How To Blow Up An Air Mattress Without a Pump

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Camping with an airbed? Stuck with an inflatable mattress without a pump or electricity? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Unless inflated, air mattresses won’t really work. Consequently, it can be quite disconcerting if you run out of the conventional ways of blowing up an air mattress.

There are many techniques you can use to inflate an air mattress without a pump or electricity. Some preparation is required. Given you cannot borrow a pump and that your mattress doesn’t have an inbuilt air pump, we are still left with a few options.

In this piece, we’re going to talk about inflating an air bed without a pump. However, know that it largely depends on what tools you have available at your disposal. Essentially, you can inflate an air mattress using any tool that has a pressurized airflow.

Here’s 8 clever ways to inflate your air mattress or air bed.

1. Hairdryers

Unconventional, but effective. Hairdryers can be used to inflate an air mattress. If all you have at your disposal is an electricity-operated or battery-operated hairdryer then you can give it a spin.

Switch it to blow ambient air and not hot air because concentrated hot air can damage the air pad.

Sealing the connection between the air mattress and the hairdryer can be a chore. If you have duct tape then you can wrap it around the hairdryer and the valve to reinforce the seal.

If you have a hairdryer that cannot blow cool air or if you fail to create a tight seal then it’s a problem.

2. Bike pumps

Bike pumps are a great way to blow air into an air mattress if you have no other more efficient option. You will need to use an adapter, however, because these pumps cannot plug directly into the air mattress.

The airflow is considerably low for the high PSI of a bike pump. What this means is that you need to put in more effort to inflate an air mattress with a bike pump.

The most widespread bike valve in the US is the Schrader valve. You can use the Buennus Car Compressor to Inflatable Pump Adapter (find it on Amazon here) to connect the two.

3. Trash bags

You can use trash bags to fill up your air mattress. It will look quite comical and will be very time-consuming but it will get the job done. When you have nothing else but your breath remaining to fill an air mattress, the trash bag can suddenly become your lifesaver.

Here’s how the process works:

  1. Take the trash bag and fill it with air by waving it around. Very easy to do.
  2. Now close the opening with your grip until only a little hole remains.
  3. Connect this hole from the filled trash bag into the nozzle of the air mattress.
  4. Grasp this “connection” firmly, we don’t want even a little air leaking out.
  5. Literally, lie down on the filled bag slowly. This process will start pushing the air into the air mattress.
  6. Repeat.

Slow and cumbersome but it will get the job done. You need to make sure that you don’t burst the air-filled bag by either exerting too much weight or by choosing a bag that’s not very strong to support your weight.

Trash bags are a genius way to blow air into the air bed. Here’s a video that explains the process:

4. Tire compressors

A car tire air compressor can also double up as an air mattress inflator. Of course, it won’t be as effective as a high airflow compressor.

Most of us carry a car tire compressor for tricky situations like if the tire goes flat in the middle of nowhere. You can use these compressors to blow air directly into the air mattress.

Here too you will need an adapter. You should keep your car on just to make sure that you don’t drain the car battery.

5. Inflatable kayaks pumps

If you already have a pump to inflate your kayak, you can use it to inflate the air mattress too. In some cases, you might need an adapter or a makeshift way to form a seal between the valve of the air mattress and the outlet of the kayak pump.

Generally, inflatable kayak pumps are double-action hand pumps or electric pumps.

6. Using pumps

There are many different types of pumps. You or someone else in another camping party likely has one of these.

Double-action pumps are ideal.

For example, the Advanced Elements Double Action Pump comes with a pressure gauge. It’s durable and has high flow inflation. You can also use this pump to deflate.

Some of these pumps require electricity, some require batteries, while others are manually-operated.

Pumps that can draw power from your car:

  • 12V electric air pumps for car batteries – This pump plugs into a DC socket. For example, the Intex Quick-Fill Air Pump is a great option.
  • AC power pumps can be connected to a car’s DC power source using a power inverter. All you need to do is connect the inverter to the car’s battery and plug the AC power pump into the outlet of the inverter and the pump will turn on.

Other types of pumps

  • Battery-powered pumps are a great asset on any excursion. The FlexTailGear air pump, for example, is a portable inflation and deflation tool with a large rechargeable battery.
  • We already learned about double-action pumps. Double-action pumps can be a lifesaver. It’s also likely that someone will be carrying a type of double-action pump with them.
  • Foot pumps and hand pumps are both great options as well. Foot pumps require very low physical effort and sometimes even come free with air mattresses. The downside is that they are not ideal to fill up larger air mattresses. Hand pumps, on the other hand, require much more effort while still being very time-consuming. Both are low-cost, no-electricity means to blow up an air mattress.

7. Household items

Less likely to be present on a campsite, these tools can also be used to fill up an air mattress:

  1. Leaf blowers: Absolutely no reason why you would intentionally carry a leaf blower when going camping, they can come in handy if you do.
  2. Household vacuums also sometimes have the option to blow air out. You can use this feature to make it useful as an air blower.

Remember to form a tight seal between the nozzle and the valve if you use any of these tools. The more air that leaks, the longer it will take to fill the air mattress.

8. Using your breath

This is the last resort. If you have no means to maintain a sealed pressurized airflow and no means to fill the air in something and send it to the air mattress by pressing it then all you can do is blow air with your mouth.

Assuming you have already tried searching around in surrounding campsites (if applicable) and scourging all your supplies to find nothing – using your breath is still better than sleeping on an uninflated inflatable air mattress.

But gear up. This is by far the most taxing technique. You will require a ton of patience and effort. The process can be painfully slow. But thankfully, it’s nothing impossible.

The mechanism is pretty straightforward. You breathe air in and blow it in the valve of the air mattress. Don’t worry if you see no considerable change. It’s happening, just very slowly.

The seal is also very easier to make with your lips.

  • Keep blowing more and more air but remember to take breaks.
  • It helps to take larger breaths with your stomach and not the chest.
  • Don’t overexert your facial muscles when you’re pushing air into the air mattress – people like to think “throwing” air in speed will somehow fill it faster. Just take your time with the process. The more energy you can save, the better you will feel by the time you’re done.

Concluding Remarks on Blowing Up Your Air Bed Without a Pump

Breathing air into an air mattress is completely doable. It’s not nonsensical when you have no other means to spend the night and the alternative is sleeping uncomfortably. But yes, depending on what time of the day it is, a compromise might need to be made. If it’s nearing dark, then it might not be a good idea to keep filling the air. You might need to fill the air mattress only partially and make the best of the limited comfort it provides.

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