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Written by

Bill Fish

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If you’re mattress shopping, you might wonder what the difference is between a standard king size mattress and the California king. The bed sizes are similar, but they vary by a few inches in both length and width. The California king is 4 inches longer vertically and 4 inches shorter horizontally than a standard king.

Both king and California king sizes are large and provide enough space for two people to share a bed with each other or with pets and children. People might prefer one size over the other due to their height, sleeping habits, or the dimensions of their bedroom.

Since mattress size is only one part of what makes a mattress work for a particular person, we created this guide to help you find the best California king mattress for you. We’ve shared our picks for the best mattresses available in a California king size, and highlighted the factors you’ll want to consider when looking for one.

The Best California King Mattresses

Product Details

Nectar

Nectar
Mattress Type:
Foam
Firmness:
Medium Firm (6)
Nectar
Highlights:

With three memory foam layers, the Nectar mattress closely conforms to the body and relieves pressure.

Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers who like the hug of memory foam
  • Couples that share a bed
  • People who sleep hot
  • Budget-conscious shoppers

The Nectar mattress is an all-foam bed that closely conforms to the body, making it a good choice for people who like the sensation of a mattress “hugging” them. The contouring properties of the Nectar come from its three memory foam layers, which sit atop a high-density polyfoam support core.

Available in one firmness level, medium firm, the Nectar provides a mixture of comfort and support to most sleepers. Sleepers with very low or high body weights might prefer a softer or firmer mattress, however.

Couples enjoy the Nectar due to its superior motion isolation. Even light sleepers are unlikely to feel much motion transfer as their partner moves throughout the night. Additionally, the Nectar is virtually silent, so sleepers are unlikely to wake up from noise caused by their partner’s movements, or when their partner gets in or out of bed.

In addition to the California king size, the Nectar comes in twin, twin xl, full, queen, and king. Nectar ships for free to the contiguous US, and for a fee to Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. They deliver via White Glove delivery for $149, and customers who purchase White Glove delivery can have an old mattress removed at no additional cost.

Nectar offers a generous 365-night sleep trial, so you may return the mattress for free at any point within the first year of purchasing it after a 30-day break-in period. Nectar also backs the mattress with a lifetime warranty.

Read Our Full Nectar Mattress Review

Bear Mattress

Bear Mattress
Mattress Type:
Foam
Firmness:
Firm (7)
Bear Mattress
Highlights:

The firm, all-foam Bear mattress features Celliant cover material, which uses infrared energy to help aid sleepers’ physical recovery.

Who it's best for:
  • People who weigh over 130 pounds
  • Athletes and the physically active
  • Budget-conscious shoppers

The Bear is an American-made, all-foam mattress designed with Celliant cover fabric to aid in physical recovery. Celliant fabric collects and converts body heat into infrared energy that it then reflects back to the sleeper. This process has been found to decrease physical recovery time and improve physical performance, making the Bear a good choice for athletes and highly active people.

Available in one firmness level — firm – the Bear is most fitting for sleepers who weigh more than 130 pounds. Its memory foam layer conforms to the body some, but its transitional and support foam layers give the mattress a responsive feel. The result is a bed that falls somewhere in-between the bounciness of a responsive mattress and the high contour characteristic of memory foam.

Couples will find that the Bear isolates motion well, so they aren’t awoken by each other’s movements during the night. Also, being an all-foam mattress, the Bear is virtually silent. Sleepers won’t hear noise in response to their partners getting in or out of bed.

Bear offers free shipping to all 50 states, with White Glove delivery and old mattress removal available for an additional price. Bear customers may return their mattress if they feel unsatisfied for any reason after a 30-day break-in period of a 100-night sleep trial. The mattress comes with a 10-year warranty that begins on the date of purchase. The Bear is available in twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, and California king sizes.

Read Our Full Bear Mattress Review

WinkBed

WinkBed
Mattress Type:
Innerspring
Firmness:
Soft (4), Medium (6), Firm (7), Plus (8)
WinkBed
Highlights:

The WinkBed is a hybrid mattress with excellent edge support that comes in multiple firmness options, with models suited for people of all body weights.

Who it's best for:
  • People of virtually all body weights
  • Sleepers who prefer a springy mattress
  • Those who sleep hot

The WinkBed is a hybrid mattress that features a combination of coil and foam layers. Available in four firmness settings, the WinkBed has options that are suitable for virtually all sleepers regardless of body weight or sleep position preference. Lighter sleepers will prefer the softer WinkBed options, while heavier sleepers will prefer the firmer options. The WinkBed Plus is designed to be able to accommodate sleepers who weigh over 300 pounds.

