Updated May 2022
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Buying guide for Best car airbeds

Young children, weary travelers — pretty much everyone has fallen asleep in a car at some point. Unfortunately, a car isn’t an ideal place to rest because it isn’t configured for sleeping. You’ll probably wake up feeling worse than when you went to sleep! A car airbed can solve this problem.

A car airbed quickly converts your vehicle into free lodging. It doesn't matter if you have a small car and need to curl up in the confines of the back seat or a large SUV with enough room to spread out, a car airbed can help. The best airbed is comfortable enough to provide a good night's sleep. Some also include desirable extras like pillows, a repair kit, and a travel bag.

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One way to get a better night's sleep in a vehicle is to park on a slight incline so your head is positioned higher than your feet. Make sure the vehicle is in Park and the emergency brake is on.

Key considerations


The most important factor to consider when selecting a car airbed is the type: a back-seat or full-size car airbed.

Back-seat airbed: As it sounds, this airbed is designed to turn the back seat of your vehicle into a bed. It has a section that fits over the floor between the back seat and the front seat, making the mattress wider than the seat. Sometimes the airbed comes in two separate sections, which makes it slightly more adjustable. While this is an excellent option for shorter individuals, if you’re taller than your car is wide, you won’t be able to stretch out, which can be uncomfortable.

Full-size airbed: This type fills the entire back of a truck, station wagon, or SUV with the seats folded down. Depending on the airbed model, this is comparable to sleeping on a regular bed.

When sleeping in your car, be sure to park near a restroom or have some other way of relieving yourself when the need eventually arises.



Weight capacity

If more than one individual will be sleeping on the car airbed, you want to be sure it’s strong enough to hold the weight. Many are rated at an 800-pound capacity, but some of the bargain models might not be as rugged.


Pricier car airbeds are adjustable. Some of the best can be reconfigured from a full-size airbed to a narrower version to fit in a vehicle with less room, which means you can use it in any vehicle you have.


Durable: You want a car airbed that will last for more than a few uses. Look for one with reinforced seams and no-leak inflation ports that is manufactured with quality thermoplastic urethane (TPU).

Flocked: Flocking is a process that deposits small fibers on a surface to give it a softer and more desirable texture. A flocked airbed will be less slippery and much more comfortable to sleep on.

Eco-friendly: Some car airbeds use eco-friendly materials and manufacturing processes. If this is important to you, you might have to look a little harder to find one that suits your needs.

Color: Most car airbeds are available in neutral colors like black, brown, or gray. If you'd like something in purple or blue, it may be an option for some models but isn't the norm.


Air pump: Most car airbeds include a 12-volt air pump. Inflating an airbed with a manual bicycle pump is more difficult.

Pillows: Most people use pillows in some manner when they sleep. If you don't want to bring your pillows from home, look for a car airbed that comes with inflatable pillows.

Travel bag: Having a travel bag is a plus. It keeps your airbed clean between uses and provides a convenient method of storage.

Repair kit: If anything punctures your car airbed, you’ll quickly understand the importance of having a repair kit on hand. These kits are small so it’s easy to keep one with you in the car.

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It's always a good idea to inflate your car airbed a few days before you plan to use it to make sure there are no leaks.


Earplugs: Mack's Ultra Soft Earplugs
If the environment where you're sleeping isn't quiet, a pair of Mack's foam earplugs might be all it takes to allow you to drift off to slumberland. These affordable earplugs are soft and comfortable and have a noise reduction rating (NRR) of 33 decibels.

Sleep mask: ASUTRA Eye Pillow
When sleeping in your car, you can block out light by putting shades on all the windows or you can wear a sleep mask. Donning a sleep mask is a much simpler option. ASUTRA's silk sleep mask is filled with lavender and flax seeds and its curved shape provides a comfortable, light-blocking fit.

Camping mat: ALPS Mountaineering Camping Mat
This inexpensive, lightweight, closed-cell foam padding can be unrolled and placed on top of your car airbed to enhance your in-vehicle sleeping experience.

