The Original Adjustable Air Bed for Home Use
Why air support is needed (Comfortaire illustration)
Comfortaire was established in 1980 by Bob Walker to design, make and sell mattresses with adjustable air support for regular home beds. Pressure relief of fluid support made waterbeds popular through the 1970s. Walker saw the potential of air mattresses to bring this same kind of comfort to the bedroom without the weight and leak hazard of water support with an air bed made for long-time continuous use. This would have the added advantage of pressure adjustment while in use, something that couldn’t be done with waterbeds.
Walker left Comfortaire a few years later and started Select Comfort in 1987, the maker of Sleep Number beds. In 2013, Select Comfort bought Comfortaire, which is now operated as an independent subsidiary.
Comfortaire’s product lineup has changed over more than three decades, but the selection of airbeds is still the same in 2017 as after their last major revision in 2014, except for dropping the N17. The current collection consists of four series and nine models:
In the first three series, the model names indicate the heights of the mattresses.
The Genesis Series uses what Comfortaire calls their Original Air Technology. All three models use the 6” high air chambers made of 24-ga. latex/cotton. This is rubber reinforced with cotton fibers. This series is represented in the Specialty Comfort Series.
The Waterbed Replacement is the G13 sized to fit into the frame of a hardside waterbed. The RV Mattress is like the G10, but at 9” it is an inch lower, and it also is available in the Short Queen size.
Air chambers in the Nouvelle Series and Ultimate Series mattresses are made of a urethane-based film. These are 2” high in the N11, and 3½” in the others.
Other than separate air chambers for dual air beds, there is no mention by Customaire of how air is distributed beneath a sleeper. Unless air can be adjusted by zones, as in Air-Pedic mattresses, there is the possibility of hammocking (sagging under the heavy middle section), which throws the spine out of line, especially with side sleepers (note that the Comfortaire image at the top of the article shows a back sleeper). This issue is discussed by Dr. Swartzburg on the information page of this site and in a review of Sleep Number beds.
Comfortaire’s descriptions of their mattresses indicate three foams are used in their comfort layers. G10, G12, and the RV Mattress use “convoluted foam.” Since the type of foam is not stated, the default for this is polyurethane foam.
The other foams, which are named, are also convoluted. The reason for this could be ventilation to make the mattress cooler, since air chambers are not breathable. It could also be to dampen motion transfer and to enhance pressure relief. However, this does introduce an element of instability, and it could shorten the lifetime of the foams, especially if the projections break, causing the foam to sag at that point.
The comfort layer in U15 is GraPhase Foam. This is CoolFlow™ open-cell memory foam progressively infused, first with gel foam (ThermaGel™), then with graphite. The process is not otherwise disclosed, but the way it is worded seems to indicate layers within the foam, which is possible with today’s technology. The open-cell structure is for breathability, the gel to absorb heat for cooling, and the graphite to conduct heat away for dissipation. How effective gel is has been questioned by some, including Dr. Swartzburg on this site and David Rosenberg of Healthy Foundations.
The addition of graphite is a tacit acknowledgement that gel can only absorb so much heat without a way to shed the heat. Also, open-cell foam lets air essentially filter through. Comfortaire says nothing about vertical ventilation of the foam, but that does not exclude it. A number of other manufacturers ventilate their foam without saying so. Ventilation is a key ingredient of the Airflow Transfer System, as demonstrated by Dr. Swartzburg in a video.
The rest of the Comfortaire models have Evellafoam™ comfort layers. Evellafoam is memory foam infused (or blended) with synthetic latex. The latex gives the memory foam a quicker initial response before the foam has warmed up, and a quicker recovery (which is still slower than just latex). Since this blended foam has properties between those of memory foam and latex, it may not please those strongly preferring one or the other.
All foams used in Comfortaire mattresses are certified by CertiPUR-US.
G10, which harkens back to the original Comfortaire bed, is covered by a “soft knit cover,” with no mention of the fibers used. G12, G13, and U11 use bamboo rayon. This is a clarification. Two years before, it was simply called bamboo fibers, but the Federal Trade Commission has managed to get most manufacturers to specify whether these are fibers drawn directly from bamboo, or rayon made from the cellulose in bamboo.
The rest of the models are covered by a soft knit performance fabric with Feran Ice® Technology. This is a hydrophilic treatment of the fibers which is laundry-proof. It wicks moisture away to evaporate, keeping the surface both dry and cool.
Comfortaire air-supported mattresses can be used with adjustable beds. Those in the Ultimate Series have the option of split head mattresses in Queen, King and California King sizes for use with split head up foundations (adjustable beds that raise only the head). Also available are split sizes for use with fully adjustable beds.
Selling and Warranties
Comfortaire does not sell its products online from its website, but in stores across the country. Sleep Number beds are generally sold in Sleep Number Stores, while Comfortaire beds are sold in independent furniture and mattress stores. The Comfortaire site has a store locator page.
Warranties of Comfortaire mattresses are for 25 years. Full coverage is for two years for Genesis Series models, and four years for those in the Nouvelle Series and Ultimate Series.