Best air beds – 6 comfortable air mattresses that are worth the investment

To sleep extra guests or to take camping, these are the best air beds money can buy

Searching for the best air bed? You've come to the right place: you might be quick to dismiss air beds as being synonymous with a terrible night’s sleep, however, we're here to tell you that there are some innovative air beds available that offer true comfort. We've rounded up our top favourites, with everything from an air bed for toddlers to a luxury option for you to consider. The best part? Air beds are portable and storable – just fold them down, ready for next use.

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Why buy an air bed? Air beds are undeniably great when it comes to sleeping extra guests – and if your lovely new sofa is not an option. You'll get good use out of an air bed around the festive season, or when the kids have sleepovers. Failing that, if the in-laws or older relatives are coming to stay, you will want to be able to offer a sturdy – and comfortable – sleeping solution. You can also take air beds with you on staycations, camping or to a family members' house. Versatile? We think so.

Depending on what you'll be using your new air bed for, we have got something for everyone.  If you’re a serious camper your air mattress criteria will differ seeing as you will want something that is easy to carry, light and quick to inflate without the need for a power source. For kids sleepovers, you could probably make do with a basic single air mattress or mat. For use by adults and indoors, you'll want to opt for something self-inflatable and super comfortable so as to avoid any sore backs in the morning. Look out for air beds that come with extra bedding, pillows built-in, or even sleeping bags.

The best air beds

Active Era air bed with sleeping woman

(Image credit: Active Era)

1. Active Era Premium King Size Air Bed

The best air bed you can buy

Rated highly by more than 8,000 Amazon reviewers, this premium air bed takes just 3 minutes to inflate – thanks to its built-in electric pump, that is. Designed with a raised pillow for the ultimate neck and back support, this air bed actually featured 35 structured air-coils for maximum support, all night long. In other words: it's the best of the best if you want an air bed that's almost as comfortable as your bed at home.

Available in a range of sizes from single to super king, it's even made with 5-gauge puncture-resistant material, plus it's waterproof. It might not bee the most stylish looking air bed around, but rest assured that with some luxury sheets on top you should sleep like a baby.

This air bed ticks all our boxes, whether for sitting in your loft as a just-in-case or for monthly use in your spare bedroom. It can sleep anyone from grandparents to children.

Coleman Airbed Comfort Bed

(Image credit: Coleman)

2. Coleman Airbed Comfort Bed

The best double air bed for couples

Prefer a softer or firmer mattress to your partner? This air mattress may be for you, because of its dual chambers. Using the dual-controls you can inflate or deflate your own side of the bed to suit your needs. This means no more compromising on comfort – or rolling into the middle of the bed and waking each other up. Made from strong PVC this air mattress is robust and virtually puncture resistant.

It also features an airtight double lock valve system that locks in air two ways. This means it is almost leak-proof. You will need a separate pump to inflate it but Coleman offer a good range depending on your usage. Choose from battery-powered, rechargeable, mains operated or one you can connect to your car cigarette lighter socket. That will also come in handy for pumping up beach toys and other inflatables if you take it camping.

This is an extremely comfortable air bed for two and the velvety finish means you can lie straight on it – no sheets required.

Fineway Deluxe Inflatable High Raised Air Bed

(Image credit: Fineway)

3. Fineway Deluxe Inflatable High Raised Air Bed

The best luxury air bed

You might be thinking that the words luxury and air bed don't belong in a sentence together, but boy: you are wrong! As proven by this Fineway Air Bed that looks the part and plays the part. It's self-inflating with 35 coils for your comfort, plus it sits at a normal bed height, unlike other air beds that are usually low down to the ground. It has a double layer base and a bulged outer frame, to prevent you from rolling off onto the floor. The best part? A built-in raised pillow adds neck support and the top of the air bed is wrapped in a soft-touch waterproof cover. Just throw your fitted sheet on top and you're all set for a good night's sleep.

Not only can you inflate this mattress using its electric pump, but this can be used for deflating it, too – there's not a lot of work for you to do with this one, clearly. It comes with a storage carry bag whether it'll be used for weekend camping trips or when the parents come to stay.

The Shrunks Toddler Travel Bed with child inside

(Image credit: Shrunks)

4. The Shrunks Toddler Travel Bed

The best air bed for children

If you are buying an air bed for a child – perhaps for sleepovers or occasional staycation use – then this one is your best bet. It'll allow you to sleep peacefully thanks to its inflatable guard rails that will ensure your little one won't roll out of bed. It's also award-winning – and for good reason. It won't squeak and wake them up when they roll over, plus it's designed to be lower to the ground for added safety. There's also the added sheet-tuck feature that lets you tuck their bedsheets into the inner air mattress, to keep them cocooned and cosy all night long.

A small yet powerful pump comes included and will get this bed inflated in 30 seconds. Also included comes a carry bag and a repair kit. Did we mention that this air bed is phthalates, BPA and lead-free? It also looks the part, too, with a white finish that shouldn't stick out like an eyesore in their bedroom. Inflated, this air bed measures L152cm x W94cm x D23cm.

