Casper vs. Nectar: Which foam mattress in a box is best?
Casper may have more name recognition, but Nectar's mattress is by far the better product.
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We put two behemoths of the mattress industry, Casper and Nectar, head-to-head to see which mattress is actually better. As our sleep expert, I slept on each one for 30 days and conducted tests that assessed motion transfer, edge support, and how well the bed supported my body in different sleep positions. In the end, we learned these kingpins come with their own benefits and drawbacks. But when we stacked them up one thing was clear: Nectar is the better choice.
Price and discounts
The brands have similar retail prices, with Nectar’s queen mattress at $1,298 and Casper’s Original in a queen at $1,100. Of course, those are only the sticker prices, which don’t account for mattress companies’ seemingly never-ending sales.
Nectar frequently offers a 35% discount, with additional bedding freebies like sheets and pillows thrown in. (Full disclosure: The Nectar Pillow didn’t perform very well in our tests for the best bed pillows.) You can generally score a queen size (and whatever freebies the company is offering) for around $900.
Casper may be well-known, but when you peek behind the hood, its beds are downright expensive for a subpar product. With frequent 15% discounts, a queen size is typically around $900. But in terms of quality, it’s not worth the price in our opinion. Though they come out neck-in-neck in terms of cost, we don’t think the Casper Original mattress warrants what you'd pay.
Our Pick: Nectar
Sleep surface sensation
The Nectar mattress is very squishy and enveloping. If you want to feel as though you’re being cuddled to sleep, it may be the pick for you. Side sleepers in particular may enjoy the sensation it provides, as more forgiving foam can relieve pressure points on shoulders and hips. Stomach sleepers and back sleepers, however, may find it’s too soft to provide adequate support, causing the lumbar spine to sag. It all comes down to personal preference—but we will say this: The Nectar mattress is not for anyone who wants a firm bed.
On the other hand, the Casper Original leaves a lot to be desired. The Nectar wasn’t supportive enough for all sleep positions, but it worked well for side sleeping. Our tester found that the Casper mattress wasn’t well suited to any sleep position. It wasn’t that firm, but it wasn’t noticeably squishy, either. When our tester sent it away after a month of sleeping on it, she realized she hadn’t slept well in weeks. We couldn’t pinpoint a single position we’d recommend this bed for—it just wasn’t that comfortable. What’s more, the edges are virtually nonexistent and collapse when you sit on them.
Our Pick: Nectar
The Casper Original and Nectar mattress are both solid foam mattresses. Nectar touts its mattress as having five layers, but when you exclude the polyethylene ticking (which the company counts), it’s actually three layers of foam. Casper’s Original mattress also has three layers of foam.
Both mattresses use what's called “open-cell” foam. During manufacture, the bubbles inside the foam rupture to create a webbed network. Open-cell foam is less prone to heat retention than closed-cell foam (wherein the bubbles retain their individual chambers and shape) because it has more space for airflow. Beyond the foam type, the construction is dramatically different.
Nectar's uppermost layer is a gel memory foam. Beneath it is a “dynamic support layer,” which the company claims provides “tailored bounce back.” Finally, there’s a thicker layer of “stay stable” foam to support the upper tiers and whoever is sleeping on the mattress. The ticking is made of a synthetic fabric that a customer service rep says feels “cool to the touch” and “wicks away heat”—though we’re dubious as to whether it does much when covered by a mattress protector and/or a fitted sheet. The Nectar mattress sets itself apart from the Casper Original—as well as most other mattresses in a box—with its removable and washable cover, which could be a plus for folks with allergies or those with pets or kids who make messes in bed. It’s 12 inches tall.
The Casper Original, in contrast, has a slightly thinner profile. Its uppermost layer is a slim piece of perforated foam that’s designed to improve breathability and airflow throughout the bed. Next, there’s a “zoned support” layer, which the company claims provides different cushion and, well, support, to various parts of the body. Casper says it’s designed to help with alignment as it’s “softer under the shoulders” and “firmer around the hips, waist, and back.” Finally, the lowest level of the mattress is the “durable base,” which purports to provide support and prevent sinking or sagging. The mattress is just shy of the Nectar’s height, at 11 inches.
