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ALPS Mountaineering Rechargeable Air Bed Review

ALPS Mountaineering Rechargeable Air Bed
Price:   $120 List | $101.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Rechargeable air pump is fast and convenient, affordable.
Cons:  PVC construction, no insulation, “bouncy castle” comfort.
Bottom line:  The second-lowest scorer in our review, not a product we would recommend.
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   ALPS Mountaineering

Our Verdict

The ALPS Mountaineering Rechargeable Air Bed is one of three air beds tested for this review and is, unfortunately, the second-lowest scoring car camping mattress that we reviewed when combining all of the metrics. While it features eight inches of inflated mattress underneath you, without foam cushioning on the inside, it simply isn't as comfortable as its competitors. This mattress is made of flexible PVC, an exceedingly durable material that unfortunately has been linked to increased health risks in humans and been labeled as one of the most environmentally harmful materials to both produce and dispose of. While we did think that the rechargeable air pump worked very well, this is not a product we would recommend to a friend.


RELATED REVIEW: Best Camping Mattresses and Pads of 2017


Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Andy Wellman
Senior Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Monday
October 3, 2016

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The grey flexible PVC construction of this airbed requires the addition of phthalates, or "plasticizers," in order to make it flexible. These substances are linked to kidney disorders, cancer, and reproductive disorders, and frankly, this bed off-gasses. When lying on it, you can clearly smell plastic. Additionally, PVC is a compound that is known to virtually never break down — great for the durability of this bed, but very bad for the landfill; this non-recyclable material will be there forever. Compared to the other two air beds we tested, both made of TPU, a highly durable and far less harmful compound, both environmentally as well as personally, we don' think the materials used in this bed should endear you to purchasing it.

Ignoring its material construction and focusing instead simply on performance, it suffers from the same drawbacks as the Lightspeed 2-person and the REI Relax Airbed, namely lack of insulation, and compromised comfort in comparison to all the other car camping mattresses we have tested, both self-inflaters as well as adaptable mattresses. While it does pack down relatively small and is quite easy to use, these qualities simply don't override its detracting attributes.

Performance Comparison


Resting on the Rechargeable Air Bed. We found that the included pump was not able to fill this bed totally full of air so as to be as firm as the other air beds tested. This meant that we naturally sunk in a bit while laying on this bed  a quality some people prefer anyway.
Resting on the Rechargeable Air Bed. We found that the included pump was not able to fill this bed totally full of air so as to be as firm as the other air beds tested. This meant that we naturally sunk in a bit while laying on this bed, a quality some people prefer anyway.

Comfort


We thought this air bed was roughly the same in terms of comfort as the Lightspeed 2-person, which was unfortunately at the bottom of our test pile. When inflated it is a full eight inches thick, more than any other mattress, but again, it's full of only air, without supportive foam inside. The mattress is constructed exactly the same as an inflatable pool raft, but with a softer face fabric on top. While we certainly think it is far more comfortable than sleeping straight on the ground, we feel that the rest of the products we have tested have set the bar for comfort quite a bit higher than a pool raft. Give it 5 out of 10 for comfort.

The surface of the Rechargeable Air Bed is soft velvety material  which we liked. However  we didn't like the depth of the indents in the surface  as we found they created ridges and valleys that we would naturally settle into while sleeping.
The surface of the Rechargeable Air Bed is soft velvety material, which we liked. However, we didn't like the depth of the indents in the surface, as we found they created ridges and valleys that we would naturally settle into while sleeping.

Ease of Use

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This mattress is without doubt one of the easiest to use in this entire review, and this is its strongest suit. It comes with a rechargeable air pump that has cord adapters for either a car lighter or a wall plug. The pump inflates the bed in a very fast 1:30 minutes, and can hold charge enough for 4:00 minutes, meaning there is plenty of time to blow it up a couple times before needed to plug the pump in again for a recharge. The large twist valve couples directly with the pump, so you can easily go hands free while inflating, a unique feature to this mattress. Overall we awarded it our top score, 9 out of a possible 10 points.

The valve on this bed proved to be very easy to use. Simply twist it to the desired position and it either locks closed or opens. Place the pump against the valve and twist and it locks in place as well.
The valve on this bed proved to be very easy to use. Simply twist it to the desired position and it either locks closed or opens. Place the pump against the valve and twist and it locks in place as well.

To inflate, make sure the pump is charged, and twist it onto the valve, coupling it according to the lines and labels clearly marked on the valve. Then turn the pump on. In about 1:30, the bed will be full and firm.

