Pros and Cons of Air Mattresses & Sleeping Pads in Survival
When I imagine myself a survival scenario, I think about food, the tools that must be in my Bug Out Bag, or if the water I stored will be enough to quench the thirst of the entire group. I also think about finding/building a reliable shelter that will keep us safe until the main danger goes away.
However, I never think about how and where we’ll all sleep. When I plan for a disaster, I imagine myself active and on the run, but to keep my energy levels up, I need to relax. Even more, I have to sleep comfortably because a tormented slumber can quickly lead to health problems and this is not something you want when you’re fighting for survival.
So, to fix this flaw in my plan, I did a bit of research and learned there are two ways to go with this:
- air mattresses
- sleeping pads
Now, because both have strengths and weaknesses when it comes to a survival situation, I think it’s best to make a short comparison. This way you can weigh the good and the bad and choose the version that fits you best.
Still, before I start, you should know you can learn how to make a nature mattress if it happens and time catches you without a comfortable sleeping surface.
Air Mattresses vs. Sleeping Pads
First, you have to know the differences between a sleeping pad and an air mattress. The mattress can be inflated with air, offering you a taller sleeping surface that keeps you further away from the ground. On the other hand, the pad is mostly filled with foam and insulating materials, and it doesn’t change thickness.
The main advantage of an air mattress over the pad is the level of comfort. Because the bed is thicker, it offers more back support, and you can adjust the firmness per your needs. Even more, the air mattress follows the natural curves of your body, eliminating any pressure points. So, if you want comfort, the bed is the best choice.
The pad is not as thick and doesn’t provide a lot of comforts, but it is more convenient than the mattress. Usually, a bed can be quite bulky when you fold it up, and it also requires a pump, but the pad is easy to roll up and attach to your backpack.
Both options are prone to wear and tear, but a scratch on your mattress makes it unusable if you don’t have a repair kit. And, even with a repair kit, it still won’t perform as it used to. Not to mention that, in time, the valve that keeps the air inside starts leaking. The pad will also get scratched or punctured, but this doesn’t render it useless.
Regarding insulation, both options are preferred to sleeping directly on the ground, but the pad is more efficient. The air in the mattress tend to get cold if it sits directly on the ground, so you may wake up shivering in your sleeping bag. To be effective, an air mattress needs a base to keep it away from the field.
Both the mattress and the pad can be useful, but if you plan on sleeping in a tent and moving a lot, the pad is the best choice. On the other hand, if you already have a reliable shelter (like a cabin) an air mattress is perfect as it’s easy to move around and provides you with lots of comforts.
I also recommend learning some tips for when you can’t sleep as survival situations can be really stressful and they take a toll on your sleeping habits.