How do I choose an air mattress?

Megan Smith
 min read

So how do you choose an air mattress? We’ve realized that it’s a question that baffles many, so we’ve jumped in to get you started!

How do I choose an air mattress?You need to take into consideration a number of factors. Think size, weight, materials, costs, guarantee, and any other functions your choice may have.

Read on for the complete list of ideas on how to pick an inflatable mattress that matches your needs.

After reading this post, make sure to also have a look at our reviews of top air mattresses.

How do I choose an air mattress? Introduction

It’s in the name, an air mattress (or an air bed) uses air as a cushion versus a camp bed that uses a support structure rather than air. You don’t have to inflate it yourself, an air pump with a tube linked to the side does that.

It may also boast features such as interior air chambers, foam rails, and a padded topper or memory foam on top. Some offer a firmness control system to adjust the support and comfort levels.

One fantastic feature is that it is portable, unlike your standard mattresses. Not in use? Store it away, and bring it out whenever needed, whether it’s the garden, a part or even a campsite.

Since it also floats on water, some people like to lounge on one in a pool. 

Visitors? No bed, no problem. Simply get it out of storage, inflate it, and there you go. It is fantastically flexible for such cases:

  • It costs less than an actual guest bed because of its lightweight products
  • It’s durable and can last long with appropriate care
  • Perfect for persistent and pain-free sleeping
  • You can adjust its firmness or softness according to your preference

To get yourself on the right track, you have to ask yourself some questions:

  • How often will it be used?
  • What will you be using it for?
  • Who will be using it?

Addressing these concerns will give you a starting point.

Questions to ask yourself when choosing an air mattress

Is there an easy dial to set the level of comfort?

This is really convenient, this dial allows you to pick the comfort level-high, medium, and low, so it takes out all the guesswork. Have I inflated that mattress enough? No need to ask that question anymore.

Can you return it if it doesn’t meet your expectations?

Some sellers offer a partial refund, while others give a 100% money-back guarantee.

Make sure to test a bed mattress before buying it to see it’s the one you want, and you’ll probably not need to worry too much about the warranty.

How easy is it to inflate and deflate?

Choose a blow-up mattress that can be inflated and deflated quickly and is so easy to use that it can be handled by a youngster with minimum guidance.

Let’s face it, if you’re dead tired, you don’t want to take ages to get your bed ready, 5 minutes and you’re ready to snuggle down.

How do I choose an air mattress? Ask yourself how you will use the air mattress

Think about the different types of inflatable mattresses that fit your needs.

There are no official classifications for air beds. Still, they differ in sizes, features, materials, shapes and kinds, and purposes.

For having guests over

We’ve already mentioned this, but it is such a good option that we need to remind you. An inflatable bed for guests that are staying overnight is so helpful.

You can deflate and store it away as soon as your guests leave.

You can put together a number of single mattresses and put them together to create more space.

Self-inflatable air beds also include built-in pumps and are recommended for quick inflation or deflation.

For sleeping at home

An air bed can be used long-term for routine use, given its height and distance from the floor, as it simulates a standard bed.

There is no need for consistent inflation and deflation, just adjust its firmness according to choice.

You can choose one with additional options like an inflatable headboard and detachable backrest, just to mention a couple of extras.

You could consider purchasing a memory foam air bed if you want added comfort.

For fun in the water

If you enjoy swimming, you can use an air bed as a beach toy that is specially designed to float. 

And it is so much more than just a flotation device; you can really sleep and lie on it, just ensure you don’t drift away.

For camping

Air beds are brilliant for camping or picnics if you like the outdoors; you can use a lightweight model to take along to events such as shows, concerts and music festivals (read our tips regarding things to bring to a music festival to enjoy the event well equipped).

You can even take one to the park to play on with your children.

Camping air mattresses come in various shapes and sizes, and some are developed to fit in your RVs or pick-up trucks.

A single compact air bed is highly flexible and lightweight that you can carry it around on your back and use it in a tent.

How do I choose an air mattress? How big should the air mattress be?

Mattresses can be found in various sizes: junior, single, twin, queen, full, and king.

A junior-sized air bed is ideal for kids, while a twin or queen can accommodate a couple.

If you have a big family with 4 or more members, think about buying a bigger size.

Big mattresses are very convenient when unanticipated guests stay overnight.

You want to be prepared for plus-size guests too. Otherwise, you may find out what happens if you put too much weight on an air mattress.

Does it come with a handy storage bag?

For simple handling, buy one that comes with a storage bag that is easy to carry around. 

It will also protect your air bed when not in use.

Does the air mattress have separate air chambers?

Great air beds include several chambers that spread the air evenly inside.

Is the inflatable bed high or thick enough?

Another thing to consider is the density of the mattress. The thinner, the more likely that your body will sink and touch the floor, and you wouldn’t be at all happy.

How do I choose an air mattress? If buying online, make sure to check the reviews

You can always choose between going to a shop or purchasing online.

If you go to a physical store, you can see, touch, and test the mattress, but you might feel unduly pressured by the salesperson. 

And if there isn’t a shop in the vicinity, it could mean you taking time off work to get to one.

To save yourself some time, check out online reviews before going to the outlet, and it’s a great idea to check prices, functions, and shipment options beforehand.

On the other hand, online shops bring several advantages, such as being able to cut to the chase by filtering for type, size, features, shipping options, etc.

