Image courtesy of Tuft & Needle.
Buying a mattress is no longer like buying a car, requiring showroom visits that put us at the mercy of unctuous sales agents and an SUV-sized investment. The advent of “bed-in-a-box” disruptors changed the game (and your new mattress may very well arrive in a bafflingly small box). But this new era has brought so many options that it’s impossible to comparison shop. Articles and sites that attempt to evaluate the contenders use criteria as diverse as sleeping style (back, side, etc), weight, softness, heat, bounce, and durability. But there’s no perfect formula, and it really comes down to personal preference–which isn’t always easy to put into words. While we can’t tell you which mattress is perfect for you, below is a roundup of the current important entries in the mattress field, and why they’re so popular.
Image courtesy of Tuft & Needle.
A few truths: You get what you pay for, to some extent; more expensive mattresses tend to keep their shape longer than the bargain-basement models–but that doesn’t mean you have to choose between a college education and a decent mattress. As with most things, the disruption factor has democratized prices and put a crimp in the price puffery of the department store mattress racket of the past. And current brands offer perpetual sales and discounts.
There’s no “demystifying” the mattress-buying process. The good news, though, is there’s no real mystery behind it, only personal preference. As far as the actual box part of the process: Follow instructions. Unroll it, let it breathe for a day. We promise it will become an actual mattress. And don’t worry about off-gassing unless you have a particular sensitivity. Mattresses aren’t toxic and don’t smell bad.
The choice: As far as which one you should choose, it’s hard to come up with a list of “top picks,” since we haven’t undertaken a formal study where we’ve had every mattress ever made delivered and test-driven. Even if we had, every week seems to bring new options. Consumer Reports (membership required) is a good standby for reviews; they review an exhaustive list of choices and update regularly.
In addition to the aforementioned criteria, customer service is a big factor. One of the biggest upsides to modern mattress-buying is that you can–in some cases you’re actually required to keep the mattress for 30 days before returning it–seriously try out the goods for weeks, and if you’re not thrilled, the manufacturers will give you a refund. It’s highly recommended that buyers take advantage of this option. Keep in mind that you can often still find a showroom and test the wares first for many brands to help rule out absolute no-gos.
As for the items below, remember that mattress companies are constantly attempting to innovate, coming out with new models with new bells & whistles, and new brands are joining the fray just as frequently. It’s worth looking at the latest news if it’s been a while since your last dive.
Image courtesy of Nest Bedding.
Mattress 101: Deciphering the types of mattresses that are available is less complicated than it may sound. The main differences are as follows:
Foam (or memory foam)
Once more of a niche item, this type of mattress has rapidly been gaining favor with brands like Casper bringing it to the masses. Layered polyurethane and/or latex foam mattresses mold to your body shape so it feels like pressure points are being supported. “Hot” sleepers may find foam too warm; A subset, gel mattresses, are known for being cooler.
These are the traditional mattresses, made with a core of steel coils; they can have special layers of cushioning including a pillow-top or gel layers. These mattresses are bouncier, but can be more disruptive to one person who’s asleep when another person–or pet–gets up or tosses and turns.
Hybrid mattresses have one or several layers of foam–and sometimes gel or other material–surrounding basic inner springs. These tend to be pricier but can be a good choice for someone who can’t choose between the two. There are other variations: Adjustable air mattresses inflate according to the firmness the sleeper desires using an attached electric pump. They often contain foam as well. These are usually divided into individual halves so each sleep partner can choose their firmness level.
