The new generation of air mattresses

Eric B.Eric B.
edited September 2018 in Gear Advice & Care
Starting with Thermarest's pioneering Neo-Air mattresses we now seeing air mattresses from many makers. Some are non-insulated and some are insulated to varying degrees. Because these new mattresses are light and more comfortable than all but the heaviest self-inflating mattresses they are gaining favor with backpackers.

Recently I purchased REI's FLASH Insulated air mattress (3 season version  - 15 oz.) and a Sea to Summit inflator dry bag that also doubles as my clothes bag. Inflator bags are much faster than hand or electric pumps and save weight doing duty as storage bags. Just be sure their nozzle is compatible with your mattress air intake. REI wisely used the Sea to Summit nozzle pattern and it also fits, to my knowledge, some Nemo mattresses.

You can find winter air mattresses like Thermarest's Neo-Air X-Therm (R 5.7) and REI's FLASH insulated 4 season winter mattress (R 5.2) and Sea to Summit's winter mattress. Thermarest uses reflective material and baffles for retaining warmth, the others use reflective layers and synthetic fibers, usually bonded to the inside of the top fabric. 

Be sure to carry a patch kit for pin holes. Air mattresses seem to get them more often than foam filled self-inflating nmattresses.

Read online reviews of mattresses your are interested in.For example, many owners of insulated  Big Agnes air mattresses complained bitterly of the lack of insulation. And owners of my REI FLASH Insulated mattress complained of weld leaks. REI assured me they will stand behind REI mattresses with weld leaks for many years.
Here's hoping my FLASH Insulated mattress holds up for many years. "Fingers crossed"


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