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Finding the right mattress—whether it be firm and super-supportive or soft with lots of give—can be daunting, especially when shopping for mattresses online. How can you feel confident buying something you’ll use for a third of your day, without ever touching it yourself? Yet the popularity of beds in a box cannot be understated—in 2017, online mattress retailers broke the billion-dollar threshold.
Here at Reviewed, we’ve tested the most popular boxed mattresses, relying on both scientific and experiential tests to determine which ones offer the perfect blend of comfort and support. Some professional reviewers slice up mattresses and analyze the materials under a microscope. Others sleep on a couple for just a few nights and then write about their experiences. We land in the middle, getting what we think is a well-rounded look at each mattress to see how they measure up. To date, our favorite mattress overall is the Tuft & Needle Original for its firm supportive surface that manages to cradle and be supple—not to mention its incredible value. Even at full price, it’s cheaper than nearly every other mattress we’ve tested. If you’re open to spending more, we’d suggest checking out the Leesa Hybrid, a luxury mattress that combines memory foam with supportive, responsive springs for a top-shelf sleep experience.
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1. The best mattress in a box: Tuft & Needle Original
Our tester adored the Tuft & Needle Original mattress. In fact, it’s one of only two that she felt deeply sad to see toted away after month long sleep tests (the other, unsurprisingly, is our Upgrade Pick, the Leesa Hybrid).
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 as though 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.
For all its upshots, 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.
At the end of the day (and, of course, overnight), we think this is an incredible bed. 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.”
Mattress 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.
2. The best luxury mattress in a box: Leesa Hybrid
We think it’s worth investing as much as is feasible in your budget in your mattress—after all, you spend up to a third of your life on it. The Nectar offers top-notch support at a middle-of-the-road price but, based on our testing, it’s hard to beat the Leesa Hybrid, if you can afford to spend the cash.
Two layers of foam provide softness and give, and allow it to contour to the body. As a hybrid mattress, the foam sits atop pocket springs—coils individually wrapped in quilted fabric—giving the bed a sturdy yet buoyant base. This adaptable support won’t leave a stomach sleeper’s back sagging or a side sleeper’s shoulder or hip aching the next morning. In short, the bed is a crowd-pleaser that’s amazing to sleep on in any position.
As for construction, our tester felt the responsiveness of its inner workings when she plopped down. On a superficial level, she appreciated the super-soft and aesthetically pleasing cover (a.k.a. its ticking). This doesn’t have a huge bearing on functionality, but the devil’s in the details, and that’s another place where the Leesa Hybrid Mattress shines.
There’s only a couple of downsides, including that it retained heat in our lab testing. That said, our tester considers herself a hot sleeper, yet she didn’t find herself switching sides of the bed in hopes of finding a cooler spot.
In addition, the CertiPUR-certified mattress had a noticeable odor that lasted several days. The smell, though annoying, isn’t caused by harmful flame retardants, and the bed meets indoor-air-quality requirements for certain pollutants. One final thing: It’s a task to move the mattress once it’s expanded as it’s heftier than most at 115 pounds.
Leesa’s 100-night guarantee, along with its responsive customer service, make this product a worry-free investment. If you don’t vibe with the Leesa as well as our tester did, you may send it back for a full refund—though we doubt you'll want to part with it.
Mattress materials: A top comfort layer designed with holes for breathability, and a memory foam layer underneath provides contouring. The two foam layers sit above a pocket-spring base.
Delivery and packaging: Front-door drop-off. A queen size arrives in a box that measures 45 inches by 16 inches by 16 inches and weighs 121 pounds.
Trial period: 100 nights
Return protocol: Leesa will coordinate the pickup and donation of unwanted mattresses to “charity partners that serve children.”
3. The most like a traditional mattress: Awara
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. It 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. As such, 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 in both positions. Side sleepers with aggravated pressure points may want a softer mattress.)
