Sleeping outside in the wild is slowly seeping into the lives of thousands of Americans across the country as people are starting to realize how beautiful it is to spend the night gazing at the stars.
The thing is; not all people are willing to ditch their cozy mattresses for the hard irregular ground of the outdoors, nor are they willing to sacrifice their spacious beds for tight tents. Fortunately, there is a solution that can give you the best of both worlds, which is getting the best inflatable air mattress for camping .
No need to spend hours roaming the aisles of Home Dept looking for one, as we’ve already done the heavy lifting for you by testing, vetting, and choosing the top-performing mattresses in this category for your outdoor trips to be comfortable and amusing.
Without further ado, let’s get to the list.
Compare Top Products
Best Overall: Coleman Queen Airbed Folding Cot
Right off the bat is one of Coleman’s best-selling air mattresses, one that’s designed with comfort, ergonomics, and your wallet in mind, thus promising a cozy outdoor experience at an affordable price.
The Coleman Queen cot measures 59 inches in width and 78 inches in length. It also weighs a whopping 41.9 pounds and can sustain a total of 600 pounds, making it spacious and sturdy enough for two people to sleep comfortably, especially that it offers excellent edge support for an easy getting on and off the mattress.
Furthermore, it sits off the ground and offers both a cot and mattress, which means that you needn’t worry about debris when you’re camping in the wild, nor should you break out into a cold sweat thinking about the upcoming back pain since the mattress boasts a ComfortStrong coil construction. It has space to store things underneath and make it easy to wear shoes when sitting on the bed.
Even though you can sleep on the cot by itself, our field testers recommend using the mattress as well for the best comfort and back support. Speaking from experience, you wouldn’t want to cut corners on such luxuries when you’re spending the night outside. Nevertheless, if you end up with limited storage space and can’t take the mattress with you, you won’t feel the support bars poking your back or anything.
Now, addressing the big elephant in the room, how does this airbed perform when it comes to air retention? It turns that the Coleman Queen Cot doesn’t disappoint in this department, as it can hold air efficiently throughout the nights, all thanks to two factors; first, this outdoor mattress features the Airtight® System, which guarantees a leak-proof experience, and second, the cot doesn’t make direct contact with the ground, which reduces condensation and adds to the air retention capability.
For mobility, the Coleman outdoor mattress comes with a premium, waterproof storage case, in which you can easily store both the cot and the bedding and take them with you wherever you go. It’s worth noting that putting all of them together can make the case a bit heavy, so keep that in mind if you’re suffering from back pain issues.
When not used for camping, this air mattress can easily adapt as a guest home bed. Overall, it provides the closest sleeping experience to a normal indoor bed.
Most Comfortable: Exped Megamat 10 Insulated Self-Inflating Sleeping Pad
The Exped Megamat 10 (2-person duo version here) is the type of mattress that would make you forget about your comfy bed at home. Compared to other airbeds featured in our review, this model feels like a foam mattress, but without the extra heft and thickness you’d afford to place in your bedroom.
What gives this pad such advantage is the baffled memory foam construction that it offers, which insulates your body from the cold ground and supports the pressure points of your sleeping body, thus dampening the air riding effect of air mattresses. That does come with a catch though, as compared to other self-inflating models, the Megamat 10 is a bit bigger in size and larger in dimensions.
A friend of mine still thanks me to this day after I recommended this mattress a few months ago. George is an avid traveler, but because of his back pain, he couldn’t bear spending his nights camping since he couldn’t find something that could really replace his bed. Today, knock on his door any day of the week, and you’ll probably find him packing his Exped Megamat 10 mattress for a new camping trip. It was a LIFE CHANGER for him, so maybe it can do the same for you.
Just like the Coleman mattress reviewed above, the Megamat 10 comes with a mini pump and allows you to adjust the firmness as you wish, although this is a self-inflating model, which means that you can save your breath while filling it during your rafting, car camping, or basecamp trip.
Overall, if you’re looking for a camping mattress that would make it hard for you to go back to your bed after spending a few nights in the open, the Exped Megamat 10 is the model for you.
Best for Couples: King Koil California King Luxury Raised Airbed
Nature is the best soul-bounding environment, so it’s only natural for you to think about your better half when you’re packing your things for a camping trip. Couples may find it hard to sleep together when they’re outside, but King Koil has something for the lovebirds trying to hit the hay under the sky; the California king luxury raised airbed.
