After a few months of research, gathering data, reading reviews of the best air mattresses and consulting experts, we’re finally back with the results.
Here’s what you’ll see in this guide:
What to look for in an airbed?
We’ll start with a cliché and won’t shy away from using it through the guide, simply because it’s true. The circumstances and needs each of us have are different and there’s no one airbed that can be universally labeled as “best.”
The recommendations we’ll list below are an indicator of quality and, when all said and then, you will be the one to make a choice. The blow-up bed that you’ll choose will depend on a few factors.
5 Questions to ask yourself before proceeding:
- How often do you plan to use it?
- How much are you willing to spend?
- Do you have any medical problems (like back pain) that can influence the decision?
- Are you looking to use it in your home or on a camp site?
- Where will it go? (you’ll need to adjust the choice to your space, both in terms of height and size of the inflatable)
If you saw the answer to these in your mind’s eye, you’re prepared to look at our recommendations and see if any of them are a good fit.back to menu ↑
Best air bed – top-rated in user reviews and praised by experts
Bob Ozment from TheSleepStudies.com says that “There’s nothing quite like it in on the market,” and labels it as the best air mattress he’s ever seen in the long years of reviewing air beds – Cloud 9 by SoundAsleep.
Review of the Cloud 9 by SoundAsleep
Air coils that act as springs
It’s a well-known fact in the industry that coils beat beams every time.
It’s all about the weight distribution – coils distribute the weight and make the bed more comfortable while reducing the forces that act on the seams. It’s these forces that are the no.2 reason air beds develop leaks (the no.1 reason being a simple pinhole, either as an out-of-factory flaw or punctured by a sharp object around your house, like the micro spikes of or your hardwood floors or the claws of your cat.
No coiled inner design compares to that of the SoundAsleep models, simple because there’s more of them (43 air coils in both the Cloud Nine and the Dream Series).
Tougher, layered material
Usually, the vinyl used to make airbeds is one-layer recycled PVC. The better products however, are reinforcing the material and making it tougher and more resistant to punctures.
They do it either by adding a fabric or nylon finish. In the case of SoundAsleep, they take the approach of using a layered vinyl, which is more durable, less stretchy and resistant to punctures.
A smart pump
The pump is the main difference between the Cloud 9 and the Dream Series (an earlier SoundAsleep model).
The built-in pump is “smart” because it’s equipped with sensors that measure the inner pressure and adds air to keep the firmness level you chose before going to sleep.
The technology is not new, it’s similar to that of Insta and Serta Never Flat beds, but it seems to just work better. The likely reason is the added support of the Comfort Coils.
Whether you’re looking for an airbed for guests or one that you’ll be using long-term, Cloud 9 is the superior choice.
The downside is that it costs more than most models (60-70% more than the SoundAsleep Dream Series) and that it only comes in one size – it is the best queen size air mattress out there.
Most common issues people see with airbeds are far less present with the Cloud 9.
The edges are sturdy, the sleeping surface is flat and supportive so there’s no sinking to the middle of the bed and the bottom doesn’t “slide” (made or rubberized vinyl that SoundAsleep calls “Sure-Grip”).
In our book this bed deserves 4.5 out of 5 stars, with half of a star shaven off because of the price tag.
1st runner-up – Serta Raised with a Never Flat pump
In our opinion, this classic from Serta shares the title of the second best air mattress on the market with the SoundAsleep Dream Series.
We’re giving a slight edge to the Serta Raised Never Flat for two reasons:
- The Never Flat pump (similar to the smart pump of the Cloud 9)
- It comes with a fitted-pillow top which makes all the difference in terms of comfort
Serta Never Flat Raised does feature air coils but “only” 21 of them. They still do a good job with weight distribution, but SoundAsleep takes the spoils in the category.
The slightly lower support levels are balanced out by the pillow top that comes included.
It’s easy to inflate/deflate
The auto shut-off feature of the built-in pump makes this Serta very simple to use. It’s just plug-and-play, you choose your firmness level, turn on the pump and forget about it.
It automatically turns off when it reaches your pre-set firmness. Most of the best air beds do include the feature but, it’s been known to malfunction and render the bed useless as internal seams pop.
We’ve seen no cases of that happening with this Serta inflatable mattress.
