As with so many other products, air beds have evolved a great deal in recent years – to the extent that some of them when inflated are hard to tell apart from a normal mattress. The traditional low, inexpensive, camping-style air beds do still exist, of course - and have a place in our ranking for good reason - but they have now been joined by some truly impressive designs worthy of every day and even long term use.
Whether you're looking for a raised air bed to use while camping or glamping, or as an occasional bed for guests, we're going to take you through everything you need to know, before showing you what we think are the ten best quality air beds to buy online in the UK from the likes of Amazon, eBay, and John Lewis. We've included designs with built-in pumps, frames, single, queen and double size options, and even those with back support, from reputable brands like Outwell, Eurohike and Sable.
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Before you dive straight in and buy the cheapest air bed you see, it's well worth having a good think about your requirements and how an air bed can best meet them. Here, we're going to look at what we think are the most important things to bear in mind when buying an air bed.
When choosing an air bed, the first consideration must be its size. There are two main parts to this – firstly, who and how many will be using the airbed? The other is how much space you have to play with. You may want to provide the maximum level of comfort, but if there's not the room, then something smaller and simpler will have to do.
Many models of air bed come in more than one size. We will be focusing on double beds in our list as this is the most popular size, but we will indicate when other size options are available.
As the naming of bed sizes can differ from brand to brand (a 150cm wide mattress might be considered either a queen or king-sized), so you should also pay attention to the specific dimensions, not just the named size. This way you can make sure the air bed will fit where you need it to.
How packable and portable your air bed needs to be will depend on how you intend to use it and where, whilst also considering that convenience and size may have to be a trade-off against comfort.
Some of the more substantial air beds in our list will incorporate an inflatable base, bringing the total height up to something more resembling a standard bed. This might be more comfortable for many - and easier to get in and out of for people with reduced mobility - but it means the airbed will take up more space when stored and generally weigh much more.
If you are pushed for storage space at home, or if you are looking for an airbed you can easily take with you while camping, backpacking, or staying over at a friend's house, be sure to take note of the weight before you buy. Something around the 4kg mark is ideal.
How you're going to inflate your air bed will again depend on where you intend to use it. Nowadays, many airbeds include built-in pumps, both of which have their advantages and disadvantages. Let's take a closer look.
Many larger air beds now incorporate a built-in pump that sits inside the body of the air bed itself. An advantage of this feature is obviously the convenience of not needing to buy a separate pump. Also, there's no risk of misplacing the pump and not being able to find it just at the time you come to put the air bed up. Inflation time will also be significantly reduced and less straining on the person-in-charge of setting it up!
The two notable downsides, however, are that running off the mains, they won't be best suited for camping. The other being that if used more frequently, it's another part that could potentially break – in the event that it does, you should still be able to inflate your airbed using a secondary pump, but you'll have to lug around the dead weight of the non-functioning built-in pump.
If you buy an air bed without a built-in pump, you will obviously have to purchase one separately unless you already have one. This isn't too much of an issue, as such airbeds would be cheaper than those with built-in pumps, and are quite inexpensive and not difficult to get hold of.
As there are many different types of pump, buying one separately gives you a good choice of options. Foot pumps are the cheapest but also take by far the longest to use. Electric pumps are convenient as they can run off the mains, by batteries, or be rechargeable.
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Double Air Bed
Generously-Sized With a Raised Pillow Sections for Good Support
Premium King Size Air Bed
More Bed for a Sliver of the Price
Fibre-Tech Technology for Full-Body Support
Wonderland Double Air Matress
Built With a Memory Foam Topper for Extra Comfort
Yawn Double Air Bed with Headboard
Pretty Much a Normal Bed, But All Inflatable
Queen Size Air Bed
Equipped With a Rechargeable Pump for on the Go Inflation
Convertible Single / Double Air Bed
Reconfigurable With Multiple Options for All Your Guests
Automatic Inflatable Bed
Supported With a Hi-Tech Folding Frame
Inflatable Sofa Bed
An Air Bed and a Sofa All in One
Flocked Double Air Bed
No Frills, Just an Air Bed for £10
The super-sized dimensions of this air bed mean it won't fit in ultra-small spaces, but if you have the room it's well worth your cash. At 228cm it's the longest on our list, so you know it will offer a good night's rest to even the tallest sleeper.
The Sable features a built-in pump and a built-in raised pillow section for the ultimate in comfort and convenience. Plus, it provides excellent support with minimal roll, thanks to its horizontal "I-Beam" air pockets. Both single and double options are available, too.
For those looking for the maximum amount of air bed for their money, this king-size model from Active Era is a great contender. At 152cm wide it's among the broadest on our list, and a snip at under £70.
It's also taller than many other air beds featured here, with the top surface 50cm from the ground. And with excellent reviews for this product on Amazon, it's a fantastic choice.
