• Nectar

  • Leesa Hybrid

  • Tuft & Needle Original

  • How We Tested

  • What Should You Know About Mattresses

  • What To Consider When Buying a Mattress in a Box

  • Other Mattresses in a Box We Tested

  • More Articles You Might Enjoy

Our Favorite Mattresses in a Box of 2020

  1. Best Overall

    The Nectar Mattress

    Pros

    • Balances firm and plush

    • Lighter weight

    • Long trial period

    Cons

    • Produced odor for first 12 hours after opening

    Skip to the full review below
  2. Best Upgrade

    Leesa Hybrid

    Pros

    • Comfortable for all sleep positions

    • Balances firm and soft

    • Luxury feel

    Cons

    • Pricey

    • Strong initial odor

    • Heavy

    Skip to the full review below
Nectar Mattress
Credit: Nectar Sleep
Best Overall
Nectar

Nectar is the best mattress we’ve tested. It checks a lot of boxes for many shoppers, with its excellent balance of firmness to plushness and its middle-tier price.

The first thing our tester noticed upon lugging the box up the two flights of stairs to her apartment was how light it felt compared to other boxed mattresses. At 65 pounds, it’s only a few pounds lighter than most, but that can make all the difference for moving and opening a memory foam mattress. Nectar also offers white-glove delivery that starts at $149. Like most foam mattresses, it emits a weird “packaged” smell at first, despite the site claiming you shouldn’t notice any odors, but that dissipated after about 12 hours and was never an issue for our tester, her partner, or their cat.

The “wine glass” test, which evaluates motion transfer, proved to be one of our most important and insightful tests. When our tester’s partner thrashed around and kicked his legs on the bed, the wine glass hardly even wobbled, and never came close to tipping over, meaning you aren’t likely to get jostled awake if you share this bed with a restless sleeper, or feel bad about getting up to pee at 2 a.m, and then slinking back to bed. Additionally, though our tester tends to sleep hot, she had no issues with the Nectar mattress.

After sleeping on the mattress for 30 days, our tester didn’t want to give it up and took her time arranging to have it hauled away—and her partner, who formerly swore by the Purple mattress, admitted that this was the most comfortable mattress he’s slept on so far. But if you don’t get as attached to it as they did, Nectar offers a 365-day trial period, one of the longest windows of all the mattress-in-a-box retailers.

Mattress materials: Three layers of foam: From the top, a one-inch “fast-recovery” gel memory foam, then a three-inch memory foam layer with “medical-grade” cooling, and beneath, a high-density base foam layer for support.

Delivery and packaging: Front-door drop-off, two to three days after placing an order. A queen-size mattress arrives in a box measuring 44 inches by 16 inches by 16 inches and weighing about 65 pounds.

Trial period: 365 nights.

Return protocol: Nectar helps you coordinate donation or local disposal.

Pros

  • Balances firm and plush

  • Lighter weight

  • Long trial period

Cons

  • Produced odor for first 12 hours after opening

Leesa Hybrid
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar
Best Upgrade
Leesa Hybrid

We think it’s worth investing as much as is feasible in your budget in your mattress—after all, you spend up to a third of your life on it. The Nectar offers top-notch support at a middle-of-the-road price but, based on our testing, it’s hard to beat the Leesa Hybrid, if you can afford to spend the cash.

The mattress’s top two layers are foam, which provide softness and give, and allow it to contour to the body. As a hybrid, the foam sits atop pocket springs, which are coils that are individually wrapped in quilted fabric, giving the bed a sturdy yet buoyant base. This provides adaptable support for all sleep positions, without leaving a stomach sleeper unsupported or a side sleeper’s shoulder or hip aching the next morning. The bed is a crowd-pleaser that’s amazing to sleep on in any position.

For consumers, the Leesa Hybrid’s construction and support aren’t visible. What our tester felt was the responsiveness of its inner workings when she plopped down on the mattress. On a superficial level, though, she noticed and appreciated the super-soft and aesthetically pleasing cover (a.k.a., its ticking). The cover doesn’t have a huge bearing on functionality, but the devil’s in the details, and that’s another place where the Leesa Hybrid Mattress shines.

The Leesa Hybrid mattress only had a couple of downsides. It retained heat in our lab testing, a consideration for people who sleep hot. That said, our tester considers herself a hot sleeper, yet she didn’t find herself switching sides of the bed in hopes of finding a cool spot (like flipping the pillow over to get the “cool” side).

