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“Oh sure you can spend the night, we’ll just pull out our heavy-duty air mattress….”
When my wife and I first got married I would dread visiting her parents. Oh, you do too? Well, I didn’t dread it for all the normal reasons, I’m afraid. They’re nice enough people. I just knew that whenever I visited them I was in for a terrible night’s sleep.
When it came time to get ready for bed it meant that I had to scour their closet and garage to try and find the most heavy-duty air mattress they had. Meaning one without holes (spoiler alert: they all have holes). I then had to find the missing pump that fits it and pump it up, knowing that I would be moving to the floor halfway through the night anyway when the mattress got soggy.
That experience is probably the reason that I can to this option several years ago: air mattresses suck.
Little did I know, that I was about to be gifted an item by the universe that would forever change my mind! Back in my “days of hating air mattresses,” Kirstie and I would often go to thrift stores to find items we could resell for profit on eBay. We were students, times were lean, and we needed the money! On one thrift store trip, I came across an air mattress in its original box. The side read: “Heavy Duty Air Mattress for Heavy People.” And also, “Made in China.”
I bought it on a whim (or maybe as a revenge plot for when my in-laws visited) and tossed it in the back of the car. A couple of weeks later we were packing for camping and I discovered it again. I decided that, since I hate sleeping on the ground anyway, why not throw it in and take it with me?
The next night of camping was the best night’s sleep I had had in months! Who knew that all I needed to take care of my sore back was a heavy-duty, blow-up mattress?!
Since those days, we have upgraded from that thrift store mattress (it actually molded), but I still have a love for air mattresses that are comfortable, long-lasting, affordable, and (perhaps most importantly) can support my weight! As far as my weight goes, let’s just say it’s above average.
These are the options I considered that met all of those criteria:
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Do You Need An Air Mattress For Big & Heavy People?
Let’s be real, 90% of people could benefit from having a heavy-duty inflatable mattress. Unless you sleep on it alone, you’ll find that a heavy-duty air mattress will be more comfortable, stretch less, and last longer.
The average weight capacity for a queen size air mattress is 400lbs. This is the total weight of all sleepers that the mattress can support. The weight limit varies based on the materials used, the material thickness, and mattress size. Heavy-duty air mattresses are made to support 800lbs or more.
Even if you and your spouse don’t add up to 800lbs, a high-capacity mattress will have benefits. Now, if you just want an inflatable mattress to keep in the closet and pull out for your grandkids once or twice a year, you might get away with a regular mattress. Otherwise, you’ll be much better off selecting a higher-quality heavy-duty mattress option with a high weight capacity.
- If you aren’t sleeping on the mattress alone: Get a heavy-duty air mattress. I’m not over the weight limit of most mattresses, but when we add in my wife (and usually our youngest daughter), we eclipse the weight limit pretty quickly!
- If you want the mattress to stay more firm during the night: Get a heavy-duty air mattress. No matter your weight, a mattress with the materials and seams to hold 600lbs is going to lose much less air during the night than a mattress rated for 400lbs.
- If you want a mattress to camp with: Get a heavy-duty air mattress. The thicker material in high capacity inflatable mattresses makes them less likely to puncture when they’re on the ground, poked by a stick, or when a dog jumps on them. I’d still keep them away from the fire though…
- If you are large, heavy, big and tall, etc….then congratulations, you are exactly what manufactures had in mind when they designed their heftiest mattresses. So get a heavy-duty air mattress!
I would assume I’ve made my feeling on this subject clear. No matter my weight, I will never buy a “regular duty” air mattress. They are almost always less durable and comfortable. Not to mention they aren’t actually much cheaper!
5 Things That Make An Air Mattress Suitable For Heavy People
If none of the mattresses above were quite right, or you just want to be a rebel and choose your own mattress, let’s talk about some of the features and characteristics that we feel make a heavy-duty air mattress “the best.”