Despite its low price tag, King Koil’s airbed has proved to be a great candidate for the title of the best camping mattress for 2 people, all thanks to the numerous features it offers. The first-ever king sized airbed o the market measures 84 x 72 x 20 inches with a durable Coil-Beam Construction. Furthermore, it delivered with a patch kit for you to take care of your mattress in the unfortunate event of a tear or puncture.
Once you hit the desired spot, you can quickly get this air mattress ready thanks to the built-in 120v pump that you can plug in for fast inflation and deflation in less than 5 minutes. That quick inflation time makes this mattress suitable for both unplanned trips and unexpected guests. Isn’t that every couple’s dream? I wish I had this to show to my mother in law when she used to pay us her surprise visits.
Although it has many perks, there are a few niggles that we found with this mattress. First, it makes quite a bit of noise, which may come as a turnoff if you or your significant other move a lot during the night. Second, although it comes in a king size, this airbed may seem small for taller people, so make sure to take your measurements right before you decide to opt for the King Koil California King Luxury Raised Airbed.
Best Lightweight: Lightspeed Outdoors
When you’re packing your things to go on a camping trip, the last thing you want is to cram a lot of heavy stuff in your backpack as that would only make the experience laborious rather than amusing. If you’re one to cancel a trip because there’s too much weight on your back, you’ll definitely like the Lightspeed Outdoors inflatable air mattress, which not only offers a light weight and packed size but also does the trick as a luxury and comfy backpacking sleeping pad.
This mattress boasts a TPU construction which you can easily pack up to 16.5 x 8.9 x8.9 inches and fit inside the included oversized storage bag. The Lightspeed Outdoors sleeping pad weighs just around 6 pounds, which means that it’s an excellent match for lightweight-seekers looking for a full-blown budget option.
Despite its size and weight, the Lightspeed Outdoors airbed mattress can fit two persons, and it’s firm enough to hold whoever’s sleeping on it without any air leakage whatsoever.
When tested in the outdoors, the pump proved to be a bit underpowered. When looking for a solution, our testers found that due to its compact size, you can easily inflate the Lightspeed Outdoors airbed using your lungs through the one-way valve, which adds to the convenience and would come in handy if your batteries bail on you in the wild.
Best Value: Intex Dura-Beam Standard Series Pillow Rest Raised Airbed
If you’re an occasional camper and a budget seeker, the Dura-Beam Raised Airbed from Intex is all you’ll need for a good night’s sleep under the stars. To be honest, seeing this one was a fluke, but the specs impressed us, so we put it on the review list with a few more expensive mattresses.
“How could anything this low-priced be worthwhile?”, said my wife with a frown on her face when she first saw this mattress. Look at her now, bringing it up whenever we’re about to hit the road for a camping trip.
To our surprise, the Intex performed pretty well, for the price at least. It’s pretty comfortable thanks to two features; first, the fiber-tech construction, and second, the built-in pillow, which means that you don’t need to bring any accessory along with this air mattress.
It’s worth noting that we had different people testing this mattress, and while some of them swore by the comfort the built-in pillows offers, other disagreed and said that the fact that this part of the bed is harder than the rest made it uncomfortable and cramped their necks. That’s all there is to the matter, so take what our testers found as you may.
Inflation and deflation are also a breeze thanks to the built-in pump, which makes the whole experience even more convenient. If you’re one to enjoy an effortless camping trip, this is a solid choice to consider.
All in all, we found the Intex Dura=Beam Raised Airbed to be an excellent mattress for the price, one that’ll surely give you the bang for your back and deliver what’s needed in a camping bed without blowing a hole in your wallet.
Analysis and Test Results
An air mattress is an inflatable sleeping pad that’s meant for short term use. Air mattresses can also be referred to as blow-up mattresses (Don’t get too excited now). They’re best used for camping in an RV or on the ground. Additionally, they can be used as bedding for guest rooms floors.
With that said, air mattresses (or blow-up mattresses) and airbeds are not to be confused together. Airbeds are basically standard sized mattresses but with adjustable air chambers in the support core instead. They’re mainly designed for long-term use. This is opposed to air mattresses which are only meant for short-term use.
