The Insta-Bed air mattress is pricier than many, but has a dual pump system, which tops up the mattress while you sleep to combat deflating overnight. For light sleepers, it might not be a great fit, but it is an excellent option for supporting more weight.
Air mattresses are a great solution when you need to offer guests a bed for the weekend or if your own bed is temporarily unavailable. You might even use an air mattress for camping. While mention of an air mattress probably brings to mind those raft-like devices that sink or leak, leaving you on the floor by morning, they've come a long way in recent years. These days, air mattresses are designed to make setup easy and keep you comfortably supported through the night.
After inflating and sleeping on nine air mattresses, we found that our top picks have a comfortable sleep surface, won't deflate noticeably overnight, and come with internal pumps for easy inflation, and have airtight seams that keep the mattress from sagging or deflating under sleepers' weight.
Our favorite air mattress is the SoundAsleep Dream Series(available at Amazon) because it has the most real-bed-like sleep surface, stays inflated, fits two comfortably, and doesn’t leave sleepers feeling stiff the next day.
Here are the best air mattresses we tested ranked, in order:
Coleman SupportRest Elite Quilted Top Double High Airbed
SoundAsleep Dream Series
King Koil Queen Air Mattress with Built-in Pump
Enerplex Never-Leak Premium Luxury
Insta-Bed Raised Air Mattress
EZ Inflate Luxury Double High Air Mattress
Englander Microfiber Air Mattress
Noble Luxury Upgraded Double High Mattress
Wey and Fly SUV Air Mattress
SoundAsleep Dream Series Air Mattress
The SoundAsleep Dream Series air mattress offered the best combination of comfort, support, and super-responsive customer service. The SoundAsleep is the only air mattress I tested that allowed me to sleep peacefully through the night with zero back soreness the next day. With all of the others, I woke up several times, ultra-aware I wasn’t in my own bed.
But before falling asleep, I had to figure out how to counteract the inherently chilly surface. Air mattresses are typically made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and the air inside them gradually cools overnight. During my testing period, warm weather had yet to arrive in Boston, so the ever-present cool surface proved a distraction on nearly every mattress I tested. Some online reviewers said they bought mattress pads to protect against the cold, but I found sandwiching myself between blankets worked fine in a pinch.
Once I could focus on the SoundAsleep mattress itself, there was a lot to like. The Dream Series’ coil system helps the mattress maintain shape while providing a great balance of support and bounce. The side lips help keep you from rolling off during the night, and there's enough weight distribution that one person can get up from, or onto, the bed without disturbing a person sleeping beside them.
The mattress has a number of nice user-friendly features. Next to the pump is a cubby for storing the cord when it's not plugged in. Folding up the air mattress was easy enough—there's even a video to show you best practices—and store within its nylon drawstring sack. To check out the customer service on its one-year limited warranty, I called SoundAsleep on a Sunday and a recording let me know I should call Monday to Friday. To my surprise, I got a call back an hour later from a support representative who was ready to help me with a claim. SoundAsleeps responsive customer service was the most helpful and impressive of all the mattress companies in the test.
I had only a few small complaints about the SoundAsleep mattress. It took the longest to inflate of all we tested, but at just under four minutes, this isn’t a huge concern. It weighs 19 pounds, several pounds lighter than the heaviest mattresses I tested, but still one and a half pounds above the average weight of the beds I tried. Although it is sold as a queen size air mattress, it’s a couple inches smaller both widthwise and lengthwise than a standard queen mattress (78 inches by 58 inches instead of 80 by 60). Your sheets will still fit and most people won’t notice the difference, but we have to wonder why the company scrimped on an otherwise luxe and worthwhile product. The queen-sized SoundAsleep supports up to 500 pounds.
Coleman SupportRest Elite Quilted Top Double High Airbed
The best thing about this air mattress, aside from the lower price, is the removable, washable quilted top. It's more hygenic, and there's an extra layer between you and the mattress, which dulls the chill you can feel from the PVC that air mattresses are made of. You stay warmer, and get more of a soft "bed" feel, as opposed to the sleeping-on-a-raft feel. The quilted top also mutes the ubiquitous rustling sounds that come with sleeping on an inflated piece of plastic. And because the quilted top zips on, it won't slip off and helps prevent your sheets or blankets from shifting while you lay on it.
The mattress is quite firm (bordering on stiff), which lends to a stable sleep surface. There's also no bulging or sagging when one person gets in or out of the bed, which means you won't disturb someone beside you in the middle of the night. Coleman says its mattress is “factory-tested” to be leak-free, and it’s not kidding. In my testing, air didn’t seep from the seams, which is an extremely important quality for any air mattress.
