Some people love to sink into a soft, cushiony mattress. Others—stomach and back sleepers in particular—prefer something firmer with more support. There are mattresses geared at every type of sleeper, but with so many options to choose from, selecting a new mattress can feel like an overwhelming task.
Here at Reviewed, we tested some of the most popular firm mattresses on the market to help you choose the best one for you. We subjected each mattress to rigorous scrutiny in our Cambridge, Mass., lab and at our tester’s home. After months of testing, we have our firm winners. Our favorite firm mattress is the Lull Original (available at Lull) , which strikes a great balance between being firm and cushy. It also does a great job diffusing heat. The Tuft & Needle Original(available at Tuft & Needle) provides excellent support for an unbeatable price. The Saatva Classic Luxury Firm(available at Saatva) provides stellar edge support and feels like a traditional mattress even though it comes in a box.
The Lull Original mattress caught us by surprise. Our tester discovered the bed advertised on TikTok of all places, and she was floored by its performance in our home and lab tests.
From her first night on the Lull Original, our tester was impressed. The mattress slept cool, was firm for a foam offering, and had excellent edge support (foam mattresses tend not to fare as well when it comes to this metric). Lab tests confirmed that the mattress is great at diffusing heat and has stellar edge support. When we rolled a heavyweight bag to the edge of the bed, it was well past its halfway point when the bed finally gave and the bag actually tipped off.
But what our tester likes most about the Lull Original is its great surface sensation. The bed strikes a balance between feeling overly cushy and too firm. It’s got just enough of a sink-in factor that you feel slightly cradled—yet it was comfortable enough for our tester to sleep on her stomach and side. We think that it has something for everyone—though some may find it veers on the edge of too firm.
To top it off, the company’s customer service is easy to work with and quite humorous. Our tester had a fun chat with Lull reps about mattress weights where the agent compared the queen to “or about 53 dozen large eggs. So… a pretty big omelet. A very big omelet.” (That’s 77 pounds if you’re curious).
We can’t say enough nice things about this mattress. Plus, it’s reasonably priced—the evergreen sale cost is not too far off from that of the Tuft & Needle Original, our best affordable mattress.
Materials: The Lull Original has three layers of foam. The uppermost layer is a 1.5-inch piece of gel-infused memory foam designed to have cooling properties. The second layer is another 1.5-inch piece of foam that provides support, and the base is a 7-inch layer of polyurethane.
Delivery and packaging: Front door drop-off. A queen-size mattress arrives in an 80-pound box that measures 19 by 19 by 43 inches—according to the brand, that’s the size of a large mini-fridge.
Trial period: 365 nights
Return protocol: Contact the company to initiate a return. It makes “every effort possible to donate returned trial mattress[es] to charities and organizations in need of beds.”
At first, she was dubious about the firmness. But within a few minutes of lying down, this mattress softens and adapts to the pressure of body weight. It had just enough give to cushion pressure points, particularly when lying on her side. Stomach and back sleepers—who are generally more prone to spinal woes—will likely find they can sleep in their preferred position without any soreness. Our tester loves sleeping on her stomach, but she’s all too familiar with lower back strain. Yet it was never an issue with the Tuft & Needle Original.
The product’s edges are more supportive than many other foam beds. They still compressed when our tester sat right on the corner, but when she laid down and scooched over to the edge, she didn’t feel like she’d imminently fall off the bed. (If you prefer a softer, more supple mattress, read on for other recommendations.)
The Tuft & Needle Original was our former Best Value pick, but its price has since increased. Still, the MSRP is on the lower end. And while the site’s sales aren’t as substantial as other retailers, you’ll often come across 10% or 15% discounts.
The Tuft & Needle Original has a couple of downsides. For one, the product retained some heat in lab testing, though it was far from the worst culprit, and heat retention tends to be an issue with foam mattresses in general. Perhaps more telling, our tester didn’t think it felt too warm, but she tested it in the dead of winter. Also, if you’re looking for the sink-in sensation of memory foam, this isn’t the mattress for you—indeed, some sleepers may find the Tuft & Needle too firm. On the other hand, experts often say it’s easier to throw on a mattress topper to provide a bit of cushion than remedy a too-soft surface.
