Best Air Mattresses of 2017
Our air mattress shopping guide and top three air mattress picks ensure your guests won't suffer a bad night of sleep in your home.
Sleeping On Air: Which Air Mattress Should You Buy?
Picture the scene: You've given up your bed to a guest only to have your kindness repaid by a horribly uncomfortable night, tossing and turning on a sagging air mattress. You might even be lying directly on the floor by morning.
We're here to tell you that your night doesn't need to be spent in such discomfort. Air mattresses have come a long way in recent years; they aren't the same implements of torture that were dragged out when you slept at your best friend's house as a kid. In fact, some of the best air mattresses are almost as comfortable as a regular box-spring mattress.
The question is, how do you distinguish a quality air mattress from one that's going to be uncomfortable or fall apart? It can be a long, tedious process with hours of research, but we've done that work for you.
At BestReviews, we consult experts, analyze customer reviews, and test certain products in our labs to discover which items are worth your hard-earned cash. To eliminate the chance of bias, we never accept free product samples during the course of our research. Our goal is to bring you fair, honest reviews that will help you get the most for your money.
The following article will guide you toward the perfect air mattress for your needs, leaving you walking on air—or sleeping on it, at least. Once you're ready to buy, please check the product matrix above to discover our favorite three air mattress choices.
Air Mattress Types
Once you've decided to buy an air mattress, it's time to narrow down the type of air mattress you need. Below, we outline the pros and cons of the three major air mattress types: standard, double-high, and camping air mattresses.
Standard Air Mattresses
A standard air mattress is 8 to 10 inches tall when inflated. It may or may not have a built-in air pump.
Standard Air Mattress Pros:
- Standard air mattresses tend to be affordable.
- Standard air mattresses fold up smaller than double-high versions. So if you're short on storage space, this could be the perfect option.
- Since a standard air mattress needs less air to fill completely, you can use a foot pump if you don't have an electric or battery-operated pump.
Standard Air Mattress Cons:
- Most standard air mattresses aren't very comfortable.
- Standard air mattresses aren't known for their durability.
Double-High Air Mattresses
Double-high air mattresses are taller versions of standard air mattresses, usually measuring 16 to 24 inches in height.
Double-High Air Mattress Pros:
- Double-high air mattresses are significantly more comfortable than standard air mattresses.
- Multiple internal air chambers make double-high air mattresses more durable and less prone to sagging.
- Because they're higher off the ground, double-high air mattresses are easier to climb in and out of.
- Double-high air mattresses usually have a built-in electric pump and fully inflate in less than one minute.
Double-High Air Mattress Cons:
- Double-high air mattresses tend to cost more than standard mattresses.
- Because of the extra material, double-high air mattresses are bulkier than standard air mattresses when folded for storage.
Camping Air Mattress
If you love the great outdoors—but you don't love sleeping on the cold, hard ground—a camping air mattress could be just what you need.
Camping Air Mattress Pros:
- Camping air mattresses are lightweight yet durable—the perfect camping combo.
- Most camping air mattresses are waterproof to withstand the elements.
- Since you probably won't have access to electricity, camping air mattresses don't come with a built-in electric pump. Instead, you can use a battery-operated or manual pump to inflate your camping air mattress.
Camping Air Mattress Con:
- Camping air mattresses are great for a few nights of roughing it outdoors, but they're not always as comfortable as those designed for home use.
Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing an Air Mattress
What size air mattress do you require? How do you want to inflate it? These are just a few of the questions you should consider when choosing the perfect air mattress to fit your needs.
How much support do you require?
The best air mattresses aren't just hollow inside; they have a number of internal "air chambers" that help distribute the air evenly. This makes the mattress more supportive, less likely to sag, and more durable. Some air mattresses have internal air coils which further increase support and comfort.
What type of inflation method do you prefer?