The queen-sized Coleman inflated much faster than our test-topping SoundAsleep, and 40 seconds faster than the average time for the queen size mattresses we tested, at just under two minutes. It has a longer-than-most cord that makes it easier to reach power outlets. Next to the powerful electric air pump is a nifty feature that the other mattresses lacked: a valve to use a handheld pump (sold separately) if you don't have electricity or want to bring the mattress on a camping trip. When you’re ready to put it away, the mattress fits easily into its carrying case, which is shaped like a suitcase with a thick handle strap on top. While no carrying case is perfect, this one was the best I tested because you can easily grip the handle and you don't feel off-balance when toting the carry bag around. So, while the Coleman mattress has a bit more heft than the SoundAsleep, weighing about two pounds more, it feels more portable. Coleman's customer service proved responsive. After being routed through a few prompts on a phone call, I was able to talk with someone about my air mattress and its warranty.
The Coleman has a lot to like, but ultimately what bumped it from our top spot is that it just isn’t as comfortable as the SoundAsleep. My back was sore after the first night sleeping on the ultra-firm surface, so I adjusted the pressure using the air-pump dial and created a much softer surface for the second night. Another small but noticeable shortcoming: There's no cubby to store the cord. Finally, you'll want to remove the quilted top and fold it up separately before storing the mattress, as it can pick up dirt during the folding process.
Overall, this is a worthwhile air mattress at a reasonable price. The max weight capacity for the queen-sized Coleman is 600 pounds.
I’m Kim Porter, a freelance contributor at Reviewed. I've gone back and forth on whether to get an air mattress for guests or splurge on a dedicated guest bed, so I readily volunteered to find the most comfortable sleep surface that can also be rolled up and tucked away. (Plus, who doesn’t want an excuse to nap during work hours?)
I spent six weeks testing air mattresses with my husband in our Boston apartment. In the first round of testing, I fully inflated and deflated each mattress, considered the air pump noise in terms of whether the sound might wake people up, and checked whether fitted sheets fit the bed and stayed on. My husband and I also lounged or napped on the mattresses to evaluate comfort (which we self-dubbed the "cuddle test"). I also tried out the Better Habitat SleepReady Memory Foam and Floor Camping Mat for comparison, but we prefer the air mattresses over this foam one. While the Better Habitat mat was comfortable, I wouldn’t want to offer it to guests as a bed. I think a traditional air mattress is a better route for most people.
To test for durability, puncture resistance, and maneuverability, we dove on top of each mattress and pushed them across the floor. I topped off the air pressure, then distributed 200 pounds on each mattress to simulate a human (or maybe two small ones). None of the mattresses popped or snagged in my testing, but some deflated noticeably. Because air mattresses are designed for portability, I also folded them up, stuck them in their carrying cases, and lugged each to the car and back.
In my initial round of testing, I eliminated mattresses that didn't distribute weight evenly, were difficult to set up, or deflated. Only five air mattresses made it to the next round— the SoundAsleep, Coleman SupportRest™, Insta-Bed, Enerplex, and King Koil—where we slept on them for two nights each. We used a complete sheet set, pillows, and a blanket to simulate our regular sleep experience.
What to Look for When Buying an Air Mattress
There’s a lot to consider when looking for an air mattress. After all, it’s replacing a normal mattress where you or your guests might spend up to a third of the day. We looked for:
A Comfortable Sleeping Surface:
Of course, comfort is key anytime you’re talking about sleep, and it was the most important factor in our testing. Air mattresses aren't meant to permanently replace a traditional bed, but a good one should be comfortable enough to sleep on for a few nights. Look for a mattress that allows you to adjust the pressure to your liking, and get into and out of bed without disturbing the person (or maybe pet) sleeping beside you.
Air Bed Chambers
Air mattresses’ internal coil system, which provides support and keeps your body aligned when you sleep, has a lot to do with comfort. There are three main types: Round coils, beam construction, and the hybrid coil-beam. Round coils use internal air-filled PVC cylinders that distribute your weight more evenly and hold you in place. Mattresses with beam construction, on the other hand, have parallel vertical or horizontal chambers joined together with PVC strips. Cylindrical coils tend to be more responsive and conform to your body shape when you lie atop the mattress. With beam construction, it's the other way around—your body has to line up with the ridges to get proper support. There are also hybrids, which often have coils in rows that can be interconnected, like beams. More than half of the mattresses we tested had hybrid coil-beam construction. Our top picks, the Coleman and SoundAsleep, are both coil construction, as is the Insta-Bed. The only mattress we tested that had beam construction alone was the Wey&Fly.
An Internal Electric Pump:
Built-in electric pumps allow for inflation and deflation within minutes, and you don't have to keep track of extra parts as you do with external, manual pumps. The downside to electric pumps is the noise; on all the mattresses we tested, the air pump was loud enough to wake someone (especially light sleepers) nearby.
