Best Air Mattresses

Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for best air mattresses

Whether you're looking at camping mattresses or spare beds for guests, an air mattress is a portable and fairly affordable option that offers far more comfort and support than a sleeping bag. The size, material, and inflation method may vary, so it’s important to consider your needs and budget when purchasing an air mattress that will hopefully last you for years.

Most air mattresses are made of latex, PVC, or nylon. The material quality and overall design of the mattress will determine how much air is lost overnight. For something that inflates quickly and with relatively little effort, look for a mattress that includes an electric pump. While this is great to have at home, you may want a manual pump if you plan to take your air mattress when you go camping. The biggest determinant for the price is the size and height of the mattress.

It’s important that an air mattress is reliable and comfortable.

How does an air mattress work?

Most air mattresses are made of PVC, latex, nylon, or other types 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.

Benefits of an air mattress

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 as a traditional mattress. Maybe even longer, depending on how often you use it. 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.

What to look for when buying an air mattress

Comfort and support

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.


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.


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.


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 in 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.

Extra features

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.

How much does an air mattress cost?

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.

Tips and tricks for using your air mattress

  • 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 topper 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.

How to patch an air mattress hole

Two ways to patch an air mattress hole

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.

  1. Find the hole by inflating the air mattress and spritzing its surface with soapy water. If you see the water bubble, that's where the hole is.
  2. Wipe down the surface around the hole.
  3. Heat a stick of glue over the hole and rub it into the hole and let dry, then rub down.
Fixing an air mattress with hot glue.


       Use a glue, like Gorilla Glue, to rub into the hole, then affix a patch. Again, let dry then rub down.


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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