- Weight Capacity: It should go without saying that a heavy-duty air mattress should be…heavy duty. The reason I bring it up, however, is to say: get more mattress than you think you need. When buying big-people products, I always look for a product that will hold at least 10% more than I need. Think about it: when you lay down, you’re putting extra weight and force on your mattress. When your kid jumps on the mattress: extra force. Be safe and get an air mattress that is rated for at least 600 lbs or 10% more than the weight of whoever will be on it – whichever is greater.
- Height: If I laid on my back on the ground right now and you told me to get up as fast as I could, it probably wouldn’t be a super pretty sight. In fact, you might be reminded of a turtle. Or perhaps a beetle. Either way, getting back on your feet from the ground is not a fun prospect. Big and heavy people should help themselves out and buy a double-height air mattress that is easier to get on and off of.
- Top Material: Whatever the top material is made out of should meet two criteria: it should be comfortable while not being sweaty, and it should hold your sheets in place. Most nice air mattresses have a suede top which performs both of those functions well. Avoid any all-rubber mattresses like the plague.
- Built-in Pump….or not: Whether you want a mattress with a built-in pump or not really comes down to a matter of preference. When we went camping in our new van, we found out that our plug-in inverter didn’t actually produce enough power to run our mattress pump! We didn’t have a manual pump… so that was one miserable night. While pumps are extremely convenient (and fast), there may be situations where it would be advantageous to get a workout pumping up your mattress. Either way, make sure you know what you’re buying! We played it safe and bought a mattress that can do both.
- Look for air coils: A high-quality air mattress is not simply a balloon. Rather, it has a complex system of channels and supports that add structure and firmness. Keep an eye out for mattresses with air coils as they tend to be more supportive than simple channels.
Got it down? Great! So let’s get into it: our reviews of the best heavy-duty blow-up mattresses available!
Best Air Mattresses For Big & Heavy People
1. Englander Microfiber – Best Overall Heavy Duty Air Mattress (800lb Capacity)
If you need an air mattress that holds 600 lbs….this is not it. You better look for a weaker and lower-quality option, because the Englander has an 800lb weight limit!
Even with a lesser rating, this would be a great mattress. However, this is literally the only 800lb rated air mattress on the market that can actually support 800lbs. There is only one other mattress that has a manufacturer brave enough to claim that it holds 800 pounds, and every single person that uses it disagrees and is horrified by its quality!
The Englander, on the other hand, almost always earns the exclamation, “This is the best air mattress I’ve ever slept on! It feels like a real mattress!” Here are some of my favorite features that make this the Cadillac of air mattresses (and the only one I’ll let guests sleep on).
- Full Microfiber Shell: If you sleep hot or cold, this is the mattress for you! It is the first and only mattress available that has a full covering of silky microfiber! If you sweat at night, you won’t on this mattress. If you hate crunchy sticky air mattresses, this won’t be a problem! In addition to regulating your temperature, the microfiber holds onto your sheets beautifully so you won’t have a corner pop off in the middle of the night!
- Lightweight: Because Englander didn’t use traditional suede flocking, they avoided two huge problems with traditional air mattresses: the weight and the terrible smell. This mattress weighs a full 10 pounds less than a traditional air mattress and does it all odor-free!
- It inflates super fast! Because nobody wants to wait around to sleep…
2. Intex Comfort – Best Budget Heavy Duty Inflatable Mattress (600lb Capacity)
One of the main advantages of this mattress is its height. In fact, this air mattress was the tallest in our test. This gives us two awesome benefits: first, it’s easy to lay down on and get off of. Second, it’s got more air volume inside, so if it loses a little during the night, it won’t get nearly as squishy as a shorter mattress would!
The built-in pump isn’t quite as powerful and quick as the Englander’s, but it does the job and will fill up the queen-size mattress (the only size this mattress is available in) in about 4 minutes. Add in the fact that it has a 600-pound capacity and durability that impresses all of its owners, and you have a winner! If you need a quality mattress for once-in-a-while use, this is your best option.
