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Best Airbed Mattresses – Top Picks and Buyer’s Guide

Written by Keith Cushner

Quick Overview

Airbeds are a popular alternative to standard mattresses because most models offer customizable firmness. Rather than support cores made of foam or springs, airbeds contain individualized air chambers that can be inflated or deflated to create different feels.

Airbeds are considered especially beneficial for sleepers with shifting firmness preferences and those who frequently experience aches and pains in their neck, shoulders, back, and other sensitive areas. Additionally, some airbeds feature dual-firmness settings that allow couples to customize each side of the bed to match their individual preferences.

Airbeds are fairly expensive, with average price-points that are much higher than those of innerspring, foam, or latex mattresses. Shoppers will also find that fewer airbed models are available compared to other mattress types. However, airbed owners generally enjoy their sleep surface.

Read on to learn more about how airbeds are made and important factors for first-time buyers. You’ll also find our picks for the best airbeds sold today. Our choices are based on verified customer and owner reviews, as well as intensive product research and analysis.

Best Airbeds of 2021
First Time Buying a Mattress?

Hop down to our Buyer’s Guide for a crash course on finding the best airbed mattress.

 

Best Airbed Mattresses - Reviewed

Editor's PickSolaire by Saatva

Editor's Pick – Solaire by Saatva

Highlights

  • Memory foam and latex comfort layers
  • 13.5" profile
  • 'Soft' to 'Firm' range
  • Dual-firmness options for couples
  • 25-year warranty
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Editor's PickSolaire by Saatva

saatva.com

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The Solaire by Saatva combines the innovative, adjustable design of classic airbeds with the pressure-relieving comfort of other mattress types.

The mattress features one (twin XL and full sizes) or two air chambers (all other sizes) in the support core. Owners can adjust the firmness of the bed by adding or releasing air. The Solaire offers a firmness range of soft (3) to firm (7), which accommodates the vast majority of sleepers regardless of their weight and sleep position.

The Solaire is also constructed with an organic-cotton pillow-top, which offers exceptional padding, along with comfort layers of gel-infused memory foam and zoned Talalay latex. These materials cradle and support the sleeper’s body, and can alleviate aches and pains as they develop.

In addition to standard sizes, the Solaire is available in Upper Flex Queen and King sizes, which are split from the top to the midsection; this allows owners to elevate the head of their bed using an adjustable base. Split King and Split California King sizes are also available. These options make the Solaire very suitable for couples with differing comfort preferences.

All Solaire orders in the contiguous U.S. and Canada qualify for free White Glove delivery, which includes in-home assembly and old mattress removal; most competing brands charge $100 to $300 for this service. The Solaire is also backed by a 180-night sleep trial and a 25-year warranty.

The Bottom Line.

The Solaire by Saatva checks all the boxes for what an airbed should offer, and then some. The bed is available in a variety of sizes, including split sizes, so individuals and couples with a range of comfort and firmness preferences can all enjoy a good night’s sleep on the same bed. Moreover, Saatva includes premium perks like free White Glove Delivery and backs the mattress with an extensive 25-year warranty.

  • Every type of sleeper (side, back, stomach, combination). A zoned comfort system of quality latex and memory foams, combined with 50 firmness settings, ensures sleepers can find the perfect balance of comfort and support.
  • Sleepers in all weight groups (light, average, heavy). The firmness selection of the Solaire accommodates a wide range of body types.
  • Couples. The Solaire comes in split sizes, so couples with different firmness preferences can adjust either side of the bed to their liking.
  • Hot sleepers. The Solaire’s comfort layers of breathable latex and gel-infused memory foam are designed to regulate the bed’s surface temperature.

Not Recommended for:

  • Light sleepers who wake easily from noise or movement. The air chambers can produce some noise when adjusting.
  • Mattress shoppers on a small budget. The Solaire carries a higher-than-average price-point, due to the quality construction, adjustable bed compatibility, and delivery perks.

