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At home, you can sleep on your own comfortable mattress, but when you hit the road for a camping trip or to visit friends, you may not know where you’ll be catching Zs. The same goes for your guests. Your friends and family’s dreams might not be so sweet if they’re bunking on your lumpy pullout sofa or futon.
An air mattress is a great investment; it quickly inflates into a comfortable, portable bed. But not all air mattresses are created equal. Some are more durable, inflate more easily, or are softer and springier than others, so it can be tough to choose the model that best meets your needs.
At BestReviews, we make it simple. We handle the hard part of shopping — we research, we compare, we interview real-life customers — so you can sit back and buy. And because we never accept free products or perks from manufacturers, you can trust that our reviews are always honest and unbiased.
If you’re ready to shop for an air mattress, take a look at the matrix above to see our top five picks.
Or read on for a closer look at air mattresses, what to look for when selecting one, and tips and tricks for making the most out of your new inflatable bed.
Most air mattresses are made of PVC, latex, nylon, or another type of reinforced plastic for durability. In most cases, an air mattress comes with an electric pump that hooks up to a valve and inflates the mattress in a matter of minutes.
Some models have a foot-powered pump, while budget-friendly options must be inflated by mouth. Higher-end air mattresses inflate automatically by opening a valve, but they only fill to a certain pressure; you finish the inflation manually.
To deflate the mattress, simply open the valve and allow the air to escape. Pressing on the mattress once the valve is open deflates it more quickly. When the mattress is fully deflated, you can roll or fold it up again for storage or transport.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
SoundAsleep Dream Series
Of special note — and the reason the SoundAsleep Dream Series is one of our top picks — is that the percentage of owners who complain about leaks or manufacturing defects is extremely low. There is nothing worse when sleeping on an air mattress than air slowly seeping out during the night, and the SoundAsleep fails far less frequently in this regard compared to other products.
With an air mattress, you can make a comfortable bed for you or your guests in minutes. But there are many other benefits of a good air mattress.
An air mattress is lightweight and easy to store. You can easily move it around your home or pack it in your car when necessary.
Air mattresses allow you to customize firmness to be as comfortable as possible. If you prefer a softer mattress, fill it with less air. If you prefer a firmer mattress, fill it to capacity.
They are extremely durable. You can expect an air mattress to last as long — or longer — than a traditional mattress. They’re also less expensive than conventional mattresses.
If you live in a small home, an air mattress allows you to create a guest room in a hurry. Pull it out of the closet and inflate it anywhere you have some floor space.
Air mattresses at every price point now have textured tops to keep sheets on.
An air mattress is only as good as the sleep it gives you, so comfort and support are essential considerations.
Look for a mattress with even air distribution to prevent lumps or bubbles.
For the most comfortable bed, though, opt for an air mattress with internal air coils or chambers.
For a queen-size bed, an air mattress with 30 or more coils will be the most comfortable.
In addition to size, it’s important to consider the height of an air mattress. If you’re putting the mattress on the floor without a platform to elevate it, it can be difficult to get in and out of bed with a single-height air mattress.
A double-height air mattress is nearly the same height as a traditional bed, so older people and others with mobility issues may have an easier time getting on and off this type of air mattress.
It’s a good idea to choose an air mattress that comes with a warranty.
For the most protection, choose one that has a one-year warranty for both the bed and the pump.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Intex Raised Downy
Intex says its Raised Downy air mattress is designed with comfort and stability in mind. The bottom chamber provides the same support as a traditional box spring, while the flocked upper chamber offers comfort coils that feel a lot like traditional mattress springs. This low-priced Intex mattress also sits slightly higher than the other products we tested, at 20 inches high.
Air mattresses come in all the standard mattress sizes, including twin, full, queen, and king. The usual air mattress specs are 38x74 inches for a twin, 54x74 inches for a full, 60x80 inches for a queen, and 72x80 inches for a king.
