Blow-up mattresses are available in the same size ranges as permanent mattresses, although queen- and twin-sized air beds are by far the most popular choices. In this section, we name a Best Reviewed queen, twin and king-sized mattress, plus a couple of worthy runners-up. If you're more interested in air mattresses or sleeping pads for camping, we discuss those elsewhere in this report.
First introduced to the air mattress market in 2013, the queen-sized SoundAsleep Dream Series Air Mattress (Est. $150) has blown up the competition. At 58 by 78 inches, it's slightly smaller than a true queen-sized bed, but very few reviewers note that as a negative, with many owners saying there is plenty of room for two people to sleep comfortably.
And comfort is the adjective we see the most when reading reviews of the SoundAsleep Dream Series. Owners can't rave enough about this supportive, yet adaptable, mattress. We even noted a few comments from husbands who tried to get themselves in the dog house so they would have an excuse to sleep in the guest room (not that that's something we recommend). The Dream Series also comes in a twin size (Est. $100) if you only need room for one.
The SoundAsleep Dream Series features a network of 40 internal air coils that, combined with its tall, 19 inch height, feels as if you're sleeping on a true box spring and mattress, as opposed to an air bed, reviewers say. However, that 19-inch height also makes it hard to get a regular sheet set on this mattress, you'll have to shop for fitted sheets with deep pockets, which may be pricier than regular sheets. (See our separate report on bed sheets for some recommendations.)
The built-in pump on the SoundAsleep Dream Series means that it inflates quickly -- four minutes or less according to the manufacturer, and users agree that inflating and deflating this air bed is super quick and easy. The SoundAsleep folds up to a fairly manageable 12 by 12 by 24 inches. The air mattress comes with a storage bag with handles.
As highly praised as the SoundAsleep Dream Series beds are, there are also a few caveats. First of all, it's only for indoor use and only for occasional use. We saw several complaints from people who used it for several months at a time, and then groused about it losing air or no longer inflating; we also saw some complaints from those who used it for camping and said it didn't last. Neither of those are intended uses, as the manufacturer makes very clear. Also, the Dream Series beds, like most other blow-up mattresses, will gradually lose air as you use them and will need to be "topped off" after one or two uses (although a few reviewers say they use their SoundAsleep air beds for a week or more with no deflation). The majority of users understand this and have no problem. Others are irritated that they have to occasionally add air to their air mattress.
The Intex Pillow Rest Queen Air Mattress (Est. $45) doesn't get quite as much praise for comfort as the SoundAsleep Dream Series, but it comes pretty close -- and at about a third of the price. This queen-sized air mattress is true-to-size, measuring 60 by 80 inches, making it slightly larger than the SoundAsleep.
At 16.5 inches thick, the Pillow Rest doesn't feel quite as "bed-like" as the SoundAsleep, but that's still plenty of padding for a very comfortable sleep, users say. It's also thick enough that you'll probably still need deep-pocket sheets. The built-in pillows and easy-to-use, integrated air pump also get a lot of love -- the blow-up mattress inflates and deflates in about four minutes.
The main issue with the Intex is durability. Over time, the chambers that hold air can burst, resulting in a lopsided mattress. Some reviewers report that they burst with alarming "pops," waking them in the middle of the night, others say it was quieter and more gradual. However, these complaints are often made by those who use this air bed on a regular basis instead of a standard mattress and box spring set, or who have owned the Intex for years. Air mattresses are meant to be a temporary sleeping arrangement and a $45 air mattress can't be expected to last forever. If you need a comfortable, occasional solution to accommodate overnight guests, the Intex Pillow Rest will be a great choice.
Although king-sized air mattresses are not quite as popular as queen-sized models, since they take up more space, couples love turning to the Fox Air Beds Plush High Rise (Est. $180) king size air mattress in a pinch. Many couples who are in the process of moving across the country say they purchased this air bed to use until their furnishings arrive; others say they use it for camping in family-sized tents. It's also a popular choice to set up in a guest room, since it's so accommodating of more than one sleeper. The Plush High Rise measures 80 by 76 by 25 inches, which is true king size; again, you will need deep pocket sheets for the 25 inch thickness. Fox Air Beds are also available in queen (Est. $160), full (Est. $130), and twin XL sizes (Est. $120).
Many users who have had to use the king-sized Fox Air Bed for an extended period say that it holds up better than most inflatable beds. However, like all air beds, it will deflate slowly over time -- sometimes more quickly than others -- and needs to be topped off when it does so. Also, although the manufacturer touts the inflatable bed's durability, and users say it seems durable, the short, 90-day warranty gives us pause.
Having said that, the Fox Air Bed is very easy to inflate and deflate, owners note, with a simple dial control that activates the built-in pump. Also, unlike most air mattresses with a built-in pump, the Plush High Rise can also be inflated by any type of external pump -- for example, a hand or battery-operated pump in case you have no access to AC electricity.
The biggest complaint we see about all air mattresses is that they gradually lose air through the night. This is because no material that is comfortable enough to sleep on will also hold air forever. Insta-Bed has largely has solved this problem with the Insta-Bed Raised Air Mattress with Never Flat Pump (Est. $140). There are two built in pumps. The main pump inflates the mattress in about four minutes, then the secondary pump monitors and maintains that air pressure. The air mattress also deflates quickly, and owners say that it is very easy to handle and store. This twin Insta-Bed measures 74 by 39 inches -- true twin size -- and the 18-inch depth makes users feel as if they're sleeping on a "real" bed, although it does require deep pocket sheets. It's also available in full and queen sizes.
The Insta-Bed Raised Air Mattress series gets some of the best reviews we've seen for comfort, with many users saying that they like it better than their regular bed, because of its soft, yet uniform support, thanks to its 21 circular air coils (35 on the queen size). It's particularly popular with back-pain sufferers. While most air mattresses can be adjusted by adding or removing air, the Insta-Bed has three preset firmness levels, plush, medium or firm, and the secondary pump maintains whichever level you choose. This twin-sized raised air mattress is reported as very durable, and comes with a one-year warranty.
Air mattresses for kids are a great idea not only for visits to grandma, but also for camping or any type of traveling where there might be a limited number of beds. No kids' air bed gets better reviews than the AeroBed Mattress for Kids (Est. $80), a mini air mattress that keeps small children snug and comfortable. It's for ages 4 and up, but many parents say they even use it as a travel bed for toddlers and it works very well.
At 50 inches long and 25 inches wide, this bed is roughly the same size as a crib mattress, and reviewers say that crib sheets will fit this air mattress. The AeroBed has a raised bumper all the way around the edge to keep children from rolling off and a fitted, washable cover made of soft fleece. Owners say it inflates quickly and easily with the hand-held electric pump, and most say that their kids find it very comfortable to sleep on. It's also reported as very durable, with some users saying they've owned the AeroBed blow-up mattress for 5 or 7 years and it's still going strong. The only real complaint we saw was the occasional mention that it sometimes squeaks when the child rolls around, but that may be fixable by adjusting the inflation.
They're less common than queen- or twin-sized air mattresses, in fact, some companies don't even make their air beds in a full size, but people who feel like a twin is just too small, yet don't have room for a queen-sized bed love this size option. We don't recommend one, specific full-sized air mattress in this report, but both Insta-Bed and the Fox Air make their well-reviewed air beds in a full size model. Both are about $130.