May be too firm for some
Some heat retention
What is Tuft & Needle?
Tuft & Needle may not have the immediate name recognition as a couple of other heavily advertised, large mattress companies, like Casper and Nectar. The company launched in 2012 and became well regarded for its high-quality, affordable mattress in a box.
Since its inception, Tuft & Needle has remained focused on mattresses, but it’s also branched into other sleep-related products, including sheets, blankets, and pillows. (We like its foam pillow for side sleeping.) It also carries a handful of bed frames and bases to round out the sleeping portion of your bedroom.
How did we test the Tuft & Needle Original?
Our mattress testing has two key components: an at-home sleep test and lab tests. In the home test, we do what anyone would do when they buy a new mattress: We sleep on it. Over the course of a month, I assess a variety of criteria, including a mattress’s comfort, how well it cradles and supports my body in different sleep positions, whether it’s prone to motion transfer (that is, if I can feel the disturbances of another person or my rather large cat moving around on the bed), and if it sleeps hot throughout the night.
Each mattress’s lab stint looks totally different, even though we’re testing some of the same criteria. Our senior scientist, Julia MacDougall, checks mattresses for heat retention by monitoring the bed’s temperature under a heated blanket; its cradling capabilities based on how well it curves up beneath a heavy barbell; and its supportiveness and bounciness from the edges and corners to interior by dropping and balancing a bowling ball.
What’s it like to unbox the Tuft & Needle Original?
The process of extricating the Tuft & Needle Original from its packaging was like most of the other mattresses I’ve unboxed. At 72 pounds of somewhat floppy foam, it wasn’t easy, but it still weighs less than some mattresses I’ve tested and was less squirrelly than others, putting it above average in the maneuverability ranks.
After I got it out of the box, there was the familiar mild chemical odor common with foam mattresses, but it wasn’t excessive or particularly noticeable. It was almost entirely gone by the next day—a major plus, given I slept on a mattress that stank for the better part of a month. On first impression, the Tuft & Needle Original is unremarkable, which made what I found in my testing even more astounding.
What’s great about Tuft & Needle Original mattress?
This mattress is solid in a literal and metaphorical sense—it’s firm. Sure, it’s made entirely of foam (it’s not a hybrid mattress of foam and coils), and it flops a bit when you’re moving it, but once it’s planted on a bed frame, it feels like it’s made of something far more substantive. Experts recommend opting for a firmer sleep surface, as it is much easier to soften up a firm bed with a mattress topper, than it is to firm up one that caves under the slightest pressure. The Tuft & Needle Original’s top layer of foam doesn’t have a lot of “memory,” meaning the mattress isn’t one you get sucked into like quicksand. One of the company’s co-founders, JT Marino, told me the company wanted to make its mattress feel as though you’re “floating” on top, rather than slowly being enveloped in it. While I’ve never felt as though I’m floating in any scenario, lying atop this mattress is as close as I’ve come to that sensation.
It has good edge support
Edge support, or how resistant a mattress is to compression along the sides, is relative when it comes to mattresses in a box, especially if they’re made of solid foam, which tends to lack structure around its perimeter. The Tuft & Needle Original has surprisingly good edge support for this type of mattress, though it will never compare to the structured edge of an innerspring. When I rolled over to the very side of the bed, it didn’t collapse beneath me or make me feel as though I was going to roll right off, as some mattresses have. Sure, if I fidgeted around, I’d probably find myself acquainted with the floor, but for people who like to curl up along the edge of the bed, I think it will provide sufficient support.
The price can’t be beat
Finally, there’s the bed’s affordable price. It’s hard to get a good mattress from a reputable brand for less than what Tuft & Needle charges for its original—$695 for a queen, for which most well-known companies charge around $1,000. The value of this mattress is phenomenal. It felt so wonderful to sleep on—and better than even some much pricier beds I’ve tried—that I had to wonder how the company charges so little relative to its competition. I asked co-founder Marino how Tuft & Needle keeps its prices so reasonable. “We’ve tried to operate off less of a margin than a typical company would,” he says. It’s impossible to know how true this is, but the comparatively low price doesn’t lie—not to mention that even with the frequent “deep” discounts other mattress companies offer, their sale prices still can’t beat the Tuft & Needle Original’s retail price (which, to sweeten the deal, is also marked down sometimes).
I deeply and strongly believe in investing in your sleep—it’s essential for your short- and long-term health, standing to benefit your mood, focus, energy level, and so much more. There’s no getting around the fact that mattresses are expensive, but Tuft & Needle gives you the option to make a somewhat less costly investment that’s still going to benefit your nightly rest.
What’s not great about Tuft & Needle?
It retains some heat, but dissipates it quickly
One of the biggest concerns with foam mattresses is temperature—the material is known for its tendency to retain heat. The Tuft & Needle performed reasonably well in this area for an all-foam mattress. In lab tests, it was a bit above average in the heat-retention results among its foam peers. But it was also able to rapidly dissipate it very quickly in my personal experience.
In the month that I slept on the mattress, it felt warm on a handful of occasions. One such morning I woke up feeling a bit toasty. I got up, fed my cat, grabbed my clothes for the day and went back to touch the spot where I’d been lying just minutes ago. I found myself running my hands over the sheets trying to find a single spot that had retained heat, but there was no warmth to be found.