In addition, the Leesa Hybrid had a noticeable odor when it was first opened that lasted several days. The mattress is CertiPUR-certified, so the smell, though annoying, isn’t caused by certain harmful flame retardants, and the bed meets indoor air-quality requirements for certain types of pollutants. In addition, moving the mattress once it’s expanded is a task due to its heftier-than-most, 115-pound weight.

Leesa’s 100-night guarantee, along with its responsive customer service, make this mattress a worry-free investment. If you don’t vibe with the Leesa as well as our tester did, you may send it back for a full refund—though we doubt you'll want to part with it.

Mattress materials: Two layers of foam a top comfort layer designed with holes for breathability, and a regular memory foam layer that provides contouring. The foam layers sit above a pocket-spring base.

Delivery and packaging: Front-door drop-off. A queen size arrives in a box measuring 45 inches by 16 inches by 16 inches and weighing a total of 121 pounds.

Trial period: 100 nights.

Return protocol: Leesa will coordinate the pick-up and donation of unwanted mattresses to “charity partners that serve children.”

Pros

  • Comfortable for all sleep positions

  • Balances firm and soft

  • Luxury feel

Cons

  • Pricey

  • Strong initial odor

  • Heavy

Related content

The best mattress in a box
Credit: Tuft & Needle
Best Value
Tuft & Needle Original

The Tuft & Needle Original is a fantastic mattress for anyone looking for firmer support in a bed, at a great price. It is among the least expensive we’ve tested but it stands out as a favorite for its ability to provide comfort, without compromising on firmness or feeling too hard.

In both our lab-based and at-home tests, we found that the mattress mitigates movement well—even a tossing-and-turning partner didn’t rouse our tester. Tuft & Needle's excellent, prompt, friendly customer service is a perk as well.

The mattress is encased in a cheap-feeling cover that’s designed to be breathable. It bunches up a bit beneath tight-fitting sheets, but not distractingly so—and as it’s the best practice to use a mattress protector anyway, we don’t see this as a big concern.

At this intersection of price and quality, it’s hard to find a better pick.

Mattress materials: Two layers of foam: on top, a soft three-inch layer infused with cooling gel and graphite, and beneath, a firm seven-inch layer for support.

Delivery and packaging: Front-door drop-off. A queen-size arrives in a box measuring 44 inches by 16 inches by 16 inches box and weighing about 72 pounds.

Trial period: 100 nights.

Return protocol: Tuft & Needle coordinates pickup with a local charity or nonprofit, free of charge.

Pros

  • Firm surface

  • Prompt, friendly customer service

  • Little motion transfer

Cons

  • Mattress cover bunches up under tight sheets

How We Tested

The best mattress in a box
Credit: Reviewed / Jessica Teich

The Testers

I’m Lindsey Vickers, the sleep writer here at Reviewed. I joined the team in 2020, so earlier versions of this guide to mattresses pre-date my time at Reviewed. Several testers helped develop and contributed to this comprehensive list of mattresses, including writer Sara Hendricks and former editors Jessica Teich and Samantha Gordon.

We all have an extra-special place in our hearts for naps, sleeping in on weekends, and all things sleep-related. To keep up with changing attitudes towards and consumer preferences in mattresses, our testing methods have evolved over time so that we can provide you with the information you need to pick the mattress that’s right for your life and sleep style.

The Tests

The best mattress in a box
Credit: Reviewed / Jessica Teich

We test mattresses the same way you might: We sleep on them for at least 30 nights to see how they hold up. Unlike you, though, we also subjected some of these mattresses to a series of standardized tests into our state-of-the-art testing labs in Cambridge, Mass. Between the at-home testing and the lab testing, we gather data related the following attributes:

Comfort: Perhaps the most important part of a mattress is the comfort it provides. Of course, comfort is subjective and differs from person to person. Instead of assessing how just one tester felt on the bed, testers considered how supported their body felt throughout the night, and in different positions. Testers were mindful of their own sleep habits, even considering whether or not they found themselves rolling around at night to find a cooler spot on the bed.

Motion transfer and bounciness: We asked our testers to have another person (or sometimes a pet) join them on the mattress to see how noticeable the movement caused by a bedmate might be. If you’re a light sleeper, sleeping on a mattress that does nothing to insulate you from a tossing and turning bed partner isn’t going to do your sleep quality any favors. For most of the mattresses, we double-checked our assessment of the mattress’s motion transfer by placing a water-filled wine glass or a Newton’s cradle (that famous desk toy with the ball bearings suspended on strings) on one side of the bed, and asking our testers to climb onto the other side and move around a bit. If their movements were enough to spill water from the wine glass or make the balls in the Newton’s cradle clack together, then we could confirm that that mattress would not be a good pick for a light sleeper.

