Air Mattress Buying Guide

Air Mattresses 101

Air mattresses, also known as air beds, have improved significantly in recent years, with numerous upgrades contributing to sleep comfort and ease of use. The latter depends largely on how easily the mattress inflates, deflates and compacts for storage. Basic blow-up beds require a separate air pump for inflation, but many models streamline the process with built-in pumps. Some also have expanding foam inserts that reduce your set up time. Comfort is still king though, and there are several key factors to consider including size, firmness, thickness and foam cushioning.

Types of Air Mattresses

Comfort makes for a good night’s sleep, so it's important to get the right air mattress for your family's needs. You should consider both who will use the bed and how it will be used. For kids using an air mattress for sleepovers, a basic model with and separate pump would be good enough. But for older people with stiffness and other health concerns, a more sophisticated model with an extra-thick mattress and a built-in pump makes it easier to get in and out of bed and adjust the firmness in the middle of the night. If you're buying an air mattress for everyday use, you should investigate high-end models with features such as dual air chambers for extra stability, adjustable firmness in each air chamber, "whisper quiet" pumps for late-night adjustments and a remote control for easy pump operation. Finally, an air mattress taken on camping trips must be able to withstand rugged use. You should shop for models made of sturdy bedding materials such as PCV or rubber.
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Buying Tips:

• Determine ahead of time who will use the mattress and what conditions it will be exposed to, so that you can choose a model with the appropriate features
• Air mattresses are available in twin, full, queen and king sizes
• Air mattresses are available in single or double height
• If you plan on bringing your air mattress on trips, pick a model that's lightweight and easy to store
• If the bed will be primarily used outdoors, choose one made of a thick, durable material such as vinyl that resists punctures
• When deflated, the mattress should be flat and lightweight enough to carry/transport and also fit in the closet or your trunk when you’re on vacation
• If you’re a light sleeper, make sure the mattress doesn’t make too much noise when you move around. Some mattresses have a plastic surface that can squeak as you move around. If this is an important factor, choose a flocked mattress, which is covered with a soft material.
• If the mattress seems like it’s leaking just after you bought it, it might be due to normal stretching of the material.
• The mattress may seem tighter in the morning due to overnight material shrinkage from the cooler air


Pumps: Electric & Manual +

For convenience, choose an airbed with a built-in electric pump that will inflate the mattress in minutes. If you buy a basic mattress, you'll need to buy an electric pump or manual pump separately. Some high-end mattresses feature "whisper-quiet" air pumps. These built-in devices are designed to operate quietly, so the user can make middle-of-the-night firmness adjustments without disturbing other sleepers.

Comfort Features +

The mattress user controls the main factor affecting sleep comfort, which is firmness. By increasing or decreasing the air pressure, you can easily customize the firmness to your liking. You should under-inflate your mattress a little because your body weight will increase the pressure and firmness. This is more than just a comfort tip: failure to do so can strain the seams leading to leaks or bursting. Mattress construction also influences comfort. Some mattresses have separate air chambers on either side; this feature improves support and allows two simultaneous users to each adjust the mattress firmness. Foam inserts and inner coils are two other examples of construction features that contribute to a sturdier mattress foundation.

Mattress Topping & Material +

Most air mattresses are topped with a flocking material to improve comfort and prevent you and your bedding from slipping off. The more expensive models feature extra layers of cushioning, including memory foam padding, to provide an even more cosy sleeping experience. Airbeds are typically made from PVC which is durable, leak-resistant and can stand up to rough conditions.

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Air Mattress Maintenance Tips:

• Don't overinflate your mattress as this could cause leaks
• Avoid frequently inflating and deflating your mattress as this puts stress on the seams; it's better to leave your mattress inflated for a few days between uses, rather than inflating and deflating it daily
• To store your airbed, deflate the mattress, roll it up and place it in its box or a bag
• Keep it in a dry, cool area away from extreme heat, cold and water