Air Bed Alternatives — the Complete Guide
An air mattress is one of the most effective solutions to utilize limited floor space while retaining the comfort of a snug bed in your house. In comparison to traditional beds, air mattresses are also incredibly affordable. When not in use, the mattress can be deflated and stowed away easily. There are also other air bed alternatives that offer the same utility and convenience as air beds. This article discusses other types of beds that can be substituted for an air bed.
Air bed alternatives for home use include memory foam pads, rollaway beds, futons, Murphy beds, or sofa beds. Air bed alternatives for camping include hammocks, camping cots, padded sleeping bags, self-inflating sleep pads, or foam sleep pads.
Air beds are quick to set up for unexpected guests or slumber parties. They are easy to move around whether they are inflated or deflated, and offer superb support.
Air bed alternatives such as memory foam pads, rollaway beds, futons, Murphy beds, sofa beds, or folding mattresses, are just as comfortable as air mattresses.
Read our article about air bed benefits to find out how to customize the firmness of your air bed to suit your sleep preference. Also, extra care needs to be taken with air beds so that they don’t get punctured. If you think your air bed has been punctured, jump over and learn what to do if an air bed is not inflating. If you have furniture with sharp edges or pets that might damage an air bed, then you will need to use an alternative type of bed.
Here we have a list of air bed alternatives for the guest room:
1. Memory Foam Pad
Memory foam pads are usually 1 to 2 inches thick and can be used safely as an air bed alternative. They cost around $250 and are available in various standard sizes (single, queen, and king). They are surprisingly comfortable because the cell structure design conforms to the natural curve of your body and distributes your weight evenly, resulting in neutral spine alignment and pressure point relief. This article about the influence of mattress material on sleeping, from Springer, discusses how the materials used in mattresses, like memory foam, affect the sleep quality of various age groups.
Good quality memory foam pads last for 5 to 7 years. The density and thickness of the pad, the frequency of usage, your weight, and the level of care, all affect their durability. Memory foam pads generally come with a vacuum storage bag to make moving and storing easy. The storage bag ensures protection from dust, dirt, and moisture, which prolongs the lifespan of the mattress. We recommend this mattress vacuum bag because it has a leak-proof valve and also comes with straps. Read our article on how to fold a memory foam mattress to avoid damage and injury.
2. Rollaway Bed
A rollaway bed looks and feels amazing to sleep on. This bed is unique in that it is designed to seem like a typical bed frame, but when not in use, it folds away for compact storage. Read our article on what the difference is between a mattress foundation vs.a bed frame which explains their unique features.
A rollaway bed is built for strength and durability—the steel frame also features a spring-supported mattress deck. It is available in twin or cot sizes for small rooms or settings with limited space. A cot size rollaway bed requires specialty cot size sheets, which can be hard to find in local department stores. This foldable bed is incredibly simple to put together. It features locking wheels, which keep the frame in place and safe throughout the night. When it’s time to put it away, you can simply fold it in half and roll it into a closet.
Futons are versatile and space-saving, as they can be easily folded and unfolded into different positions. They generally come in single, twin, full, and queen sizes. Traditional futons work by unfolding into a mattress when in use and being folded and rolled up, when not in use. The mattress can be laid on the bare floor or on top of a tatami mat to provide better cushioning and airflow. This Japanese floor futon mattress is perfect for minimalists, guest-use, camping, frequent movers, or dorm students, to save money and space.
Western futons usually consist of a slipcover, a foldable mattress, and a platform. The platform is usually made of wood or metal. Sometimes metal rails or rollers are used in futon platforms to make them easy to pull out and push in. They are light, cheap, and easy to install. They function as sofas when not in use and convert into beds when they are unfolded. Read our article about how futons work, to learn about their mechanisms.
4. Murphy Bed
A Murphy bed is a type of bed that is stored vertically against a wall or inside a cabinet when not in use. They come in different sizes, from twin to king, and are available in a wide variety of designs. Modern designs come with extra elements such as shelves, drawers, desks, and sofas, all of which contribute to making a bedroom a multifunctional living space. Read our article on 15 Murphy bed ideas for inspiration that you can use in your guest room.
Using a Murphy bed in your guest room will allow you to optimize the space because you will only need to unfold the bed when you have guests staying with you. Although murphy beds have many advantages, they aren’t that durable, can be dangerous if not used properly, can be bulky to fold out and put away, and they are relatively expensive compared to other types of beds. Read our article about Murphy bed safety to help you decide whether a Murphy bed is the best air bed alternative for your guest bedroom.
5. Sofa Bed
Sofa beds are mainly used as couches with a built-in mattress, which can fold out to form a bed whenever needed. They are available in different sizes from single to queen size beds and feature thinner mattresses that aren’t designed for everyday use. You can place a mattress topper on a sofa bed for extra comfort and support. Read our article for more information on choosing a mattress topper for a sofa bed to make it more comfortable.
Just like a western futon bed, a sofa bed can be folded out as a bed to accommodate extra guests. Good quality sofa beds can be expensive, especially if you want one that is sleek, easy to unfold and that comes with a good mattress. Sofa beds can be heavy in weight and huge in size, which make it less portable than other types of air bed alternatives.
6. Folding Mattresses
Folding mattresses are designed for temporary use, so they fold up into a compact form. Many manufacturers offer carrying cases that provide convenient storage for mattresses. They are also more affordable than sofa beds and futons.
