Air mattresses and air beds have been in existence since the 1800s, and the basic design hasn’t changed much since. The materials might have become a bit more robust, and the scope now ranges from poolside lilo to full-sized king (complete with pillows and a built-in pump), but it’s essentially still a rubber or plastic casing that can be filled with air for a decent night’s sleep. Here’s what to think about before putting your hand in your pocket.
Weighing under 2 kg, this blow-up option comes with a flocked top to keep sheets in place and a built-in safety valve to help inflate and deflate quickly. Also available in a smaller, single bed size. Milestone Camping
While air beds can happily do double duty as both guest beds and camping gear, it’s probably worth thinking about how your air bed is going to be used before settling on one. If you’re the sort of camper that packs a car and has a tent that you can stand full height in, it’s less of an issue, but some of the bigger beds are way too heavy to throw in a backpack and fit in a small tent if you’re heading off to a festival on foot.
Made from 5-gauge puncture-resistant material with a flocked top layer, this inflatable mattress is designed for one person and is sturdy enough to comfortably support up to 18 stone in weight. Active Era
If you’re planning on getting an air bed predominantly for use at home, look for one that won’t leave your guests nose to skirting board when they’re lying down. There are a number of mattresses that, when fully inflated, sit around 50 to 60 centimeters off the floor, which makes them feel much more like a proper bed and less like a camping accessory.
This full-sized mattress can inflate in under three minutes thanks to its integrated, mains-powered technology. 21 structured air coils provide a comfortable and supportive night’s sleep. Active Era
The bigger the bed, the more you’re going to want an electric pump. While you might be fine with the idea of blowing your li-lo up using your own lungs, you’re going to want a pump for anything bigger than that; a larger foot pump might do the trick (you’ll be there forever if you try it with a hand-held bicycle pump), but an electric pump is the easiest option. Some beds come with their own electric pumps built in. These are usually mains operated, so do check if you’re planning on taking one of these camping.