Heavy duty air mattress – most durable airbed picks – 2018 update
No change in the last 6 updates
The list of 5 most durable and heavy-duty air mattresses hasn’t seen any change in a full year.
This month’s update is no different – the air beds that have been top-rated in the category of durability and longevity are still there in the exact same order.
Let’s see what’s different about these products and what makes them so tough.
TOP 5 heavy duty air mattresses
& quick links
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‣ Capacity - 600 lbs
‣ Warranty - 90 days
‣ Capacity - 600 lbs
‣ Warranty - 1 year
‣ Capacity - 500 lbs
‣ Warranty - 1 year
‣ Capacity - 500 lbs
‣ Warranty - 1 year
‣ Capacity - 500 lbs
‣ Warranty - 1 year
Last updated – 2018
Fox Plush – in a category of its own
No real competition
The past few years have brought on more changes in the industry than the 15 years before that.
The number of air coils used, the type and quality of vinyl…it’s been a hectic few years.
To be honest, it was the most challenging few years for us too…trying to stay on top of all the changes and maintain the standards of relevancy we’ve set when we started testing the beds.
This Fox, however, is not in that group
This Fox has seen very little change in the ratings, especially the “durability & longevity” category.
Because what makes it so tough is durable is not a fancy new beam design or layered vinyl, it is the simple fact that it is THE ONLY airbed in industry made from material this thick.
0.4 mm vs. 0.6 mm vinyl
The industry standard for the material used is 0.4 mm thick vinyl.
The PVC used to make this Fox is almost 50 % thicker (43% to be precise). There’s nothing quite like it on the market.
Punctures vs. leaks
You would expect that the Fox plush would be more resistant to punctures, but that’s not the most important part.
If there’s somethin that we’ve learned about durability & longevity is that the main reason behind air loss are not the obvious punctures.
It’s the air leaks & pinholes
These are the leaks that develop over time and for most users, are nearly impossible to spot and patch.
Because a lot of them develop as a result of the stretching of the PVC and separation at the seams.
Why is this FOX better in air retention?
What we’ve described above, the leaks that develop along the seams (whether external or seams of the inner chambers) are pretty much the worse thing that can happen.
If there’s a simple puncture, you still might have a chance to patch it, but a leak at a seam will render the airbed useless.
Why do the seam leaks develop?
Now, these leaks at the seams happen as a result of prolonged sustained stress of the material stretching.
The thicker the vinyl, the more sturdy and stable the bed. There’s no stress on the seams and the chances of the leaks developing are much lower.
There’s no two ways about it – the thickness of the material makes this Fox practially puncture-proof & the best air mattress for a heavy person. There are however, a few downsides to be aware of.
2nd most durable air mattress – a new arrival
Durable for completely different reasons than the Fox
We talked about the changes and innovations that have happened in the industry in the pas few years.
This heavy-duty air bed is a perfect example of the new generation.
It hit the market in the spring of 2016 and within a few months from the first tests, it dominated a few categories and was one of the Top 10 best air mattresses, especially for a heavy person.
What makes it so puncture-proof and durable?
Nylon-encased virgin vinyl
As opposed to Fox, the material used for this heavy-duty air mattress is not thicker, it’s better.
While most companies still use regular PVC, the company behind this bad boy introduced a game-changer in the form or nylon-encased, virgin vinyl.
Let’s break that down
Nylon-encased means that there’s an extra layer of sturdy nylon encasing the vinyl. What it does is minimize the stretching of the material. This makes the sleeping surface flatter and lowers the risk of seam-leaks.
“Virgin” means not-recycled
Now, if you are into environmental-friendly product made from recycled materials, this might bother you.
But here is a simple fact – recycled PVC looses some of its structural integrity. The fact that this vinyl is virgin, combined with the nylon-encasing makes this one of the two most durable air mattress out there.
3 top pick among heavy duty air beds Cloud 9 by SoundAsleep
Overall, the Cloud 9 is currently the top-rated model
This bed comes from a company that started the “revolution” that we mentioned by introducing inner coil design that’s nothing like the industry has seen before.
The first product that came from SoundAsleep was the Dream Series. To date, it is the most popular model on the market.
