The Best Mattresses in a Box of 2019

  1. The Nectar Mattress

    Skip to the full review below

Other Favorites

Other products we tested

  1. The Original Purple Mattress

    Skip to the full review below
  2. The Casper Mattress

    Skip to the full review below
  • Nectar

  • Tuft & Needle

  • Helix Midnight

  • How We Tested

  • What Should You Know Before Buying a Mattress

  • Other Mattresses in a Box We Tested

  • More Articles You Might Enjoy

Nectar Mattress
Credit: Nectar Sleep
Best Overall
Nectar

Overall takeaway: The lightest and most comfortable mattress we’ve tested so far.

Delivery: Front door drop-off 2-3 days after placing an order. A Queen arrives in a 44"x16"x16" box and weighs about 65 pounds.

Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King

Trial period: 365 nights.

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

What it's made of: Two layers of foam: on top, a 1-inch fast-recovery gel memory foam and a 3-inch 3.5-pound memory foam with medical-grade cooling, and beneath, a high-density base foam layer for support.

The details: Nectar is by far and away the best mattress we’ve tested to date, thanks to its perfect balance of firmness and plushness and its middle-tier price point. The first thing I noticed upon lugging the box up the two flights of stairs to my apartment was how unbelievably light it was compared to others. It’s actually only a few pounds lighter, but that can make all the difference for installation. They also offer white glove delivery that starts at $149. It did have a bit of 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 me, my partner, or our cat.

I tend to sleep hot, but I rarely had any issues with the Nectar, and my partner, who swears by the Purple, even admitted one day that this was the most comfortable mattress he’s slept on so far. For me, that’s all the proof I need, but I kept testing. The most important test we do thus far has proven to be the “wine glass” test to evaluate motion transfer, and when my 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 won’t get jostled awake if you share a bed with a restless sleeper or feel bad getting up to pee at 2 a.m.

After sleeping on the mattress for 30 days, I didn’t want to give it up and took my sweet time arranging to have the mattress hauled away. But if you don’t get as attached to yours as I do to mine, Nectar offers a 365-day trial period, one of the longest windows of all the top mattresses in a box.

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

Overall takeaway: A fantastic budget option with great support.

Delivery: Front door drop-off. A Queen arrives in a 44"x16"x16" box and weighs about 72 pounds.

Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King

Trial period: 100 nights.

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

What it's made of: Two layers of foam: on top, a soft 3-inch layer infused with cooling gel and graphite, and beneath, a firm 7-inch layer for support.

The details: The Tuft & Needle is a fantastic mattress for anyone looking for a bit more support in a mattress. By far the least expensive model we tested, it was a favorite for its firmness and comfort. It's supportive yet soft, so getting in and out of bed isn’t difficult or painful. In both clinical and practical testing, we found that the mattress mitigates movement well which means that a tossing-and-turning partner won’t wake you up.

The mattress is cased in a slightly cheap-feeling mattress cover that’s designed to be breathable. It bunches up a bit beneath tight-fitting sheets, but not distractingly so. Tuft & Needle's excellent, prompt, friendly customer service is a perk, as well. At this intersection of price and quality, you'll be hard-pressed to find a better pick.

Helix Midnight
Credit: Helix
Best Luxury
Helix Midnight

Overall takeaway: A great mattress for side sleepers that could use some improvement with packaging.

Delivery: Front door drop-off. The Queen arrives in a rectangular cardboard box with no handles. It weighs about 70 pounds.

Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King

Trial period: 100 nights.

Return protocol:Removal partners come to your house and take it away to donate or recycle.

What it's made of: Hybrid mattress constructed from memory foam, polyfoam, wrapped coils, and hard foam called “duradense” foam at the base.