Best ValueAir-Pedic 800 Series

Best Value – Air-Pedic 800 Series

Highlights

  • Adaptive, gel-infused foam comfort layer
  • 6-chamber, multi-zone adjustable technology
  • Separate lumbar support control
  • 100% CertiPUR-US certified foam
  • 30-year warranty
Sav up to $900 on an Air-Pedic 800 airbed with this code: ASL900
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Best ValueAir-Pedic 800 Series

selectabed.com

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Even though airbeds aren’t typically as budget-friendly as other mattress types, the Air-Pedic 800 Series Mattress by Selectabed is our top pick for Best Value. This 13.5-inch model is competitively priced considering its quality and amenities.

The Air-Pedic 800 Series Mattress comprises a responsive 1-inch hypergel plush-top cooling layer, as well as a 1.5-inch gel-infused support layer for added ventilation and pressure relief. The second layer is not quite as buoyant as the hypergel cooling layer, but it still prevents you from sinking too deeply into the mattress. Below this is a 1.5-inch HD Flex-Comfort layer that supports your curves while alleviating pressure points.

The transition between the mattresses’ foam layers and air chambers consists of a 2-inch Resili-Flex support layer, which provides additional pressure relief. The bottom 6-chamber, multi-zone air system is engineered to facilitate proper spinal alignment, thanks to its ultra-flexible urethane construction. There is a separate lumbar support control to fine-tune comfort levels, as well as optional wireless bluetooth control via your smart device.

The Air-Pedic 800 Series’ Kool-Flow micro-vented bamboo viscous covering is both soft and breathable. If you are an exceptionally hot sleeper, you can opt for an additional Airflow Transfer System, which further increases air ventilation. All of the foam used is CertiPUR-US certified and made in the U.S.

The Air-Pedic 800 Series comes in six different sizes: twin xl, queen, Eastern king, California king, split-top king, and split king. This model is also backed by a 120-night sleep trial and a 30-year limited warranty, and Selectabed offers worldwide shipping.

The Bottom Line.

The budget-friendly Air-Pedic 800 Series Mattress offers a plush feel while still encouraging proper spinal alignment. Its gel-infused and cooling layers help keep hot sleepers comfortable, and its multiple size options will accommodate individuals and couples alike.

  • Hot sleepers. With its fully adjustable air chambers and separate gel-infused and cooling foam layers, the Air-Pedic 800 Series is designed to keep sleepers cool and comfortable. For those who sleep exceptionally hot, there is an optional add-on Airflow Transfer System, which allows air to flow bi-directionally even when sleeping in the same position.
  • Couples. With dual-sided adjustability and individual remotes, couples no longer have to negotiate one firmness level. This model also comes in four different king sizes.
  • Back-pain sufferers. The Air-Pedic separate lumbar support control encourages spinal alignment, thereby minimizing potential back pain.
  • Value-seekers. When compared to adjustable air mattresses of comparable quality, the Air-Pedic 800 Series is a more budget-friendly option.

Not Recommended for:

  • Those on a very tight budget. Although this is our top pick for best value, airbeds are still quite a bit more expensive than other mattress types and therefore might not be suitable for those on a more restricted budget.
  • The tech and accessory averse. This might not be the best fit for those who find customization and auxiliary devices overwhelming. If your sleeping preference is fairly straightforward, you probably don’t need all of the variability that the Air-Pedic 800 Series offers.

Best LuxuryReST Bed

Best Luxury – ReST Bed

Highlights

  • Gel memory foam layers
  • 12" profile
  • 'Soft' to 'Medium Firm' range
  • Innovative construction and features
  • 10-year warranty
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Best LuxuryReST Bed

restperformance.com

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The ReST Bed is a high-tech mattress loaded designed to offer a customized sleep experience. The air chambers are designed to target five areas, or ‘zones,’ of the sleeper’s body: the head, shoulders, lower back, hips, and legs.

Users can customize the firmness for each zone; settings generally range from soft to medium firm, allowing the ReST Bed to accommodate most sleepers regardless of their weight. The mattress also offers dual-firmness, which enables couples to customize their own side of the bed based on their individual preferences.

