Air mattresses are great for any number of scenarios. You may want one to make camping or other outdoor experiences more comfortable while they are also very handy to have when you will be hosting guests in your home. If you have trouble sleeping on most mattresses you may even switch your normal mattress to an air mattress to sleep better! Whatever you need it for, making sure you get the best air mattress is very important.
How can you may sure you’re getting a great air mattress? There are some many available both online and offline that it can be difficult to understand the real differences between each bed. Between all the different types of foam, the air bladders, the materials, and everything else it’s easy to get confused.
This guide is here to help you understand what you need to look for in an air mattress and how to find one that will fit your specific needs better than all the rest. Here you will learn about comfortable sleeping positions, common air mattress features, some of the top brands, how to choose an air mattress, our recommendations, and some general safety warnings about air mattresses.
Armed with this information you will be able to go out and buy the best air mattress for your personal needs.
Choosing the Best Air Mattress for Your Sleeping Position
When you decide to buy an air mattress for any purpose you must think about the most important thing first: comfort. It doesn’t matter how fancy, expensive, or high-tech your air mattress is if it’s just not comfortable to sleep on.
What makes an air mattress comfortable? That answer can vary a lot. One thing that can cause different responses is the position you most commonly sleep in. Each sleeping position requires different levels of support on various parts of the body to help reinforce and align the spine.
The single most important thing about comfortable sleeping is making sure your spine is straight rather than curved. If your spine is curved while you sleep, you might wake up frequently with a stiff and achy back and you may develop worse back pain over time.
Here are the suggestions for ideal air mattress support based on each sleeping position:
If you sleep on your side you will want an air mattress that is halfway between firm and soft. There should be enough support to keep your entire body from sagging into the mattress, but you should get supported enough that only the major pressure points do a lot of sinking.
This compromise helps the shoulders and hips to sink into the mattress well and will keep the spine in the proper position rather than letting it become bent at the lower back while you are sleeping.
Sleeping on your back generally calls for a more firm air mattress. The best air mattress for a back sleeper will be one that does not allow the lower back and shoulders to sink in very far. It is especially important to pay attention to your shoulders, as this will affect how straight and aligned your neck is while you sleep.
Are you a sufferer from sleep apnea or any other unpleasant sleeping disorder? Look for air mattresses with adjustable air bladders or multiple air bladders to help you get a slight incline as you’re sleeping.
Sleeping on your stomach requires a very firm mattress, just as with the back. This is because a soft mattress will allow too much of your body to sink in any bend the spine during the night. Your spine is already more stressed in this position due to the neck being turned to one side or the other, so it’s best to compensate for that by purchasing a firm air mattress.
Try to avoid getting an air mattress with a built-in pillow as this will not feel comfortable for your neck or back when you are sleeping on your stomach.
Common Features of Air Mattress
What kinds of features and extras can you expect to see on an air mattress? There are so many fancy add-ons advertised for air mattresses today, but the most important features to look for and really pay attention to are these:
1. Remote adjustment
How will you adjust the air level in the mattress? Cheaper camping air mattresses are manually adjusted with the pump, but a mid-range mattress and almost all high-end air mattresses will have remote controlled adjustment of air levels and firmness.
Don’t both too much with complicated mattress remotes (including sleep number remotes) or cordless remotes, as these will not really improve the overall quality of the mattress and will greatly increase the price.
2. Air bladder
The air bladder is the actual rubber, PVC, or nylon pouch that you will pump full of air. It is the most integral part of an air mattress and will do a lot to determine the comfort or support provided by each particular air mattress.
Air bladders made of high quality rubber parts are generally more comfortable and more reliable than their cheaper alternatives, although this is not always the case. Higher quality materials for the air bladder can lead you to experience a lot more comfortable sleep.
3. Foam supports
Many air mattresses come with built-in sturdy foam sides. These are perfect for helping the mattress maintain its shape and avoid sagging or slouching on either side. Look for foam side supports when possible.
Try to avoid unnecessary foam supports such as central supports (in queen sizes and above) or individual section supports (for mattresses with multiple bladders). These usually create “humpy” and uncomfortably places on the air mattress that will ruin your night of sleep.
4. Foam upper/pillow top
Comfortable foam material on the top of the mattress can make a big difference for those who want to get a really good night of sleep. Materials such as memory foam or latex make great padding to help you stay comfy while you’re sleeping.
If you want to enjoy the really effects of these pillow top materials, make sure they are on the topmost layer, as they will be largely ineffective if they are under any air bladders or other materials. Additionally, look for high density foams if you want the mattress to last longer.
5. Air pump
Air pumps come in all kinds from manual to automatic and even built-in pumps. A high quality pump should fill your mattress in between 5 – 15 minutes with minimal noise and great efficiency. Some companies skimp on the pump quality and only include a very low quality air pump with your mattress.