The details: Before ordering a Helix mattress, you take a brief survey on their website that uses your height, weight, usual sleeping position, and preferred mattress firmness to determine your ideal mattress. I sleep on my side and prefer a medium-to-firm mattress, which gave me 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, I loved it—but I had some difficulties with its delivery. The box that got dropped off outside my door had no handles, and it was heavy, so I had to enlist two of my roommates to help me hoist it up the stairs to get to my bedroom. This took a long time, not because it was heavy (though, at about 70 pounds, it was), but because the box didn’t have a great place to grip and kept slipping out of our hands. Once I got it to my room, though, the unboxing process was pretty easy (I had to snip off a lot of plastic wrap, but that’s common in the boxed mattress experience). There was also a strong chemical smell on the mattress that stuck around after I unwrapped it, but that dissipated a little bit each day and went away fully in about a week.

That said, I slept really well on the Helix Midnight. It has a perfect medium-firm feel, with some give when you lay down on it, but a distinctive sensation of deeper support at its core. I’ve always been a side sleeper, but on my old spring-filled mattress, I would sometimes wake up with a sore, crooked-feeling back and aches in my hips where the springs had dug into them. On the Midnight, however, I felt alignment on my side when I woke up, and, because the mattress’s interior coils are surrounded by memory foam, no piercing pains in my hips. It felt comfortable if I ever rolled over to my back or stomach, too. I also tend to sleep hot (and my apartment doesn’t have air conditioning), so I was pleased that the mattress didn’t retain too much of my body heat, even when I was sweating in the night. All in all, it’s a great mattress at a decent price, particularly if you’re a side sleeper.

How We Tested

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

The Testers

We are Jessica Teich, Samantha Gordon, and Sara Hendricks, product testers and editors at Reviewed who have an extra special place in our hearts for naps, sleeping in on weekends, and working from our beds whenever we can. So when we first started talking about testing mattresses, it was a no-brainer for us to volunteer. We spent weeks planning out exactly how we would test them—even before any arrived—to get the most useful results that would actually help you decide which mattress is right for you, whether you're a light sleeper, suffer from back pain, or any combo therein.

The Tests

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

We tested the mattresses the same way you might: We slept on them for at least 30 nights to see how they held up. Unlike you, though, we brought the mattresses into our state-of-the-art testing labs in Cambridge, Mass., to test their durability and physical attributes. We teamed up with Reviewed’s senior scientist to go beyond the subjective experience and find which mattress really is best by answering questions like:

Customer experience: What is the delivery process like? How easy is it to install the mattress? What are the trial period and return processes like?

Sleeping: Did you notice an improvement in your quality of sleep on this mattress? How does your body feel after sleeping on the mattress for an extended period? Is it easy to get in and out of bed? Is the mattress particularly warm or cool?

Post-sleeping and motion transfer: How far does the mattress sink when under the weight of a bowling ball or dumbbells? Can a glass of wine remain stable when someone rolls over on the other side? Does a ball roll off or into the center when balanced at the corner of the mattress?

We then scored and weighted the results on a scientifically calibrated rubric. Not all questions wound up being equally important: For example, ease of getting in and out of the bed was weighted more heavily than sleep quality, as we observed no discernible difference in how each mattress affected our sleep patterns. All things considered, it became clear that, while much of what makes a mattress great is at least partly subjective, some boxed mattresses are far superior, some are perfectly adequate, and others are just not worth your money.

What Should You Know Before Buying a Mattress

Buying a mattress is not the same as, say, buying new sheets for your mattress. A mattress is a much larger, much pricier purchase and something that’s meant to last at least a decade. Before you buy, you want to feel really sure you’re getting your money’s worth for a mattress you’ll love for a long time. So what should you look for before you buy?

First of all, you need to do your research. Read reviews—a lot of them. Since what each person finds comfortable is so subjective, we recommend reading many to get a holistic look at your options. Professional reviews (like this one!) will provide context, but so will first-hand consumer reviews. Keep your own preferences in mind: For instance, we might not have liked the 14.5-inch height of the otherwise very comfortable Saatva, but that might be exactly what you’re looking for to fit your too-low bed frame.

