“Bed in a box” mattress models have become hugely popular with consumers in recent years. Historically, mattress shoppers visited brick-and-mortar stores to select a new bed and coordinate home delivery. Today’s bed in a box brands allow customers to purchase and order a mattress entirely online.
These brands face lower overhead costs than their brick-and-mortar competitors, allowing them to sell mattresses at much cheaper price-points. The best online mattress brands also provide free mattress delivery throughout the contiguous U.S. and provide sleep trials, during which buyers can test out the new bed to determine if it will be a suitable long-term investment.
Some shoppers remain skeptical about ordering a mattress without personally testing it beforehand. Others have concerns about the shipping process, which requires the bed to be compressed into a compact box or bag. This guide will discuss these and other common concerns about mattress models. We’ll also provide our best mattress in a box picks, and discuss different mattress types and considerations for first-time buyers.
The Nectar is one of our best bed in a box picks for sleepers who enjoy the feel of memory foam mattresses. This model features three layers of memory foam over a high-density foam base. The surface has a medium firm (6) feel, resulting in a comfortable balance of conforming and support for sleepers across different body type and position groups. Side sleepers receive ample cushioning for the shoulders and hips, ensuring good spinal alignment and less pressure, while back and stomach sleepers feel even body-conforming without sinking too much.
The mattress isolates motion very well to eliminate transfer when moving in bed and to cut down on sleep disruptions for couples. Edge support is also better than average thanks to a fairly thick support core, which stabilizes the bed and reinforces the perimeter against excessive sinkage. Like other all-foam beds, the Nectar absorbs a fair amount of body heat from sleepers and may sleep a bit warm for some. Another drawback is lack of responsiveness, which may affect how the mattress feels for couples during sex.
The Nectar is much cheaper than the average memory foam mattress, making it a high-value pick. The company also backs the mattress with a 365-night sleep trial and a lifetime warranty, both of which are much longer than average. Nectar offers free delivery to customers anywhere in the contiguous U.S.
Helix offers a versatile and innovative line of hybrid mattresses that should cater to any type of sleeper. This includes three memory foam hybrid models and three proprietary Dynamic polyfoam hybrid models. From softest to firmest, the former line includes the Helix Sunset, Midnight, and Twilight while the latter contains the Moonlight, Dusk, and Dawn. Additionally, Helix offers all the models in thicker, higher-quality “Luxe” versions.
The memory foam models (Sunset, Midnight, and Twilight) conform closely to the sleepers body to relieve pressure points, but still feature a layer of the Dynamic polyfoam underneath for some extra support and bounce. While the polyfoam models (Moonlight, Dusk, and Dawn), conform somewhat significantly, they have a more springy surface that’s easier to move around on. All models have a substantial pocketed coil support core that provides sufficient support and allows for airflow throughout the mattress.
The Luxe version includes an extra pillow-top component for a luxurious, ‘plush’ feel. Since Helix offers their beds in a variety of different firmness levels and degrees of conforming, sleepers of all body weights and preferred sleeping positions should be able to find a bed that fits their needs.
Helix mattresses come at a low-price point for a hybrid mattress. Plus, they offer a 100-night sleep trial, and ship for free to the 50 US states.
The Birch Mattress is a unique latex hybrid that performs well across the board. Featuring a medium-firm feel, the balanced and responsive surface of the Birch suits the needs of most sleepers.
On top, the Birch features a breathable, organic cover. Under this are two comfort layers: one of wool and one of natural Talalay latex. Wool is known for its breathability and ability to wick moisture away from the body, while the latex provides a moderately conforming surface with a bit of bounce to it.
Under the comfort layers is a substantial pocketed coil support core. These individually pocketed coils provide support, allow airflow through the mattress, and tend to isolate motion fairly well.
The Birch mattress stands out in terms of durability, ease of movement, temperature control, and to a lesser extent, pressure relief. The balanced medium firm feel and supportive build makes it suitable for most sleepers, although lighter-weight side sleepers may want to opt for something softer.
