Best air mattresses tested – Reviews of Our TOP 3 picks for December 2016

Welcome to 3Beds – where air mattress reviews are a science

If you stumbled upon our little corner of the internet, chances are you’re looking for the best air mattress for your needs. You might’ve read reviews of the airbeds, looked at prices, sizes, ratings, materials but you’re still not sure what’s right for you. If that’s the case, you’re at the right place. It’s out mission to make it all simple.

You were lucky enough to find THE ONE site on the internet that’s home to a few air mattress geeks.

Try not to make fun of us after watching the video about what we do…

Before we get any further, let’s present the winners of the last update:

Currently best-rated air mattresses – TOP 3:

best air mattress reviews ratings chart

Take a minute to listen to Oli talk about our TOP picks, he’s the bigmouth of our office 🙂

In the short clip Oli explains which airbed is best for whom and why.

So, bottom line, with the current rating of 94/100 the SoundAsleep Dream Series has been dominating the category of best air mattresses overall.

What’s the idea behind 3Beds.com?

The idea behind 3 Beds is simple – to help you, the customer, make a smart choice when choosing an inflatable bed.

To cut through the clutter and noise of today’s marketplace and serve you relevant information on a platter – DO THE RESEARCH SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO.

With years of doing this behind us, we bring you reliable, unbiased reviews of best air mattresses sorted by:

We like to say that we are “Protecting Good People from Bad Air Mattresses”, but for those of you who are just stumbling upon our website let’s be very precise about what we do here.

We’ve been helping people find the best air mattress for their needs for a long time now and, in that time, we have elevated our methods of reviewing and rating blow up beds to a level of science.

Image of Sound Asleep Dream Series Air Mattress

How we review and rate top air mattresses and sleeping pads?

Each rating you’ll find on 3 Beds is an average of ratings in 5 different categories and based on data that we collect through:

  1. Our in-house tests and reviews of the inflatable beds (and rating each product in 10 categories)
  2. Sending the beds and sleeping pads out to our featured testers (and asking them to rate it in the above-mentioned quality categories)
  3. Collecting and analyzing the reviews of air mattresses from all around the web and assigning a rating in the mentioned quality categories

It might sound complicated, but we make sure that it’s all  very simple for you, the reader, so the final is just a number, that’s all you have to look at to decide. In each individual review of the airbeds, you will see something like this to illustrate the testing results.

 

 

ratings table of an inflatable mattress

Example of air mattress ratings you’ll see on 3Beds

 

What are the quality categories of our airbed tests?

We have developed and tweaked the rating method over the years, and we settled for 5 criteria that we think defines the quality of an air mattress:

  • Comfort
  • Durability
  • Air retention
  • Pump
  • Value for money

Categories of the reviews

 

In the case of a sleeping pad, the one category that’s different is that instead of pump, the pads are rated for insulation, based on the same system.

Why should you trust that our review system to really choose the best air mattress?

Let us just name a couple of reasons why our reviews are most reliable information out there (they said in humility):

We actually test all the air mattresses that we list.

To maintain our objectivity, we don’t accept “sample products” and we actually buy the products we test ourselves.

In some ways that limits us, because we can’t review everything that’s out there but we first conduct a process of elimination and we only test the mattresses that are already top-rated in user reviews.

 

flowchart of our review process

 

For each guide (category), we test up to 7-8 models. We decide on these models based on user ratings from reputable websites. Then, the top-rated models go further through our rating process to find the TOP 3.

 

This is the team in pursuit of the best air mattress

Our core team is made of 5 people:

  • James G Menta (Editor-in-chief and  a father figure)
  • Alex Popovic (Managing editor and a master of nervous energy)
  • Melissa Kerr (Review editor and a fan of weird sports)
  • Ryan Burke (Review editor and a guy who eats peanut butter out of the jar)
  • Oscar Owens (Consultant, the guy who brought in the science)
  • Nate M. (Consultant and spokesperson)

our team icon

The idea for 3 Beds was simple – to cut through the marketing frazzle-dazzle and use our experience, test the products and help you eliminate the confusion  – DO THE RESEARCH SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO.

All of our team members are outdoorsy adventure types that have had their share of disappointments with the gear they purchased, like air mattresses or sleeping pads, apart from Oscar.

The main reason that we convinced Oscar to join 3Beds is that he (apart from being a great guy and fun to be around) holds a degree Materials Engineering Technology (2MATE) from Penn State.

His contribution and insights have been invaluable ever since.

