Forget everything you thought you knew about air mattresses. The old days of an air mattress that needed constant blowing up, or was so thin your shoulders would be touching the floor, are over. Today, the best air mattress can replace your standard mattress at home and can even match it for comfort and reliability. In fact, some air mattresses will outlive your coil mattress. So why should you buy an air mattress? It depends on your needs. Different air beds will suit different purposes. In this review of the best inflatable mattresses, we will go into detail about what air mattress you need for camping, guest beds, everyday beds, and more.
Serta Raised Queen-size Pillow Top Airbed with NeverFlat AC Pump
SoundAsleep Dream Series Air Mattress
Coleman Queen Frame Airbed Cot with Side Tables and Built-In Pump
GEERTOP 2in Thick Lightweight SPLICED Self-Inflating Camp Pad Mat Mattress With Pillow For Camping
AirBedz (PPI 101) Original Truck Bed Air Mattress for Full Sized 8' Long Bed Trucks
Coleman Double-High Supportrest
As Your Primary Bed
Not too many people consider an air bed when looking for a mattress. That’s a shame since there are many good reasons to buy an air mattress instead of a traditional coil spring or foam mattress.
Not least of which is the price. Air mattresses cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars less than a regular mattress. If you are on a budget, it is a much better bargain to get an expensive air bed over a cheap mattress.
Air mattresses can be quite comfortable for everyday use. In fact, some of them even have a memory foam topper that adds to the comfort level that many people would never expect from an air mattress. Customizable firmness is also a big factor.
If you like to sleep on a firm mattress but have occasional back problems that require a softer bed. There’s not much you can do about that when you have a traditional bed other than suffer with a bed that is too firm for your back. When you have an air mattress, you can adjust the firmness on the fly.
Keep it firm by inflating it 90% of the way for when you want that firm bed. Let some air out to soften it up when your back pain flares up. You can’t do that with a regular mattress.
As a Guest Bed
When I say guest bed, this can mean when you have guests coming to you or when you are the guest going to somebody else’s house. Versatility is the name of the game when it comes to air mattresses. Whether you need to pack one up in your car for when you will be crashing at a friend’s house, or when your in laws arrive from out of town, having a bed that can be stowed away for long periods of time when not in use saves so much space in your house.
If you have a small apartment but still expect visitors, it is no problem to take the bed out of the closet and have it ready to go in just a few minutes. They are much more comfortable than a sofa bed as there are no bars poking out from underneath.
Sizing charts run about the same for air beds as for a traditional bed. When fully inflated, a full-size air bed will have roughly the same dimensions as a full-size mattress. The same is true for queen, king etc. Whatever size bed your guests are used to at home can be had when they come to visit you.
In a Truck or Van
If you have space in the back of a truck like a pickup or van, then you have yourself a ready-made mobile home. Whatever the reason for needing to sleep in your truck, you don’t have to suffer on a hard floor in a sleeping bag. You can sleep with the same comfort level as your own bedroom while on the road or camping.
Leave the tent at home if you have a truck or van to sleep in at the campsite. Maybe you’re on a road trip and want to save on hotels but don’t want to sacrifice your sleep. The air mattress will pay for itself in just a couple of nights with what you would save from sleeping in your truck.
Backpacking or Camping
There’s no need to actually rough it when you are roughing it in the great outdoors. With an air mattress, you can have all the comforts of your bedroom. Even if you are going out into the wilderness, many comfortable air mattresses can be folded up and taken in a backpack with you.
Air mattresses are perfect for people who would rather go glamping than camping. If the thought of sleeping under the stars sounds nice but you want to do it in comfort, then you need the best air bed for camping. Thoughts of a leaky air mattress that deflate and leave you sleeping on the hard ground in a tent should be put aside. Today’s air mattresses for camping are sturdy and durable for many years of camping.
Space is probably the biggest consideration when buying an air mattress. It’s usually the very reason you would look into buying one. You will need to measure the area that you plan to use your air mattress in to know which size bed you will need.
More importantly, you will need to know how much space it will take up when stored. You may have limited space in your closet or basement. Many air beds don’t take up much space when they are folded up, however.
