A Closer Look at Bed-in-a-Box Mattresses
With a Comparison of Four Top-Rated Brands
Most boxed mattresses are memory foam or memory foam hybrids. Some have quasi memory foam – foam that performs like memory foam, or is really memory foam called by another name. As is explained in Memory Foam and the Boxable Beds Trend, foam mattresses are more easily compressed and rolled to fit into a box for shipping by a package delivery service, such as UPS and FedEx, and memory foam mattresses are the most popular type of foam mattress.
Bed-in-a-Box Brand Comparisons
We are comparing four online mattress-in-a-box brands in the order of their market introductions. We could have started with Magniflex or BedInABox, but they each have multiple models. Instead, we are focusing on the current market trend, beginning with Tuft & Needle and expanding with Casper and Yogabed, then going on with more new players. Last year, Snuggle-Pedic, the maker of the top memory foam pillow and top body pillow on Amazon, introduced its mattress, which is now the top rated memory foam mattress on Amazon.
Tuft & Needle
From Bits and Bytes to Beds
Tuft & Needle can be considered the first in the current trend of boxed beds. The company was started by two software engineers, D. Park and J. T. Marino. For more information about Tuft & Needle, see the Tuft & Needle mattress review.
The Tuft & Needle is a 10” high, two-layer mattress with a comfort layer of their “Adaptive Foam” and a firm foam support base. The separate heights are not stated, but a cutaway diagram indicates they would be 3” and 7” high respectively.
Tuft & Needle can be called a quasi memory foam mattress. Park & Marino, the founders, didn’t like latex as too springy, nor memory foam as too trapping (and gets hot). They had a foam maker formulate a polyurethane foam with in-between properties, and called it “Adaptive Foam.” It is more like a lower-density memory foam, with a quicker recovery than the traditional 5-lb. memory foam. It also has infused graphite and gel for moisture control and cooling.
Tuft & Needle claims cooling for their mattress. Very few customers reported heat retention as an issue. Though this is open-cell foam, it is not really memory foam, which means that it does not have the heat retention tendency of memory foam. Some of the temperature control may be attributed to the infusion of graphite and gel. Graphite is probably the more effective of the two, since it is more of a conductor than an absorbent of heat, and it also wicks moisture. However, the drawback of the additives is that they may shorten the lifetime of the foam, as noted by Dr. Rick Swartzburg.
Dr. Rick Swartzburg, a chiropractor and VP of product development at Relief-Mart, Inc. (the manufacturer of the Snuggle-Pedic Mattress), faced the problem of slow response and heat buildup in memory foam. His solution was the Tri-Pedic Mattress. It has two memory foam comfort layers. The top one is 4-lbs, and the lower one 5-lbs. The 4-lb. foam is more pressure-sensitive, so has a faster response. It is also less temperature-sensitive, so it has less heat build-up.
The Tuft & Needle is covered with a polyester/nylon knit fabric.
The Tuft & Needle Mattress is covered by a 100‐night sleep trial and a 10-year limited mattress warranty
How Tuft & Needle Rates
Out of 11,162 reviews of T&N on Amazon, 2,719 are Verified Customer Reviews (VCRs) by verified purchase customers. 2,225 are positive and 494 critical, with an average rating of 4.4 stars out of 5.
On Yelp are reviews of T&N and its products at its five showrooms in Arizona (Phoenix, Scottsdale, Gilbert), San Francisco, and Seattle (the Seattle showroom opened less than two weeks before this writing, so there are no reviews as yet for that location). Out of 444 VCRs, 51% (226) rated T&N at 5 stars and 44% (196) at 4 stars. The average customer rating is 4.4, the same as on Amazon.
T&N has no customer reviews on Beds.Org at this time.
Even though another mattress evaluation site gives the Tuft & Needle Mattress a 79% rate of owner satisfaction (equivalent of 3.95 stars), we will rate the T&N at 4.4 stars.