It may be too firm for some
Yes, this mattress is on the firmer side. It’s not as rapidly responsive as some foams (memory foams, in particular) nor does it give you that hugged or snuggled (or mired in quicksand) sensation that some foam mattresses can—a pro or con, depending on your preferences. That said, I never felt as though I wanted or needed more cushion from the surface layer, even when I slept on my side, which is the position where painful pressure points are most likely to make themselves known. On the contrary, I found it more appealingly supportive than many of the other pure foam mattresses I’ve slept on, including the Casper and Nectar.
If you sleep on a cushy mattress, or one that’s sagging from years of use, the Tuft & Needle could take a while to adjust to. I noticed its firmness right off the bat, and I sleep on a new mattress every 30 days. (I was also switching from the Nectar Mattress, which is extra cushy.) Though the change didn’t bother me, I can see where folks might need to give themselves a bit of time to acclimate.
It’s not aesthetically pleasing
In the design department, the Tuft & Needle leaves something to be desired. It’s not ugly, by any means, but it doesn’t give off the same luxury vibe as other mattresses I’ve tested, like the DreamCloud and Leesa Hybrid. I’ve never been one to fuss about how mattresses look—they get covered with sheets and comforters, anyway—because most sleep products are more about function than appearance. But if you’re looking to be impressed by how your bed looks on laundry day, T&N Original isn’t your pick.
What are Tuft & Needle’s trial, return, and warranty policies?
Like many mattress-in-a-box companies, Tuft & Needle provides buyers a 100-night sleep trial so that you can actually sleep on it before making a final decision. If its Original mattress doesn’t appeal to you as much as it did to me, you fill out the company’s return form before the 100-night window closes. Tuft & Needle will help you find a local non-profit or charity to take the mattress. If there’s nothing available, the company will coordinate with a pick-up service at no charge to you. When all’s said and done, you'll upload a scan or photo of your donation receipt to a link you’ll be provided via email after requesting the return. Then your refund will be processed.
Tuft & Needle has a 10-year limited warranty on its mattresses. So if the bed sags, develops cracks or fissures in the foam, or falls subject to another defect related to its materials or construction, the company will replace or repair the mattress. However, there are a few limitations. Mattresses can’t be used in “a manner that’s incompatible with the intended design.” That may not mean much, but it’s quite important (and also fairly common when it comes to mattress warranties). If you use this mattress in the wrong setup, you might unknowingly void the warranty. According to Tuft & Needle’s website, its mattresses should be used “on a solid surface that’s structurally capable of supporting the weight of the mattress and user upon it.” The mattress is compatible with box springs and platforms, according to a customer service rep. It can also be used with slats, though they must be less than five inches apart, in order to not negate the warranty. The floor is another option, though the customer service representative recommended putting something beneath it to prevent it from getting dirty, and propping it “on its side every so often to let it ventilate.”
What are current owners saying?
The overwhelming majority of owner reviews extol the many virtues of the Tuft & Needle Original mattress. It has more than 32,000 reviews with an average rating of 4.6 stars. Going through the reviews, I noticed an interesting pattern: Most people loved the mattress, giving it 4 or 5 stars. The minority of folks who didn’t like it left 1- or 2-star reviews—there aren’t many middle-ground 3-star reviews.
In terms of comfort, back and stomach sleepers are particularly enamored with the Tuft & Needle Original. One back sleeper who tried it after owning Ikea and Zinus mattresses wrote, “I am a 5-foot-6, 130-pound woman with a history of low-back pain. The Tuft & Needle provides the right amount of support for me and I'm so happy I finally found a mattress that works!”
Some side sleepers mention its firmness as a downside, but others still find it provides sufficient cushion. However, there are also folks who praise it for its firmness, “We bought this mattress over a Nectar because it was a little more firm and didn’t feel like we were sinking into [it].”
A handful of reviews speak to the mattress's relative longevity—the company was founded only nine years ago. One customer reviewed their mattress seven years later writing: “It's a bed that I can't wait to crawl into at the end of each day. Whenever I travel, I find myself wishing that every place had a Tuft & Needle mattress, and I can't wait to get home to sleep in my comfy bed again.”
Numerous reviewers (including a handful who didn’t wind up keeping the mattress) praise the company for its customer service. “This is hands-down the best mattress I have ever slept on. Incredible quality that will hold for many years to come,” one wrote. “The only thing better than the quality of the product is the responsive and tireless customer service. Tuft & Needle for life!” Its 4.9 average rating with the Better Business Bureau supports this.
Is the Tuft & Needle Original worth it?
If I were to stop testing mattresses and buy my own tomorrow, my choice would be a Tuft & Needle Original, no hesitation. (Though if money was no concern, I’d be weighing it heavily against my first mattress love and our Best Upgrade pick, the Leesa Hybrid.) The overarching theme of my experience with this bed was how much it defied my expectations. I seldom yearn for more time with a mattress, but I did with the Tuft & Needle Original. Cheap mattresses tend to feel, well, cheap. Not the Tuft & Needle Original.
I can’t overstate the quality of this mattress given its price. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone and everyone I know—with the caveat that it is firm for a foam bed and could take a little getting used to.
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 to medium-firm and soft and squishy. Finding the right firmness level for you is essential to getting a good night’s sleep. 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? Beds in a box come in myriad materials. You can choose among memory foam mattresses, 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 bed sheets with a deep-pocket set or, if your bed frame isn't compatible, new furniture, which can get expensive.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Senior 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.
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