I spend much of my testing a wide range of high tech gear—and many of these products end up with a review published on GeekDad. Every now and then I also stumble across some considerably more basic products, but ones that I think readers might be interested in. Case in point, an air mattress from Active Era.
Few things are more boring than an air mattress, but they are also something that many people end up buying because they’re just so useful. They provide a near instant bed for overnight guests when you run out of spare rooms, they’re great for camping, and when not in use they roll up into a compact package you can stuff on a shelf.
They also tend to be pretty terrible. Between camping and kids’ sleepovers, we’ve gone through a half dozen of the things in the past decade. I’ve stuck to the big names you see in stores, but my experience has been inflation hassles (every use starting with “Where did I put the pump with all the nozzles?”), uncomfortable sleeping that’s also too close to the ground, and air leaks. After considerable research, I tossed out our latest “dead” air mattress, bit the bullet, and bought an Active Era air bed from Amazon.
It’s priced at $67.99, which is very reasonable, and it has a four-star rating out of 530 reviews (a good portion of which appear to be legitimate).
Here are the big selling features for the Active Era Premium Queen Size Air Bed:
• Built-in electric pump with cord storage
• Mattress incorporates 35 structured air coils
• Built-in pillow
• 20-inch height
• 15-gauge puncture-resistant material, top has multiple layers with soft flocking on surface
• Includes carry bag and repair patches
The reason I’m posting about this air mattress—or air bed, as Active Era would prefer you call it—is that it actually lives up to claims. After unrolling it, and plugging in the built-in pump, it only took about three minutes to fully inflate. Once inflated, the sleeping surface was a good 20-inches off the floor. This not only makes the air mattress look more substantial and inviting, it’s easier to get on and off of, and it’s better suited to putting on sheets.
In addition, slightly raised edges prevented accidentally rolling off the mattress, while the big “built-in pillow” on one end was great for holding supplemental pillows in place.
The first night of use, there was a very slight loss of pressure, which the company had warned about as the material stretches. It wasn’t enough to actually register on the 170-pound teenager who had been sleeping on it, and 30 seconds with the pump was enough to get it back to full inflation. It stayed that way through nearly a week of use. Lying on the Active Era mattress also felt much more comfortable than other air mattresses I’ve tried. There was much less of the “rolling to the middle” effect, and it actually deformed around body contours instead of forming a single big depression with the sleep centered at the bottom. I guess that would be the structured air coils at work.
When finished, use the pump to quickly deflate, open a valve to bleed out remaining traces of air as it’s rolled up, and it goes into a compact stuff sack for storage.
Complaints? The only one I had was the power cord for the built-in air pump, which is about four feet long. That sounds like plenty, but when you’re talking about an object that measures 80×60-inches, getting that close to an outlet can be a challenge. But that’s what extension cords are for, right? Finding one of those is a lot easier than tracking down the air pump and nozzles, at least in my house…
If you’re looking for an air mattress—or air bed—to use for guests, sleepovers, or camping, I highly recommend the Active Era Premium Queen Size Air Bed With Built-in Pump. I can’t speak to how long it will last, but it seems well made, it eliminates the inflation hassle, and it’s the first air mattress I’ve owned that actually does a decent job of replacing a bed for few nights.