inding the right mattress for you—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 (available at Tuft & Needle) for its firm and supportive, yet cradling and supple surface—and 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. She’s slept on a lot of mattresses, but this was one of only two that she felt deeply sad to see toted away after their month-long sleep tests (the other, unsurprisingly, is our Upgrade Pick, the Leesa Hybrid, below).
At first she was dubious about how firm the Tuft & Needle Original felt. But within a few minutes of lying down, she found that the mattress softens and adjusts enough to adapt to the pressure of her body weight. She felt 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 than side sleepers, will likely find the mattress allows them to sleep in their preferred position without noticing any soreness or strain because of how supportive it is. Our tester loves sleeping on her stomach, but she’s all too familiar with the lower back strain that sometimes comes with it. It was never an issue in her time with the Tuft & Needle Original. The mattress’s firmness also makes its edges more supportive than many foam mattresses we tested. They still compressed under pressure when our tester sat right on the corner and edge, but when she lay down and scooched over to the edge and wriggled around a bit, she didn’t feel as though falling off the bed was imminent. (If you prefer a softer, more supple mattress, read on, as some of the others we’ve tested will better fit the bill.)
The Tuft & Needle Original was our former “Best Value” pick following earlier testing because it carries an unbeatable price. Mattresses in a box may seem as though they’re always on sale. Yet even at a discounted price, most of the mattresses we’ve tested still won’t beat out the Tuft & Needle Original queen size at its full retail price of $695. The site’s sales aren’t as substantive as those of other mattress retailers, but you can still get it at a 10% or 15% discount, which you’ll find out about if you sign up for the marketing emails.
For all its upshots, the Tuft & Needle Original has a couple of downsides. For one, the mattress retained some heat in lab testing, though it was far from the worst culprit in this regard, 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 (in her heated apartment). Also, if you’re looking for the hugging and sink-in sensation of memory foam, it isn’t the mattress for you—indeed, some sleepers may find the Tuft & Needle too firm. But experts suggest people are better off erring on the side of mattresses that are too firm—as it’s easy to throw on a topper or something to provide a bit of cushion—rather than too soft, which is harder to remedy.
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: She favors sleeping on her stomach and side and swore off back sleeping long ago but found the Tuft & Needle Original was comfortable even when she lay on it in that position. She’s the main sleep person here at Reviewed, and to put it simply: “If I had to buy a mattress tomorrow, given my current budget, I would hands-down go for the Tuft & Needle.”
Mattress materials: Two layers of foam: on top, a soft layer infused with cooling gel and graphite, and beneath, a thicker layer for support.
Delivery and packaging: Front-door drop-off. A queen-size arrives in a box measuring 44 inches by 16 inches by 16 inches box and weighing 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
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.
The mattress’s top two layers are foam, which provide softness and give, and allow it to contour to the body. As a hybrid, the foam sits atop pocket springs, which are coils that are individually wrapped in quilted fabric, giving the bed a sturdy yet buoyant base. This provides adaptable support for all sleep positions, without leaving a stomach sleeper unsupported or a side sleeper’s shoulder or hip aching the next morning. The bed is a crowd-pleaser that’s amazing to sleep on in any position.
For consumers, the Leesa Hybrid’s construction and support aren’t visible. What our tester felt was the responsiveness of its inner workings when she plopped down on the mattress. On a superficial level, though, she noticed and appreciated the super-soft and aesthetically pleasing cover (a.k.a., its ticking). The cover 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.
The Leesa Hybrid mattress only had a couple of downsides. It retained heat in our lab testing, a consideration for people who sleep hot. 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 cool spot (like flipping the pillow over to get the “cool” side).
In addition, the Leesa Hybrid had a noticeable odor when it was first opened that lasted several days. The mattress is CertiPUR-certified, so the smell, though annoying, isn’t caused by certain harmful flame retardants, and the bed meets indoor air-quality requirements for certain types of pollutants. In addition, moving the mattress once it’s expanded is a task due to its heftier-than-most, 115-pound weight.
Leesa’s 100-night guarantee, along with its responsive customer service, make this mattress 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: Two layers of foam a top comfort layer designed with holes for breathability, and a regular memory foam layer that provides contouring. The foam layers sit above a pocket-spring base.
Delivery and packaging: Front-door drop-off. A queen size arrives in a box measuring 45 inches by 16 inches by 16 inches and weighing a total of 121 pounds.
Trial period: 100 nights.
Return protocol: Leesa will coordinate the pick-up and donation of unwanted mattresses to “charity partners that serve children.”
