How to Inflate an Air Bed without a Pump? [Most Effective Ways]

Air mattresses are an essential part of anyone’s camping gear. If you plan to spend the night in a tent, you will need an air mattress or bed. Otherwise, you will spend the night on the cold, hard ground. That is in no way suitable for your back or your body as a whole.

This is why I recommend getting an air mattress or bed you can use for your camping trips. Keep in mind that some mattresses need to be inflated before use. If you have such a mattress, you will also need to get a new pump. You can use a hand pump or any type of foot pump or bike pump. But what happens is you do not have any kind of pump?

This is where the backup options come into the conversation. In today’s article, I will explain the four most effective ways of inflating an air mattress without a pump. If you want to know more about the topic, I recommend you stick around for the entirety of the article!


How to manually inflate an air mattress

How to Inflate an Air Bed without a Pump – Some Unique Ways

If you are wondering whether you can inflate an air mattress without the pump, let me ease your mind by telling you that you certainly can! There are a few inflating options that you should look into, some of which might sound more convenient than others.

For now, let’s look into all options. By the time we reach the end of the list, I do not doubt you will know which option you want to use the next time you need to inflate your air mattress:

Vacuum Cleaner

One of the easiest methods I will discuss is the vacuum method you can use to inflate your air mattress. This is a very convenient method, as you must have a vacuum cleaner you can use. The thing about this machine is that you need it to have a reverse function. If the machine comes without it, you will not be able to use it for this purpose.

But if it does, you will get the mattress to inflate within minutes. All you need to do is clean the vacuum nozzle from dust and dirt, attach it to the valve of the mattress, and start the machine. If your regular vacuum nozzle does not work well, you can replace it with a thin one.

A setback of this method is that the machine is difficult to transport in most cases. So, you will not be able to take it with you when you go backpacking – only car camping. Keep that in mind the next time you are planning a trip!

Blow Dryer

The blow dryer makes for yet another convenient inflating option. You can even take a hair dryer on your trip, as some pack small. The only setback to this method is that most dryers need a power source to work, which will not be readily available on all campsites.

Still, you can use the dryer at home when you need to inflate an air mattress. The first thing you need to do is check that the temperature is set to cool. You must not use hot air to blow up the mattress as you risk melting the mattress valve.

Once you set it to cool air, you can attach the opening of the hair dryer to the valve and start blowing the mattress up. Make sure you set it on high power if you want to be over with the inflating fast. After you are done, close the valve and set the mattress wherever you want!

This method might not be as quick as the previous one, but it will still get the job done. So, I recommend that you try it out if you do not have a manual pump you can use.

Leaf Blower

Each leaf blower comes with an electric motor that helps it run. It can blow up things thanks to the motor, but it has a wider nozzle. This is great when you need to blow leaves around, but it is not as good when using it to inflate something.

The thing about the leaf blower is that you need to make a tight connection between the valve on the air mattress and the nozzle of the blower. If you achieve that, you can inflate any air mattress within a few minutes.

This type of inflation will not be as quick as the previous two. These devices are not as powerful as most hair dryers and vacuum cleaners, but they will do the job. So, I recommend that you get one and try to use it during your next trip!

Garbage Bag

This might sound strange, but inflating with a garbage bag can work! This is a great method to know if you do not have any other option available. Let’s face it – not everyone has pumps they can use, while you might forget the pump at home without realizing it.

Instead of sleeping on a deflated air mattress, you can inflate it using a garbage bag. Start by removing everything from the bag. Then, move it around so that you capture the air inside of it. Make sure that the air stays in the bag as you reach the air mattress.

Try to make a tight connection between the opening of the bag and the valve opening. Then, push the air into the mattress. You will need to repeat this step quite a few times. I will give you that. But in the end, you will get a mattress you can use!

Blow It Up Yourself

The final option is for you to try inflating the air mattresses yourself. Take a deep breath and start to blow air into the valve. This will be time-consuming and might take a toll on your lungs. So, make sure that you do not push yourself too much. If you feel like you are getting light-headed, drink some water and take a break before continuing to inflate the mattress.

What Can I Use Instead of an Air Pump to Inflate the Air Bed?

As I mentioned, there are several options you can look into when you want to inflate air beds. You will also need a power source for the blow dryer and vacuum cleaner. The leaf blower is not the easiest to carry around, so it is not recommended for camping trips. That leaves you with a garbage bag or your lungs as the last two options.

If you do not like those options, I have good news for you – there are two more things you can look into. Instead of an air pump, why not go for a mattress that comes with a built-in pump or one that is self-inflating? These two options would make things so much easier for you!

Let’s look into these two options in more detail and see what they are all about:

Self-inflating Mattress

Instead of carrying manual pumps or other things to inflate your mattress, you can use a self-inflating mattress. This is a very good option as the mattresses are thick, durable, and comfortable.

The only thing you need to do is lay the airbed flat and turn on the valve. Air will start getting inside the mattress, helping it fully inflated in a matter of minutes. Then, you can close the valve and lay down on your mattress. It is that easy and convenient!

Airbed with Built-in Pump

The second option is all about the built-in pump. Within the mattress, you will either have an electric pump or a battery-operated pump that will start blowing up your mattress as soon as you turn it on. With the electric pump, you will need a power source as well.

This is a very convenient option because you do not need to do anything – turn the pump on and wait for the airbed to inflate. Then, you can enjoy its comfort without needing to do anything else. When you are done with the trip, deflate the airbed and put it away for your next trip.


Thank you for sticking with me through this article. I hope you learned a lot about inflating an air bed without a pump. Remember that you can use blow dryers, leaf blowers, vacuum cleaners, or garbage bags to inflate it, or you can try to blow it up yourself. If you do not like any of these options, consider getting a mattress with a built-in pump or one that is self-inflating.

What is your experience with air mattresses - how do you inflate them during your camping trips? I would love to learn all your tips and tricks for inflating mattresses, so do not hesitate to share your stories in the comments below!

Andrew Mullen

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