The WinkBed Soft, Luxury Firm, and Firmer options are constructed slightly differently than the WinkBed Plus. All WinkBeds feature a 7.5-inch pocketed coil support core. The first three firmness options have a Euro-pillow top, two polyfoam layers, a layer of foam-encased microcoils, and a cotton lumbar support pad. Instead of these comfort layers, the WinkBed Plus contains one polyfoam layer, a layer of latex, and the cotton lumbar support pad.

As a result of the differing constructions, the softer WinkBed mattresses are more conforming than the firmer WinkBed Plus. All WinkBeds are on the responsive side, and none give the sensation of sleeping “in” rather than “on” the mattress.

All of the WinkBed mattresses come in twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, and California king. They ship for free to the contiguous US. Customers may purchase White Glove delivery for $129, or both White Glove delivery and old mattress removal for $189. WinkBeds also come with a lifetime warranty.

Read Our Full WinkBed Mattress Review

Puffy Original

Puffy Original
Mattress Type:
Foam
Firmness:
Medium (5)
Puffy Original
Highlights:

Ultra-soft, conforming foam defines the Puffy mattress, which also comes with a removable, washable cover.

Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers needing pressure relief
  • Those who weigh less than 130 pounds
  • Side sleepers below 230 pounds

The Puffy mattress is a mixed-foam mattress that’s made in the US and known for its pressure-relieving properties. Though the Puffy is somewhat responsive, it primarily gives sleepers the conforming feel of memory foam. The Puffy is a good choice for sleepers who like to feel “hugged” by their mattress. Since it relieves pressure so well, it’s also a good choice for sleepers who tend to experience pain.

The Puffy mattress is available in one firmness level, which is medium. Lighter individuals weighing under 130 pounds find the most comfort in the Puffy mattress. Some sleepers over 130 pounds, especially those who prefer to sleep on their sides, will also like the Puffy. It excels at promoting spinal alignment for side sleepers.

Most sleepers weighing over 230 pounds will want to opt for a firmer mattress than the Puffy. They might find themselves sinking in too deeply or feeling unsupported on this bed. Of course, personal preference influences mattress choice, and some heavier sleepers who prefer soft mattresses might be happy with the Puffy.

Customers in the contiguous US receive free delivery from Puffy, and those in Alaska or Hawaii can purchase the bed for an additional fee. The Puffy mattress comes with a 101-night sleep trial and customers can make returns after a required 14-night break-in period. The Puffy mattress is available in twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, and California king sizes.

Read Our Full Puffy Original Mattress Review

Nolah Original

Nolah Original
Mattress Type:
Foam
Firmness:
Medium (5)
Nolah Original
Highlights:

The all-foam Nolah mattress closely conforms to the body and feels particularly comfortable to lighter sleepers.

Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers weighing under 230 pounds
  • People who prefer the “hug” of memory foam
  • Those wanting to support wildlife

The Nolah is an all-foam bed available in one firmness level, which is medium. Nolah excels at pressure relief, making it a good choice for people who experience pain. Although the Nolah is very conforming, its “AirFoam” technology ensures sleepers will not feel like they’re sinking too far into bed.

The firmness level of the Nolah mattress is best suited for sleepers who weigh less than 230 pounds. Side sleepers tend to enjoy the Nolah the most, finding it promotes spinal alignment. Overall, more sleepers who weigh less than 130 pounds tend to prefer the Nolah compared to those who weighed more, some of whom might want a firmer bed. Sleepers who weigh over 230 pounds might also prefer a firmer mattress and find that the Nolah cannot provide the support they need.

Couples sharing a bed will find that the Nolah isolates motion well. When one person rolls over or gets in or out of bed, little of their motion will transfer across the surface of the bed. Like most all-foam beds, the Nolah is also virtually silent.

Nolah only ships to the contiguous US, and shipping is free. Their mattresses come with a 120-night sleep trial and a 30-day required break-in period. The Nolah warranty lasts 15 years.

Nolah partners with the nonprofit organization Defenders of Wildlife to “adopt” endangered animals. This unique program allows customers to choose from one of 20 endangered species, knowing that their purchase helped save an animal’s life.

Read Our Full Nolah Original Mattress Review

GhostBed Luxe

GhostBed Luxe
Mattress Type:
Foam
Firmness:
Medium (5)
GhostBed Luxe
Highlights:

The Ghostbed Luxe is a contouring foam mattress that uses phase change material to keep sleepers cool all night long.

Who it's best for:
  • Couples that share a bed
  • People who sleep hot
  • Sleepers who weigh under 230 pounds

Made in the US, the Ghostbed Luxe is an all-foam mattress with cooling properties. The Ghostbed Luxe is constructed with a cooling cover, memory foam comfort layer, latex-like polyfoam layer, and a support core made of high-density polyfoam. The result is a mixture of contouring and responsiveness, making the Ghostbed Luxe a good choice for people who want both conforming and bounce.

