Casper Sleep is best known as the shaker-upper of mattress marketing, the company that sparked the current mattress-in-a-box trend. It is not the first firm to sell mattresses that have been compressed, rolled, vacuum-packed and put into a convenient box. An Italian mattress manufacturer, Magniflex, developed the process in 1986, shipping out mattresses in duffel bags. In this country, BedInABox (BIAB) used this process, beginning in 2004, fitting the mattress into a box. In 2006, they began selling exclusively online at a fraction of in-store prices.
When it comes to start-up, single-model, online-only companies, Tuft & Needle is older, founded in 2012. The reason Casper sparked the current trend might be due to their location in New York City; T&N is based in Phoenix. Also catching public attention was their delivery by bicycle in NYC.
Casper Sleep was founded in 2014 by mattress industry veterans headed by Philip Krim. It was 10 years after BIAB entered the market, and 8 years after they started online-only sales. What Casper Sleep did that was different was to have only one model with only one firmness level. At that time (2014), BIAB had seven models. This lowered the cost even more. Online sales of boxed mattresses have taken off with many start-ups entering this market segment. Now established mattress companies, such as Sealy, have entered the ring with their boxed entries. Most of these are memory foam mattresses.
Construction of the Casper Mattress
The design chosen for the Casper Mattress is a latex/memory foam hybrid. Memory foam is used for its conformity. Made in the USA, this is high quality memory foam. It is a 4-lb. foam, like the top foam layer in the Tri-Pedic made by Selectabed (a Relief-Mart company). This means it is more pressure-sensitive and less heat-sensitive than 5-lb. memory foam, which has been the standard weight of this visco-elastic material. While offering a bit less pressure relief, the 4-lb. foam is not as hot, since it does not absorb as much heat.
The 1½” top layer of the Casper Mattress is latex. Its selection for the top masks some of the pressure relieving properties of the 1½” of memory foam beneath. Latex is springier, but having a density of 3.3 lbs. makes it conforming to a degree. The real reason it is on top is temperature control. Latex is cooler than memory foam, and perforated latex is breathable and even cooler.
This is synthetic latex, so it does not trigger allergies to natural tree-sap latex. It is also Dunlop process latex. Being synthetic and Dunlop reduces the cost of the latex, but its response is not as good as Talalay processed latex. Talalay latex is more expensive. Talalay is also mostly natural, but the rinsing part of the process removes the allergy-causing proteins.
Latex and memory foam are not the only foams in the Casper Sleep mattress. Beneath these are a transition layer and the support core of polyurethane foam. The 1½” transition foam is 2½ lbs. and the 5” support foam is 1.8 lbs.
The Casper Mattress was originally 9.5” high, a 3-layer mattress with two 1.5” comfort layers over a 6.5” support base. In May 2016, four months after a 1-star review on Beds.Org, Casper introduced its second iteration with four layers. It had the same comfort layers, but the base was reduced to 5” and a 1.5” transition layer of polyurethane foam was inserted between it and the comfort layers. The reviewer called it “hard as a brick,” a departure from most Amazon and Yelp reviewers.
Now The Casper Mattress is the 10” signature model, the middle one of three models. They no longer specify the heights of the component layers. A diagram on the Casper site seems to indicate two layers of identical height with a slightly thicker top layer over the support base. However, such illustrations are not the same as precise blueprints, but the apparent heights appear to be 2” Open-Cell Foam, 1.5” Responsive Memory Foam, 1.5” Adaptive Transition Foam, and 5” Durable Support Foam (their names for the foams).
The two new Casper mattress models are The Essential and The Wave. All three models claim “Hybrid foam construction.” Essential has three layers, and Wave has five.
The 9.5” Casper Mattress was a latex-memory foam hybrid. Unlike Selectabed’s Fibro-Pedic and Soft-Pedic, which have a layer of memory foam atop the latex, Casper had 1½” latex on top to keep the memory foam from getting too warm.
