If you’re exhausted and light-headed from using your mouth to inflate your camping gear, this is the article for you. No more huffing and puffing, as a manual or an electric air pump can do the same job – and more efficiently to boot!
We will look at a variety of different models today, particularly focusing on air pumps for air mattresses and air beds, and air pumps for inflatable tents. Also a few different designs to look at, from hand pumps, foot pumps to the high powered electric air pumps, which are ideal for larger air tents and king sized air beds.
While manual hand pumps are quieter, and will require a bit of strength to erect the larger air tents and king size air mattresses, electric air pumps are more convenient with faster inflation times. However, electric pumps will always require a power source, which is something that can be scarce depending on your camping style.
With a few familiar models from Intex, Coleman, Etekcity, Heimplanet and Airhead, let’s take a look at some of the other popular air pumps available today.
Best Air Pumps for Air Mattresses Reviewed
1. Coleman QuickPump
Available in a few variations from the always dependable Coleman, this QuickPump model uses rechargeable batteries (be careful as some versions don’t have this option) to allow for inflation wherever you go. The pump comes with a traditional AC wall plug to charge the unit up, as well as multiple adapters to fit various valves.
Charging the unit is an overnight process, which is common in this type of product due to the low amperage from wall sockets. This handheld unit is fast on inflation as well as deflation, and can operate for a long time on a single charge.
Inflating is as simple as slapping the proper nozzle on the unit, and deflation can be done by attaching the nozzle to the side air intake. Deflating your gear this way rapidly sucks the air out, making for a faster pack up when you are finished.
- Portable-Sized Inflation Pump
- Runs on Rechargeable Batteries
- Long-Lasting Single Charge
2. FLEXTAILGEAR MAX Pump Plus
A nice little gem, the Max Pump 2 measures 3” x 2”, and weighs all of 5.2 ounces. Packed inside is a 3600mAh lithium polymer battery, which can be recharged via USB. This gives the pump a lot of flexibility as you can juice it up at any time by using your phone charger or power bank.
Charging time takes anywhere from 5 to 6 hours, and a single charge will return approximately 50 minutes of use. Designed on the exterior of the pump are charging indicator lights, as well as battery life lights for monitoring. The unit is also rated IPX7 waterproof, so you can use it in the rain or around the pool, and it comes with 4 nozzle attachments.
These will ensure you can inflate anything from air beds and mattresses, to furniture and toys. The Max Pump 2 also includes a potentially life-saving feature: the ability to charge your phone from the pump. In today’s day and age, this feature alone might be the reason to pick it up!
- Electric Air Pump with Multiple Nozzles
- Rechargeable via USB Cable
- Pump Can Charge Your Phone in Emergencies
3. Red Suricata Rechargeable Air Pump
A dual inflator and deflator pump, the Red Suricata is a handheld air pump that will make inflating your various outdoor items a breeze. Smaller than a soda can, you can throw it into your pocket, and the rechargeable lithium batteries its designed with add to its portability.
The charging is done through USB, which means you can use your phone charger, a power bank, or even your laptop for powering it up. A charging port rated 2A will take just over 3 hours to fully power the device, and LED indicators will notify you when its ready for use.
The on/off switch is grooved, so you can’t accidentally trip the “on” switch” (leading to a drained battery), and a triple-nozzle set is included for the perfect fit to any valve for fast inflation.
- Small Electric Air Pump
- Uses USB Rechargeable Batteries
- Includes Variety of Nozzles for All Types of Gear
4. Texsport Double Action Hand Pump
Standing 14.5 inches tall and 8 inches wide, this hand pump from Texsport uses double action technology for quick inflation of your camping gear. It comes with a hose as well as 4 nozzle adapters, making it compatible with just about any outdoor gear valve.
1 bar of nominal pressure helps to double the efficiency compared to traditional hand pumps, and its designed with rugged handles for years of use. The pump is also bi-directional, which lends to both inflating and deflating depending on your preference.
This manual hand pump is a nice tool to have in your arsenal as its whisper-quiet to avoid disturbing your campsite neighbors, while ensuring you’ll always have an inflated tent or mattress and won’t be stuck sleeping on the ground.
- Rugged Double Action Hand Pump
- Can Be Used to Inflate/Deflate
- Includes 4 Nozzle Adapters for Perfect Fit
5. Etekcity Electric Air Pump
Capable of inflating a queen-size air mattress in 75 seconds, and deflating it even faster, the dual-port Etekcity electric air pump should be high on your list of must-have camping supplies. Packed inside are rechargeable NiMH batteries that maintain a charge for a few dozen applications.
