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Hands-on Gear Review
Lightspeed 2 Person Review
Cons: Sleeps cold, not very supportive, not easy to make super firm.
Bottom line: Tied for the best air bed in the review, with its own unique perks and detractions.
The Lightspeed 2-person is an inflatable air bed designed for two-person sleeping comfort and affordability. As an air bed, it consists of a simple TPU plastic chamber that is inflated to roughly six inches thick. We liked that it was made out of TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane), a much more environmentally friendly type of plastic that also doesn't pose nearly the potential health risks to humans as PVC. It has the advantage of packing down small and being easy to inflate and deflate using the battery powered pump included with purchase. Its disadvantages are that it is not as supportive or comfortable as the many foam cushioned self-inflating mattresses in our review, and it does not have any insulating properties to help protect against cold ground or air. This airbed is virtually the same as the REI Relax Airbed, with only very minor differences, and has the same overall score as that product.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Of the three air beds that we tested for this review, the Lightspeed 2-person ties with the REI Relax Airbed for the best, although they each have positives and negatives compared to each other. Using our grading system, both beds scored higher than the ALPS Mountaineering Rechargeable Airbed. In general, however, we found this selection of three air beds to be inferior to the rest of the competition in our review, mostly because they were less comfortable and significantly colder without insulation. The advantages of these air beds are their affordability, the fact that they sleep two people, and that they pack down small and are relatively easy to use.
Compared to the REI Relax Airbed, which is a very similar product, the Lightspeed 2-person is easier to blow up with its battery powered pump. That said, it is not easy to get it full to the point of being super firm, which in our opinion is necessary for an airbed to reach its full comfort potential. While both beds are made of TPU, the Relax Airbed has a slightly softer face fabric, compared to the "nylon-y" feel of the Lightspeed. While the Lightspeed costs $10 more retail, it is possible to find it cheaper at other discount outlets.
The Lightspeed 2-person received only 5 out of 10 possible points for comfort compared to the competition in this review. We gave it one less point than the Relax Airbed, and the same score as the ALPS Mountaineering Rechargeable Airbed. Air beds are less comfortable than foam filled mattresses because they rely only on air. With two people on the bed, the air inside the mattress displaced by one person's body tends to buoy and rock the other person. For that reason, we find these mattresses to be more comfortable if slept on with only one person (despite being sized for two), or if they are filled very full to the point of being firm. The Lightspeed battery powered pump is not as effective at filling the mattress to the point of firmness as the hand pump included with the REI Relax Airbed, and so in general we found our sleeping experience on this softer, less full bed to be slightly less comfortable. Its face fabric is also made of slippery polyester, and we liked the velvety plush on the other two airbeds better.
Ease of Use
The Lightspeed 2-person is among the easiest car camping mattress to use, although still takes a bit of work to set up. We gave it 9 out of 10 for East of Use, our highest rated product in this category. Just don't forget to buy four size D batteries for the pump before you end up in the middle of nowhere at your campsite!
To inflate, all that is needed is to roll the bed out, insert the nozzle of the pump while in the "inflate position" into the smaller of the two valve openings, and turn the pump on. Wait about 4:00 to 4:30 minutes, and the bed will be as firm as you can get it. Quickly screw the valve closed so air doesn't leak out.
For deflation and stowing, the battery pump also has a deflate option that will suck the air out of the bed. We found it quicker and easier to simply open the big deflate valve and quickly squeeze all the air out. The bed can be folded and rolled up with the deflate valve open, which is a breeze.
With no foam or insulating materials of any sort inside this mattress, it has an R-value of 1.0. According to Wikipedia, an R-value of 1.0 is similar to that of wood chips or snow (!). While this bed is clearly not as cold as snow, it does about the same job of resisting heat transfer, i.e. not much. We found that we slept pretty cold on this bed out in the mountains on even a summer night, and indeed, if sleeping in temperatures anywhere below about 60 degrees, we would highly recommend checking out our Top Pick for Couples, the Exped Megamat Duo, instead. Call it 4 out of 10 for warmth.
We also gave this bed a 4 out of 10 for versatility, the same score as the Relax Airbed. This score is far lower than the rest of the car camping mattresses we tested. While this bed does pack down pretty small, it is heavy. Our biggest complaint, however, was that it sleeps so cold. We would only recommend it for outside camping, or even in the back of a vehicle, if the nighttime temperatures are going to stay quite warm, which is not the case very much of the year in the mountains where we live. Compared to the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Dream, the most versatile mattress we tested, there is not many places or situations we would want to use this mattress.
The Lightspeed 2-person packs down into the smallest package of any mattress we tested. We gave it 9 out of a possible 10 points, the highest score in the review. Compared to some of the sleeping pads in our Best Sleeping Pad Review, this thing is still gigantic and heavy, so we refrained from awarding a perfect 10.
Due to its weight and the need for a battery powered pump to inflate it, you certainly would not want to carry this mattress anywhere. It is best to use it as a car camping mattress in a tent or the back of a vehicle, as long as the night is warm. It would serve great as a spare mattress for house guests, and we have known plenty of college students and dirtbags turned house renters who sleep on an air mattress like this one full time.
This air bed retails for $130, although it can be found cheaper from discount online outlets. At retail, it is $10 more expensive than the REI Relax Airbed, which is roughly the same product with a different pumping mechanism. We would probably recommend going with the cheaper version if we had to choose.
Air beds are an affordable two-person sleeping solution as a spare bed or for summertime camping. The Lightspeed 2-person is very similar to the REI Relax Airbed, and ties with that product for the best air bed that we tested in this review. With only minor differences between the two, we recommend reading both reviews in detail before you decide which one to purchase. However, if you truly want the best two-person car camping mattress, we would recommend shelling out a few more dollars and buying the Exped Megamat Duo, our Top Pick for Couples car camping mattress.
Lightspeed Queen PVC-Free Airbed
— Andy Wellman
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