Many double-high air mattresses boast a built-in air pump that plugs into an outlet. With the flick of a switch, you can easily inflate the bed. But other air mattresses come with a simple valve so you can use your own air pump. This is fine if you already own a pump, but if not, you would need to factor the cost of a new air pump into your purchase.
How much weight capacity do you need?
Most air mattresses have generous maximum weight capacities. Often, you'll find twin air mattresses with a weight capacity of up to 500 pounds and queen mattresses with a weight capacity of up to 600 pounds. This can vary, however, so it's best to check the specs before making your purchase.
Do you want an air mattress with a topper?
Some air mattresses come with a soft pillow top or even a memory foam topper. In general, these mattresses are more comfortable for long-term use. Notably, however, the topper portion may not fold down as small. What's more, these types of air mattresses are harder to find, and they typically come with a higher price tag.
What size of air mattress do you require?
Just like regular mattresses, air mattresses come in a range of sizes. You can easily find twin and queen air mattresses, but full- and king-size versions are rarer. Think about the space in which you intend to use your air mattress to make sure you have enough room.
How much storage space do you have?
Air mattresses can be folded down to a more compact size when not in use, and they usually come with a case or bag for storage. Still, you should anticipate how much space your folded air mattress will consume before you buy it.
You can expect a double-high queen air mattress to fold to about 25" x 20" x 10". Standard models and twin-size air mattresses of all types will fold down even smaller.
Tips for Getting a Good Night's Sleep on an Air Mattress
A good night's sleep plays a key role in your sense of well-being during the day. Check out these tips on how to derive the best experience from your air mattress.
- Dress your air mattress as you would a regular bed, with a sheet, comforter, and pillows. An extra comforter layered beneath the sheets creates an even cozier experience.
- If possible, station your air mattress on carpet; it will squeak when placed on hardwood or tile. If carpet isn't an option, put a blanket or rug underneath it.
- Air mattresses don't come with headboards, but if you place the head of the bed against a wall, you can simulate a "headboard effect" that prevents your pillows from slipping off.
- Some air pumps allow you to choose the degree of inflation for optimum comfort. A mattress that's too full of air may feel too firm; a mattress that's low on air may feel too soft.
A Note About Comfort
Comfort can be subjective; an air mattress that one person loves could feel rock-hard and unbearable to someone else. But certain factors consistently impact the comfort level of any mattress.
- Double-high air mattresses are more comfortable. In fact, the taller the mattress stands, the more comfortable you're likely to be.
- Air mattresses with air chambers and coils provide more even support.
- Air mattresses with pillow tops or memory foam tops deliver an extra degree of comfort to the sleeper.
How Much Should I Spend on an Air Mattress?
Basic Air Mattresses
A standard air mattress without a pump will set you back roughly $15 to $30, depending on its size.
Mid-Range Air Mattresses
A mid-range, double-high air mattress should cost between $40 and $70. Twin-size air mattresses are cheaper than queen-size air mattresses, but prices also vary depending on quality. If you want the utmost in durability, we recommend opting for a product at the upper end of this price range.
High-End Air Mattresses
High-end air mattresses cost as little as $70 and as much as $200. In this price range, you'll find the most comfortable and durable air mattresses. Those at the higher end of the price range may include features such as a pillow top or a backup pump to maintain optimal inflation while you sleep.
Air Mattress FAQ
Q. What are air mattresses made from?
A. Most air mattresses are made from PVC, but some are constructed from textile-reinforced rubber or urethane, which is more durable for long-term use.
Q. What should I do if my air mattress sustains a puncture?
A. Most air mattresses come with a number of patches that adhere over punctures. However, if you've lost or run out of patches, hot glue from a glue gun does the job just as well.
Q. Are air mattresses suitable for everyday use?
A. The majority of air mattresses on the market are designed for occasional use—just the odd few nights here and there when guests come to town. That said, some air mattresses are durable and comfortable enough for long-term or everyday use. This type of air mattress often costs as much as a standard mattress. That said, we believe that most people would be better off buying a standard mattress for everyday use.