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REI Relax Air Bed

rated 4.0 of 5 stars
photo: REI Relax Air Bed air-filled sleeping pad

Easy to use, durable, comfortable, just a tad expensive.


  • Durable
  • Easy to use
  • Comfortable


  • A little expensive
  • Bulky

I bought this for my wife and me while car camping. We have two Big Agnes Q-Core pads that we have been using for both backpacking and car camping, and they are a pain to set up (I use the BA Pumphouse to inflate them), roll up, keep clean, and make sure they are taken care of well, as they are a bit delicate. They are pretty comfortable, as reviews will attest to, but they make some compromises.

So, for car camping trips, we decided it would be nice to just have a beater air mattress that was durable, heavy, easy to inflate, and more comfortable. This did the trick. I initially considered buying the cheap Coleman mattress from Wally World, but poor reviews made me reconsider wasting my money.

I want something that will last years. Buy nice or buy twice, right? I also considered the ALPS Mountaineering Rechargeable air bed, but I needed the mattress ASAP and it wasn't in stock at REI.  The Relax is the most expensive of the 3, but it was also available on the afternoon before a camping trip.

The mattress is big and bulky, no doubt about that. Rolled up with the foot pump inside it, it's larger than a 0-degree synthetic sleeping back in its stuff sack by a few inches. It rolls up nicely with the included pump, and fits well inside the storage bag.

One thing that did bother me was the lack of any type of handle or anything to carry the bag with on the outside. You're limited to putting inside something to carry it on your back, or holding it in your hands/arms. The actual mattress is very nice, it's thick and rugged, with a softer velvety material on the sleeping surfaces. It feels pretty bombproof. It is really heavy, but who cares, that's not what you're buying this for.  

It's very easy to use. Just unroll the pad, hook it up to the foot pump with one of the 4 included nozzles, pump it up, and it's ready to go. Really really simple, and that's why I bought it. So much easier to use than backpacking pads.

There are some really nice features that I'm very impressed with on this pad. Many of them I'm sure are included simply because weight isn't a constraint, but others are well-thought out:

  1. There are two valves on the mattress. The first one is the one you insert the nozzle into. It's a one way valve, so you aren't losing air as you pump and the mattress fills. It makes it really easy. The second valve is just under the first valve, and it's just a larger hole that you deflate from. Deflation is very quick through this hole.
  2. The pump! I'm so so happy it's a foot pump. I tend to like simplicity when it comes to these types of items, and the lack of batteries and an electronic pump is such a plus. No worry about batteries, about the electronics dying, etc. The pump is good quality, includes 4 different size nozzles which are handily permanently connected to the pump via some elastic straps. Also, the pump inflates on both the up and down strokes. A nice feature that makes a big difference.
  3. It's easy to pump from outside the tent. The hose on the pump is long enough and the valve is situated in such a way that it's easy to stand outside the tent where you won't get it dirty to pump it up. It does take a little time to pump up, maybe 5-10 mins depending on how vigorously you are pumping, but it's not difficult, and better than physically blowing up a backpacking pad.  

Overall, I'm very pleased with this mattress. It was a tad more expensive than competing options, but it does have the REI guarantee, there are several noteworthy features that make this better than the competition, and it works!  A very nice item to have, and we will be using it often.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $110

Doesn't appear to leak. Not a queen size.

Have only used once and the initial experience is good. Overall seems to be a good guality.

Two drawbacks:

  1. Supposedly queen size but it isn't, at least in width. More like a full (double).
  2. Even though the foot pump allows the hose to be connected to the deflation(suction) side of the pump there is no mating adapter provided that will fit the mattress's female threaded port once the one way fill valve section is removed. I checked with my local REI store and they confirmed none of the four adapters provided will fit for this function. They are checking to see if there is an adapter available.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $119

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Price Historic Range: $62.93-$82.93
Reviewers Paid: $110.00-$119.00
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