Many bed-in-a-box companies offer a trial period so that you can return your mattress if you're dissatisfied with it. That's why it's also 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.

Here are some other things to consider:

  • Can you try the mattress in a store before you buy? While Purple and Tuft & Needle may be online-only retailers, Casper has a handful of brick-and-mortar stores where you can feel the mattresses in person before committing to one—just like a traditional mattress store.

  • What kind of firmness do you want? Finding the right firmness 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 what you do and don’t like before you buy online.

  • What material are you looking for? For boxed mattresses, there are a myriad of materials. You can choose between memory foam beds, traditional coils, hybrid mattresses (which combine foam and coils), or Purple’s unique polymer.

  • What is edge support? Coil mattresses require an encasement around the bed to help with support around the edges. These kinds of mattresses can be especially helpful for couples, or families where the kids and pets like to climb in because it might help prevent you from rolling off the bed if you wind up sleeping on or near the edge.

  • Does the mattress require special sheets or accommodations? Some mattresses, like Saatva, may not work well with regular sheets, box springs, or bed frames. That means you’ll have to replace your old standbys with deep-pocket sheets, or possibly a new bed, and that can get expensive fast.

  • Do you have (or plan to get) an adjustable base? Some mattresses are not designed to fold up, and using them with a motorized adjustable base can both damage the mattress and potentially break the base.

  • Will you need a box spring? Most mattresses work fine without a box spring as long as you have a platform bed to support the mattress instead. If you do need a base, companies like Casper and Purple, sell standard and adjustable bases that work with their mattresses.


Other Mattresses in a Box We Tested

The best mattress in a box
Credit: Purple
Purple

Overall takeaway: A super comfortable mattress with an irresistible, unique take on comfort.

Delivery: Front door drop-off. The Queen arrives in a 60-inch-long plastic purple tube with fabric handles and weighs about 72 pounds.

Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King

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. They even have an option to have them handle all the details, including scheduling the pickup.

What it's made of: Three layers: On top is a 2-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 4-inch layer of high-density "support" foam. It's all wrapped in a soft, washable cover.

The details: Most every other mattress out there today is made of memory foam, coils, or are hybrid mattresses, which are some combination therein. Purple sets itself apart with its unique gel-like material that forms the top layer of its mattresses. The result is an undeniably comfortable surface that hugs your body without feeling like quicksand. The unusual material absorbs movement extremely well, and when my partner rolled and flopped around on his side of the bed, the filled wine glass I had balanced on my side hardly even wiggled from the motion.

The extreme squish and stretch of the top polymer layer makes it seem like you wouldn't get much support, but it's quite the opposite. It cradles you no matter if you're a side, stomach, or back sleeper. This was the first mattress I tested, and I'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 I started sleeping on the Purple that my pain diminished significantly, and that's a big reason why I sleep on this mattress now (when I'm not testing other mattresses).

Purple also has no competition when it comes to delivery. The others, excluding the Saatva, all arrive in these massive boxes that are awkward and near-impossible to haul into your home, especially if your bedroom's not on the first floor. Purple's mattresses arrive wrapped in plastic tubing that has cloth straps stitched right in. There's so much less waste, and they include a convenient cutting tool to slice right through the bag, so there's no struggle to tug a 70-pound tube out of a big clumsy box.

Saatva

Overall takeaway: A plush mattress that's very comfortable but a little too big.

Delivery: White-glove delivery service. The mattress is not just dropped at your doorstep, but brought inside and placed on the bed frame for you. No heavy-lifting on your part.

Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King

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 their efforts. They donate their mattresses to veterans' shelters or give them to employees, and there's no apparent option to handle the donation yourself for a full refund like other companies offer.

What it's made of: Recycled steel rod coils, eco-friendly pillow-top foam, natural flame retardant barrier, and organic cotton cover.

