14 best air beds
You'll want to sleep on these air beds even if there's a real mattress available
Using an air bed used to guarantee a sleepless night and sore back the following day. Today, there’s a whole world of comfier options for every budget and every occasion.
Serious campers should invest in a high performance air mat, ideally one that's self inflatable. Don’t forget to check the sizing as some are quite narrow, as well as how small and light it packs down.
Back at home, bigger is usually better – not just with width, but height, with some raised ones almost as comfy as real beds. There are some made specifically for kids too, as well as some fun options such as the Austin Powers-esque Intex Inflatable Double Day Bed.
We’ve only included air beds that are easy to inflate and deflate, as well as ones that are robust. It’s no fun waking up on an air bed that has deflated in the night, only to find yourself lying on a cold, hard floor. Above all, we’ve made sure they are comfortable.
Some are crafted with high quality air chambers, others allow you to adjust the firmness or softness of the mattress.
As with any mattress, your main aim is to support your body, while providing enough give to find your comfortable sleeping position and move about without waking yourself – or your partner – up.
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Outwell Flock Classic Two Chamber: £40, Outwell
You won’t have to argue over whether to go for a soft or firmer tension mattress anymore as this airbed allows each sleeper to fine tune the firmness on their side.
The handy side effect of this is greater stability, with less chance of the edges lifting off the floor when two people lie on it – an annoying feature of many double air beds.
Made of robust PVC, with a soft velour top – it’s comfy and quick to inflate, as well as deflate.
Snugpak Self-Inflating XL Camping Mat with Built-in Pillow: £69.95, OutdoorGB
Snugpak, best known for its sleeping bags and insulated clothing, has just launched a new sleeping mat range – four lightweight mats for outdoor enthusiasts to keep comfy under the stars.
This one is wider, thicker and longer than the other three and also has a built-in pillow. Available in olive or bright blue, it’s supremely comfortable and a doddle to inflate. It has a handy pack size of 64x25cm and is reasonably lightweight at 1700g.
Aerobed Luxury Inflatable Guest Bed: £119, Bensons
This is as good as a proper bed, in terms of stability, bounce, comfort and height, which Aerobed claims is all down to the four layer construction.
You can inflate, adjust and deflate with just one touch, so there’s no need to hold a button down. It comes in a handy carry bag which is great for storage and travel. Available in single, king and double.
Easy Camp Hexa: £14.99, Outdoor Megastore
If you want a lightweight, easy to carry, simple to use and thin but comfortable air bed for festivals, then look no further.
It self-inflates, with a built-in foot pump (so no need to pack one with you), and the fabric is soft PVC covered polyester, which keeps it lightweight, snug and easy to stuff back into the nylon carry bag afterwards. All this for fifteen quid.
Vango Flocked Airbed: from £27, Vango
A headboard isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when you think of an air bed. But this durable brown one, which comes in single or double, has an inflatable headboard that holds its air surprisingly well.
It has a soft, flocked top and inflates in under three minutes – quicker than many in this price range.
ReadyBed Deluxe Airbed Junior: £49.99, Amazon
No need for kids to miss out on the fun with this junior bed that has a cotton, machine washable sleeping bag built into it.
There are plenty of cheaper ReadyBeds, with themes ranging from Disney to The Gruffalo – but for durability and comfort, we think this extra deep mattress is worth the money. Suitable from three years.
Robens Rapturous 120 Sleeping Mat: £75, Amazon
After a long day of walking, this technical air bed will do you proud, wherever you find yourself.
The flat valve works well for very quick inflation and deflation (less than a minute) and the insulation fill makes it tremendously comfortable and warm, especially given the 12mm thickness and 1030g weight.
It’s noticeably stable, thanks to the large number of coil loop stabilisers, and it all packs up easily into the carry bag once you wake up.
Vango Shangri-La: £280, Vango
You’d expect sumptuousness with an airbed named after a luxury hotels and resorts chain, and that’s what you get with this self inflating mattress which is ready to use within just half a minute after opening the valve.
You can adjust the final puffs of air to suit the tension you prefer. We also like the fact that you get a totally level top to the bed, with a particularly comfortable surface.
It’s easy to fit into the carry bag after use too. Well worth the extra dosh for seasoned travellers.
Intex Inflatable Double Day Bed: £44.50, Amazon
No need to save the air bed for sleeping with this funky purple day bed that looks as though it’s straight out of an Austin Powers movie.
The backrest is detachable and there’s plenty of room for two people. The velvety finish means you can lie straight on it and the reinforced laminated bottom means it’s suitable for outdoors too.
It’s easy to inflate and deflate and has good support, but you’ll need a separate pump.
Campingaz Convertible Quickbed: £29.99, Argos
This comes as a set of two single mattresses that can be used independently or zipped together to make a double bed. Alternatively, you can stack one on top of the other to make a higher mattress.
They inflate in just two minutes with an electric pump and although the mattresses look a bit thin and flimsy at 19cm, they are surprisingly comfortable and lose very little air in the night. Great for those in need of versatility.
Robens Vapour 60: £39.95, Outdoor Action
This is a very lightweight and compact air bed, at just 395g and 26x8cm. Deep channels allow the sleeping bag insulation to loft for efficiency and the stability and comfort is superior to many at this price – remarkable given that it’s only 6cm thick.
The flat valve makes inflating and deflating easy and quick and it’s robust. An air bed that looks state of the art, and feels it too.
Outwell Cimelia: from £89.99, Outwell
The addition of luxury memory foam and a quilted topper means this feels like home.
The foam cradles the body securely while you sleep and the microfibre quilted cover provides the ultimate softness. And because they’re removable, they’re easy to clean.
Like any memory foam mattress, it can make you feel hot – a bonus for some, a downside to others.
Halfords Flocked Double Airbed: from £12, Halfords
If you want a cheap and cheerful airbed that will do for sleepovers or short camping trips, this is a great buy.
We found it doesn’t puncture anywhere near as easily as many others twice its price and it loses less air than many others too.
The flocked surface means you don’t slide about and it’s easy to inflate and deflate. Available in single and double.
Coleman Durarest Raised Double: £94.99, Go Outdoors
This is available as a single, double and – our favourite – a raised double. Despite weighing just 3.5kg and storing into a tiny carry wrap, it’s huge when inflated, standing almost half a metre off the ground.
Inflating within just six minutes into a robust, puncture proof but extremely comfortable bed, it lacks that plastic smell that many air beds have.
The Verdict: Best air beds
Prefer a softer or harder tension mattress than your partner? Outwell’s Flock Classic Two Chamber solves that problem with separate levels of tension possible on each side. A superb invention, and it only costs £40.
The Robens Rapturous 120 also deserves a special mention. If you’re a serious traveller, this technical air bed is quick and easy to use, as well as being lightweight. It's easy to pack up and offers a welcome softness that will send you straight off to sleep.
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