Birch ships free to the contiguous US. They also guarantee their mattress with a 100 night sleep trial and a 20 year warranty, which is fairly high relative to other mattress companies.
The Brooklyn Bedding Aurora is a luxury hybrid available in three firmness levels: medium soft (4), medium firm (6), and firm (7-8). This wide selection accommodates most sleepers in terms of body type and sleepign position, ensuring most buyers can find an option that offers the right balance of pressure relief and support. Lighter people will likely find the soft and medium models most comfortable due to their closer conforming abilities, while heavier individuals may find the medium and firm options more supportive and less prone to deep sagging.
The Aurora is constructed with two polyfoam comfort layers that hug the sleeper’s body without sinking too much or feeling overly constrictive. The bed’s cover is woven with phase-change material, which is designed to keep the surface at a comfortable temperature. The top comfort layer is infused with copper for added cooling. The Aurora also features 8-inch pocketed coils that keep sleepers on an even plane and reinforce the edges very well. Drawbacks of the mattress vary by the selected firmness. The firmer settings do not isolate motion as well, while the softer settings provide less responsiveness for sex.
The Aurora’s price-point is somewhat high, but a durable design and high-quality materials ensure a longer-than-average expected lifespan. Brooklyn Bedding also offers free shipping to all 50 states, and backs the mattress with a 120-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
The Layla is a flippable memory foam mattress. One side has a medium soft (4) feel for close body-conforming, while the other side is firm (7) and offers enhanced support for the sleeper’s shoulders, back, and hips. To adjust the firmness, simply flip over the mattress. Both sides feature comfort layers of copper-infused memory foam. The shared support core consists of high-density polyfoam.
Each side of the Layla offers distinct benefits and disadvantages. The medium soft surface is optimal for lighter people, side sleepers, and those with pressure point issues. The memory foam forms a deep cradle for the sleeper in order to reduce pressure and strain throughout the body. The firmer side is better suited to heavier people who need more support from their bed. This side also feels more responsive for sex. Both of the Layla’s sleep surfaces isolate motion very well, and the mattress is virtually silent no matter which side is in use. The copper infusion in the comfort layers also makes the mattress more breathable and temperature-neutral than the average memory foam model.
The Layla’s price-point is on par with the average all-foam mattress. Shipping is free throughout the contiguous U.S. The mattress is backed with a 120-night sleep trial, which is longer than average, as well as a lifetime warranty.
The Nolah Original 10 is a mattress with a medium (5) feel. A 2-inch polyfoam comfort layer conforms closely to the body but also feels fairly responsive. Sleepers don’t experience the deep, cradling feeling of memory foam, but the mattress still offers excellent pressure relief for side, back, stomach, and combination sleepers who weigh less than 130 pounds. Heavier individuals, on the other hand, may find the mattress too soft.
Due to its all-foam construction, the Nolah Original 10 absorbs and isolates motion to prevent surface transfer when people move in bed. The mattress is also silent when bearing weight. These characteristics make the bed a good choice for couples who experience movement-related sleep disruptions. The transitional and support foams are also fairly dense. This results in above-average edge support and less sinkage when people get in and out of bed, as well as a relatively long expected lifespan. One notable drawback is odor potential, as the Nolah Original 10 emits a fair amount of off-gassing.
The bed’s price-point is on par with other all-foam models, but Nolah backs the mattress with a 120-night sleep trial and a 15-year warranty – both longer than average. Free ground shipping is also available with all orders.
The Muse Mattress is another mixed-foam model featuring polyfoam and memory foam comfort layers over high-density polyfoam support layers. The memory foam conforms to the body to support the spine and alleviate pressure points in the shoulders, hips, and other sensitive areas. The top polyfoam layer has a lightly responsive feel, giving the surface a bit of bounciness. This makes the mattress optimal for those who do not like the deep body-cradling sensation of other memory foam beds.
