- How Sleep Works
- Sleep Disorders
- Sleep Resources
- Sleep Health
- Sleep Medicine
Temporary air mattresses are inflatable sleep surfaces designed with manual or electric air pumps. Temporary air mattresses are different from ‘airbeds,’ a term that typically refers to standard-size mattresses constructed with air chambers in the support core and designed for long-term use. Unlike airbeds, temporary air mattresses are considered most suitable for guest accommodations, camping trips, RV beds, and other short-term sleeping arrangements, although some sleepers choose to use them on a nightly basis. However, please note that some temporary air mattresses are sold as ‘airbeds.’
Temporary air mattresses fall into two general categories based on their height:
Temporary air mattresses often feature flocked (or textured) surfaces to provide additional warmth for sleepers; some covers are also waterproof. Other models also have legs for extra height. The majority of temporary air mattresses are available in Twin, Full, and/or Queen sizes.
Portability is a major selling point with temporary air mattresses, since most are designed for easy deflation, packing, and storage. They are also fairly inexpensive, with most models priced below $150. However, there are also disadvantages associated with temporary air mattresses, such as below-average durability, noise, and the potential for discomfort due to air loss.
Read on to learn more about different types of temporary air mattresses, as well as some leading brands and models that are currently available for sale.
The table below lists ratings for temporary air mattresses regarding durability, noise, maintenance, and other performance factors, as well as cost, warranty, and other buying considerations. All ratings have been generated from authentic customer reviews and feedback.
|Performance Factor||Temporary Air Mattress Rating||Explanation|
|Comfort||Fair to Good||Many temporary air mattresses have flocked covers that help sleepers remain comfortable and warm during the night. However, escaping air can affect the comfort level to a significant degree|
|Support||Fair to Good||According to owners, most temporary air mattresses offer adequate support by providing an even sleep surface — but support may be affected by escaping air.|
|Firmness||Fair to Good||The firmness in most temporary air mattresses is adjustable, and owners can inflate or deflate their mattress to reach their desired firmness level. However, roughly 10% of owners claim their air mattress is too firm.|
|Durability||Poor to Fair||Temporary air mattresses are susceptible to punctures, malfunctioning equipment, and other issues that may affect their overall lifespan. The average air mattress will perform for no more than two to three years of consistent use.|
|Odor Potential||Good to Very Good||Some temporary air mattresses emit plastic- or rubber-like smells that may persist over time, but most owners say air mattress odor is not significant.|
|Temperature Neutrality||Good to Very Good||Sleeping hot is not usually an issue with temporary air mattresses, although some owners report that their mattress sleeps somewhat cold.|
|Noise||Poor to Fair||Some temporary air mattress owners report squeaking noises when they get in/out of bed or shift positions. Additionally, mattresses with electrical components can be quite noisy.|
|Weight Capacity||Very Good to Excellent||Although weight capacity varies by model, most temporary air mattresses can support a weight of at least 300 pounds.|
|Ease of Movement and Transportation||Very Good to Excellent||Most temporary air mattresses weigh less than 20 pounds when deflated, making them easy to lift for most owners. They can often be rolled up of stored in small carrying cases for easy transport.|
|Suitability for Everyday Use||Fair to Good||Although ‘temporary’ air mattresses are not designed for everyday use, some sleepers prefer to use them on a nightly basis.|
|Suitable for Lightweight Sleepers (Less than 130 lbs)||Good to Very Good||People who weigh less than 130 pounds pose little risk of sinking too deeply into their air mattress or causing the mattress to sag.|
|Suitable for Heavyweight Sleepers (More than 230 lbs)||Poor to Fair||Despite an average weight capacity of 400 to 600 pounds, sleepers who weigh more than 230 pounds can cause temporary air mattresses to sag, lose their shape, and deteriorate somewhat quickly.|
|Suitable for More Than One Person||Poor to Fair||Couples who sleep on temporary air mattresses complain of nighttime disruptions due to noise and poor motion isolation, and models with lower weight capacities may not be able to support couples with above-average weights.|
|Sex||Poor to Fair||In addition to being generally unsuitable for couples, temporary air mattresses may slide due to vigorous movements.|
|Ease of Getting On/Off||Fair to Good||Standard elevation air mattresses (10 inches or shorter) can be quite difficult to get on and off of, but higher-profile models and/or models with legs do not present as much difficulty.|
|Customized Settings||Good to Very Good||Adjusting the firmness of a temporary air mattress is fairly straightforward, although excessively firm settings can damage the mattress and lead to early deterioration.|
|Pricing||Very Good to Excellent||The average price-point of a temporary air mattress is $150 or less, making them affordable for most shoppers.|
|Warranty Coverage||Poor to Fair||With few exceptions, temporary air mattresses either come with a warranty that provides coverage for one year, or do not come with any warranty coverage whatsoever.|
|Customer Satisfaction||75% (28,399 Customer Reviews)||The customer satisfaction rating for all temporary air mattresses is 75%. Satisfaction ratings are somewhat higher for raised elevation models.|
One notable benefit of temporary air mattresses is that they are suitable for multiple uses in addition to serving as a primary sleep surface. Let’s look at four primary uses for these mattresses.
