Bag for air mattresses?

Recently I got an REI FLASH Insulated 3 season air mattress and an REI "hand pump" to go with it. 

But on second thought I ordered a Sea to Summit pump bag (the nozzle fits the REI mattress). I'll return the hand pump when I go to the store to pick up the pump bag.

I'm changing to a pump bag B/C it can do double duty as a dry bag. The REI hand pump is just a one-use item used only once a day. Plus a pump bag is much faster to inflate the mattress. 

So what is the consensus among air mattress users here for their pump of choice? 

Eric B.

BTW, I won't use my breath to fill the mattress B/C I don't want to get mold and bacteria going on inside. Plus it inserts moisture which reduces the R value of the mattress, which is rated at 3.7. I consider that an R value good enough to get me into the teens (Fahrenheit).

I use my pack liner with a home made fitting in it rather than carry something just for filling the mattress. So I guess I'm in the pump bag category although didnt know they made those...i bet theirs works better but mine was cheaper.

300winmag said:

BTW, I won't use my breath to fill the mattress B/C I don't want to get mold and bacteria going on inside. Plus it inserts moisture which reduces the R value of the mattress

 And also, adds weight.

I use a cut-down Instaflator, which unfortunately last I checked is not made anymore. Used to be found in pool supply stores. Easy to DIY the concept with a couple of inches of tubing and the bag of your choice.

Don't know if these are still available but ours has served us for years, turns any plastic bag into a pump bag.

BR. That's basically what I use from the hose fittings in the local hardware store...a few cents. In a pack liner all you need to add is a stopper to keep it watertight.

BigRed, thanks for the link. All my other mattresses are Thermarest so I'l get that rig together.

Good to see you guys mostly using some sort of bag pump. Suspicions confirmed.

Maybe I'll get a battery operated pump when I buy a llama to carry my stuff... 

Eric B.

I use the trash-compactor bag I bring to keep gear dry in combination with my fingers as a "gasket" to make a seal around the nozzle of the mattress...1) free 2) fail-proof 3) zero weight since I was bringing my fingers anyways.

That was my approach for a few years Joseph but you must be more dexterous than I am...I kept having issues with getting it full enough. Then I went with a rubber band to help keep leakage low. Finally went to a few cents and few grams for two short pieces of tube that slide together and create a valve. A small plastic stopper to prevent leaks to my Compactor bag during its primary use ends up with a few extra grams and a great deal easier to use.

Ha!...I doubt it...I got farmer mitts for hands :-)

I guessing it has more to do with the fact that I don't sleep on a fully inflated mattress.'re the only person I know that does...though I imagine there are more of you hiding in dark places :-P

Using fingers alone I can still over-inflate a mattress enough that I have air to release so I can dial in the comfort once I get situated...though obviously I try to make a good seal with my fingers and unfold the mattress before inflating it to minimize resistance. I've done this with cold fingers countless I don't  think perfection or skill are important variables.

If I had to put it into numbers...I would say that fingers alone are more than good enough for those who sleep on a mattress <90% filled...if you want something stiffer than that you'll probably need to use a little lung or some rickety-rack to top it off...though personally I would probably just sleep on an EVA pad at that point.

I overinflate and then release air to that sweet spot I need. It is probably fuller than most due to back problems, but still need that cushion for sleeping on my side that a non inflatable just doesn't provide.

Come to think of it...I credit impatience and laziness at the end of a day instead of dextous hands!

Ah! must be in that >90% yet not 100% category. Too bad...I thought I had finally stumbled across 100%...I guess it would make sense that those folks would use EVA.

I wasn't sure that fingers alone would be good enough when I first tried the fingers only method...but necessity is the mother and all...and after climbing on top and realizing I still needed to vent a little air I have done it the same ever since.

One feature of the REI Flash line of air mattresses is the dedicated deflate valve. It permits very fast deflation, a nice feature, especially on cold mornings when breaking camp.

But after looking at the valve covers I'm going to sleep with them facing the tent floor so I don't accidentally open the deflate valve at "zero dark thirty". 

I've noticed that you can see which part of the FLASH Insulated mattress is insulated by holding it up to the light. Mine is uninsulated only on the outside "tufts" below the knees, likely to save a few grams. 

November 26, 2020
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