Outwell Dreamcatcher airbed with Ideal Home approved logo

(Image credit: Outwell )

5. Outwell Dreamcatcher Sleeping Mat

The best air bed for camping

Start saving now as this is one of the most advanced self-inflating mats we could find. It is super light, weighing only 3kg, and is extremely supportive and comfortable thanks to its 12cm depth. Made from ultra-touch stretch polyester, these mats are built to last. They are also slip-resistant, guaranteeing a secure night’s sleep on uneven ground. To inflate the mat, you simply open the two flat valves at one end and roll out the mat, then sit back and watch. The foam will expand within two to five minutes, depending on how long it had been rolled up.

Another plus side is the fast-fit bags they come in. Forget about having to wrestle with your air mattress to squeeze it back into a drawstring bag. The Outwell bags have a simple split down one side so you can open it up wide, pop in the rolled-up mat then wrap the bag around to fit. We were really impressed with this, and thought it would come in useful if we were trying to pack up a tent in the rain.

Overall this is a very impressive self-inflating mat and definitely worth the investment if you’re a keen camper. Its deep profile with ergonomic shaping is second to none. Indeed, once you’ve spent a night on it you may not want to try anything else. Just don’t let your fellow campers know how comfortable it is!

Bestway Dreamair Premium Airbed - Single

(Image credit: Bestway )

6.  Bestway Dreamair Premium Airbed

The best air bed for everyday use

With an integrated pump, this luxurious air mattress inflates in only 200 seconds – it's quite a spectacle to watch! The pump is mains-operated so you just need to be within easy reach of a power socket. It also has a deflation option making it super easy and quick to pack away in a drawstring bag. And if you want to take it camping there is a separate valve which you can hook a battery-operated pump into.

Once inflated, this air mattress is huge, standing almost half a metre off the ground. If you top this with a 13.5 goose down duvet and fluffy pillows it will look and feel like a proper single bed. The sleeping surface is velvety soft and the unique rib design is there to prevent roll offs. Sewn onto the side of the mattress is a mesh storage pocket; we found this useful for storing our bedtime read, eye mask and smartphone.

How much do I need to spend on an air bed?

Depending on size and usage the prices of air beds can vary hugely. For an expedition-quality self-inflating mat, £60-£200 would get you a top-of-the-range single. If you’re after a straightforward air mattress for kids’ sleepovers, prices start around £10 for something fairly basic.

If you want to offer your guests something close to a real bed experience, look to air mattress experts Aerobed. A coil construction mattress starts at £130 for a double, going up to £330 for a raised king size. It may sound expensive but it’s still cheaper than your average sofa bed!

How to buy the best air bed for you?

What is the difference between an air bed and a self-inflating mat?

A self-inflating mat or SIM is a popular choice for campers and festival-goers. It is a thin air mattress with a layer of foam padding inside. They range from 2cm–12cm in thickness but check the width too, as they can be a bit narrow so you might want to upsize. To inflate, you simply open the valve to allow air to be automatically sucked in.

They roll up small, similar to your average yoga mat and are extremely light. Some people might find them too thin and firm. however, note that they can also be used with a camp bed base for an off-the-ground set up. Air beds follow the same sizing rules as regular mattresses but they can feel a bit smaller based on their level of inflation.

These air mattresses are a better option if you’re planning to share them with someone else. There are plenty available in a double or king size. The best mattresses come with long, tubular air chambers. This means the level of firmness or softness can be adjusted using the pump, which is either built-in or external. Some come with a special flocked velvet-like coating that eliminates the need for sheets as they are super soft to the touch.

How easy is it to inflate and deflate an air mattress?

This depends on how much your budget will stretch. There are three main types of pumps: a foot pump, an integrated pump or an electric pump. The majority of the top of the range airbeds come with a rechargeable or mains-operated integrated pump. They will also have a remote control that can inflate and deflate the mattress within a matter of seconds.

Self-inflating mats are a doddle as they come with a valve that, once opened, allows to the mat to self-inflate. You can then top it up with a few breaths, so no need for any extra equipment. Your average air bed comes with a separate pump that is either rechargeable or can be plugged into the mains for home use or into a car cigarette lighter socket. The latter is handy if you’re camping and can take up to 3 minutes to inflate.

Do air beds lose air?

Like anything filled with pressurised air, these mattresses are susceptible to springing a leak. Air beds do tend to lose air naturally and gradually anyway. If you notice a rapid loss, there could be a hole somewhere. But where? Follow these steps to help detect the source of the problem:

  1. Blow up the air bed fully and then examine the entire sleeping surface and listen out for a thin hissing sound. An inflated mattress makes it easier to identify defects.
  2. If the leak is too small, it might be hard to hear so another popular method is to gently wipe over the mattress with a soapy sponge and look out for small bubbles. Washing up liquid is good for this.
  3. Once you find the hole, circle it gently with a permanent marker so you don’t lose it and then deflate it.
  4. Most good air beds come with their own fixing kit. Each kit’s instructions may vary so be sure to read them carefully.
  5. If your air mattress doesn’t come with a repair kit, there are many available online, or you can repair the hole in the same way as you would with a bike puncture.

Common reasons why air bed repairs fail

There are two things to look out for here. The first is that you shouldn't patch up your air mattress while there is still air in it. Secondly, you need to make sure the surface is clean and free from any oil or dirt – you need a good surface for the adhesive to stick to. Sand down the surface lightly to ensure good adhesion.