Even though brands and models can vary in design and features, today, most of the air mattresses that are on the market tend to share a general set of features and characteristics. Here’s what you need to look for in every air mattress and what our testers found when trying the above recommendations:
This is a rather subjective thing. However, there are some things that make an air mattress more comfortable regardless of the user’s preference. Firstly, there’s the air mattress’ ability to maintain the same level of inflation for the whole night. Secondly, there’s the cover of the air mattress. Other factors that affect comfort include both thickness and construction. The latter, however, boils down mostly to personal preference.
Intex DuraBeam PumpAll air mattresses must be inflatable. However, the method of inflation can vary from model to model. Some air mattresses feature an external pump, which is the case for the Coleman Queen Cot, while others might come with a built-in internal pump, something that you can find in the Exped Megamat 10 mattress.
The pump mechanism itself can change from brand to brand and model to model. However, there are a total of four mechanisms that you can find in air mattresses today.
To assess how good the inflation process in each mattress is, we inflated each one of them and compared the duration that they took to get fully-inflated, then spent some nights on each one of them to determine which model is more comfortable. Turns out the self-inflating Exped Megamat 10 sleeping pad has the edge when it comes to comfort as it offers a cushy yet supportive foam surface, making it more comfortable to use. It’s a bit pricey for sure, but for frequent campers looking for comfort, that’s money well-spent.
The majority of air mattresses that are designed for camping have some sort of texture to their sleep surfaces. This is mainly done in order to help keep the air mattress warm and also make it less slippery, so you don’t accidentally fall off of it when you’re sleeping. Additionally, most of these covers are antimicrobial or waterproof, or both. This can be especially useful when sleeping outdoors.
When it comes to thickness, there are two main categories that air mattresses fall into, which are:
In addition to these two sizes, some models can come with legs or fold-out cots to add more height. It’s also important to note that the height of the mattress will differ depending on the level of inflation/deflation.
When it comes to this feature, our field testers found that the Coleman Queen Airbed Folding Cot is ahead of the competitors as it sits off of the ground and provides enough thickness to suit back-sleepers, side-sleepers, and stomach-sleepers when paired with the included mattress.
The majority of air mattresses on the market are made from PVC (AKA polyvinyl chloride, or polyvinyl, or simply vinyl), which is a plastic polymer used for producing food packaging, bottles and a myriad of other goods.
With that said, PVC has been gaining some notoriety lately as it has raised some human health and pollution issues recently. This is mostly due to the presence of chlorine in the PVC production process, which is toxic. Consequently, this has led some brands to make air mattresses more eco-friendly by using PVC that hasn’t been made with chlorine or avoiding this material altogether, which is the case for the Lightspeed Outdoors sleeping pad, giving it the edge in this department.
Additionally, some air mattresses also come with micro coils which add more comfort and support. There are also some self-inflating models that are insulated with polyfoam. As opposed to other air mattresses, the majority of foam padded mattresses don’t have a weight limit.
Another thing to take into consideration is which style of camper you are. Some people tend to gravitate towards hiking rather than camping and storing all their stuff in a backpack, while others gravitate towards camping at sites which are accessible by vehicle, or ‘car camping’ for short.
One other thing to keep in mind when shopping for an air mattress is the weight limitation. If your weight is above 230 pounds, then you might experience some sagging and discomfort while sleeping on air mattresses. Even if the maximum weight capacity indicates a value that’s higher than 230 pounds, most, if not all air mattresses tend to become uncomfortable for those who weigh 230 pounds or more.
Support and comfort and intertwined. For instance, a mattress which doesn’t properly support the weight of the sleeper is not a comfortable one.
Air mattresses that can hold air for more extended periods generally offer more support. Again, after thoroughly testing each product in the wild by trying different sleeping positions and circumstances, we found that the Megamat 10 provides the best support out of the reviewed batch for solo campers, whereas the King Koil California King Luxury Raised Airbed offers the coziest experience for couples.
The Coleman Queen Airbed didn’t disappoint either, as the included cot makes for a great support for different sleeping positions. If you’re looking for something that will give you the closest feel to your home bed, our testers recommend going with one of those options.
Most air mattresses are not meant to last for more than two years under regular use. However, if you’re not a frequent camper, then they might last you upwards of three or even four years. In most cases, the pumps will eventually die out, or the air mattress might get punctured which will render it useless.