We think this is an incredible bed at the end of the day (and, of course, overnight). It balances supportiveness with just enough surface give. Our tester thought it worked well for all sleep positions. To put it simply, she says: “If I had to buy a mattress tomorrow, given my current budget, I would hands-down go for the Tuft & Needle.”
Materials: On top, a soft layer of foam infused with cooling gel and graphite; beneath, a thicker layer of foam provides support.
Delivery and packaging: Front-door drop-off. A queen arrives in a box that measures 44 inches by 16 inches by 16 inches and weighs about 72 pounds.
Trial period: 100 nights
Return protocol: Tuft & Needle coordinates pickup with a local charity or nonprofit, free of charge.
The Saatva Classic in Luxury Firm is a delight. Our tester loved the firm sleep surface that allowed her to snooze comfortably on her stomach and side. Softer mattresses make it next to impossible for our tester to sleep on her stomach without feeling at least some strain in her lumbar spine.
The Saatva also has unsurpassed edge support. Available in three firmness levels, the mattress relies on springs and foam to provide the optimal amount of support. The springs are the same regardless of the chosen firmness level; the difference lies in the uppermost level of foam. Denser foams are used in the firm and luxury firm options, whereas the plush mattress has a less dense foam. This allows you to make sure you get the mattress that will best fit your needs.
Saatva offers a 180-night trial. It’s not the longest we’ve seen, but it’s certainly adequate to figure out if the mattress is the right fit. Another final perk? The company does all of the heavy lifting for you: The price includes white-glove delivery.
Materials: The Saatva Classic pairs a 3-inch piece of foam with coils. The mattress also has a piece of support foam that’s a fraction of an inch tall in the middle of the bed.
Delivery and packaging: White glove delivery. Just open the door, and a team will get the mattress set up for you. You can even elect to have your old mattress (and box spring) removed, though the company won’t pick up foundations or bases.
Trial period: 180 nights
Return protocol: Contact the company and it will facilitate the return, but you’ll be saddled with a $99 processing fee.
Mattress testing here at Reviewed is usually two-pronged, with lab tests for scientific data gathering and home tests. We run every mattress through a series of tests in our labs to gather as much data as possible. In addition, one of our testers sleeps on the mattress for 30 nights.
Our mattress tests are pretty extensive, so we didn’t feel it necessary to bog you down with every last detail. Instead, here’s a smattering of the criteria:
Comfort: This is perhaps the most crucial aspect of a mattress, though comfort is subjective. Testers consider how supported their bodies feel throughout the night in different sleep positions and are mindful of their own sleep habits. They even consider whether or not they find themselves rolling around at night to find a cooler spot on the bed.
Motion transfer and bounciness: If you’re a light sleeper, you’ll benefit from a mattress that minimizes the movement of a tossing-and-turning partner. So, we ask our testers to have another person (or pet) join them, and we double-check their assessment. Using an accelerometer mobile app on one side of the mattress, we drop a punching bag on the opposite side of the bed. The higher the number, the greater amount of motion the mattress allows to pass through.
Edge support: This simply refers to whether the edges of a mattress are sturdy enough to withstand weight and pressure. Mattresses in a box lack the wire cage found in traditional innerspring beds, and many rely on foam, which can limit the edge’s ability for load-bearing. Too little support could also make it difficult to put your shoes on or complete other tasks while sitting on the corner or edge of the mattress. Ideally, a firm mattress should perform well when it comes to edge support. We measure this subjectively by having testers sit on the edge of the mattress and objectively by seeing how far off a mattress we can roll a punching bag before it falls.
Heat retention: If a mattress cannot disperse heat quickly enough, you might be in for a warm sleep experience. While this could work for those who sleep cold, others may end up sweaty and miserable. We take our tester’s subjective opinion, but also assess this by microwaving silicone bead-filled bags and placing them on the mattress for several hours as we monitor the temperature.
Support: You know your body’s needs best, but we give a rough idea of the amount of support a mattress provides. Our testers lie on their backs, sides, and stomachs and check for gaps between their lower back and the top of the mattress. We also attach pressure sensors to a weighted barbell that loosely represents the human form. This detects pressure at different points like the shoulders and hips, which take more weight and pressure than the legs.
Moving and unboxing: Mattresses-in-a-box are a beast to unpack and move once they’ve opened to their full size. Testers describe how difficult it is to remove the mattress from its packaging and how feasible it would be for an individual to move that mattress once it fully expands.
