Using a Pool Float as an Air Mattress: Practical Tips & Tricks

Many people have considered sleeping on a pool float as an alternative to an air mattress, such as during camping trips or for sleepovers.

Using a Pool Float as an Air Mattress

While it may not be the most conventional solution, a pool float can indeed serve as a makeshift air mattress when necessary. However, before you go ahead and spend the night on your trusty pool float, it’s prudent to understand the key differences between these items and how they impact your comfort during sleep.

In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of using a pool float as an air mattress and provide some tips for making the experience more comfortable should you decide to try it out.

Why Use a Pool Float as an Air Mattress?

When it comes to finding a practical and affordable sleep solution for your outdoor adventures, a pool float might just be the answer. In this section, we will explore the benefits of using a pool float as an air mattress and why you might consider making the switch.


One of the most appealing aspects of using a pool float as an air mattress is the cost savings. Traditional air mattresses can be expensive, especially when designed for camping or other outdoor activities.

On the other hand, pool floats are generally more budget-friendly and can provide a decent level of comfort for a fraction of the price. This means that you can allocate your funds towards other essential gear or experiences and still have something to sleep on at night.


Another advantage of opting for a pool float instead of an air mattress is its versatility. As the name suggests, a pool float is designed for use in the water, making it an excellent choice for a beach vacation or a day at the lake.

If your outdoor plans involve being near any body of water, having a pool float that doubles as an air mattress ensures that you’ll have a comfortable place to sleep at night and a fun float to enjoy during the day.

Water Resistant

It’s no secret that traditional camping air mattresses are not waterproof. While they can handle some moisture, they are not designed to be submerged in water.

A pool float, however, is specifically designed to be water resistant. This means that you don’t have to worry about getting your sleeping arrangement wet or damaged in damp conditions.

Moreover, the waterproof nature of pool floats makes cleaning them a breeze. All you have to do is simply hose them off and let them dry.

Downsides of Using a Pool Float as an Air Mattress

Lack of Insulation

Pool floats provide no insulation and you will feel cold on chilly nights without some additional source of insulation. Air mattresses, on the other hand, typically have fabric on the top layer for extra warmth, comfort, and sound dampening. You will feel noticeably warmer sleeping on an air mattress compared to a pool float.


Pool floats make loud squeaky and bouncy noises as you roll around on them. They can really drive you up the walls if you or someone else keeps tossing and turning at night. Even with ear plugs on, you can hear the squeaky sound through it as your skin slides across the surface. You need a blanket or some sort of cover to dampen the noises it makes.


Since pool floats are made with thin materials, they don’t feel like they provide very much support for your back. If you have a pre-existing back injury, you will probably wake up with back pain or at least a very tight back. Pool floats are very bouncy and are particularly uncomfortable for side sleepers.

Not Very Durable

Pool floats are not designed for sleeping on and may not be able to withstand the weight and pressure of a person for an extended period of time. There will always be a concern about the float puncturing or tearing, leading to discomfort or even injury.

To mitigate this somewhat, you need to clear the ground you plan to set the pool float on of any sharp debris such as sticks and rocks. You then need to set a ground cover, such as a tarp, to place the pool float on. If your pool float is directly touching the ground, the chances of it getting punctured is high.

Hard to Inflate and Deflate

Pool floats typically require manual inflation, which can be time-consuming and tiring. If you’re concerned about the amount of effort required to inflate the float, especially if you plan to use it for multiple nights, then you need to learn the best ways to inflate and deflate a pool float.

This also addresses another point: portability. If you can quickly deflate your pool, then you can more easily bring your pool float around.

Types of Pool Floats Suitable as Air Mattresses

When considering using a pool float as an air mattress, it’s essential to understand which types of floats are most suitable for this purpose. In this section, we will discuss two popular pool float materials: foam and inflatable pool floats.

Foam Pool Floats

Foam pool floats are made of highly buoyant materials like closed-cell foam. This type of float tends to be more durable and long-lasting than inflatable floats. Because of their solid construction, foam floats provide good support and comfort when used as an air mattress. However, they may not be as plush or soft as a traditional air mattress.

One advantage of foam pool floats is that they do not require any inflation, making them a convenient option for spontaneous use. Additionally, this also means you don’t have to worry about punctures and leaks ruining your sleeping arrangement.

When choosing a foam pool float for use as an air mattress, look for one with a smooth surface, as it will be more comfortable for sleeping. Keep in mind that while these floats are more expensive than their inflatable counterparts, the extra durability often justifies the cost.