After testing all of the above mattresses in different environments and weathers, we found the King Koil California King Luxury Raised Airbed to be the most durable out of the reviewed batch. It has a pretty thick and waterproof construction, one that’ll help you sleep perfectly in any environment without having to worry about debris and rocks underneath. Besides, it comes with a patch kit, which gives you a quick solution at hand if you face any scratch or puncture.
We even tested the breathability of the materials, and King Koil California King Luxury Raised Airbed came out victorious in the department, again, which proves that it’s indeed a heavy-duty camping mattress.
Size and weight
As opposed to regular mattresses, air models can come in three different sizes, which are Twin, Queen and King. It’s quite a hardtop find an air mattress which comes in all of the three dimensions mentioned above. The majority of the models that are available on the market come in only one or two of these sizes. Some mattresses also come in unique sizes, depending on the model.
When fully deflated, standard elevation air mattresses weigh less than 10 pounds. On the other hand, raised elevation models can weigh more. However, they don’t usually exceed 30 pounds when completely deflated. Weight is an important factor, especially for backpackers, since larger, heavier mattresses tend to be more cumbersome and less practical. This is why it’s usually better to go with standard elevation models when you’re restricted by weight. Car campers, on the other hand, have more choice when it comes to weight and size.
Regular air mattresses are usually able to support no less than 300 pounds. Some models can even support upwards of 600 pounds, which is the case for the Coleman mattress. Even though weight capacity is sufficient for single sleepers, if you weigh more than 230 pounds, you might feel uncomfortable, as you’ll experience sagging. It should also be noted that air mattresses were designed for single sleepers only, so it’s ill-advised for couples to sleep on the same air mattress unless it’s specifically designed for that purpose, which is the case for the King Koil California King Luxury Raised Airbed, for example.
Collapsibility and Mobility
Since air mattresses are frequently used for camping and backpacking, the majority of models on the market are made to be collapsible and easily packed and attached to backpacks. Models should easily fit into the backseat or trunk of a standard vehicle too. The collapsibility of air mattresses makes them perfect as they don’t take much space when fully deflated. This is why they are the preferred choice of many backpackers.
It should also be noted that some air mattresses can come with packing equipment, like a carrying sack, and a cord. However, this is not always the case. Fortunately, all of the reviewed mattresses came with some sort of a packing case, but our testers found the Lightspeed Outdoors to be the best when it comes to collapsibility, as they could easily fit the whole mattress and the pump inside the well-sized storage bag, making it an ideal choice for those looking for a space efficient solution for their camping trips.
The majority of air mattresses on the market, especially those that come with flocked surfaces, are pretty good at keeping the user warm and insulated adequately in comparison to using blankets or sleeping bags. There also the added benefit of being waterproof and antimicrobial which provide even more protection. In this department, the King Koil California airbed checks all the boxes and comes as a great solution for couples looking for a cozy and warm outdoor sleeping experience.
Another really nifty thing about air mattresses s that you can choose the level of inflation you want. You can control the hardness of the bed to match your preference so you can sleep comfortably. When it comes to adjustable firmness, we had pretty close results, and our testers were satisfied with each of the above air mattresses, so we’re calling it a draw here.
As opposed to their regular counterpart, air mattresses don’t produce much off-gassing. In fact, there have been only a few complaints from air mattress owners. Even the unpleasant smell of the rubbers wears off quickly, so you don’t have to worry about it. We had our fair share with smelly materials when testing different air mattresses, but we crossed off anything unappealing from our final list, so you should be okay going with any of the above recommendations.
Most air mattresses that you find today will run you about $150 to $200 (there are some exceptions though). You can even find models that are cheaper than that, at around $100 or even less if you’re really on a tight budget.
Now, remember that you get what you pay for and set your expectations right, and you’re bound to find the perfect mattress for your budget. Among the reviewed airbeds, the one with the most attractive price tag is Intex Dura-Beam, which can bring you all the benefits of an air mattress without costing you an arm nor a leg. Still, don’t expect the world from an air mattress in the sub-50-buck price range, and you’ll be okay.
