How Important Is an Air Mattress in Your Survival Gear?

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Last Updated on February 19, 2018

Editors Note: A guest contribution from Elizabeth to The Prepper Journal. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly receive a $25 cash award as well as be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards  with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.

An Editors Story: Once, while dove hunting near Porterville California, by Success Lake, only one of our group of 6 hunters brought an air mattress. It wasn’t me. The ground in this area is very rocky and while we all complained about that, Darren, who had the air mattress, woke up fresh and rested, after teasing us endlessly about it before going to bed. Sadly, mistakenly, Daren chose to keep up the joviality through out that day’s hunt. Alas, that second night, not unexpectedly, his air mattress failed. I will now, years later, admit to just one of the knife inflicted holes that occurred just prior to our all turning in that night – I suspect there were 4 others. We all should have gone here first:

Smart preparation means to think in advance and to make strategies for all possible scenarios. Having a good plan for any situation is the wisest thing to do whether we’re getting ready for an outdoor adventure or the ultimate survival experience. One essential part of the plan that we need to conceive involves sleeping arrangements. I can’t underline enough how important is to get a good rest when we are in a critical situation. Sleep deprivation is one of the worst enemies we could have, especially when we are not in the familiar comfort of our daily life.

How Important Is an Air Mattress in Your Survival Gear? - The Prepper Journal

Whether you have a shelter prepared for a severe crisis or you’re just going camping in a tent or under the clear sky, you need a satisfying bed. Since you can’t take an actual bed with you, an air mattress is the next best choice. I always have one packed in my survival gear, and it has proven to be extremely valuable in various contexts. Let me tell you why:


Air mattresses came into our lives as beach props meant to help us have fun and get tanned while floating. It didn’t take too long for these items to find their way into our houses as permanent beds. One of the main reasons for this is that you can choose the level of firmness for an air mattress. This option comes in handy outdoors as well. But there’s another big plus for airbeds: the modern models have air chambers to imitate the springs of a regular mattress. This feature addresses an older issue of air mattresses – the lack of support. But nowadays, due to leading-edge design and technology, this matter is no longer a problem. My advice is to look for a bigger number of chambers when choosing your air mattress: the higher the number, the better the support. Any 30+ chambers will do just fine. And since you may sleep for extended periods of time on this type of bed, consider the fact that they are not only comfortable but also resistant and reliable.

How Important Is an Air Mattress in Your Survival Gear? - The Prepper Journal

Power source

You should ponder the fact that out there you may not have an electric power source at your disposal or, even if you do have one, it might get cut off at some point. That’s why the best option is to have a versatile air mattress, the kind that can be inflated by using electric power, batteries or a manual leg pump. Such a self-sufficient product will undoubtedly serve its purpose even if the power is out. So when shopping for the perfect air mattress for survival, check the features “battery” or “manually operated.”

How Important Is an Air Mattress in Your Survival Gear? - The Prepper Journal How Important Is an Air Mattress in Your Survival Gear? - The Prepper Journal  How Important Is an Air Mattress in Your Survival Gear? - The Prepper Journal

Size and space

It’s a no-brainer: air mattresses pack small. And this is what you need: a light item which is easy to carry and will not take a lot of space in your backpack. Also, you can move this kind of airbed quickly in a shelter, for instance; and if it’s a twin size, it can accommodate more people, when necessary.

How Important Is an Air Mattress in Your Survival Gear? - The Prepper Journal

Multiple functions 

What’s great about an air mattress is that it can be used in several situations. The primary function is to provide support for sleeping (in a shelter, a tent or on the ground) and I’ve already explained the advantages for this one. But you can find yourself wanting (or having to) cross over a water spread. The air mattress may be a suitable floating device in such circumstances. You could improvise wooden pads and steer it into the desired direction. I should point out, though, that this isn’t recommended in the case of a fast running river or very deep waters. Another way to profit from such an item is to use it as a cover if somehow it gets perforated and you can’t inflate it anymore. You can fill it with natural elements, like grass, moss, dry leaves or straw and still have a warm bed to sleep on it.


The manufacturers use fumes-free materials nowadays for making air mattresses, and studies have shown that these products have the lowest off-gassing of all. Why is this important? Well, think that you might be in a place which is not well ventilated: you don’t want harmful chemicals in your mattress. Try Mattress counsels us to check if the description of the product says BPS-free or phthalates-free. Or to look for a completely PVC-free, entirely textile-made mattress: some buyers have indicated them as more durable and less predisposed to punctures. The downside is that there aren’t many models like that on the market, so finding the one to meet all the other criteria might be a tough challenge.

I want to emphasize that choosing smart is essential when it comes to airbeds because this item can make a difference in a survival situation. Proper sleep is vital in critical times: sleep deprivation increases our irritability and decreases our cognitive functions. We wouldn’t be as vigilant as usual, our energy level will diminish drastically, and our physical and mental health will suffer. Thus, we need a reliable air mattress to use as our bed so we could enjoy a stimulating rest.

One more VERY important benefit – insurance against sleeping on the cold ground and losing core body temperature, a recurring theme here at The Prepper Journal.

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Not sure if I agree. I can see having one going leisurely camping. But if you’re traveling on foot, it is a lot of weight and space including packing a pump. If I’m bugging out with a vehicle maybe, but the vehicles I personally would be using, I could sleep inside the vehicle. I’ve slept in the woods plenty comfortable and plenty warm with just using pine boughs.

R. Ann

Love the topic! I’ve only used small twins you blow up by mouth backpacking, but I’ve added several to our at-home gear. The new air beds have great comfort that I prefer over a cot, don’t require pumping every 1-2 days for extended use, and make a nice replacement system if needed. I’ll never buy another intex, but I’ve been pleased otherwise. The only downside for temp residence/multi-day camp/visiting relatives vs. a cot for me is that a cot (or fold-out sofa/divan) lets you stash stuff under it, and camp-style or plywood cabin type it’s two loops of a bungee… Read more »


I spent over twenty years in the Army. I have spent what seems literally years in the wood, desert, and every place that can be described as uncomfortable. I hated the old air mattress with a passion. I would fall asleep on it and wake up many time during the evening too crawl back on it. So I started using a sleeping pad. It looks like a heavy duty piece of styrofoam, only it’s about 80 inches and about an inch thick. I also use a poncho, affectionately known as a “woobie” and a British SF sleeping bag. Rated at… Read more »


“Exposure” in the outdoors is a real killer, if you can’t maintain your body temperature in the correct zone, you will be dead. Sometimes in 3 hours or even less. Thus “shelter” is a primary survival concern. And the “shelter” you lay on is more important than the shelter around you. The ground is much bigger than you are, and conduction is an effective method of heat transfer. So if you lay on the ground, it WILL drag you to it’s temperature. Thus, insulation from the ground is critical while comfort is merely nice. Look to the insulation capabilities of… Read more »


I prefer a closed-cell foam sleeping pad. You can regulate the comfort to your satisfaction by allowing air out via the valve once you lay on it. It is also warmer than an air mattress since the closed-cell foam construction does not allow the air inside to circulate during the night. No pump required. Just open the valve and it self-inflates.

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