Camping and Backpacking: Sleeping in a tent is one of the most common activities associated with temporary air mattresses. The mattresses are ideal for car camping, since they can easily be transported from a vehicle to a campsite due to their portable structure and below-average weight (typically 20 pounds or less when fully deflated).
Backpacking campouts may be a little trickier; while temporary air mattresses are lightweight, they tend to take up a lot of backpack space. For these occasions, a more suitable option may be a rollable air mattress that can be attached to the exterior of the backpack.
Tent space is another consideration. Most Twin and Full-size air mattresses easily fit into a standard, one- or two-person tent, but larger sizes may be too wide and/or long. Size is not as much of a factor for tents that accommodate more than two people — but measuring the interior of a tent prior to purchasing a camping air mattress is strongly recommended.
Finally, it’s important to remember that cold temperatures can increase the risk of deflation during the night. For this reason, a camping mattress should be sturdy enough to reduce the risk of escaping air.
Sleeping in a Vehicle: Temporary air mattresses may be suitable for sleeping in motorhomes and other recreational vehicles (RVs), as well as SUVs, minivans, pickup trucks and other large everyday vehicles. In addition to activities where people choose to sleep in their vehicle, such as road trips or car camping, an air mattress can work in a pinch when the driver is forced to spend the night in his or her vehicle due to unforeseen circumstances. For this reason, some people choose to keep an emergency air mattress in the back of their vehicle.
Some air mattresses are designed with stands that fit snugly in the backseats of most SUVs and other large vehicles, as well as truck beds. Additionally, some air mattresses are available in ‘RV’ sizes to accommodate the slightly smaller beds found in most recreational vehicles.
Guest Accommodations: Temporary air mattresses can be used to provide bedding for overnight guests in one’s home, or as a portable sleep surface that the owner can take to someone else’s house. Twin, Full, or Queen-size air mattresses are typically best for these occasions, since they provide adequate room for most individuals without taking up too much floor space.
Reserving air mattresses for guest accommodations can also help extend the product’s lifespan, provided they are stored in a space that will not leave them vulnerable to excessive heat, moisture, or physical damage.
Everyday Use: Temporary air mattresses are not necessarily designed for everyday use, but some individuals prefer to sleep on them. Longevity is a major consideration for these sleepers, since air mattress models may deteriorate more quickly than other mattress types. However, because air mattresses can be inflated or deflated to suit individual sleepers, these models can be quite beneficial to people who experience pain and/or pressure in their neck, shoulders, lower back, and other sensitive areas — provided the mattress does not lose too much air during the night.
Please note: many air mattresses are sold with the disclaimer that they are not designed for everyday use; as a result, damage that occurs due to everyday use (such as early deterioration) may not be covered under the product warranty.
When browsing and comparing different temporary air mattress models, here are a few considerations to keep in mind:
Size: When it comes to choosing a size for a temporary air mattress, smaller is typically better. Twin- and Full-size mattresses are long and wide enough for most individual sleepers, and generally fit in areas where an air mattress might be used, such as tents, vehicle backseats and truck beds, guest sleeping quarters, and other rooms of the house. Queen-size models may be too long and/or wide for these spaces.
Another factor to keep in mind: many couples sleep on Queen-size mattresses, but most air mattresses are not suitable for more than one person. Couples who prefer to share a sleeping space are urged to consider smaller air mattresses that can be set up next to one another.