Summary of Air Bed Alternatives for the Guest Bedroom
|Air Bed Alternative||Pros||Cons||Example Product||Price|
|Memory Foam Pad||Contours to the body to offer relief on pressure points||Thinner than a regular mattress, so consider the weight of the sleeper||Groove Tie Dye Memory Foam Mattress||~$90|
|Rollaway Bed||Feels like sleeping on a regular bed frame||Is bulkier to store away.||Linon Home Decor Linon Memory Foam Luxor Folding Bed||~$170|
|Futon||Doubles as a seating area when not in use||Doesn’t offer adequate support for heavier people||Hewei Double Sofa Bed Futon||~$250|
|Murphy Bed||Can be stored away in a cabinet||Can be expensive||Bestar, Queen Murphy Bed and 2 Storage Units||~$1,900|
|Sofa Bed||Functions as an attractive sofa when not in use||Can be uncomfortable when slept on for prolonged periods||Vonanda Sofa Bed, Convertible Chair||~$400|
|Folding Mattress||An affordable option that also folds away for convenient storage||Is thinner than other beds, not ideal for extended use||Thera Health Folding Mattress||~$90|
Air mattresses are very popular among campers, and they are one of the easiest ways to make camping on the ground comfortable. However, they have poor insulation and can get very cold during the night. Read our article on how to fix an air bed that is cold if you need to warm up your air bed. Air mattresses are not the most portable camping bed solutions. If you are hiking or don't have room in the tent for an air mattress, then you'll need to find an alternative.
Alternatives to air mattresses for camping, include hammocks, camping cots, padded sleeping bags, self-inflating sleep pads, or foam sleep pads
A hammock is an open-air option made of strong and durable material, which is tear-resistant and can easily hold a heavy weight. You can choose between a single or a double hammock for more comfort. A hammock typically comes with a carry bag making it portable enough for backpacking. It can easily be set up next to a stream, on a hill, in a forest, or in a backyard. Unlike ground mattresses, you don’t have to worry about uneven ground, busy campsites, or wet surfaces.
If you plan on sleeping overnight in your hammock, you need to consider the weather and add accessories to your setup such as an underquilt for cold temperatures, a tarp for rain and a net for bugs. This camping hammock includes a bug net and a rain fly tarp for maximum comfort on sunny and rainy days. Keep in mind that a good quality hammock with extra accessories can be quite expensive.
8. Camping Cot
A camping cot is a foldable aluminum or steel frame with fabric stretched taut over the frame to create a sleeping surface. It is lightweight and takes up little room when folded. Many cots come with handy carry bags that may be used to store and move them. Read our article on whether to use an air bed or camping cot for camping, to help you decide which choice suits your needs best.
While most camping cots are meant to sleep one person, there are also two-person camping cots available. Some camping cots are low and close to the ground, whereas others open up to conventional bed height. Camping cots have a set firmness, but you can choose a cot with a built-in sleeping pad for greater cushioning and comfort. The price of a cot ranges between $50 and $500, depending on the size, weight, portability, and model of the cot.
9. Padded Sleeping Bag
Padded sleeping bags have a waterproof, weather-resistant design to keep you warm even in extreme weather conditions. To learn more, read this article about the factors that affect the insulation properties of sleeping bags, from ProQuest. Sleeping bags can break down and get damaged, but with proper care, they can last for many years. They usually come with a handy carry bag, which makes them convenient to store and easy to transport. If your sleeping bag does not have a storage bag then you can use a laundry bag. You can find affordable sleeping bags that are thick enough to be comfortable on hard surfaces.
10. Self-Inflating Sleep Pad
Self-inflating sleep pads come in many different shapes and sizes to help you find the perfect balance of insulation, portability, and cushioning. They are very comfortable, especially the larger sizes. When you want to inflate the sleeping pad, open the valve to allow the pad to expand and drawn-in air automatically. They are easy to store and transport. You will simply need to roll up the mat to squeeze the air out, making a self-inflating pad convenient for backpacking.
When storing your self-inflating mat, it’s best to keep it flat with the valve open, as storing it rolled up long-term can limit the mat’s ability to self-inflate. Sleep pads also provide good insulation and keep you warm throughout the night. They are usually more expensive than air mattresses, and not as well-cushioned. Self-inflating mats are more prone to punctures.
11. Foam Sleep Pad
Foam sleep pads can be used as a floor pad or on extra-wide cots, for added comfort. They are puncture-proof and easy to carry. The foam pad has a non-slip texture to prevent it from moving around as you sleep, and its waterproof surface keeps you warm and protects you from the cold, wet ground.
Summary of Air Bed Alternatives for Camping
|Air Bed Alternative||Pros||Cons||Example Product||Price|
|Hammock||Lightweight, easy to pack||Temperature regulation is challenging||Royalty Nylon Hammock with Parachute material||$15|
|Camping Cot||Can hold one or two people, collapsible design.||Heavier than other camping options||Folding Camping cot with bag||$70|
|Padded Sleeping Bag||Easy to pack and the padding helps with uneven surfaces||Less durable than other air bed alternatives||Adult Padded Sleeping Bag||$30-$45|
|Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad||Easy to set up, good temperature regulation||Expensive, not well cushioned||Goplus self-inflating sleeping pad||$55|
|Foam Sleep Pad||Cheap, portable||Doesn’t raise you off the ground much||Wakeman Foam Pad||$85|