The pillow top does make a difference
If we exclude the high-end EZ airbed, this model is probably the closest you can get to the experience of sleeping on a real bed. Although it’s not designed for long-term, everyday use, we’ve seen a number of reviews from people saying that they’re doing just that – using it as their main bed.
Size and color choices
This model comes in twin and queen size, and it’s the best twin air mattress out there.
For a brief period, a vivid blue option was offered as an alternative to the classic beige, but it seems that it goes in and out of stock, so we can’t really count that as a plus.
Bottom line – offering the convenience of a “smart” pump at the price level of regular blow up mattresses, this Serta is a solid choice for both you and your guests.
Our rating – 4.2 stars.back to menu ↑
2nd runner up – Review of the SoundAsleep Dream Series
This is the most popular choice in today’s market because it caters to the needs of most people and it’s at the sweet spot in terms of pricing.
Pump aside, just as good as the Cloud 9
The two blow-up beds from SoundAsleep are pretty much the same in most quality aspects – from the materials used, number of coils and weight distribution down to the sure-grip bottom.
The difference is that the Dream Series comes with a regular pump. Don’t get us wrong, there’s nothing wrong with it, in fact, the pump is a patented 1-click unit that inflates/deflates the mattress in less than 4 minutes, but it’s not “smart.”
The reviews we’ve seen tell the same story – this mid-priced model is just right for the large chunk of the market.
Our rating – 4.2 stars.back to menu ↑
As we announced at the beginning of this guide, we’ll take a minute or two to address the top models is specific categories – most comfortable, most durable and best value for money.
Most durable air mattress – Fox airbeds Plush Durabeam
This one is simple. There are no intricate details that make the Fox models more durable. The material used is simply thicker and the bed is more robust.
The vinyl of the Fox Durabeam (and a few other models Fox makes) is about 0.6 mm thick which makes it about 40% thicker than that used in pretty much every other brand.
The downside of the toughness and durability is the weight; it’s by far the heaviest and bulkiest model out there. This means it’s harder to store since the thick vinyl makes it bulky even when deflated. It also means you won’t be carrying this beast around as you would the lighter models.
Great for kids
Kids tend to love inflatables, which is great. What’s not so great is the fact they love them because they are a DIY bouncy castles.
So, if you are having a sleepover with a bunch of rascals that will be jumping around, this is the probably the only airbed tough enough to take that kind of abuse.
Sturdy, yet comfortable
It might sound counterintuitive since the toughest air beds tend to be less comfortable, but Fox has figured out a way to have their cake and eat it.
The “secret” is the extra layer of air-flow chambers added to the top. These chambers act as a buffer between the sturdy structure and the sleeper. They are plush and minimize pressure points that are otherwise an issue with this kind of blow up mattress.
Our rating – 4 out of 5 stars.
Most comfortable air mattress – Serta EZ bed
If money is not your decision point and you lay eyes on an EZ bed, that will probably be it.
An EZ bed looks nothing like a regular inflatable and doesn’t sleep like one, either. When we talked about the Serta Never Flat, we mentioned it’s the closest you can come to the feeling of a regular bed “if you exclude the EZ models.”
That’s precisely the point – an EZ bed includes all the nifty features that made the beds we talked about so far good and takes it a whole level up.
It’s mounted on a steel frame (that sets up automatically as you plug it in, no levers to pull, no bolts to tighten). The inflatable part is just as well-made but not as high – which eliminates that “balloony” feel of an airbed.
When set up and made, we could bet that 5 out of ten people wouldn’t know it’s an air mattress.
Best value for money – Intex Comfort Plush FiberTech
Intex is probably the best-known company in the industry of inflatables, especially pool accessories.
In the airbed market, they kind of have/had a reputation of making cheaper and lower quality products – the kind you’d get if you have your grandkids over two or three times a year.
That all changed with the introduction of FiberTech technology.
As the name indicates, their FiberTech Series includes millions of fibers that connect top and the bottom of the bed.
The reason they make a difference is similar to the Coil technology – they make the bed more stable and ease some of the stress that inner-chamber seams “suffer.”
The difference is – they cost less to make then coils and the result is a stable airbed that cost about half as much as the top models we mentioned.
In the long run, it might not be as durable, but for occasional use, Intex FiberTech gives you a bigger bang for your buck.