How to Compress an Inflatable Sleeping Pad - Appalachian Mountain Club

How to Compress an Inflatable Sleeping Pad

June 16, 2015

If you’ve ever packed an inflatable sleeping pad, you’ve almost certainly discovered how challenging it can be to fully deflate it. Even a small amount of residual air increases the pad’s size when it’s rolled up, which can result in an intense wrestling match between you, your still-slightly-puffy sleeping pad, and the pad’s stuff sack.

Knowing when to open and close the valve is the key to maximum deflation. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Even without a stuff sack challenge, knowing how to maximally deflate your sleeping pad allows you to carry it in its most compact form—always a plus. So here’s how to do it.

  1. Open up the sleeping pad valve and deflate the pad by rolling it firmly toward the open valve. (Kneeling on the pad roll after every turn or two pushes the air out quicker.)
  2. Once you reach the end and the pad is fully rolled up, close the valve.
  3. Keep the valve closed and unroll the mostly deflated pad.
  4. Now, with the valve still closed, roll the pad up as tightly as possible. As you roll it up, the small amount of residual air will be forced to the end.
  5. Once the pad is nearly rolled up, with only a small pocket of air remaining at the end, open the valve and force out the residual air. Close the valve once final time, and voila, maximum deflation.

Of course, you can avoid the minor irritation of the inflation-deflation game entirely by going with a foam pad instead (see: Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite), but if comfort makes the call you can’t beat the cush of an inflatable pad. Roll on!

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Equipped is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid.

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Matt Heid

Equipped blogger Matt Heid is AMC's gear guru: He loves gear and he loves using it in the field. While researching several guidebooks, including AMC's Best Backpacking in New England, he has hiked thousands of miles across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness destinations. He also cycles, climbs, and surfs.