Its dense interior seemed 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, 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 classic mattress—with a lot of support and a little bit of bounce—and has great heat dispersion, the Awara could be right for you.
Mattress 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.
4. Amerisleep AS3
This mattress is firm. It has some give without losing all bounciness, but if you’re used to a soft, memory foam–like mattress, the Amerisleep may feel a little dense. Our tester generally prefers firm mattresses, though it took a few nights to get used to the Amerisleep’s lack of give. In the beginning, she sometimes woke up with tension in her lower back, though this didn’t happen frequently enough for her to know whether it was due to the product itself or poor posture when hunched over her desk during the day.
But after this initial period, the mattress felt great. It has a sturdy core and a supple upper layer that cradles the sleeper. It retained a minimal amount of heat in our tester’s experience and lab tests. Even so, our tester found it comfortable while snuggled up with blankets in a stuffy apartment, maybe thanks to the Bio-Pur foam topper, which according to Amerisleep has open cells that increase breathability.
Finally, its firmness means it’s really easy to make the bed. Fitted sheets easily snap over one side, then slide over to the other with very little tugging—something that isn’t quite as vital as sleeping on it every night, but an important consideration if you wash your sheets often. Overall, it’s a great mattress, especially for those who sleep hot and favor firm beds.
Mattress materials: Foam—three layers of it. The company's Bio-Pur foam sits on top of a transition layer that gives support and cushion and a "durable Bio-core."
Delivery and packaging: A queen arrives in a 45-by-19-inch box that weighs just under 95 pounds.
Trial period: 100 nights
Return protocol: Email Amerisleep’s customer service within 100 days of purchase. It will send someone to pick up the mattress and issue a refund once it’s received.
5. Nectar Mattress
Nectar was previously our top pick. But after retesting with our updated rubric, it slipped in our rankings, and we no longer recommend it as the best mattress for most people. The main reason: Our tester felt its ultra-soft surface wasn’t sufficiently supportive.
Our first tester relied almost exclusively on anecdotal experience, and found the Nectar mattress balanced firmness and softness. However, our most recent results indicate that it’s too squishy to suit a wide number of sleepers. The mattress was never uncomfortable for our new tester, but it wasn’t the most supportive. While awake, she couldn’t lie or sit on the bed without frequently shifting positions, and her lower back felt a little strain whenever she tried to sleep on her stomach. She found its uber-plush, compressive surface felt better when she slept on her side, as it allowed her shoulder and hip to sink in without any uncomfortable pressure points. The marshmallow-like texture also means that it’s harder to roll around on the mattress without feeling mired—as most people aren’t stationary all night, this could disrupt sleep.
In lab testing, it was great at dissipating heat, though it felt warm to our tester a handful of the nights she slept on it (during wintertime in her heated bedroom). The Nectar mattress also lacks edge support. Though it’s got better structure than some foam mattresses, it still tends to cave under pressure. This makes it less than ideal for folks who sleep near the edge of the bed, especially if they thrash around.
If you’re a side sleeper who likes softer mattresses, this could be the bed for you. But seeing as experts recommend erring on the side of firmer mattresses, there are some better options out there.
Mattress materials: Its three layers of foam include a one-inch “fast-recovery” gel memory foam, a three-inch memory foam layer with “medical-grade” cooling, and a high-density base for support.
Delivery and packaging: Front-door drop-off, two to three days after placing an order. A queen arrives in a box that measures 44 inches by 16 inches by 16 inches and weighs about 65 pounds.
Trial period: 365 nights
Return protocol: Nectar helps you coordinate donation or local disposal.
Purple is one company that everyone seems to know about thanks to its pervasive advertising, and actual purple-colored products. Our tester wanted to rag on the Purple mattress for no good reason. But by the end of her 30-day sleep test, she was sad to say goodbye. It’s a good mattress.