In addition to manual customization, the ReST Bed may be programmed for the ‘Automatic’ setting, which continually adjusts the firmness based on the sleeper’s preferences; or ‘Position Detection,’ which will adjust the settings whenever the sleeper moves from their back to their side or vice versa. Owners also access sleep data with wireless devices and integrate ReST Bed customizations into their home technology.

The ReST Bed has a high price-point even by airbed standards, making it a good pick for shoppers with bigger budgets. The mattress is backed by a 90-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.

The Bottom Line.

For those seeking the top-of-the-line in airbed and sleep technology, the ReST Bed is it. This airbed features a zoned construction that allows owners to finely tune every part of their sleep experience, or let the app do it for them automatically.

  • Side and back sleepers. The ReST Bed offers a slightly softer feel that provides an ideal balance of comfort and support for these sleep positions.
  • Sleepers in the light and average weight groups. The soft to medium firm range of the ReST Bed is most comfortable for sleepers who weigh 230 pounds or less.
  • Those who like smart home technology. The ReST Bed can automatically adjust the bed’s firmness based on the sleeper’s comfort preferences and sleep position, while also tracking the owner’s sleep data.
  • Couples with differing firmness preferences. Both sides of the mattress can be adjusted to different firmness settings.

Not Recommended for:

  • Stomach sleepers. The ReST Bed may feel too soft for some stomach sleepers, especially those with heavier body types.
  • Heavier sleepers. The upper end of the ReST Bed’s firmness range is a medium firm, which may not be adequate for sleepers who weigh over 230 pounds.

Airbed Mattress Buying Guide

Below, we share everything sleepers need to consider when buying an airbed, along with our best tips for buying a new mattress.

What You Need to Know About Sleeping on an Airbed

Airbeds offer a unique experience for sleepers that sets them apart from other mattress types. Unlike innersprings that feature steel coils or memory foam or latex mattresses with polyfoam-based support cores, airbeds are constructed with internal air chambers that can be adjusted by adding or removing air with an electric pump, resulting in customized firmness and support.

Older airbeds feature manual adjustment controls, but many newer models can be adjusted remotely using a portable controller or smart app technology.

The availability of airbeds is somewhat limited compared to innersprings, hybrids, memory foam, and latex mattresses. Additionally, the price-points of most airbeds are significantly above-average.

However, airbeds tend to earn above-average customer satisfaction ratings, due in large part to their customizable controls and long lifespans, as well as pain- and pressure-relieving abilities. The adjustable controls also make them suitable for side, back, and stomach sleepers.

Airbeds vs. Air Mattresses

It’s important to note that the term ‘airbed’ refers to a mattress used as the primarily sleep surface in bedrooms and guest rooms. Airbeds are different from temporary air mattresses (also known as sleep pads) that are commonly used for camping or floor-sleeping. This review will only discuss airbeds designed for primary sleep, and not temporary air mattresses.

Types of Airbeds

In order to meet the definition of an airbed, the mattress must be designed as a primary sleep surface and feature at least two internal air chambers in the support core. Beyond this criteria, airbeds sold today may differ in several ways:

  • Comfort Layer: The comfort layer of an airbed typically features polyfoam, memory foam, and/or latex layers. Most airbeds sold today have comfort systems consisting of one to two layers, and measuring between four and five inches thick.
  • Settings: Airbeds sold today generally have several different settings. A quick survey of airbed mattresses sold today finds that the number of unique settings ranges from 20 to 100, with 50 to 60 as the average number.
  • Number of Chambers: Airbeds sold today have at least two air chambers. Regardless of the total number, air chambers usually have a symmetrical arrangement related to each side of the mattress. An airbed with two air chambers will have one chamber supporting each side, an airbed with four air chambers will have two chambers supporting each side, and so on.