Accompanying the pump are 3 separate nozzle sizes in small (0.27”), medium (0.35”), and large (0.69”). This variety will allow you to use the pump on a wide range of inflatables – from small toys, to medium-sized kiddie pools, to large air mattresses.
As its cordless and compact, you can use it anywhere. The included wall charger has a length of 5.3 feet, and if you want to charge the device in your car, you can do so with the supplied 4.6 foot 12V DC adapter.
- Electric Air Pump with Inflation & Deflation Ports
- Small, Medium, Large Nozzles Included
- Very Good Battery Life
6. Intex Giant Bellows Foot Pump
Weighing only 2.1 lbs. and measuring 12 inches wide by 8.5 inches high, this manual pump requires only your foot to inflate your camping gear. It’s flat design aids in ground stabilization when the pump is in use, and when collapsed it’s slim enough to be stored away easily.
The pump leans to the larger size which is great for creating more air from fewer strokes, making for a faster inflation time. Included in the box is a hose that has 3 separate attachment nozzles, measuring 0.28”, 0.39”, and 0.71”.
These small/medium/large options ensure you’ll always have the proper nozzle for any inflatable item you bring with you. Additionally, this foot pump can speed up deflation of your gear when its time to go home.
- 12” Wide Foot Pump
- Includes Multiple Nozzles for Various Gear
- Can Be Used to Inflate or Deflate
7. AIRHEAD 12v Electric Air Pump
The Airhead is a great little pump for outdoor excursions. Approximately the same size as your fist, and comes with a 12V DC adapter for quick charging from the cigarette power outlet your vehicle. Of note, as its geared toward outdoor enthusiasts, it does not come with a standard AC wall plug.
The cord on the 12V adapter measures 5 feet in length, and is small enough to easily transport and store out of the way. The Airhead has an on/off switch, and is also well-designed to comfortably hold.
It has dual inflation and deflation ports, working very fast in either mode, and included in the box are multiple nozzle sizes to essentially give you a universal valve that can be used on all your inflatables.
- Fast-Acting Electric Air Pump
- Has Inflation & Deflation Ports
- Includes Various Nozzles for Perfect Fit
8. Intex Quick-Fill AC Electric Air Pump
This version of Intex’s Quick-Fill air pump is designed for use with a standard AC wall outlet, which is an important distinction as the Quick-Fill comes in a rechargeable model, as well as a model that allows for use with a 12V DC adapter.
The pump is small and fits nicely into the palm of your hand, generating 600L per minute of air flow for a fast inflation time. Conversely, you won’t have to spend time waiting for your inflatables to deflate on their own, as the pump has a secondary port that will suck the air out of your gear in no time.
This particular model also includes a few nozzle variations for fitting the pump to any size inflatable you’ll be using, anything from air beds, to tents and even inflatable rafts.
- Electric Air Pump for Use with AC Wall Outlet
- Fast Airflow Of 600 Litres Per Minute
- Compact for Holding and Storing
9. Intex Quick-Fill Air Pump Series
Suited for auto-inflating air mattresses, as well as inflatable tents, toys, and furniture, the Quick-Fill air pump is a must-have tool when camping. Lightweight at only 3.52 ounces, it measures 7.6 x 4.9 x 5.6 inches for a pump that won’t take up much space among your camping gear.
It has a rechargeable NiMH battery, and comes with dual charging adapters. This means you can charge the pump through any AC wall outlet when using it at home, and it can be charged using the 12V DC adapter. This adapter is specific to your car’s cigarette lighter, or an accessory outlet on boats and RVs.
Inflation won’t take too long, as it can pump out 650L or air per minute, and you won’t have to worry about compatibility issues as it comes with 3 unique nozzles to fit most valves you’ll come across. All in all a wise choice that will be reliable.
- Portable Space Saving Air Pump
- Runs on Rechargeable NiMH Batteries
- Includes 3 Nozzles for Variety of Valves
10. Heimplanet Double Action Hand Pump
While the Heimplanet double action pump works with your inflatables by employing a little bit of elbow grease, its solidly built for a long-lasting and high-functioning camping tool. The aluminum piston engages up to 1 bar of pressure with each pump, utilizing an efficient design to provide quick inflation.
Presented in a white and black color scheme, the pump is fairly small, measuring 17.7 x 8.5 x 3.7 inches and weighing just under 2 lbs. It comes in a 3-piece configuration, with a variety of nozzles attaching to the hose, which then attaches to the pump.