The company generates a lot of hubbub about the “signature polymer grid,” which it claims remains cool and cushions pressure points without compromising on support. Our tester was skeptical—lots of mattress companies make these statements, but few come through in actual testing. Nonetheless, the Purple mattress proved us wrong. Our tester never woke up feeling stifled, and no matter how much heat we subjected the Purple mattress to, it didn’t warm up. Its highest temperature was still lower than the off-peak temperatures of other products we’ve tested.
The Purple mattress was surprisingly supportive and works well for a variety of sleep positions. Because of the squishy polymer, our tester was worried about how it would fare for stomach and side sleeping. It was for naught. In the month she had it, she regularly fell asleep prone, and was also able to doze off on her side. Despite the mattress’s buoyant sleep surface, its edge support didn’t hold up. The edges collapsed beneath our tester when she sat on them. And when we lightly dropped a bowling ball on the bed’s periphery, it nearly immediately bounced off.
Our tester isn't the lone Reviewed staffer who loves Purple. Kyle Hamilton, a test technician who works in the Cambridge, Massachusetts, lab, loves his new Purple mattress. Another recent employee swore by Purple for hip pain, too.
Kyle, however, noted one downside that our tester was also keenly aware of: The mattress is incredibly difficult to move. It was simply too floppy and jiggly to go through her door upright, so she and the mover hefted it into the room in taco form. If you’re in a permanent location, or settled within at least the same city, this is a non-issue. But if you move frequently, think twice.
Overall, the cons are minimal and the upshots are tremendous. You just have to be willing to pay Purple’s premium price.
Mattress materials: Three layers: A grid of two-inch "hyper-elastic polymer" and two layers of polyurethane foam that provide support and a stable base.
Delivery and packaging: Front-door drop-off. The queen weighs 110 pounds and arrives in a plastic tube with woven handles that measures 60-by-16 inches.
Trial period: 100 nights
Return protocol: The company requires a minimum three-week trial of the mattress. If you don’t jive with it, contact customer service via phone to begin the return process.
7. Cocoon Chill by Sealy
This boxed mattress from Cocoon by Sealy—an offshoot of the well-known mattress brand—has a medium-firm feel with a tiny bit of bounce. Its three layers of foam, including a “support layer,” “comfort foam,” and memory foam, are topped with a polyester and cotton cover that purports to have cooling properties. Our tester—usually a back or side sleeper—found that the top layer conformed to her body with enough support from the firmer layer below to prevent uncomfortable pressure in areas like the hips. The cooling layer seemed to fulfill its claims. Lab tests show it retained minimal, but not zero, heat. Our tester, who tends to sleep hot, thought the mattress felt cozy, not cloying, and doesn’t think this is a deal-breaker.
Our tester found the mattress comfortable and supportive when she slept on her side, but sometimes woke up with discomfort in her lower back, which indicates it isn’t quite as sufficient for that sleeping position. She also woke up on her stomach a few times (even though she almost never sleeps in this position), and thought it felt comfortable like this, so it’s probably a fine option for stomach sleepers, too.
Overall, the Chill Mattress from Cocoon by Sealy should be a great choice for someone who wants a medium-firm mattress with some cooling properties at a reasonable price —our tester falls right into that category and was sad to send it back. People who want a very soft or very firm mattress may be disappointed, as might someone who sleeps on their back all the time. But for what it promises to do—stay cool and provide cozy support—the Chill comes through.
Mattress materials: Three layers of foam —“support layer,” “comfort foam,” and memory foam—and a cooling cloth cover.
Delivery and packaging: Front-door drop-off. A queen arrives in a cardboard box that weighs about 75 pounds.
Trial period: 100 nights
Return protocol: Contact Cocoon by Sealy to arrange for the mattress to be picked up and donated to a local agency—no need to box the bed or even break a sweat.
8. Avocado Green Mattress
A fairly well-rounded bed, the Avocado Green Mattress doesn’t quite cater to everyone. Our tester felt the mattress stood out temperature-wise—it was consistently cool, even on hot summer nights, and she never woke up overbaked. Lab testing confirmed that it’s among the coolest mattresses we’ve tested. It was also just comfortable. It’s not the same comfort offered by the Leesa and other top picks, but it gives sleepers a cozy feel that our tester enjoyed.
