They inflate when you need them and deflate when you don’t. Essentially, air mattresses are beds on demand. When deflated, air mattresses can be stored away.
While air mattresses are offered with a variety of different features and in a range of sizes, some are designed to be compact and portable enough to be brought along on a camping trip. Weight capacity, inflation method, and comfort also are among the important factors that help determine which air mattress is best.
Read on to find tips on what to look for while shopping, and explore some of the best air mattress options available below.
- BEST OVERALL: SoundAsleep Dream Series Air Mattress
- BEST BUDGET: Intex Dura-Beam Series Pillow Rest Raised Airbed
- BEST FOR EVERYDAY USE: King Koil Queen Air Mattress
- BEST FOR KIDS: The Shrunks Toddler Travel Bed
- BEST WITH COT: Coleman Camping Cot
- BEST WITH AUTOMATIC PUMP: Insta-Bed Raised Air Mattress with Never Flat Pump
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Air Mattress
Whether you’re gearing up for a camping trip or prepping for a visit from the in-laws, an air mattress is a convenient item to have on hand. When choosing the best air mattress for your needs, consider its size, weight limit, materials, and comfort. Also decide if any extra comfort and ease-of-use features, like built-in pillows, self-inflating pumps, and “never-flat” options, are desired.
When choosing an air mattress, the mattress size and height are important. Air mattresses are available in common mattress sizes, from twin to California king. Consider the best size for your intended use, the number and frequency of house guests, and your available storage space. A twin size mattress may be suitable for a quick camping trip while a queen size mattress may better suit a guest room.
Mattress thickness is another important feature to consider. Air mattresses can range from thin 3-inch-thick pads for camping to thick 22-inch mattresses for a guest bedroom. A thinner mattress tends to be more portable, affordable, and quicker to inflate. Thick mattresses offer better cushioning and are easier to get up from, but often come with a larger price tag and a bulkier, heavier mattress to inflate and store.
Portability is an important feature to consider in an air mattress, especially for travel or outdoor use. Some air mattresses deflate to the size of a water bottle and fit into a small bag, making it simple to take on weekend trips and stow away when finished. Also consider weight when it comes to portability. Air mattresses can weigh between 5 and 50 pounds.
Even if portability isn’t a priority, packable options are generally more compact and easier to store. Plus, a designated storage bag protects the deflated mattress from coming in contact with any messy or sharp items while in storage.
Air mattresses are commonly made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or reinforced urethane plastic or rubber. These durable materials are made to be puncture-resistant to prevent damage from pokes and jabs. A puncture-resistant build is especially important for camping and outdoor use. For these activities, make sure to pick a camping air mattress and not an indoor model.
Beyond the mattress material, also consider the mattress surface. Flocked air mattresses have a soft, velvety finish. This textured surface is more comfortable for when bed sheets aren’t close by, like while camping, and can also help keep bed sheets on while at home. Choosing a mattress with a nonslip bottom can also prevent the mattress from sliding around.
The best air mattress options are usually easy to inflate and deflate, although some will take a bit more work than others. Inflation methods include manual pumps, electric pumps, and self-inflating or “never-flat” pumps. An air mattress can include a built-in air pump or require an external pump.
Using a manual hand or foot pump takes the most time and effort, but these mattresses are often cost-friendly. They’re also an excellent choice for camping when you might not have a power source. Electric pumps can inflate a mattress in a matter of minutes, but will need a power source, like batteries or an AC outlet.
A relatively recent innovation in air mattress design is automatic “smart” or “never-flat” pumps. These pump systems have sensors that monitor the air pressure inside the mattress. If the air pressure drops, the pump will adjust the air pressure as needed to maintain the mattress’ firmness. These smart pumps have a higher cost, but will help a mattress hold firm for a full night’s rest.
Comfort and Support
A saggy air mattress is uncomfortable at best and can cause back pain at worst. A supportive air mattress maintains an even firmness and does not wobble or sag with every move. A firm mattress top is even more important when sleeping with a partner. When shopping for larger mattresses for two, look for a model with minimal motion transfer.
