A lot of winter campers, myself included, use a down filled air mattress (DAM) for extra warmth as part of our sleep system. With R-values of 5 and above, they really boost your comfort level when it is below freezing.
Moisture in Your Breath
The problem with inflating a down air mattress is that you don’t want to blow into it and introduce moisture that will degrade the insulating properties of the down fill. If you have “accidentally” done this, perhaps out of impatience, you can revitalize your down air mattress by drying it in a dryer, set to low heat, with the valves open.
The right way to inflate a Down filled air mattress is to use a pump to inflate it with ambient air. Winter air is much drier than your breath and won’t degrade the down insulation.
The Pumphouse is a stuff sack with a nozzle-like fabric tube at one end that is universally sized to fit onto any air mattress valve. There’s a cord-lock at the end of the nozzle extension that lets you secure it under the base of a valve so it won’t come off during inflation, a common problem for me with the old Exped pump system.
For my money, I like The Pumphouse because it serves multiple purposes and you can use it in a shelter regardless of the weather outside. Effort-wise, it only takes 15-20 pumps to inflate an air mattress, which probably won’t kill you if you’ve managed to hike most of the day to your campsite.
Written 2010. Updated 2018.
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