Unsurprisingly, motion transfer is closely related to bounciness. In some cases, we gauged a mattress’s bounciness by jumping up and down on the mattress like small children with energy to burn. In the lab, though, the bounciness test is much more sedate. The tester makes a video recording of dropping a bowling ball onto the center of the mattress from about waist height; after checking the video, we determined the bounciness by noting how much air (if any) the bowling ball got on the first bounce.

Edge support: Testers assessed the support provided by the edge of the bed by determining whether the mattress edges sloped beneath their weight while they were lying down along it or sitting down on it. While this may not matter to some sleepers, when a mattress is crowded with a partner or a pet, too-little edge support can mean the difference between staying aloft or falling off the bed. If the mattress edges provide too little support, it could also make it difficult for you to put your shoes on in the morning, or complete any other task that is often done while sitting on the mattress corners or edges.

For the mattresses that were tested in our labs, we placed a bowling ball on the edges and corners of the mattress. If the bowling ball stays in place and doesn’t roll away, then we conclude there’s enough support at mattress edges for you to sleep on without having to worry about falling out of bed in the middle of the night.

Heat retention: One of the more recent hot-button issues in mattresses is heat retention. If a mattress cannot vent or disperse the heat you give off quickly enough, you might be in for a warmer sleeping experience than you were expecting. While this is ideal for those of us who sleep cold, people who sleep warm can end up sweating and miserable in the middle of the night.

In our earlier tests, we relied on our testers’ subjective responses to heat retention. In more recent iterations of our mattress testing, we started measuring it in our labs. First, we place temperature sensors on the mattress, cover the mattress with a heated blanket, and turn it on a high setting for an hour. Then, we turn the heated blanket on and off every fifteen minutes. In order to see if a mattress retains heat, we check the temperature spikes over time. If a mattress vents the heat from the heated blanket efficiently, then the temperature peaks should not rise over time (in fact, with cooling mattresses, those peaks should go down over time). For mattresses that retain heat, though, we’d expect to see those temperature values go up over time. By looking at the temperature, it’s easy to see whether a given mattress will keep you (too) warm or leave you cool.

Support: While you know your body’s needs best, we can give you a rough idea of the amount of support a mattress provides, whether we test it in someone’s home or in the lab. For at-home testing, our testers lie on their backs on the mattress and check for any gaps between their lower back and the top of the mattress. If the gaps are present, then it is unlikely that the mattress will be able to provide you with adequate back support.

Future lab tests will confirm the at-home testing by placing weight plates on either end of a barbell, placing the barbell on the mattress, and seeing how much the mattress attempts to fill in the gap between the two weights.

Memory: Some people want the memory-foam experience where their mattress perfectly conforms to the contours of their body. Typically, memory foam retains the imprint of a person’s body for a longer period of time than a standard coil-constructed mattress. To verify that a memory foam mattress lives up to its name, we place 150 pounds of weight onto the mattress, leave it overnight, and then remove the weight. If the mattress springs back instantaneously (or didn’t seem to change shape at all under the weight), then the mattress has very little memory. However, if we can actually see the mattress returning to its original shape in real time, then the mattress has some degree of memory and shape retention.

Moving and unboxing: Mattresses-in-a-box are a beast to unpack and to move once they’re open to their full size. We asked testers to describe how difficult it was to remove the mattress from its packaging, as well as how feasible they thought it would be for someone to move that mattress by themselves once fully expanded.

Odor: Foam mattresses aren’t known for smelling like daisies, especially when they first are sprung from their packaging. The packaging and manufacturing processes cause chemicals to become trapped within the mattress; these smelly chemicals are released into the air once the plastic around the mattress is cut open. Testers noted the smell of the mattress when they first opened it, and again 24 hours later (the minimum time it’s recommended you let a mattress off-gas before sleeping on it).

Customer experience: We asked testers to answer questions related to the experience of ordering and receiving the mattress itself. What was the delivery process like? How easy is it to install the mattress? How long are the trial period and the warranty period? How seamless is the return process?

Because the requirements for a comfortable mattress can vary so much from person to person, some of the aforementioned tests are opportunities to gather data about a mattress, rather than grade it objectively. For example, some people may prefer bouncy mattresses over stiff mattresses, or vice versa. In this case, we don’t penalize a mattress for being bouncy (or stiff); we passively collect this data so as to provide you with the information you need to determine whether a specific mattress is right for you.

