The Best Mattresses in a Box of 2019

By Samantha Gordon and Jessica Teich, Updated May 20, 2019
UPDATE: May 17, 2019

We are continuing to test more and more mattresses, and while we still love the Tuft & Needle as the best budget pick, the Nectar recently came in as our new favorite. We'll be updating this guide in the coming days with additional details.

Finding the right mattress is no simple task, especially now that popular deliverable options usually can’t be tested in stores. Whether you know you want soft or firm, or don’t know where to start, it’s important to research before you buy. There are a lot of reviews out there from professionals like us and from everyday sleep-lovers, and we think you should read as many as you can: After all, you spend a third of your life on your mattress, so choosing the right one is crucial.

We tested the best mattresses in a box, blending scientific and experiential tests to find the best ones out there. Some reviewers slice up mattresses and analyze the materials under a microscope. Others sleep on one or two and write about their experiences. We land in the middle, getting a well-rounded look at each mattress to see how they stack up. Our favorite? Nectar (available at Nectar for $699.00) for its reasonable price, comfort, and lightweight, cooling design. What else we found might surprise you.

Editor's note: Mattresses we're still testing include the Leesa, the Sealy Cocoon, the Helix, the Eight Smart Mattress, the Zinuz Green Tea Mattress, and more. We'll be updating this post as we test each one.

Below are the mattresses we tested, in order of performance.

  1. Nectar
  2. Tuft & Needle
  3. Purple
  4. Saatva
  5. Casper
  6. Layla
— Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Nectar Mattress Best Overall
Credit: Nectar Sleep

Nectar

Product Image - The Nectar Mattress

Nectar

Best Overall

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: The 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, 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 Best Value
Credit: Tuft & Needle

Tuft & Needle

Product Image - Tuft & Needle Mattress

Tuft & Needle

Best Value

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.

The best mattress in a box Best Luxury
Credit: Purple

Purple

Product Image - The Original Purple Mattress

Purple

Best Luxury

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 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.

Samantha on a Purple Mattress
Credit: Reviewed / Samantha Gordon

Purple's packaging is far and away the most convenient and fun to unwrap.

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.

How We Tested

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

We are Jessica Teich and Samantha Gordon, 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 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: 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, traditional coils, a combination therein, or Purple’s unique polymer.

  • 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

Saatva

Product Image - Saatva Mattress

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

Product Image - The Casper Mattress

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, support at the edge of the mattress 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

Product Image - Layla Mattress

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.

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