by Chandler Warnick
If you care for them properly, air mattresses can last for years and years, so you want to make sure that you buy the right one for your needs when you make your purchase. That may sound like a simple process, but today's air mattresses and air beds feature an array of components and extras, which can make the selection process confusing. But it doesn't have to be. With a little bit of knowledge, you can quickly decide which extras are just that -- extra -- and which ones will help you feel refreshed in the morning. Keep reading for information about the most common air mattress and air bed extras.
Flocking: What is it? It's the velvety stuff you see on the top of most air beds. Do you want it? Yes, unless you plan on using your own sheets or just really like sleeping with sticky vinyl directly against your skin. Fortunately, almost all air beds today have flocked tops.
Inflatable pillows: Many air mattresses feature built-in pillows that inflate with the rest of the mattress. These can be great additions if you plan on using your air mattress for camping and don't want to hassle with pillows or don't want to get your pillows dirty. However, you probably won't find built-in air-bed pillows quite as comfortable as detached pillows, so if you plan to use your air mattress or air bed at home, inflatable pillows are not necessary.
Pillow tops: While pillow tops are common on regular mattresses, pillow-top air mattresses are a fairly recent innovation. Unlike pillow-top mattresses, pillow-top air beds and air mattresses do not have a layer of soft foam on top of the mattress. The pillow-top layer on an air mattress usually consists of a series of air cushions that inflate with the rest of the air bed. Does it improve comfort? That's up to you. While pillow-top air mattresses probably aren't as soft as they sound, some people like the texture of pillow tops. If they don't sound appealing to you, stick with a mattress that has a regular top.
Internal pumps: Most air mattresses today come with a built-in air pump. Most pumps work well and let you unroll your air bed, plug it in and then return in a few minutes to find it fully inflated. While it adds to the cost of an air mattress or air bed, buying an internal air pump is usually cheaper than buying an air mattress and a separate air pump. However, if you already have an air pump or plan on buying several air mattresses, you can save some money by buying air mattresses without pumps and a single external pump.
Remotes: Air-bed remotes are a luxury option, but a nice one. Remotes simply let you adjust the firmness of your air bed, giving you a quick way to add or release air from your air bed. Although that might not sound very important, you might think differently when you're snuggled in bed and don't want to get out to release just a little bit of air from your air mattress. Essential? No. Convenient? Yes.