This photo shows the REI Co-op Kingdom Insulated Air Bed inflated inside of a camping tent during the testing and review process.

REI Co-op Kingdom Insulated Air Bed Review

- Field-tested -

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The REI Kingdom Insulated Air Bed is a dual-person air mattress designed for camping. It has a cushy 6″ thick construction with built-in insulation to help keep you warm at night.

To get us a closer look, REI sent Man Makes Fire a review unit. After sleep testing the Kingdom Insulated Air Bed on more than a dozen trips over 18 months — sleeping with and without a partner — we have more than two dozens nights on it. This is what we learned:

REI Co-op Kingdom Insulated Air Bed Review

The REI Co-op Kingdom Insulated Air Bed is a big step up from cheap vinyl air beds and mattresses. REI’s design gives you a soft-touch brushed sleeping surface that feels good on bare skin. More importantly, it’s relatively quiet and provides enough texture to help keep sleeping bags from sliding off.

This photo shows the REI Co-op Kingdom Insulated Air Bed inside of a tent.
The REI Co-op Kingdom Insulated Air Bed is wider than most two-person air mattresses designed for camping.

So far so good. Cheaper vinyl air mattresses typically don’t have interior insulation, which means that if you’re camping on a cold night, they can be cold to sleep on. To contrast, the REI Co-op Kingdom Insulated Air Bed has built-in insulation with an R-Value of 2.6. This is pretty good and REI says it will keep you comfortable in temperatures down to 40°F — but I’ve spent a couple nights on it down to 30°F and slept warm with a good sleeping bag. Obviously, there are a lot of variables here, but the point remains: A bit of insulation in a air mattress is good and gives you greater comfort in cooler weather.

Most competing air mattresses for camping don’t include pumps, but the Kingdom Insulated Air Bed comes with it’s own high-volume air pump. You’ll be happy to have this pump because once you think about it, the Kingdom Insulated Air Bed has a lot of volume to fill up: It’s 79″ long x 56″ wide x 6″ tall.

How long does it take to air up the Kingdom Insulated Air Bed with the included pump? It depends on how fast you pump, but most adults should be able to inflate it in about 5 minutes without much trouble.

 

Benefits of a Thick Air Mattress

This photo shows the top and side of the REI Co-op Kingdom Insulated Air Bed inflated.
At 6″ thick, the REI Co-op Kingdom Insulated Air Bed seemingly makes rocks, roots and bumps disappear while camping.

If you’re considering the Kingdom Insulated Air Bed, you likely know that a thicker air mattress is likely more comfortable than a thinner air mattress. The key benefit of having 6″ of thickness while camping, however, isn’t that side sleepers won’t bottom out with their hips . . . it’s how the 6″ can absorb bumps from the ground. Small rocks and roots seemingly disappear under the REI Co-op Kingdom Insulated Air Bed. Plus, small depressions can be bridged, too.

Comfort

Dual-person comfort on air mattresses is inextricably connected to the two people sleeping together. Partner sleeping while camping has unique benefits and drawbacks. The biggest benefit is that you get to sleep with a partner, usually in a double sleeping bag like the excellent The North Face Dolomite One Duo Sleeping Bag. Sharing a double sleeping bag is usually more fun and lets you share body heat for a warmer night. While sleeping on great camping cots with cot pads can arguably be more comfortable, sleeping ‘together’ with two cots shoved next to each other just isn’t quite the same.

If you take a couple of minutes to adjust the air pressure to best match the two people sleeping on the air mattress, you’ll have a better night.

The drawback is that air mattresses are bouncier than the beds inside your home. If you have a restless partner, you’re going to experience some movement as they move around on a shared air mattress. If you increase the air pressure inside of your mattress, you’ll reduce the bounce effect . . . but that can result in a harder surface to sleep on. If you reduce the air pressure, you can get a softer sleeping surface but that can have more pronounced movement as your partner moves.