The Feel of an Airbed

Airbeds offer a sleep experience unlike other mattresses. Key attributes include:

  • Variable Comfort Layer: An airbed’s feel will often depend on the types of materials used in the top layers, rather than the air chambers themselves. Some airbeds have foam comfort layers, while others forego the comfort layer completely and only feature a cover.
  • Adjustable Firmness and Support: In addition to customizable firmness, many airbeds also offer adjustable support. Airbeds with six or more air chambers usually feature a zoned system designed to target different areas of the body, as with the Solaire and ReST Bed. Generally speaking, the more chambers an airbed has, the more effectively it will target pain and pressure in specific regions of the body, such as the neck, shoulders, lumbar, and hips.
  • Other Factors: It’s important to note that many outside factors can affect airbed firmness and support settings, resulting in less than ideal sleep conditions, and the possibility of back pain and increased pressure. These factors include room temperature, barometric pressure, and changes in sleep position.
  • Temperature Neutrality: Some sleepers complain that their airbed sleeps too hot, while others report excessive cooling during the night. Of our picks, both of the Sleep Number models and the Solaire by Saatva offer excellent temperature neutrality.

Who Sleeps Best on an Airbed Mattress?

  • Individuals with shifting firmness preferences. Firmness preferences can change due to lifestyle factors, like an illness, injury, or weight gain/loss. They can also change if a person changes their sleep position. Airbeds allow these folks to continue sleeping on the same mattress, despite these other changes.
  • Couples with different firmness preferences. Many airbeds are built with dual firmness settings (including all of our top picks). This means either partner can adjust the feel of their side of the bed to their preference.
  • Those comfortable with adjusting their bed’s firmness settings. Most airbeds offer a large range of firmness settings, and it’s up to the owner to make the adjustments to find their perfect fit. For many airbed owners, this is the most attractive feature of these beds.
  • Those who prefer high-profile beds. Due to their construction, many airbeds are much taller than the average mattress, and measure 10 to 15 inches (our Best Value pick, the Sleep Number c2 is a notable exception, at 8 inches tall). The taller profile can make these beds easier for some individuals to get in and out of, and satisfy the aesthetic preferences of others.

Pros and Cons of Airbed Mattresses

  • Airbeds have the highest customer satisfaction ratings among all mattress types
  • Airbeds offer adjustable comfort and support to accommodate most sleeper preferences
  • Most airbeds effectively absorb and isolate motion transfer, leading to fewer nighttime disruptions for couples when someone shifts positions or gets out of bed
  • When properly maintained, airbeds have a longer-than-average lifespan

Cons

  • Airbeds have the highest average price-point among all mattress types, and availability is relatively low
  • Noise potential is high for airbeds and many owners report sleep disruptions
  • Malfunctions and breakdowns are common in airbeds, and repairs can be costly
  • Environmental factors such as temperature and moisture can affect airbed settings

Choosing the Best Airbed Mattress

While airbeds have lower availability than other mattress types, you’ll still have your pick of quality airbeds to choose from. To narrow down your selection, it can be helpful to know the following:

  • How construction affects the feel and long-term supportiveness of an airbed mattress
  • What firmness range is appropriate for you, based on your body weight and sleep position
  • What’s included in the mattress warranty, and what kind of lifespan you can expect out of your airbed mattress

We’ll review these points in the following sections, starting with the construction of an airbed.

Airbed Mattress Construction

As we’ve discussed, airbeds are unique from other mattress types in their construction. As with anything, the construction affects the quality of the final mattress. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Trench

    Some airbeds are designed with chambers beneath each side of the bed and a small gap between them. In these cases, sleepers may notice sagging and less support in the center of the bed.

    This can lead to long-term pain and pressure issues; the gap may also affect the responsiveness of the sleep surface, which is tied to how good the mattress is for sex. Some manufacturers compensate for this trench effect by eliminating the gap between the chambers.

  • Air Chamber Construction

    The materials used to make air mattress chambers will vary by manufacturer. Many are constructed from vulcanized rubber, but other materials — such as latex or cotton — may also be used.

    The construction of the air chambers does not affect the feel or supportive qualities of the mattress to a noticeable extent, according to owner feedback.

  • Thickness

    Airbeds are somewhat thick compared to other mattress types; most models sold today range between 10 and 15 inches thick. However, the overall thickness of an airbed is usually associated with its comfort layer components.

