Air Mattress Alternative [Expert Answered]

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Expert's Note

You may be in need of an air mattress due to different reasons such as living space constraints or for camping purposes. However, some people like to steer away from air mattresses due to their disadvantages (ex: risk of being punctured, discomfort, squeaky noises etc..)

In this article, we'll discuss great alternatives to air mattresses for living spaces and camping such as:

  • Memory Foam Pads
  • Folding Mattresses
  • Futon Mattresses
  • Sleeping Bags
  • Hammocks
  • And Others
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Layla Hybrid Mattress

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Air mattresses can be great for camping, storable guest beds, or small living spaces. Until they eventually get punctured, cause discomfort, or start getting on your nerves with all the squeaky noises they make.

That's why in this article we compiled a list of air mattress alternatives that will have the great space saving and convenience advantages of air mattresses, without the bothersome disadvantages that come with them.

Why You Should Steer Clear of Air Mattresses?

In general, using an air mattress for sleep may be somewhat uncomfortable. The sleeper will first feel hotter. Second, the PVC materials used in air mattresses can make an irritating squeaking noise that keeps people from falling asleep.

However, there are also a number of reasons why using an air mattress as a guest bed at home or when camping is not advised. An air mattress is rather fragile to use outdoors because it is made entirely of a PVC film and air. The mattress might deflate with just a dry twig sticking out from underneath. A pet's claws or those of a misbehaving child are also sufficient to quickly collapse the bed. In this instance, the camper may be stranded for the remainder of the night and subsequent camping days.

And most importantly, there are now much better alternatives that can be used indoors or outdoors that will also be easy to carry, open, and store like air mattresses, but without the hassle of worrying about punctures or uncomfortable sleepless nights.

With that being said, we'll go over best alternatives in 2 different sections. The first being the best alternatives for indoor use (especially as guest beds or tight living spaces), and the second being for outdoor or camping purposes.

Best Air Mattress Alternatives For Indoor Living Spaces

Memory Foam Pads

memory foam sleeping pad on floor

The most common alternative to an air mattress for guests is probably memory foam pads. Despite the fact that they are originally intended to be used as a mattress topper, they can also be used independently and still provide a great night's sleep. Memory foam sleeping pads can easily be rolled, compressed, and stored away when not in use.

It is significantly more comfortable to sleep on a memory foam pad than an air mattress. The memory foam material contours the body much better and offers superior body support.

Memory foam pads, which are typically around 2 inches thick, offer superior sleep comfort compared to air mattresses. They come in a variety of common sizes and quality ones are usually priced in the range of $250 (but there are always great deals that make them even cheaper). They are unexpectedly pleasant because to the way the cell structure design evenly distributes your weight and follows the natural curvature of your body, neutrally aligning your spine and relieving pressure points.

Memory foam pillows of good quality last up to 7 years of use. Their longevity is influenced by the pad's density and thickness, usage frequency, your weight, and level of maintenance. In order to make moving and storing memory foam mats easier, they typically come with a vacuum storage bag. The mattress' lifespan is increased by the storage bag's protection from moisture, dust, and other contaminants.


Futon mattress on the floor

Not to be confused with western futon sofa beds. Futon mattresses are originally a Japanese invention made for minimalist and serene sleeping indoor spaces. Futon mattresses are a quilted mattress that can be spread out on the floor and used as a sleeping pad. Futon mattresses are adaptable and compact. They are simple to fold and unfold into a variety of postures.

To increase cushioning and airflow, the mattress can be placed on the floor or on top of a mat. Futon mattresses are appropriate for people who go live simply, go camping (in non-damp terrains), have guests around, move frequently, or are college students.

However, futons are not the best option when it comes to compactness when stored. Futons are easily folded/rolled, however they don't compress down to small volumes. But if you have a storage space or a room corner that you can tuck or stack them into, that shouldn't be a problem.

Folding Mattresses

folding mattress in room

Folding mattresses may be stored in a small space because they are made for temporary usage. However, they are probably the least compact option when stored available, so make sure your house has the space to store them when being unused. Mattress storage carrying cases are widely available from manufacturers. Additionally, they are less expensive than futons and couch beds.

An additional advantage of folding mattresses is that you can integrate them into your living spaces. Some folding mattresses, when folded, are rigid and look pleasant to be used as a shelf for items or books while they're being unused.

Best Air Mattress Alternatives For Outdoor and Camping Purposes

Padded Sleeping Bag

padded sleeping bag

Sleeping bags are the most popular option for adventurous campers and nomads for a reason. Sleeping bags can be packed and tucked extremely tightly and carried with your backpack.

