Air Mattress VS Folding Mattress: Which One Should You Buy?

If you’re reading this then there’s a pretty good chance that you are looking to buy a new air mattress or folding mattress, if not, you are probably really really bored. Most people buy an air mattress to sleep overnight guests, or to take them on the road for camping trips, which kind of defeats the point of camping in my opinion.

But if your like millions of other Americans, you might suffer from some sort of neck or back pain, in which case you probably do want more padding between your precious vertebrae and the rocky floor.

Whatever the case is, you need some sort of bed that is easily portable and easy to store, or something you can fold up and throw it in the car without wasting valuable luggage space. So what will it be? One of those fancy air mattresses that seem to be all the rave these days, or perhaps one of those folding mattresses that you can literally unfold within seconds?

Well the answer kind of depends on a few things. Shocking you say? You mean to tell me there’s not one absolute answer that applies to every person and situation that needs some sort of portable bed? No. Let’s not panic and move on. Choosing the right mattress will depend on what you will be using your mattress for, as well as other factors such as portability, comfort, and long-term use.

To make it easy, let’s go through the main scenarios as to why people buy air mattresses or folding beds.

Lets first start by looking at some of the pros of buying an air mattress:

  • Portability. Air mattresses are great for sleeping people on the go. Their ability to fold up into an easily carry-able package makes them extremely versatile. They also easily fit in any closet without taking up too much room, for those who are lacking a guest bedroom or need to sleep extra guests.
  • Adjustable. Since the amount of air filling an air mattress can be controlled, you can set the air pressure to be firm or soft, depending on the sleeper’s preference. This is pretty valuable for mattresses that will be used as a guest bed, allowing the comfort to be adjusted for each guest.
  • Price. When you look at how much an actual bed costs, air mattresses tend to be on the cheaper side. You can pick up a decent one for as cheap as 50 bucks, which is a great investment for having such a versatile piece of furniture.

Now let’s look at some of the cons of using an air mattress:

  • Comfort. Though some people will swear that their air mattress is comfy as a koala bear, it just doesn’t provide a great enough comfort that one needs in a good night’s sleep. This is especially true if you are using it longer than a few nights. Most air mattresses need to be packed fairly full of air in order to support your body, making it too firm for most people. Even if you let some out or don’t fill it all the way, you may end up just sinking into the mattress, which is worse than sleeping on an overly stiff mattress. Also, air mattress are made of different materials than a normal bed, which greatly effects the temperature regulation. This means the bed will become much colder than normal beds during the winter season.
  • Lifespan. One major flaw with every air mattress, even high end ones, is that they will eventually begin to bleed air more rapidly. All air mattresses leak some air, requiring you to top it off every night or every week depending on the quality of the bed. But eventually, all air mattresses will succumb to major air bleeding wich will make an overnight sleep impossible.
  • Noise. Air mattresses tend to be noisy. Yes the pump to blow up the mattress is obviously as load as a leaf blower, but the bed itself can be rather annoying, especially after the lights go out. You see, these beds are made of a special vinyl material that can make a bothersome squeak noise, like a balloon rubbing against a wall. This may seem trivial, but it will affect the sleep of those who toss and turn a lot during the night.

Now let us turn our attention the folding mattress and look at some of their pros.

  • Comfort. Unlike air mattresses, a folding mattress is usually made a soft memory foam material. This is extremely more comfortable than any air mattress can provide. The material also helps with temperature regulation, which plays a big part in getting a nice solid night’s rest.
  • Lifespan. The lifespan of a folding mattress will most certainly outlast the life of an air mattress. They are not vulnerable to air leaks, popping, ripping and other life shortening traits that air mattresses posses.
  • Easy to Setup. Folding mattresses are easy to use because of one simple reason: they fold. It takes mere seconds to fold up a tri-folding mattress. They are much easier and faster to set up than an air mattress, but they will taking up more room than a completely drained air bed.

Finally, let us look at some of the cons of using a folding mattress:

  • Bulkiness. Although folding mattresses do easily fold up for easy storage, they do not nearly have the room saving power that an air mattress possesses. This may not be a big deal for those using one at home, but it will affect those who will be traveling a lot or needing a bed for camping
  • Portability. This sort of ties in with bulkiness, which makes the folding mattress not as portable as an air mattress. It’s going to be much easier to travel with an air mattress, which can easily fit in a large duffel bag or be attached to a hiker’s backpack.

To make the decision as easy as possible let’s go through the main scenarios as to why people buy air mattresses or a folding mattress. Here is we will suggest what to buy based on each scenario:

Since you won’t be needed to take the mattress outside of the house, the folding mattresses will offer much more comfort to your guests. It will easily slide underneath an existing bed or fit nicely into a closet. Some even fold up to make a nice comfy chair like this one.

Air mattresses will offer more utility when camping. Camping involves bringing many supplies such as tents, food, wood, cooking-ear, and other camping needs. Air mattresses will take up much less room in the car/truck when planning your camping trip.

Check out some cool camping air mattresses that are designed for the outdoors and come with a battery powered or rechargeable pump.

Long-term Use: Folding Mattress

Many people look for air mattresses or folding beds for long term use. Examples would be dorm room or those who need a temporary bed to sleep on until they buy/find a new bed. We recommend folding mattresses simply because they will provide more comfort and support for your neck and back in the long-run. Though we recommend talking to a doctor or specialist before sleeping on an air/folding mattress for prolonged periods of time.

You can check out some great folding mattresses here that we’ve reviewed on this site.

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