The plug in cord for the pump is extremely short. It is not designed to run off direct power  but rather runs off the rechargeable battery. In our experience the pump has good power for about 4:00 of use time  before running out of juice.
The plug in cord for the pump is extremely short. It is not designed to run off direct power, but rather runs off the rechargeable battery. In our experience the pump has good power for about 4:00 of use time, before running out of juice.

To deflate, you can either use the pump, reversed, to suck the air out of the bed, or you can simply open the large valve and squeeze all of the air out. Fold into quarters and roll up tightly with the valve open to expunge the remaining air.

The Rechargeable Air Bed is easy to roll up once the air has been sucked out of it. The material on the underside of this mattress is very durable PVC  not unlike an inflatable raft.
The Rechargeable Air Bed is easy to roll up once the air has been sucked out of it. The material on the underside of this mattress is very durable PVC, not unlike an inflatable raft.

Warmth


Like both of the other air beds in this review, the Rechargeable Air Bed has an R-value of 1.0. This ranks it right down there with the lowest in our test, and therefore we gave it a score of 4. Anecdotally, the rubbery vinyl feels to us like it holds the cold, or heat, more than the thinner material of the other airbeds. As such, we can really only recommend this mattress in the heat of summer. If you are looking for a much better car camping mattress that is usable in all seasons, look no further than our Top Pick for Couples, the Exped Megamat Duo.

Versatility


Versatility as it applies to car camping mattresses means how many different situations can the item be successfully used in. Due to their weight and lack of insulation, the air bed genre in general we found to be much less versatile than the other mattresses in the review. However, we still felt like they made good spare mattresses for the house when guests slept over. We can't say the same for this airbed. Due to its material construction, it is off-gassing bad smelling and health risking chemical compounds. For this reason we wouldn't recommend using it in any closed air space — neither the house or inside a vehicle. A well ventilated tent in the summer might be okay, but this is a really limited range of use. Call it 2 out of 10.

Packed Size


The Rechargeable Air Bed ties with the REI Relax Airbed as the third smallest mattress when packed down. We gave it 7 out of 10 points for this quality.

The nine camping mattresses arranged in order from smallest on the left to biggest when looking at their packed size. Left to right: Lightspeed 2-person  Thermarest NeoAir Dream  Alps Mountaineering Rechargeable Air Bed  REI Relax Airbed  Big Agnes Sleeping Giant  Exped Megamat 10  Thermarest Luxury MAP  REI Camp Bed 3.5  and on the bottom the Exped Megamat Duo.
The nine camping mattresses arranged in order from smallest on the left to biggest when looking at their packed size. Left to right: Lightspeed 2-person, Thermarest NeoAir Dream, Alps Mountaineering Rechargeable Air Bed, REI Relax Airbed, Big Agnes Sleeping Giant, Exped Megamat 10, Thermarest Luxury MAP, REI Camp Bed 3.5, and on the bottom the Exped Megamat Duo.

Best Applications


While it is designed to be a summertime car camping mattress with multiple potential uses and applications, due to the limitations we have already described, we would only consider using this mattress in a well-ventilated air space, during the summer in a warm climate. That's pretty limiting.

Value


This mattress will cost you $120 retail, the same as the Relax Airbed. Since we think it is not as high a performer as the other air beds in this review, let alone all the other car camping mattresses, this does not present a good value.

The contents of the Rechargeable Air Bed. Stow sack  bed  air pump  and charge cords for either a car or wall. This was one of the most compact setups in the review when packed.
The contents of the Rechargeable Air Bed. Stow sack, bed, air pump, and charge cords for either a car or wall. This was one of the most compact setups in the review when packed.

Conclusion


The ALPS Mountaineering Rechargeable Air Bed is very easy to use and incorporates a cool rechargeable air pump that we liked. However, it was still the second from the bottom scoring car camping mattress in our review, and we have concerns about the smell and environmental costs of producing a product like this with plasticized PVC. Despite being affordable, we would not recommend this product to our friends or the loyal readers of OutdoorGearLab.com.

Other Versions


ALPS Mountaineering Velocity Air Bed Queen
  • Cost - $160
  • PVC-free queen sized air mattress constructed with TPU
  • Similar yet more expensive

ALPS Mountaineering SPS Air Bed Queen
  • Cost - $80
  • Also made with PVC, our main concern with the mattress we tested
Andy Wellman

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Most recent review: October 3, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:   
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