Padded sleeping bags are great even in severe weather, padded sleeping bags' waterproof, weather-resistant construction will keep you warm. Although sleeping bags do wear out and become damaged, with the right maintenance, they can survive for many years. They frequently come with a useful carry case, which makes them simple to store and move. You can use a laundry bag if your sleeping bag doesn't include a storage bag. Affordable sleeping bags that are thick enough to be cozy on hard surfaces are readily available.


camping hammock with stands

A hammock is a sturdy, resilient, tear-resistant solution that can comfortably support a heavy weight in the open air. For greater comfort, you can select a single or double hammock. A hammock frequently comes with a carry bag, making it light enough to be taken on a hike. It is simple to put up in a backyard, on a hill, in a forest, or near to a stream. You don't have to be concerned about uneven ground, crowded campgrounds, or wet surfaces, unlike ground mattresses.

If you intend to spend the night in your hammock, you need think about the weather and include accessories in your setup like an under quilt for cold weather, a tarp for rain, and a net for insects. For ultimate comfort on sunny and wet days, this camping hammock comes with a bug net and a rain fly tarp. A high-quality hammock with extra attachments can get pretty pricey, so keep that in mind.

Some people don't take hammocks into consideration, as they think that setting up hammocks will depend on finding suitable anchor points (usually 2 trees). However, that is far from true, as some hammocks come with stands that provide the perfect setup you can place anywhere without depending on any trees. However, if you're camping in areas with trees or other possible anchor points, you should definitely go for a lightweight hammock without stands.

Camping Cot

camping cot kit

A camping cot is made of a folding aluminum or steel frame with cloth stretched taut over it to create a sleeping surface. It is compact when folded and light in weight. Many cots are sold with convenient carry bags that can be used for storage and transportation.

In addition to the typical one-person camping cots, there are two-person camping cots available. While some camping cots open up to a standard bed height, others are low to the ground. For further comfort and cushioning, you can select a cot with an integrated sleeping pad. Depending on the cot's size, weight, portability, and type, the cost might range from $50 to $500.

In general, camping cots are a fantastic alternative to an air mattress, but they are not perfect. You will need to drive to your campground in order to utilize them because they are on the bulkier side. However, there are some camping cot kits that are reasonably compact and will take up minimal space on your car's storage space.

Self-Inflating Sleep Pad

self-inflating pad

Setting up a self-inflating sleep pad is a breeze. To help you find the ideal combination of insulation, portability, and cushioning, self-inflating sleep pads are available in a wide range of sizes and shapes. Particularly the larger sizes, which are very comfy.

To automatically draw in air and expand the sleeping pad, simply open the valve when you want to do so. They are simple to transport and store. A self-inflating pad is practical for traveling because all you have to do is roll it up to release the air.

It's ideal to store your self-inflating mat flat with the valve open because long-term rolling up can reduce the mat's capacity to self-inflate. Additionally, sleep pads offer exceptional insulation and keep you warm all night long. They are typically more expensive and less cushioned than air mattresses. Self-inflating pads are more prone to punctures than traditional air mattresses, but offer a much easier setup, so you'll have to take good care of them.

Favorite Choices

Whether you're going camping or needing sleeping space for indoors, you should definitely consider an alternative to air mattresses. Air mattresses are full of infuriating inconveniences and inferior in many ways to the alternatives we listed here.

Indoors Overall Favorite:

Our overall favorite to air mattresses are Japanese futon mattresses. Futon mattresses provide amazing comfort and are reasonably storable. From our experience, when we have guests over or use our futon mattresses, we wake up with a great night's sleep and well-rested body. An extra advantage is the aesthetically-pleasing looks of futon mattresses, which make them a great option for minimal living spaces too!

For Adventurous Backpackers:

For backpacking purposes, we found inflatable sleeping pads to be our favorite air mattress alternative. With these, you get a sleeping pad that is both lightweight and portable and that can be inflated for further comfort. You can carry them into a bag, they're simpler and quicker to set up than an air mattress, and they'll keep you warm and comfortable.

For Camping With A Car/Vehicle:

For campers who move with a vehicle with adequate storage space, we found camping cots to be the best alternative to air mattresses. Camping cots are more supportive and comfortable, easier to put up, much more robust, offer superior insulation, elevate you off the ground shielding you from flooding or insects, have storage space underneath them, and are easier to set up.

Final Words

All in all, we believe that all alternatives we found are far superior to air mattresses. Deciding on an alternative based on your use case is a relatively easy job, and whichever option you go for, you're definitely going to have a better experience than opting for an air mattress.

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Expert Pick

Layla Hybrid Mattress

The Layla Hybrid offers an unrivaled balance of memory foam pressure relief and pocket coil support. With its versatile flippable design, copper-infused memory foam, and pocketed coils, the Layla Hybrid is designed to soothe pain, keep you cool, and provide years of comfort.

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Jessica H.

Jessica is a reviewer, writer, and sleep enthusiast at Sleepiverse. Jessica graduated with her master's degree in Nursing research and education. She is a registered nurse and currently works in the Intensive Care Unit. Since becoming a nurse, Jessica has worked the night shift, which means a disrupted sleep schedule. Knowing she needed to function at her best while caring for patients at night, she spent a lot of time researching how to sleep well with a difficult schedule.