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The 7 Very Best Air Mattresses

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Whether you’re the adventurous type or just like to be prepared for spontaneous sleepovers, an air mattress can be a solid investment. As with choosing a traditional mattress, an air mattress should check off a few boxes, most importantly comfort. For Olivia Christine Perez, founder of Get Outdoors 101, that means looking for features like a “soft material surface so I don’t feel the plastic through the sheets,” she says. To help you choose the best air mattress for the many scenarios where one might come in handy — like traveling, camping, or anytime you need a spare guest bed — we talked to Perez and two other experts to find the best air mattresses available.

What we’re looking for

Size and height

Air mattresses are available in a variety of sizes, often correlating with standard mattress sizes (which means you can use regular sheets). Along with the dimensions of the actual sleep surface, you can often choose from multiple heights. Shorter air mattresses are usually less expensive and will have you sleeping closer to the ground, making them good for activities like camping where you might be using them inside a tent. Taller air mattresses have a more luxe and substantial feel, will have you sleeping higher off the ground as if you’re in a real bed, and are often more supportive.

Pump type

Modern air mattresses often come with a built-in electric pump. These types of internal pumps are quicker and more convenient to use than external pumps, which used to be a lot more common (plus the internal ones are impossible to lose). However, there are still air mattresses that use external pumps or are self-inflating and don’t use pumps at all, so we’ve noted the pump type for each air mattress, below.

For campers and road-trippers, Perez says to “check whether the mattress pump comes with a car adapter or requires an outlet” to make sure you can inflate it on the go. All of the electric picks on our list require a standard electrical outlet, so if you do not have access to one, a car converter may come in handy. (Slimmer air mattresses designed for camping and backpacking tend to be self-inflating or you can use a manual pump.)

Weight limit

Staying within the weight-limit guidelines of an air mattress as specified by the manufacturer will ensure the most comfortable sleep and help to extend its life, so we’ve listed the suggested limit for each air mattress, below.

Best overall air mattress

Size: Twin, full, queen, king  | Height: 13 inches, 16 inches, or 18 inches | Pump type: Internal | Weight limit: 300 pounds (twin and full) or 600 pounds (queen and king)

The EnerPlex air mattress is one of the most comfortable air beds that I’ve slept on. It has a built-in pump and comes in twin, full, queen, and even king sizes, with three different heights to choose from for most sizes (13 inch, 16 inch, 18 inch). The queen-size air mattress (I have the 13-inch height) inflates in about two minutes and holds air well. It’s durable, too: Both my husband and I have slept on this mattress as well as used it for guests over the last year, and we’ve never had any tears or leaks. It has a velvety flocked top that’s comfortable and quiet, and also creates some light friction that helps to keep sheets in place.

This mattress is notably supportive — I didn’t wake up with any aches or back pain — thanks to interior “coil beams,” which are individual air channels that add an internal structure. The coil beams make it feel more like you’re sleeping on an actual mattress instead of a hollow bag of air. To set up the mattress, you plug it in, turn the inflation valve knob to the “on” position, and click the power button. Once it is inflated, the mattress can be unplugged and moved from one room to another. To deflate it, the mattress has to be plugged in again, with the inflation valve in the closed position and the deflation valve opened — just click the power button and the air will be pushed out. Once it is fully deflated, it folds up neatly into the included storage bag, which is roughly the size of a carry-on suitcase.

Best (less expensive) air mattress

Size: Twin, full, queen  | Height: 13 inches, 18 inches, or 22 inches | Pump type: Internal | Weight limit: 300 pounds (twin) or 600 pounds (full and queen)

A less-expensive option that has similar comfort features is the Comfort Dura-Beam by Intex. This one is available in twin, full, and queen sizes and three heights (13 inches, 18 inches, 22 inches), though not all sizes are available in all three heights. If you or one of your guests has mobility issues and want a tall air mattress that makes it easier to get in and out of bed, note that the Intex’s 22-inch-height option is the tallest one on this list — but it is only available in a queen size.

Similar to the Enerplex, the Intex has an internal pump and a soft, flocked top that feels nice and keeps your sheets in place. However, the construction is slightly different, with a “pillow top” that contains horizontal air channels to create a tufted feel, and instead of vertical air-filled coil beams for added support, the inside of this mattress contains rows of polyester fibers that stand up when the bed is inflated.

Best extra-large air mattress

Size: Twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, California king  | Loft: 19 inches | Pump type: Internal | Weight limit: 300 pounds (twin), 350 pounds (twin XL), or 500 pounds (full size and larger)

Sami Syed, CEO of Project Van Life, says loftier air mattresses tend to feel more comfortable and luxurious. This one by SoundAsleep stands 19 inches high and comes in six sizes, from twin to California king. A few details of the mattress — like its internal pump with easy inflation and deflation, a flocked top, and internal coil beams — share DNA with the other air mattresses we recommend. But it’s one of only two mattresses on our list that comes in a California-king size, with a sleep surface of 86 inches long by 72 inches wide, which is why we’ve named it the best extra-large air mattress. Note that it also has a slightly lower weight limit than our top pick, at 500 pounds instead of 600 pounds for mattresses that are full size and larger, but if a bigger sleep surface is your top priority, the SoundAsleep Dream Series mattress is a good bet.

