The Best Air Mattress for 2021
You’ll quickly know when you’ve got a crappy air mattress—whether it has a slow, steady sink from a leak or a sputtering pump that calls it quits before the job is done. After researching dozens of air mattresses and testing seven, we think the SoundAsleep Dream Series Air Mattress won’t let you down. Its robust built-in pump, bed-like sleep surface, and reliable warranty make it the one to choose for guests.
SoundAsleep Dream Series Air Mattress
The best air mattress
The SoundAsleep offers the best combination of comfort, customer service, and owner satisfaction of any mattress we tested, and it has the quietest motor.
There’s no such thing as a perfect air mattress, but after five years of long-term testing, we’re confident that the SoundAsleep Dream Series Air Mattress holds air after many uses. It was among the most comfortable air mattresses we tried (it didn’t deflate noticeably in the night, and so provided better back support), and you can control the level of inflation. This mattress comes in twin, queen, and king sizes, and because it’s taller than cheaper air mattresses, it was easier to climb onto than others we tested. And the SoundAsleep’s built-in pump was quieter than any other mattress motor we tried—which is a perk if you don’t want to wake sleeping children (or if you’re sensitive to noise). In case the pump breaks or the mattress springs a leak, SoundAsleep also offers responsive customer service and a one-year warranty.
The SoundAsleep Dream Series Air Mattress offers the strongest combination of performance, comfort, and highly responsive and motivated customer service of any air mattress we’ve tried. It’s one of the more expensive mattresses we tested, but we think its great features—and lack of unnecessary extras—make it worth the cost.
The SoundAsleep inflates fully in about two minutes, which was not the fastest time of all the mattresses we tested, but it wasn’t an inordinate wait by any means. Its motorized pump was also substantially quieter than others we tested, which may be helpful if you’re inflating a mattress late at night and don’t want to wake up other sleepers (or if your guests want to adjust the firmness without disturbing the whole household). We preferred the SoundAsleep’s simple dial controls to those of mattresses with specific settings, because with more inflation control, it was easier to get the most comfortable, custom firmness. The SoundAsleep’s pump also deflates the mattress quickly, and the SoundAsleep (which comes with a woven nylon storage bag) packs down to about 14 by 14 by 13 inches, similar to other mattresses we tried.
The SoundAsleep was one of the more comfortable air mattresses we slept on; unlike others we tried, it didn’t noticeably lose air or sink during the night. In fact, it even stayed firm over two consecutive nights, without needing to be topped up—something that competing mattresses, like the King Koil, struggled with. The queen-size SoundAsleep inflates to 19 inches tall (18 inches for the twin), which is comparable to the height of a mattress resting on a box spring on the floor. This makes it much easier to get into and out of—and makes it feel more like a bed—than shorter air mattresses, some of which inflate to only a foot high. As with all air mattresses, there was some creaking and jiggling, which was more noticeable with two sleepers on a larger mattress. And because the SoundAsleep is far from being a real mattress, the addition of a foam topper or mattress pad would add extra cushion and insulation. Overall, in previous years’ tests, everyone slept comfortably through the night, without having back pain or soreness in the morning.
Like the other mattresses we tried, the SoundAsleep is made from PVC and has a flocked, velvety fabric top, which keeps the sheets from slipping around and provides a softer feel than a plastic-topped air mattress would. We had no problem getting our queen- and twin-size fitted sheets to grip the mattress snugly, but because this mattress is so deep, the sheets didn’t cover the sides completely (extra-deep sheets may have solved this problem, but we didn’t test them).
The SoundAsleep comes with a one-year warranty. If your mattress springs a leak, the inner inflation coils fail, or the pump breaks within the first year, SoundAsleep will either repair or replace your mattress. When we called SoundAsleep to ask about its warranty, a representative said you may simply have to send a photo of your mattress or mail the item back, depending on the nature of the defect. In most cases, SoundAsleep told us, the customer would not be responsible for shipping charges. We had a similar, although less friendly, customer service experience with Coleman, which requested images of the mattress and a receipt.
Long-term test notes
We have evidence that SoundAsleep may go above and beyond the terms of its warranty to keep its customers happy. Wirecutter senior editor Harry Sawyers’s 15-month old SoundAsleep mattress developed a leak around the pump after he used it for about 50 nights, and SoundAsleep agreed to repair the mattress free of charge, even though it was out of warranty.
Sawyers said he also likes that the storage bag is big enough to actually accommodate the folded mattress. But he said there’s a bit of guesswork to figuring out how much to inflate the mattress. “I almost always under-inflate, thinking it’s full enough,” he said. To avoid this issue, try filling the mattress all the way up and then releasing the air slowly, until you reach the desired firmness. The company says it takes about 4½ minutes for the mattress to reach the maximum fill level, although in our experience it filled up in about 2 minutes. After that, the motor keeps running, but air won’t go into the mattress, so you don’t have to worry about it over-inflating or popping. After about 6½ minutes, the motor automatically shuts off to avoid overheating, and it doesn’t turn back on for about an hour while it cools down.