So there are some pros and cons here. The Kingdom Insulated Air Bed can feel hard if you air it up with a lot of pressure or it can feel soft if you reduce the pressure. (This simple law of physics seems intuitive, but some people don’t always catch it and blame their air mattresses for not reading their minds.)

If you take a couple of minutes to adjust the air pressure to best match the two people sleeping on the air mattress, you’ll have a better night. When I sleep alone on the Kingdom Insulated Air Bed, I like the wide open space to sprawl. Plus, I get to set the air pressure to my personal preferences.

 

Durability

The REI Co-op Kingdom Insulated Air Bed has lasted over a dozen separate inflations for more than two dozen nights. It has never leaked or lost air. I once spent five nights on it and never needed to add air or top it off.

I don’t have any durability concerns about it. I will recommend this: Any gear that has a critical need to be waterproof — like fishing waders — or air-proof, like air mattresses, should always be tested before you first take them out on an important trip. In all the quality air mattresses I’ve ever tested, I’ve only had one out-of-the-box failure . . . and that was with a Therm-a-Rest sleeping pad 10 years ago. If you happen to get a rare dud, it’s usually apparent quickly if you test it.

Packability

This photo shows the packed size of the REI Co-op Kingdom Insulated Air Bed relative to a standard water bottle.
REI sizes the 10″ x20″ stuff sack large enough to easily fit the Kingdom Insulated Air Bed and included pump.

REI says the Kingdom Insulated Air Bed packs down into its included stuff sack, with the pump, down to about 10″ x 20″. That’s about right, but in my experience you get more of an oval bag shape due to the pump, so it’s more like 12″ x 20″. Either way, that’s car camping size. Weight without the pump is 5 lbs 13 oz. With the pump, it’s about 8 lbs.

(If you want an electric pump option, try the Coleman Battery-Powered QuickPump.)

 

Competition & Alternative Options

Exped MegaMat Max 15 Duo Sleeping Pad — The Exped MegaMat Max 15 Duo Sleeping Pad has a self-inflating foam core and a massive R-value of 10.6, which makes it suitable for 4-season use. Better yet, the MegaMat Max 15 Duo is 6″ thick — just as thick as the Kingdom Insulated Air Bed. Oh, one more thing: It’s slightly quieter and more stable due to the internal foam and rectangular box-like construction. The biggest drawback is the increased price point. (If you can survive on 4″ of thickness, try the MegaMat 10.)

Nemo Roamer Double Sleeping Pad — At 52″ wide, the Nemo Roamer Double is nearly as wide as the Kingdom Insulated Air Bed. The key benefit of the Roamer Double is that it has a self-inflating foam core that makes inflation much easier. Better yet, that foam core helps deliver a solid R-value of 6 in just 4″ of thickness.

Klymit Insulated Double V — The Klymit Insulated Double V is narrower and thinner than the Kingdom Insulated Air Bed, but it inflates faster and is surprisingly comfortable for 3″ of thickness. The V-shaped baffle design also slows the transfer of air inside the mattress when your partner shifts around, which means you get less bounce and disruption compared to most larger high-volume air mattresses. The R-value is 4.4, but for mostly summer camping, you could likely go with the uninsulated version.

The Bottom Line

The REI Co-op Kingdom Insulated Air Bed is a large and cushy air insulated mattress that’s versatile for car camping in spring, summer and fall. Because it has so much volume, REI includes a full-size air pump — and it all fits easily into the included stuff sack. All-in-all, the Kingdom Insulated Air Bed delivers great two-person comfort in an affordable and relatively lightweight package. Highly recommended.

Get the Gear:

REI Co-op Kingdom Insulated Air Bed
Benefits
Wider than most competitive dual-person air mattresses
6" of thickness provides excellent cushion over rough ground
2.6 R-value keeps you warm compared to uninsulated air mattresses
Drawbacks
Can be a bit bouncy when you sleep with a restless partner
4.5
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