Casper used synthetic Dunlop latex. They claimed it was chosen to avoid triggering the latex allergies that some persons have. However, in making Talalay latex, rinsing removes remaining allergens, so using the synthetic latex may serve to allay allergy fears that many have. It is also less expensive, reducing the overall cost of the product. Also, Talalay is usually ventilated (perforated), allowing more air to pass through than open-cell structure. However, a number of manufacturers are now using ventilated Dunlap latex foam. Although the latex was on top, its 3.3-lb. density made it more conforming.
In January 2017, Casper replaced the latex with a “springy” polyfoam, described by the online review site Sleepopolis, as “latex-like” (the new owner of Sleepopolis took over with the financial help of Casper). They have not said why. This foam is an open-cell foam, which is now the standard for upper layers of foam mattresses. Open-cell foam does allow some air to filter through for cooling, which is especially a consideration with memory foam. This is not as effective as ventilated foam (with vertical pores), which is used by several mattress manufactures, such as the Relief-Mart family of mattress brands.
The 1½” of memory foam in the second comfort layer has a 4-lb. density, the same as the top Tri-Pedic layer. This gives it quicker recovery than 5-lb. foam. However, the real reason for this memory foam density is probably heat control, since that is also the reason for its second level placement. The lighter foam is also less expensive to make.
Third and Fourth Layers
Casper is now a 4-layer mattress. Between the comfort layers and the very firm base support layer is a 1½” transition layer of 2½-lb. polyurethane foam. The density of the 5” support base is 1.8 lbs. Before the mid-2017 revision, the base layer was 6.5” of 1.8# polyurethane support foam.
The composition of the covers on its mattresses is not listed online except for Spandex as part of the cover on The Wave.
The New Models
Casper has broken with the “one perfect model” template by introducing a high-performance, upper-scale model and a simpler, less expensive model. This is a frank acknowledgement that one size does not fit all. The times of introduction show that the company was working on these when it introduced the latest version of its signature model, The Casper Mattress. These models do not yet show up on Amazon, so there are no VCRs yet, though a few select “independent” reviewers have evaluated them.
The newest mattress by Casper Sleep is The Essential. Introduced into the market October 2017, it is a 3-layer 8.5” mattress, essentially The Casper without the transition layer. The heights of the layers appear to be about the same as the same materials in Casper’s signature model.
The most innovative model by Casper is The Wave, unveiled August 2017. While latex is not in the latest version of The Casper Mattress, it is in the second layer from the top in this one. The five layers are (their terms) Flo Foam (1.25”), Latex Foam (1.5”), Visco-Elastic Memory Foam (1.75”), High Resiliency Foam with Polymer Network (1.75” transition layer), and Support Foam with Contouring (5.25” base).
The key design features are in interface of the transition layer with the support base. Casper kerf cut the top surface of the base with graduated channel cuts beneath the shoulders and the hips/thighs to make these places more giving, Then they fused polymer strips to kerfs under the middle of the bottom surface of the transition layer to provide more support for the lumbar.
With the rolling and unrolling of the mattress, there has to be some means of keeping the four layers all together. Casper Sleep says it uses water-based adhesives, because solvent-based glues release undesirable substances as they cure, such as formaldehyde.
Return and Warranty
Casper Sleep has a 10-year warranty on their mattresses and a 100-night hassle-free return period.
Pros and Cons
Casper Sleep designed their 10” mattress (the listed component heights add up to 9½”) to be a Goldilocks product, suitable for the greatest number of users. Though the vast majority of reviews are 5 stars, the overall rating on Yelp is 4.0 stars. Best for most is not best for all. It is too soft for some, and too firm for others.
On the other hand, there are three models of Tri-Pedic mattresses: Gold, Platinum, and Diamond. Each has a different overall firmness. Added to this is the option of the AirFlow Transfer System, which draws air through perforations in the comfort layers, and channels it to the porous side panels. This produces more effective cooling and also keeps the mattress fresher.
Several of the newer boxable mattresses have more than one model or firmness option at prices close to those of the Casper Mattress. One of the newest entries is the Snuggle-Pedic Mattress, a two-layer memory foam mattress. A standard feature is the AirFlow Transfer System which is optional in Tri-Pedic. The firmness is customizable with free adjustment, making it suitable for more than just Goldilocks.