What Should You Know About Mattresses

Let’s face it: Mattresses are expensive. And everyone needs a bed, so you don’t have many options other than coughing up the cash. What’s more, most mattresses last you a decade—and you don’t want to be stuck sleeping on a bed you find uncomfortable for 10 years. You want to be sure you’re getting your money’s worth, and a mattress you’ll love for years to come. But where do you even begin?

First: You need to do your research. Seeing as you’re already here, you’re headed in the right direction! But also read expert and buyer reviews—and a lot of them. Given how much time you spend in bed, and the impact that quality sleep has on our waking hours, it’s critical you choose what's best for you. A bad night's sleep can be a literal pain in the neck or back that impacts your mood, memory, and productivity the next day (or even for months on end!). As comfort is subjective and personal, we recommend researching multiple products to get a holistic look at your options. Keep your own preferences in mind: For instance, we might not have liked the comparatively large 14.5-inch height of the otherwise comfortable Saatva, but that might be exactly what you’re looking for to fit your ultra-low bed frame.

One of the best parts of the online mattress industry is that most bed-in-a-box companies offer a trial period so that you can literally sleep on it. That said, it's important to take each company’s return policy into account. Some companies make it super-easy by retrieving the mattress free of cost, but others require you to coordinate the return, donation, or disposal of the mattress in order to receive a full refund.

What To Consider When Buying a Mattress in a Box

  • Can you try the mattress in a store before you buy? While Purple and Tuft & Needle are online-only retailers, Casper has a handful of brick-and-mortar stores where you can feel the mattresses in person—just like a traditional mattress store. Other companies partner with specific retailers. Leesa, for example, teamed up with West Elm and Pottery Barn, so you can buy the mattress straight from these vendors and visit some of their physical locations to test it out.

  • What level of firmness do you want? Mattresses range from extra firm, almost like sleeping on a carpeted floor (or a slab of rock, depending on your preferences), to soft and squishy, like a cloud (or quicksand). Finding the right firmness for you is essential to getting a good night’s rest. If you’re not sure what you want, you can always visit a mattress showroom to get a sense of your preferences before buying online.

  • What fabrication are you looking for? Boxed mattresses come in a myriad of materials. You can choose among memory foam, traditional coiled springs, hybrid mattresses (which combine foam and coils), or something off the beaten path, such as Purple’s unique polymer. Each type has benefits and drawbacks. Memory foam, for example, contours well to your body under the pressure of your weight, but can feel too enveloping to some people and retain heat. Coils can provide more support, but will also feel bouncier and may transfer more motion, say, from a restless partner.

  • Do you want more edge support? If you’re an active sleeper, or your bed is home to a party of more than one, edge support can help prevent you, a partner, the kids, and even pets from rolling overboard, which can be an issue with some memory foam mattresses. Or if you like to sit on the edge of the bed as you put on shoes or socks, you might not want to feel the mattress sloping down or collapsing underneath you. Coil and some hybrid mattresses have an encasement around the bed to help provide support around the edges.

  • Does the mattress require a box spring or a foundation? Many newer mattresses work fine without a box spring (a fabric-covered wood frame that contains springs to increase bed buoyancy and boosts up the mattress for additional height), as long as you have a platform bed or adequate slats to provide support and/or the height you’d like your bed to be. Just be sure to check the mattress specifications before it shows up at your door. If you do need a base, these companies sell them to match their mattresses.

  • Does the mattress require special accessories? Some mattresses, such as the extra-thick Saatva, may not work well with standard sheets or bed frames. That might mean you need to replace your favorite sheets with a deep-pocket set or, if your bed frame isn't compatible, new furniture, which can get expensive.

  • Do you have (or plan to get) an adjustable base? If you have or are hoping to get a motorized adjustable base, you’ll want to buy a mattress that is compatible. Some mattresses aren’t designed to fold up and using them with a motorized adjustable could damage the mattress and potentially break the base.


Other Mattresses in a Box We Tested

The best mattress in a box
Credit: Purple
Purple

Purple sets itself apart with its unique gel-like material unlike the typical memory foam, coil, or hybrid mattresses that pad the rest of the market. The gel material results in an undeniably comfortable surface that hugs the body without feeling like quicksand. It also absorbs movement extremely well, as evidenced by our tester’s wine-glass test: When her partner rolled and flopped around on his side of the bed, the filled wine glass balanced on her side hardly registered the motion.

