If you enjoy weekend camping getaways or even longer trips, you probably know that sometimes a sleeping bag just doesn’t cut it. Waking up day-after-day as if you’ve been sleeping on a bed of rocks gets pretty old. Air beds and mattresses have come down in price and are now a reasonable option even if you are just using it for camping. In this story, we feature air mattress reviews and how to pick the right one, according to your needs.
The nice thing about them is that they are multi-purpose. If you have guests over it can be an excellent option over condemning them to the couch. It is also great for traveling since it can be deflated and rolled up. Some of the nicer airbeds are a great option as a main bed and even have platform legs to keep you away from the ground. If you are living somewhere temporarily or don’t have the cash for a pricey mattress, a trusty air bed will treat you well.
What to Look for in the Best Air Mattress for You
There are many air mattress options on the market. It can be a very tedious process finding the right one for you. In this article, we have an overview of the best and most popular air mattresses on the market. We then take a closer look in our reviews section. First, we want to show you the key features you want to identify to help you narrow your search. Here are the things you should decide on first and foremost before making a purchase.
- Purpose. We discussed this a bit earlier, but this is the first stop. What will this air mattress be used for—occasional guests, as a main bed, or for camping?
- Size. Twin, full, queen, or king? Of course probably the most important is the size of your air mattress. This factor alone will help you narrow down your options. It also helps if you know a price range because a King sized mattress is going to run much farther north in the price department than a twin sized mattress. Many times if you are purchasing for just yourself it comes down to preference on how much space you like to have when you sleep. If you like to sprawl out or have a claustrophobic like fear of rolling off the edge, you may want to go with at least a queen.
- Type of Pump. It is extremely convenient when your air mattress comes with a built in pump. It’s as easy as flipping a switch and letting it run for 5 minutes or so and then coming back to a fully inflated mattress. But mattresses with built in pumps, as you can guess, are more expensive then sets that come with external pumps. With some models, you will need to hold the external pumps and keep an eye on progress, but you’ll save yourself some bucks. And then there are others you will need to do the work yourself, but hey on the bright side at least you’re getting a bit of a workout. Two birds one stone right?
- Profile. You can opt for either a low-profile or a raised one. Note that a raised profile air mattress will feel much more like a bed. These are the type of air beds that people often purchase as a guest bed or even a main bed. It gives you that up off the ground feel that many of us have become accustomed to. But these are also bulkier and take up quite a bit more space. Many campers purchase low-profile beds because they are cheaper and they are less likely to worry about them getting dirty. They are also less weight to haul around. The slimmest profile beds are known as sleeping pads, which are the best for camping.
- Mattress-Top. Some air beds have pillow tops and others have simple line patterns; straight lines, zigzags, etc. Another thing to observe is the raised edges on some air mattresses. These are known as stability rings. In addition, others offer a “headboard” so you don’t have to chase pillows around at night. If you have your sights set on a memory foam topper, it is a really god idea for it to come with a repair kit, or else your stuck buying a brand new one the first time trouble rears its frightful head.
- Style. This factor definitely comes down to personal preference. While comfort is always first priority, it still is nice to get something that isn’t an eyesore, particularly if it’s going to be used at home. We look at a variety of style choices that will fit any space.
Some Air Mattress Brand Gossip
There’s nothing wrong with finding a brand that you like and sticking with it. Over the years, some brands have beaten out others and are lauded as the best on the market. It’s still a bloodbath out there, but there are a few winners have risen to the top. The good thing about this heavy competition in this market is that you as the consumer wins with lower prices and better quality. Here and now, when it comes to air beds you want to keep your eye on Insta-Bed, Aerobed, Serta, Coleman, Sound Asleep, and Intex are the top brands.
Each of these brands has a couple “fluke” models if you will, but they also each have a couple of the best air mattresses money can buy. We won’t be covering the fluke models here, we’re only interested in the best products. These brands are top notch and have been tested in the lab and over the years by the masses. Nevertheless, there are some new kids on the block that have been making a name for themselves in this gladiator arena. Lightspeed Outdoors and Fox are two new brands that have excellent products.
Air Mattress Reviews: The Best of 2016
Here are the top picks of this year. We selected the top 5 raised beds and top 5 low profiles in this feature article.