Our pick: Nectar
Trial and return policies
Nectar has a much longer trial period than most other online mattress brands: a full year. However, given its spotty customer service record (see below), it’s hard to say how easy it would be to actuate the return process. According to the website, Nectar will coordinate with you and a local charity to donate the mattress, or to pick it up for disposal.
Casper’s trial is shorter at 100 nights. Contact the company to initiate the return if you decide the mattress isn’t for you. It will arrange for a courier to pick up the bed, meaning there’s no packing required on your end. The company claims it will try to recycle or donate returned mattresses to a charity, though based on the site there aren’t any guarantees.
Our pick: Nectar
Unfortunately Nectar’s performance with the Better Business Bureau is far from stellar. The company has 1.2 stars with 200 reviews on the site. What’s more troublesome is the sheer number of complaints launched against the company. It’s received 843 in the last 12 months, and 1,618 over the last three years. In addition, we’ve found the website's customer service and chat options to be hit or miss, with some fantastic agents and others who leave a lot to be desired. One was so pushy about us purchasing a mattress that it was off-putting.
Casper has a slightly higher BBB rating, 2.3 stars, but only 40 customer reviews. Though Casper hasn’t faced the same onslaught of negative reviews, it’s fielded its share of grievances: 164 complaints in the last three years, and 102 in the last 12 months. The reviews cover a spectrum of issues from slow or late deliveries to unshipped products. Unlike Nectar’s customer service record on the BBB, Casper’s doesn’t seem to have a defined pattern to warrant major concern.
Representatives seem fairly knowledgeable and are quick to reply. In our experience, they’ve never pressured us the same way folks at Nectar have. The one question we’ve never gotten a clear answer to is how the zoned support is designed and manufactured. We’d think it should be easy enough, especially with how much the company advertises it. But that’s a relatively minor complaint in the grand scheme of things.
Our Pick: Casper
Warranty and setup requirements
Nectar’s warranty outpaces Casper’s—and many other companies’ too. The mattress is covered by a “forever warranty” that never expires. If the mattress develops impressions more than 1.5 inches deep, or other defect such as splits or cracks in the foam due to manufacturer problems, you may request a replacement. By no means should you keep it forever. Experts recommend replacing your mattress every eight to 12 years.
The Nectar mattress can be placed on box springs, divans, adjustable bases, and platforms at no risk of voiding the warranty. It can be used on slats as well and, unlike many other online mattress companies, Nectar doesn’t specify a maximum distance between slats. (Though a customer service rep told us that if you’re using slats more than 6 inches apart, you should check if the mattress is sagging between each one.)
Casper’s warranty is on-pace with that of most other online mattress companies: It offers a 10-year limited warranty. Casper recommends against using its mattresses on the floor as it can lead to condensation and the propagation of mold. Importantly, using it on the floor will negate the warranty, as will placing the bed on non-wooden slats, wood slats spaced more than 4 inches apart, or a box spring. A customer service representative suggested using the mattress with the company’s foundation (though almost any company will recommend this, likely in part because it will make them an extra buck). The rep noted this isn’t the only base you can use to maintain the warranty, just one the company would recommend.
Our Pick: Nectar
And the winner is…
Though Casper may have a bigger name and an overall better reputation, Nectar makes a better product based on our testing. It comes with a longer trial, which is always an upshot. It’s also, simply put, more comfortable and better for sleeping. Our tester loves to rag on the Casper Original mattress—she’s slept on more than 10 mattresses for work at this point and that was by far one of the worst. She struggled to identify anyone who would really like that bed.
The Nectar mattress isn’t for everyone, but we feel it will serve most people’s sleep, and wallets, better than the Casper Original.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.