Three years after that, they intruduced the Cloud 9 – which turned out to be all that and a bag of chips – here’s what makes it so durable.
What makes it more durable?
Three main factors:
- Multi-layered material – the vinyl used to make it actually consists of a few layers of the material. This makes it less stretchy.
- 40 + air coils distribute weight more efficiently and lower the forces that work “on the seams”
- The smart pump – we mentioned that one the main reason inflatables start leaking are seam leaks that are a result of stretching and pulling. This happens as the air bed naturally starts loosing a bit of air.
The Cloud 9 doesn’t have the problem of the material pulling on the seams as the bed gets “wobblier” from the air loss because it comes with a “smart pump”.
This pump design is probably the biggest improvement in the last 10 years
Although this is a young product (hit the market towards the end of 2016), the “smart” pump that comes with it is not new technology.
We’ve already seen it in some beds coming from Serta and Insta. Serta calls their pump “NeverFlat”, but the two pumps work in pretty much the same way.
The “smart” pump is a small secondary pump. It’s not used to inflate the bed but to add air if the pressure inside the chambers drops.
Why is this a big deal for durability?
Simple – because if the inner pressure doesn’t fluctuate, there is less pulling forces on the seams and, as we said a few times before, this is one of the main cause of mysterious air leaks that happens with most lower quality models.
Bottom line – the Cloud 9 will be the choice of people who make no compromises and want to the bring the risk of air leaks to an absolute minimum.
You can see what owners are sharing about it by following the links below.
4th top-rated heavy-duty, puncture-proof air mattress – The Dream Series
Most popular pick
This is the bed that changed the industry, we’ve said dozens of time before and we’ll say it again.
Currently, it is by far the most popular pick with a whooping 13,000+ user reviews we collected for the process of statistical modeling.
What makes it more durable?
The main reason it lasts longer and can take more “abuse” is the way the weight is distributed. When it arrived to the market it was the only model to feature 40+ internal air coils.
It’s these coils that make all the difference.
How do the coils increase durability?
Blow up beds that feature a beam inner deign (or even those with a lower number of coils) the weight is not distributed evenly.
The result is that unbalanced sleep surface you’ll likely see with most inflatables.
The coils keep it stable
The stability results in less micro currents developing inside.
The primary benefit of that is the comfort.
The secondary is a more durable bed more resistant to punctures & leaks. As the air inside moves less and the sleep surface is more stable, the all-important seams suffer less pulling and stretching.
As we mentioned, for the statistical modeling process, we collect data from all corners of the internet – this is THE ONLY product we collected 1000+ reviews for- a whooping 14,000+.
The most durable air mattress for camping Lightspeed Outdoors TPU
The only dedicated camping model in the TOP 5
Out of the 4 heavy-duty air mattresses mentioned above, 2 feature an extra valve that can be used to inflate and deflate without access to power – the Fox and the Best Choice.
However, these two are only an option if you have the room in your trunk and your tent for a bulky raised models.
That especially goes for the Fox – having the tough and thick material in mind, it’s only natural that this monster of a bed will be bulkier and weigh more (the Fox in Queen size weighs a whooping 18.7 pounds).
Lightspeed Outdoors TPU weighs only 6.48 lbs
Three times lighter than the Fox, this bed packs down to 18 x 8 “. In those terms, it’s the only heavy-duty air mattress on the list that’s a viable option for backpacking and smaller slanted tends.
How can it be so durable at that weight?
This is the only bed on the list that’s not made of vinyl. It’s made of a material called TPU.
What makes it so durable is the fact that TPU doesn’t stretch. TPU feels more like fabric than plastic (think military backpacks).
Why aren’t all airbeds made of TPU?
Because TPU not as malleable as vinyl. It’s harder to make a blow up bed out of it that will be sturdy enough at the seams.
In fact, out of the 100+ air beds we tested, we feel like this is THE ONLY TPU air bed that’s worth the money.
Lightspeed somehow managed to find the sweet spot between the toughness of the seams and the sturdiness of the material.
Bottom line – if you are looking for a heavy-duty, durable camping piece, the search probably ends with this 2-person model.
Reference info on what makes an airbed more durable
The rest of this guide is dedicated to a few other brands and models that didn’t make it to the top 5 most durable air mattresses but we feel they deserve a mention.