The Ghostbed Luxe is available in a medium firmness feel, which is well-suited to sleepers who weigh less than 230 pounds. Most sleepers in this range find that the Ghostbed Luxe provides adequate support and spinal alignment for them. Heavier individuals might require a firmer mattress option.

The bed is specifically designed to keep bodies cool throughout the night, so it shouldn’t trap heat like many all-foam mattresses do. Its cooling cover has memory foam quilted into it and incorporates phase-change material into its fibers. The “Ghost Ice” layer also contains phase change material, which absorbs heat energy and transforms it into a cooler temperature.

The Ghostbed Luxe comes in twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, and California king sizes. The bed ships for free to the contiguous US, and for $600 to Hawaii and Alaska. It comes with a 101-night sleep trial, though sleepers must break in the mattress for 30 days before initiating a return. The warranty is prorated and lasts for 25 years.

Read Our Full GhostBed Luxe Mattress Review

Casper

Casper
Mattress Type:
Foam
Firmness:
Medium (5)
Casper
Highlights:

The mixed-foam Casper mattress sleeps cool, isolates motion well, and is virtually silent in response to movement.

Who it's best for:
  • Sleepers under 230 pounds
  • People who tend to sleep hot
  • Sleepers who enjoy the “hug” of memory foam

The Casper, also referred to as the Casper Original, is an all-foam mattress available in one firmness level, which is medium. Sleepers who enjoy the “hugging” sensation of memory foam yet want to feel supported will like the Casper. Its polyfoam and memory foam comfort layers closely conform to the body. A transitional layer provides additional support, so sleepers don’t feel like they’re being engulfed by the bed.

The medium firmness of the Casper seems to provide the right mix of support and cushion to a wide variety of sleepers. Sleepers who weigh over 230 pounds might not feel properly supported by the bed, however. Heavier sleepers could benefit from a mattress that comes in higher firmness options.

The Casper mattress excels at relieving pressure, making it a good choice for people who experience pain. Sleepers tend not to experience increased discomfort or pressure points while lying on the mattress. Side and back sleepers tend to find the most comfort in the Casper.

The Casper mattress comes with a 100-night sleep trial, with no break-in period required. The warranty lasts 10 years. Casper ships for free to the contiguous US and Canada, with shipping to Hawaii, Alaska, and limited international locations available for an additional fee. The Casper is available in twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, and California king sizes.

Read Our Full Casper Mattress Review

What are the Main Differences Between a King and a California King?

King and California king size beds differ in terms of their measurements and how much space they take up. The two beds have the following measurements:

  • King: 76 inches x 80 inches
  • California king: 72 inches x 84 inches

Taller people who tend to sleep stretched out might prefer the California king since it measures 7 feet in length. People with pets might also prefer the additional length, so pets can sleep comfortably at the end of the bed.

The size and shape of your bedroom can also influence which king size you prefer. The beds take up the following square footage:

  • King: 506.7 square feet
  • California king: 504 square feet

Bedding is another factor to consider when choosing between a standard and California king size mattress. The standard king is more common, so there are more bedding options for that size and it’s likely easier to find low-cost bedding.


What to Look For in a Mattress

Different people need different characteristics in a mattress depending on their preferences, sleep position habits, and body weights. The following factors determine how a mattress feels to you, how long it will last, how well it supports you throughout the night, and more.

  • Price: Most mattress companies offer king and California king sizes at the same price, so mattress cost isn’t usually a differentiating factor between those two sizes. Mattress prices often differ based on the quality of materials used. Online retailers have been able to offer lower prices by cutting costs associated with showrooms and stores.
  • Sleeping Position: Your preferred sleep position influences which mattress is best for you. People who sleep on their backs might prefer firmer mattresses that offer adequate lumbar support. Side sleepers often need softer mattresses so they don’t develop pressure points in their shoulder and hip areas. Bodyweight also factors in, with heavier folks needing firmer mattresses.
  • Mattress Type: Mattresses come in multiple constructions: innerspring, all-foam, hybrid, latex, and airbed. Each mattress type has its own feel. Innerspring and latex mattresses tend to be bouncy, while hybrid and foam beds are more conforming. Of course, there is also quite a bit of variation within each mattress type.
  • Contouring: Contouring is the degree to which a mattress conforms to or cradles weight placed on top of it. Memory foam is the mattress material known for providing the most contouring. Memory foam can “hug” the body, providing a sensation that many sleepers enjoy. Contouring mattresses tend to cushion the body well and relieve pressure. All-foam mattresses and hybrid mattresses with memory foam are most contouring.
  • Quality Materials: Each mattress material, from steel coils to memory foam, comes in a range of quality levels. Often, but not always, higher-quality materials come with a higher price tag. When it comes to memory foam and polyfoam, higher density is generally higher quality. In the world of latex, typically the more natural the product, the higher the quality.
  • Firmness Level: The mattress firmness scale ranges from 1 to 10 and provides a standardized measurement according to which the firmness of different mattresses can be compared. Most mattresses for sale fall between 3 and 8 in terms of firmness, while most sleepers prefer mattresses in the 4 to 6 range.
  • Edge Support: Edge support refers to how firm the edges of a mattress remain when weight is put on them. When a mattress has strong edge support, sleepers can use the full surface of the bed without fear of rolling off due to buckled edges. Innerspring mattresses are known for superior edge support.
  • Temperature Neutrality: When a mattress is truly temperature neutral, it doesn’t cause a person to feel too hot or cold throughout the night. Sleeping hot is a problem many people face. Foams and other materials that contour closely also tend to trap heat. There are many efforts manufacturers make to counteract this and achieve temperature neutrality.
  • Noise: Some mattresses, particularly those with innersprings in them, can make noise when weight is put on them or movement occurs. Individually-encased pocketed coils are generally quieter than innersprings, which can squeak. All-foam mattresses tend to be the quietest of all and are virtually silent.

