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Poly-Tube Down Air Mattress
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Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Poly-Tube Down Air Mattress on 11/13/2007 10:04:12 MST Print View

This is something I worked on starting back in 2004. The orginal thread was located at but they dump things after 2 years. I was able to move it to my Blog just before the dump date and saved the thread.

It was long and I broke it into 4 parts.

Here are the links for each part:

Part 1-12

Part 13-24

Part 25-36

Part 37-54

Ryan Longmire
(longmire) - MLife

Locale: Tejas
poly tube mattress on 11/13/2007 15:55:20 MST Print View

Thanks for saving that, Bill!

Recently I have been searching for something to replace my current sleeping pad (self-inflate insulmat). I figure there HAS to be something better. 25 oz for 1" of padding and not much insulation is just pathetic.

Other products I was/am considering: BA Aircore + GG thinlite, BA Insulated Aircore, DAM, or an Exped.

-flexible (ability to add/remove insulation)
-decent r-value (warm to ~15F)

How many failures have you had with the poly tubes? Do you have to baby them to keep them intact?

Are you actively using the poly-tube mattress or did you abandon it for the DAM? Why/why not?

I really love the idea, my only concerns are the reliability of the tubes and the time/effort of setup.


Ryan Longmire
(longmire) - MLife

Locale: Tejas
poly tube source on 11/15/2007 15:47:32 MST Print View

Has anyone found a cheaper source for the tubes than this?

4" x 1625' 2 mil $29.00

Mark Zollinger
(IronRoads) - F
RE: poly tube source on 05/16/2008 15:10:04 MDT Print View

I haven't found anything better yet.

I had hoped to find this by-the-foot at one of the local help-u-mail places, but most of them had never heard of the stuff.

A 2000 foot roll is a lot more than I'd ever use.
Is there any interest in making a group purchase?

jas l
(jas123) - F
RE: poly tube source on 05/18/2008 20:37:17 MDT Print View

Now I'm thinking about to cut plastic film sheet, and hot seal the side and end.

Mark Zollinger
(IronRoads) - F
CheerStix on 06/02/2008 16:41:31 MDT Print View


While trying to find a source of polytube in lengths shorter than a 3000' roll, I noticed a couple of other threads of yours where you use CheerStix instead:


If I've read and interpreted correctly, you currently use CheerStix for warm weather, and down-filled poly tube for cold. Do I have that about right? If so, what were the factors that convinced you to choose CheerStix over poly tube? Weight? Ease-of-inflation? Durability? Availability?

Thank you so much for all you've done here.
I clearly need to go read everything you've ever posted.
Just the few threads that I've read have opened my eyes to a whole new world.

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Re: CheerStix on 06/02/2008 18:48:07 MDT Print View

Hi Mark,

1. Look around and you should find a place that sells the Poly Tubing in 2200 foot rolls or try:

2. Yes, CheerStix warm weather and Down-filled Poly Tube for cold. However, the CheerStixs are heavier than Balloons and there is a big difference in cost between the CheerStix and Balloons. The CheerStix is easier to blow up and they can be used several times. The Balloons are cheap and very light but it is hard to reuse them. If you need a Balloon pump to blow up the Balloons that adds a bit to your total weight. I never popped a CheerStix. They also are just a bit to short and if you use more the weight goes up in a hurry.

The Poly Tube - one of the things I had to deal with was the clamp or closure for the open end of the Poly Tube. The best clamp was the Red or White kind from the pictures. They were just a bit heavy. When the number of Poly Tubes went up to give me a wider surface to lay on the weight also went up.
I was working on a source for a 5" Poly Tube with a straw like blow up thing like the CheerStix used. That would have been a real winner but it never happened. It got to where my Warmlight Down Air Mattress (DAM) was real close to the weight of the Poly Tube DAM. For real cold weather the WarmLight DAM was a lot less trouble and I stopped playing with the Poly Tube DAM. I have been asked by several folks about just using the Poly Tube like a regular Air Mattress. When it is warm I use a Hammock and don't need a pad of any type. When it gets cold I just start using my Warmlight DAM.

Nick K
(nkline) - MLife

Locale: Northeast U.S.
Re: Poly-Tube Down Air Mattress on 02/16/2009 11:15:33 MST Print View

Have there been any updates on this project since the last post? I would like to make my own sleeping pad/mattress and am considering this design. Thoughts/advice from ya'all?



Mark Zollinger
(IronRoads) - F
Re: Re: Poly-Tube Down Air Mattress on 02/17/2009 08:57:31 MST Print View


I've been experimenting along a few different lines, none of which have been tried in the field yet.

The one that shows the most immediate promise (with the least work involved) is rocket balloons. The long feed tube is easy to tie in a bow, hence they are more reusable. I also find them a little easier to inflate than regular balloons. On the downside, they are a little heavier.

I got six or eight at a local dollar-type store, although I see you can get them online (Google is your friend).

If any of my other experiments starts to show promise, I will post them here.