Air Mattress Alternatives

What’s Better Than An Air Mattress? Top Air Mattress Alternatives

(Last Updated On: June 17, 2023)

An air mattress is arguably one of the best things to come out of the home improvement store. They’re cheap, easy to inflate, comfortable, and can double as a temporary bed if needed. However, there are other options out there that might be better for you.  You may be wondering, what’s better than an air mattress? In this post, we discuss the top air mattress alternatives.

Top Air Mattress Alternatives

If you’re looking for an air mattress alternative, there are a number of options you can explore. In this article, we talk about cots, memory foam pads, self-inflating sleeping pads, and portable hammocks as some of the top alternatives to air mattresses.


Cots: Air Mattress Alternatives
Image source: Amazon

The basic sleep surface of a cot is a piece of fabric stretched over a frame, which makes it a solid air mattress alternative. This tension provides a firm sleeping surface. Common materials for fabric sleep surfaces include nylon, polyester, canvas, and linen.

When using a cot, you sleep directly on the fabric sleep surface or add foam or an inflatable sleeping pad to provide more comfort.

Ideally, the fabric sleep surface should be washable and the cot should be durable and comfortable.


Cots are comfier than air mattresses and are more easily folded. Additional comfort elements include a built-in cushion and a foam mattress in some variants.

A number of tiny springs separate the cloth sleep surface from the frame.

Cots are also more convenient for singles. A tent cot is a cot with a tent erected on top of it. They may also be used as stand-alone shelters and can accommodate a mosquito net.

Cots raise you off the ground, which allows air to circulate underneath you and keep you cool. Cots are often made of thin fabric, which allows heat to escape through the fabric and create a cooling breeze. This can reduce sweating and improve comfort.

Cots are the most comfortable choice for those traveling on a budget. 


While air mattresses may be convenient for short trips, they require a daily routine of maintenance. Cots, on the other hand, can be left out for extended periods.

If you don’t want to deal with daily maintenance, consider a cot instead. You’ll save time, energy, and money in the long run by choosing a cot instead of an air mattress.


Another important consideration is weight. Air mattresses are often lightweight, but they are still bulky. Cots have a slightly higher weight but they’re easier to pack and set up. In addition, cots are more durable. Besides, cots are easier to assemble and take down.

Memory Foam Pads

Memory Foam Pads: Air Mattress Alternatives
Image source: Amazon

A memory foam pad is definitely a good air mattress alternative. It has a cellular structure that enables air to enter and leave when the body’s weight is applied. When the body’s weight is removed, the air returns and the foam expands back into its original shape.

A high-quality memory foam should not sag much over time and retain its original shape and height. These are also better insulated than an air mattress. 


The firmness level of a memory foam pad is also customizable. Most full-size models are available with varying firmness levels, allowing you to adjust the firmness level for the perfect fit. Once purchased, however, these mattresses cannot be altered.

The memory foam conforms to your body shape while you sleep and returns to its original shape the next day. On the other hand, an air mattress can be adjusted at any time and has the advantage of adjusting firmness any time you like by managing the air volume in it.


Another key difference between an air mattress and a memory foam pad is how much they sink.

Memory foams are generally more durable. The air in an air mattress can be punctured or pierced by a sharp object, so you must ensure that the air bed you are using is made from a sturdy material.

Memory foam pads are generally easier to settle into and will mold to your body shape. 


Another difference between an air mattress and a memory foam pad is the material.

Memory foam pads are made from foam, and they tend to trap body heat and keep you warm, unlike air mattresses. The memory foam molds around your body when your body warms it up.

However, this heat retention can be remedied by adding a bamboo mattress cover if it’s hot weather.

Memory foam is soft, but it is also heavy, and it can be difficult to move around. 

Self-inflating Sleeping Pads

Self-inflating Sleeping Pads: Air Mattress Alternatives
Image source: Amazon


There are many reasons to choose self-inflating sleeping pads over air mattresses. One of them is the insulation they provide. A sleeping pad’s air pockets keep you warm and prevent the loss of body heat. However, these sleeping pads are not as comfortable as an air mattress.

It has open-cell foam that stretches out and insulates you from the cold ground. 


The main benefit of self-inflating sleeping pads is their portability. They can be easily packed into a backpack. Some can even be carried on airplanes!

If you’re going backpacking, you’ll appreciate this benefit. Alternatively, you can opt for a bulkier self-inflating pad if you are planning to camp in a car.


Another difference between air mattresses and self-inflating sleeping pads is the size. An air mattress takes up around a 10-liter of space when folded. By contrast, a foam pad is about similar but weighs only half as much.

Self-inflating sleeping pads are usually lighter and more durable. 


Another major difference between inflatable sleeping pads and air mattresses is their durability. A self-inflating pad can be more dependable in harsher climates.

Moreover, an inflatable sleeping pad can be used in remote camping locations, where hard surfaces can cause punctures in an air mattress. For instance, camping in a desert or on in a forest could cause punctures, and an air mattress might not survive the terrain.

Portable Hammocks

Portable Hammocks: Air Mattress Alternatives
Image source: Amazon


One of the biggest benefits of portable hammocks is their comfort. The fabric flattens out and provides perfect support for your back. The hammock also features a lip, which acts as a headrest, making it the ideal sleeping surface for most people.

A small pillow or stuff sack filled with a puffy jacket is also an excellent alternative. However, they won’t fit most people’s heads.


A hammock is lightweight, easily portable, and does not depend on electricity to make it work, unlike an air mattress. Its curved nylon material molds to your body for zero pressure points while sleeping.

If you have back or joint aches, hammock sleep can help relieve them.

It is also the lightest way to sleep under the stars. You won’t need poles, so you can hang it between two trees. And it will be easier to set it up and take it down than an air mattress.

Multipurpose use

One of the main advantages of a hammock is that it doubles as a camping chair. Kids will love sitting in the hammock and reading a book.

A portable hammock is perfect for day hikes as well. It’s truly an excellent option for a camping trip.


There are many benefits to opting for one of the air mattress alternatives we have discussed in this post. They are often cheaper, more comfortable, and easier to transport. If you are in the market for an air mattress alternative, be sure to consider one of the ones we talked about here as a viable option.