3. Amerisleep AS3
The key word for this mattress is firm. It has some give without losing all bounciness, but if you’re used to a soft, memory foam-type mattress, the Amerisleep may feel a little dense. Our tester tried the Amerisleep right after the super-squishy Allswell, and though she generally prefers firm mattresses, it took a few nights to get used to the Amerisleep’s comparable lack of give. In the beginning, there were nights our tester woke up with tension in her lower back, though this didn’t happen frequently enough for her to know whether this was due to the mattress itself or poor posture when hunched over her desk during the day.
But after this breaking-in (or getting-used-to) period, the mattress felt great. It has a sturdy core and a supple upper layer, so lying on it makes the sleeper feel cradled but not coddled. It retained heat, albeit a minimal amount, in our tester’s experience and in our lab testing. Even so, our tester found it comfortable, maybe thanks to the mattress’s BioPur foam topper, which has open cells that increase breathability, according to Amerisleep. Our tester thinks this feature likely made it feel comfortable, even when she snuggled up with blankets in a stuffy apartment.
Finally, there’s at least one thing that any prospective Amerisleep buyers think of as a positive: Because it’s so firm, it’s really easy to make the bed. Its sturdy edges make it so that bottom sheets snap easily 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 change your sheets often. Overall, it’s a great mattress, especially for those who sleep hot and favor firm beds.
Mattress materials: Foam mattress with three layers of foam.
Delivery and packaging: Arrives in a box measuring 45 inches by 19 inches 19 inches, with a boxed queen size weighing just under 95 pounds.
Trial period: 100 nights.
Return protocol: If you want to return your Amerisleep mattress, email customer service within 100 days of purchase to set up a return. They will send someone to pick it up and issue a refund once it is received.
4. Nectar Mattress
Nectar was previously our top pick, but after testing according to our updated rubric and scoring, it slipped a bit in our rankings and we no longer recommend it as the best mattress for most people. The main reason: its surface is ultra-soft, which led our tester to feel as though it wasn’t sufficiently supportive.
The Nectar Mattress went through two new rounds of testing. Our first tester, who relied almost exclusively on anecdotal experience, found it balanced firmness and softness, but our most recent results found it was just too squishy to suit the widest number of sleepers. The mattress was never uncomfortable for our new tester, but it wasn’t the most supportive, either. She couldn’t lie or sit on the bed in her waking hours without frequently shifting positions, and her lower back felt a little strain whenever she tried to sleep on her stomach during the month she had it in her home. 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 prove disruptive to their 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 (in wintertime in her heated bedroom). The Nectar Mattress also lacks edge support. Though it’s got better structure than some all-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, as we think it could cause them to roll off (or wake with a start if they feel like they might) in the middle of the night.
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, we think there are some better options out there.
Mattress materials: Three layers of foam: From the top, a one-inch “fast-recovery” gel memory foam, then a three-inch memory foam layer with “medical-grade” cooling, and beneath, a high-density base foam layer for support.
Delivery and packaging: Front-door drop-off, two to three days after placing an order. A queen-size mattress arrives in a box measuring 44 inches by 16 inches by 16 inches and weighing about 65 pounds.
Trial period: 365 nights.
Return protocol: Nectar helps you coordinate donation or local disposal.
5. Sealy Cocoon Chill
The all-foam Cocoon Chill—a boxed mattress offering from traditional mattress brand Sealy—has a medium-firm feel with a tiny bit of bounce. Its three layers of foam, which include 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 foam’s top layer conformed to her body with enough support from the firmer layer below to prevent potential uncomfortable pressure in areas like the hips. Because there’s some sinking into the foam, the mattress traps a bit of body heat, but the cooling top layer seemed to offset anything that might cause intense night sweats. Lab tests show it retained minimal, but not zero, heat—but our tester, who tends to sleep hot, found the mattress felt cozy, not cloying and thinks this isn't a deal-breaker.
Our tester found the mattress comfortable and supportive when she slept on her side, but sometimes woke up with some discomfort in her lower back, which indicates it isn’t quite as supportive as it could be for that sleeping position. For some reason, she also woke up on her stomach a few times while testing the mattress (even though she almost never sleeps on her stomach), and thought it felt comfortable like this, so it’s probably a fine option for stomach sleepers, too.
Overall, the Sealy Cocoon Chill should be a great choice for someone who wants a medium-firm mattress with some cooling properties at a reasonable price, $850—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 Cocoon Chill comes through.
Mattress materials: Foam mattress with three layers of foam —“support layer,” “comfort foam,” and memory foam—and cooling cloth cover.
Delivery and packaging: Front-door drop-off, arrives in a cardboard box that weighs about 75 pounds.
Trial period: 100 nights.
Return protocol: Contact Sealy Cocoon and the company will 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.