Keep in mind that the size it is when folded and just out of the box will likely be as small a package as it will ever be. If you have ever tried to fold up a deflated air mattress, then you know how it is almost impossible to get it as tight and neatly folded up as it was right out of the box. Depending on how you intend to use your air mattress, you will want either a thick or slim profile.
Raised Air Mattress
A raised air mattress is akin to a traditional mattress in height from the floor and in comfort. They’re usually the same height as some mattress and box spring combinations to compensate for being on the floor. The raised height also makes it easier to get in and out of bed. Raise your hand if you have ever had to roll off of a thin air mattress and onto the floor to get up!
This extra thick size is great when you want the feel of a traditional bed, but it comes at the cost of needing extra storage space. Usually the raised air mattresses are used for an extended period of time, such as when you have a long-term guest over or are planning to use the air bed as a primary mattress.
The thinner air mattresses without the base of a raised mattress make it ideal for those on a budget or those who need something more compact when folded. Slim profile air mattresses are usually very cheap, so if you need something for a night or two and don’t want to spend a fortune, this is a good option.
They are also ideal for camping since they fold up very tightly and can usually fit into a suitcase or backpack for easy transport. Even if you intend to use it for sleepovers in a home and not for something that needs to be traveled with, it is a good option. They can still be more comfortable than some folding mattresses that are too firm. In addition, they still take up less space than a cot, or something similar, when stored.
There are three types of pumps that can be used to inflate your air mattress. The cheapest and most readily available is lung powered. Yes, some air mattresses require you to be your own pump and blow them up like a balloon.
Obviously, if you will be inflating your mattress on a regular basis, you may want to consider how difficult that will be if you buy a mattress and don’t get a pump with it. Therefore, the most common pump is external. This is a pump that gets attached to the mattress and fills it with air.
The external pump is a good option since it can be purchased separately so you have more control over what kind of pump you want. Some of the pumps that come with the mattress won’t be of the highest quality, so it might be worth it to spend some extra cash to get another more potent pump.
Internal pumps on air mattresses are becoming more common, especially since more and more people are using air mattresses for their primary bed. They are extremely simple to use. It’s as easy as flipping a switch and, in a couple of minutes, you have a fully inflated air mattress.
The big drawback to using an internal pump is that if it breaks, you generally need to buy a new mattress. Some can be used with an external pump, but that becomes tedious if you are using your mattress regularly. Also, some of the internal pumps run continuously to keep the air topped up in case of any light leakage of air while you sleep. An external pump won’t do that.
The most common material used for air mattresses is PVC. It’s waterproof and very durable. It can stretch quite a bit before it breaks and is easy to stitch. It is a plastic that on it’s own is very hard. Think of PVC pipes for plumbing. Unfortunately, to make the PVC soft, a phthalate is mixed in, and that chemical can be harmful. If you have asthma, you may want to stay away from any air mattresses made with PVC.
There are some manufacturers that use PVC without any phthalates added, so that is an option if you need it. Many people use air mattresses made with PVC to no ill effect. It’s just something you should be aware of to make an informed purchase. You can also get air mattresses made of textile-reinforced urethane. This is a thicker material than PVC and is less prone to punctures. It’s also a bit heavier.
If you want to get creative, you can buy a mattress topper and use it to improve your air mattress. It's not as convenient to travel with, but will add a lot of comfort to an air mattress. We especially recommend mattress toppers that keep you cool. Also you can take a look at our general list of toppers, or our favorite memory foam toppers.
How it is constructed
Many of the raised air mattresses that are similar to traditional mattresses have beams or coils inside the mattress that add support and comfort. Those coils will distribute your weight and help your pressure points sink into the mattress while your back stays aligned. In fact, many doctors recommend sleeping on an air mattress for people who suffer from back pain.
The stitching of the seams of the air mattress is very important. The very best use an ultrasonic welding to keep the seams strong and less likely to give out. Since we are talking about a mass produced product, nothing can be guaranteed to be perfect. Even ultrasonic welded seams can let out a tiny bit of air.
Some air mattresses have built-in pillows. For some, this is a nice option as it means one less thing to pack. For others, they want to use their own pillows. This is a feature that you should consider when looking at mattresses. Don’t forget that if you don’t like the feel or height of the built-in pillow, you can’t adjust it.
