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10 best air beds for cosy camping and sleepovers

Whether you opt for a single or a double, you’ll be a happy camper in one of these

Sian Lewis
Thursday 16 May 2024 14:27
Will you opt for a self-inflating style, or one with a built-in pump?
Will you opt for a self-inflating style, or one with a built-in pump? (The Independent)
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One of the most common worries for would-be campers is whether they’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep in a tent – after all, a family holiday or a festival weekend isn’t much fun if you’re not getting proper rest. And the best way to make sure you sleep well in the great outdoors is on a decent air bed.

You’ll find both camping mats and air beds on the market. Camping mats are thin, inflatable mattresses that roll down small and are designed for backpacking, wild camping and adventures where portability and weight are key factors. Air beds, on the other hand, tend to be large, heavy and more time-consuming to inflate.

What makes air beds worth it is the far better quality of sleep they offer by elevating you properly off the ground. They also allow you to eschew sleeping bags in favour of proper sheets, pillows and duvets to make camping far comfier. A good air bed is also a great investment for putting guests up in comfort at home.

There are plenty air mattresses out there available to buy, but we’d recommend investing in something decent. Some air beds can be a false economy – they may be prone to slowly deflating in the night, and can be plasticky and uncomfortable to sleep on. Our picks are all reliable, comfortable and durable, and include some real bargains.

We’ve got the best air beds for adults and kids for 2024, so read on.

How we tested

We set up and slept on each air mat and tested how quick and easy they were to inflate, whether they held their shape during the night and how comfortable they felt to kip on. We also tested how easy they were to deflate, pack down and store, to make sure they’ll be suitable for all kinds of camping adventures as well as for overnight guests.

The best air beds for 2024 are:

  • Best air bed overall – Vango shangri-la II 15cm grande mat: £159.99,
  • Best budget buy – Hi-Gear deluxe double air bed: £20,
  • Best for kids – Bundle Beds rainbow classic bed: £300,
  • Best sleep system for adults – ReadyBed double inflatable camping air bed and sleeping bag: £80,

Vango shangri-la II 15cm grande mat

Vango Shangri La.jpg
  • Best: Overall
  • Inflation time: 2 minutes
  • Inflation method: Self-inflating
  • Weight: 4.3kg
  • Why we love it
    • As comfortable as a proper mattress
    • Includes mattress topper
    • Self inflating

The shangri-la is possibly the poshest camping mat on the market. Yes, it costs an arm and a leg, but Vango’s quality mattress delivers sleep quality worthy of its paradisiacal namesake. This mat looks rather slim but delivers a really comfortable sleep akin to a proper bed mattress, and we especially like the lovely soft integrated mattress topper. This mat is also self-inflating, which means you can let it sort itself out whilst you get on with relaxing. Look after it and it should look after you for decades. A good choice for glampers who don’t want to rough it.

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Hi-Gear deluxe double air bed

Hi Gear Deluxe.jpg
  • Best: On a budget
  • Inflation time: 5 minutes
  • Inflation method: Built-in foot pump
  • Weight: 3.8kg
  • Why we love it
    • Affordable
    • Suitable for two
    • Raised pillow

Watching the pennies? This cheap and cheerful air bed is super-affordable but still ticks all the boxes – it’s easy and quick to inflate using its own integrated foot pump, is comfortable and roomy emough for two people to share for a night or two and packs away easily. The flocked outer material of the deluxe double is comfortable to sleep on, and we like the slightly raised pillow (although you’ll still want to bring your own sheet and extra pillows as well). The rubber bottom of this mat feels strong and sturdy and we didn’t encounter any slow leaks on test. A good cheap choice for having guests over as well as for camping.

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Quechua inflatable air comfort single camping mattress

  • Best: For saving space
  • Inflation time: 2 minutes
  • Inflation method: Pump (not included)
  • Weight: 2.2kg
  • Why we love it
    • Light and portable
  • Take note
    • Quite narro

Need something light and portable that still offers a decent night’s sleep? Quechua’s air mattress is a great choice for weekend camping, backpacking and cycle tours where space is an issue but you fancy something a cut above a basic camping mat.