Low Profile Air Mattresses
LightSpeed Outdoors 2-Person Air Bed is a queen sized battery operated pump that is specifically designed for campers. The detail that went into the mattress itself is quite impressive, with 192 independent stabilizers between the top and bottom layers. This provides a firm surface level with no unfriendly dips and divots to discover after a long day of activity. It is lightweight and comes with a giant storage bag giving it one of the best portability ratings of all the mattresses we’ve reviewed. The material isn’t PVC like it appears, but actually incorporates TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) that minimize stretching and ballooning that is a common problem in PVC type mattresses. The Boston valve makes for a speedy deflation, and the portable pump takes 4D batteries so you can pump it up in your tent.
ALPS Mountaineering Rechargeable Air Bed is an awesome outdoor air mattresses with a business like look. The yellow and dark grey makes the mattress look rugged and built for the outdoors. A rechargeable pump that can be plugging in using the included wall and car chargers makes finding a way to inflate the bed easy as pie. The soft flocked top prevents you from slipping off once you get hunkered down. The premium fabric and coil construction is the best in durability, with a notable 17% thicker air mattress bottom than other competitors. The battery lasts a long time on the pump so you’ll be good for a weekend trip no problem.
Insta-Bed Stow and Go is a very affordable bed that also comes with a 4D battery pump. Surprisingly this pump is built-in, which exceeded our expectations for the price point. If you are looking for something for occaisional camping trips and guests this is a good low cost option. The velour finish provides added comfort. It also blows up in just a minute flat, and is light and easy to store. The only downside is the rubbery smell that stinks things up for days until that newness period runs out. It comes with a binto designed bag with easy carry handle to help you take it on the road or store away for future use.
Aerobed Classic Inflatable Mattress is a great budget option with heavy-duty construction. Probably one of the best camping air mattresses avaialable. It has a flocked fleece surface and puncture-resistant PVC (plastic) vinyl. Even though the pump isn’t build in it has an auto-on feature for hands free inflating. It comes with a helpful storage bag, so taking it on the go is no problem. You can go a step up with Aerobed’s Extra Bed model, which comes with a built-in pump and sits three inches higher. You pay about $50 extra for these nice little features though. Plug in a converter into your car and plug this baby in and it will inflate in about 3 minutes.
Raised Air Mattresses
Insta-Bed Raised Air Mattress with Never Flat Pump is one of the most popular air beds of all time. The automatic controls are wonderful. Flip a switch and go kick back and let the air bed’s pump work its magic. The primary pump inflates the airbed in under 5 minutes. You can even customize your comfort level with a firm, medium, or plush setting. Insta-Bed included its patented neverFLAT pump system in this air bed, so it actually monitors its own inflation level. Sensors constantly monitor the air pressure to keep you comfortable throughout the night. Never again will you wake up with your head sinking into seemingly oblivion because of deflation. The secondary pump quietly maintains inflation level all night.
The queen version of this bed comes in three different options: regular, pillow top, and headboard. Queen is the most popular air bed size so Insta-Bed sought to cater to a wide audience with this airbed. They also offer this airbed in a twin size. The mattress is very supporative with dozens of circular coils that help maintain a level sleep surface. The materials used to construct this mattress are also puncture and water resistant so a camping trip is in the cards.
Serta’s Raised Air Mattress is very much like Insta-Bed’s as it uses the exact same dual pump technology NeverFlat to keep things pumped up. It’s a bit more spendy because your getting one of the most respected brands in sleep tech and they offer the best warranties in the business. Also, you may prefer the lighter color style that Serta decided to run with. As mentioned earlier, while Insta-Bed offers a 1 year warranty, Serta confidently backs their’s with two year warranty. Paying the extra $10 or so may well be worth it, as one of the most common complaints on air beds is their lack of longetivity.
Intex Pillow Rest Raised Airbed is the most affordable mattress for its quality level. It is a queen sized mattress and it also includes a built-in pump. To get an air mattress for this price that has a built-in pump is very rare. We also like that this air mattress has a raised pillow at the head of the bed. In inflates in about 3 minutes with its super powered pump. The pump is plugged into an AC outlet like the Insta-Bed air mattress. While not as customizable as the Insta-Bed, the vinyl beams and flocked top provide a good mix of comfort and sturdiness.
Fox AirBeds Plush High Rise mattresses are some of the best in the business. The main reason for this is the thickness of the vinyl material they use, it makes the mattress much more durable and much less susceptible to air leaks. You can inflate this mattress with built it or an external pump. The con is that this air mattress is much heavier than others, because of this heavy-duty material. But again on the plus side it will likely last quite a bit longer as long as you aren’t cuddling with ninja stars every night. Another differentiating feature is that Fox installed a two way pump which you can use to deflate and inflate. This is definitely an indoor airbed for guests or primary bed use as it isn’t very portable and too nice to use in the great outdoors.