What kind of pump you want depends largely on where you will be using the mattress the most. If you will be outdoors with it a lot you might prefer a smaller manual pump that is easy to carry and versatile. If you’ll be using it indoors, you should look for a high quality, reliable pump rather than setting for a poor quality air pump which may break easily.
Although these are the most common features found on many air mattresses, you will see different brands adding assorted bells and whistles to make their mattress stand out in some way. Most other features are not as important to the quality of the mattress and will just affect you convenience, not your comfort.
Top Brands of Air Mattresses
When it comes to brand names for air mattresses, there are a few that are easier to find and better known than the others. These top rated brands are not necessarily the highest quality available, but it depends on the specific mattress you are looking at and what exactly you need.
Otherwise, here is a little information about some of the main brands you may see in stores or online:
Air mattresses from Insta-bed can be classified as upper-mid range in quality, generally. The thing that helps Insta-bed air mattresses to set themselves apart is the addition of handy features which are not standard on competing mattresses. This company tries to include innovative and useful designs into their products, coming up with features that are sometimes incredibly nice to have or a bit over the top, depending on what you need.
This is a company that makes many different plastic products from air mattresses to above ground swimming pools. Their expertise is usually in making mid-range products at a great price point. Most of the Intex air mattresses you can find will cost less than comparable air mattresses, although they may not have all the same features.
The focus of many Serta mattresses is on quality. You will find a lot of well made mattresses that are quite comfortable in this company’s air mattress lineup. They are so sure of their quality that air mattresses from Serta almost all have a 2 year warranty attached to them, something that other brands do not offer.
Mattresses from AeroBed might cost a little bit more than some of the other competing brands, but the quality you receive is worth the extra cost. These air mattresses tend to be light, efficient, and comfortable. There are different designs available for many separate needs you might have and various models to fit inside anyone’s budget.
The above information is just a general overview of some of the top rated air mattress brands available for purchase. There are many other brands that may fit your needs better, so it’s best not to get too caught up on which brand name is listed on the box.
That being said, these brands all have great reputations in the air mattress market, meaning you can be surer of the product you’re getting.
Air Mattress Buyer’s Guide
If you want to help prepare yourself for making the best air mattress buying decision, it’s good to know what you should be on the lookout for and what will fit your needs the best. Here are the steps you should follow to prepare for and make your purchase:
1. Step one: Define Your Needs
If you already know what you plan to use the new air mattress for, this step should be easy for you to do. For step one you must sit down and think about what exactly you are planning to do with your air mattress. Will you be taking it outdoors? Are you using it for guests? Are you replacing your current bed mattress?
Depending on what you need the mattress for you may want to look at very different types of air mattresses. It’s a good idea to clearly define what you need the mattress to do before you start looking.
2. Step two: Set Up Boundaries
Once you know what your mattress is for you should figure out how large or small it should be to do the job well. This is especially important if you plan to take the air mattress with you as you go tent camping or if you want to use it in a bed frame or guest room.
If possible you should measure the space that the air mattress will be used in to make sure you know the dimensions that it must be to fit properly. The last thing you want is to set your air mattress up when you need it, only to find out that it’s too large for the space you planned!
Air mattresses are available in all different sizes from twin bed size all the way up to king bed sizes, so whatever it is that you need should be available.
3. Step three: Decide on Necessities
Now that you know the size and purpose of your air mattress you should look at what you feel is a necessity for an air mattress. For some it might be a built-in pump while others will value a memory foam topper more. What is it that you don’t want to live without on your air mattress?
Consider things like what kind of pump you really want or need, how air levels should be adjusted while the mattress is in use, what sort of air bladder system it should have, whether there should be a headboard or not, and anything else that will affect the way you use it.
It’s also very important that you think about the necessity of portability. Some air mattresses with too many extra features and dense foam uppers will not only take up a lot of space but will also be difficult to move around when you need to travel or just to drag it out for a guest.
All the extra features that come on air mattresses might seem silly, but they can all be very useful in making sure you get a good night’s rest. If there are any features that are important to you, list them out so that you make sure to only buy an air mattress that has the right features!
4. Step four: Consider Your Comfort
Beyond the user features, there is also the issue of how comfortable the mattress will be. This is mostly determined by the quality of the air bladder and the type of foam used on the mattress topper. You can choose between different types of memory foam, latex, or other foam-like materials.
The denser the foam is the more long-lasting and comfortable the air mattress will be. Lighter foam might feel soft and comfortable at first, but it will quickly get worn down. Heavy density foam makes the mattress heavier to carry around, but it also makes it much more comfortable for a long period of time.