Heimplanet also takes an environmentally-conscious approach to their products. The pump is vegan-friendly, PVC-free, and the coating materials used on its exterior are water-based and oil-free as well.
- 3-Piece Manual Hand Pump
- Lightweight for Transporting
- Multiple Nozzle Attachments Included
How to Use an Air Pump to Inflate an Air Mattress – All Pump Types
One of the major determining factors in your quality of sleep is what you are sleeping on. It used to be that campers had to sleep on piles of blankets for comfort, but investing in a quality air mattress will make a night and day difference in your comfort level.
There are basically 2 ways to inflate an air mattress: using a pump, or using your mouth. Depending on how ambitious (and in shape) you are, you will most likely choose the former. Let’s look at how to inflate an air mattress with the two styles of air pump: electric, and manual.
Electric Air Pump
Electric air pumps rely on a power source to run them. This means you will need either an AC wall outlet, or a 12V DC vehicle outlet within reach. Some electric models also run on rechargeable batteries.
- Remove the valve cover on the mattress.
- Attach the appropriately sized nozzle onto the air pump. Your pump should come with a few different size nozzles, and the largest one will usually be for air mattresses.
- Insert the nozzle into the mattress’ valve.
- Turn on the pump and watch the mattress inflate.
Manual Hand or Foot Pump
Manual air pumps are quieter than electric pumps, but are slower to inflate and require some elbow grease. These pumps are generally available in two styles: one operated by hand, and one by foot.
- Remove the valve cover on the mattress.
- Attach the hose to the pump.
- Attach the appropriately sized nozzle to the end of the hose.
- Insert the nozzle into the mattress’ valve.
- Find level ground to setup the pump.
- If using a hand pump, stand on the pump’s feet to stabilize the pump. Lift the handles up and push down to engage the piston, which will inflate the tent. Repeat as necessary until the tent is inflated.
- If using a foot pump, step on the pump repeatedly until the mattress is fully inflated.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which Air Pump is Best for an Air Mattress or Air Bed?
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to declaring which pump is the “best”, as its really a matter of personal preference. Electric air pumps will inflate the fastest, but they also require power to run/charge them, which isn’t always the easiest thing to find when you are camping.
Electric pumps also tend to be slightly noisy, which can be disruptive to neighboring campsites. Manual pumps, like a traditional hand pump (or the less traditional foot pump), won’t make as much noise, but will require some physicality on your part. If you aren’t fond of a little elbow grease, an electric pump is probably what you want to go with.
Which Pump is Best for an Air Tent?
Most manufacturers will include a manual pump with their air tents. While this style will always do the trick, you can inflate these tents faster by using an electric air pump. As most air tents have fairly large frames that need inflation.
It will take longer with a manual pump, especially if you’re tent is over a 4 person tent size, it will start to be more trouble than its worth if youre on the market for efficiency. Your arms and legs will thank you if you invest in an electric option.
Can Air Pumps Help to Deflate?
Surprisingly, yes! Pretty much every pump on the market, both manual and electric, have the ability to inflate as well as deflate. This is a huge time saver when you’re breaking things down, so you don’t have to wait for your tent/mattress to naturally deflate. This also avoids potentially damaging the gear by forcing out any remaining air when packing up.
Can These Pumps also Inflate Tires?
While these pumps come with various nozzle sizes for inflatable outdoor items like camping tents, mattresses, pools and kayaks, they’re low pressure pumps. Tires, be it bicycle or automobile, require a high-pressure pump and the appropriate nozzle to inflate them.
Can I Use an AC Air Pump With a Car?
Absolutely. In cases where the electric pump only comes with an AC wall outlet plug (but you want to use it with your car’s cigarette outlet while camping), you will need an adapter.
Pick up a DC to AC Power Inverter. This handy tool will allow you to plug the pump into it and use the power from the car’s battery. Additionally, many of these inverters include a few USB ports for charging devices.
Conclusion on Air Pumps for Air Beds
For those that are car camping, an electric air pump will make your life easier. As long as you have a power source nearby, you can use this style of pump for faster inflation of tents, mattresses, and even furniture. However, if you are engaging in more of an “off the grid” style of camping, a manual pump will be your best friend.
The last thing you want is to be stuck in the middle of nowhere and sleeping on the hard ground. Whatever your style, investing in an air pump sure beats the old school way of inflating camping gear with your mouth.