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Air Beds For Camping

Features

Outdoor air beds for camping can also double as indoor, guest sleeping accommodations and are priced between $20 and $100.

Twin and queen sizes are the most widely available, but Coleman does make a king-size model.

More expensive, camping air beds offer dual-chambers, built-in pump inflators, raised pillow-head area, and heavy-duty fabric and seams.

Widths are fairly standard, but, to make a camping air mattress more tent friendly, lengths may be a bit shorter.

Some air mattresses are only 6' long. If you are tall, be sure to check the length before you purchase.

Indoor mattresses may have features that are unsuitable for some camping situations. A built-in, 120V inflator with a wall plug will need access to a 120V outlet.

Air mattress quality

Air beds for camping have a lot of fabric and seam length that need to be airtight, in order to function through the night.

Air mattresses are returned because they fail in this regard.

Quality mattresses have heavy fabric and strong, bonded seams.

A few air-mattress manufacturers, such as Intex and Aero, have two or three lines of mattresses, each with thicker fabric and more features.

If you are willing to pay more for an air mattress, you will appreciate the extra durability and features.


Purchasing an inexpensive air mattress

If you are new to camping and would like to get started with a minimal investment, an inexpensive air mattresses can be hit or miss. One mattress may be suitable, while the next is a bust.

You can, however, use a strategy of exchanging mattresses to ensure getting a suitable one.

Inexpensive mattresses have a higher failure rate and tend to fail sooner rather than later.

Buy a inexpensive air mattress at a local store, inflate it, lie on it or place some other weight on it overnight, and see if stays fully inflated. If it doesn't, return it for exchange and try another one until you find one that is air tight.

The main idea here is not to be discouraged if you initially get a defective mattress. Expect that you may need to try a second mattress to get a suitable one.

Since air mattresses are not hard goods, you will want to avoid the rock-bottom, no-name brand variety. There are, however, relatively inexpensive air mattresses that perform satisfactorily.

One way to find a reasonable-quality air mattress is to see what air mattress lines camping stores carry. Camping stores, unlike some discount stores, will not put up with mattresses with a high failure rate.

Often the first air mattress will be fine, but an exchange strategy will ensure that you get a satisfactory air mattress.

Tell the store clerk, before you purchase, that you intend to return any defective mattresses, until you find one that is air tight. In case you need to take your business elsewhere, ask them about their refund policy.

Before purchasing, look carefully at the box to make sure you are not buying a returned mattress. Compare the box with other boxes of the same product. Look for added cellophane tape, broken box seals, or torn packaging.

Be careful to return a defective mattress in new condition by taking care of the packaging and mattress, and, if you intend to return it, make no attempt to repair the mattress.


Caring for the air bed

Once you have an air-tight air mattress:

  • keep sharp and pointed objects away from it
  • try to avoid walking and crawling on it
  • store it clean and dry
  • pack it carefully in your vehicle

...and you should get good use from it.