The extreme squish and stretch of the top polymer layer makes it seem like the mattress wouldn’t offer much support, but it's quite the opposite. It cradles the body regardless of preferred sleep position. This was the first mattress our tester tested, and she’d been dealing with the quintessential "I'm not 25 anymore and work at a desk all day" lower back pain. It wasn't long after she started sleeping on the Purple that her pain diminished, and that's a big reason why she continued using a Purple mattress, buying herself one after the test period.

Purple also has no competition when it comes to delivery. The others, excluding the Saatva, arrive in massive boxes that are awkward and near-impossible to haul around, especially up stairs. Purple's mattresses arrive wrapped in plastic tubing that has cloth straps stitched right in. There's so much less waste, and the included cutting tool slices right through the bag, so there's no struggle to tug a huge foam cylinder out of a big clumsy box. Plus, of all the vendors we tested, Purple is the only one that sells a split king, which works with a two-sided adjustable frame.

Mattress materials: Three layers: On top is a two-inch "hyper-elastic polymer" in a grid design that feels similar to silicone. In the middle is a 3.5-inch layer of mid-density "comfort" foam, and on the bottom is a four-inch layer of high-density "support" foam.

Delivery and packaging: Front-door drop-off. The queen arrives in a 60-inch long, 16-inch diameter plastic tube with fabric handles and weighs about 110 pounds.

Trial period: 100 nights.

Return protocol: Purple will send you a return label and then a customer service rep will help you through the process.

Pros

  • Incredibly comfortable

  • Low waste packaging

  • Split king size available

Cons

  • May not provide enough support for some

Avocado Green Mattress

The Avocado Green Mattress is a fairly well-rounded bed that doesn’t quite cater to everyone. Our tester felt the mattress stood out temperature wise—it was consistently cool, even on hot summer nights, and she never woke up overbaked. Lab testing confirmed that it’s among the coolest mattresses we’ve tested. It was also just comfortable. It’s not the same comfort offered by the Leesa and other top picks, but it gives sleepers a cozy feel that our tester enjoyed.

The Avocado Green Mattress is a hybrid, meaning its construction incorporates springs and foam. It has hundreds of coils sandwiched between two layers of latex, which is known for being cooler than memory foam and its springy with a responsive surface, meaning it quickly responds to pressure or weight. Latex doesn’t yield the sinking, molding, or cradling sensation you get from memory foam, rather the surface has some plushness, but little give or tendency to compact beneath body weight. Our tester felt the springiness of this mattress might be too much for some, but that it’s a great option for people who prefer the feeling of coils, and don’t want to completely sacrifice plushness.

The mattress didn’t beat our top picks because it isn’t as versatile in terms of the sleep positions it accommodates. Side and back sleepers will enjoy it, but our tester found that her lumbar spine was unsupported when she slept on her stomach for more than one consecutive night, making the mattress less than ideal for people who prefer stomach sleeping.

Our tester also noticed the mattress she received was two inches short of a standard queen in width and length, coming in at 78 inches by 58 inches. For our tester, who is just accompanied by her cat each night, it wasn’t a problem. However, anyone who is joined by a partner, kids, or large pets, this might be an issue. When our tester asked customer service about the size discrepancy, the representative said it was something Avocado heard about often, and suggested jumping on the bed to encourage it to expand to its full size, which seemed questionable, at best.

Mattress materials: The Avocado Green Mattress is made with two layers of organic latex rubber foam that sandwich pocketed coils, and it’s covered in organic fabric.
Delivery and packaging: Avocado’s delivery takes longer than many mattress-in-a-box companies because the products are handmade. Our tester’s mattress took just over three weeks to arrive at her door.

Trial period: 365 nights.

Return protocol: Avocado requires customers submit photos of the mattress condition. Once it’s verified, they coordinate with a local charity to pick up the mattress for donation.

Pros

  • Cool

  • Comfortable

  • Eco-conscious

Cons

  • Bad for stomach sleepers

  • May be too springy for some

  • Hard to move

Helix Midnight

Before ordering a Helix mattress, potential buyers take a brief survey on their website that uses height, weight, usual sleeping position, and preferred mattress firmness to determine their ideal mattress. Our tester sleeps on her side and prefers a medium-to-firm mattress, as such, her results yielded the Helix Midnight, a 12-inch mattress with medium support and a hybrid foam-spring composition. This also happens to be the brand’s best-selling mattress.