    The air chamber support core, on the other hand, tends to remain constant; most airbed support cores measure between five and seven inches thick, regardless of the airbed’s overall thickness.

  • Noise

    Above-average noise is one of the chief complaints associated with airbed mattresses. This is largely due to buzzing and whirring produced by electric air pumps. Many models also squeak when supporting weight.

  • Assembly

    Some airbeds are shipped fully assembled. Additionally, select manufacturers offer in-home assembly services for a surcharge. Some, like our Editor’s Pick, the Solaire by Saatva, include it for free.

    Other mattress models are designed for owner assembly, and come with detailed instructions. Most of these models feature a modular design that does not require any mattress expertise, but putting them together can be a time-consuming process.

Finding Your Ideal Firmness Range

The beauty of an airbed is that you can adjust the firmness to your exact preferences. But if this is your first time buying a mattress, you may not know what those preferences are.

Generally, people hone in on their preferred mattress firmness using two factors: their body weight and sleep position.

  • The most popular firmness range for average weight sleepers (those who weigh between 130 and 230 pounds) is ‘Medium’ to ‘Medium Firm.’ Those who sleep on their side may prefer something a bit softer, while stomach sleepers will prefer a firmer setting to encourage healthy spinal alignment. Back sleepers usually enjoy the most comfort from a mattress with a middling firmness.
  • Lightweight sleepers (those who weigh less than 130 pounds) prefer softer mattresses, ranging from ‘Soft’ to ‘Medium.’ Lightweight side sleepers enjoy a bed on the softer end of that range, while stomach sleepers will feel more supported by a ‘Medium’ or even ‘Medium Firm’ mattress. Back sleepers sleep best with something in the middle, like a ‘Medium Soft’ or ‘Medium.’
  • Heavyweight sleepers (those who weigh more than 230 pounds) need firmer mattress to experience adequate support, ranging from ‘Medium Firm’ to ‘Very Firm.’ A side or back sleeper may enjoy the plusher comfort of a ‘Medium Firm’ mattress, while stomach sleepers will be more comfortable on a ‘Firm’ or ‘Very Firm’ mattress.

The table below summarizes the popular firmness ranges for most sleepers, based on body weight and sleep position:

While all airbeds offer customizable firmness, each bed will be listed with a specific firmness range. For example, the ‘Soft’ to ‘Firm’ range of the Solaire by Saatva, our Editor’s Pick, is much larger than the ‘Medium Firm’ to ‘Firm’ firmness range of the Sleep Number 360 c2, our Best Value Airbed.

When considering different airbed models, always verify that the bed you’re thinking of purchasing offers a firmness range that includes your preferred firmness setting.

Airbed Lifespan and Warranty Considerations

Durability and lifespan with airbeds can be tricky. When properly maintained, leading airbed models can perform for eight years or longer, which places them well ahead of the industry average of seven years.

However, equipment breakdowns and malfunctioning components are common within the first few years of ownership. Replacing parts is usually covered under the product warranty and airbed manufacturers anticipate these requests, but filing warranty claims can lead to additional owner expenses.

Here’s why: most airbed warranties span at least 20 years. However, in most cases, the nonprorated coverage period only extends two to three years in length.

During this time, owners will not have to pay to repair or replace defective components of their mattress, including adjustable controls or air chambers. The only expenses associated with nonprorated coverage are mattress shipping and handling costs, and some manufacturers will cover these as well.

Once nonprorated coverage ends, the remainder of the warranty will be prorated. This is when things tend to get expensive.

During prorated coverage, owners must pay certain costs to replace their airbed or specific components (such as air chambers). These costs are usually calculated by multiplying a percentage of the product or part by the number of years that have passed since the warranty began. The longer the owner sleeps on the mattress, the higher the prorated costs will be.

For example:

Let’s say that an air chamber in an airbed is defective and costs $300 to replace. Under the terms of the airbed warranty, owners must pay 20% of the air chamber cost (or $60), plus an additional 4% of the original cost for each year they have owned the mattress. If the chamber becomes defective after 10 years, the owner must pay 60% of the original price, or $180, to replace the air chamber.