The top of many air mattresses has a plush or velvet material to add to the comfort. It can also keep your sheet from sliding around on the smooth plastic. In some cases, the air bed can be wrapped in a cover that can be zipped up and washed.
If you purchased a quality air mattress that didn’t arrive with a defect from the manufacturing process, then you are not likely to have a leak in it. If, for some reason, you do find yourself losing air while you sleep on it, then you should definitely contact the customer service department of the company. If it is under warranty, you should get part or all of your money back.
If it’s out of warranty, here are some tips on finding and repairing a leak in an air mattress. The easiest way to find a leak is to use the soapy water technique. Mix some water wish dish soap and swirl the water around a bit to make it slightly sudsy.
In an area where you won’t worry about getting water on the floor, place your air mattress upside down if it has a plush top since you don’t want to ruin it with the water. We’ll get to how to find the leak on a plush top mattress in a moment. Take a sponge and soak it in the soapy water. Then, wet the seams of the mattress with the sudsy water. If you don’t see any bubbles, gently press down on the mattress to force air through the potential hole.
If you see bubbles, you have found your leak. Don’t stop there, however. There may be more leaks on another part of the mattress. If you don’t have a plush top, make sure you do this on the sides and top of the mattress.
If you don’t want to get the plush top or memory foam cover of the mattress ruined with soapy water, then try the tissue technique. Take some tissue or toilet paper and place it over a part of the mattress. Work in a small area at a time instead of papering the entire mattress.
Gently push down on another part of the mattress and keep an eye on the tissue. If you see it flitting, you have found your leak. Mark the area and continue around the entire surface of the mattress marking any leaks.
If you have a pool and some help and the mattress won’t be ruined by being submerged, try this method. Lightly inflate the mattress with air. Don’t inflate it all the way as it will be difficult to submerge in your pool.
Get in your pool and, with the help of a friend, try to submerge the entire mattress under water. If you see bubbles, you have found your leak. One issue with this method is that, if the hole is sizable because it was punctured somewhere rather than just a leaky seam, some water can get into the mattress and cause it to get moldy. That probably won’t happen if it is a pin hole and you are pushing air out of it, but it is just something you may want to keep in mind.
Once you have found the leak and marked it, deflate the mattress and let it dry completely. Then, get yourself a bicycle tire repair kit. The kit will come with some contact cement and some pieces of flexible rubber. If the leak is from the plush side of the mattress, you will need to sand it down to get to the smooth plastic underneath. If you don’t do this step, it won’t create a proper seal and will continue to leak.
Once you have a nice smooth surface, apply the cement to the specifications on the instructions from the repair kit. You may need to let the cement dry for a moment before fixing the rubber patch, so make sure you find out. Put the rubber patch on and press down on it. Rub it in a circular motion to get out any air bubbles that may have formed.
Let the patch seal to the mattress and the cement dry according to the instructions on the kit. Then, inflate it and see how it goes. Put a little soapy water on the spot and see if any bubbles start. If not, you are good to go, and the mattress is ready to sleep on again.
Q: How do I fold an air mattress?
A: First, you must deflate the air mattress. If your pump does the deflating, it is a very easy process. If it doesn’t, open the valve and gently push until you can’t push anymore air put. Then, fold the mattress in half. If there is still air, keep pressing until more of the air comes out. Do not jump on the mattress to deflate it. Fold it in half again until the mattress is ¼ the size and continue until you can no longer keep folding.
Q: How long does an air mattress last?
A: The answer to this is specific to the manufacturer and how you care for it. Most air mattresses can last more than 10 years with proper care.
Q: Can I sleep on the mattress every night?
A: If your mattress is comfortable to you, there is no reason you can’t use it as a primary bed.
Q: How can I prevent my air mattress from getting punctured?
A: Always make sure the area where you will be sleeping on your mattress is clear from debris like pebbles and branches. You shouldn’t keep any knives or needles near your air mattress. Keep children (or adults!) from jumping on the mattress.
Q: What can I do if my air mattress starts to sag in the middle?
A: The beams inside your mattress have likely begun to fail or already have failed. In that case, there is not much you can do except try to have the manufacturer replace it if it is still under warranty.
Q: Can I use the same sheets from my regular mattress on the air mattress?
