Last updated: August 5, 2021

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The air mattress can be used in the water or as a place to sleep. On the water, it is the perfect companion for extensive bathing fun. When camping, it can be used as a comfortable base. In general, the air mattress offers easy transport, the possibility of space-saving storage and a certain comfort.

In our big air mattress test 2021 we want to show you how to find the air mattress that suits you best. In this guide, we describe the features that help you recognise a good air mattress and give some tips on how to use and care for it. In this way, we want to make it as easy as possible for you to choose your perfect air mattress.


  • Air mattresses are comfortable inflatable beds, usually made of polyvinyl chloride (abbreviated PVC), which are easy to transport.
  • There are several ways to inflate them. You can either use your mouth, a hand pump, a floor pump, a foot pump or an electric pump. Some air mattresses also have an integrated pump.
  • When buying your air mattress, you have a choice of many different sizes and designs. However, we advise you to pay particular attention to the comfort of the mattress.

The Best Air Mattress in the United Kingdom: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for air mattresses

In the following, we will show you how to decide between the many different air mattresses based on various features.

The criteria that help you to compare the inflatable mattresses with each other include:

We will go into the individual criteria in more detail in the following paragraphs.


Air mattresses for swimming are usually made of water-repellent materials such as rubber or PVC (polyvinyl chloride).

The underside of air mattresses for sleeping are usually made of PVC.

This material is especially advantageous for house dust mite allergy sufferers because dust and mites do not cling to it as much as with conventional mattresses.

Often this has a top or coating of is vinyl, flock fibre, polyester or rubberised cotton. Rubberised cotton is less susceptible to damage from sharp objects, unlike pure PVC. In addition, rubberised cotton also offers optimal outdoor use due to its UV resistance.

Suitability for swimming and sleeping

Air mattresses can serve different purposes. Air mattresses for the water range from simple buoyancy aids to fancy designs with different additional functions.

Air mattresses for sleeping, also called air beds, are suitable for camping, as a guest bed or as a sleeping surface in the car. Some air beds are also suitable for use in water. This is usually stated in the product description.


Most airbeds have a diameter at the top/bottom of 20 to 45 centimetres. Thicker inflatable mattresses are often more comfortable than thinner ones, but they also take up more space and add weight. There are air mattresses in different lengths. Especially if you are very tall, make sure you don't come up short.

The same applies to air mattresses for use in the water. These are often a little thinner, but there are no limits to your imagination in terms of shape and design.

Integrated pumps

To make it easier for you to inflate your air mattress, there are various pumps available on the market. Especially for air mattresses that are suitable for sleeping, there is now also a large selection of inflatable mattresses with integrated pumps. They save you space because you don't have to take a stand pump, hand pump or foot pump with you.

If you are looking for an air mattress with an integrated pump, you have the following options:

Type Advantages Disadvantages
Integrated foot pump can be operated by simply pedalling inflation takes time
Electric pump quick inflation, no effort required loud

How to inflate your air mattress with the integrated electric pump or foot pump is explained in the guide below.

Some airbeds also have an integrated foot pump that is embedded in the mattress. To do this, remove the valve cap and pump until the air mattress is fully inflated. Then close the valve again. The integrated foot pump is usually located in the corner so as not to impair your sleeping comfort.


Especially air mattresses for the water are available in a wide variety of shapes. Besides the classic elongated air mattress, there are different types like the lounge shape or different funny designs.

Depending on the purpose of your air mattress, it is advisable to choose the design accordingly.

If you mainly want to use the air mattress for sunbathing alone, a classic design is completely sufficient.

If you want to spend the day at the lake with friends, a larger model might be the right choice. If you want to use your air mattress for photos, you can choose between different modern and creative designs. The possibilities seem endless.

Air mattresses for sleeping, on the other hand, are usually more functional in design. Especially with these, it is wise to focus more on their quality and comfort. Some air beds have an integrated head and neck support for more comfort.

Accessories and additional integrated functions

Some airbeds have integrated additional functions. These additional functions can include the following:

  1. integrated drink holder: To enjoy a cool drink on the water, an air mattress with an integrated holder is ideal.
  2. Armrests and cushions: For more comfort when lying down, some inflatable mattresses have integrated armrests and cushions.
  3. Repair kit: Often, repair kits are included with the purchase of an air mattress so that you can quickly repair leaks.

Decision: What types of air mattresses are there and which one is right for me?

If you want to get an air mattress, there are two types of products you can choose between:

type advantages disadvantages
Air mattress for swimming lightweight, inexpensive, ideal companion for swimming material can become brittle, can be damaged by sharp objects
Air mattress for sleeping space-saving storage, often inexpensive comfort, easy to transport, can be damaged by sharp objects

If you want to know more about the different types of air mattresses, you can read more about them in the following two sections.

Air mattress for swimming

Air mattress for swimming

The air mattress for swimming is usually made of PVC or rubber.

One of its advantages is that you can usually buy it very cheaply. Its light weight makes it easy to transport.

In addition, it takes up little space during transport and storage when uninflated. Therefore, it is a good idea to buy an air mattress for bathing.