Quality air mattresses often include features like strategically designed air chambers, vertical air coils, or a firm mattress top to maintain the mattress shape and offer back support. Check out both the inner and edge support. Active sleepers may prefer a mattress with a raised edge so they don’t roll off during the night.
Some air mattress models also include adjustable firmness levels to add to support and comfort. A pillow top or flocked mattress top can offer a soft surface to sleep on.
An air mattress’ weight capacity varies widely depending on its size and design. Weight capacity can range from 200 to 700 pounds.
Since they’re built for one person, single mattresses tend to have a lower weight capacity at around 200 to 300 pounds. Larger mattresses intended for two people will have a higher weight capacity that’s more than 300 pounds. When choosing the ideal weight capacity, it’s best to leave a bit of wiggle room to guarantee that the mattress will offer full support without drooping.
A quality air mattress can include a range of features that add to comfort and ease of use. Extra features can include built-in headboards, USB ports, washable covers, and included sleeping cots.
- Headboard: A built-in headboard can make an air mattress look and feel more like a regular bed. The headboard can help prevent pillows from sliding off the top of the mattress during the night.
- USB Ports: A built-in USB port means guests can keep their phone charger and devices within close reach.
- Washable covers: A soft flocked or pillow top cover is a lovely idea—until a spill happens. To keep the air mattress protected, some mattresses include a washable cover or topper.
- Sleeping cots: Sleeping or camping cots are similar to portable bed frames. They can offer some support and also lift the air mattress off the ground, making it easier to get in and out of the bed and helping to keep campers warm.
Our Top Picks
The best air mattress models are comfortable, reliable, and convenient. With a supportive air mattress, you can bring a good night’s sleep to any overnight event, from a camping trip to hosting weekend guests. Get some quality shut-eye with some of the top air mattresses included below.
The SoundAsleep air mattress impresses with its stability and support, thanks in part to built-in ComfortCoil technology that distributes air evenly throughout. The mattress includes 40 internal air coils, while a waterproof, flocked sleeping surface provides cozy padding on top.
A high-capacity internal electric pump inflates the mattress in just 4 minutes, and a SureGrip bottom keeps the mattress stationary and prevents it from sliding around.
With a weight capacity of 500 pounds, the SoundAsleep can accommodate one or two people comfortably. The mattress weighs 19 pounds and comes with its own storage bag.
- 40 ComfortCoil coils included; can hold 500 pounds
- SureGrip bottom
- Self-inflating in 4 minutes
- More expensive than other comparable options
- Heavier than other mattresses
If you’re looking for an air mattress that won’t break the bank, consider this option from Intex. With a built-in electric pump, this twin mattress inflates in just a few minutes. Once inflated, it measures 16.5 inches thick and can hold up to 300 pounds, comfortably accommodating one person.
The Intex mattress boasts high-strength material construction that provides added support, while its sturdy bottom ring design offers extra stability. A velvety flocked surface and a built-in pillow combine to ensure softness and comfort.
After a restful night’s sleep, deflate the mattress and place it in the included storage bag, which comes with a convenient carrying handle for portability.
- Intex material; holds up to 300 pounds.
- Built-in pillow and flocked surface
- Built-in self-inflater; 2.5 minutes to inflate
- 16.5 inches thick
- Holds only one person
- No water resistance
For everyday use, choose an extra-supportive air mattress like this one. King Koil’s comfortable queen mattress features an enhanced air coil system to provide help maintain the mattress’s shape and firmness.
Setup is simple using the built-in electric pump. Once inflated, King Koil’s air mattress measures 20 inches thick. When it’s time to put the mattress away, simply fold it down and place it in the included carrying bag for storage.
- Coil-beam construction
- Built-in electric pump; 90-second inflation
- 20 inches thick
- More expensive than comparable options
- Holds only one person
Make traveling with kids more comfortable with this portable option from The Shrunks. Designed for toddlers, this air mattress is the ideal size to bring to a sleepover or on a camping trip.
The mattress’s inflated size is 60 by 37 by 9 inches. The top surface of the mattress is comfortably flocked, while a sheet-tuck feature—a ridge along the perimeter—makes it a cinch to add and remove bed linens. Importantly, this mattress also features an inflatable security rail on each side to prevent kids from rolling off accidentally.