Profile: The majority of temporary air mattresses sold today are raised elevation (or ‘double high’) models that measure more than 10 inches thick, and many mattress models are 20 or more inches thick. These mattresses may take longer to inflate (especially with manual inflation), but getting on and off of these models is relatively easy.
Select air mattresses fall in the standard elevation (or ‘single high’) category, meaning they are 10 inches thick or shorter; the majority fall between eight and 10 inches. Some of these models are designed for children, but there are also standard elevation options for adults. However, getting on and off of a standard elevation air mattress can be fairly difficult.
Materials: Most temporary air mattresses are made using polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, a synthetic plastic polymer. PVC is used to produce a wide range of goods. However, the material has raised numerous environmental and human health concerns over the years. The use of chlorine in the PVC production process is among these concerns. Some mattresses are made with ‘eco-friendly PVC,’ which refers to PVC that is non-chlorinated. Despite the absence of chlorine, there are still other environmental and health concerns with ‘eco-friendly’ PVC. As an alternative to PVC, some temporary air mattresses are made from textile-backed plastics or rubber components.
In addition to the air chambers, some air mattresses are designed with microcoils in the uppermost area for added comfort and pressure relief.
Cover: Most temporary air mattresses feature flocked (or textured) surfaces. These provide adequate friction for most sleepers, preventing them from sliding around in their sleep, and can also make a warmer sleep surface. A thin topper or pad may be suitable for air mattresses that do not have flocked surfaces. For camping, an air mattress with a waterproof cover is best.
Pump: Generally speaking, a temporary air mattress will have either an external or internal pump. As the names imply, external pumps attach to a nozzle on the outside of the mattress, while internal pumps are built-in.
External pumps may be operated manually (typically using a foot pedal), or powered using batteries or an electrical system. Manual external pumps can be time- and energy-consuming to operate. Another drawback of using an external pump is the risk of losing it.
Most internal pumps are operated using knobs or buttons. These pumps have the advantage of containing no spare, extraneous parts, which eliminates the risk of losing them. They also tend to inflate at a much quicker rate, since they use batteries or electrical mains and are never battery-operated. Two notable downsides: internal pump air mattresses are typically more expensive than external pump models, and are also more prone to equipment breakdowns that affect the owner’s ability to inflate the mattress.
Weight Capacity: Most air mattresses can support at least 300 pounds, which is adequate for the vast majority of sleepers, as well as sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, and other bedding accessories. However, customers should inquire about the weight capacity of different models.
Mattress Weight: When fully deflated, most temporary air mattresses weigh 20 pounds or less. Customers looking for a backpacking air mattress may prefer models that are on the lighter side (eight to 10 pounds when deflated).
Noise: Air mattresses with internal or external pumps that are battery- or electricity-powered tend to produce a fair amount of noise during the inflation process, but most are relatively quiet during the night. However, regardless of the pump, many owners claim that the mattress produces squeaking sounds whenever they shift positions. A mattress topper or pad may reduce the noise potential to some extent.
Durability: Most temporary air mattresses have limited durability. However, reserving these mattresses for occasional use and storing them properly can significantly extend the lifespan. See the maintenance tips section below for more information.
Price: A new temporary air mattress usually won’t break the bank. Most models are priced at $150 or lower. Customers may find lower prices on online retailers like Amazon.com, Walmart.com, or Target.com. However, it’s important to make sure the mattress has not been used before purchasing from one of these third-party sites.
Warranty: An air mattress may come with a warranty; most do not extend beyond one year of coverage. Other models do not come with any sort of warranty. Generally, filing warranty claims for any type of mattress can be a hassle, as well as costly; owners may be responsible for charges associated with transporting defective mattresses, and these costs may be on par with the price of a new air mattress model.
Properly maintaining an air mattress can greatly extend the product’s lifespan and help ensure optimal performance for each use. This section will look at tips for storing mattresses, keeping the mattress inflated, and repairing air leaks.
Storage: Air mattresses should be kept in spaces that are not too hot or cold. Additionally, the storage space should not be too humid or susceptible to moisture buildup. Be sure to check the area for sharp objects that could potentially cause punctures and other types of physical damage to the mattress. Also make sure the mattress is placed in a position where pets with claws will not be able to come into contact with it.
A large number of air mattresses come with duffle bags, carrying cases, and other storage units. These provide an extra layer of protection, and also make the mattress more compact and portable.