6. Puffy Lux
The Puffy Lux is a great mattress, but it isn’t for everyone. For better and worse, the Lux’s standout attribute is its softness. Our tester, a hybrid side and stomach sleeper, found herself looking forward to sleeping on it each night. The mattress’s surface is responsive and has a nice amount of immediate give—it doesn’t take time to gradually contour to your form like some foams, which also means you dodge the quicksand effect. The mattress perfectly cradled our tester without making her feel as though she was sinking in too deeply, and she loved that sensation while sleeping and lying on it in every sleep position—back, side, and stomach.
The Puffy’s cushiony surface that cradles, however, is a double-edged sword. Though our tester loved it, she thinks some will find it too soft. Folks who have larger frames—especially those who prefer catching zzz’s prone or supine, both positions that require more support for the back—may find the mattress isn’t firm enough to maintain spinal alignment for back or stomach sleeping, which could even lead to back strain.
The mattress is made with Puffy’s “Cooling Cloud” foam material, which is a bit of a misnomer, as it’s just designed to keep your temperature neutral, not actually “cool” you. Our tester felt the “temperature neutral” claim held in her experience sleeping on the bed. The mattress never retained heat, nor did it actively cool in our tester’s experience and lab results. The Lux is made with four layers of foam. Despite containing so much foam, the mattress is surprisingly lightweight and our tester had no difficulty maneuvering the unfurled queen size bed through her apartment alone, making it a great option for anyone who relocates frequently.
Mattress materials: Four layers of foam—two layers of Puffy’s Cloud foam atop a piece of “climate-comfort” foam, which all sits on a supportive (also foam) base layer.
Delivery and packaging: Front-door drop-off. The Puffy comes in a box that measures 44 inches by 16 inches by 16 inches, and weighs 59 pounds.
Trial period: 101 nights
Return protocol: Mattresses must be purchased directly from Puffy, not a third party retailer, to be eligible for returns. To make a return, just email Puffy and they’ll take it from there—pick-up and all.
Purple sets itself apart with its unique gel-like material unlike the typical memory foam, coil, or hybrid mattresses that pad the rest of the market. The gel material results in an undeniably comfortable surface that hugs the body without feeling like quicksand. It also absorbs movement extremely well, as evidenced by our tester’s wine-glass test: When her partner rolled and flopped around on his side of the bed, the filled wine glass balanced on her side hardly registered the motion.
The extreme squish and stretch of the top polymer layer makes it seem like the mattress wouldn’t offer much support, but it's quite the opposite. It cradles the body regardless of preferred sleep position. This was the first mattress our tester tested, and she’d been dealing with the quintessential "I'm not 25 anymore and work at a desk all day" lower back pain. It wasn't long after she started sleeping on the Purple that her pain diminished, and that's a big reason why she continued using a Purple mattress, buying herself one after the test period.
Purple also has no competition when it comes to delivery. The others, excluding the Saatva, arrive in massive boxes that are awkward and near-impossible to haul around, especially up stairs. Purple's mattresses arrive wrapped in plastic tubing that has cloth straps stitched right in. There's so much less waste, and the included cutting tool slices right through the bag, so there's no struggle to tug a huge foam cylinder out of a big clumsy box. Plus, of all the vendors we tested, Purple is the only one that sells a split king, which works with a two-sided adjustable frame.
Mattress materials: Three layers: On top is a two-inch "hyper-elastic polymer" in a grid design that feels similar to silicone. In the middle is a 3.5-inch layer of mid-density "comfort" foam, and on the bottom is a four-inch layer of high-density "support" foam.
Delivery and packaging: Front-door drop-off. The queen arrives in a 60-inch long, 16-inch diameter plastic tube with fabric handles and weighs about 110 pounds.
Trial period: 100 nights.
Return protocol: Purple will send you a return label and then a customer service rep will help you through the process.
The Avocado Green Mattress is a fairly well-rounded bed that 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.
The Avocado Green Mattress is a hybrid, meaning its construction incorporates springs and foam. It has hundreds of coils sandwiched between two layers of latex, which is known for being cooler than memory foam and its springy with a responsive surface, meaning it quickly responds to pressure or weight. Latex doesn’t yield the sinking, molding, or cradling sensation you get from memory foam, rather the surface has some plushness, but little give or tendency to compact beneath body weight. Our tester felt the springiness of this mattress might be too much for some, but that it’s a great option for people who prefer the feeling of coils, and don’t want to completely sacrifice plushness.
The mattress didn’t beat our top picks because it isn’t as 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, making the mattress less than ideal for people who prefer stomach sleeping.
