I am considering getting a new air mattress for situations where I want to save weight. I already have a large comfortable one for when I drive to camping with a car.

So I saw a system which costs a bit too much to be a "try it and throw away if it is not good", even at discounter prices, consisting of a 440 g mattress and 84 g sack which is used to pump in the air. The combination costs 74 Euro, while a 800 g mattress with an inbuilt pump from the same low cost supplier is available for 24 Euro. I would pay the difference if I get the weight reduction without loss of comfort in mattress setup and emptying.

I watched a video showing a similar pumpsack system from a brand name supplier (that specific system starts at 1:09 in the video) and it seems like you still have to use your own lungs for it. I really dislike pumping up a whole mattress with lung power when I am exhausted from hiking.

Has somebody had experience with the second type of mattress, especially in comparison with the first type? How much effort does it take, is it comparable to lung-blowing or the blow he needs in the video just a small part of it? Are there other difficulties with the inbuilt-pump system which make it less attractive than the pump sack system?

  • Would be good if you could provide a reference for the first kind of mattress as well! May 22, 2017 at 7:09
  • @Ricketyship I thought the description is sufficient (I am not asking about the specific brand and model) but maybe it is not as common as I thought. campz.de/easy-camp-hexa-mat-orange-371640.html is what I found. Works like a "standard" air mattress, only you don't need an external pump, it is built in.
    – rumtscho
    May 22, 2017 at 8:39
  • Rather than using a pump sack, just use a trash bag. I have a Thermorest X-Lite in Large size and even at 11,000 feet it only takes 3 times with the trash compactor bag that also doubles as my "dry sack" for sleeping bag and clothes.
    – topshot
    May 30, 2017 at 17:14
  • @topshot the pump sack on mine is integrated into the storage sack for the mattress, which is even better
    – Chris H
    May 16, 2020 at 9:02
  • @ChrisH An integrated pump sack is extra weight that isn't useful for anything else. That was my point. It is more convenient, of course.
    – topshot
    May 17, 2020 at 23:37

1 Answer 1


I own a Thermarest Neo Air X-therm, it is a true air mattress in that there is no insulation in the traditional sense [foam/down etc]. Mine came with a pump sack, which when expanded, is probably about 6 liters. My stuff sack looks like this:

enter image description here

Ease of use: This system can be fully inflated with the stuff sack, although I find it much easier to adjust the final firmness with my breath. Due to the fact there are baffles of reflective plastic inside, not moisture absorbing foam or down like most insulated air mattresses, the moisture will not degrade the effectiveness of the insulation, or damage it.

The newer upmarket Thermarests come with a much larger stuff pump, that resembles a 20+ liter dry bag, they can fully inflate it from empty in only a few pumps, they work MUCH faster. If your really lazy they sell a tiny battery powered pump that fully inflates it in no time, with no effort.

Comfort: This is subjective, and will depend on how large, and how much you weigh, and the temperature your camping in. My X-therm has an R-value [measure of insulating property] of 6.9. this is vary warm, and is comfortable on snow down to -20 or 30 with proper tent/sleeping bag. anything passed 4 would be sufficient for cool weather, and on hot nights, no insulation is really required. this mattress is 6.4 cm thick,fully inflated. when it is fully inflated it can feel kind of like sleeping on vary hard ground, luckily, unless you need the full benefit of the installation, you can sleep with it partially deflated, and it still keeps you well off the rocks. My model is tapered at the head and feet to reduce weight, and is quite narrow in the middle, this is to save weight, and there are much wider versions available.

Ease of carrying: this model packs down to 23 cm x 10 cm, to visualize, its smaller than my 1 ltr nalgene bottle when its rolled up, and only weighs 0.43 kg [just under a pound], for its size and weight, its easily my favorite piece of gear I own.

Durability/issues: This mattress is remarkably durable despite the flimsy feeling fabric, but I have read accounts of people poping them on sharp rocks. Keep in mind most other similar mattresses on the market have thinner [and presumably less durable] fabric. If this mattress gets a hole you cannot repair in the field [it came with a patch kit], you will be stuck laying on what are effectively 3 sheets of plastic, there is NO fill to provide any insulation or comfort. for this reason, if you are winter camping you MUST bring something for an emergency, you may be able to use your empty pack for this use, but I always carry a closed cell torso pad [just cut one from your head to bottom of your buttox] if I am camping in cold weather were a failed mat could cause serious harm.

[This is intended to give you a general answer to question re pump sack air-mattresses. For reference this pad is probably 2-3x more expensive than the one shown in the video, but most of the considerations are similar. For backpacking I will never go back to the self inflating style]

  • I've only tested my mattress that uses a pump sack, but I agree. You're not really blowing it up with your lungs. If you blow into the pump sack from too close it doesn't fill, so your blowing gently unshared the sack then you basically pump the mattress up with your hands. I have blown up air mattresses by mouth in the past and this is very different
    – Chris H
    May 16, 2020 at 9:01
  • I never blow into the pump sack, you just passively fill it with air, and force it into the mattress. May 16, 2020 at 9:30
  • Mine says to blow in from minimum 30cm away, and in practice it doesn't have to be a hard blow to really fill the pump sack (like blowing out a candle rather than like blowing up a balloon) . You can flap it open to fill it but it's floppy enough that blowing is easier
    – Chris H
    May 16, 2020 at 10:33
  • 1
    cool, sounds more fancy than mine May 16, 2020 at 21:28
  • It's this one, so cheaper than your thermarest but significantly smaller when packed and a little lighter (and R about 4 in imperial units).
    – Chris H
    May 19, 2020 at 10:50

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