Bigger air mattresses will accommodate larger people or multiple sleepers more comfortably, but keep the size of the area where you plan to put the air mattress in mind as well. You want to be sure it’ll fit.
Full- or queen-size air mattresses offer the most versatility for entertaining overnight guests because they can usually accommodate up to two adults.
If you want an air mattress that’s easy to inflate, opt for one that comes with a pump. Some pumps run on internal batteries, while others must be plugged into the wall. If you plan to camp with your air mattress, a battery-operated pump is the best option.
For the quickest inflation, choose a mattress that has a built-in pump. If you opt for a mattress with an external pump, make sure the valve on the bed fits it well and seals properly so leaks don’t occur.
It’s important to store an air mattress is some type of container to protect it from tears and rips.
You can fold up the mattress and put it back in its original box, but that can be cumbersome. For the easiest storage, choose an air mattress that comes with a storage bag or container.
The online hospitality service Airbnb got its start when its founders began renting out air mattresses in their San Francisco loft.
While size, comfort, and ease of use are the main things to consider, some air mattresses come equipped with extra features that could come in handy. Keep in mind that you’ll usually pay more for additional features.
Some air mattresses are fitted with LED lights to serve as nightlights, while others have USB ports to charge your phone, tablet, or laptop while you sleep.
Air mattresses are available in a wide range of prices. The cost usually depends on what size mattress you’re purchasing; king air mattresses cost more than twin mattresses.
In general, you can expect to pay between $25 and $450.
Expect to spend $50 to $90 for a basic queen-size air mattress.
For a higher-end model, you’ll usually pay between $100 and $150 for a queen.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
SoundAsleep Dream Series
Some SoundAsleep Dream Series owners report that this air mattress is actually more comfortable than their regular bed. That’s due to the 40 internal air coils that keep the mattress firm and free from sagging and buckling. Our testers found the bed supremely comfortable, too, and it boasts the best durability reports of all the products we tested. Comfort and longevity: a combination worth buying.
If you’re purchasing an air mattress to host overnight guests, opt for a full or queen size to fit two people comfortably.
Whether you’re using the air mattress yourself or hosting a guest, always make it up with traditional sheets. You’ll get a better night’s sleep than simply lying down on top of the inflated mattress with a blanket.
You can make an air mattress even more comfortable by adding a mattress topper. A foam egg-crate or quilted-pad style adds extra cushioning to make an air mattress feel more like a traditional bed.
It’s best to place an air mattress on a soft surface, such as a carpet or rug. It can squeak on hard flooring when sleepers toss and turn during the night.
If your air mattress develops a hole, you can easily patch it up by heating a stick of hot glue and applying it to the puncture.
Some air mattresses have built-in pumps, while others have an external pump that runs on batteries or electricity. The best type depends on how you plan to use your air mattress.
Q. Can I use an air mattress as a permanent bed?
A. Air mattresses aren’t usually designed for everyday use. If you sleep on it every night, durability issues will likely arise after a few months. It’s best to use an air mattress one to two times a week.
Q. How do I store an air mattress?
A. When you’re finished using your mattress, deflate it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure all the air is out of it, as it’s more prone to damage while inflated. Fold the long sides of the mattress in toward the middle. Then either fold it in half or quarters or roll it up. Place it in its box or storage bag before stashing it in a closet or on a shelf. If you can’t find the box or bag, wrap it in a towel to protect it.
Q. How do I clean an air mattress?
A. First, make sure the pump is unplugged. Remove any sheets and other bedding, then run a handheld or hose vacuum over the mattress to remove crumbs, dirt, and debris. Dampen a soft cloth with rubbing alcohol and wipe down the mattress. Leave the mattress out to dry for four to five hours before folding it up for storage.
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If your air mattress seems to be deflating faster than usual, you may have a small hole.
Follow these steps to locate the hole and patch it up – no new mattress necessary.
3. Use a glue such as Gorilla Glue to rub into the hole, then affix a patch. Again, let dry then rub down.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.