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The Instaflator

photo:   The Instaflator sleeping pad accessory


Price MSRP: $3.95
Reviewers Paid: $3.95


2 reviews
5-star:   1
4-star:   1
3-star:   0
2-star:   0
1-star:   0

Simple, easy to use, human powered tool for filling sleep pads or other inflatable gear. Packs light and small, no batteries required. Would probably work to inflate a pack raft, but definitely a great way to save some breath when making camp at the end of the day.


  • Light and packs small
  • Easy to use
  • Reduces moisture buildup


  • Too big to work inside most tents
  • Small clear plastic adapter hard to see if dropped


My first reaction when someone here on Trailspace posted a link to The Instaflator was to laugh. Then I got to thinking about the advantages of not having to blow up my sleep pad manually and the idea didn't seem so silly. I ordered two online since I didn't expect it to last very long and I wanted to save on shipping.


On opening the package I found a compactly folded, lightweight, plastic bag with a somewhat confusing plastic attachment. The product is designed and sold for inflating pool and beach toys, so I'm guessing they included adapters for various sized valves. Depending on your intended use those might come into play, but for standard sleep pad valves they serve no purpose.


This pic shows only the center tube remaining after I trimmed the others off. You can also see the clear plastic tube extending past the end. This small piece is what lets you connect to a standard sleep pad valve by sliding over the top much as you'd do with your lips. This piece is small and without color so easily lost if dropped. I keep it attached at all times so as not to let it get away.

Once you have connected to the valve of the item you are inflating using the Instaflator is as simple as unrolling the long plastic bag, opening the end of it, puffing gently once or twice to expand the bag and rolling up the end. You now have a big bag of air you can force into your pad or other inflatable by rolling the bag down towards the valve.

Despite the lightweight plastic used to make the bag portion I have gotten an entire season of use from the first one I unpacked. With the adapters trimmed off it comes in at 1.5oz and after rolling and folding jams easily into the top of the stuffsack from my fitted sheet.

This video demonstrates pretty well how the Instaflator performs in the field. I apologize for the sound quality, but between the dry leaves and some wind I could only do so much to clean it up in post production :)

I still laugh when I use this thing, but I definitely use it on most trips. If it is raining I go back to manually blowing up my pad because I find the Instaflator is way too big to use inside my MSR Hubba, but otherwise I like setting up my bed without all that huffing and puffing. Reducing the amount of moisture I'm pumping into my NeoAir XLite may or may not extend its useful life, but I like the idea and a little peace of mind makes for better sleeping.

Not having used The Instaflator to blow up a pack raft I can't speak to its utility for that purpose. I have read of others using for that, but my use was mostly limited to blowing up my sleep pad, though I did use it once to blow up my daughter's pool. It definitely does what it claims to and has proven to be surprisingly durable. I have loaned it to strangers a few times just to get their impressions and they too laughed but found it helpful. For the price I definitely can recommend giving it a shot.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $3.95


Funny, but very intriguing, LoneStranger. Thanks for sharing this nifty gadget.

7 years ago

I had to review it to pay for the tip I got in the comments of my NeoAir XLite review. Looking there now I see it was Bill S who mentioned it but he says someone else on Trailspace tipped him off. Seems I was just the only one willing to review it :)

7 years ago

What an ingenious little gadget. And I love the video, LS! Thanks.

7 years ago
Bill S

A pool supply chain in this area is selling the Instaflator for $0.66. They say they are closing it out. I discovered that when you are in the process of rolling the tube up to shove air into your sleeping pad, the thin plastic can easily be punctured when the pressure is high just by accidentally touching the hard tube to something you didn't realize was sharp. Because the plastic is so thin, you can't really repair it. Plus the tube end where you attach it to the connector (the tube tapers). I have used mine (now have a supply of a half dozen, since they are being sold so cheap) in Peru among other places. As LS says, people chuckle at first, then want to get one since the device works so well and so fast, especially at the 5000 meter altitude of many of our base camps. I don't remember who first posted a note about the Instaflator on TS. But it sure works better than the stuff sacks that come with some sleeping pads that supposedly work on the same principle.

7 years ago

All you had to do was mention 5k meters Bill and I can definitely see where there would be plenty of room in even the tiniest of tents to use this thing :) In the rain I tend to set up my bed before I get into the tent so I can peel off my clothes outside and then get dressed sitting on top. It just doesn't seem worth bothering with to me, but definitely a personal choice and one I'd likely change at elevation.

7 years ago

Nice review, your experience is similar to mine. Bill S, you said that the thin plastic of the Instaflator is easily damaged, which is true, but you also said that it can't be repaired. I have repaired several little holes in my Instaflator using either Tenacious Tape or the little sticky repair tape that comes with some inflatable swimming pool rafts. Finding the hole can be a challenge, but the repair is easy (make sure you have the damaged area completely flat with no wrinkles), and the repairs have held up well.

7 years ago

Thanks, LoneStranger. I use the Instaflator and like it as well.


  • Effective
  • Cheap
  • Light
  • Might save its own weight


  • Tends to get small tears/holes, but easy to repair

I've been using the Instaflator for a while. Great when you've had a hard day at altitude where the air is thin and you just don't want to take the time and effort to blow up by mouth, especially for the 20+ puffs to blow up a wide/long pad.

I also figure that mouth-inflating will introduce moisture from my breath to the inside of my pad, which over time will add weight, so the Instaflator probably saves its own weight, and possibly extends the life of the pad as well.

You can cut down the plastic bag tube to a shorter length (and a few tenths of an ounce lighter) and it is more manageable; can definitely use it inside the shelter once trimmed down.

It does tend to get small holes and tears, but those are easily patched with a standard pool float patch kit or a slice of Tenacious Tape.

Leslie's Pool Supply sells them for 99ยข last I checked.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: 99 cents!


Sounds like it's a hit.

7 years ago

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