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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Pads and Air Mattresses > REI Camp Bed 3.5 Air Mattress > Owner Review by joe schaffer

REI Camp Bed 3.5 Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad
Owner Review
by Joe Schaffer

December 20, 2018
NAME: Joe Schaffer
EMAIL: never2muchstuff(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
AGE: 71
HEIGHT: 5'9" (1.75 m)
WEIGHT: 175 lb (79.4 kg)
HOME:  Bay Area, California USA

    I enjoy California's central Sierras, camping every month with a goal to match my age in nights out each year; about 30 solo. For comfort I lug tent, mattress, chair, camp shoes, etc. Summer trips last 5-10 days; 40 lb (18 kg), about half food related; about 5 miles (8 km) per hiking day. I winter camp most often at 6,000' to 7,000' (1,800 to 2,000 m); 2 to 3 nights; 50 lb (23 kg); 1 to 4 miles (1.6 to 6.4 km) on snowshoes. Once or twice a year I car camp.

The Product:
        Manufacturer: Recreational Equipment, Inc.
        Web site:
        Product: Camp Bed 3.5 Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad
        Purchased: 2012

MSRP: $139 US (sale price $63.93 for 2018 close-out) for X-Long

Manufacturer Description: for X-Long
    Insulation Type:  Open-cell Foam
    R-Value:  6.0
    Stuff Sack Included:  Yes
    Weight: 6 lb 3 oz (2.81 kg)
    Packed Size: X-Long: 9 x 30 inches (23 x 76 cm)
    Pad Thickness:  3.5 inches (8.9 cm)
    Dimensions:  78 x 30 inches (198 x 76 cm)
    Horizontally cored foam reduces weight and bulk
    2 quick-closing, high-flow valves
    Soft, stretch polyester top
    150-denier polyester bottom
    Welded seams

My measures: for Regular size (not presently available)
    weight: 5 lb 4 oz (2.4 kg)
    length: of inflatable part 71 in (180 cm)
    thickness: at maximum inflation 3 1/2 in (8.9 cm)
    width: of inflatable part 23 1/2 in (60 cm)
    packed diameter: 12 in (30 cm)
    This is a very large, rectangular self-inflating mattress. There are no elliptical design elements to make it smaller or lighter. The entire mattress is one air chamber. It has two valves, one in each corner of the top end. The valves require only about 1/8th of a turn to release or lock, with a pull or push to open or close. The valves are integrated into the top/bottom seam. The green top side of the mattress has a very slightly textured finish; the black bottom side is hard-finished. Open-cell foam inside the air chamber restores to its full dimension when air is allowed to enter the mattress. Turning the valves shut then of course keeps the air in. The mattress can fill or be deflated using either one of the valves, or both.

    I car camp once a year or so, and have slept on this mattress probably 12-15 nights out in the woods. It gets additional use as a 'spare bedroom' when relatives come.

    This may be the most comfortable mattress I've ever slept on. Being so thick it will self-inflate near to my level of comfort--not much puffing required to get adequate firmness depending on temperature and how long the mattress has been rolled. It weighs a ton, so of course I'd never use it backpacking. For as big as it is it will compress to a fairly tidy package for those folks with patience to squeeze the air out and stamina to roll it up.
    Two valves fill the mattress more quickly than the more typical single valve, as well as letting the air out faster. Unfortunately the valves are not replaceable--they are ever-so-slightly larger than the repair valve from Therm-A-Rest and I've never been able to find any others. One of the valves started misbehaving and I resolved the matter by gluing it shut. Mattress still works great, just takes twice as long to fill and empty. The fill part I don't care about, but taking twice as long to roll the air out isn't so much fun. There is a bit more of a trick to getting the roll started when the air pushes out slower. My wee hands have a hard time rolling a mattress this big, and I have to balance on the roll with my knees while trying to keep the roll tight and nudging forward with my hands. (I think REI would have probably taken it back as a defective product under warranty, but returning stuff is about as much fun as going to the doctor and I hate to see something that still works go the landfill.)
    I don't often roll off a camping mattress, but the couple times I have showed me how hard it is to try to roll back on one this thick. The effort to climb back aboard brings me wide awake.
    Never has the mattress been in touch with bare ground, and nothing's ever come through the tent floor to poke it. The skin seems very tough to me, and has survived numerous occasions of kids torturing it as a trampoline. Isn't that just precious.
    The mattress comes with a stuff sack I've never used. To make the mattress fit requires squeezing it up more tightly than I can abide. I think it's bad gear karma to keep any compressible item mashed out of its last gasp. I'm not sure I could even get the mattress sufficiently compressed if I wanted to. I find a pillowcase more practical. Thus I have avoided the trouble that might have befallen me with the misbehaving valve: A fat mattress like this with even the tiniest leak will expand inside a stuff sack so tightly as to require undue patience and persistence to get it out. Or a pocket knife to peel away the sack. (Of course if a non-glued-shut valve is exposed, a person could squish air out to gain some wiggle room.)

Quick shots:

    a) comfortable
    b) rugged
    c) heavy
    d) valves not replaceable

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Reviews > Sleep Gear > Pads and Air Mattresses > REI Camp Bed 3.5 Air Mattress > Owner Review by joe schaffer

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