- 30-second inflation
- Inflatable security rail
- Flocked surface with sheet-tuck feature
- Water resistant
- Only suited for children 24 months and up
While the Coleman air mattress is only 8 inches high when fully inflated, the included portable cot raises the sleeping surface to 22 inches, keeping the sleeper well off the floor. In addition, the Coleman boasts stable, supportive ComfortStrong Coil construction in combination with technology designed to prevent leaking.
At 45 inches wide and 74 inches long, and with a weight capacity of 300 pounds, the Coleman weighs less than 14 pounds. A machine-washable cover ensures easy cleaning, and the cot collapses for easy storage in its own carrying bag.
- 8 inches inflated; 22 inches off the ground with legs
- ComfortStrong Coils
- Holds up to 300 pounds
- Cover is machine washable
- Holds one person
- Not meant for those above 6 feet tall
This queen-sized option from Insta-Bed minimizes sagging and drooping, thanks to a pair of electric pumps that help keep this raised air mattress firm throughout the night. A primary pump allows for inflation and deflation, while a secondary pump monitors the air level in the mattress and quietly switches on when needed to maintain the desired level of firmness. In addition to the pump system, the Insta-Bed also features air coil construction for excellent back support.
At 19 inches thick, with a weight capacity of 500 pounds, the Insta-Bed air mattress is capable of impressing houseguests with comfort and support that lasts through the night.
- Air coil construction
- 2 self-inflating pumps
- Holds up to 500 pounds
- Water resistant
- Fewer internal air coils than comparable options
Air mattresses have come a long way since the saggy or leaky options of decades past. With a range of options available, there’s a mattress for almost every need, from packable cots for a camping trip to luxurious raised mattresses to host house guests.
The best air mattress models like the SoundAsleep Dream Series Air Mattress and the Intex Dura-Beam Series Pillow Rest Raised Airbed are designed with comfort, support, and convenience in mind to provide a restful night’s sleep.
How We Chose the Best Air Mattresses
When looking for the best air mattress, the thickness, durability, and easy of use are key. So, after taking a look at all the key features that should be included in each air mattress available, we determined that the top picks above are great options for your next camping trip or for when you have house guests.
Each of the options above comes with unique features for your preference, price point, and needs whether you are looking for a cot, a mattress for children, or you prefer a self-inflating feature.
Many of the mattresses above have also taken measures to ensure that your mattress remains comfortable by including waterproof/water-resistant features, flocked surfaces, and no-slip bottoms.
Plus, some of the manufacturers for the options above have made their air mattress covers machine washable for easy maintenance.
With a quality air mattress, you’ll always have a comfortable extra bed at a moment’s notice. Since there are so many options, there may be a few lingering questions. Read on for answers to some of the frequently asked questions about buying and using a new air mattress.
Q. Can you use an air mattress as a regular bed?
Air mattresses are generally best for short-term use. Most air mattresses won’t provide the consistent support and temperature regulation benefits of a traditional mattress.
Q. What is the best air mattress for everyday use?
The King Koil Queen Air Mattress is one of the best air mattresses for everyday use due to its supportive air coil system.
Q. What is the best air mattress for camping?
The Coleman Camping Cot is one of the best air mattress options for camping due to its comfortable and functional designs.
Q. How long does an air mattress last if used every day?
Daily use will cause extra wear and tear on an air mattress, increasing the risk of punctures or stretching. With proper care, a frequently-used air mattress can still last a few years. With infrequent use, like the occasional overnight guest, a high-quality air mattress can last more than a decade.
Why Trust Bob Vila
Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series, including This Old House and Bob Vila’s Home Again, he popularized and became synonymous with “do it yourself” home improvement.
Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.
Glenda Taylor is a freelance writer for the residential remodeling, homebuilding, and commercial roofing industries. She and her husband have been general contractors for over 20 years, and Ms. Taylor has written for leading media outlets as well as National Association of Homebuilders. In addition to her construction experience, Ms. Taylor is a Master Gardener, a former real estate professional, a universal design enthusiast, and an advocate for green building practices. The recipient of Journalism and Marketing degrees from the University of Kansas and Bauder College respectively, she enjoys life on a farm in the Midwest with her husband and their five Saint Bernards!