Keeping the Mattress Inflated: Most air mattresses require some level of inflation each time they are used. Although they are designed for customizable inflation/deflation settings, owners should never over-inflate the mattress. This can lead to tears and rips that cause air leakage.
Some manufacturers recommend inflating and deflating the mattress at least once prior to using it. This will help break in the mattress.
Repairing Leaks: A vinyl leak repair or patching kit may be a smart investment for air mattress owners. These kits are often sold with the mattresses themselves. They are commonly found in outdoor and sporting goods stores.
The leak repair process for air mattresses is as follows:
Under no circumstances should the air mattress be placed in water to help pinpoint the location of the leak (as one might do with other leaking items, such as bicycle tires). This can cause irreparable damage to the interior of the mattress.
For more information, please visit our guide to repairing leaks in temporary air mattresses.
Next, let’s look at some of the top-rated temporary air mattress models among today’s owners. The first table lists five leading standard elevation (10 inches or shorter) models.
|Model||Extra Bed||Single High Air Mattress||Air Mattress||Classic Downy Airbed||Camping Series|
|Thickness||9″||8 1/2″||8″||8 3/4″||9″|
I-Beam Air Coils
|Flocked Ripstop Fabric||Flocked||Flocked|
|Price Range||$79.99 (Twin)|
|$7 to $30|
|Mattress Weight (Deflated)||11.3 lbs (Twin)|
12.4 lbs (Queen)
|5.8 lbs (Twin)|
9.4 lbs (Queen)
|17 lbs||6.2 lbs (Twin)|
8.8 lbs (Full)
|7 to 9 lbs|
|Weight Capacity||450 lbs (Twin)|
600 lbs (Queen)
|500 lbs (Twin)|
650 lbs (Queen)
|400 lbs||300 lbs (Twin)|
600 lbs (Full and Queen)
|Pump Type||Internal Pump||Internal Electric Pump||Internal Electric Pump||No Pump Included|
Compatible with External Pumps
|External Manual Pump Included|
|Inflation/Deflation Time||Deflates in 1 Minute||Inflates in 3 Minutes|
Deflates in 2 Minutes
|Inflates in 1.11 Minutes|
Deflates in 1.16 Minutes
|Not Disclosed||Inflates in Less Than 3 Minutes|
|Customer Satisfaction Rating||73% (473 Customer Reviews)||69% (122 Customer Reviews)||76% (98 Customer Reviews)||71% (2,846 Customer Reviews)||80% (804 Customer Reviews)|
The next table features information about five of the leading raised elevation (taller than 10 inches) temporary air mattress models.
|Model||SupportRest Double High Airbed||Raised with NeverFlat Pump||Pillow Rest Raised Airbed||Dream Series||Classic Series Air Mattress|
|Price Range||$37.34 (Twin)|
|Mattress Weight (Deflated)||9.7 lbs (Twin(|
14.7 lbs (Queen)
|16.3 lbs (Twin)|
19 lbs (Full)
22.3 lbs (Queen)
|11.5 lbs (Twin)|
19 lbs (Queen)
|13.5 lbs (Twin)|
19 lbs (Queen)
|12 lbs (Twin)|
15 lbs (Queen)
|Weight Capacity||300 lbs (Twin)|
600 lbs (Queen)
|350 lbs (Twin)|
500 lbs (Full and Queen)
|300 lbs (Twin)|
600 lbs (Queen)
|300 lbs (Twin)|
500 lbs (Queen)
|Pump Type||Pump Not Included|
Compatible with External Pumps
|Two Internal Electric Pumps||Internal Electric Pump||Internal Electric Pump||Internal Pump|
|Inflation/Deflation Time||Not Disclosed||Inflates and Deflates in 4 Minutes||Not Disclosed||Inflates in 4 Minutes||Inflates and Deflates in 4 Minutes|
|Customer Satisfaction Rating||80% (632 Customer Reviews)||78% (2,654 Customer Reviews)||73% (8,426 Customer Reviews)||83% (17,432 Customer Reviews)||81% (643 Customer Reviews)|
The following checklist of product factors can help you find your optimal temporary air mattress as you browse and compare different brands and models:
Usually sleepers pass through five stages: 1, 2, 3, 4 ...
The research team at Tuck has put together the most ...
Every child needs good sleep for healthy development, growth, and ...