You won't want for much as the owner or guest sleeper of this air mattress, with its fast and efficient inflate/deflate time and easy storage carry bag. Or the fact that it used Fibre-tech technology that ensures maximum comfort to your whole body while you sleep.
If making a good impression with your air bed is important, you'll be pleased to know that this mattress has a firmness control dial to ensure you guest has the best comfort level for them. This makes for a highly presentable air bed that even fussy guests won't turn their nose up at.
Camping brand Outwell make many standard air beds in all shapes and sizes, but their new Wonderland range has a special trick up its sleeve to add an extra layer of comfort. As well as the usual air chambers underneath, the air bed is topped off with a layer of memory foam.
These two layers are held in place with a soft, quilted cover, together making for a much warmer nights sleep more similar to a standard mattress. All those layers add to the bulkiness of the package, but it's worth it if weight isn't an issue.
The only air bed on our list to feature a headboard, meaning the bed not only looks more substantial and inviting, but allows you or your guests to sit up comfortably and read or watch a movie without leaning directly against the hard wall.
The headboard does add to the length and height of this air bed, resulting in taking up more space in your house or tent. It's worth remembering that as it is inflatable, not rigid, it will only provide support if against a solid wall.
The generously-sized Deeplee queen-sized air bed is just that little bit wider than many comparable air beds in our list, providing extra room for you or your guests to stretch out. But be aware that it might be a tighter fit if you intend to use it in your home.
One of the Deeplee's major selling points is its rechargeable electric pump. This wire-free inflation option means that you don't have to worry about trailing wires at home; and even while camping or away from a mains power supply, there's no draining of car batteries or laborious use of a foot pump.
The perfect choice for people who want the ultimate flexibility, the idea behind this air bed is simple, but it works well. The two single air beds feature integrated straps allowing them to be connected or reconfigured as you wish.
There's the option of one double bed, two singles, one extra high single for comfort and convenience, or even an arrangement that resembles a low, basic sofa. All this in one of the lightest, most transportable air beds on our list, even if not the most luxurious.
Why not make the setting up of the guest bed a real talking point with this sci-fi self-unpacking air bed? Open up the wheeled carry case, plug in the built-in electric pump, and watch in awe as the ingenious base unfurls as the mattress inflates.
The whole process takes only two minutes, and at the end, you have a deep mattress on a conveniently raised base. All that base structure does mean that this air bed takes up a fair bit of room when packed up, however, this is absolutely more of an investment than the other beds.
If you're after something to sit back and unwind in as much as something to sleep on, then this could be the air bed for you. Moving from sofa to bed is a simple matter of just folding or unfolding the two parts of the base.
However, while this air bed has the overall width of a double, much of that room at the head end is taken up by the sofa back and arm support, which cannot be removed. As such, it may not be the most comfortable air bed for for two people to sleep in.
This air bed from Eurohike is as simple as they come, but that doesn't mean it won't get the job done. It may not withstand as much use as some, but for just £10, it's a great place to start.
Weighing in at only 3kg it's also pretty light and packs up small, meaning it's less faff to store and carry. Ideal if you're looking for something you can use occasionally for camping or festivals, as well as at home.
To minimise the chances of deflation and that dreaded feeling of waking up in the night against the cold, hard floor, your airbed needs an initial bit of TLC. This is because air beds are generally made with rubber, a natural material that can take some time to stabilise once out of the box.
It's normal for your airbed to deflate slightly the first few times it is inflated – this is to be expected whilst the rubber stretches out to create a complete seal around the air. For this reason, make sure you inflate your airbed a couple of times before you need to use it, always being careful not to over-inflate beyond the maximum recommendation.
Air beds are a convenient item to have tucked away in the cupboard for when you have guests, go camping, or perhaps while you're waiting for your real mattress to arrive! But how long do they last? And why do they always deflate on you? We have the answers below.
If properly cared for, an airbed can last you up to 10 years. Having said that, the frequency of use can affect the life span of your airbed. Regular use of your air bed as well as applying significant weight will, as you can imagine, speed up the process of reduced structural integrity.
Air beds can deflate for a number of reasons, some more scientific than others. For one, simply the pressure you exert on the bed itself while you lie on it will cause it to lose some air. Another reason is that the temperature tends to drop at night causing the air inside to condense.
A well-made air bed should be comfortable enough to sleep on every night. However, we advise that you only use them for occasional use - if this is possible - because air beds are not known for their supportive features and could potentially lead to future back pain and other postural problems.
As we're guessing few of you are looking for an air bed for use outside of the home, we thought we'd steer you in the direction of some other useful product guides for your camping or backpacking adventures. Check them out below!
No. 1: Sable｜Double Air Bed
No. 2: Active Era｜Premium King Size Air Bed
No. 3: Intex｜Ultra Divan
No. 4: Outwell｜Wonderland Double Air Matress
No. 5: Yawn Air｜Yawn Double Air Bed with Headboard
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