5. Step five: Compare Prices
Once you have a good picture in your head of exactly what you need from your mattress and what it should be like, you can start to check out the specs on different air mattresses available. You can find air mattresses in stores, but the selection might be more limited and more expensive.
It’s easier to compare prices online to get the best deal on an air mattress of your choice. Sites like Amazon.com make it simple to see not only what’s on the market but also how the price compares to other similar items being sold.
6. Step six: Buy Your Air Mattress!
Once you’ve found the perfect mattress with all the right features and specifications, it’s just up to you to click that “buy now” button and order your new air mattress today!
Attention: Warning about using an air mattress
- Do not allow jumping or playing on the mattress, as this may cause it to pop
- Animals with claws should be discouraged from being on or around the mattress
- Use only approved pumps for air mattresses to avoid over-inflating and causing stress on the mattress seams
Top Rated Air Mattress Reviews
To help you in your search for the best air mattress, we have compiled a list of some of the most popular air mattresses. These air mattresses have received top ratings and excellent reviews from users around the world and are available all at Amazon.com.
1. Insta-Bed Raised Air Mattress with Never Flat PumpCheck Price
Dimensions: 74”x39”x18” (Twin), 80”x60”x18” (Queen)
Available in both twin and queen sizes, Insta-bed’s raised air mattress s great for indoor use of any kind. It comes with two different pumps: 1 helps you fill the mattress initially while the other keeps the air levels perfect throughout the night. Air leakage during the night can be a huge problem for comfort, so the Never Flat pump system is appreciated by many.
The remote control for this bed helps you adjust the air levels to either soft, medium, or firm settings and will maintain the correct level throughout use. This helps sleepers of all kind to find a comfortable position and sleep through the night without waking up with aches.
Height of the air mattress is taller than many normal mattresses because of a larger air bladder that raises the bed up. This added height makes it easy to get in and out of the bed, allowing it to be used by the elderly and those with back and leg problems.
Sides of the mattress are reinforced by foam supports to help keep the integrity of the mattress shape throughout its usable lifetime. Circular coils on the air mattress’s top surface help to even out the upper and keep you comfortable all night as well as being puncture resistant for your convenience.
- Convenient self inflation (never flat)
- Automatic pump settings
- Comfortable height
- Great customer service
- Slightly loud pump action
- Some product quality inconsistency reported by customers
As an all-around air mattress, this is a good choice for hosting guests or use in a vacation home. The lifetime is usually around 1&1/2 – 2 years according to many other customer reviews, so you will get some good use out of it and spend a lot of comfortable nights without having to adjust your bed air levels at all.
2. Intex Pillow Rest Raised Airbed with Built-in Pillow and Electric Pump, TwinCheck Price
As a twin size air mattress, this bed from Intex comes recommended by many Amazon.com users. The mix of easy use, convenient height, and added length are all features that are appealing for sleepers in need of a temporary or semi-temporary air bed.
A built-in automatic pump makes inflating this bed a breeze. All you have to do is plug it in, turn the dial to your preferred air setting, and it will fill up within just a few minutes on its own. If the air levels go down during the night you can adjust them again to maintain your comfortable settings.
The flocked top of the air mattress is water proof and contains a built-in pillow design that can be inflated separately. This pillow may not be enough for everyone, but it’s great if you have forgotten to bring a pillow or if you are most comfortable with smaller pillows. It also keeps your head from sinking down too much during the night when you use a regular pillow.
Some people who have bought and reviewed this bed have reported having issues with the air mattress springing leaks. This seems to be due to the tall design. Although it is supported by extra materials, it may not be well supported enough to keep the seams from tearing, particularly around the top of the bed.
Weight capacity of up to 300 pounds is doable with this mattress, helping to accommodate people of all sizes that need a comfortable place to sleep.
- Mattress inflates in around 3 minutes
- Comfortable built-in pillows
- Easy height for use by all adults
- Great for fitted and non-fitted standard twin sheets
- Holds air well
- Short warranty
- Difficult to fold and store
- Potential for more air leaks due to interior motor design
If you want a long-lasting air mattress that can take a lot of abuse, this is not the model for you. But, if all you need is a temporary sleeping area that’s comfortable and easy to maintain than this might be a great fit for you. It is particularly good for smaller sleepers such as children, since they will not cause as quick of air loss as larger adults might.
3. Intex Ultra Plush Airbed with Built-in Electric Pump, Queen, Bed Height 18”Check Price
This queen-sized air mattress sets up conveniently in your home to help you or your guests get a good night of sleep without having to sleep on the ground. It is a raised air mattress that is the same height as any normal bed, aiding your comfortable night.
A built-in pump system plugs in and inflates the mattress fully within just under 5 minutes of time. If you don’t have access to electrical power, the pump also allows for connection of a battery-powered air mattress pump to do the job.
