Most of us are familiar with the feeling of panic and rush that inevitably follows welcoming guests for a weekend sleepover, especially if it's people who are visiting for the first time. Suitcases are being unpacked, shouts ring around the previously quiet apartment, requests are made and questions asked, and you are stuck in the middle of the chaos, trying desperately to make sense of it all.
The pressure is amplifiedas night approaches and you find yourself responsible for providing your guests with a comfortable bed to sleep on. Let's face it – the majority of us cannot afford a big house with a couple of guest rooms included, and finding a sleeping solution for a few extra people in a tiny apartment is far from easy. That is where a portable bed comes in – as long as it is chosen carefully, it might very well put your overstressed hosting mind to rest.
The choice comes down to a folding foam futon/cot vs. air bed.
The most expensive commodity in a cramped apartment is, undoubtedly, space.
Sometimes purchasing a regular bed is simply not an option – even a simple futon can be out of the question. A portable bed, on the other hand, solves the issue in an instant.
Whether it is an air mattress, a folding cot or a sleeping pad, you can comfortably fold it and store it pretty much anywhere during the times when it is not needed. Your guests will also have some freedom in deciding where they want a portable bed to be placed. Do they prefer sleeping next to a window or further away from it?
Would they like to sleep next to a wall?
They might even wish to have the bed placed in your bedroom instead of a living room if they have not seen you for a long time and have missed those drowsy bedtime chats. A regular bed does not offer the same level of flexibility.
Not to mention that, as weird as that might sound, a quality portable bed can be even more comfortable than a typical one – a good air mattress, for example, will allow your guests to have a much better rest than on an old spring-mattressed sofa. The options are a legion and you approach the task right you might even get a kick out of it – looking at some of the unusual and creative solutions that are out there.
The main types of portable beds available on the market are air mattresses and folding cots and futons. The first two are the safest choices, mainly because of the sheer variety of sizes and designs on offer.
Air beds offer a degree of flexibility that can hardly be matched by any other type of bed out there – they can be inflated or deflated to suit the individual needs of different guests, they can be as big as a California-king-sized bed or as small as a single one and they come in a variety of heights.
A folding cot/futon, on the other hand, may not be as flexible, but it is able to mimic a traditional bed in a way that most air mattresses cannot. When we say that we mean that most postable futons are made of foam and sleeping on foam, even if it's low quality like in most portable futons, feels more familiar than sleepin on inflatable bed.
Basics of choosing a good inflatable bed
First of all, decide which size will best fit within the free space available in your apartment. There are a wide range of sizes for you to choose from, beginning with standard twin mattresses and ending with luxurious California Kings.
In 99% of cases a good Twin or Queen size air mattress will do.
Twin size air mattress, if it's true to size and most of the best ones are, are the same size as your regular twin bed (39x74"). Their capacity is in the range of 400-500 lbs, making them a solid choice for two peopl to sleep on.
If the bed will sleep two people who are on the heavier side or you simply want the added comfort of that extra few inches, a Queen size air bed will be the way to go. The capacity of the better one is in the range of 500-700 lbs.
Consider the pump
Most inflatable beds for home use come with a built in pump with adjustble firmness settings (usually 3 or more pre-sets).
On the higher end, you'll will the inflatables with aheftier price tag that include what's called a Never Flat or a "Smart" pump. This pump is designed not to allow changes in pressure – to put it simply, the beds cannot deflate because the pump keeps adding air if the air bed starts losing it (air, that is).
Don't experimentIf you're choosing for yourself, it might be OK to go with a model because you like the color. If it's for guests, we would advise again experimenting and going with some of the reputable and trusted brands.
Over the last few years, one brand that's been trumping competition in user reviews is SoundAsleep. Their two most popular models are the Dream Series and the more advanced (and more expensive) Cloud 9. In most cases, the former will do just fine.
Choosing a good folding bedSize is the main consideration for those of you who prefer a folding bed as well. The sizing of the latter is not as varied and usually consists of a small, a medium and a large bed. You can also find extra-wide folding cots that measure up to 40 inches across and are able to support heavier weights.
It's also a good idea to pay attention to the frame and support structure of a folding bed. Choose an aluminium frame if you need a lighter, more flexible cot, or a steel frame for more durability.
As far as support structure is concerned, it is usually characterised by three types of different leg styles: a vertical one, a crossed X-shaped design or legs that are connected by a horizontal C-shaped bar. The first two are generally considered to be more reliable and, 9 times out of 10, the choice will be between those two options and the aforementioned air bed.
As long as you are aware of the different options that are available on the market, purchasing a temporary guest bed that is right for your needs is not at all difficult.If you go through this guide and the bed you have your eye on ticks all the boxes, chances of making a mistake are slim to none.