Overall Performance Score
Camping is a real blessing for those who can withstand the outdoors, and unlike what many people believe, you can actually have a comfy, cozy camping trip in the wild if you’re willing to get the necessary equipment. If you’d like to feel how fantastic it is to stargaze at night either by yourself or with your partner but aren’t ready to ditch the comfort of your bed, consider getting the best air mattress for camping, as that can genuinely get you as close as possible to feeling at home.
What You Need to Know About Camping Mattresses (Buying Advice)
There’s nothing more awesome than enjoying the great outdoors at night. You and your family and friends look out into the vast night sky. You take in the fresh clean night air. Through it all, you share funny stories and enjoy each other’s company over some toasted marshmallows courtesy of your campfire. What’s not to love?
If you want to enjoy the very best Mother Nature has to offer when it comes to camping comfort and safety, study the information below so you can make a truly informed decision when choosing among different camping mattresses.
A camping mattress can be a sleeping pad or a ground pad, a roll mat, a sleeping mat or an iso mat that is used with a sleeping bag to provide thermal insulation and padding during camping.
There are different types of mattresses to choose from:
Weighing less than the self-inflating mattresses, an air mattress is a pad that is very compressible. You can roll this into a small size so you can store it easily and won’t have a hard time bringing it with you.
Its insulated model’s interior has down-fill or synthetic bonded to it. Even the insulated model can be packed small which makes carrying it around convenient.
You just need to pump or blow air through a valve in this mattress in order to fill it.
Compared to the self-inflating pad, this is not as comfortable as it lacks the support and the softness of a foam. However, it still can’t be denied that an air mattress is a good gear to bring for campings and backpacking.
Setting up this pad is easy, you just need to unroll it. There is no need to blow air or inflate this pad to set it up.
With thickness of less than 1 inch, the foam pad is the thinnest as compared to an air mat or self-inflating with 2 inches or more thickness.
As this does not require air for set up, you don’t need to worry about this pad getting holes.
Its thin structure however makes it a little less comfortable than the other types as you can easily feel the uneven ground underneath it. If you are not a sensitive sleeper though, you can save money by choosing this pad instead.
Being the most comfortable as compared to the foam pad and air mattress, the self-inflating mat weighs more and takes a little bit more space even when packed.
It has a foam interior that gives it a softer feel than a pure air mattress.
With the name self-inflating, inflating it would not take much effort because its valve that automatically fills its open cell foam interior with air.
This has been available since the early 1970’s so it’s no wonder this is one of the favorites.
Although not as soft as a mat that inflates itself, a cot’s sleeping platform’s softness is still comfortable enough.
You are high from the ground because of the metal structure and you can use this as a couch.
Transporting the cots may not be as easy because of its size which can only be folded in half. You may not want to use this if you don’t have enough space in your tent as the cot’s height may run into your tent’s walls.
If you have space, a cot is still a good choice for a lot of campers.
Backpacking Sleeping Pads
Lightweight gear like the lightweight backpacking pad may be easily damaged by camping life as its fabric is thinner.
The backpacking sleeping pads were designed to be very light without sacrificing comfort and still able to give warmth.
Even though your budget may only allow you to purchase a single pad, there are backpacking pads available that would not leak or deflate and is quite sturdy.
Which one to choose: Airbeds or Sleeping Mats
Same with a cot, an airbed gives you height away from the ground. If space is not a problem, you can choose the larger unit so you can be most comfortable. If you are camping with your family or friends, a large sized airbed is also handy. An airbed’s design also allows for home us. It’s great for sleepovers and guests. This can also save you money.
A sleeping mat with foam in its structure is more comfortable than an airbed.
Self-inflating camping mattresses are very popular. The familiarity of its twist valve makes it easy to use. You just need to open the valve so the pad can expand the foam. You need to make sure the mats are fully inflated and might need to manually blow in some air.
If you are not willing to spend more, you can get the Coleman Camp Pad. The flimsier plastic material of its valve makes it less durable and thus a little bit cheaper.
REI or Therm-a-Rest is more durable with their premier valves.
The number of valves for large self-inflating pads like Therm-a-Rest MondoKing or REI CampBed helps speed up its inflating and deflating it. These models have 2 valves.
Therm-a-Rest comes with the Torrent battery-operated pump for the NeoAir Dream. You can push air into the mat by attaching the pump to the valve. Doing it might take time but it is still easier and faster than manually blowing air on it.