A: Yes. With very few exceptions, your air mattress will follow the same size guidelines as a traditional mattress. In other words, a full-size air mattress is the same as a full-size traditional mattress.
The most important thing you can do to take care of your air mattress is also the most obvious. Keep it away from anything that could puncture it. If you are carrying it to the campsite, make sure there are no knives that can come in contact with it.
The same actually goes for your closet when storing it. It seems like it should go without saying, but it always bears repeating the obvious. The second most important thing to remember, particularly for camping air beds, is it should be completely dry before you fold it up. Make sure that the mattress doesn’t get moldy when it’s stored away by giving it a good wipe before folding it up.
On that note, make sure the storage area is also dry and cool. If it is damp, your mattress will likely end up moldy and become useless. If it is too hot, it could end up making the material weak and will likely create leaks. You can reduce the risk of leaks by not over inflating it. You may like a firm bed to sleep on, but it doesn’t mean you should inflate it until you can no longer get any air in it. You risk straining the material when you sleep on an over-inflated bed.
A double pump system ensures that you can use this air bed as a primary mattress without ever needing to keep it topped up. The less you have to think about your mattress, the better, and most people don’t want to be bothered to remember to top off the mattress every night before bed.
The double pump system works like this: an internal primary pump inflates the bed from deflated to full in just a couple of minutes. It automatically senses when it is full and shuts off on its own. Then, a secondary pump keeps it topped up. If there is any kind of leakage, as long as it isn’t a puncture, the secondary pump will keep topping it off, and it will do so quietly. You won’t be disturbed while you sleep due to the sound of the pump as it runs. Rest assured, it only runs when it needs to.
All of this doesn’t mean that the bed will leak during the night. It’s just that the material will stretch from the pressure and your body heat will warm it up. When that happens, the mattress needs more air. The auto inflate feature is also customizable. You can decide how inflated you like it for either soft or firm support, and the pump will fill to that level automatically. When you need to deflate it, the pump will remove all the air making it very easy to fold and store.
It isn’t just about the convenience of the pump system. This bed is as comfortable as a traditional bed, even more so depending on your bed. It is constructed with inner coils like a traditional coil mattress; however, these coils are much softer and will mold better to your body. The interior is also baffled, so it is sectioned off. This helps distribute your body weight evenly unlike many air mattresses.
Adding to the comfort is the flocked top. It is a plush material that will keep your sheets from slipping, but more importantly, will keep you warm and cozy. Another added feature that didn’t go unnoticed is the non- slip bottom. If you plan to use an air mattress on a platform or box spring, you would normally need to add something underneath, like a non-slip rug pad. This is one less thing to think about so your bed doesn’t slide around dangerously while you sleep.
Having customizable support is something that you don’t realize is as important as it is until you try it. When you can control how firm or soft your bed is on any given night, you will never want to do without it again. The way the bed is constructed, you get great support while your pressure points are allowed to sink into the mattress.
Don’t think about getting this air mattress just for the convenience. Get it because it is just a really comfortable bed! One drawback is that some users reported that the beams inside the mattress might not be glued properly and give out causing a bulge. This is a manufacturers defect and is covered by the warranty in case it happens to you.
Like the Serta Air Mattress, this air bed has a dual pump system to automatically inflate your mattress to the desired support level and keep it topped up with air during the night.
The primary pump can be set to three different firmness levels from soft to plush to firm. The secondary pump will silently keep the mattress topped up. As I already mentioned with the Serta, this doesn’t mean that you will be losing air during the night. It is simply because the material used for the mattress will expand and will get soft. You will need more air to fill that extra space. The pump will automatically detect when more air is needed and give it a few blasts of air.
This bed is very comfortable with the 40 coils it employs and the internal beam structures. The bed is topped with a waterproof pillow top for added comfort and to keep you warm. It also has a non-slip coating on the bottom to keep it from slipping around on your box spring or platform. When deflated, the bed is easy to fold and to store away.
If you have never tried camping in the great outdoors because you didn’t want to be uncomfortable, then you should try glamping. Short for glamorous camping, you usually don’t sleep on the ground. You will sleep in as much comfort as your own bed at home. For glamping, we recommend the Coleman Airbed cot. The 8-inch thick mattress is made with the same type of coil system as a traditional bed, and the frame will keep you high off of the uncomfortable ground.