Inflatable Pool Floats

Inflatable pool floats are another popular option. These floats are typically made of PVC, nylon, or fabric, making them lightweight and easy to transport. Inflatable floats can serve as an air mattress when fully inflated, providing a soft and cushioned surface for sleeping.

Before using an inflatable pool float as an air mattress, ensure that it is made of high-quality materials and designed to withstand the wear and tear of regular use. Some inflatable floats feature reinforced seams and durable construction, making them more suitable as air mattresses.

One downside to using inflatable pool floats for sleeping is the potential for air leaks. Always check your float for any punctures or damage before use and be prepared to patch it if needed. Additionally, when using inflatable pool floats for sleeping, you may need to periodically re-inflate them to maintain optimal support.

How to Use a Pool Float as an Air Mattress

Turning your pool float into an air mattress can be a helpful hack in a pinch. To ensure a comfortable experience, follow these steps:

Inflate the Pool Float

Start by inflating your pool float. For a quick and easy process, use an air pump compatible with the float’s valve. If you don’t have an air pump, don’t manually blow air into the float. Not only is this tiring, but it can introduce bacteria into your pool float.

Instead, consider the various ways to inflate your pool float. A simple way is to fill a garbage bag with air, pinch the opening shut, then place the garbage bag opening to the pool float’s air valve and push the air from the bag into the pool float.

Test for Leaks

Once your pool float is fully inflated, it’s crucial to check for any leaks. Listen closely for any hissing sounds indicating air escaping. You can also gently press down on the float and observe if it loses air quickly.

Another method is to spray the pool float with soapy water and look for any areas where you notice air bubbles forming. That is a sign that air is escaping and you need to patch it up.

If you find any leaks, patch them up with a plastic or nylon repair kit to avoid sinking during the night. You can also use marine epoxy resin and duct tape to seal the hole shut.

Add Comfort and Protection

Though pool floats may not be as comfortable as specialized air mattresses, you can improve your sleep quality with a few additions. Place a soft blanket or a thin foam pad on top of your pool float for extra cushioning. If your float has a suede top layer, cover it with a towel to protect it from dirt and damage.

And there you have it! With these steps in mind, you can turn your pool float into a makeshift air mattress for temporary use. Just remember that this solution is not meant for long-term use, as a proper air mattress or sleeping pad will provide better comfort and support.

Precautions and Potential Risks

Weight Limitations

When using a pool float as an air mattress, you need to be mindful of its weight limitations. Most pool floats are designed to be buoyant, but they’re not meant to support the same amount of weight as a regular air mattress.

Check the manufacturer’s specifications to determine the maximum weight capacity before using it as a sleeping surface. Exceeding the weight limit may cause the float to deflate or become uncomfortable to sleep on.

Punctures and Damage

Pool floats are prone to punctures and damage, especially when used on rough surfaces. Be cautious about where you set up your makeshift air mattress. Ensure that the area is free of sharp objects and debris that might cause damage to the float.

It’s a good idea to use a groundsheet or tarp to provide an additional layer of protection between the float and the ground. Regularly inspect your pool float for any signs of damage or air leaks, as a deflated float can significantly impact your comfort and sleep quality.

Keep in mind that pool floats are not as durable as actual air mattresses, so you may need to repair or replace them more frequently if used in this manner.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Weight Limit of a Pool Float?

The weight limit of a pool float can vary depending on the design and material. Generally, the weight limit for most pool floats is around three hundred pounds. Be aware of the weight limits before using a pool float, as exceeding it may cause the float to suddenly burst. In some cases, you may be able to find information about the weight limit on the packaging or manufacturer’s website.

How Can I Make a Pool Float More Comfortable on Ground?

While a pool float may not be as comfortable as a regular air mattress on the ground, there are some ways to make it more comfortable for you:

  • Use a soft, padded surface: Place the pool float on a soft surface, such as a blanket or foam pad, to provide some cushioning and protect it from any sharp objects on the ground.
  • Adjust the air pressure: Experiment with different air pressures to find your preference for comfort.
  • Use pillows and cushions: Adding pillows and cushions can help provide extra support and make the pool float more comfortable.

Keep in mind that using a pool float as an air mattress can work in a pinch, but if possible, it’s better to use an air mattress specifically designed for sleeping on the ground, as it may provide better comfort, support, and insulation.

Is It a Good Idea to Use a Pool Float as an Air Mattress?

While it is possible to use a pool float as an air mattress, a better question would be: is it even a good idea? There are some upsides like cost, water resistance, and versatility, but the downsides are pretty severe: lack of insulation, noisy, uncomfortable, hard to inflate and deflate, and not very durable. There are workarounds to each downside, but at some point you have to ask yourself if it’s even worth it. Only you can answer that, but most would say no.