Camping Air Mattresses, Camping Air Beds
Vs. Air Temperature
Camping air mattresses don't insulate well
Although camping air mattresses are great cushions, they are poor insulators. The large air cavity in the mattress allows air to move around inside, so warm air cannot build up against your body.
This should only be an issue if you camp at altitude or on cooler days.
A sleeping bag on an air mattress is fine for most summer camping and moderate temperatures. Keeping excess heat from building up against your body should allow you to sleep more comfortably in warm weather.
On cold nights, a sleeping bag or blanket on an air mattress probably will not provide enough warmth under the body. The bottom of the sleeping bag will be compressed by body weight and will not be able to trap warm air below. The air mattress cannot trap warm air, either.
This has been an ongoing problem with air mattresses and cold nights: even though you may be in a very well insulated sleeping bag, your body gets cold from below.
A tip to stay warm on camping air beds
Camping equipment manufacturers have developed a solution to the problem of compression defeating insulation:
which does not compress much and therefore keeps its insulating quality.
By placing a thin self-inflating pad on top of camping air beds, the pad will insulate (trap warm air) and campers will sleep warm and very comfortable, even on a cold night.
Even a 20" wide, 3/4-length, self-inflating pad (that does not cushion under the lower legs) can insulate enough to make you comfortable. This pad would normally be too small to be used as a sleeping cushion by a leisure tent camper.
A quality sleeping bag will loft and trap warm air above you.
If necessary, socks and a few unneeded clothes under the foot of your sleeping bag can assist in keeping your feet warmer.
If you have good circulation, some of the excess heat retained in the trunk of the body will be transferred via the bloodstream to the feet, and that is often enough to keep the lower legs and feet warm.
The self-inflating pad does not need to be as wide as the air mattress. The gaps between the pad edge and the mattress edge can even make for more comfort by allowing a bit of excess heat to escape so you don't get too warm—especially if you are otherwise well-insulated.
If your pad has a smooth top, the gaps allow the sleeping bag to rest on flocked areas of the air mattress and stay in place better.
Air mattress losing pressure on cold nights
A big drop in air temperature between the time of day when the mattress was inflated and the coldest part of night can cause the mattress to become noticeably less firm.
If you are expecting a drop in temperature of 20-30 degrees or more, inflate the air mattress more to compensate.
Perspiration and condensation
On a cold night, some of your perspiration will pass through the bottom of the sleeping bag and condense on the tufted points of your camping air mattress.
The body perspires even while sleeping and some of the perspiration will condense on cold surfaces.
Since the tufted points of the air or self-inflating mattress are drawn away from the heat of your body, they can become cold enough for perspiration to condense there.
In the morning remove the sleeping bag and let the condensation on the pad or mattress evaporate into the atmosphere.
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