7 Ways to Inflate an Air Mattress While Camping

Inflate an Air Mattress

Camping will require you to set up some equipment to rest well. Apart from a tent, it is recommended you carry an air mattress to comfortably sleep. To use a mattress, you need to inflate it first, and there are so many methods you can follow to do this.

You can use a manual pump, vacuum cleaner, hairdryer, campsite outlet, or battery-operated electric pump. Almost all of the steps are similar to each other but there are important, unique procedures to follow for each method.

Pumps are very substantial when inflating your mattress. In this article, we will be discussing methods for each equipment that can be used to fill an air mattress. We will cover how to inflate an air mattress using a battery-operated electric pump, car battery and 12V plug, campsite electrical outlet, manual pump, vacuum, and hairdryer.


After a long day of camping, you’ll want to relax and unwind comfortably. One way of increasing the comfort level of your tent and campsite is investing in a good camping mattress. There are tons of options out there to choose from, but if you want to get a quality mattress that will suit your needs, pick one from our top recommendations of the best camping beds and pads


Steps to inflate an air mattress using a battery-operated electric pump

When inflating a mattress using battery-operated pumps, you should first place your mattress inside the tent. There, you can start pumping your mattress and make sure you’re not stamping on any part. Close the valve of the mattress properly after the process.

One of the best options if you’re going out for outdoor activity is to bring batteries with you. Bear in mind that not all places can supply electricity, and your pump may only operate with the use of batteries. Therefore, you should pack some of these before you go.

  1. Once you already set up your tent, lay your mattress down inside.
  2. Ensure your pump is associated with new or charged batteries so that you can fill your mattress completely. Remember that if your batteries are drained, you can’t pump in any more air.
  3. While inflating your mattress, don’t stamp on any part. It may affect the filling process, which may also exhaust your battery.
  4. When the inflation has reached your preference, remove the pump and close the valve properly.

In terms of camping, be sure you already set up your tent before inflating an air mattress using pumps with batteries. A smart tip you can follow is to inflate the mattress inside your tent. In that sense, you don’t have to worry about how you place it in your tent if the tent’s door is smaller than the mattress.

Battery-operated pumps are an advantageous gear for camping. You can just re-inflate your mattress anytime you want without any problems with electricity plugs. That will prevent you from disturbing your camping buddies if they are asleep when you need to inflate your mattress.


Steps to inflate an air mattress using your car’s battery and a 12V plug

To inflate a mattress using your car battery, you need to park your car near your camping area. To ensure that you won’t struggle to place your mattress inside your tent, we suggest you inflate it directly inside your tent after you set your tent up. With this process, you can bring your tent with a mattress to your desired place.

To clarify, this goes differently than the first method we discussed. Inflating an air mattress using car batteries is obviously for people who are camping in an RV or with their cars. The filling process show differences in inflation without a car.

Two techniques cover this kind of camping — you either sleep inside your RV or use a tent outside your car. But most of the time, cars are just used to transport your things. So, in that sense, you will need a tent to use your mattress.

  1. Park your car near your camping spot. You will need its battery for pumping, so your vehicle should be close to your selected spot.
  2. Set up your tent and unroll your air mattress inside.
  3. Inflate it using your pump, powered by the car’s battery.
  4. Bring your tent to the ideal spot you have chosen, depending on your liking.

Don’t forget to check the size of your mattress. Sometimes, campers said they had trouble transferring their mattress inside their tent because it didn’t fit through the tent’s doors. Thus, adjust the air inflation of your mattress to make sure you can fit it in your tent.

This technique applies to those who bring their cars to go camping. So, if you don’t want to bring your vehicle, go and read other inflating options that may fit your needs. There are still a lot of other ways to pump up your air mattress.


Steps to inflate an air mattress using a campsite electrical outlet

When you are going to use the campsite electrical outlet to inflate your mattress, you should know whether your mattress fits through your tent’s door. If not, inflate it inside your tent by the nearest electrical outlet. Bring some extra extension cord if you don’t want to change location when following the filling process.