Customers can choose from medium (5), medium firm (6), and firm (7-8) feels for their Muse Mattress. The medium feel is best suited to lighter people, side sleepers, and others who prefer more cushioning for the body and deeper contouring. Heavier people – especially back and stomach sleepers – may find the medium firm or firm models more supportive and less likely to sag too much. The softer options offer better motion isolation and overall pressure relief. The firmer feels are better for sex due to their more responsive feel, and also offer stronger edge support. All versions of the Muse Mattress are fairly durable thanks to an exceptionally dense support core.
The Muse Mattress is affordably priced compared to competing mixed-foam mattresses in a box. Muse Sleep offers free shipping, along with a 120-night sleep trial and 10-year warranty for the mattress.
The Bear is a standout mattress in a box for several reasons. Constructed with a graphite-infused memory foam comfort layer and high-density transitional and base foams, the mattress offers a medium (5) feel that is ideal for lightweight and average weight sleepers. The bed’s deep conforming, cushioning feel, and pressure-relieving abilities make it especially well-suited for side sleepers, who often need more padding for even spinal alignment.
The Bear has a cover woven with fibers of Celliant fabric, an innovative material engineered to absorb body heat from sleepers, convert it into infrared energy, and transmit the energy back into sleepers through their skin. This process is intended to boost tissue oxygenation, increase blood circulation, regulate body temperature, and aid muscle recovery – all valuable assets for athletes and other active people, as well as those with physically demanding professions. The mattress is also great for couples because it isolates motion very well and does not make any noise. However, edge support is somewhat lacking and sleepers may notice significant sinkage when sitting on or lying near the perimeter. The mattress may be too soft for heavyweight sleepers, as well.
The Bear’s price-point is very reasonable compared to the average memory foam mattress. Bear also offers free shipping within the contiguous U.S., and backs the mattress with a 100-night sleep trial and 10-year warranty.
The T&N Original from Tuft & Needle is an all-polyfoam mattress constructed with a graphite-infused comfort layer and a high-density support core. The surface has a medium firm feel and the foam is somewhat responsive, but the material also conforms somewhat closely to the sleeper’s body. This creates a balanced feeling of sleeping “on” and sleeping “in” the mattress, ensuring a comfortable combination of pressure relief and even support.
The comfort layer consists of low-density, open-cell foam. The material is fairly breathable compared to the denser foams used in other mattresses, making the T&N Original a good option for people who normally sleep hot on all-foam beds. Other major strengths of the mattress include excellent motion isolation, better-than-average durability, and no noise when bearing weight. That said, the edges lack strong support and significant sinkage is likely to occur when owners get in and out of bed. Some sleepers – particularly heavier back and stomach sleepers – will probably find the mattress too soft and prone to sagging, as well.
The T&N Original is available for less than $600 in a queen size, making it an affordable, high-value mattress. Tuft & Needle also offers free shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S., and backs the mattress with a 100-night sleep trial and a 10-year warranty.
The term “mattress in a box” or “bed in a box” refers to any model from an online mattress brand that is compressed and placed in a box for delivery. The term “bed in a bag” may also be used. These mattresses are comparable to models sold in brick-and-mortar stores in terms of construction and performance. The key difference is pricing. Online brands face lower overhead costs because they do not operate many (if any) physical stores or employ commissioned salespeople. As a result, mattresses in a box tend to be much cheaper than their brick-and-mortar counterparts.
Preparing a mattress for shipping in a box is fairly straightforward. The mattress is compressed using a large press, encased in plastic, and rolled into a cylindrical shape. This process – also known as “roll packing” – reduces the mattress to a much more compact size, allowing it to fit in a box that can be shipped via standard ground delivery.
A common misconception among consumers is that roll packing causes permanent damage to the mattress. However, mattresses in a box are designed to be highly resilient. Once the plastic wrapping is removed, the layers will expand until the bed reaches its full intended shape. The foams, coils, and other components should fully recover in one to two days without any sort of damage.
