There are several factors you’ll want to consider when buying. Before looking at the features of the mattresses themselves, we’d recommend you take the time to think about how exactly you’ll use the product:
– How much use will the mattress have?
If you’re buying a mattress for one-time use, or just for the odd weekend camping trip, you’ll probably be reluctant to spend a great deal of money. On the flip side, if you’re buying a product for regular, or even nightly use, then the extra investment could be worthwhile to ensure you’re getting the very best quality.
– How much wear and tear will the mattress receive?
An air mattress should always be placed on reasonably smooth ground, away from grit or sharp objects. That being said, if you’re using the item regularly in the great outdoors, it’s likely to face a certain amount of rough treatment. In these circumstances, ensuring you buy a robust product becomes much more important than if the mattress will only be used in a carpeted spare bedroom.
– How much space do you have for the mattress?
While the idea of buying a luxuriously spacious air mattress may appeal, you need to be certain that the product you choose actually fits into the space where it will be used… If you’re going camping, we’d strongly recommend you check the internal dimensions of your tent!
– Who will be using the mattress?
You need to carefully consider the height, build, and body weight of those who will be using the mattress. This will affect your decision when it comes to size, build quality, and support. Older users, or those suffering from back problems will want to focus especially on the levels of comfort and support offered. Those with limited mobility will also find it easier to get in and out of a raised air mattress.
– How much space is available to store and transport the mattress?
A blow-up mattress is actually a huge space-saver – but even deflated it will still take up some room. A larger, deeper mattress will typically take up more space either when inflated or stored away. That said, most people will probably have sufficient space in a cupboard or wardrobe for their mattress.
However, the issue of deflated size becomes much more relevant if you’re going to be squeezing the mattress into your car when you go camping! Some users may even plan on carrying a mattress while on a hiking trip.
– Do you have a compatible pump – or would you prefer to buy an air mattress with a built in pump?
An electric pump is a huge time saver and a major bonus because of the energy it takes to blow up a mattress with a manual pump! 3 of the 5 products we look at here actually come with a built in electric pump plus an attached UK 3 pin, 240v plug.
– Do you need extras like inflatable pillows?
Inflatable pillows aren’t normally necessary if you’re buying a blow up mattress for use at home. But they are a great way to say even more space and cut down on weight when you’re travelling. Blow up pillows can be bought separately at very affordable prices, though some inflatable mattresses actually include a raised pillow zone for the very best in all-in-one convenience!
Materials and Construction
Air mattresses are typically constructed from PVC, a medium-soft form of plastic. Many of the better products also feature multi-layered PVC – offering enhanced protection from punctures. While basic products use just one chamber, high-quality air mattresses are constructed with multiple chambers or coils for the air (we’ll explain the benefits of this in the ‘Comfort and Support’ section below).
You’ll also want to consider the upper surface of the mattress – since this is the part you’ll actually be sleeping against. The best air mattresses (including all of the products reviewed here) feature a flocked (textured) surface which allows a bed sheet to grip better and feels nicer to sleep against than slippery plastic!
Air Mattresses are available in sizes ranging from single through to king. There is sometimes a slight difference in the precise dimensions of products in the same size category, so we’ve provided the exact dimensions in our reviews.
Your choice should be guided by factors including your height and build, whether you will using the mattress alone, or with a partner, and the space you have available – both for the inflated mattress, and for the deflated mattress when it’s being stored and transported.
Another issue to consider is whether you’d prefer a single or double height air mattress (also known as a raised air mattress). Single height mattresses have the advantage of being more compact. Raised models have more of the feel of a conventional bed and are often better suited to older buyers, those with limited mobility, and anyone simply seeking a more authentic ‘home-from-home’ type experience!
Comfort and Support
There’s a world of difference between the best mattress and the worst – and nowhere is this more noticeable than when it comes to the level of comfort and support provided…
The best products feature multiple air coils. As the mattress is inflated each one fills with air to support the user’s body weight evenly. The more coils, the more even the support is – reducing pressure points or areas where the mattress can sag when under pressure.