On top of the air mattress is a soft textured sleeping area that is comfortable and water proof. It holds onto sheet easily so you can use a fitted sheet to cover this bed.
When you’re planning to transport the air mattress you can drain the air and fold it up to place inside an included duffel bag that is just the right size. This makes transportation and storage simple issues to solve while helping you to protect your air mattress from unintentional punctures.
15 gauge side materials are responsible for making the bed sturdier and helping it to keep its shape during use. It is rated to support up to 600 pounds of weight when properly filled and set up.
- Sturdy waterproof top
- Can be inflated with or without power
- Sturdy frame reduces sagging
- Soft foam upper is very comfortable
- Lower price range than similar air mattresses
- Can spring leaks quickly – keep original box for returns if necessary
- No warranty
You should be able to get at least a few good months of use out of this mattress without issues. It is comfortable and large enough for two adults to sleep well. This air mattress is not meant to have a very long life, as it is not designed with the best quality in mind. There is no warranty, which makes it unfortunate when the mattress does end up failing. Overall it is a good choice for those that just need the occasional temporary sleeping arrangements, not for long-term storage or extended use.
4. Serta Raised Air Mattress with Never Flat PumpCheck Price
Dimensions: 80”x60”x18” (Queen)
Although this air mattress costs a little more than the average Intex or Insta-bed, you can count on the value of the air mattress being worth that cost. A combination of easy maintenance, comfortable design, and high quality materials makes this a good choice for someone that wants their air mattress to last longer.
Two pumps are automatically included with this mattress. The external pump is used to inflate the air mattress to full capacity in around 4 minutes while the built-in Never Flat pump turns on as needed to keep the mattress at your preferred firmness setting. Both pumps have an automatic shut-off feature that activates when the bed is as full as it should be.
Top sleeping surface is made with a circular coil system that does a great job of keeping the bed level and avoiding lumpiness. The design of the top is also convenient for holding your queen size sheets in place around the air mattress.
On the bottom of this air mattress there is a gripping pad which will keep the bed from moving around at night when you move.
- Includes self-maintaining Never Flat pump
- Top is resistant to punctures and water
- Tough material and quality build helps avoid leaks
- Never Flat pump is very quiet
- No lumpy feel when sleeping
- Initial filling pump is a bit loud
- Bed can get cold at night without a mattress topper or insulating blanket
Serta is known to make high quality products, with this air mattress being another one to add to their legacy. It can last for years if you use and store it properly. The Never Flat pump system is very convenient for helping you stay comfortable all night without having to get up and adjust the air levels yourself. Comfort and quality will both work together to help you sleep well at night. Just make sure you have a pillow topper or some insulating blankets to sleep on, or else you might get cold over night!
5. AeroBed Mattress for KidsCheck Price
Anyone looking for an easy travel bed for their children can get a lot of good use out of this Aerobed mattress. It is easy to pack up and take traveling with you wherever you’re headed with the included duffel bag.
The bed is made of PVC plastic, but it comes with a soft, easily attached bed cover that makes it much more comfortable for sleeping. You can take the cover off to wash it whenever you need to and re-attach it without trouble.
Kids can sleep safely in this bed, as it comes standard with raised edges all around, preventing children from rolling off the mattress as they are sleeping at night.
The included pump can fill up this air mattress within 1 minute and deflate it in around 15 seconds of time. Because of this it’s perfect for packing up during the day and setting up again overnight if you only have a small space for usage.
It can support a capacity of 150 pounds, so most young children will sleep perfectly well on the bed as well as some older children who tend to curl up in their sleep. It’s smaller than a normal twin bed, so it might not be useful for children over the ages of 10 as they grow taller.
- Durable enough to withstand years of use by children
- Easy to fold and store
- Higher edges prevent children from rolling off the sides
- Air mattress cover is included
- Great for toddlers and children a little older as well
- Small size is not good for children over 4 feet tall
- Some poor customer service incidents have been received
Parents and grandparents who need a place for young children to sleep can get years of good use from this durable, comfy children’s air mattress. Even if the kids are running around and jumping on it, it can withstand their play and still hold them up as they’re sleeping at night. It’s easy to set up, great for travel, and great for young kids between 2 and 10. This bed cannot replace a crib for a very small child and is too small for many older children or teens.
Finding the best air mattress can be difficult, but when you spend the necessary time preparing and finding the perfect match you will be much happier with your choice. Now that you’ve read all there is to consider with different air mattresses, you should be prepared to go out and find the perfect air mattress for you and your family!
If you haven’t already done so, check out our top 5 recommendations available on Amazon.com. These are among the best air mattress selections you can get in a good price range, so if you see something that works for you than you could have your new air mattress delivered to your doorstep within a few days when you order from Amazon! A good night’s sleep is waiting for you.