There are several types of pumps, which is why we need to be more knowledgeable in this matter. Indeed, this highly affects the camping place where you plan to go to. If the campsite provides electricity, then you can bring a pump that can be operated by plugging into an electric supply. But if they don’t provide that facility, you should look for alternatives.

On the other hand, if you are going to inflate your mattress using an electric pump, you should look for the nearest outlet first, and follow these steps:

  1. Just like when you use cars’ batteries, bring your mattress to the nearest electric outlet first.
  2. Check the size of your mattress to ensure it will fit properly through the tent’s doors once inflated. If not, then set up your tent and place your mattress inside.
  3. Inflate the mattress inside the tent.
  4. You can use an extension cord if you find it hard to transfer your tent from one place to another.

Using electric-powered pumps requires you to consider a lot of things. The place should have an electric supply, which requires you to bring extension cords. Other people just carry generators with them. This is indeed heavy, expensive, and time-consuming in numerous ways.

Ask your ideal camping place first, while you are still on the verge of planning your trip. Some people are dependent on the amenities that a campsite provides. From our perspective, you should avoid finding yourself in such situations because, in the end, you will be the one who will endure the disadvantages.


Over time and because of wear and tear, your mattress may leak air. This will not be a big deal as long as you know how to repair a leaky air mattress. We have a few tips and tricks that you might find useful if you ever find yourself in this situation.


Steps to inflate an air mattress using a manual pump

Manual pumps are bike pumps or hand pumps. The inflation process for this type of pump doesn’t really differ from the one with batteries and the electric-powered one. You just need to properly attach your pump to the plug of your mattress and inflate it. We suggest you inflate your mattress inside the tent.

When we say “manual pump,” it covers many types of pumps. These can be bike pumps, hand pumps, foot pumps, and can even involve the blowing method. What is great with this inflation technique is that you don’t need any batteries nor electricity to fill your air mattress.

If you are going to use a manual pump when inflating your mattress, note these steps:

  1. Spread your mattress, then open the valve or plug.
  2. Attach the pump to the air plug of the mattress. Know the plug of your mattress before you camp as it may not fit your manual pump.
  3. Ensure the tightness of the pump and mattress’ plug connection to avoid air drains when pumping.
  4. Start pumping. Check your mattress to see if you inflated it according to your preferences.
  5. Pump gradually, especially if you can’t determine the amount of airflow that your pump can provide.

Manual pumps take time to inflate the mattress compared to electric and battery-powered pumps. But, this is definitely cheaper and simple. All you need is to put in some effort and patience when inflating your mattress.

There are also disadvantages to this method. Although the gears can be lightweight, the procedure is a hassle or exhausting. This also depends on the size of your mattress. If it’s quite large, then you are required to pump it for a long time.


Steps to inflate an air mattress using a vacuum cleaner

When using a vacuum to inflate your mattress, you should remove the content of the vacuum first. Attach the vacuum tube to the plug of the mattress, then seal it with tape around the connection. Ensure that the airflow is properly secured so that inflating your mattress will be quick.

Vacuum cleaners can help you inflate your mattress. Some people may not know this, but if you have one, you can surely use it. The only question we can’t answer is why you would bring a vacuum cleaner when camping. However, it is a good option if you have this coincidentally or when camping in your backyard.

How can we use this equipment to inflate the mattress? Some vacuums can be operated backwards, meaning they can blow air aside from their suction mode. If you have this kind of vacuum, you can follow these steps:

  1. The first thing you should ensure is to remove all the dust or any particles stuck inside. Use the reverse function to remove these.
  2. Roll out your air mattress and remove the cap, or uncap the plug or valve.
  3. Attach the vacuum to the mattress plug, however, you should look for a dependable lock. You can use tape to seal the connection between the plug and the vacuum.
  4. Start your vacuum to inflate your mattress.