3. Etekcity – Best Heavy Duty Air Mattress for Camping
If we’re heading out camping somewhere we can drive to, you better believe that this mattress will be in our trunk. It is the shortest mattress in this review, which in my opinion, is exactly what you want for camping! It’s low profile enough that it fits well in our tent, and cheap enough that I don’t need an insurance policy if the kids jump on it or we decide to sleep under the stars.
It inflates quickly and easily with the help of the included, rechargeable pump and stays nice and firm throughout the night. What’s more, its 650-pound capacity will leave you some cushion if a kid or dog ends up sleeping with you during the night.
Now, if you struggle to get to your feet after a night’s sleep, this might not be your best bet. Its low height might make it a struggle for very heavy people to regain their feet, but most people can do what I do…roll off the side onto your knees, and climb to your feet!
Like the Vremi, this mattress is available only in a queen size. This is probably a good thing since when we stuck it in our tent, we learned that a king-size probably wouldn’t have fit anyway!
If you need a heavy-duty camping air mattress that won’t break the bank, this is it!
Common Buyer-Questions About Heavy Duty Air Mattresses
Do I need a special air mattress for camping?
Air mattresses made for camping typically are more puncture-proof and compact than indoor versions. However, many people use indoor air mattresses when camping in a tent or cabin.
There are a few reasons, however, that people like to use different air mattresses when they camp. Let’s talk about a few of them so you can see if you need to get another one, or if you can get by with one heavy-duty air mattress:
- Most people think that “camping” air mattresses are thicker or more resistant to punctures than the kind meant for home use. If you are talking about a very cheap home mattress, this may be true. However, if you are looking at high-quality mattresses, the difference in material thickness will be negligible. We always put a blanket or pad down under our mattress first anyway, and have never had a problem while camping.
- When out camping, you can’t expect your mattress to come back pristine. Many people dedicate a mattress to camping with the understanding that it may become stained, muddy, or just smell like a campfire. If you are a particularly clean camper, this may be a non-issue for you.
- The last reason that people want a camping mattress is their size. They tend to be shorter and lighter, which has two benefits: the shorter height means they fit in more places, and the lighter weight is a bonus if you will be carrying your mattress more than a hundred feet.
If you are interested in being as comfortable as possible or just want a higher platform to sleep on, you’ll probably do just fine owning only one air mattress. But if you’ll only have one, make it a good one!
Are air mattresses bad for your back?
Since I like short answers to questions, here it is: No, sleeping on an air mattress is not necessarily bad for your back. However, sleeping on a mattress that does not provide an adequate amount of support can be. For this reason, sleeping on an air mattress can be either better or worse for your back than sleeping on a regular mattress.
Several people are shocked to have their back pain go away or their sciatica pain reduced when they sleep on a high-quality air mattress. While this obviously differs from person to person, if your regular mattress is old or poor quality, a supportive air mattress will probably be even better for your back. Just keep it pumped up!
My new air mattress leaks…
One of the most common complaints about air mattresses is that their brand new air mattress got soggy the very first night they sleep on it! What a crappy mattress, right?! It must have a seam leak…? Well, probably not.
If you’ve read any of the instruction manuals that came with your air mattresses, you know that there is a break-in time required before your mattress really firms up and starts working well for you. The reason for this is the material used to make an air mattress stretches. If your mattress is a bit soggy when you wake up, it probably has the same amount of air in it, but the outer material has stretched – leaving it less taut and supportive.
So what to do?
Most manufacturers recommend inflating your mattress when you first get it and leaving it inflated for 24 hours straight! During this time, it might get a bit soggy, so I always top it off with a little more air just to make sure that it stretches as much as possible.
While this won’t get rid of all the stretch (the fabric goes back a bit when the mattress is deflated), it will help keep it much firmer at night. It’s worth noting here, that if you are a large and heavy person, your mattress material may stretch even more, so you might want to lay on it for a bit during the first 24 hours or even put something heavy on top of it to make sure it will be fully ready to go when you need it!
You now know everything you need to know to buy a heavy-duty air mattress! Whether you need a 600lb or 800lb capacity air mattress scroll, back up and get what you need! You’ll thank yourself later. Sleep well!