Types of Mattresses

There are 5 major mattress constructions on the market today: innerspring, foam, latex, hybrid (a combination of coils with foam or latex), and airbed. Generally, since the mattresses within each category are constructed similarly, they share commonalities and features.

That being said, there is plenty of variation within each mattress type category as well. Individual models of mattresses within a larger group fall across a spectrum in terms of quality, materials used, and performance.

Hybrid

Definition: Hybrid mattresses are an attempt to combine the best characteristics of other mattress types in a single bed. Hybrids contain a coil support core and comfort layers of either memory foam or latex. They are usually cooler and have stronger edge support than all-foam beds while providing more cushion than the average innerspring mattress.

Widely Comfortable: California king mattress shoppers often share a bed with a partner, kids, or pets. Hybrids can be a good choice for bed sharing because they tend to stay temperature neutral due to airflow through the coil layer. Their feel is often a mix of responsiveness and conforming, which can be a good compromise for people with different preferences.

Innerspring

Definition: Springs make up the support core of innerspring mattresses and create a bouncy, responsive bed. Innersprings tend to remain temperature neutral and provide a firm sleeping surface. As one of the oldest mattress technologies, innerspring mattresses are some of the most affordable beds available.

Cooling Firmness: Innerspring mattresses allow for a lot of airflow and, as a result, remain temperature neutral throughout the night. People who sleep hot or share a bed will find that an innerspring mattress doesn’t trap heat the way some all-foam or hybrids might.

Latex

Definition: Latex is made from natural or synthetic rubber and can be used in a mattress’s support core, comfort layers, or both. Latex mattresses tend to be the longest lasting and can potentially last decades. Sleepers who enjoy a soft yet responsive mattress surface will be happy with a latex mattress.

Responsive Comfort: Latex provides cushion and contouring without sinkage. People who share a bed can enjoy the softness of latex without worrying that they will sink too far into the bed or into each other.

Airbed

Definition: Airbeds, not to be confused with inflatable air mattresses, are beds that use air chambers instead of coils, foam, or latex as their support core. Often, the air levels in the mattress can be controlled, allowing sleepers to instantly make their mattresses softer or firmer to meet their needs.

Adjustable Support: Many airbeds have separate, adjustable firmness levels on each side of the bed, which is a major benefit to people who share a bed. If you fall in a different weight group or have different mattress preferences than your sleep partner, you could adjust only your side of the bed in many airbeds.

Foam

Definition: Foam beds are known for the “hugging” sensation of memory foam, though not all foam beds are extremely conforming. Foam makes up both the support core and comfort layers, although some beds have additional comfort layer materials as well. Foam beds can tend to trap heat, so many are constructed with infusions of cooling material to help sleepers stay temperature neutral.

Contouring Relief: Foam mattresses can be a good choice for people who share a bed with someone who prefers a different sleep position. Memory foam tends to provide the most cushion and pressure relief, and a well-constructed foam bed will be supportive of all sleep positions.


Last Things to Consider When You’re Buying a Cal King

  • Bed Frame: Since Cal king mattresses are less common, California king bed frames might be harder to find. For simplicity, you could purchase a mattress from a manufacturer that also sells bed frames.
  • Sheets and Bedding: California king size sheets and bedding are less common than standard king size sheets and bedding. As a result, you may have to do more searching and deal with having fewer bedding options.
  • Doorways and Room Size: California king mattresses run 4 inches longer length-wise and 4 inches shorter width-wise than standard kings. Anyone interested in buying a California king should take this into consideration when measuring their spaces, because it could make the mattress easier or more difficult to install.
  • Mattress Weight and Setup: California king and standard king mattresses have nearly identical weights, though California kings might weigh slightly less since they are slightly smaller in terms of square footage. Both mattress setup processes are generally identical. White Glove delivery services include in-home assembly, which may be worth it if you need assistance setting up a larger mattress.