Basic Information

What’s it for?

Balloonbeds were developed for two- day events where you need to be self sufficient for an overnight camp and carry all your equipment in a rucksack. The weight and bulk of your overnight gear can have a significant impact on your performance during the event.

The balloonbed weighs less than 100g and packs away to a volume of around 250ml. This is roughly the size of a small fist.

Balloonbeds are light and small when packed but as with all things in life, what you gain in one respect you lose in an other. Balloonbeds are fairly robust but need to be treated with some care in order to perform at their best.

If we could produce a bed as durable and reliable as a Therm-a-Rest® and as light and as small as a balloonbed we could corner the world market in camping beds. The balloonbed will take up hardly any room in your sack and add hardly any weight. It should be thought of as one step up from bubble wrap or a thin foam pad. 

As well as using the beds ourselves and finding them a real improvement over a piece of bubble-wrap or a foam carry-mat, we have had very positive feedback from competitors in mountain marathons and other events like the Polaris. See the Reviews link under the Information tab for a sample of these comments.

Is the balloonbed suitable for mountaineering?
We have used it ourselves on two day walks in the Pyrenees and Alps. The weight saving was a real bonus. However I would not recommend it for use in awkward bivvies or cramped conditions where it’s difficult to keep the tent area free of clutter and sharp objects.

Can the balloonbed be used for long distance walking.
Yes, as long as you don’t mind taking 7 balloons along for each night. A week’s worth of balloons adds up to quite a bit of weight: 120g. You may be better off with another product, especially as the advantage of weight saving is not so marked in walking activities as opposed to running events.
Can the balloonbed for multiple night events, like the MdS?

The dry dusty conditions on this event aren’t best suited to a standard balloonbed. There will be issues with static electricity and the ground on which the bed will be placed could contain sharp points. Also, as stated above, multiple nights means lots of balloons. Enough balloons for 7 nights weighs: 120g

What you get.

  • The lightweight mattress fabric with sewn in sleeves in which 7 balloons need to be inserted.
  • 25 long modelling balloons (enough for at least 3 outings).
  • Mini-pump for inflating the balloons – we’ve only come across two people who can inflate these balloons by mouth.
  • Stuff sack for packing what you need for an outing – with everything packed for one night this weighs less than 100g and has a volume of around 250ml.
  • Information leaflet reminding you of how to get the bed set up.
The Kit

How to use the Balloonbed
All you need to do is blow up 7 long modelling balloons and insert them into the sleeves in the fabric. It takes less than 10 minutes.

How do I pack it away?
When you've used the bed the balloons need to be popped (safety pin provided - you'll have problems bursting them otherwise). The fabric can be folded away and the burst balloons later disposed of sensibly. Some users say they can unpick the knots and re-use the balloons (this is only an option for the very patient!).

If you’re worried about the environmental impact of throwing away the balloons rest assured that latex is a natural material and biodegrades fairly quickly.

Won't the balloons burst?
They won't as long as you treat them with a little respect. Balloon beginners who burst balloons during inflation do so generally because they haven't read the instructions. See Extra Advice on the Information tab for ways to minimise bursts.
The basic principle of the Balloonbed is that when you step or sit on the balloons -  the air compressed in that part simply moves to the rest of the balloon which stretches to accommodate it. If you've ever seen a magician give them excessive abuse as they twist them into bizarre shapes then you'll know how strong they can be. Go to the Pictures / Videos tab to see a video ofBalloonbed abuse!

How many times can I use Balloonbed?
The fabric we use for the outer sheath was designed for sails and parachutes. It's very light, durable and strong and depending on how much you use it should see you through years of service. We supply you with enough balloons for 3 outings - after that you are going to need to get some more. If you've bought the Original Balloonbed that uses 260Q balloons then not only can you buy replacement balloons from us, but you can also get standard latex balloons from any newsagents / toy /novelty shop.

If you've bought the Mark2 with 350Q balloons then you'll have to buy more from us - see the Buy Now page for details of costs. Very roughly though, it will cost you about £1.25 in balloons for each night's sleep.


There are two vesions of the Balloonbed:

  • The Origianl Balloonbed
  • The Mark 2 Balloonbed

Original balloonbed - roughly 45mm thick (just under 2 inches in old money)

This mat has 7 compartments for balloons. It uses 260Q balloons which are supposed to be 2 inches in diameter and 60 inches long (but generally inflate smaller - 45mm in diameter and 1200mm in length). This bed is the most stable to lie on and in our opinion the better bed.

  • This has been the preferred option for all but the much larger size user who have tried out the beds on our stalls at the SLMM, OMM and Polaris - also suitable for larger users who sleep mostly on their backs.
  • The balloons are the same size as the modeling balloons you can buy from toy / novelty shops so you can easily buy replacements (although they are inferior to the 'qualatex' ones we supply with the mat)
  • The mat will fit inside a sleeping bag such as the Rab 'TopBag' which has little insulation at the bottom. .

As a rough guide, if you weigh under 13st (less than 85kg) then the Original Ballonbed is the one to go for.

The black balloon is for the Original. The green balloons is for the Mark 2 .

Mark 2 balloonbed - roughly 75mm thick (3 inches in old money)

This mat has 6 compartments and uses 350Q balloons - these are supposed to be 3 inches thick and 50 inches long (but generally inflate to 1070mm in length). We developed this bed for those who want a deeper bed than the original. 

  • The mat is quite deep so provides more cushioning than the 'original' - users of a more substantial size (big blokes and lasses) who sleep on their side a lot may find this the better option as they are less likely to 'bottom out'.
  • The deeper balloons however, roll inside the fabric more and the bed feels less stable - it 'creaks' as you move around more than the original too. 
  • You'll probably need to buy replacement balloons from us when you run out as the 350Q balloons are harder to get hold of.
  • The balloons take a little longer to inflate with the pump as they have a greater volume - but there are only 6 to inflate.

As a rough guide, if you are 13st and over (83kg +) then the Mark 2 despite not being as good as the Original Balloonbed is probably going to be the better bet, largely because you're less likely to 'bottom out' and feel the ground below you.


This page contains basic information about the balloonbed. It is intended to be used by those using browsers that don't support drop down menus used in the construction of this site.


Lightweight Camping
Event Campsite
Running with all your kit.
When we receive an order, it is normally dispatched that or the next day by normal post. We send you an email to confirm the order and let you know when you can expect your bed. The package easily fits through a standard letter box. Most people receive their goods within 2 days, and if not, certainly within 3 days.
Packet Sent
All the things you need for a trip fit inside the stuff sack we provide.
Stuff sack
Inserting the balloons in the sleeves is very easy.
Insert Balloons
7 balloons in 7 sleeves - it's now all ready to go
The Original Balloonbed.
7 balloons for the Original.
Mark 2
The Mark2 balloonbed
Mark2 balloons
The Mark 2 balloons are fatter than those for the Original - not necessarily a good thing!












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