The air mattress concept has come a long way since the original camping equipment that you had to blow up by huffing and puffing. Today’s varieties range from temporary mattresses with electric pumps to everyday beds hiding individualized air bladders. The one you select will depend largely on how you plan to use it, what your budget is, and whether you want a full-time mattress or last-minute solution. Let’s take a look at some of the specifications that go into modern air mattresses designed for everyday use.


Chamber Materials

The technology that operates behind the scenes of current air mattresses involves air bladders that can be adjusted by changing the amount of pressure applied by built-in pumps. The chambers of air usually run from head to toe, so bed occupants can change the firmness to their desired setting. The two chambers are generally separated by a strip of foam, and there are additional layers of foam inside the mattress for extra comfort.

When shopping for a mattress that uses air chambers, take a good look at the types of materials used for the bladders. Low-quality materials and shoddy construction can easily lead to air leaks and ruptures that could render the mattress useless. Tests have shown that natural rubber makes the best – and most pliable – air bladder construction material and may require fewer seams in the manufacturing process.

Chamber Configuration

Although most beds offer two head-to-toe air chambers, others use a different configuration. There might be three individual bladders that run horizontally through the head area, the body area, and the foot area. This format makes the lumbar section more easily adjusted, but it removes the ability for each partner to customize his or her firmness setting. Even the head-to-toe configuration has its challenges. Some customers have complained that the foam section separating the two chambers creates an uncomfortable hump in the middle of the mattress, but manufacturers have responded by altering the type of foam they use in that gap.

Foam Padding

There are two main types of foam used in modern air mattresses: memory foam and latex foam. If you are considering a mattress with latex foam, try to get natural latex, as it combines the right amount of support and softness. You also may be shocked to find that the foam in some mattresses is placed in weird spots, such as under the air bladders. Obviously foam can only cuddle your body if it is optimally located on top of the air chambers. Make sure the foam is at least two inches thick if you want to avoid bottoming out.

Electric Systems

There are a couple features on modern air mattresses that involve actual moving parts, and you want them to be as simple as possible. First, the bed will have a pump that increases and decreases the pressure of the air chambers. Here you are looking for built-in mechanisms that work quickly at an acceptable noise level. If you have to make adjustments in the middle of the night, that last thing you want is the roar of a pump waking up you and your partner. The remotes that operate the pump should be easy to maneuver and ideally should come with light-up buttons to see in the dark. The more bells and whistles the pumps and remotes feature, the more chance for them to break.

Extra Details

As with any mattress purchase, you should be vigilant about store policies before you fork over your money. Find out who delivers and sets up the mattress. There might even be a delivery fee. Figure out how many nights you have to try the mattress out and still be able to return it, and find out all the rules about returns in general.

Today’s air mattresses are a popular choice among couples. The basic considerations mentioned above should help you decide whether one is right for your home.