Ask anyone: A good night’s sleep while camping or backpacking can make all the difference in your outdoor adventures. Therm-a-Rest sleeping pads are renowned for their comfort and convenience, and knowing how to properly inflate them quickly and efficiently is key to not only enjoying your time at camp, but also those great Z’s you want for a great day to follow.  In this blog post, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to inflate a Therm-a-Rest sleeping pad with maximum efficiency, allowing you to maximize comfort and support during your outdoor pursuits.

Understanding Your Therm-a-Rest Sleeping Pad

adjusting valve on sleeping pad

The Valve

The first step is to know your pad. If you have an older model, you might have one of our Classic Valves. Our latest pads have either our WingLock™ Valves, found in our lightweight backpacking sleeping pads, or our TwinLock™ Valves, the high-capacity alternative for our largest sleeping pads.

What’s Inside

Additionally, you have either a self-inflating pad (the kind with our expanding foam inside), or an air pad with our NeoAir construction that fills completely with air alone.

adjusting valve on sleeping pad

Self-inflating Pads: The pads that started a revolution

These pads are filled with foam or a combination of foam and air channels. While they generally weigh a bit more and don’t pack as small as our NeoAir pads, they trade off is ease of inflation. For self-inflating Therm-a-Rest sleeping pads, follow these steps:

  1. Unroll the pad and lay it flat on the ground or inside your tent.
  2. Open the valve by twisting it counterclockwise. This allows air to enter the pad. Do yourself a favor and do this as soon as you roll into camp and walk away for a few minutes, tending to other chores, allowing the foam to do most of the work for you.
  3. Come back to your now mostly full pad. To achieve your desired firmness, add some extra with a few breaths into the valve. e. Once inflated to your satisfaction, close the valve by twisting it clockwise to seal the air inside.

For brand new pads, inflate your self-inflating pad with air by breath or pump and sack and leave the mattress fully inflated for 2-4 hours before your first use. This will help your pad self-inflate more quickly and reliably for all your future adventures.

demonstrating how to inflate a therm-a-rest sleeping pad with a micro pump

NeoAir Pads: The pads that started the next revolution. 

Our NeoAir pads did away with foam interiors, opting for the complex internal construction that revolutionized how warm, lightweight and compact a sleeping pad can be. While they rely entirely on you to inflate them, the benefits are clear to anyone looking for the aforementioned benefits. They can be inflated manually (your breath), with a compact, electric pump or, if you prefer the reliability of battery-less alternative, with a pump sack, that can also serve as a stuff sack for packing other gear or clothing.

Manual or External Pump Inflation

  1. Open the valve on your pad and unroll the pad. If you have a WingLock Valve, be sure the wings are in the closed position.
  2. Attach the pump nozzle (or your face, via your mouth) to the valve on the sleeping pad.
  3. Begin blowing/pumping air into the pad.
  4. Monitor the firmness of the pad and stop pumping/puffing when it reaches your desired level of comfort.
  5. Disconnect the pump/your face and close the valve.

how to inflate a therm-a-rest sleeping pad with a pump sack

Pump Sack Inflation (For WingLock and TwinLock Valves Only)

  1. Open the valve on your sleeping pad and unroll it
  2. On the bottom the pump sack, there is a small, capped port. Open the port cap and press your WingLock or TwinLock Valve into the opening. There will be a positive “click” when it’s attached.
  3. Open the top of the stuff sack wide, make sure it’s got as much air as possible inside. A quick “puff” can help make sure it traps as much air as possible.
  4. Quickly gather the top of the sack to seal it and then press all the air you trapped inside, into your mattress.
  5. Repeat the process until the pad reaches the desired firmness.
  6. Close the valve tightly.

For Classic Valves or Inflating With a Regular Stuffsack: You can also do this with any regular stuff sack, simply by filling the sack with air and then gathering the opening tight around the valve, forcing the air in that way. It’s not as efficient but will still inflate your pad.

sitting in tent on sleeping pad

Dialing in Your Air Pad

Remember that with an air pad, temperature changes can have a big impact on your pad’s inflation as air expands (warms) and contracts (cools). If you feel your pad getting soft with the cold of night, simple roll off your pad, open the valve and add a few puffs of breath to firm it up. Alternately, during the day if you’re away from camp, let 1/3 to 1/2 of the air out of your pad so the air inside can expand with the heat of the day, without putting undue stress on the internal structure.

No matter what method you choose, mastering the art of inflating your Therm-a-Rest sleeping pad will ensure a great night’s­ rest–and a great next day–on your next adventure.

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