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How do I inflate an REI sleeping pad?

I inherited two sleep pads and I am a novice to camping. How do I inflate the REI sleeping pad? It has an valve that says ‘open’ ‘close’

thank you


2 Replies

@AZ Thanks for reaching out!

There are two main types of inflatable sleeping pads: self-inflating and non-self-inflating. If you have a self-inflating sleeping pad, one way to tell is by pinching the pad and feeling for a layer of foam inside the pad. If there is foam inside, simply open the valve and let the pad sit for a while. The foam has a memory and will expand slowly, drawing air into the pad through the valve. If the foam pad has been stored deflated and rolled up for a long time, the foam is likely compressed and may not expand quickly. You can speed up the process by blowing into the open valve to inflate the sleeping pad. If you have a self-inflating sleeping pad, the ideal way to store them is flat, semi-inflated with the valve open. It will allow the foam to retain its memory so when you arrive at a campsite and open the valve, the pad inflates fairly rapidly.

If there is no foam inside the pad, it is a non-self-inflating sleeping pad and requires you to inflate the pad manually, using the power of your lungs. It is worth noting that if you have a pad that requires you to use your breath, it is very likely the ambient temperature of the air around the sleeping pad will be lower (sometimes significantly) than the air you blow into the pad (typically your body temperature). As the air in the sleeping pad acclimates to the ambient air temperature, it will condense and it can feel like your pad is losing air. This is normal and, if possible, we recommend inflating your pad and letting it sit for a while before sleeping on it to acclimate to the surrounding temperature. You can top it off slightly before going to sleep.

Lastly, one technique to help make your sleeping experience better is to fully inflate the pad before you lay on it. Once you lay on the pad, you can slowly release some air to allow your body to sink into the pad a little bit and get comfortable.

Hopefully this helps get you started. Don't hesitate to reach out with any other questions. If you'd like you can upload a picture of your sleeping pad to give us some more information about which pad you have.


At REI, we believe time outside is fundamental to a life well lived.

well, the least complicated way, is to just blow into them, take it easy, take your time, so you can keep your breath. (you know, as opposed to 'losing' your breath)

REI Member Since 1979