Overall, our tester slept really well on the Helix Midnight. It has a nice medium-firm feel with some give when she lay down on it, but a distinctive sensation of deeper support at its core. The tester has always been a side sleeper, and on her old spring-filled mattress, she would sometimes wake up with a sore, crooked-feeling back and aches in her hips where the springs had dug into them. On the Midnight, however, it felt as though she was aligned sleeping on her side, and when she woke up, the familiar, piercing hip pain her old mattress caused was no more. She also felt comfortable in other positions on the mattress.

In addition, our tester tends to sleep hot (and lacks air conditioning), so she was pleased that the mattress didn’t retain too much body heat, even when she sweat at night. All in all, it’s a great mattress at a decent price, particularly for side sleepers.

That said, our tester had some difficulties with its delivery. The box that was dropped off outside her door had no handles, and it was heavy at about 70 pounds, so she had to enlist two of her roommates to help her hoist it up the stairs to her bedroom. There was also a strong chemical smell on the mattress that stuck around after she unwrapped it, but that dissipated a little bit each day and went away fully in about a week.

Mattress materials: The Helix Midnight mattress is constructed from memory foam, polyfoam, wrapped coils, and hard foam called “Duradense” foam at the base.

Delivery and packaging: Front-door drop-off. The queen arrived in a rectangular cardboard box measuring 48 inches by 16 inches by 16 inches. It weighs about 70 pounds.

Trial period: 100 nights.

Return protocol: Helix’s removal partners come to your house to take away an unwanted mattress to donate or recycle it.

Pros

  • Great for side-sleepers

  • Supportive core helps align back and hips while resting

Cons

  • May be too hot for some sleepers

  • Strong chemical smell after unwrapping

Tempur-Pedic Tempur-Cloud

The Tempur-Cloud is a fine mattress. Our tester didn’t think it was the best mattress or the worst mattress. It was just fine.

In keeping with Tempur-Pedic’s emblematic foam mattresses formula, this one is entirely foam. The top layer offers little immediate give—unlike plushy foams—instead slowly molding to our tester’s body. This makes it comfortable, but also prevents the quicksand effect that plagues some foam mattresses.

Our tester didn’t have many complaints, but she also didn’t have anything to rave about. On the plus side, the Tempur-Cloud had little noticeable "mattress" odor after opening and didn’t require an air-out period like most other mattresses in a box. It was also easier to move, weighing just 60 pounds and coming in a canvas bag that was well-designed with moving in mind.

As for sleeping, the Tempur-Cloud is a mixed bag. When our tester laid on her side, she found the firm surface did not irritate common pressure points (on the hips and shoulders). On the negative, when she slept on her stomach (her preferred position for drifting off) she found the Cloud to be uncomfortable, causing strain on her lower back.

One of the biggest downsides in our tester’s experience was temperature. Tempur-Pedic claims the Tempur-Cloud is covered in a fabric that provides airflow and breathability, but our tester found that it felt as though the mattress sucked in body heat and held onto it. Lab results showed it retained a noticeable amount of heat. Her hot take? Hot sleepers steer clear.

Mattress materials: Foam, foam, and more foam. The Tempur-Cloud is composed of a base layer of foam to provide support, topped with two layers of “tempur” material, which is a unique foam designed and made by Tempur-Pedic. The foam is topped with a fabric cover.

Delivery and packaging: Front door drop-off one to two weeks after you place an order. The mattress arrives in a cylindrical canvas bag with fabric handles measuring 43 inches long by 15 inches in diameter. It weighs about 60 pounds.

Trial period: 90 nights.

Return protocol: Tempur-Pedic will coordinate mattress removal and give you a refund.

Pros

  • Little motion transfer

  • Firmly supportive

Cons

  • Not great for hot sleepers

  • Top foam surface offers little immediate give

Saatva

When our tester first lay down on the Saatva mattress in "Luxury Firm," she thought she’d been transported to a suite at a high-end resort. It didn't hurt that she did nothing more than hold open doors to let the delivery guys in and lead them to her waiting bed frame. She was surprised that it didn't perform better on our tests. The reason? It's inconveniently large and one of the worst mattresses at absorbing movement.

The “Premier Luxury” model we tested measured 14.5 inches thick, nearly double the thickness of most mattresses (it also comes in a more standard “Custom Slim” 11.5-inch thickness). The added bulk made it nearly impossible for our tester’s regular sheets to stay put. The tester is a pretty tall lady at 5-foot-10, but due to the mattress’ thickness, she found herself almost hopping into bed every night. The added bed height felt luxurious in that "where's my royal stepping stool, you peasant?" kind of way, but it may not be ideal for people who are shorter, unless they have a lower mattress frame. The height could also prove challenging for people with chronic pain, injuries, or restricted movement.