Online sites can supply videos, images, and the interactive experience of particular bed mattresses, besides payment alternatives, warranty, technical specifications, and a wish list.

Ensure that you select a reputable site and read genuine evaluations from its consumers.

Are there any known body pains to take into account?

Your choice of foam might be dictated by your particular health issues. For example, suppose you suffer lower back pain.

In that case, you will need a level of softness that varies for someone with different problems.

How long is the warranty?

As always, pick a model with sufficient guarantee coverage for your peace of mind.

Read the conditions and terms such as the length of coverage and occurrences that can void the warranty.

How do I choose an air mattress? Yes, user weight matters

Obviously, this will be your first consideration when picking an air mattress.

From there, you can go on to determine the ideal firmness level:

  • For a lighter individual weighing under 150 pounds, the best choice would be between 5-6 on the scale to prevent you from sinking too low.
  • For an average individual weighing between 150 and 300 pounds, select a bed mattress with a firmness scale of 5-7 for convenience and support.
  • For the heavier person, weighing more than 200 pounds, choose a 12-inch bed that is a 10 on the firmness scale.

For more detailed information about air mattresses and their weight capacities, have a look at our other post Do air mattresses have a weight limit?

Is the air bed resistant to punctures?

There is nothing more deflating than spending your money and finding that after your first night, it’s got a hole. 

But fear not, there are puncture-resistant models out there.

(To a reasonable level, of course. Don’t put it on a bed of nails because you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.)

How soft is the air bed?

Too much softness isn’t a good idea. It will trigger sagging, back pain, and issues with your spine. 

Some manufacturers advise against using them for infants and young kids because of the risk of suffocation.

How long will the air mattress last?

Life expectancy depends on the material it is made of.

As a rule of thumb, mattresses last 5 to 10 years. If you are continuously waking up in pain or discomfort, then it’s time to shop for a new one.

An air bed can give you as much life span as other kinds of bed mattresses, depending upon how much you use it and take care of it.

What’s your sleeping position?

Your sleeping position can impact how you select the comfort level of your blow-up mattress:

  • If you sleep on your back, your option should be firm.
  • If you sleep on your stomach (and weigh more), your choice should veer towards a firm surface area or a thick mattress.
  • If you often change positions, opt for an air-filled mattress with multiple air chambers.

How do I choose an air mattress? Check the structure of the air bed

Try to find 2 functions in the structure of a blow-up mattress in particular:

  • two layers: this can give you double support, much like an actual bed that has a supporting frame below, and the bed mattress on top
  • reinforced structure: important for back support and to prevent sag

What level of comfort does the air bed provide?

Not all mattresses are made equal, and the same goes for the comfort level provided.

  • Pillow, like resting on the cloud
  • Cushion, comparable to lying on the grass
  • Firm, similar to sleeping on a carpet
  • Plush, similar to sleeping on a stack of comforters, very soft

How much does the air mattress cost?

The cost of inflatable mattresses may vary from $50 to $300 or more, depending on the size and features. Before committing to one, make sure you know what your budget is.

Then again, your purchasing power shouldn’t ultimately dictate your choice because a higher price does not necessarily mean better quality.

Select only the accessories needed even though you might be pressured into buying pillow covers, bed frames, and bed covers when all you want, really, is the mattress.

Can you try out the air mattress?

Before buying a mattress, you should ideally evaluate it for comfort, toughness, firmness, and softness.

Check it out with another person if you’re looking for a double bed; roll, curl and move from side to side. This will help you decide if you’re comfortable using it long-term.

This might not be a choice if you’re purchasing online.

Is the pump included?

Ensure that your mattress comes with an air pump that is easy to use and quickly inflates when needed. You can choose a manual or an automatic one either built into the mattress or operated separately.

An inflatable bed mattress is easy to bring and store even outdoors with an integrated air pump.

Do you need extra cushioning on top?

This depends upon one’s body weight.

Heavier people would be more comfortable with additional cushioning; those on the lighter side will not require that much help.

Is the inflatable bed resistant against microbes?

An antimicrobial surface would keep your bed mattress devoid of the musty smells caused by germs and fungal accumulation and increase its lifespan.

Are there any other physical conditions to take into account?

 Consider your physical condition. For example, is your body stiff or flexible? Broad hips? Do you struggle with back injuries?

A bad shoulder can keep you awake, and a firm mattress can distort your spine if you have wide hips. A soft bed mattress will not fit you if you are hypermobile.

Change the air bed’s support or firmness level according to your body conditions.

You should consult a professional about body alignment, spinal column, anatomy, and inflatable mattresses.

An expert might check how your weight is dispersed over the mattress or if your curve fits its shape.

Check if your choice is medically-approved or orthopedic. But we must warn you that there are no official measures for this.

How do I choose an air mattress? Conclusion

Choosing an air mattress doesn’t have to be complicated. This buying guide for air mattresses makes it easy for you to get started.

Be aware of your physical condition, requirements, ease of use, and user preferences.

Consider these questions:

  • What are your preferred types and materials?
  • What is your budget for this purchase?

Be sure to do your own research and check out genuine customer reviews before you hit that buy button.

Happy shopping and have a good rest!

About Megan Smith

Megan has been fighting overweight and her plus size since her teenage years. After trying all types of remedies without success, she started doing her own research. Megan founded Plus Size Zeal to share her findings. She also developed various detailed buying guides for plus-size people in order to make their lives easier and more comfortable. Read More