How we test products
Our mission is to take the guesswork out of finding the perfect sleep products.
We've dedicated hundreds of hours to testing mattresses and sleep accessories, and rely on a team of testers of differing weights, temperature preferences, and sleeping positions to evaluate each product.
Tested products are granted the Sleep Hero tested stamp of approval, a mark of our review's reliability.
If we haven't personally tested a product, please be assured that we invest significant time and energy into scouring the UK market and researching the best recommendations, and we work with a team of sleep experts who review our articles, ensuring that the insights we provide are not only relatable but also reliable.
How we chose the best air beds
There are many factors to consider when selecting the best air mattress. 🤔
Not only should your air mattress be comfortable to sleep on, but you’ll want to ensure it’s easy to set up and can be stored away easily.
When choosing the best air bed, we considered:
- Comfort levels & suitability
- Functionality (is it easy to inflate/deflate?)
- Size and depth
- How easy is it to store (does it include a storage bag?)
- Durability and if it includes a warranty
- Whether it’s suitable for outdoor/indoor use
- Whether it is good value for money
A decent inflatable air mattress should last the long haul, and you shouldn’t experience any deflating during the night.
We chose inflatable beds that met these expectations and were flexible in terms of suitability.
Who are air mattresses suitable for?
Air beds are convenient and can be an excellent temporary sleeping arrangement for guests and travellers.
We recommend air beds to:
- Those who need temporary sleeping arrangements
- Those on a tight budget
- Those with limited space
- Those looking for fuss-free & easy set-up
- Travellers/campers/festival-goers who need a portable bed
- Those who may need to sleep in their car/van temporarily
Generally, air beds are a budget-friendly, short-term sleeping solution.
Air beds are useful if you don't have space for a guest room or sofa bed or if you need a cheap, temporary mattress.
We wouldn’t recommend air mattresses as a permanent solution for sleep.
If you need a mattress for everyday use, we suggest looking at some affordable options.
They also include flexible finance options and risk-free sleep trials. ⌛
Best air beds for camping
The best air mattress for camping should be durable, portable, and convenient.
You’ll also want to ensure it’s lightweight and comes with a bag, so it’s easy to transport or can be stored easily in your backpack when hiking.
For those who need an inflatable mattress for camping or festivals, you should ensure it's made of a material suitable for different weather conditions and has soil protection. ☔
The air bed will need a manual or battery-operated pump as it’s unlikely you’ll be near a power outlet.
The Intex Classic Downy Airbed is our top choice for camping:
Alternatively, check out our article on the best camp beds, which has the top UK sleeping bags, camp beds and self-inflating mats.
Best air beds for couples
Choosing the right air bed for couples requires careful consideration.
Whether planning a camping trip or setting up a guest room, your air bed should be designed to accommodate two people. 👯
Key criteria to look out for when choosing an inflatable mattress for couples:
- Size: Choose a double or king-size air bed to ensure ample space for both individuals to sleep comfortably.
- Weight capacity: Check the weight limit of the air bed. It should be able to accommodate the combined weight of both individuals.
- Durability and stability: Look for an air bed that uses high-quality, puncture-resistant material and has a strong internal structure to prevent sagging and ensure that movements from one person don't disturb the other.
If couples use the blow-up mattress frequently, we recommend investing in a good-quality option.
Our favourite air beds for couples:
How to use an air bed
You should first check the instruction manual included with your air bed.
If you no longer have the instruction manual for your air bed, you can check online with the manufacturer and see if a digital guide is available. 💻
Alternatively, follow the steps below:
1. Open the valve cover
This typically looks like a plastic plug on the side of your air mattress.
Remove the cap, and you should see a hole where the air pump needs to be inserted.
If your air bed has a built-in pump, you can skip to step 3.
2. Insert the air pump
Once you have located and opened the valve, you can insert the pump's nozzle into the opening.
The nozzle should be tightly sealed in the valve so no air can escape. 💨
3. Switch on the pump (skip this step for manual pumps)
You should plug your pump into a nearby power outlet and switch it on.
The pump should start self-inflating the air bed.
4. Start pumping (skip this step for electric pumps)
If you use a manual hand or foot pump, you can start pumping up the mattress.
Hand pumps require an “up-and-down” motion on the long piston, whilst foot pumps work by stepping on the pedal.
5. Stop pumping at 90% capacity
Air mattresses can become damaged when overinflated. ✋️
Therefore, most manufacturers recommend inflating your mattress at 90% capacity.
This also means your air mattress won’t feel too firm and should be more comfortable.
To check if your inflatable mattress is at 90% capacity, it should feel firm to the touch with a little give.
Some air pumps will also make a slightly different noise to alert you that the bed is at near full capacity.
6. Screw the nozzle back on
Finally, screw the nozzle back on before any air escapes.
You can now dress your bed with soft sheets and snuggly pillows to make it comfier.
Air mattress sizes
Air mattresses are typically available in standard UK sizes.
- Single air bed - 90 x 190 cm (3’ x 6’3”)
- Air bed double - 135 x 190 cm (4’6” x 6’3”)
- King size air bed - 150 x 200 cm (5’ x 6’6”)
- Air bed super king size - 180 x 200 cm (6’ x 6’6”)
We recommend double or king-size air beds for those who need to sleep more than one person. 💰
The Pro Action is the best double air bed for those on a budget.
Take a closer look:
Luxury air beds vs cheap air beds
Inflatable beds come in a wide range of prices, so it's important to consider how much you want to spend before investing in an air mattress. 💰
This largely depends on your individual budget and how much the air bed will be used.
Luxury air beds
Luxury air beds can cost anywhere between £70 - £250.
They usually include built-in pumps with customisable firmness settings, allowing users to adjust the bed's firmness according to their personal comfort preferences.
Many luxury air beds also boast elevated designs and a headboard that mimics the feel and look of traditional beds.
High-quality materials are usually used in their construction, offering better puncture and leak resistance.
Their construction also tends to incorporate more complex internal structures for improved support and stability, such as multi-layered air coils or padded toppers.
Luxury air beds are also likely to come with longer warranties and better customer support. 👑
If you're going to be using your inflatable bed more often, it's better to invest in a higher-quality option.
Cheap air beds
Low-end air beds usually cost around £20 - £50.
They might not have a built-in pump or sophisticated internal support structures, but they should still be capable of providing a decent level of comfort. 👍
Their design is often simpler, with basic inflation and deflation mechanisms, and they may not be as durable or resistant to leaks and punctures.
Cheap air beds are typically lower to the ground, and they may not include a flocked or padded top layer.
The warranty period for these products might be limited, so it's important to read reviews and check the product's reliability before you make a purchase. 🤞
We recommend a cheap air mattress for budget buyers who need a temporary bed that will not be used often.
Take a look at our favourite budget-friendly and luxury air beds:
Should you buy an air bed?
Air mattresses are an excellent cost-effective way to provide guests with a comfortable place to kip overnight.
They’re highly convenient for campers and travellers who require additional comfort when on the go. 🧳
That being said, inflatable beds should not be a permanent solution for your sleep and will not provide the great night’s sleep you’ll get from an actual mattress.