Oscar was the one who shaped the rating method for the mattresses as it is today.

 

How we choose our featured testers for guest reviews of the airbeds?

We reach out to people who we deem are qualified to assess and review the quality of the air mattresses and sleeping pads. Only the people we respect the most in their respective fields make it to the list.

Some of them are doctors, some great hikers and campers, some engineers that know materials and quality.

Bottom line – we are very thorough in the screening process of who gets to review and contribute to the 3 Beds.

our featured testers

Diligence in the choice of people we work with means reliable ratings and reviews.

 

How do we factor in the user ratings from existing air mattress reviews?

The online user ratings of a certain model are just as important as our in-house and tester ratings. The average between the 3 is the final Overall Rating.

This used to be the most intricate and time-consuming part of the process. We also felt that it’s not as reliable as the rest of our data because what we were doing is interpreting what somebody was thinking when they said something in their review and assigning a rating based on that.

About 4 years back, we took a step back and realized that that’s the weak link of our system. So we changed the system, simplified it. Today, we simply use the existing user rating – one final number.

 

How is the quality final score of an airbed calculated?

The Final 3 Beds Rating of a model is the average of the ratings the mattress receives in:

  1. Our in-house tests
  2. Our featured tester report
  3. User reviews of the air mattress from reputable online sources

Refer to to the flowchart above to better understand the process. It would simply be boring for you going into the details of this process here, so we’ll do that on the how we test page.

We stay on top of things and make sure you are seeing fresh info

As we explained, the main issue with choosing an air mattress solely based on the reviews on the websites that actually sell them is the relevancy of the information you read.

update badge

Think about it like this – you go to a website like Amazon, and you read the reviews on the air mattress you like, you read about its durability, whether it holds air or not, how the pump works…and you think you’ve covered all the bases.

But what if most of the reviews you read are from a few years back and the company has outsourced production and compromised the quality of the product. Don’t get us wrong, we don’t have anything against cutting cost in these difficult times and we understand the companies. But that doesn’t mean that YOU, the end user, should end up paying for it. In fact, we make sure you don’t.

Here’s what we do – for in-house purposes we have something we call bi-monthly rating and that’s simply a rating that the users have given to the mattress in the last two months.

If we see something unnatural going on there, like a sudden drop or reports of quality issues, we suspend the mattress from all our lists until we figure out what’s going on.

We are practically your industry insider – we stay on top of things, changes in the marketplace and manufacturing practices. We’ve been following the industry long enough to know the outsourcing locations and which of those compromise the quality of the product. We know the materials used to make the air mattresses, the brands of the glue used, every little detail.

Anyway, in these situations, we suspend the mattress from our lists and guides until we figure out if it was a statistical fluke (these do happen because two months sometimes do not provide a big enough sample) or a true quality issue.

 

We contact the airbed companies

We try to stay touch with the companies and their customer service or PR as much as their patience allows it.

Over the years, we did this so many times that, with some of the companies we know exactly who to contact…people with whom we are on first name basis. The “your call is important to us” issue – when we started 3 Beds we went through it all when contacting the companies. We went through the half-hour call waiting, the write-us-an-email routine, everything you can think of if you ever dealt with an unprofessional customer service.

But as time went by and as 3 Beds grew, we became a force to be reckoned with in the industry (it might sound lame to be a force in the air mattress review arena, but it is who we are, mattress geeks). Things changed the first time we removed all products from a specific company (we’re not going to name names) because they were evasive in their answers to our questions.

contact airbed companies

So, today we have people with most of these companies that we reach out to when we have questions about a specific product, or pretty much anything else.
It might sound cocky but don’t hate us for it, we are on your side, the side of the consumer. We want to make sure that each and inflatable bed or chair that we recommend is worth your money.

In a time of unscrupulous trading practices, you want somebody “unscrupulous” on your side. In this context when we say unscrupulous we mean very strict and diligent about what we review and rate on our website.

 

Our online mystery shopping – testing the customer service

Another variable that goes towards the 3 Beds rating of a product is the online mystery shopping. This is also one of the less pleasant parts of the testing process but luckily we have Melissa for that, who kind of enjoys it.

The rest of the team are not fans of this part because we take things to extremes with the customer service and that can get uncomfortable.

Here’s what we do – we imagine every possible scenario of things going wrong when getting an air mattress and we test who the companies respond to it. We do anything from trying to get help inflating the mattress, trying to replace it because we “got a faulty one” to the extremes – like returning an air mattress for a full refund because “we don’t like the color”.