  • lightweight
  • inexpensive
  • ideal companion for swimming
  • Material can become brittle
  • can be damaged by sharp objects
Air mattress for sleeping

Air mattress with sleeping capability

The inflatable mattress with sleeping suitability usually offers more comfort than a sleeping mat for outdoor camping or as a guest bed.

It also takes up less space during transport and storage than a foldable mattress. Another advantage over the foldable mattress is that dust mite allergy sufferers are less affected by this type of guest bed or outdoor sleeping pad.

  • Space-saving storage
  • often inexpensive
  • comfort
  • easy transport
  • can be damaged by sharp objects

One disadvantage of an airbed is that it can be damaged by sharp objects. Below we show you how to easily mend a hole or tear in your air mattress at home.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about air mattresses answered in detail

In the following we will answer some frequently asked questions about air mattresses.

Who is an air mattress suitable for?

An air mattress is suitable for all people who do not want to be restricted by local conditions in their desire for comfort.

An air mattress offers freedom, whether in the water or on land.

An air mattress for the water is suitable for people who want to use it as a swimming aid or who want to sunbathe on the water.

An air mattress for sleeping is particularly suitable for people who need a practical and transportable sleeping option for camping or car trips. In addition, an airbed is a space-saving alternative to a guest bed, as it can be stored away after use.

What does an air mattress cost?

You can buy an air mattress for swimming on various online platforms for as little as a single-digit price. As with many things, however, you usually have to dig deeper into your pocket for a fancier model. So think about what is important to you when using your air mattress and then decide how much you want to spend on it.

Type price in euros
Air mattress for swimming 5 - 50
Air mattress for sleeping 12 - 150

You can usually buy an airbed for a low two-digit amount. Even inexpensive models can offer a high level of comfort. If you want more additional features, you will have to budget more. These models can be in the three-digit range.

Which air mattress is suitable for camping?

When deciding which air mattress to use for camping, there are a few things to consider.


Inflatable air mattresses are perfect for sleeping on when camping.
(Photo source Maria1968 / pixabay)

Basically, you usually sleep more comfortably on a thicker air mattress.

Before buying, be sure to measure your tent.

The air mattress should be a few centimetres smaller than the available space, because your tent walls lean inwards.

So if you want to buy an inflatable mattress of, for example, 20 centimetres, take the measurements of your tent also 20 centimetres above the ground and use this as your maximum target size.

Which air mattresses are suitable for sleeping in the car?

There are several options when using an air mattress for sleeping in the car. For some car models, there are already air mattresses specially tailored to their space. These fit perfectly into the spaces between the seats of your car.

Other models can be adapted to different car models, for example by bending the sides where the car narrows.

If you don't want to buy an air mattress specifically for your car, it is often possible to use an air mattress used for camping instead.

Measure the interior of your car exactly and choose the model that gives you the most space. However, corners often remain unused.

In any case, you will save the most space with an air mattress that has been specially designed for use in the car.

What are the alternatives to an air mattress for sleeping?

There are a few alternatives to an air mattress for sleeping. They include:

  • the sleeping pad
  • the foldable mattress

The camping mat is often used for camping. As it is light in the luggage and can be rolled up small, it is perfect for this. The sleeping pad is usually between 4 and 19 millimetres thick. When buying a sleeping pad, look for the R-value, which indicates how well the pad protects against the cold from below. The higher the value, the better. However, it is usually less comfortable than an inflatable mattress.

The foldable mattress is a mattress that is usually divided into three sections that can be folded over each other.

The foldability of the mattress is intended to allow for better storage or it can be used as a seat in the meantime. As a guest bed, it can be a good alternative to a conventional mattress. It is less suitable for camping due to its high absorbency, as it absorbs liquids when the ground is wet or dirty.

How do I inflate my air mattress?

As mentioned above, you have several options to choose from when selecting your pump. If you want to make things easy for yourself or are physically limited, it is best to use an electric pump.

An air mattress with an integrated electric pump is usually filled with air by inserting the plug into the socket.

Then you choose whether you want to pump the air in or let it out. When you switch on the electric air pump, it starts to inflate. When it is firm enough for you, you switch the pump off and unplug it. The electric air pump inflates your mattress faster than other pumps.

Some airbeds also have an integrated foot pump that is embedded in the mattress. To do this, remove the valve cap and pump with your foot until the air mattress is fully inflated. Then close the valve again. The integrated foot pump is usually located in the corner so as not to impair your sleeping comfort.

How do I repair an air mattress?

To patch your air mattress, you first have to find the hole from which air is escaping. To do this, inflate your air mattress and push it under water. Then you press it. You will find your leak where the water bubbles rise.


A small hole in an air mattress can easily be patched at home.
(Picture sources efes / pixabay)

If the hole is close to the seam, you can patch it with a patch kit. This is often included with the purchase of your air mattress.

Another way to repair your air mattress is with waterproof glue, for example superglue. However, you should only use this repair technique if the hole in your air mattress is very small.

How do I dispose of my air mattress?

Generally, air mattresses are not disposed of in the yellow bag in Germany.

Where you should dispose of your air mattress depends on its size. Smaller air mattresses can be disposed of in the residual waste bin via household waste. Larger air mattresses are disposed of in the bulky waste.

Image source: Moskvina/