Let’s face it, most people don’t buy an air bed thinking that it will be used for a long period of time. Most people buy an air bed or air mattress when they are going to have company coming for a short stay. You might also buy an air mattress for use when camping, but maybe only camp once or twice a year. When you aren’t worried about using an air bed for a long period of time, you usually look at affordability and size more than you do comfort and durability.
However, I recently came into a situation where I was sleeping on an air bed for a few months. After one week on the air mattress that I normally used for camping, it became clear to me that I had chosen my air mattress for all the wrong reasons. A slim style air mattress might be good for traveling, but it certainly wasn’t good for sleeping on in the long term. In addition, as I tried different air beds, I realized that price was not as important to me as comfort.
Even if you are not going to be using an air bed every night for months on end as I did, you can still learn from my experience. Cheap air beds simply do not hold up to the test of time. If you are going to be using air mattresses periodically for a long period of time, it can be worth it to spend a little bit of extra money for durability. You’ll save money in the long run because you won’t have to continuously replace the air bed when you need it again.
After trying out several air beds and air mattresses, I have discovered that the best air bed for the price is the Coleman SupportRest Air Bed. This is the most durable, comfortable, and reasonably priced air bed that I could find, and it hasn’t let me down yet.
The Three Top Air Mattresses
There are a lot of different air beds and air mattresses on the market. They range widely in price, but not so much in durability and comfort. From what I have found, the most expensive air beds are not any more comfortable than my top pick. With these more expensive air beds, you’re paying mostly for the brand name. However, there are differences in air beds as to height, comfort, and durability.
The Best Air Bed For the Price: Coleman SupportRest
Coleman is a brand that is pretty well known in the camping world. Coleman brand products are fairly durable, come with a warranty, and are reasonably priced. This is all true of the Coleman SupportRest Air Bed as well. This air bed is of a good quality, easy to set up, and suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. It also holds up to extended use.
I have been using the Coleman SupportRest as my primary sleeping place for the last three months. It has never leaked, I have never had to add air to it, and it has not had any holes or breaks in the support walls. The air bed comes with a one-year warranty, although I doubt that it will need to be used. The durability of this air bed far surpasses other beds that I have tried.
One of the concerns I have for an air bed is that I have a medical history with bad joints, primarily the knees. This means that height in an air bed is important. If an air mattress is too low to the ground it can be difficult to rise from. An air bed that is higher than floor level but not high enough to sit on is almost more difficult.
The height of the Coleman SupportRest fully inflated is 18 inches. This is a comfortable height to sit on the edge of the bed and rise easily. It also makes it much easier to get into the bed, because you simply have to sit on the edge and lie down, rather than trying to lower yourself into the bed.
The Coleman SupportRest is extremely comfortable for long-term use. It offers amazing back support, which is also important for me with my joint issues. There are other more expensive beds that I have tried that are comparable in support, but none of them surpassed the comfort of the Coleman air bed.
Weight limit is also an important factor for me. Many air mattresses are not rated for much weight. Too much weight on an air bed can really break it down, cause leaks or breaks in the wall, and cause air to slowly seep out during use. The Coleman SupportRest queen size air bed is rated for up to 600 pounds.
As a heavier person, this is extremely important. Not only do I not have to worry about being too heavy for the bed, but this higher weight rating also means that exerting pressure on the bed while shifting positions or getting on and off the bed is not a problem.
The Coleman SupportRest is extremely easy to set up. Other comparable beds that are more expensive have sturdier frames, but they are much more complicated to set up and they take up more room in storage. The Coleman air bed has a built-in electric pump for setting up when indoors and airs up with no effort at all in under five minutes. It also deflates quickly using the same device.
If you want to take this air bed camping and use it outdoors, you don’t have to use the built-in pump. It also has an easy to use valve that can be used with a hand pump or a battery-operated air pump. The air valve has two parts; one to allow air in but not out while airing up, and a larger valve to open for deflation.
The Runner Up: Intex Comfort Plush Dura-Beam Air Bed
Intex is a very inexpensive air mattress brand, and the brand I started out with for that reason. If you are looking for a really cheap air bed, you can’t go wrong with Intex. However, these air beds are not as comfortable or durable as the Coleman SupportRest.
The Intex Comfort Plush air bed is not really designed for long-term use. The longer you have the bed set up, the more air it loses. You will have to air it up from time to time. It lasts about a week between airing up.
While this bed is more durable than other Intex air mattresses, it really doesn’t hold up to abuse. When my son plopped down on it, the inner wall broke.
The Intex Comfort Plush air bed is not uncomfortable for the first few days, but over time it really doesn’t hold up to the competition. This may be because it doesn’t hold air well, and it has to be aired up periodically. The bed simply did not offer the support for my back that other air beds offered. The ribbing on the air bed is also uncomfortable, but this can be remedied by placing a thick blanket down on the air mattress before the sheet.
One of the things I really liked about the Intex Comfort Plush is that it has a height of 22 inches. This is the most comfortable air bed I tried to get on and off of with my knee problems. It is a very comfortable height that really makes it easy to stand up from. Few air beds are of this height, so if you have severe joint problems, it may be worth it to get this air bed over others.
Like the Coleman SupportRest, the Intex air bed has a built-in electric pump that makes set up easy. It also has a two-valve system for airing up the bed with a hand pump or battery-operated air pump. However, with the external air pumps, it takes quite a long time to air up the bed. The Intex Comfort Plush also folds up nicely, and it is easier to store and transport than the Coleman.