Odor: Foam mattresses aren’t known for smelling like daisies, especially when first sprung from their packaging. The manufacturing and packaging process can trap smelly chemicals within—these VOCs are released into the air during unpacking. Testers note the smell when they first open the mattress and again 24 hours later (the time that companies recommend letting a mattress off-gas before sleeping on it).
Customer experience: We ask testers to answer questions related to the experience of ordering and receiving the mattress, because you sleep better when you aren’t stressed.
What You Should Know About Buying Firm Mattresses
Mattresses are an important investment. They are expensive, they often last a decade, and they impact how you feel every day. Buying a new mattress can be a daunting task. So, where do you begin?
First: Consider how a firm mattress fits with your sleep style. There are plentiful benefits to firm mattresses. For one thing, it’s easy to make a firm mattress softer with the help of a mattress topper or featherbed. It’s harder (no pun intended) to go the other way. Firm mattresses provide better spinal support than softer ones. They are good for back and stomach sleepers who need more spinal support. But, they might not be a good match for side sleepers, who tend to benefit from a mattress with more give to prevent pressure on their hips and shoulders. Mattress selection is a deeply personal choice with few objective answers at the end of the day. You should decide what mattress type is most comfortable for you and buy based on that preference.
Once you’ve decided you want a firm mattress, do your research. You’re headed in the right direction, seeing as you're already here! But also read expert and buyer reviews—and a lot of them. Given how much time you spend in bed and the impact that sleep has on our waking hours, it’s a critical decision. A bad night's rest 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!).
Most bed-in-a-box companies offer a trial period so that you can literally sleep on it. That said, it's essential to take a company’s return policy into account. Some make it super-easy by retrieving the mattress free of cost, but others require you to coordinate the mattress's return, donation, or disposal to receive a full refund.
Other Firm Mattresses We Tested
The Purple mattress impressed our tester with its ultra-comfortable sleep surface. The company heavily hypes its unique polymer, and our tester was initially skeptical. She wasn’t sure how much she’d like it when she first got it. The fact that the bed is difficult to move, plus the super squishy surface didn’t instill much confidence. But when she laid down on it for the first time, it was a different story.
The mattress had a surprisingly firm surface that was supportive but bouncy, with a little cushioning. She loved sleeping on it and was especially impressed by how well it diffused heat. It was one of just a handful of mattresses she truly felt lived up to the company’s claims. What’s more, despite its foam build, the mattress had reasonable edge support. In our lab test, the heavyweight bag tipped toward the edge but remained supported after it was overhanging the edge of the mattress by several inches.
The biggest downside in our book? The cost. Purple doesn’t offer many sales. And when it does, the discounts aren’t that substantial. But if it’s in your budget, it’s worth a serious look.
Materials: A 2-inch layer of Purple’s proprietary grid sits atop two layers of “high density foam.”
Delivery and packaging: Front door drop-off.
Trial period: 100 nights (21-night minimum)
Return protocol: Contact the company, and it will arrange for the mattress to be picked up at no cost to you.
The Awara organic luxury hybrid mattress is made of cotton, latex foam, coils, and wool. It’s heavy—129 pounds for a queen size, according to the manufacturer—and our tester had to enlist help to drag it up two flights of stairs to her bedroom (a task she’s normally able to do alone). Because of its weight, it was also difficult to unbox and get on the bed frame.
From there, things turned up. The mattress had no odor when it was opened, and the product felt really sturdy—a good thing, as it seemed extra supportive. Its coils also gave a pleasant amount of bounce. Our tester thought it offered a similar feel to a luxe traditional innerspring mattress. She usually sleeps on her side and back and felt comfortable during the sleep tests, though side sleepers with a propensity for aggravated pressure points may be better off with a softer mattress.
Its dense interior seems to absorb motion well, so it's a good choice for light sleepers who are often disturbed by the movements of a partner or pet. It also had great edge support, with a firmer ledge that resisted collapsing from sitting or lying on the edge of the bed. And both our tester and lab tests confirm the Awara doesn’t retain much heat, which is good news for folks who tend to sleep warm. All in all, it feels more like a conventional mattress rather than one that comes in a box.