There are several types of vacuum; those that can be operated with electricity, which requires you to plug them, and those that are portable and battery-powered, like car vacuum. Of course, we’re not recommending you to bring the vacuum you use at home. That’s indeed a disadvantage. But, this is applicable if you can carry this equipment, especially for those who are RV-camping or car-camping.


Steps to inflate an air mattress using a hairdryer

Hairdryers can be used to inflate your mattress. You just need to seal the valve and the air-blowing area of the hairdryer properly so that it can inflate your mattress. With such, you can use tape. Also, don’t forget to monitor and prevent the hairdryer from overheating.

Another way to blow air into your mattress is to use a hairdryer. We think this is a smart idea; that is if you can bring this kind of equipment, of course. Indeed, hairdryers blow the same amount of air as a mattress pump.

If you want to use a hairdryer to inflate your air mattress, follow these steps:

  1. Unroll your mattress. Again, always check the size of your mattress to ensure it fits through the tent’s door once it’s inflated.
  2. Use your hairdryer to connect it to the valve of the mattress.
  3. Cover the link of a hairdryer and the valve. You can use tape or anything else, as long as the air can be transported to inflate the mattress.
  4. Once you’ve fully secured it, you can start filling your mattress with air.
  5. Monitor your hairdryer while inflating the mattress. Be careful and watch out if your hairdryer starts heating up. They are not meant to be used over long periods.

The steps look similar to those with other types of pumps. However, the factor that we found out can be a struggle is the sealing of the hairdryer and valve of the mattress. If you see, hairdryers have these huge openings for airflow, but valves are small.

Although the sealing process may be hard to follow, it still works as an alternative if you just have to fine-tune the position of the hairdryer. Secure it well so that everything will just work flawlessly.

Also, remember that hairdryers are usually powered by electricity, although some are cordless and portable. These are battery-operated, so be watchful as they cannot completely provide the needed air for inflation.

Finally, keep an eye out on the temperature of your hair dryer from time to time. In case you haven’t noticed, they get hot fast when used, and you need to let cool them down before using them again.


A camping mattress will definitely increase the comfort level of your campsite. This will allow you to rest better and enjoy your trip more. If you follow our suggestions, you can make your camping mattress even more comfortable than it already is. 


Steps to inflate an air mattress using a garbage bag

To inflate a mattress using a garbage bag, you have to fill it with air first. Connect the bag to the valve of the mattress, then squeeze the air from the garbage bag. Check if your mattress is really inflating when you fill it with air. Repeat this process until your mattress is fully inflated.

Garbage bags are usually utilized to hold waste. However, when camping, it can also work as an alternative air pump for your mattress. This technique is amazing but time-consuming, to be frank.

Using a garbage bag to blow air into your mattress is better than blowing some with your own breath. You can apply this method by following these steps:

  1. Spread your mattress.
  2. Open the valve of your mattress, then get a garbage bag.
  3. Fill the garbage bag with air. You can easily just fill it with air, then seal its opening by grabbing it.
  4. Connect it to the air valve of the mattress, then squeeze the air from the garbage bag to inflate your mattress.
  5. Keep doing this until you’ve fully inflated your mattress.
  6. Always check if your mattress is actually inflating every time you fill it with air from the garbage bag.

This process requires you to exhaust much effort to completely inflate your mattress. Even though this is difficult, we can say it’s a good option. Imagine this: you don’t need to pack any pumps nor any other gears to inflate your mattress. Garbage bags can indeed help you with this problem.

What’s good with this is the fact that you can still use the garbage bag for another purpose afterwards. This way, you’ll be hitting two birds with one stone.


Final thoughts

No matter what method of inflation you are going to follow, the most essential thing is that you have the right gear, according to the campsite. Manual pumps don’t require you to use batteries or anything, so it’s one of the best options to use. But, if the place provides electricity, then go for an electric-operated pump.

If you brought your car, you can also use a battery-powered pump. There are some advantages and disadvantages you just need to consider before you proceed to the camping place. Contemplate these factors so that it won’t be difficult for you once you’re there.

Recent Posts