[Editors’ Note: We’ve shown the price for the California king air mattress below, but smaller sizes are cheaper.]

Best air mattress for toddlers

Size: 49 inches by 26 inches for the mattress; 62 inches by 39 inches overall | Height: 3.5 inches for the inner mattress, 12 inches overall | Pump type: External | Weight limit: 310 pounds

Designed with toddlers in mind, this two-piece air mattress has an inner mattress that fits into an outer frame that’s kind of reminiscent of an inflatable swimming pool — the effect is to add bumpers on all four sides to prevent kids from rolling onto the floor while they sleep. It comes recommended by Vox Media associate director of project management Danielle Van Cleave, who points out that it also “fits perfectly under the Slumberpod” — a travel-friendly blackout pop-up tent for kids, which is especially useful in shared hotel rooms. The mattress itself has a flocked top and a sleeping surface that measures 49 inches by 26 inches, with the bumpers making the overall dimensions 62 inches by 39 inches. The Hiccapop uses a detachable external pump that inflates the bed in under a minute, and can be rolled up into an included travel sack that is small enough to fit into a suitcase (however, the pump is only rated for use in the United States). Since the inner surface of the mattress is roughly the same size as a standard crib mattress, you can use sheets and mattress protectors you already have. And for extra peace of mind since the mattress will be used by potentially rambunctious kids, the Hiccapop comes with a lifetime warranty.

Best luxury air mattress

Size: Twin, queen, California king | Loft: 13 inches, 16 inches, or 20 inches | Pump type: Internal | Weight limit: 350 pounds (twin), 600 pounds (queen), or 650 pounds (California king)

This King Koil air mattress comes in three sizes (twin, queen, and king) and three heights (13 inches, 16 inches, and 20 inches). It has flocking on both the top and sides, instead of just the top — a luxury detail that most other air mattresses don’t have — as well as supportive internal coil beams. It also has a raised built-in “pillow” rail along one of the short sides of the mattress. The internal air pump can inflate the king-size mattress in under three minutes. King Koil’s twin- and California king-sized air mattresses also have the highest weight limits of any air mattress on this list, for their respective sizes: 350 pounds for the twin size, and 650 pounds for the California king (the queen-size King Koil has a limit of 600 pounds, matching our top pick).

Best self-inflating air mattress

Size: 78 inches by 32 inches | Height: 4 inches | Pump type: Self-inflating | Weight limit: None listed

A literal step up from camping with just a sleeping bag on the ground, the REI Co-op Dreamer Deluxe Bed, recommended by Syed, is a self-inflating option that is “durable and suitable for both outdoor camping and car camping.” It’s four inches high, with a layer of foam for comfort. This mattress does not use an electric pump. To inflate it, you untwist the valve and flip the inner cap so that air can flow inward, then close the valve once it’s inflated. Self-inflating mattresses and sleeping pads don’t necessarily have a set inflation time, but generally take between 5 and 15 minutes, depending on the climate and elevation levels. And if you want an extra firm sleeping surface, you can use the included manual airbag pump to top off the mattress; the airbag pump can also double as a pillow. The width of 32 inches makes it a bit narrower than a twin-size mattress, meaning it’s a one-person sleeping space.

Since this mattress is designed to be used outdoors, it has an established R-value, which measures how well it insulates against heat loss or transfer. Air mattresses and sleeping pads with higher R-values will keep you warmer than those with lower R-values (according to REI, an R-value of 1.0 is good for warm weather, and 5.5 and up can be used in extreme cold). This one has an R-value of 6.6 which makes it appropriate for sleeping on the ground in very cold temperatures. And to ensure your mattress stays in good shape, it should be stored indoors and inflated instead of rolled up in the corner of your garage or the trunk of your car — experts suggest only compressing to pack it for your trip.

Best air mattress for camping and backpacking

Size: 72 by 20 inches  | Loft: 2 inches | Pump type: External | Weight limit: None listed

This lightweight air mattress has a “compact design with excellent insulation,” says Syed. It comes with a handheld, battery-operated mini-pump that can inflate the mattress in three minutes. Weighing far less than the REI Co-op Dreamer Deluxe Bed at just 1 pound 4 ounces (including the pump, you can roll it up and take it to campsites and on backpacking trips without adding too much weight. And while it has a lower R-value of 2.2, the inner core of the mattress has baffles that add structure while helping to slow down body heat loss. When it is time to deflate and roll it up, it compactly folds down to about 9 by 6 inches.

Our experts:

• Danielle Van Cleave, mom and Vox Media associate director of project management
Olivia Christine Perez, founder of Get Outdoors 101
Sami Syed, CEO of Project Van Life

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The 7 Very Best Air Mattresses