This hybrid mattress has hundreds of coils sandwiched between two layers of latex and its springy, responsive surface, meaning it quickly responds to pressure or weight. Known for being cooler than memory foam, latex also doesn’t yield a sinking, molding, or cradling sensation. The material has some plushness, but little give or tendency to compact beneath body weight. Our tester felt its springiness might be too much for some, but a great option for people who prefer the feeling of coils and don’t want to completely sacrifice plushness.
The Avocado Green Mattress holds more certifications than any other we've tested. Its roster includes three certifications for organic materials and components; one for forest management and sustainability; and four for safe ingredients and limited off-gassing, including Greenguard, which is known for its strict criteria. Avocado is also a Certified B Corporation, meaning its business practices meet certain environmental, social, and community guidelines.
It isn’t versatile in terms of the sleep positions it accommodates. Side and back sleepers will enjoy it, but our tester found that her lumbar spine was unsupported when she slept on her stomach for more than one consecutive night.
Our tester also noticed the mattress she received was two inches short of a standard queen in width and length. This may not be a problem for everyone, but those joined by a partner, kids, or large pets should take note. We asked customer service about the size discrepancy, and the representative said it was something Avocado heard about often. They suggested jumping on the bed to encourage it to expand to its full size, which seemed questionable, at best.
Mattress materials: Two layers of organic latex rubber foam sandwich pocketed coils, and are covered in organic fabric.
Delivery and packaging: Avocado’s delivery takes longer than many mattress-in-a-box companies because its products are handmade. Our tester’s mattress arrived at her door after three weeks.
Trial period: 365 nights
Return protocol: Avocado verifies the mattress’ condition with customer photos before coordinating with a local charity to pick it up.
9. Brooklyn Bedding Signature Hybrid
Our tester tried the most popular version of the Brooklyn Signature Hybrid (medium-firm) though it's also available in soft and firm. While the innerspring base provides the expected support, its top layer of foam felt like a soft option rather than a “medium”-firm one—which ended up being her biggest gripe. After a couple of weeks, it became apparent that its surface was too forgiving for comfortable stomach sleeping. She found that sleeping on her side was much better. On a handful of mornings she woke up on her back and found the mattress struck the right balance in that sleep position, too. (To be fair, Brooklyn Bedding recommends its firm option if you “sleep mainly on your stomach and/or back.”)
The company claims it uses a different type of springs around the perimeter to give the edges more structure. Our tester found this was somewhat accurate. The sides of the bed were more supportive than many other mattresses we’ve tested. Yet somehow the foot of the bed told a different story: It completely collapsed when our tester sat on it. In addition, both home and lab tests confirmed that this product was on the warmer side, so it may not be optimal for folks who run hot.
For the price, it’s not a bad bed by any means, especially for those who want a hybrid, which tend to be more costly. This Signature Hybrid felt like the softer, squishier counterpart to the ultra-firm and similarly priced DreamCloud (which comes in just below). Many will find this mattress strikes a great balance, but others may find it too soft or too warm for their liking.
Mattress materials: Foam, coils, and a polyester-cotton fabric
Delivery and packaging: Front-door drop-off. A queen size arrives in a box that weighs about 105 pounds.
Trial period: 120 nights
Return protocol: You must try the mattress for at least 30 days from delivery. Not for you? Contact the company within your 120-night trial, and it will help you find a local charity. Email a copy of the donation slip, and Brooklyn Bedding will issue a full refund.
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. That said, side sleepers and other people 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.
Even so, it has some issues, particularly when you free the mattress 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 fully air out—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.
Mattress 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 if you incur a cost moving the mattress, it’s on you.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
This article originally appeared on Reviewed: The best mattresses in a box of 2021