Having an internal pump makes it a snap to inflate, so there is no need for any lung power or even having to pack a separate pump. You will need access to some electricity, whether from your car or your tent site. If you are glamping, chances are that you are not exactly roughing it and will have access to electricity. The mattress itself is contained in a cover that zips up around it so you won’t have the sheet slipping off and distracting you while you sleep. It rests safely on top of a platform over the foldable frame.
While it won’t fit in a backpack, it won’t take up much space in your car or SUV while getting to your campsite. It even has two side tables attached that feature cup holders. Camping has never been more comfortable thanks to Coleman!
Backpacking to a campsite used to mean having to sleep on a thin pad on the hard, cold ground. You only had so much space in your bag and couldn’t afford to use it for your bed. With the Geartop self inflatable air mattress camping pad, you can have all the comfort of home in a tiny package. It is perfect for taking out into the remote wilderness without sacrificing any comfort.
At a little over three pounds, it won’t weigh you down too much. It doesn’t take up much space either, so you won’t have to sacrifice something like your food to be able to take this comfortable bed with you on your adventures.Staying warm is not an issue on this air bed either, as it is made with foam which will reflect your heat back onto you, unlike thin air mattresses. If you need a larger bed or if you plan to share your bed with a partner, you can zip another air mattress to it to double the size.
An attached inflatable pillow adds to the comfort without needing to pack a bulky pillow from home. The whole mattress fills itself simply by twisting the nozzle. In just a couple of minutes, it will be fully inflated. You may need to blow it up with your mouth, however, if you like it on the firmer side. Roughing it is not for everybody, but with the comforts of home like you get with this air bed, you may reconsider and actually get out into the wild.
If you have a pickup truck, then you don’t need a camper to get out and enjoy nature. You can set up an extremely comfortable air mattress in the back of the pickup right on the truck bed. With indents on the side of the mattress, it will fit snugly in the back of many standard pickups.
It has the same coil system as your traditional bed at home and may actually be more comfortable. Since you can inflate it to your desired firmness, you can have the support and comfort you look for in a traditional mattress. At 12 inches thick, you won’t have your shoulders or hips sink through to the ground.
The pump is rechargeable, so even if you find yourself without power, you can blow this mattress up. Even if you’re not camping, it is a great mattress to have. You can use it if you plan on doing an overnight drive somewhere and will need to rest. You can use it if you are just planning an early morning fishing trip. Anytime you want to have a rest and don’t want to sacrifice comfort, you can try this air mattress.
If you have periodic guests and you don’t want to have a dedicated bed for them, you really need an air mattress. The Coleman Double High is a great way to show that you care about your guests' comfort even if you don’t have a lot of space for them. It is made with a unique support lock reinforced construction to give great support and distribute body weight. It is an extremely comfortable bed in its own right; never mind that it can be folded up and stored away when you don’t have guests.
The pillow top feel luxurious and keeps your guests warm while ensuring the sheets don’t slide off. It is double high, so it doesn’t feel like you are sleeping on the floor. This is especially useful if your guests are more senior in age and might have trouble getting up from a low profile air mattress.
It doesn’t come with a pump, but I think this is a good thing. You can get a high quality pump that will have more power and last much longer than one that might have been included. It is also convenient since, if an internal pump stops working, you have to replace the whole mattress. It can be rolled up tightly and stored in most closets.
Air mattresses used to be something you let your guests use when you really wanted to make sure they didn’t want to come back. Now, they are made so well and can be so comfortable that many people are replacing their traditional mattresses with an air mattress.
And camping has never been the same after the improvements made in air beds. Sleep is so important that even if you plan on sleeping on the ground, you should still expect and want a good night’s sleep. You don’t have to sacrifice your sleep to have an outdoor adventure or crash at a friend’s house.
Your sleep is important enough to justify treating yourself to some luxury, even if only for a few nights. I hope this review of the best air beds opened your eyes up to the possibilities of having an air mattress. There are many reasons to have one since they are so versatile.
Are any of you sleeping on an air mattress as your primary bed? I would love to hear about it in the comment section below!