This single air bed weighs just 2.2kg and packs down to the size of a large loaf of bread, so it’ll suit smaller tents and work well if you have limited storage at home. Good things come in small packages – this single mat is comfy to sleep on and feels surprisingly supportive and soft, although it is rather narrow. It’s the work of minutes to get the mattress inflated even with a foot pump. A double version is also available.

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Coleman extra durable raised double air bed

  • Best: For height off the ground
  • Inflation time: 10 minutes
  • Inflation method: Pump (not included)
  • Weight: 3.5kg
  • Why we love it
    • Raised from the ground
    • Durable
    • Light

We’re big fans of the Coleman extra durable double bed. Although it weighs only 3.5kg and is easy to pack down, it inflates to a considerably lofty height of almost 50cm, meaning it’s perfect for those who find camping beds and mats that are too close to the ground uncomfortable.

This air bed is available in single or regular double sizes, but we liked the raised double the best – it offers one or two campers or overnight guests excellent padding when fully inflated, and if you’re sharing, you’ll have plenty of space. This would usually be one of the more expensive beds in our round-up, but at the time of writing just £69.90 buys you a robust design that won’t disappoint.

  1. £69 from
Prices may vary
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Bundle Beds junior bundle bed

Bundle Beds junior bundle bed best air beds
  • Best: For kids
  • Inflation time: 2 minutes
  • Inflation method: Self-inflating
  • Weight: 5kg
  • Why we love it
    • Includes duvet, pillow and bed linen
    • Fun designs available
  • Take note
    • Expensive
    • Quite heavy for kids to carr

Little ones are guaranteed sweet dreams with this rather adorable camping bed setup. Bundle Beds aren’t cheap, but they are clever – a compact bag contains a self-inflating mattress which we found inflated fully in just a minute or two on test, plus a soft, cosy duvet, a pillow and bed linen. In short, there’s everything you need ready to get your child snug and ready for a warm night in a tent, or for them to take along to their first sleepover or whip out when friends come to stay.

We like that the filling for the bed and duvet is fully recycled, although at 5kg the whole bundle is quite heavy, so smaller kids may not be able to cart it about alone.

  1. £300 from Bundle Beds
Prices may vary
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Mountain Warehouse kids inflatable portable air bed

Mountain Warehouse.jpg
  • Best: Kid’s bed on a budget
  • Inflation time: 4 minutes
  • Inflation method: Pump (not included)
  • Weight: 1.7kg
  • Why we love it
    • Affordable
    • Raised sides
  • Take note
    • Just a pink and blue colour options

Designed for use everywhere from camping trips and campervan holidays to sleepovers at grandma’s, this simple and affordable bed for little ones is fuss-free to get kids comfy. We like the raised sides, which stop children rolling off the air bed in the middle of the night, and you can still pop a sheet on top of this mat before you add a pillow and sleeping bag. Mountain Warehouse’s portable mat is quick to inflate even if the little one wants to help you work the foot pump. It’s a pity a carry case isn’t included, and that the only colours are pink and blue.

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Boutique Camping self-inflating camping mattress

Boutique Camping.jpg
  • Best: For glamping
  • Inflation time: 5 minutes
  • Inflation method: Self-inflating
  • Weight: 3.7kg
  • Why we love it
    • Self inflating
    • Comfortable and soft
    • Great for glamping

Elevate your glamping game with this delightfully comfortable mattress from bell tent makers Boutique Camping. Designed for decking out your canvas yurt or tipi, this wide double mat is stuffed with a thick foam that feels very luxurious to lie on and only takes a few minutes to self-inflate despite its generous size.

The soft fabric cover of this mattress is a cut above most plastic-y air mats and feels more like a real bed than most. It’s also easy to squash air out of the mat and store it away in its carry bag. Choose from a single or a double mattress to suit the size of your glamping palace.

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ReadyBed double inflatable camping air bed and sleeping bag

Ready Bed.jpg
  • Best: Sleep system for adults
  • Inflation time: 10 minutes
  • Inflation method: Pump (not included)
  • Weight: 7kg

If you were eyeing up the Bundle Bed all-in-one mattress for kids (£300, and wishing there was a camping sleeping system especially for adults – you’re in luck. Open the ReadyBed carry case and you’ve got a near-on instant bed, with an air bed that sports a built-in sleeping bag and pillow, so you’ll never forget the camping kit you need.

