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Mattress-in-a-box marketing can be pretty sensational: You might see a stuntman falling back on a mattress with raw eggs strapped to his back (that’s a Purple commercial) or hear that buying a mattress is akin to ordering tacos (from a Tuft & Needle ad).
The ads are certainly memorable. But how do the mattresses from the dozens of direct-to-consumer companies stack up?
We put mattress-in-a-box beds through the same rigorous testing we use for traditional mattresses. Using lab equipment and human test subjects, we evaluate how well a mattress supports the body for both back and side sleepers, how easily sleepers can shift their weight without disturbing a partner, and how well the mattress keeps its shape over time. For that last test, on durability, we pass a 308-pound roller over each mattress 30,000 times to simulate the typical lifespan of eight to 10 years.
For firmness, rather than taking a manufacturer’s word for it, we measure that attribute with a highly calibrated instrument and score it on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the firmest.
“Aside from the mattress showing up on your doorstep rolled up in a box, shoppers won’t notice any differences in performance between our top-rated mattress-in-a-box models and those models purchased in standard brick-and-mortar stores,” says Chris Regan, who oversees CR’s mattress tests.
For some mattresses, Regan notes that it can be difficult to pull out the vacuum-packed, rolled-up product and free it from its plastic wrapping. “It’s nice to have a second pair of hands—and be very careful using a box cutter when opening and removing the plastic,” Regan says.
And while our scientific ratings for support are a good proxy for how well you might sleep on a mattress, we also provide ratings for comfort and satisfaction that come from people who’ve actually lived with these mattresses—for up to 10 years in some cases. Our new comfort and owner satisfaction ratings are based on data from recent surveys on CR members’ experiences with more than 74,000 mattresses purchased within the past decade. We asked members to rate the comfort of their mattress, and used the data to generate ratings by brand and type of mattress. Owner satisfaction is based on a member’s overall judgment of such factors as firmness/softness, value, quality of sleep, and more.
CR members can read on for ratings and reviews of the eight best direct-to-consumer mattresses from our tests, listed in rank order. Most are foam, but there’s one innerspring mattress on the list (yep, an innerspring mattress-in-a-box) and a foam-and-innerspring hybrid, too.
Many of the companies that sell these mattresses have opened their own showrooms, where you can try a mattress out before you buy, or they’ve partnered with walk-in stores for the same reason.
Many mattress-in-a-box companies offer a generous trial period—usually about 100 days—and return policy. We’ve noted these details below for each mattress.