Intex Classic Downy Review
Cons: Not the warmest or most comfortable, takes a while to inflate
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Our Analysis and Test Results
While we didn't expect much from this insanely simple air mattress, we put it through all the same tests as the more expensive and more comfortable mattresses in this review. It performed about as well as one can expect in terms of warmth, comfort, and packed size. Where it stood out was in how easy it is to use, clean and store, as well as it's crazy low price. While we doubt the results of our tests will shock anyone who has ever spent a night on an air mattress, we recognize that other factors go into purchasing this mattress, and felt it was important to give those factors a thorough review.
The vertical tubes of air that comprise the Intex classic are pretty standard across most air mattresses. The soft flocked top adds a layer of velvet-like feel and helps keep sheets and humans alike from simply sliding off this vinyl mattress. While this mattress is 8.75 inches thick, it's essentially like sleeping on a big pool floatie — pool optional (and not recommended), as the Intex is waterproof. The Intex is better than sleeping directly on the ground, for certain, but it's not a luxury item. If you are one of those lucky people that can sleep anywhere and on anything, this is an acceptable mattress. Anyone else may pay the price in a lack of sleep.
Testers felt like they were bouncing around like a rubber ball on the air, and this was made worse when two people were sharing the mattress. Every turn, roll, and move in the night was exaggerated with a second person. If inflation was lowered to reduce bounciness, testers felt swallowed into the baffles and unsupported. Also of note, this mattress is made of PVC, which is durable and flexible but also a known carcinogen. We recommend airing out before the first use to eliminate as many fumes as possible, and not using it for too many nights a year.
Ease of Use
First-time inflation on this bad boy is a bit time-consuming, as the vinyl needs to be stretched out to its full size. Thus begins the long process of pumping and waiting and pumping and waiting and pumping… After that first inflation, however, subsequent inflations are much more straightforward, especially if you don't pack it too tightly.
Some of the Intex mattress sets, like the one we tested, actually come with a small air pump in the box, which is handy — not all do, so be certain of what you're purchasing! The 2-in-1 valve fits most standard air pumps, though, so you could (and would likely want to) use a larger or even electric pump, as the Intex takes quite some time to fully inflate. Deflation is a cinch as well — between the complete lack of foam inside the Intex (just air!) and the sizeable two-way valve that simply unscrews to let the air out, you can have this mattress flattened in a few short minutes. Everything is easy with this mattress — easy to inflate, easy to deflate, easy to fold down for storage and transportation, and easy to clean with soap and water. The Intex performs well in the Ease of Use metric.
The R-value of a camping mattress tells you how much insulating value it has against the cold ground — the higher the value, the colder ground you can put it on and expect to remain warm and insulated from the cold ground. As the Intex Classic has no R-value whatsoever, it's at the bottom of the pack of camping mattresses we tested, and you can't expect it to keep you warm. It might make you colder if the air is cooler than the ground; this is definitely only for warm-weather camping or indoor use.
You could increase the R-value with insulation by adding a blanket or a foam pad on top to extend its usability farther into the fall or earlier in the spring, but the Intex itself has no built-in insulation. The bottom line is, if the air inside the Intex is cold, laying on top of the Intex will make YOU cold, so be mindful of the temperature where you use it, even if you have a warm sleeping bag.
The Intex tested in this review was a Queen size — at 60 inches wide and 80 inches long, this mattress can easily fit two adults, providing they don't sprawl out while they sleep. Testers who used this mattress with two people, however, noted that because it lacks all the dampening effects that foam provides, it is quite bouncy.
Conveniently, this mattress fits standard-sized sheets, and it is waterproof, making clean-up an easy job. However, weighing in at just under 10lbs, this isn't a mattress you'll want to lug around, nor does it come with a convenient case with which to do so. However, it does work as a packable car camping mattress or emergency spot for those last-minute house guests.
The Intex Classic wasn't the largest packed-up camping mattress we tested, but getting it back in its box with the included pillows and pump required some finagling.
At 9.75 pounds, it is also inconveniently heavy and therefore scored below average for this metric. If you do take it camping, you will want to use it in close proximity to the car rather than lugging it to a faraway campsite.
The value of the Intex is undeniable — it is easily one of the cheapest mattresses around! With such a low price, it's hard to find a better deal than the Intex. However, if you're looking for comfort or warmth, you will want to consider another camping mattress from our camping mattress review.
The Intex Classic Downy Queen Set might be our lowest-ranked camping mattress in this review, but it's incredibly easy to use and almost absurdly easy to afford. While we wouldn't recommend this mattress to anyone looking to do a serious amount of sleeping in the outdoors, its quick-fix and indoor applications make the Intex an appealing closet staple, and its price makes it an obvious choice for our Best Buy on a Lean Budget award.
— Laurel Hunter & Maggie Brandenburg