What do HIBR and Snuggle-Pedic have in common? First, both make memory foam pillows and mattresses, which they sell online on Amazon. Second, they make their products right here, in the United States. Third, their mattresses are compressed, sealed, rolled, and fitted into boxes for shipment by package delivery services (like FedEx or UPS). Fourth, both brands first produced pillows, then mattresses.
Besides these and other similarities, there are differences. For now, let’s consider HIBR.
According to the firm, “HIBR was founded by two long time friends, business partners and entrepreneurs that focused on business, marketing, technology and programming prior to entering the bedding industry.” These two are Erick Arbé and Nick Ondrako, graduates of Methodist University in North Carolina, whose previous clients include golf courses.
They applied their background in technology and product/market testing to develop a pillow that was more than the traditional sewn-up bag stuffed with some sort of soft material. Materials technology produced the constituent substances, and engineering yielded the shapes and layering. What is now the HIBR Pillow was launched into the market in October 2014, and quickly picked up market share.
Following the pillow launch, Ondrako & Arbé were busy designing, testing, and re-designing a mattress. Fourteen months later, they began production and launched the HIBR Mattress in February 2016 (I know that the dates given are 16 months apart, but having worked in factories, I know that new production lines are not set up overnight).
The HIBR Pillow is really three pillows. They share the same construction. What sets them apart is their shapes, as hinted in the model names: Side, Simple, and Silhouette.
- Side was designed specifically for side sleepers. The slight indentation on one edge lets the shoulder down while the head is supported. Paul Strauss of Technabob said it was firmer than he’d expected, but he quickly got used to it. It held his head just high enough to stay in line with the spine.
- Simple is simply the traditional rectangular pillow shape. It is also the largest of the three.
- Silhouette is the now-common contour shape used in several memory foam pillows. The trough across the middle cradles the head while the lower ridge supports the neck.
Different as the three pillow models are in shape, they have the same construction inside. Using modern differential composition techniques, it is one piece of memory foam with one composition in the Magic Core and another between the core and the surface, the Infused Cooling Layer.
Capsules of Phase Change Materials (PCMs) are infused into the core of the memory foam. PCMs are selected or engineered to keep temperatures within a specified range. At the top of the range they absorb heat by liquefying. At the bottom they release heat when they solidify. By now there are hundreds of PCMs available with almost as many temperature ranges.
Water is a PCM with a much wider temperature range (180º) than those in a pillow or mattress. At the top is the boiling point for whatever the air pressure is at that altitude (212º F at sea level). Liquid water will not get hotter than that boiling point. If more heat is applied, it just boils faster. At the bottom is the freezing point, 32º F. Liquid water will not get colder than this. If what it is in contact with it is colder, water will just release heat faster, freezing faster.
Beads of gel infuse the outer layer of the HIBR Pillow’s memory foam, in a process described on Amazon as “surface infused.” Gel absorbs a lot of heat quickly, making it feel cool to the touch. From photos, it appears that this layer is perforated to let air reach the core. This enhances the temperature regulation. The online HIBR description of the pillow lists “ThermoRegulating Capsules for airflow and moisture management” (emphasis mine).
The cover of the HIBR Pillow is not mentioned, but a photo of the cover has the overprint of CoolAir Breathable Fabric Technology.
HIBR Graphite Gel Cooling Memory Foam Mattress
The HIBR Graphite Gel Cooling Memory Foam Mattress is an 11” high, three-layer mattress. Three-layer construction of memory foam mattresses began with the Tri-Pedic, but it is now the standard configuration, with lighter memory foam on top and denser memory foam in the middle. The lighter memory foam is more pressure sensitive for quicker cushioning, and the denser memory foam is more heat sensitive for finer conformity.
The creators of the HIBR Mattress did not want to just follow the crowd in mattress design. Instead, they chose to be creative in researching and applying technology to the new mattress, as they had with the pillow. Nick Ondrako says, “We wanted to push the limits even further with our mattress and develop something truly revolutionary.”
Most 2 or 3 layer memory foam mattresses have a base layer of high density polyurethane foam. A few have memory foam in the base layer. The goal was to optimize the function of each layer:
• Top – Initial cushioning and conformity, pressure relief, cooling
• Middle – More pressure relief and transitional support
• Bottom – Base support and shock absorption
The 2” top memory foam layer is infused with graphite and gel in what is called a Synthetic Blend. The “traditional memory foam” they compare it to is the original memory foam composition and structure from when memory foam mattresses were first introduced over a quarter century ago. This serves as a standard base line with closed cell configuration and 5 lb/ft3 density. Compared to the “traditional” it is:
• 95% more breathable. This is a combination of open-cell structure (now the norm) and ventilation.