All of these products have been hand-selected by team 6sqft. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these affiliate links. All prices reflect those at the time of publishing.
|As the best-known of the new breed, the Casper may the first name that comes to mind–how could we resist those subway ads–when we think “mattress-in-a-box.” The all-foam mattress is a top comfort choice for just about every type of sleeper, and buyers love the price and convenience of ordering. The brand offers a 100-night trial with a refund if you’re not thrilled. In addition to the original all-foam model, a pricier Wave Mattress is ergonomically designed to relieve pressure at shoulders and hips, and a hybrid variation gets high marks as well.|
|Boutique brand Tuft & Needle has been getting lots of buzz lately for a top-quality basic foam mattress at an astonishingly reasonable price point. Their higher-priced Mint mattress gets high ratings from Consumer Reports and elsewhere.|
|This foam mattress sold by Costco is a favorite of bargain lovers of all types for being easy to unpack and cozy in any position as well as a good value.|
Hybrid and innerspring
|Getting top ratings in every category from a wide sampling of reviewers, the Avocado Green Mattress is a made-in-America natural, organic wonder featuring organic certified latex, wool and cotton and up to 1,414 pocketed support coils (there’s also a vegan model made without wool). The company claims their product offers the most durable and supportive innerspring unit available in any mattress, anywhere.
Photo © 2017 Avocado Mattress. All rights reserved. Photography by Melissa Kruse.
|The Leesa Hybrid mattress is another well-known disruptor that gets top ratings in a number of places. The company simplifies the choices by offering only three models, and the hybrid is the sweet spot for sleepers who want both foams and springs for enhanced pressure relief and consistent edge-to-edge support.|
|Combining coils with layers of foam, this mattress-in-a-box from boutique brand Nest Bedding is stable and durable; it’s on the soft side for sleepers who like a soft bed. The 14-inch height means you should make sure your fitted sheets will actually fit.
Photo courtesy of Nest Bedding
|This innerspring mattress from Saatva targets buyers who don’t want to give up the traditional coils–with a layer of foam as a “euro pillow-top” to provide a gentle introduction to the concept. The mattress gets points from Consumer Reports for durability, too.|
|Unlike many of the new kids on this block, Charles P. Rogers has been in the bed business since 1855, but they’re still likely to be mentioned as a top contender in any conversation involving classic innerspring mattress picks, for durability as well as supportive comfort. The company has kept up with technology, adding a latex topper to their classic innerspring Powercore model.|
|From this familiar name comes a top-rated innerspring mattress from the company’s Hybrid Performance Collection, pairing the responsive support of an innerspring with the body-conforming feel of memory foam. Consumer Report gives it big points for support|
The luxury mattress. Yes, the six-figure mattress exists.
|These Scandinavian beds are said to be the most expensive in the world. Each one is assembled by hand as part of the company’s 167-year quest for ideal sleep and five generations of craftsmanship using layers of horsetail, cotton and wool, hand-ruffling the fibers together for a “dreamily airy, pliable result.” Reviewers who have been lucky enough to give them a test drive say the premium mattress did indeed convey the best sleep of their lives. The all-in-one beds start at around $7K for a twin and go all the way up to over $100,000, depending on customization.
Photo courtesy of Hastens
|Though they don’t drift into the six-figure zone, high-end Swedish brand Duxiana’s DUX mattresses are known as the finest money can buy. Innovations like steel springs that move with you and a replaceable top pad add to the practical side of luxury.
Photo courtesy of Duxiana
What about IKEA?
The IKEA Myrbacka mattress ($499 from IKEA) gets decent reviews from Consumer Reports, and anecdotally, IKEA mattresses have their loyal fans. The Swedes really do know how to do beds and bedding, so it’s a good bet that they’re ahead of the curve when it comes to comfort.
A word about frames and box springs
Necessary heavy box spring platforms that often doubled the cost of the mattress purchase have gone the way of the horse and buggy. Most of the mattresses mentioned here require no special support other than a platform bed–or the floor if you’re a super minimalist (though you certainly can use an old-school box spring if you so choose, and some mattress makers still sell them). That said, some–i.e. the pricier options–are part of systems that include platforms and box-spring-like supports. Most mattress companies offer a wide range of frame options from the most minimal to high-end and high-tech beds. And most now offer frames that allow you to adjust the head and foot of your bed, either on both sides with twin mattresses or all at once.
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