Wirecutter supervising editor Courtney Schley also uses the SoundAsleep. She said that over a one-year period (during which she used it five to six times), she didn’t notice any change in performance; it neither lost air or nor sank during the night.
Coleman SupportRest Elite Double High Airbed with Built-in Pump
A comfortable and convenient option
The Coleman is as comfortable as other air mattresses we tried, but it’s cheaper and quicker to inflate and deflate. However, its pump is noisier than others, and the mattress smells a little plasticky out of the bag.
Aside from being less expensive, the Coleman SupportRest Elite Double High Airbed with Built-in Pump is pretty close to the SoundAsleep: It’s 18 inches tall and has a built-in pump, and Coleman’s customer service is responsive. We love that the Coleman includes a quick-release valve for faster breakdown, something the SoundAsleep lacks. We think it’s a great mattress, but not quite as good as the SoundAsleep. The Coleman’s pump is noisier and lacks a storage cubby for the power cord, and we aren’t certain it will hold up as well. We also noticed that this mattress had a strong, plasticky odor out of the box, and in previous testing, that smell lingered unpleasantly on our bedding. The Coleman comes in queen and twin sizes.
The Coleman SupportRest Elite Double High Airbed with Built-in Pump is also a great air mattress—it’s a little cheaper and just as comfortable as the SoundAsleep, and it comes with a built-in pump, an 18-inch height profile, a flocked PVC top, and a one-year warranty. But the motor was a bit louder than the SoundAsleep’s, and out of the box it had a stronger plastic odor than other mattresses, so we think it’s probably worth spending the extra $20 to $30 (depending on size) for our main pick.
The Coleman does inflate in half the time it takes the SoundAsleep (a negligible difference of a minute or so), and it also stays firm throughout the night. It’s the only air mattress we recommend that has a quick-release valve to help the air escape faster when it’s time to pack it up (unlike the SoundAsleep, which can be deflated only by using the pump). It’s still a good idea to use the pump to get as much air out as possible, for more compact storage. And the Coleman doesn’t have a cubby to store the power cord, which the SoundAsleep does. Coleman seems to have similarly good customer service—we reached out via webchat and were helped within minutes. To redeem the warranty, the company simply requires you to send photos of the damage and a copy of the receipt.
What to look forward to
None of our picks come in a full size version. The closest option is a queen: too big for a fitted full size sheet, but not too big for your average flat full size sheet. After many hours of research, the two most reputable brands we found that make full-size air mattresses (around 54 inches wide) are Intex and AeroBed. The Intex 18in Full Dura-Beam PremAire I Elevated Airbed with Internal Pump has a one year warranty, but it keeps going in and out of stock. If you absolutely need a full size air mattress the Intex is the one we’d recommend, if you can find it. Aerobed, a Coleman company, has the Quilted Foam Topper Double High mattress but, after years of testing, we aren’t impressed with Aerobed’s quality and high prices. We will continue to scout any possible full- size air mattresses that meet our criteria.
We previously recommended Coleman’s GuestRest air mattress (sold by Target). It was nearly identical to the SupportRest, with a built-in pump, an 18-inch height profile, and a storage bag. The GuestRest disappeared from stores shortly before we published the 2019 update of this guide and was replaced by the Coleman GuestRest with External Pump, which we decided not to test because we think internal pumps are easier to manage.
In 2019, we tested the King Koil Air Mattress with Built-in Pump, which seemed to lose more air overnight than any other air mattress we tried. We didn’t like the built-in pillow, which pushed taller testers too far down the mattress, causing their feet to hang off the end. And since it has a designated top of the bed, this mattress can be positioned in only one direction, so you may not be able to get the power cord very close to an outlet.
We also brought in the AeroBed Air Mattress with One-Touch Comfort Pump, but with a 15-inch height, it was more difficult to get into and out of than taller mattresses we tested. And to inflate the AeroBed, we had to continuously hold down a button—which we found irritating, even for only two minutes, since it required us to stay with the mattress while it inflated.
We tested the Insta-Bed Raised Mattress with NeverFlat Pump, which we found to be pretty much identical to the SoundAsleep, but with a different pump system. Instead of a simple inflate and deflate pump, the Insta-Bed automatically inflates to preset fill levels: plush, medium, and firm. We think the presets may be nice for some people, but others will want the ability to customize an exact firmness level. The Insta-Bed also has a secondary NeverFlat pump, which kicks on if the mattress loses air during the night, to refill it to your desired firmness setting. In standby mode, the pump makes a subtle buzzing noise, which our tester found annoying (although you can unplug the pump). The extra pump also means extra seams, creating another potential area for leakage.
We also tried the Intex Pillow Rest in the twin size, but it’s only 16½ inches tall. Our tester didn’t like the elevated pillow area, which had the same awkward can’t-place-the-cord-near-an-outlet problem as the King Koil. It comes with only a 90-day warranty.
And we eliminated another half-dozen mattresses because they were too expensive, had unnecessary extra features , or lacked a warranty or customer service number.