• Three times as efficient in dissipation of moisture. This is largely due to ventilation, but graphite assists here.
• Able to absorb 650 times as much heat. Both gel and graphite are credited here. Ventilation also aids with this by enabling these infusions to dissipate much of the heat they absorb.
• Odorless. A common complaint about the original memory foam was the smell, which did not dissipate very quickly.
• Recovers faster. Traditional 5-lb. memory foam had to warm up before it would yield to body weight. Then it had a long memory, leaving an impression too long when a sleeper changed position. In effect, it made sleepers feel trapped. This lighter foam adjusts more quickly.
The memory foam in the top layer is also infused with phase change materials to regulate temperature – the same role they play in the pillows. As it says in HIBR’s description, the heat absorbed when the sleeping surface becomes too warm can be released later if the surface becomes too cool. The prime role of graphite in the memory foam is heat conduction. HIBR says that heat can be conducted from a hot area of the body to a cool area.
HIBR calls the middle layer Temperature Responsive Synthetic Foam. It describes this foam as having properties of both latex (resilience/responsiveness) and viscoelastic memory foam (conformity/pressure relief). By Temperature Responsive, they mean it is temperature sensitive enough to soften a bit when it is warmed by body heat, adapting itself to the shape of the sleeper’s body.
The advantage of this foam, according to HIBR, is the pressure gradient it produces. They have determined this with pressure mapping.
The bottom layer, the support base, is also memory foam instead of the usual polyurethane foam. According to HIBR it is firm enough to support the upper layers. It also is open-cell to allow some air circulation. The company says that it “Allows for heat and moisture channels.”
The heights of the middle and bottom layers are not given in online descriptions. However, the exploded view shows the middle layer the same thickness as the 2” top layer. This leaves the base layer as 7” high.
HIBR LITE ThermaGel Memory Foam Mattress
At the time of this writing, there is a HIBR mattress model on Amazon not yet listed on the HIBR website. The HIBR LITE ThermaGel Memory Foam Mattress appears to be undergoing market testing. Therefore, features may change somewhat before it goes onto the market.
The LITE is a 9” mattress with only two layers.
The 2½” top layer consists of ThermaGel Premium Memory Foam. HIBR says on Amazon that it “Uses The Same Technology As Our “Customer Loved” Premium Cooling Pillow [sic].” There is no specific detail other than it means both temperature regulation and deep compression (gel has certain support properties), and it claims to be “7x cooler than memory foam.” This seems to suggest that it is two-layers-in-one as in the HIBR pillows. In that case, they employed differential infusion. On the other hand, HIBR may be blending these properties into one infusion.
The base of the ThermaGel mattress is 6½” high. Its material is simply called “Supportive High Density Foam.” It is unclear whether, as in the first mattress model, it is very dense memory foam or is polyurethane foam. It may be the latter, since the model name is LITE and they say it is shipped in a “small” box. The Graphite Gel model weighs 111 lbs. – a bit heavy for some people to drag through the house to the bedroom.
It remains to be seen whether HIBR is intending to have two mattress models in its lineup, or whether they are market testing a replacement for the already successful HIBR Mattress.
HIBR foams are certified by CertiPUR-US. The environmental checklist for this is:
• CertiPUR-US Tested & Approved
• Ozone Depleter Free
• No PBDE’s, TDCCP, or TCEP
• Mercury Free
• Lead Free
• Formaldehyde Free
• No Phthalates
• Low VOC Emissions
All materials in HIBR mattresses and pillows are made in the USA – fabrics in North Carolina, foams and manufacturing in Georgia, design and corporate management in South Carolina. They also have an A+ BBB rating.
Shipping, Sleep Trial, Warranty
HIBR compresses, vacuum seals and rolls the mattress. Then it is inserted into a box and shipped by a package delivery service (except to Alaska and Hawaii). They have a 100 night guarantee on the Pillow and a 10-year warranty on the Mattress with a 100-night trial period.
HIBR has made a dent in the markets for pillows and memory foam mattresses. Most of this is due to their innovation in materials technology and design. Their first mattress draws on a concept initiated by Dr. Swartzburg, but with innovative applications.
One key area of their success is cooling the hot memory foam mattress with gel and PCMs, which absorb the heat. Cooling through absorption is limited by the capacity of the absorbing substance, whether gel or phase change materials.
HIBR not only uses gel and PCMs, which rely on heat absorption, but airflow, which is more effective in the long run. The flow of air extends the capacity of heat absorbing materials by allowing them to dissipate heat even while they are absorbing it. Dr. Swartzburg developed the Airflow Transfer System for Relief-Mart, which is an option in the Tri-Pedic and other Selectabed mattresses, and standard on TempFlow models and the Snuggle-Pedic Mattress. This video shows how it works.