30 DIY Mattress Idea No. 3 - Camel Fur + Latex Balloon Mattress

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Camel Wool + Latex Balloon Toddler or Camp Mattress   

latex wool mattress using camel fur and waterproof balloons


Need a thin, insulating, waterproof mattress that keeps you off the cold, damp ground?

Toddlers don't need a very thick mattress and parents would benefit from a waterproof mattress, so that is where our minds are going with this one.  

Car camping, roof top tents, a V berth mattress for your yacht and outdoor furnishings are other uses we thought of.

Natural Camping Mat

Important note: We are not advocating that you actually make these mattresses. They have not been tested and are not approved mattress kits. This is an exercise of the imagination for entertainment purposes only. Think of this as our private design notebook, now opened for everyone to see!

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We ordered these natural latex balloons and filled them with this Camel Wool.

These waterproof, soft pods were then laid out inside this Mesh Laundry Bag held in place by pulling the knotted end through the mesh on the underside of the mattress.

DIY waterproof camping mat thin mattress

The sample we made measured 10" X 10" X 3 1/2" thick and we used 9 balloons + 9 ounces of camel wool. We sat on it and just did not want to get up!

Best camping mattress

To get the fiber inside the balloons:  Weigh out your camel fur (or any other fiber you choose) into parcels. Inserting your middle fingers (or two) from each hand into the neck of the ballon, stretch open the neck of the balloon about 2".  With your free fingers, pinch a bit of fiber at a time and push it into the ballon.  With some practice, this takes under a minute per ballon.  

Now everyone calm down! There's another step.

DIY mattress using latex and fur

Next blow up the balloon and shake it for about 10 seconds so the fibers can re-fluff.  Let the air out very slowly and let go of the balloon neck. You'll have a nice round puffy ball. Tie a knot close to the fiber ball. Fill your mesh laundry bags and pull the knots to secure your balloons in the position you want them.  

Hint: Figuring out the spacing of which holes to pull the balloons trough was a bit maddening so we recommend figuring out the grid dimensions mathematically and marking which holes to pull your knots through on the laundry bag with a sharpie marker.  This will take some trial and error.

What we like about this imaginary mattress: The fillings are all 100% biodegradable. The fact that balloons are waterproof makes this very useful for outdoor living spaces or on a mattress that may encounter diaper leaks or spills. If one pod should get damaged, the balloon could easily be replaced.  

You can insert the finished mat right into a sleeping bag (the mesh laundry bags will not feel good directly against your skin so you want to cover it).

Also, you can upholster the mat to look tufted. Honestly, this was our favorite project so far because of this. Imagine how elegant your camper van conversion, boat cabin, or outdoor AirBnB furnishings could look! 

Here is a tufting needle to make the project look professional.

DIY latex balloon mattress filled with camel fur

Negatives: Camel fur is not yet readily available in the US so there is a high cost to ship it from where the camels reside, but you can use other soft natural fibers as well.  

Sharp jewelry or cat claws should be kept far from this mattress. How would the latex balloons hold up if frozen or heated to a very high temperature would need to be tested as well as the overall longevity of the balloons. 

Future possibilities:  If the balloon pellets could be filled by a machine, and materials purchased in bulk / wholesale, the possibilities for these thinner "pod sheets" for many cushions around the house inside and out, looks promising.  

Update:  If you have a cold seat, the mattress sample creates a very warm and insulating surface.  May be a great gift idea for someone who drives long distances or sits in a drafty workspace.  This makes us think this mattress may sleep warmer than most surfaces which is great when you are sleeping on the ground or in your car top tent.