09 December 2016

5 Essential Tips for Choosing the Best Air Mattress for Your Money

The industry of air mattresses has gone a long way in the past few decades – from a floating lilo that you’d see on a beach or on a camper’s backpack, the airbed has moved into our home. The uses range from a temporary bed for guests to a permanent bed for long-term use.

However, if you do decide to get a blow-up bed, you need to know exactly what to look for.  This sentence does sound like a cliché, and it is true for almost any product, but when choosing this particular piece of furniture, it’s twice as important.

The reasons for that will become clearer as we move through this guide.

So, let’s sharpen our proverbial pens and dive right into what we promised – essential tips for choosing right.

Tip 1: Start with the user reviews

It simply makes sense that other people reports are a good way to start.

So, if you are considering a particular model, visit the websites that carry it and have a reliable rating system. Go through the experiences and look for those from people with needs similar to yours.

You’ll discover a wealth of reliable info and first-hand reviews of the best air mattresses out there.

But this part can be tricky and mislead you – here’s what to think about and “red light” to look for if you are relying on user reports.

  1. They can be fake – it’s not uncommon for companies to either have a team that will write praising reviews or simply compensate people to give their products five star ratings.

    The solution to this is making sure that you get your information from websites that have a system in place that makes sure that only “verified purchases” can provide feedback.
  2. The quality of the products has changed – with all the outsourcing and changes in manufacturing protocols, a quality of a once great product can suffer. Yet, it can still hold high ratings because of the long years of positive feedback.

    Solution – don’t just look at the average ratings, sort the reviews and read what the most recent ones are saying. If there is a problem, you’ll see it right away.
  3. Make sure that the sample (number of reviews of the airbed) is large enough. If there are 10 reviews of a product, its ratings are not reliable. The company making the bed could have easily bought ten of their own products or offered them to people for free in exchange for a positive review.

    Solution – go with reputable brands and products that stood the test of years. These brands usually have hundreds, if not thousands of reviews.

    A good example of a reliable product is the SoundAsleep Dream Series, which has thousands of reviews and high-ratings – the margin of error with a product like this is minimal.

    Other trusted brands include Aerobed, Intex, Serta, Insta, Coleman and Fox.

    Take your time with this process. We spend a large chunk of our lives sleeping and the rest of it is affected by how good of a night’s sleep we get.

Tip 2: Go with a coil technology for the inner chambers

This is something you won’t be able to learn from the user reviews – the inner construction makes or breaks an airbed.

Most people will blindly go with the inflatable bed that promises it’s made of thicker and superior PVC (like Fox airbeds usually are). But the “soft spot” of these products is not the thickness of the PVC (what punctures the 0.4 mm PVC will most likely puncture the 0.6 mm, too).

The “soft spot” are the seams – and how the inner part of the bed is constructed makes all the difference on how weight is distributed along the sleeping surface and how much stress the seams suffer.

Beam vs. Coil Design

As opposed to outdated beam design, modern coil design is imagined to mimic a steel spring of classical mattress.

A coil design minimizes the risk of air leaks and does wonders regarding comfort because you don’t sink into the middle – the edges are just as firm as the rest of it.

These are the inflatables that are as comfortable as a regular mattress and are often a choice of people with back problems as an everyday bed. This is mainly due to the fact that you can regulate the firmness and thus, choose one that allows you spine to be aligned and eliminates shoulder and hip pressure points.

Tip 3: Think about a never-flat pump

Most of the better airbed models come with an integrated electric pump.

However, only a handful includes a secondary “never-flat” pump.

What is a never flat pump?

This is a small (secondary) pump that’s equipped with a sensor that registers any changes in pressure (firmness of the bed) and quietly adds a bit of air to get the pressure back to your setting.

This way, you’ll never sink to the middle, which is particularly important if two people are sleeping on it.

The two brands with popular models that include a never flat pump are Insta and Serta.

Tip 4: Think about power and placement

If you are looking for a camping air mattress, you’ll want one with a pump that can be battery operated.

Also, think about the power outlet – if you are traveling and taking the air mattress abroad, you’ll need a voltage adapter or even a power adapter (if the difference in power (Watts) between the voltage adapter and the power listed on the pump is too great, you’ll ruin your pump.

Let’s also mention that, if your primary purpose is camping you should look into sleeping pads as an option, the self-inflation open-cell foam ones are especially popular with campers and hikers.

When to go with a headboard?

If you are a restless sleeper and the bed will be in the middle of the room, you’ll end up chasing your pillow through the night and waking up to a sore neck.

So, unless you can place the blow-up bed in a corner or at least with its top side against a wall, you might want to look into models that come with a headboard. They are about the same price and the headboard makes all the difference.

Tip 5: Think about safety

The main thing that changed and introduced the home airbed to the mainstream were the changes in safety standards and manufacturing procedures a few decades ago.

Until then, the industry was still struggling with the tales of health hazards.

Today, the companies have to adhere to the strictest standards and exclude any potential chemicals from the manufacturing process (the main issue were chemicals known as phthalates).

It is still PVC, and most of the products will spread a plasticky smell in the room when unpacked but a few hours of airing it out resolves the issue.

In fact, research shows that air mattress today carries the lowest health risk from fumes than any other mattress type (see the graph below).

Summing up our tips on choosing the best air mattress

Let’s take a step back and remember that we mentioned at the begging of this guide that knowing how to choose right is especially important with airbeds.

We hope you know understand why.

With a regular mattress, you try it out and if it feels right for you and the company is trustworthy, that’s pretty much it.

With an inflatable, you don’t have to worry about the firmness because you set it yourself, but you have to know what to look for in the pump, internal design, power, and your intended use.
It’s our hope that this guide helped or might help at some point in the future.

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