We keep track of everything, from call-waiting time, time it takes for the company to respond to an email to how pleasant the employees are. We know, it doesn’t make us look great but again, we are DOING IT SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO.

We have established criteria in all the “tests” and it all goes towards the rating a company receives for customer service.

It’s not a short and easy process, and that’s why we go though the whole thing once every six months for every company whose products we list in our guides of top-rated airbeds.

 

Categories in which we compare and list the best inflatable mattresses

When starting 3 Beds we started small and the idea was to have a few categories that would bring together people looking value for money in their air mattresses.

As it turns out, a lot of people were looking for the information and in time we branched out beyond more than we could ever imagine and started diving the mattresses and pads in different categories.

From that point on, 3 Beds grew from a small website designed to help a small group of people into a reputable source of reviews of inflatable beds. We got more serious about the project and made a plan to make the information as precise as possible and compare the inflatables in a variety of different categories (based on the groups of readers and what they wanted to see).

This was also when we invited Oscar to join our team because we needed to go from subjective opinions to almost-scientific fact. Some of the categories and reviews we now work on:

 

Best air mattress/airbed overall

This guide is where it all comes together. Here we don’t care about size, brands, purpose, height, we only list the beds that are best rated in all categories combined. Like all guides, this one is updated every two months (the user review part) to keep the information fresh.

Just FYI, the airbed that’s currently top rated (apart from luxury models) is the SoundAsleep Dream Series, with an Overall Rating of 9.4.

 

Soundasleep Dream Series top rated

 

This one is for people that don’t specific needs like size or specified use (home, camping) but just want top value for their money. This is where you’ll find the creme de la crop of products.

Let us paint a picture, hundreds of guides, products and ratings and this guide is where the TOP 3 are listed.

 

Top mattresses/air pads for camping

This part of the website is dedicated to those who plan to use their mattresses for camping and adventures purposes. As we explained, the testing process is different and more empirical because there are very few things that you can precisely measure. That is why our featured testers play a bigger role in coming up with the score.

Currently, the best rated camping air pad is the ALPS Mountaineering from the Lightweight Series with an overall rating of 92.

 

Alps Mountaineering best camping pad

 

Our top picks starting from foam mates and inflatable sleeping pads to standard air mattresses (low, mid and high rise). These lists exclude mattresses that are not durable enough for camping and show you those that are. We then drill further down and show you our top beds for SUV camping, trailer camps, etc.

 

Airbeds for home use

This is what most people who type in “air mattress” into one of the search engines are looking for – an airbed for guests of a substitute mattress top be used for everyday use or to resolve medical issues such as back pain. We’ll also analyze the risks involved in choosing a mattress.

As we explained, 3 Beds is shaped by the requests of our readers and that defined the home air mattress section.

Top picks by price (from cheap to luxury)

Some people are looking for a cheap solution and for them; we have the section of the website where we list the mattresses by price:

  • Top picks priced at $50-150
  • Top picks priced at $150-300 (this is where most of the models we review fit)
  • Luxury air mattresses – this is hard to define, so we classified anything that’s over $300 (we have a special section where “true” luxury air mattresses are listed, those who go up a couple of K, like our favorite, the Innomax Medallion)

Top picks by size

If you have specific needs about the size (dimensions) of your air mattress, this is where you’ll find the best products listed by size from small ones for toddlers to luxurious extra long (XL) or extra wide (California King).

You’ll find our top picks of air mattresses and their reviews in:

  • Toddler (size varies depending on age)
  • Twin (38 x 75”)
  • Twin XL (38 x 80”)
  • Full (53 x 75”)
  • Full XL (53 x 80”)
  • Queen (60 x 80”)
  • King (76 x 80”)
  • California King (72 x 84”)

*XL stands for extra long

 

What are the best brands of airbeds?

Generally, air mattresses are not products that people are so passionate about to become blindly faithful to a brand…and that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing because those of you who are fans of let’s say Aerobed or Intex might become disappointed by how much the landscape of the industry has changed. On the other hand, Intex still holds its own as you can see in this mega guide on the best inflatable chairs, sofas, air pump, pool lounges and patch kits.

The more one would dig through the guides based on different criteria the more they’d realize how many exciting new arrivals there are – small companies that compete, and often, beat the veterans of the industry regarding quality.

One great example of that is Sound Asleep, a company that only makes a few models of air mattresses but is currently dominating a number of categories.