Sleeping bag: MalloMe Camping Sleeping Bag
If you have a sleeping bag, you don't have to worry about keeping blankets in your car. This lightweight model is designed for use in spring, summer, and fall. It’s effortless to clean and features snag-free double-sided zippers.

Car airbed prices


You can find an inexpensive car airbed for less than $30. While these models might not be very durable or comfortable, they are an option if you only need one for limited use.


Most back-seat car airbeds cost $35 to $60. These typically come with a 12-volt air pump and other items such as a travel bag, pillows, and more.


Over $60, you can find larger car airbeds designed for camping. These models fit in the back of a truck or SUV and accommodate multiple sleepers.

If you forget to bring a pillow, you can stuff some clothing into a shirt, jacket, or even pants leg to get you through the night more comfortably.



While sleeping in your car can be a convenient, money-saving option, it might not be as safe as spending the night in a motel. To help you have the best experience possible, here are a few safety tips.

  • Let someone know where you are. A text is best so your contact won’t forget or misremember the location. Tell them you’ll check in after you wake up too.
  • Park in a safe place. Don't park your car in an isolated location that would make it easy for any unscrupulous activity to go unnoticed. Don't park in an area where there is traffic, such as by the side of the road. You don’t want to risk your vehicle being hit by another car. Don't back your car up to a snowbank because this can cause carbon monoxide levels to rise if the car is running.
  • Keep your phone, purse, or other items out of sight. Hide as many of your belongings as you can so you aren’t a target for theft.
  • Check that your car is off and locked. Never leave the car running or the keys in the ignition while you’re sleeping. Put your vehicle in Park and apply the parking brake. Make sure your car is locked, including the trunk as well as the doors.
  • Get comfortable. Sleep as stretched out as possible to promote good blood circulation. If it's cold, make sure your hands, feet, and head are covered to help you stay warm. If it's hot and the sun is still up, park in the shade. Remember to take into account the movement of the sun so you stay in the shade.
  • Allow for air circulation. In most climates, it's best to crack the window a tiny bit to allow for better air circulation. If you can't do this, don't worry. Cars aren't airtight, so you won't suffocate. Excessive heat or sitting in an idling car are the true dangers.
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Don't use your car's accessories. Leaving the dome light on or running the heater or AC is dangerous and will deplete your car battery and possibly leave you stranded when you wake up.


Q. Why sleep in the car?

A. Even if you aren't someone who delights in spending weekends in the wild, you may still find sleeping in your car to be a more desirable option than finding a motel. The biggest plus is after you get your car airbed, sleeping in your car is free. It's convenient, it saves time, and it offers better protection than sleeping in a tent. Additionally, sleeping in your car is one way to travel without exposing yourself to the germs and viruses that you may encounter when staying in a motel. Last, a car airbed doesn't have to be for overnight sleeping only. You can use it for a quick lunchtime nap as well.

Q. Where can I sleep in my car?

A. In most states, sleeping in your car outside of designated areas is illegal. Some states do make allowances for weary drivers, allowing for limited sleep periods, but not all states have this option. The key is knowing the law and obeying any and all posted notices. After confirming that you won’t be breaking the law, some locations where you might be able to catch a few hours of shut-eye include Walmart parking lots, casino parking lots, and possibly some 24-hour establishments. However, truck stops, rest stops, welcome centers, and campsites are the wiser choice. If you’re drowsy, it's better to pull off the road and find the safest area nearby to take a quick nap rather than drive when you’re impaired by lack of sleep.

Q. Can dogs sleep on a car airbed?

A. If you have a dog that will be sleeping with you and the car airbed you chose doesn’t specifically state that it's safe for dogs (or other pets), it might not last through the night. Even if you have a durable, pet-safe airbed, your animal’s claws could still tear it. One way that you can help ensure the airbed survives is to put a foam camping mat on top of the airbed. In case a puncture does occur, keep a repair kit in your car to patch the mattress.

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