There are many reasons to choose an online mattress brand over a brick-and-mortar seller. These include the following:
The best online mattress brands strive to make the purchasing process as easy as possible for customers. We recommend the following steps for selecting and buying a new mattress:
Mattresses in a box may be removed from their packaging as soon as they reach the customer’s residence. The process for unboxing a new bed is as follows:
Most new mattresses emit off-gassing smells due to volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are released when the bed is unboxed. VOCs are relatively harmless but they carry a distinct chemical odor that many people find unpleasant. In most cases, mattresses will stop producing these smells after a few days, if not sooner. However, some mattress materials are associated with stronger and/or more persistent odor.
Models with foam layers tend to emit more off-gassing smells. Memory foam and all-polyfoam mattresses usually receive the most odor-related complaints from owners. Innersprings, hybrids, and airbeds may also carry off-gassing smells due to foam components in their comfort and transitional layers, but their coil systems often promote strong airflow to make odors dissipate more quickly.
The fewest reports of bothersome off-gassing smells come from latex mattress owners. Although organic and natural latex can carry a rubber-like odor, these materials do not produce VOCs. That said, mattresses with synthetic or blended latex may emit VOCs due to certain chemical fillers in the latex foam.
Off-gassing is rarely a serious long-term issue for mattress owners, but those who are sensitive to strong smells may find memory foam or all-polyfoam beds a bit overwhelming. We recommend a latex, innerspring, hybrid, or airbed model to these individuals instead.
Rather than placing a mattress directly on the floor, many owners support their bed with a base of some kind. Options for these support systems include:
When choosing a foundation or base for a new mattress, be sure to check the bed’s product warranty. Many brands specify which support systems are acceptable. Conditions may include maximum slat widths and support system materials. Failure to use a proper support system may result in a voided warranty if damage occurs.
Vetting brands is an important step during the mattress selection process. How can consumers tell which companies are reputable?
A good starting point is the Better Business Bureau (BBB), an independent nonprofit organization that reviews individual companies. The BBB awards letter grades based on a number of factors, such as time in business, number of customer complaints, and the company’s response (if any) to these complaints. Any brand with a BBB grade of ‘B’ or better should be considered fairly reputable. If the grade is lower, take a minute to read the reasons why an unfavorable rating was given.
Customer and owner reviews can also be a helpful source of information. However, we don’t recommend looking for reviews on the online mattress brand’s website. Many companies nest negative reviews in hard-to-find areas of the site or arrange all reviews in a way that makes them difficult to sort. Instead, visit online forums and message boards dedicated to mattress topics. The review and comment sections of mattress retailer websites may also offer insights into certain brands. Sites that distinguish “verified owners” from other reviewers are most trustworthy. Also consider visiting websites that rate businesses based on customer reviews, such as Yelp And Trustpilot.
Lastly, perform a quick web search about the company to check for recent news and updates. Take time to look into other areas of the brand, as well, such as the country in which their beds are manufactured and feedback from former employees.
Shipping, returns, and warranties are all very important factors to consider when buying a new bed in a box. When comparing online mattress brands, information for these three topics should be easily accessible and clearly worded.
Shipping options: A mattress product page will normally contain an overview of the customer’s shipping options. For more detailed information, customers should visit the site’s dedicated shipping and delivery page. If this page does not exist, then the FAQ page will likely contain all of the important details.
Shipping costs: Standard ground delivery is almost always free for customers in the contiguous U.S. Some brands also offer free shipping to Alaska, Hawaii, and/or Canada. Additionally, a small number of companies provide free White Glove delivery, which includes in-home assembly and old mattress removal. However, most brands charge at least $100 for White Glove services and some include upcharges for old mattress removal. Expedited and overnight ground delivery will usually incur additional fees as well.