For those of you who are brand-particular, we’ve compiled guides on top picks by brand.

Just to name a few brands those dominate the marketplace in ratings today (in alphabetic order):

3Beds features guides on the top air mattresses of the following brands:

Top Air Mattress Brands
Aerobed - Top 3 Models
Airtek
Bestway
Coleman
Comfort Boulevard
Fox Airbeds
Innomax
Insta-bed
Intex
Luxury Support
Pure Comfort
Serta
Simmons
SimplySleeper
SoundAsleep (Voted Top Air Mattress Brand of 2015)
Smart Air Beds
Stansport
The Shrunks (best in toddler airbeds)

So, there is no doubt that between all those guides and brands you’ll be able to find a nice air mattress for yourself.

You can always see our top picks by brand on their dedicated pages:

 

Top picks based on other criteria

As time goes by, we try to become as specialized and precise as possible so not only do we separate our comparison charts and lists in main categories like price and size we get into the nitty-gritty and compile guides based on criteria like most durable air mattresses, most comfortable or best air mattresses in a number of other criteria.

Granted, pretty much every of these beds lists in their specs that the product is not intended for everyday use, and it is true, most of the air mattresses are designed to be a camping, guest beds or simply a temporary solution like moving.

But the reality is different – in reality, many people are looking for an air mattress to substitute their main bed. And in spite of the fact that we have to honor and mention what the companies are saying, we’ll still go on and compile a guide with our top picks of best air mattresses for long term everyday use.

The reality is also that a nice, solid air mattress can be used as an every-day solution and when somebody decides to go down that road we are here to point out our top picks. Air mattresses have evolved, and today, they can take much more “abuse”. Higher quality materials are used and that allows you to make a good choice without making a significant dent in your budget.

And we are not talking about high-end luxury air mattresses, but about air mattresses in the price range of $100-200. You can’t expect them to last like your regular mattress but you can be comfortable if you know how to choose and what to do (like adding a mattress topper to increase comfort and eliminate rushes of cold air circulating inside).

Other guides you can find on our website:

 

Testing and reviewing sleeping pads and camping foam mats

Reviewing a sleeping pad in pursuit of the best is a whole other beast.

Although only one rating criteria is different (Insulation instead of Pump), we can’t do a lot of the things we do with regular air mattresses for home use. The main difference is that when testing and reviewing sleeping pads we really more on the real-life use and experiences of our featured testers. We do still conduct our in-house tests but we adjust them.

For example – with a regular high-rise air mattress, we can “burden” it with 300 lbs and observe effects over time…how much air it leaks, if the inner chamber burst and form bulges, how much weight we can add before it gives in…a number of those.

We can’t do a lot of that when analyzing the pads

Let us explain – if we burden an airbed overnight and measure its height (or the change in it to be precise periodically) that gives us data to go on and make an assessment how well it’s made. With sleeping pads, it’s the field testing that plays the crucial role in the score because a number of parameters we use are simply not applicable.

Bottom line – reviews of the sleeping pads are less scientific and more empirical. We do our best to make up for that by increasing the sample. In other words, we send out more sleeping pads out to our fellow adventurers and ask them to rate it in different categories.

The more sleeping pads we send out, the bigger the sample, the smaller the role of the opinion of a single person and increased objectivity. We hope that makes sense.

 

Conclusions about 3 Beds airbed and sleeping pad testing

What we do, the process, is a living, breathing thing and it changes.

We started with a few very simple techniques like throwing a few sacks of flour onto an inflated mattress and see how well it holds air over time and moved onto a process that we have today.

A process that is tweaked over time to produce the best and more reliable results anybody possible can aside industrial level testing. Today, the process is pretty much the best we can do and it changes very little but it still does, we still tweak the rating criteria ever now and then if we deem fit but we pretty much test the inflatables like nobody else out there.

That’s not all, 3beds looks beyond air mattresses. You’ll find a ton of sleep research article, tips and how-to guides, just browse around our top menu.

If there are a few points we’d like you to take away from what we talked here, it’s these:

  1. We are objective in our testing and don’t accept “sample products”
  2. We test every product we list
  3. The final rating is not our “OPINION”. It’s a rating reached through a series of tests, both in-house and by our featured testers and scores it received in online user reviews
  4. We keep the results up-do-date by revisiting each rating every two months

Bottom line – the products and their rating you see on 3 Beds are as reliable, impartial as it gets.

We are committed to doing the work of protecting good people from bad mattresses.

Choose smart,

3 Beds team

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