The sleeping bag is only really warm enough for summer or indoor sleeps but you can add extra duvets on top or add a sleeping bag inside the duvet on chillier nights, and the ReadyBed’s fabric cover is removable and washable. ReadyBed reckon it takes a minute to inflate their design but we’d give it more like 10-15 with a foot pump.

  1. £80 from
Prices may vary
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Outwell excellent king-size air bed

  • Best: XL size air bed
  • Inflation time: 2 minutes
  • Inflation method: Pump (not included)
  • Weight: 5kg
  • Why we love it
    • Large and roomy for tall and plus-size sleepers
  • Take note
    • Electric pump us recommended

Make your camping setup king-sized with this frankly enormous air bed. Outwell’s excellent king is super roomy, and any tall or plus-size sleepers who find double mats a bit restrictive will love stretching out. With a max load of 340kg, this air bed can also take a lot more weight than most doubles, which are usually designed up to hold up to 200kg.

The soft velour cover of this mat feels comfy to lie on and the bed holds you well off the floor, with no midnight sagging on test. If you share this air bed you’re less likely to feel like you’re going to roll into each other in the middle during the night too. We’d recommend using an electric pump as this is such a large mat and we had it inflated in under three minutes.

This air bed is currently out of stock, but you can submit your email address to be notified when it is back in stock here.

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Air bed FAQs

What is the difference between an air bed and an air mattress?

The main difference between an air mattress and an air bed is that the former is designed to be used indoors, while the latter is for outdoor use.

What is the lifespan of an air bed?

The average air bed can easily last up to 15 years. Often, if you opt for an air bed that has a built-in pump, the pump will fail before the bed will.

How to choose the best air bed for you

There are a number of things to consider when choosing an air bed:

  • Pump: For a super-easy-to-use air bed, you’ll want to opt for one that has a built-in pump, including manual, battery-operated, and plug-in. We’d suggest going for one with an electric option, as this will make the blowing-up-process faster.
  • Height: A taller mattress is likely to be more comfortable, as it has more air, but, of course, it will be more cumbersome. So, if portability is important, you may want to consider a thinner air bed.
  • Air chambers: Air beds with vertical air chambers are more comfortable because they work to distribute the weight. It’s worth noting that while air chambers that run side to side look more comfortable, they can sag when you lie down.
  • Inflation time: It’s worth noting how long it takes the air bed to inflate – it’ll usually be a couple of minutes.

How to repair a punctured air bed

According to the Sleep Foundation, it’s completely natural for air beds to lose some inflation over time. However, if this happens regularly, it’s probably due to a puncture of some kind. If this sounds like a problem you’re dealing with, fear not, as DIY repairs are very common within the air bed community.

According to Lauren Fountain from the Sleep Foundation, to fix the leak, you’ll need to locate the hole and then clean the area. She goes on to say you then need to “use an adhesive and some plastic or vinyl patches to cover the leak” and “after letting the patch set for several hours, you can test the patch to ensure the mattress is no longer leaking”.

Some air beds come with a patch kit, which typically includes an adhesive, applicator and patches that match your air bed material. However if you don’t have this kit to hand, you can either buy one (taking into consideration the colour and material of your mattress) or fashion something yourself. Substitutes for a patch include some kind of thin, plastic material, such as part of a shower curtain liner – and you’ll want to use a strong glue as your adhesive, so your DIY work dries tight.

While we’ve not tested these patch kits ourselves, we found two inoffesively priced options, should you be looking to do some repairs yourself. The air bed inflatable mattress kit from True Strength (£11.95, comes with two different-sized patches, two adhesive tubes and disposable gloves. Meanwhile Decathlon is selling this patch kit with three large adhesive patches (£5.49, Decathlon).

The verdict: Air beds

There’s an air bed to suit all kinds of camper (and on any budget) in our round-up. Our top pick for comfort is Vango’s shangri-la II 15cm grande mat, which is expensive but worth splashing out on if you want a quality air bed you can use both for camping and for having guests over at home. Need something more affordable? Hi-Gear’s deluxe double air bed is surprisingly comfortable and costs a paltry £20.

Never go without a cup of tea or hot meal on your camping trip with our pick of the best camping stoves

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