Delivery wait times: With standard ground shipping, customers should expect the mattress to arrive on their doorstep within two weeks of the original order. The customer’s address may factor into their wait time, as delivery to rural locations often takes longer. White Glove delivery may take two to three weeks, as the brand will need to coordinate the delivery with local couriers in the customer’s area. The upside to White Glove shipping is that customers can usually pinpoint a delivery date and time, whereas standard ground shipping does not offer a specific delivery timetable.
Ground shipping: Mattresses sent via standard ground delivery will be compressed and shipped in a box. Couriers will leave the mattress on the customer’s doorstep unless otherwise directed. If the customer lives in an apartment or other shared living space, the courier may choose to leave the box at the front desk. An adult does not need to be at the residence when the mattress arrives, and a signature will not be required for these deliveries.
White Glove delivery: Because White Glove couriers travel to the customer’s residence in a large truck, the mattress will not be compressed, but it may be wrapped in plastic or other materials to prevent external damage. Most White Glove deliveries require an adult to be present during the delivery, and a signature is also required. Prior to the couriers’ arrival, homeowners may be asked to clear the path between the front door and the bedroom where the mattress will be kept.
Return policy: An online mattress brand’s return policy will often be listed alongside information about their mattress sleep trial. As with delivery information, the return policy may be located on a dedicated “sleep trial and returns” page on the company’s website, or in the site FAQ.
Return costs: Online mattress brands almost always offer free returns within the sleep trial period. In most cases, the company will send a courier to the customer’s residence to retrieve the mattress and transport it for recycling or charitable donation. Once the mattress has been received by personnel, a full refund will be issued to the customer using their original form of payment. Some brands charge return fees, but these rarely exceed $100 if the return is requested during the trial period.
Return requirements: If couriers are not available to pick up the mattress, the brand may ask the customer to recycle or donate the bed themselves. Proof of either is often required to receive a full refund. The costs of recycling or donating the mattress may be reimbursed, as well.
Returns after the trial period ends: After the sleep trial concludes, mattress owners should defer to the product warranty. Very few companies offer full refunds for mattress returns beyond the trial period. However, refunds may be granted if the mattress develops a defect.
Warranty overview: A warranty is an agreement between a company and a consumer that offers protections against product defects and associated expenses. All mattresses come with some sort of warranty, which pledges the company will repair or replace any defective mattress at little to no extra cost to the owner (minus shipping charges). Most online mattress brands feature dedicated warranty pages on their website. If this information is not easily accessible, reach out to customer service representatives.
Warranty length: A standard mattress warranty spans 10 years in length, and begins either on the date of purchase or date of delivery. However, many brands offer longer warranties lasting 15, 20, or 25 years. “Lifetime warranties,” which cover the product until the owner relinquishes possession, are also fairly common.
Covered defects: Most mattress warranties include a list of “covered” defects that warrant a repair or replacement. These include “sagging depth,” referring to body impressions that form on the surface and can compromise support. A warranty may cover sagging that measures anywhere from a one-half inch to one and a half inches deep, depending on the brand. Other common covered defects include physical flaws in the mattress that cause materials to deteriorate prematurely, or manufacturing flaws related to the mattress cover.
Non-covered defects: A warranty should also list defects that do not qualify for free repairs or replacements. These often include impressions that do not reach the required sagging depth, issues that arise due to changes in the owner’s personal preferences, or physical damage such as burns, cuts, and stains. Problems that occur due to improper support systems or leaving the mattress in its box for too long may also be listed.
Prorated vs. non-prorated: A warranty may be either completely non-prorated or partially prorated. For a non-prorated warranty, the owner will not need to pay additional fees to have a defective mattress replaced. Prorated warranties work a bit differently. They begin with non-prorated coverage, but after a certain number of years owners will need to pay a certain percentage of the original price in order to replace their defective mattress. This percentage usually increases on an annual basis until the warranty expires.
For example, let’s say a 20-year warranty offers 10 years of non-prorated coverage. Beginning in year 11, owners must pay 50 percent of the original mattress price to replace their defective bed. In year 12, this rate increases to 55 percent, then 60 percent in year 13, and so on.
