SoundAsleep Dream Series Air Mattress
SoundAsleep Dream Series Air Mattress

Best queen air mattress

If you want to give your overnight guests the comfort they would expect from a "real" bed, reviewers say you should have a SoundAsleep Dream Series Air Mattress tucked away in your closet. Comfortable, very easy to use, and made from durable materials, the SoundAsleep Dream Series inflates or deflates in just four minutes and stores in the included bag. Users say the queen-sized air bed is plenty big enough for two, and customer service is universally praised.
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Intex Pillow Rest Queen Air Mattress
Intex Pillow Rest Queen Air Mattress

Cheap air mattress

Thousands of owners say that, for the price, you can't beat the comfort and convenience of an Intex Pillow Rest Air Mattress. This queen-sized air bed measures 60 by 80 inches -- the same dimensions as a regular queen mattress -- and its 16.5 inch height offers enough thickness for a supportive rest. The padded, flocked top and built-in pillows add to the comfort level. The Intex queen-sized air mattress inflates in about four minutes with the integrated electric pump.

Fox Air Beds Plush High Rise
Fox Air Beds Plush High Rise

King-size air mattress

The king-sized Fox Air Beds Plus High Rise is extremely popular with those who need a temporary king-sized bed due a move, or because they just like the comforts of home while traveling. The Fox Air Bed king measures 80 by 76 by 25 inches, which reviewers say makes it large enough for two people to sleep comfortably, with room left over for kids or pets. This air bed inflates or deflates quickly with the twist of a dial, and there is a hand pump option as well.

Serta Twin Raised Air Mattress
Serta Twin Raised Air Mattress

Best twin air bed

The one quibble most people have with air mattresses is that they can slowly lose air while you're sleeping on them. Serta solves this problem with the Serta Raised Air Mattress with Never Flat Pump. This air bed's dual pump system senses when the mattress is deflating and activates to maintain the air pressure to your chosen firmness level; there are three to choose from. The twin bed measures 74 by 39 by 18 inches, and a two-year warranty and good customer support will ensure long-term satisfaction.
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AeroBed Mattress for Kids
AeroBed Mattress for Kids

Best air mattress for kids

As its name suggests, the AeroBed for Kids is a mini air mattress designed for children. It's smaller than a standard twin and has raised bumpers to keep kids from rolling off. The manufacturer recommends the Aerobed for ages 4 and up, but owners report using it successfully with toddlers. Parents love the removable, washable fleece cover and say their children find this air bed quite comfortable. It's also very easy to inflate using the handheld electric pump and deflates in about 15 seconds.

Therm-A-Rest Basecamp
Therm-A-Rest Basecamp

Best camping air mattress

You'll be a happy camper with the convenience and comfort of the Therm-A-Rest Basecamp mattress. This self-inflating sleep pad is lightweight yet durable, and comes in three sizes -- regular, large and extra-large. Users say it provides a surprisingly effective cushion against the hard ground and helps insulate them from the cold. Backpackers love the Therm-A-Rest Basecamp mattress for its light weight and easily compressible design; car campers appreciate its compact footprint. Therm-A-Rest's lifetime warranty is a testament to the Basecamp's durability.
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Air mattresses offer comfort and convenience at an affordable price

No, you're not dreaming: Air mattress technology and design has advanced to the point where many temporary air beds are now as comfortable as beds costing hundreds or thousands of dollars more. This makes a blow up mattress a great choice to keep around for overnight guests, family members who may visit regularly but don't need an everyday bed (like grandkids), or as a temporary solution for someone who has moved and has to wait for their regular bed to arrive.

The right air mattress or sleeping pad can also make camping trips a lot more comfortable, providing a layer of cushioning between your sleeping bag and the ground. Some outdoor air mattresses are, in effect, outdoor beds, bringing all the comforts of the double bed in your home to the great outdoors. Sleeping pads are lighter and thinner than regular air mattresses, making them suitable for folding and carrying in a pack. However, while sleeping pads are thin and lightweight, these self-inflating wonders still pack a lot of comfort in a small package.

Queen- and twin-sized air mattresses are by far the most common, but some manufacturers make air beds in full or king size as well. It's important to check the actual dimensions on the blow up mattress you're considering, however; some air mattresses are sized a bit smaller than the true mattress size. Air mattresses also vary in thickness, but in general they can be either single-height or double-height. A single-height air mattress sits anywhere from 7 to 13 inches off the floor, which can make it difficult for some to get in  and out of, especially those who may have physical challenges. A raised, or double-height mattress, by contrast, inflates to between 18 and 22 inches high, bringing it much closer to normal bed height. One caveat: that extra thickness might require you to buy deep-pocketed fitted sheet sets, which are less common and more expensive than standard sheets. Head on over to our separate report on bed sheets for our top recommendations.

Some air mattresses are very basic, just blow up rectangles, but others have extra features, such as raised bumpers or built-in pillows. Many people like those features because they help keep your bedding -- or your body -- from falling off the air bed if it's not up against a wall. Parents of small children are particularly complimentary of air beds with bumpers as they feel that those bumpers give their child a feeling of security.

All blow up mattresses, regardless of what they are used for have one thing in common, they‘re inflated with a pump -- although some sleep pads are then topped off by blowing into a valve. The pump that blows up the mattress may be built-in or separate, and it may run on standard household current, battery power or muscle power (like a bicycle pump). Some mattresses do not actually come with a pump, which can be both a plus and a minus: you have to purchase the pump separately, but you can choose the type that's most convenient for you, and if it breaks you don't have to replace the whole mattress.

Temporary versus permanent air mattresses

Air mattresses should not be confused with permanent-use air beds such as the Sleep Number bed, which uses air-filled pockets in place of springs. Inflatable air mattresses like those covered in this report can be quite inexpensive, costing anywhere from $20 to $150, and are intended for occasional or short-term use only. While some owners do report using an inflatable air mattress as their regular bed, manufacturers do not recommend using air beds for long-term or permanent use. Most of the poor reviews we saw related to our top-rated air mattresses were from people who groused that the mattress started to lose air after months of daily use; something that's to be expected from using what is, essentially, a reinforced, rectangular balloon. Also, since you are sleeping on air, blow up mattresses, even those with pillow or flocked tops, tend to have poor insulation. Because of that, we recommend putting a blanket under your air bed and topping it off with a good, thick mattress pad before adding the rest of your bedding.

Permanent air mattresses, on the other hand, are meant for everyday use and get excellent ratings for longevity and comfort, but they can also cost $1,000 or more -- at least as much as a traditional innerspring mattress. For more information about permanent air mattresses, see our separate report on mattresses.

How we found the best air mattresses

We did not find any professional comparison tests of air mattresses, but we did find an interesting chart at SleepLiketheDead.com of the top six air mattresses based upon a large survey of owner satisfaction. However, there are no in-depth reviews of those mattresses there, so we evaluated air beds based mainly on user reviews from retail sites like Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Moosejaw.com, a major retailer of camping and outdoor equipment. We looked at what users had to say about how comfortable each mattress is to sleep on, as well as how easy it is to set up and to break down for storage. We also paid a lot of attention to durability: how well the mattress holds air during the night and how likely it is to develop problems, such as a leak or a pump failure. The result is our top-rated air mattresses that offer the best combination of comfort, durability and ease of use.

Elsewhere in this report:

Best Air Mattresses by Size | Best Camping Air Mattresses | Buying Guide | Our Sources

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