Honorable Mention: Intex Classic Downy
The Intex Classic Downy is the air mattress that I first started out with. This is likely the cheapest air mattress you can buy, and you really get what you pay for. I started out with the twin size, and it is simply not rated for enough weight to hold up for me. The longest the twin size lasted was one month before the inner wall broke (take note for if you will be offering the bed to guests).
The Intex Classic Downy is also very low to the ground. It has a height of only 8.75 inches. For me, this meant needing to scoot onto the floor and raise up on my knees and then to my feet. However, it was easier to do that with the lower mattress than with an air bed of say 10-12 inches, which is still not high enough to simply stand up from.
The reason I still recommend the Intex Classic Downy is because it is a great air mattress for camping. It isn’t a great air bed for long-term extended use, but for camping trips that last a few days to a week, it is a good choice. Because it is a slimmer air mattress, it deflates and folds up easily for easy transport and storage.
It also fits well in most tents and airs up very quickly and easily with a battery-operated air pump. Even though I do not use the Intex Classic Downy for extended use, I still have one for camping trips.
Choosing the Right Air Bed
There are several things to consider when looking for an air mattress. You really want to consider how you will be using the air bed, weight limits, and price. There are a lot of air beds out there that cost quite a bit of money, but you can often be just as satisfied with a cheaper air bed that is durable, comfortable, and easy to set up.
If you have joint problems, height is a serious consideration. The perfect height for you depends on your own height and how low you can be and still stand comfortably. For me, an 18 to 20-inch height is about perfect, and I am 5 feet six inches in height.
A taller person might need the higher air bed of 22 inches to comfortably rise without hurting the knees. If you don’t have joint problems, height isn’t as much of a concern. Even the slimmest air mattresses hold air well enough that you won’t sink to the floor when you lie upon it.
If you rarely use an air mattress, you don’t have to worry as much about durability and long-term use. Most airbeds are designed for occasional use, and if used that way will last for years. However, if you plan to use an air bed frequently, you will want to make sure you choose one that is extremely durable. A lot of air mattresses need to be aired up frequently if used for an extended period of time, but some like the Coleman SupportRest can stand the test of time.
However, if you are using the air mattress primarily for camping, the size it can fold down to and the ease of set up is much more important. The Intext Comfort Downy is slim enough to fold down to a very manageable size and airs up quickly with a battery-operated air pump. It also fits most tents and is great for tents that you can’t stand up in. If you are using the air bed for camping, check out these best tents for camping as well.
If you are a heavier set person, or if you will be sharing the air mattress with your spouse, you will want to carefully consider the weight limit of the air bed. A weight limit of 600 pounds is fairly standard for a queen size air bed. The larger the air bed, the higher the weight limit.
One thing to consider is that you may put more pounds of pressure on the air bed than you actually weigh. If you plop down on the air bed, if you toss and turn a lot, or if you fall into the bed, you are exerting more pounds of pressure than your actual weight. If you or your children tend to be rougher with mattresses and beds, you should choose an air bed with a weight limit significantly higher than your actual weight for durability.
If you will be using an air mattress indoors, you can’t go wrong with a built-in electric pump. Most air beds that have a built-in pump air up in about five minutes. You simply plug it in and hit a button or turn a dial, and the air bed does the rest. If you are using the air bed while camping outdoors, I suggest investing in a good battery air pump. You can get them fairly inexpensively. Intex has one available that is less than $10. These battery-operated air pumps make it much easier to set up the bed away from an outlet.
If you are using an air bed for extended use, it is likely because your sleeping arrangements are temporary, or you can’t afford an actual bed. Either way, you probably don’t want to spend a fortune on an air bed. There are air beds that cost hundreds of dollars, and these beds are definitely top of the line.
However, more affordable beds like the Coleman SupportRest are just as effective, and much easier on the pocketbook. If you’re really strapped for cash and need a bed right away, the Intex Comfort Downy air mattresses are just about the cheapest on the market.
Wrapping Up My Review of the Best Air Beds
In my search for a comfortable place to sleep, the Coleman SupportRest really won out over all the rest. While there were other air beds that were just as comfortable and durable, the Coleman SupportRest was the best value. It is among the most comfortable, and a queen size is under $100.
The height of the Coleman SupportRest is just about perfect for my height and joints, and the back support is sufficient. It is very durable, and it holds air well over time. The Coleman air bed is the best air bed I tried in an affordable price range, and I am still using it comfortably, in no hurry to buy a regular bed.
How do I clean my air bed?
You really don’t have to worry too much about cleaning most air beds. The surface of the air bed is designed to be bacteria and mildew resistant. However, if you spill something on the air bed, you can clean it with mild soap and water. Towel dry as much as possible, and then set a fan to dry it. If the air bed gets wet while it is folded up in storage, air it up so that it can dry completely, and water doesn’t accumulate in the folds.
How do I know what height I need?
The height of the air mattress you will need depends on your body build and your physical needs. The best way to judge the right height for you is to find a chair that is fairly comfortable to stand up from and measure from the seat to the floor. Most folding chairs are at a height of 18 to 20 inches.
What size air mattress is right for my tent?
Different air mattresses are right for different tents. If your tent is low, you’ll want to get a slim-line air mattress. If you have a tent that you can stand up in, the taller air mattresses will work. As a rule of thumb, a two-person tent fits a twin air mattress, a three-person tent fits a full-size air mattress, and a four-person tent fits a queen size air mattress.