Enjoy summer with a picnic! We have suggestions for cheap picnic essentials, including a cooler and utensils and where to find them.
Best Air Mattresses
Air Mattresses Construction and Durability
Because the sturdy vinyl used in the best air mattresses can be quite slippery, air mattresses typically feature some kind of soft topping that provides a bit of grip and enhances comfort. All the best air mattresses we researched meet this standard. The Intex Raised Downy Queen, for example, is topped with a waterproof flocking that consumers say mostly holds sheets in place (helped by side indentations for fitted sheets). Both Coleman models on our list, the 4-in-1 and SUV Quickbeds, come with a suede-like plush topping that an air mattress review of the latter says keeps a nylon sleeping bag from slipping. Some users of air mattresses nonetheless suggest adding a mattress cover for still more grip and as an extra layer of comfort. The Wenzel Insta-Bed also features a flocked top as well as a bottom surface designed to grip the floor.
Generally speaking, the more air chambers a mattress has, the firmer and more supportive it will be. Some higher-end air mattresses feature an air-filled "pillow-top" and the Intex Raised Downy Queen gets its extra height from a bottom air chamber. Borrowing both terminology and concept from regular mattresses, some of the best air mattresses contain "coils" that are supposed to keep the sleeping surface from sagging. These coils connect the top of the air mattress to the bottom and help distribute the air. The Coleman SUV and 4-in-1 Quickbeds and the AeroBed Guest Choice feature coil construction. Whether the coils actually make a difference is open to question. In a review on Amazon of the AeroBed, one user blames the coils for the popping noises he hears whenever he turns over.
Air Mattresses Durability.Cheap air mattresses are intended for temporary and occasional use, so don't expect them to last very long if used as a full-time bed. Even so, we came across an occasional air mattress review attesting to the continuous, multi-year use of the Intex Raised Downy Queen; for shorter periods, the Coleman 4-in-1 Quickbed also claims some fans.
Not surprisingly, the biggest grievance lodged against even the best air mattresses concerns leaks. Every air mattress we researched was the target of complaints about leaks, some of which proved to be minor but others couldn't be isolated or repaired and were serious enough to prevent full inflation or to cause unintended deflation. Sometimes the leaks appeared right out of the box, sometimes after a few uses, and sometimes after months of service. But note: After several days on the floor and nights with a sleeper on board, even the best air mattresses must be topped off with some air -- a few seconds with an electric pump usually suffices. Users don't seem to find this chore particularly onerous.
Low-cost air mattresses often come with limited warranties. The two Coleman mattresses on our list provide limited one-year warranties that cover product defects; ditto for the AeroBed Guest Choice. The Wenzel Insta-Bed is backed by a one-year warranty and the AeroBed EcoLite provides a two-year limited warranty on the pump and valve. There's no warranty for the Intex Raised Downy Queen; problems must be handled through the retailer where the mattress was purchased.
AeroBed EcoLite Airbed Review
Coleman 4-in-1 Quickbed Review
AeroBed Guest Choice Air Bed Review
Intex Raised Downy Queen Airbed Review
Coleman SUV Quickbed Review
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