Insulated mattress

Tutorial de avatarlow tech & refugiés | Categories : Housing, Health

Matelas isolant Capture d e cran 2020-09-22 a 13.53.49.png

Building an insulated mattres from life jacket foams

License : Attribution (CC BY)



With the winter arriving on Lesvos island, it was decisive to propose a solution to the cold infiltration inside the tents. In addition to the wooden pallets, this insulated mattress enables to improve insulation from the ground.


Made from life jacket foam which can be easily fund here, these mattress permit to disminish the material pollution on the island. Survival blankets and plastic tarpaulin wraping the mattress, even if not coming from salvage, enable to improve the insulate and waterproof aspects of the mattress agains humidity. Facing the emergency of the situation and the time imperative, we could not sew an insulating tarpaulin, which for example could have been made thanks to inflatable dinghy's fabrick stored on the island .


Life jackets foam

2 survival blankets

Plastic tarpaulin (could be replaced by a sewed tarpauling made from inflatable dinghy's fabric )

Adhesive tape


Scissors/utility knife

Heating gun


Step 1 - Cut the foam from the life jackets

It consists of removing the foam inside the life jackets using scissors or an utility knife.

Step 2 - Assemble the foam pieces

To assemble the pieces, use the heating gun to melt a little bit the foam before sticking on another piece of foam. The goal is to achieve some kind of patchwork of foam with the size wanted

For example it is possible to realize a big mattress covering entirely the floor of a tent.

Step 3 - Roll the foam with survival blankets

To insulate the foam at best, you need to roll it using survival blankets. So as to do that, use adhesive tape to attach the blankets on both sides of the foam.

"NB: It is better to use the aluminiu side on top so as to reflect body's heat."

Step 4 - Cover with a plastic tarpaulin

Cover the whole mattress with a plastic tarpaulin to avoid water and humidity to penetrate inside. Attach it again using adhesive tape.

Step 5 - Use

Le matelas est au-dessus de la palette et de la toile de tente. Pliable et assez léger, il peut se transporter facilement.

Notes and references

Il est aussi possible de "coller" les bouts de mousse ensemble grâce à des attaches issues de la découpe des bouteilles en plastique (en tranche) et de s'en servir comme des sortes de lacets rassemblant les bouts entre eux via des petits trous préalablement effectués dans la mousse.