More annoyingly, the Saatva mattress was terrible at absorbing movement. When we conducted the wine glass test, this was one of the two mattresses that threatened to tip the glass and send the water flying.

That said, the thinner, 11.5-inch option (which Saatva claims “feels identical”) could work for people who sleep alone or so deeply that a partner or pet’s midnight fidgets won’t stir them.

Mattress materials: Recycled steel rod coils, eco-friendly pillow-top foam, natural flame retardant barrier, and organic cotton cover.

Delivery and packaging: White-glove delivery service. The mattress is brought inside and placed on the bed frame for you. No heavy-lifting on your part.

Trial period: 120 nights.

Return protocol: Saatva offers white-glove removal if you are not satisfied with your mattress, but you will be charged $99 for the service. There's no apparent option to handle the donation yourself for a full refund like some other companies offer.

Pros

  • Multiple firmness levels to choose from

  • Comfortable

Cons

  • May be too hot for some sleepers

  • Poor movement absorption

Allswell Supreme

Setting up the Allswell was pretty simple, as far as boxed mattresses go. Our tester had to drag it up two flights of stairs, which few people would find enjoyable, but it was still possible for one woman to do on her own. Allswell provided clear instructions on how to unbox it that made it easy enough to place on a bed frame. Once the mattress was unpacked, it gave off a pungent odor, but this dissipated after a few days.

Sleeping on the Allswell Supreme initially felt like a treat. It has a soft enough upper layer that our tester didn’t think an additional mattress pad was necessary (though your mileage may vary based on your own preferences), but the core was sturdy enough that it still felt supportive throughout the night. The mattress has coils at the base that are topped with two layers of memory foam, plus a plush quilted top, which help it absorb movement—if someone is tossing and turning on the other side of the bed, you don’t really feel it (unless your blanket gets stolen). Our tester also sleeps hot, and didn’t find that the mattress retained too much heat.

But the Allswell Supreme has one major issue: Its edge support. Our tester tends to sleep on one side of the bed, and often sits on the same side to put on shoes while getting ready in the morning. After a few months, a faint depression formed on this side that never fully re-plumped up, giving the mattress a slightly lopsided look and feel. This was easy to deal with by rolling over to the other side to sleep—which felt as comfortable as ever—but it was concerning that there was such a visible impact after a relatively short time of use.

Mattress materials: Coiled base topped with two layers of foam and a quilted enclosure.

Delivery and packaging: Front-door drop-off. The shipping box for a Queen measures 43 inches long by 18.5 inches by 18.5” inches and weighs 96 pounds.

Trial period: 100 nights.

Return protocol: To return a mattress, you initiate a return on Allswell’s site and someone from the company will call you within two days to arrange a pickup. You should get a refund in seven to 10 days.

Pros

  • Soft top layer

  • Supportive core

  • Absorbs movement well

Cons

  • Poor edge support

  • Mattress sags over time

Zinus

The Zinus Green Tea mattress, which we tested in the 12-inch thickness, is a soft mattress with minimal support but a super-affordable price. It’s different from some other mattresses on this list, because it’s available on Amazon and, at under $350 for a 12-inch thick Queen-size mattress, it’s a lot cheaper than most mattresses out there. It is also widely beloved, with nearly 40,000 reviews and an overall 4.2-star rating. Zinus’ mattress foam, called BioFoam, is made with green tea extract, castor seed oil, and charcoal. Zinus says these natural components are used to prevent the typical chemical-y smelling scent of a mattress in a box, but when our tester unboxed it, it had the same pungent smell we’ve come to expect. (It dissipated in about 24 hours, though.)

When our tester laid down on the Zinus, the first thing she noticed could be a plus or a minus, depending on personal preferences: It’s extremely soft. The mattress is composed of different kinds of foam, so it molds to pressure and weight, creating what felt to our tester like a divot underneath the body. In some ways, this is good—it has a nesting effect, so it’s cozy—but she tends to sleep hot, and found that the Zinus retained body heat more than other mattresses she’s tested (namely, the Helix). It also made it difficult to get out of bed in the morning because her 130-pound body had sunk so deep into the mattress. Still, she slept pretty well each night, despite not loving soft mattresses and occasionally feeling more overnight heat than she preferred.