An attachable and easy to use rechargeable pump is included with the SoundAsleep Comfort Series Airbed which would fully inflate the sleeping mats in minutes.
A pump that needs to be pushed down with your feet to inflate the pad is built in at the foot-end of Nemo’s Cosmo Insulated pads.
A denier number shows the resistance of the mattress to wear and tear. If the number is higher, that means the resistance is higher.
The denier range should be about 50D to 150D for camping mats.
The durability of MondoKing is quite amazing. It has a 75-denier fabric on the bottom which makes it long lasting. You would not want a thin bottom fabric on the underside of your pad as this is the part that lays directly on the ground.
Most camping mattresses are more durable than the backpacking pads. Their thick fabrics makes it less prone to a leak and damages.
Weight and Size when packed
Although comfort and durability are the main considerations when getting a camping mattress, you might also want to check if those would fit in your vehicle and camping tent before getting one.
At 20 pounds and 40 x 30 x 5.5 inches, the Coleman Comfortsmart Cot is huge. Even though you would just need to load and unload this on your vehicle before camping, it can still take up extra your car and might not fit in your tent. It would also be not easy to store it at home when not in use.
The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Trekker’s backpacking-ready design which weighs 1 pound 2 ounces and measures 4.5 x 9 inches is very practical for campers.
Mattress Insulation: R-Value
The R-value number shows how well a camping mattress can keep you warm from the coldness of the ground. If the number is higher, that means the protection is higher.
You need to get a pad with at least 3 R-value for 3-season use. For winter, where you’ll most probably sleep on the snow, you would need to get a mattress with at least a 5 R-value. Combining a foam pad and inflatable mattress would give you more protection and better insulation from the snow.
Length and Width Size
Mattresses and camping pads come in different sizes. They start at around 77 inches with the smallest size at 72-inch length and the largest 80 to 85 inches.
If you are on the taller side, you would love the longer length and extra width of the Therm-a-Rest MondoKing 3D which is 80 x 30 inches.
Backpacking pads are smaller and less comfortable than camping pads and camping mattresses.
Standard backpacking pads are only 20 inches in width which can be a bit narrow and make sleeping less comfortable.
You can enjoy the extra space with a camping pad that ranges from 25 or 30 inches to as wide as 60 inches.
Comfort and Thickness
Mattresses were designed to be comfortable but whether it is the sleeping mattress at home or for backpacking and camping, we all have different preferences in choosing the mattress that is best for you.
We all have different definitions of comfort. Some may want their pads or mattress to be cushy, others want it to supportive. Others want it high from the ground. Others like it thick and some just want it flat on the ground. Comfort would depend on the user.
You would want an airbed or a pad that is at least 3 inches thick if you sleep on your side as the weight is placed on your shoulders and hips.
The 2 inches thick Alps Mountaineering Comfort Series is already comfortable enough. This is a great option if you sleep on your back.
The Therm-a-Rest MondoKing with its 4 inches thick premium pad is very relaxing and a good choice if you are a sensitive sleeper.
Don’t be embarrassed to ask to try the sleeping mattress or ask for a demonstration. You wouldn’t want to be able to only find out when you are already out camping.
If you like camping, or is planning to camp or just someone is not a fan of outdoors but wants to try camping at least once, it is a good idea to invest in your sleeping gear to make sure you are comfortable and secure when camping.
As you are already spending money, it is also wise that you go for durability too. You won’t be able to enjoy your camping trip if you are unable to sleep well because of your sleeping pad or camping mattress.
There are a lot of things to consider before buying, but make sure to not forget these four.
Length – your whole body should fit in it to make sure that even your legs are insulated.
Width – it should be wide enough to allow you to move. You don’t want to roll off of your mat while sleeping.
R-value – the higher the number, the better protection in can give you against the cold of the ground.
Denier – the higher the number, the more durable.
You can get a lot of health benefits from camping and backpacking. You get to exercise while walking and smelling the fresh air. You get to socialize with the other campers. You get to eat healthy food. You get to relax and avoid stress. You can get a good night sleep or sleep under the stars. Now get a perfect sleeping air mattress and don’t be afraid to take a rest outdoors from time to time.
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Price last updated on 2023-06-03. Links & images are from Amazon Product Advertising API. Our editors independently research, test and recommend the best products and services. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article at no additional cost to you.