Our tester also noticed the mattress she received was two inches short of a standard queen in width and length, coming in at 78 inches by 58 inches. For our tester, who is just accompanied by her cat each night, it wasn’t a problem. However, anyone who is joined by a partner, kids, or large pets, this might be an issue. When our tester asked customer service about the size discrepancy, the representative said it was something Avocado heard about often, and suggested jumping on the bed to encourage it to expand to its full size, which seemed questionable, at best.
Mattress materials: The Avocado Green Mattress is made with two layers of organic latex rubber foam that sandwich pocketed coils, and it’s covered in organic fabric.
Delivery and packaging: Avocado’s delivery takes longer than many mattress-in-a-box companies because the products are handmade. Our tester’s mattress took just over three weeks to arrive at her door.
Trial period: 365 nights.
Return protocol: Avocado requires customers submit photos of the mattress condition. Once it’s verified, they coordinate with a local charity to pick up the mattress for donation.
The DreamCloud mattress is firm and supportive, and works well for most sleep positions. Our tester, who generally has a strong aversion to back sleeping, often woke up in the morning facing the ceiling, despite falling asleep on her stomach or side. Even then, she never noticed the typical discomfort that she feels when she lies on her back. She found the mattress’s firm surface makes it well-suited to stomach sleeping as well. That said, people who prefer a softer surface sensation, and side sleepers with this preference in particular, will likely find a softer bed more comfortable. This mattress also isn’t prone to any heat retention—our tester always woke feeling cool and comfortable, and lab tests corroborated her experience.
But even so, the mattress has some issues. There’s normally a puffing-up process when you free a mattress in a box from its shipping confines. However, with the DreamCloud, the corners lagged behind the middle, puffing up like some 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 at-home testing, just before it was schlepped back to the lab for additional tests. While the sagging foot wasn’t a bother for our 5-foot-9-inch tester—admittedly, she’s tall but has also been waking up diagonal as of late—it could leave taller folks’ calves and feet unsupported, albeit temporarily.
Most mattresses take a few days to fully air out—the DreamCloud, however, was another beast entirely. Our tester didn’t realize how much it smelled until it was on her bed frame for the first night of sleeping, after it had already aired out for 24 hours in a decently ventilated room. It reeked. The bed smelled so bad that she couldn’t sleep with her head off her pillow. If her nose so much as passed the pillow’s perimeter, the mattress’s noxious odor would waft up into her face. And it didn’t smell for just a couple of days—she noticed the smell every night for over two weeks.
Mattress materials: A soft cashmere cover followed by two layers of foam atop a platform of individually wrapped springs, followed by a base layer to support the ones above.
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
Trial period: 365 nights
Return protocol: DreamCloud asks that you donate the mattress to a local charity or organization. Once you’ve contacted them, they will aid you in finding a recipient, but if you incur a cost moving the mattress, it’s on you.
10. Helix Midnight
Before ordering a Helix mattress, potential buyers take a brief survey on their website that uses height, weight, usual sleeping position, and preferred mattress firmness to determine their ideal mattress. Our tester sleeps on her side and prefers a medium-to-firm mattress, as such, her results yielded the Helix Midnight, a 12-inch mattress with medium support and a hybrid foam-spring composition. This also happens to be the brand’s best-selling mattress.
Overall, our tester slept really well on the Helix Midnight. It has a nice medium-firm feel with some give when she lay down on it, but a distinctive sensation of deeper support at its core. The tester has always been a side sleeper, and on her old spring-filled mattress, she would sometimes wake up with a sore, crooked-feeling back and aches in her hips where the springs had dug into them. On the Midnight, however, it felt as though she was aligned sleeping on her side, and when she woke up, the familiar, piercing hip pain her old mattress caused was no more. She also felt comfortable in other positions on the mattress.
In addition, our tester tends to sleep hot (and lacks air conditioning), so she was pleased that the mattress didn’t retain too much body heat, even when she sweat at night. All in all, it’s a great mattress at a decent price, particularly for side sleepers.
That said, our tester had some difficulties with its delivery. The box that was dropped off outside her door had no handles, and it was heavy at about 70 pounds, so she had to enlist two of her roommates to help her hoist it up the stairs to her bedroom. There was also a strong chemical smell on the mattress that stuck around after she unwrapped it, but that dissipated a little bit each day and went away fully in about a week.
Mattress materials: The Helix Midnight mattress is constructed from memory foam, polyfoam, wrapped coils, and hard foam called “Duradense” foam at the base.
Delivery and packaging: Front-door drop-off. The queen arrived in a rectangular cardboard box measuring 48 inches by 16 inches by 16 inches. It weighs about 70 pounds.
Trial period: 100 nights.
Return protocol: Helix’s removal partners come to your house to take away an unwanted mattress to donate or recycle it.
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