We’ll not only go over the few honorary mentions but a few technologies used by other brands specifically aimed at making a tougher, more puncture-proof air bed.
Intex and the Fiber Tech technology
If this is not your first time buying a blow up mattress, you might be surprised to see Intex mentioned in the context of durabie, high weight capacity or puncture-proof airbeds.
It is one of the best-known companies, but they have a bit of history and reputation for making products that are on the cheaper end of the spectrum, which usually meant they could not compete with the other brands in terms of durability.
That changed with the arrival of their Dura Beam Fiber Tech Series.
What’s makes the models in the series both more comfortable and durable than other Intex models are the thousands of fibers connecting the top to the bottom surface.
The Fiber Tech fibers changed Intex as a brand forever. It’s the best thing to “happen” to them in decades.
The difference is that Fiber tech fibers do not stretch. Yes, we did mention the stretching a few times before and there’s no way around it.
Intex advertise their Durabeam Series as being “Designed for Comfort, engineered for durability” and rightfully so. The high weight capacity Durabeam Series models are not even in the same category as the rest of the Intex portfolio.
Our top pick from the series is the Intex Comfort Plush Durabeam Elevated.
Why it didn’t make it to the TOP 5 most durable
Our durability ratings are based on range of factors and, in this months update, the Durabeam Series was very close to breaking into the top heavy-duty models. If you mix in the price point – it’s probably fair to say that (as far as value for money goes) this high weight capacity model is the best air mattress for a heavy person.
Yet, it’s not there yet and this is based on the ratings of our field testers.
This is our opinion why it’s not among the TOP 5
There’s no doubt that Fiber Tech is a great addition to the Intex portfolio. Having said that, what we’ve seen in practice that, in terms of durability & longevity, coils tend to be the superior choice compared to beams.
The most probable reason is that coils are better at restricting air movement. The comfort is there, but the ratings we’ve seen from our testers over the past year placed the Fiber tech models just under the bar.
In the end, it’s a numbers game, and if the price is an important factor for you, Intex Durabeam might still be your best bet.
What Coleman is doing to make their airbeds more durable
Another big player that was challenged by the arrival on the younger companies and models is Coleman.
The endurance & puncture-resistance of their models were (and still are) two of their stronger suits. The fact that that Coleman SuportRest is the official airbed of the National Park Foundation speaks for itself.
Coleman does have a long-standing relationship with the NPF and that fact alone could not be the reason to treat their models any differently in our “stamina” testing and rating process.
Still, both our in-house tests and field testing of our fellow camper testers earned the Coleman SuportRest a place in the top 3 most durable camping airbeds. Both models are of high-weight capacity and have solid ratings in terms of being puncture-proof. This makes them one of the best picks for a heavy person.
What makes it tougher?
Coleman’s endurance “game” is strong and it relies on 3 technologies:
- The Comfort Strong Coil Construction
- The Support Lock inner chamber reinforcements
- The role of the Comfort Strong Coil system
This is basically a name Coleman use to describe why the construction of some of their models is superior in terms of being puncture-resistant (they’d say puncture-proof but that’s not a term we use often). Opposed to a beam inner design, the coils are there to provide a flatter sleeping surface and better weight distribution. Again, in terms of endurance, the role of the system is to lower the impact of the weight on the material. Simply put, it’s the coils that “deal” with the weight and not the material. This makes it more puncture-resistant.
What the Support Lock System does to make Coleman airbeds more heavy-duty
Sinking to the middle is common in lower-quality and less durable inflatables. It happens as a result of a few factors:
- Inferior support of the inner chambers
- Sides of the bed being less sturdy and more likely to give in
The Support lock system works on the latter.
The added pieces of support materials in the system connect the sides of the bed to the tom and bottom surface. This increases the endurance of the airbed by minimizing the sinking, and in turn, the brunt that pulls on the material.
Who might go with Coleman?
Our two picks among the Coleman models that feature both features mentioned above is the Coleman SuportRest & DuraRest.
Two more heavy-duty air mattresses for camping, the SuportRest might be the choice of campers with enough room in their tents to fit the tall sides, while the DuraRest will appeal more to those who prefer a more classic low-rise.