And the Zinus has its fans (apart from all those Amazon shoppers), one of whom is another Reviewed staff member: Anna Lane, our parenting editor. She loves Zinus mattresses so much that she has one in every bedroom of her house. “I initially bought one for my son because I found that it was the most reasonably priced, not-super-toxic mattress,” she says. “I didn’t have high hopes for comfort because of the price point, but once we tried it out, both my husband and I agreed that it was super-comfortable. Then we bought two more: one for us and one for our daughter.”

Bottom line: It’s not for everyone. But buyers seeking a short queen size that measures 70 inches long, versus the regular 80 (a few people are), who like soft mattresses (some people do), and who prefer to save money (many people do), the Zinus is a solid option.

Mattress materials: Foam: Three inches of memory foam, two inches of “comfort” foam, seven inches of “high-density base support” foam.

Delivery and packaging: Front-door drop-off. The 12-inch thick queen size arrives in a rectangular cardboard box. It weighs about 60 pounds.

Trial period: 100 nights.

Return protocol: Zinus instructs purchasers to contact customer service for instructions on returning decompressed (i.e., open) mattresses. These may prove a hassle to return if purchased anywhere other than Zinus’s site, if Amazon reviewers’ experiences are accurate.

Pros

  • Affordable

  • Short queen size available

  • Odor dissipates quickly after opening

Cons

  • Lacks support

  • Difficult to get up from

Casper

Casper is perhaps the most ubiquitous mattress in a box, but for our tester, its beautiful aesthetic was overshadowed by how unsupportive she found it. The luxe design aims to target zones like the shoulders and hips, and the mattress is encased in a high-quality zippered cover that fits snug around the mattress. However, the mattress feels spongy and that lack of firmness (and therefore, increased resistance) makes it difficult to move around and get in and out of bed.

Our tester felt a lot of movement from her partner and pet moving around on the bed, which was confirmed by her wine-glass test. When she balanced a filled wine glass on one side and kicked around on the other, the wine glass nearly toppled over. Worse, the mattress's edges buckled beneath average weight and pressure. Is it a bad mattress? No. Are there better options for the price? Yes.

Mattress materials: A 10-inch thick mattress with four layers of foam: a breathable open-cell foam on top, followed by a layer of high-density foam, then a layer of "zoned transition foam" (meant to support different areas of the body appropriately), and a durable support foam on the bottom.

Delivery: Front-door drop-off. The queen-sized Casper box measures 42 inches by 17 inches by 17 inches and weighs about 90 pounds.

Trial period: 100 nights.

Return protocol: Casper arranges a pickup through a local charity or recycling partner and refunds you in full for any associated costs.

Pros

  • Breathable, open-cell top layer

Cons

  • May not offer enough support for some people

  • Prone to motion transfer

  • Difficult to move on and get up from

Layla

Layla sets itself apart from the other mattresses we tested with a couple unusual features. Namely, it has two sleep surfaces, depending which side of the mattress is facing up: One that's firm, while the other is soft. It's a cool concept for buyers who aren’t sure of their preferences, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. First off, the soft side is so soft that our tester felt she sank in too far. And the 'firm' side really isn't all that firm, considering it's resting on a whole bunch of ultra-soft memory foam. It's more like this mattress has a soft side and a too-soft side. Aside from never quite getting used to how soft the soft side was, our tester didn't experience any ill effects to her sleep.

The memory foam on both sides is infused with copper, which claims to help keep you cooler and has antimicrobial properties. But our tester woke up dripping in sweat the first two nights, (though she noted she’d just had oral surgery, which could have influenced her reaction). After that, she seemed to settle in to the mattress and didn't have any further issues with overheating, but she didn’t notice feeling cooler than usual, either.

Mattress materials: Four layers: A three-inch, copper-infused memory foam (soft side topper), two-inch “support foam with air flow”, 4.5-inch base support foam, and one-inch copper-infused memory foam (firm side topper).

Delivery and packaging: Front-door drop-off. The queen-size Layla box is 45 inches by 19 inches by 19 inches and weighs about 80 pounds.

Trial period: 120 nights.

Return protocol: Layla offers a few different options, including coordinating pickup by a local charity, and will give you a full refund.

Pros

  • Two firmness options

  • Copper infused

Cons

  • May be too hot for some sleepers

  • Too soft, even on the "firm" side

Meet the tester

Lindsey Vickers

Lindsey Vickers

Staff Writer, Sleep

@lindseyvix

Lindsey writes about sleep, lifestyle, and more for Reviewed. In her waking hours, she likes to spend time outside, read, cook, and bake. She holds a master’s in journalism from Boston University and bachelors' degrees in English Literature and Anthropology from the University of Utah.

See all of Lindsey Vickers's reviews

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