How to roll up a Self Inflating Mat (SIM)

Part of what makes a self-inflating mat great is that they self-inflate, but this works against you when you need to roll up your mat and get it back into the bag. Here we show you how to roll up a self inflating mat.

Self Inflating Mats are great. They are small and compact, inflate themselves (well, most of the way at least), and for a thin piece of material, insulate and protect you from the ground really well.

Unfortunately most people don’t know how to roll up a self inflating mat correctly, and a lot of people end up with the mats in carrier bags, with the mat desperately trying to burst out and re-inflate itself. What was a small and compact mat is now another large item to take to the campsite!

If this is you fear not. Here’s how to roll up your self inflating mat.


  1. Undo the valve to let some air out.  With any decent self-inflating mat, not much air will come out, but make sure the valve is open so you can force the air out.
  2. For our Self Inflating Mats, or SIMs, (see Hi Gear Ultralite) the bag is about half the width of the mat, so we first put a fold down the centre line.
    Where you fold your mat will depend on the size of bag it needs to fit in, but many are half-width like this one.
  3. Move to the end opposite to the valve. If you have someone who can help keep the fold down it will make things a lot easier.
  4. Start rolling the mat.
    You need to roll it very tight, and lean down with your body weight to help force the air out.
  5. Work your way along the mat, stopping now and then to force more air out and to make sure the sleeping mat hasn’t unfolded.
  6. Finally when you have rolled up the mat, close the air valve so that the mat doesn’t re-inflate.
  7. If you have any compression straps or elastic that go around the rolled mat then put them on, and slide the mat into the bag.

This technique has worked every time, and hasn’t damaged the SIMs.

It may take you a bit of practice.  If you don’t get it to the right size the first time, unroll the mat, undo the air valve, and re-roll. It will take a few minutes for a mat to self-inflate, so you have time to re-roll it a bit tighter. This time it will be easier as most of the air is out and the mat will cooperate a little better.

There you go, you now know how to roll up a self inflating mat!

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Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

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