A Sturdy Case:
While the importance of the carrying case or storage bag is secondary to the mattress itself, you'll still want something sturdy enough to carry approximately 20 pounds of mattress when folded up. You should feel balanced while carrying a full bag from point A to point B without the handle digging into your hands or shoulder.
A Good Value:
You don't want your guests sleeping on a crappy mattress (see: raft that leaves you lying on the actual floor by morning), but you also don't want to break the bank for something that may not get a ton of regular use. Your right price may vary based on your budget, but we think a good air mattress will cost between $80 and $120.
Air Mattress Warranty of at Least a Year:
Look for a solid warranty when buying an air mattress. Air mattresses are made of durable materials, but can still snag on things, and may gradually leak air. Sometimes air pumps go kaput after a few uses. Of course, these issues may take months, or multiple uses, to reveal themselves. Most of the mattresses we tested come with a one-year warranty that covers manufacturer defects, and one even comes with a two-year warranty plus lifetime support.
Hang on to your receipt and take pictures of any tears or major flaws, as you might need to submit these with a warranty claim. Check your credit card's terms and conditions, too. Some cards come with an extended warranty as long as you charged the mattress to that card.
Other Air Mattresses We Tested
King Koil Air Mattress with Built-in Pump
I found the queen-sized King Koil generally comfortable during our two-night sleep test—it was actually my husband's favorite—but it deflated noticeably during the night and bulged and sagged whenever I climbed out of bed. And though I liked the raised top edge that acts as a built-in pillow, we noticed it can push taller people further down and limits where you can position yourself on the mattress. Generally, online reviews also point to poor craftsmanship that reveals itself over time. Its weight capacity is 600 pounds.
I checked out a twin-size version of the EnerPlex mattress, which I thought was comfortable. However, the mattress deflated slightly over the course of my testing, and issues with warranty and customer service prevented it from performing better in our roundup. On the EnerPlex website, there's no description of the two-year warranty or how to make a claim, and I tried to contact customer service via message three times, but each of my inquiries went unanswered. Its weight capacity is 300 pounds.
The Insta-Bed was the only mattress we tested with a dual-pump system—you use the primary pump to inflate the mattress, and the secondary pump monitors, adjusts, and maintains the pressure to your setting while you sleep. Although billed as "silent," the second pump emits a soft buzz while in use, which could be a dealbreaker for light sleepers. One option is sleeping with your head positioned on the opposite end, but unplugging the mattress is a no-go because it will deflate a bit overnight, as the pump won’t be running. The mattress is comfortable and distributes weight evenly. I felt refreshed after sleeping on it for two nights, but I wish the mattress’s overnight air pressure settings were more customizable (it only has three settings). The mattress also has a higher max weight capacity than others, supporting up to 500 pounds. The mattress was easy to deflate and fold up, but at 22 pounds, it was the heaviest I tested. Insta-Bed also offers responsive customer service, and its website includes details on how to submit a warranty claim.
I also tested a twin-size EZ Inflate air mattress, which supports up to 300 pounds. The surface was comfortable and stable, but this mattress didn’t perform as well because I needed to regularly fix the sheets to ensure they stayed on. Additionally, the Amazon page advertises a two-year warranty with lifetime support, but I didn't see evidence of how customers’ could use the warranty. The EZ Inflate manufacturer was impossible to locate online, and Amazon didn't offer information on how to submit a warranty claim or where to email or call for help.
The Englander microfiber air mattress has hybrid coil-beam construction that forms long horizontal seams along the mattress. Unfortunately, we found this didn’t distribute weight evenly and caused my husband and I to constantly roll toward the middle of the bed. I didn’t feel secure lying on top of the mattress, which made napping—let alone attempting to sleep on it through the night—uncomfortable. Its weight capacity is 600 pounds.
Like the Englander, the Noble queen-sized double-high air bed also has coil-beam construction, supports up to 600 pounds, and struggles to distribute weight evenly. However, this mattress is $50 cheaper. The lower price still wasn’t enough to counter the discomfort we felt while lying on it.
I thought the Wey&Fly mattress would be a great option to take on camping trips when you don't have a tent. The mattress is designed to fit inside the bed or back seat of most SUVs or trucks (effectively turning them into your bed), and it comes with an external pump that plugs into a car's auxiliary power outlet. The mattress supports up to 600 pounds. There are four air chambers you can inflate as desired, but this made it difficult and time-consuming to pump. Unfortunately, it also deflated after just minutes of lying on it, which is why it received a low ranking.
Kim Porter has written about personal finance topics for U.S. News & World Report, Reviewed, Credit Karma, AARP Magazine, Bankrate, and more. When she's not writing, you can find her training for her next race, reading, or planning her next big trip.
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