Awara also makes a concerted effort in its organic and health-conscious practices. It holds three materials certifications for its latex and the fabric in its ticking; a health and low off-gassing certification from Greenguard; and the Rainforest Alliance Seal, which demonstrates the latex meets certain environmental, social, and economic sustainability benchmarks.
Bottom line: It’s really, really heavy and pricier than many. But if you want something that feels like a traditional mattress—with a lot of support and a little bit of bounce—and has excellent heat dispersion, the Awara could be right for you.
Finally, its parent company, Resident Home, has a track record of poor customer service. It has also faced multiple FTC charges for falsely claiming it used materials made in the United States and assembled its products in the U.S.
Materials: Four layers of cotton, latex foam, coils, and wool.
Delivery and packaging: Front-door drop-off. A queen arrives in a cardboard box that weighs 129 pounds.
Trial period: 365 nights
Return protocol: Contact Awara’s “sleep concierge” to donate or dispose of the mattress locally.
The DreamCloud mattress is firm, supportive, and works well for most sleep positions. Even when our tester woke up on her back (a position she generally avoids), she never noticed the typical discomfort she feels in that position. The firm surface makes it well-suited to stomach sleeping as well. However, side sleepers and those who prefer a softer surface will likely find another bed more comfortable. This mattress also isn’t prone to heat retention—our tester always woke feeling cool and comfortable, and lab tests corroborated her experience.
The mattress does have some issues, particularly when you free it from its shipping confines. The DreamCloud’s corners lagged behind—it puffed up like a peculiarly shaped baked good in the oven. What’s more, the foot of the bed didn’t rise to its full height until about three weeks into our testing. While the sagging foot wasn’t a bother for our 5-foot-9-inch tester, the slow expansion could leave taller folks’ calves and feet unsupported.
Most mattresses take a few days to air out entirely—the DreamCloud, however, reeked even after 24 hours in a decently ventilated room. And it didn’t smell for just a couple of days—she noticed the smell every night for more than two weeks.
Beyond that, its parent company, Resident Home, has a track record of poor customer service. It has also faced multiple FTC charges for falsely claiming it used materials made in the United States and assembled its products in the U.S.
Materials: A soft cashmere cover wraps two layers of foam, a platform of individually wrapped springs, and a base.
Delivery and packaging: The mattress arrives in a box that measures 43 inches by 18.5 inches by 18.5 inches. It weighs 85 pounds and even comes with a slicer to cut through the plastic.
Trial period: 365 nights
Return protocol: DreamCloud asks that you donate the mattress to a local charity or organization. It will help you find a recipient, but it's on you if you incur a cost moving the mattress.
Our tester put the Bear Hybrid in the same league as the Awara—another mattress she loved. The Bear has some unique materials that the company claims make it great at helping people, including athletes, recover from intense exercise.
In our testing, it stood out for its firm sleep surface that our tester claimed was ultra-comfortable. She loved sleeping on the mattress and was especially complimentary about its cushioning upper layer. “I really liked its plush topper, it made it feel luxurious and like I wouldn’t ever need an additional topper,” she explained.
The Bear Hybrid fell flat when it came to edge support and motion transfer. In our lab tests, its edge wasn’t nearly as supportive as the bed's surface, and our heavyweight bag rolled off after passing the mattress’s periphery by a few inches. Our tester also noticed it was more prone to motion transfer than others during her at-home trial—something to consider for those who share a bed with a partner, kids, or pets.
All in all, it’s a solid choice. But we wouldn’t choose it based entirely on the company’s claims about recovery, as they’re hard to verify and may not do much. The mattress could be great for those looking to capture a traditional mattress feel, but it is on the pricier side compared to others we’ve tried.
Mattress materials: The Bear Hybrid mattress is composed of a total of five layers, including the cover. Under the moisture-wicking cover are a layer of copper-infused memory foam, a layer of comfort foam, a layer of encased coils, and a base layer of dense support foam.
Delivery and packaging: Front door drop off 2-7 business days after placing order. A queen arrives in a box that measures 45 inches by 20.5 inches by 20.5 inches and weighs 110 pounds. Shipping is free, and white glove delivery is available at an additional cost.
Trial period: 365 nights (30-night minimum)
Return protocol: Returns are free of charge, and Bear will collect the unwanted mattress.
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.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.