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Air Mattress vs Memory Foam (Incl. Helpful Tips)

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Air Mattress Vs. Memory Foam: Which One Should You Choose?

Buying the wrong mattress might be one of the most costly mistakes you’ll ever make in your life. 

Aside from the fact that getting the wrong mattress will be a waste of hard-earned money, using a mattress that won’t suit your needs may cause poor sleep, which will ultimately lead to poor mental and physical health over time.

If you’ve already done your research, you must have already narrowed down your choices to the top two types of mattresses in the market today – air mattresses and memory foam.

While air beds are the apple of the eye of the mattress industry today because of their versatility and portability, many people are still enthralled body-hugging characteristics that the memory foam is known for.

So which one should you choose: air mattress vs. memory foam?

The truth is choosing the right one for your needs isn’t easy.

That’s why we’ve rounded up all the information you need to make the right decision in this article, so keep on reading. 

What is Memory Foam Mattress?

The memory foam is made up of viscoelastic foam, which conforms and molds to the shape and movements of the user.

Since it contours to the sleeper’s body shape and movement, it reduces the pressure that the hips, shoulders, and back receive. 

Because of this, the use of memory foam is associated with less neck and back pain.


As mentioned, memory foam mattresses are made using polyurethane-based foam (aka viscoelastic foam). 

From its name – viscoelastic, we can easily tell that one of the main features of memory foam is its elasticity which refers to its ability to return to its original shape once the force or pressure applied has been removed. 

Another unique thing about this foam is its viscosity reduces with its temperature.

So when you lie on it for quite some time, you’ll notice that it becomes softer and more flexible because your body’s warmth increases the sleeping surface’s temperature. 

There are four types of gel memory foam.

These are as follows:


This is the first-ever memory foam that has been developed, and it’s designed to conform to the share and movement of the sleeper.

However, it comes with one issue – it retains heat.


Open-cell memory foams use the same materials as the traditional version, but the internal structure is different.

This type features internal pockets that promote ventilation and proper airflow, addressing the heat issue of conventional memory foam.


Manufacturers incorporate gel into traditional memory foam by pumping gel-based microbeads into the mattresses to solve the heat issue of memory foam.

The gel beads are phase-changing materials that actively absorb and release body heat. 


Keeping up with the going green movement, manufacturers are now offering plant-based memory foams made up of botanical ingredient derivatives like corn oil, soybean, and many more.


What kind of feel are you looking for in your bed? If you’re looking for the sinking feeling in a bed, the memory foam is the way to go. 

Because of the unique properties of this foam, it offers a body-hugging feel that you can’t find in any other mattresses.

But please take note that it doesn’t offer a firm sleeping surface.

Instead, the sleep surface of memory foam is more on the softer side. 

Due to the way it responds to pressure, memory foam is also fantastic at reducing motion transfer.

This ensures that the sleepers won’t be bothered by the tossing and turning that their co-sleepers make at night. 


Although foam mattresses are perceived to be highly durable, they will still sag over time.

The typical life span of a memory foam mattress is around 7 to 15 years.  


  • Softer and more comfortable sleeping surface
  • Great motion transfer properties
  • Highly durable
  • Hypoallergenic 
  • Quiet
  • Delivers pressure relief
  • Promotes proper spinal alignment


  • Higher price point
  • Off-gassing (To avoid this, choose a memory foam with CertiPUR label)
  • Not portable

What is an Air Mattress?

On the other hand, an air bed is an inflatable and portable mattress often manufactured using a high-quality PVC material.

The mattress will arrive deflated, and you can use either a manual or electric pump to inflate it until it’s firm enough for the user to sleep on. 

Since it can be deflated and inflated, an air bed is highly portable and versatile but not as comfortable as a memory foam mattress. 


Air mattresses are designed with four things in mind – customization, personalized comfort, portability, and versatility. 

These beds feature air chambers as their support cores.

The more the chambers, the higher your opportunity is to create a customized feel.

The mattress is usually made up of a waterproof, and puncture-proof polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

The manufacturers add a layer of soft flocking material on top of the PVC to make it more comfortable


One thing people love about air beds is their adjustable firmness levels.

The more air is introduced into the bed, the firmer it will be.

But, of course, if you don’t like a firm bed, you always have the option not to inflate the mattress thoroughly. 

Since air beds can deliver a firm sleeping surface, it’s the best mattress of choice if you’re looking for a floating feeling when you sleep. 

Thanks to its adjustability features, you can inflate or deflate the mattress until you find the best comfort level for your needs.

For example, if you have back pain and are in need of a supportive bed, you can fully inflate it.

When your back issue is already resolved, you can adjust the settings to suit your needs. 


The PVC material of an air bed is designed for durability in the sense that it can withstand wear and tear and spills and stains.

However, due to its nature (air-filled), the mattress is prone to tears, punctures, holes, and leakage, making it fragile and less durable than its foam counterparts. 


  • Portable
  • Lightweight
  • Takes up less storage space
  • Easier to clean and maintain
  • Waterproof sleeping surface
  • Adjustable firmness levels
  • More affordable 
  • Can accommodate heavier sleepers
  • More versatile – can be used indoors and outdoors


  • Less durable
  • Prone to punctures, tears, and holes
  • Less prone to bedbugs

Air Mattress Vs. Memory Foam Mattress for Camping

One of the most important considerations you must consider when choosing between an air mattress and memory foam is your purpose.

If you plan to use it for camping, the next factor you should keep in mind is the type of camping you need to do.

To help you find the right mattress for your camping needs, here’s a comprehensive breakdown that you need to check out:

Car Camping

Because of the limited storage space that a car has, you must use a mattress that can help you save space. 

An air bed may be an excellent option for this since you can easily deflate and fold it.

Another good news is that air mattresses are also available specially designed to fit the crevices and nooks of various car models.

Tent Camping

When choosing a mattress for camping, you need to consider the logistics and space inside your tent.

Memory foam can be a great candidate if your tent is big enough and you don’t have to walk far to get to your campsite.

But if you have limited tent space and you have to walk for hours to get to your campsite, a lightweight and more portable option is what you need – an air mattress.

RV Camping

As compared to tent and car camping, RV camping is a lot more spacious and convenient. 

Since you don’t have to worry about space and logistics, the most important thing to consider will be your personal preference – a firm sleeping surface (air mattress) or a soft one (memory foam). 

Which One Should You Choose?

So which one should you go for: air mattress vs. memory foam?

To be honest, we can’t give you the answer.

Your choice of mattress should depend on your personal preference and needs.

To help you out, here’s are some simple guidelines to keep in mind: 

Choose a memory foam if you:

  • enjoy its “sink” feel.
  • have low to average weight.
  • want a soft sleeping surface. 
  • take on multiple sleep positions in one night. 
  • have a higher budget. 

Choose an air mattress if you:

  • enjoy its “float” feel.
  • are on the heavier side.
  • want a firm sleeping surface.
  • are looking for a portable and versatile mattress.
  • have a tight budget

Air mattresses and memory foams have different uses, pros, and cons.

That’s why it’s crucial that you fully understand your needs so you can choose which of these mattresses will be the most beneficial for you.

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