Transferability: Mattress warranties are non-transferable. This means anyone who buys or acquires the mattress from its original purchases will not receive warranty coverage. Additionally, buyers who purchase their mattress from a non-authorized retailer do not qualify for the warranty.
Every mattress model is unique in terms of materials and construction, but most beds sold today fall into one of five general categories based on comfort layer and support core components. Each type shares consistent features, but there are model-to-model variations in terms of durability, quality of materials, and other performance factors.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at the five most common mattress types.
Definition: A hybrid is a type of innerspring mattress. These models feature comfort layers of memory foam and/or latex, along with a pocketed coil support. Many hybrids also feature transitional polyfoam layers. The average queen size hybrid costs between $1,600 and $2,000, which is a mid-level price range.
Balanced Construction: For many sleepers, hybrids represent the best of both worlds. The memory foam and latex comfort layers provide decent body-conforming and pressure relief, as well as motion isolation for couples. Meanwhile, the coil layers ensure strong support and stability for the entire bed. Coils also promote steady airflow to keep the bed cool.
Definition: Innersprings are constructed with polyfoam comfort layers and steel coil support cores. The coils may be encased in fabric, or pocketed, or open and joined together with wires known as helicals. Innerspring mattresses are generally inexpensive, with an average price range of $900 to $1,100.
Responsive and Supportive: As the name implies, innersprings have exceptionally bouncy surfaces that conform very little and feel responsive to sleepers. The coils also offer enhanced support, making many innersprings well-suited to heavier people. Many couples find the responsive surfaces very good for sex, as well.
Definition: Latex is a material derived from the sap of rubber tree plants. An all-latex bed will typically consist of softer, contouring latex in the comfort layer and denser, firmer material in the support core. The latex may be organic or natural, meaning it contains few (if any) chemical fillers. Blended or synthetic latex is made with more chemical components. Latex beds have an average price range of $1,600 to $2,000.
Long-lasting comfort: Latex is exceptionally durable and will not deteriorate as quickly as mattress foam. This is especially true for organic and natural latex. This ensures a healthy expected lifespan for most all-latex mattresses. The material offers a comfortable balance of body-conforming and responsiveness, and also sleeps fairly cool due to its natural breathability.
Definition: An airbed contains motorized air chambers in the support core. Owners can add or release air from the chambers, which in turn adjusts the overall firmness of the mattress. Standard airbeds contain at least two chambers, but some feature eight or more. Many models are designed for dual-firmness, meaning different firmness levels on each side of the bed for couples with differing preferences.
Customizable feel: The major benefit of airbeds is the high level of customization. The best airbeds can be programmed for a wide range of firmness levels, from soft and closely conforming to extra firm and supportive. However, customers should note airbeds are usually very expensive. The average model costs between $2,000 and $2,400 in a queen size, and some have price-points that exceed $4,000.
Definition: A foam mattress will feature memory foam and/or polyfoam comfort layers over a high-density polyfoam base. Foam models sold today offer the widest firmness range, and customers can choose from beds that are soft, firm, or somewhere in the middle. The average foam mattress costs $900 to $1,200.
Pressure-relieving Cradle: Foam mattresses have a unique feel. The comfort layers contour closely to the sleepers body to create a sinking feeling akin to sleeping “in” – as opposed to “on” – the mattress. This aligns the spine and reduces pressure on the shoulders, back, hips, and other sensitive areas. Most foam beds also excel at motion isolation and do not produce any noise.
Lastly, mattress shoppers should make a checklist of important features and qualities when comparing different brands and models. This allows them to make a selection based on their own needs and preferences. Mattress companies can be somewhat misleading with their terminology, advertising beds with “high coil counts,” “universal comfort,” “eco-friendly foam,” and other features that are either exaggerated or inaccurate.
We recommend focusing on the following variables when choosing a new bed:
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