The details: When you first lay down on the Saatva, you'll think you've been transported to a suite at a luxury resort. This thing is comfortable as heck and it didn't hurt that I did nothing more than hold open doors to let the delivery guys in and lead them to my waiting bed frame. I was honestly surprised that it didn't tie with the Purple and Tuft & Needle. The reason? It's inconveniently large and was one of the worst at absorbing movement—at $100 more than the Purple, it got knocked down just a couple pegs.

The model I tested was 14.5 inches thick, nearly double the thickness of most mattresses, which made it nearly impossible for my regular sheets to stay put. The mattress was also the worst 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 wine (ok, we tested with water) flying.

I'm a pretty tall lady at 5'10, and because the mattress is so thick, I had to sort of hop into the bed every night. While the added bed height felt luxurious in that "where's my royal stepping stool, you peasant?" kind of way, it may not be ideal if you're shorter than me, if you have any sort of pain or injury, or are otherwise restricted in movement. That said, Saatva does offer a thinner, 11.5-inch option that would probably be fantastic if you sleep alone or heavily enough that your partner's midnight bathroom trip won't wake you. You can also choose your ideal firmness. For the sake of this test, I went with "Luxury Firm," the most popular option, but you can opt for "Plush Soft" or "Firm" as well.

Casper

Overall takeaway: A beautiful aesthetic that is overshadowed by an unsupportive mattress.

Delivery: Front door drop-off. The Queen Casper box is 17"x17"x42" and weighs about 90 pounds.

Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King

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.

What it's made of: 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 finally, a durable support foam on the bottom.

The details: The ubiquitous mattress in a box, Casper has a very attractive, high-quality feel: but it’s simply just too soft to measure up to the competition. The luxe design aims to target zones like your shoulders and hips, and the mattress is cased in a high-quality zippered cover that fits snug around the mattress. However, the mattress feels spongy and that lack of firmness (and therefore, resistance) makes it difficult to move around and get in and out of bed.

You’ll also feel a lot of movement from a partner or pet moving around on the bed: when we balanced a filled wine glass on one side and kicked around on the other, the wine glass nearly toppled over. Worst, the mattress's edge support seemed markedly lower than at the center, and buckled beneath average pressure. Is it a bad mattress? No. Can you do better for the price? Yes.

Layla

Overall takeaway: An unusual mattress made with copper that's firm and soft.

Delivery: Front door drop-off. The Queen Layla box is 45"x19"x19" and weighs about 80 pounds.

Sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California King

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.

What it's made of: Four layers: 3-inch copper-infused memory foam (soft side topper), 2-inch support foam with air flow, 4.5-inch base support foam, and 1-inch copper-infused memory foam (firm side topper).

The details: Layla sets itself apart from the rest with an unusual feature. This mattress has two sides. One is firm and the other soft. It's a cool concept if you aren't sure what you'd prefer, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. First off, the soft side is so soft that you sink 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, I didn't notice any difference in how I was sleeping. The memory foam on both sides is infused with copper, which claims to help keep you cooler. I woke up dripping in sweat the first two nights, but I'd also just had oral surgery which could have influenced my reaction. After the first two nights, I seemed to settle into the mattress and didn't have any further issues with overheating. But I didn't notice that I felt cooler than usual, either.

Meet the testers

Jessica Teich

Jessica Teich

Former Editor

@jessicarteich

Jessica covered lifestyle and beyond at Reviewed. Her work has appeared in publications including The New York Times and The Boston Globe.

See all of Jessica Teich's reviews
Samantha Gordon

Samantha Gordon

Managing Editor - Ecommerce

@https://twitter.com/sam_the_editor

Samantha is an avid writer, editor, and consumer with an oddly deep love for finding amazing deals on amazing products, especially stuff that makes life easier. Her personal passions include smart home tech, 3D printing, crafting, cocktails, and cats.

See all of Samantha Gordon's reviews
Sara Hendricks

Sara Hendricks

Staff Writer

Sara Hendricks is a staff writer with Reviewed covering emerging categories.

See all of Sara Hendricks's reviews

Checking our work.

We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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