Typically, prorated charges will cap around 90% to 96% during the final few years of the warranty. So while owners will never pay full price to replace their airbed or an individual component, they will come close during the latter stages of their warranty.

For more information, please visit our guide to Understanding Mattress Warranties.

Average Lifespan of an Airbed

Airbed Mattress FAQ

  • Do Most Airbed Mattresses Include a Sleep Trial?

    Customers should take note that most airbed manufacturers offer sleep trials for their mattresses. Sleep trials allow customers to test out their mattress for a set number of nights and — if they choose — return the airbed for a partial or full refund. All of our best airbed mattress picks offer sleep trials of 90 nights or longer.

    Airbeds with a sleep trial of at least 60 nights might be a good option for customers who are unsure whether they want to commit to owning an airbed. Most sleep trials carry a mandatory break-in period of at least 20 to 30 nights; customers cannot return their mattress during this period for a refund.

    Manufacturers may also require customers to cover shipping and handling fees associated with returning their mattress during the sleep trial.

  • How Much Does an Airbed Cost?

    The cheapest airbed models are priced around $1,000, while the most expensive options are priced at $3,000 or higher. According to our findings, the average Queen-size airbed costs $2,283.

    Factors that drive the price of an airbed include the comfort layer components, the total number of air chambers, the number of unique firmness and support settings, and the type of manual or remote adjustment controls. Customers should also consider that airbed replacement parts are a likely expense down the road.

  • Does the Airbed Offer Dual Firmness?

    If you share your bed with a partner who has different firmness settings, an airbed with dual firmness can accommodate both of you comfortably. These airbeds allow you to customize the firmness setting for either side of the bed. All of our top airbed mattress picks are designed with dual firmness settings.

    If you or your partner requires an adjustable base for your mattress, you might also consider an airbed available in split sizes, like the Solaire by Saatva. These are split down the middle to accommodate both dual firmness as well as use with an adjustable base.

  • How Do You Adjust the Mattress Firmness on an Airbed?

    The majority of today’s airbeds are adjusted using remote control, although some still use a hand crank. Some newer models, like the Sleep Number and ReST Bed, can be adjusted wirelessly using an app on your smartphone. These apps often include sleep tracking functionality as well.

    Whichever type of adjustment your airbed requires, ensure you are comfortable with it.

  • Do You Need New Sheets or Pillows for Your Airbed?

    Whenever you buy a new mattress, it’s a good idea to buy new pillows as well. Pillows work together with your mattress to provide a comfortable sleep experience. Plus, they wear out much sooner than the average mattress.

    With airbeds in particular, you’ll likely need new bed sheets as well. Airbeds often have taller profiles than the average mattress, and depending on their overall height, may even require deep pocket sheets.

    Standard sheets usually fit mattresses up to 14 inches tall, while deep pocket sheets fit taller mattresses and can be a more suitable fit for some airbeds.

Airbed Mattress Shopping Checklist

When purchasing an airbed online or in a brick-and-mortar store, here are a few key questions to ask:

  • How many individual air chambers does the airbed have?
  • Does the mattress have manual or remote adjustment controls?
  • If the airbed uses a sleep app for adjustments, is it compatible with my smartphone or other smart home devices?
  • How many unique firmness and support settings does the mattress offer? Does it offer dual firmness?
  • Is the airbed available in my desired firmness range?
  • Is the airbed compatible with an adjustable base, if I plan on using one?
  • What is the composition of the comfort layer?
  • How tall is the mattress?
  • How much noise does the airbed produce, particularly with regard to the air pump and/or sleep surface?
  • Is there a gap between the air chambers that could cause a trench that runs down the middle of the bed?
  • Is there a sleep trial for the mattress, and if so, what is the length and is there a mandatory break-in period?
  • What is the warranty length, and how much of the warranty coverage is prorated?
  • Does the manufacturer include free shipping or assembly? If not, what are the costs for delivery and/or assembly?

Although the airbed is a very popular mattress choice, these models may not be right for you. Be sure to check out the other mattress type guides on Tuck.com:

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