This is the brand that in April 2014 ignited the rapid growth of single-model, online only boxed mattresses. Casper is best known for its online sales, directly from the company and on Amazon. It is also sold through Target Stores, and also has four of its own stores with 10 more scheduled to open.
Now The Casper Mattress is the 10” signature model, the middle one of three models. The apparent heights appear to be (their names for the foams) 2” Open-Cell Foam, 1.5” Responsive Memory Foam, 1.5” Adaptive Transition Foam, and 5” Durable Support Foam.
The two new Casper mattress models are The Essential (introduced Oct. 2017) and The Wave (Aug. 2017). All three models claim “Hybrid foam construction.” Essential has three layers, and Wave has five. They are not yet on Amazon nor reviewed on Yelp. For more information on these, see the “Update” section in the Casper Sleep review.
Top Comfort Layer
The original 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 its 1½” latex on top to keep the mattress cool.
In January 2017, Casper replaced the latex with a “springy” or “latex-like” polyfoam. Open-cell foam is now the standard for the top layers in foam mattresses. It allows some air to filter through to cool the memory foam. Ventilated foam is more effective, as used by the Relief-Mart family of mattress brands and a few other manufacturers.
Second Comfort Layer
The second comfort layer has 1½” of 4-lb. density memory foam (the same density as Tri-Pedic’s top layer). Its recovery is faster than 5-lb. foam. The real reason for this density in the Casper Mattress could be heat control, the same as for its second level placement. It is also less expensive.
Third and Fourth Layers
Mid-2016, Casper became a 4-layer mattress, adding a 1½” 2½-lb.transition layer of polyurethane foam between the 2nd layer and the 5” 1.8 lbs. base support layer.
The composition of the cover on The Casper Mattress is not listed online. It does use a fire sock with silica-infused rayon instead of chemicals.
Warranty and Trial Period
Casper has a 100-night “Risk-free Trial” on its mattresses and a 10-year warranty.
How Casper Rates
On Amazon, The Casper mattress has an average rating of 4.3 with 197 VCRs out of 925 total reviews (160 are positive, 37 critical). The sleep trial with free returns is for 100 nights, and the limited warranty is for 10 years.
There are 49 VCRs on Yelp for two Casper showrooms in Venice, California, and New York City. The composite average VCR rating is 4.3, the same as on Amazon.
There has been only one review of the Casper Mattress (1 Star) on Beds.Org.
Since the Amazon and Yelp reviews are consistent, and only one review on Beds.Org is not a large enough sample to be statistically significant, We rate the Casper Mattress at 4.3 stars out of 5.
In December 2014, eight months after Casper Sleep, came the second big splash of online boxed mattresses: Yogabed. For more information, see our review of Yogabed.
Not Memory Foam, Not Latex
Unlike Casper, Yogabed is not a latex-memory foam hybrid. The 1” top layer is not latex. The Yoga Instant Response Foam™ is polyurethane foam which is springy to give it a latex feel.
The YogaGel™ Cooling Memory Foam in the 2” second layer is there to keep the mattress cool as well as providing pressure relief. Gel in the foam does cool initially by absorbing heat, but eventually reaches its limit.
The Yogabed also employs airflow to cool the bed. The top two foams are ventilated, as is the 5” support core (Breathable High Density Foam Base). We are assured of vertical airflow in the Yogabed, but there is no disclosure of how the air gets to the outside, unless they depend on filtering through the foam. This is not as efficient as the patented Airflow Transfer System™ (ATS) utilized in the Snuggle-Pedic (see below).
There is an illustration of a sleeper on a Yogabed showing hot air going down into the mattress then coming out at the head and foot in places not covered by the sleeper. This is good as far as it goes, but it cannot cool as effectively as the AirFlow Transfer System with air transport through the sides of the mattress.
The cover of the Yogabed is zippered for removal and washing. It has what Yoga Sleep calls “Thermocool Technology” in the fabric to control moisture and temperature.
The average customer rating on Amazon (out of only 28 verified customer reviews) is 4.0. Like T&N and Casper, Yogabed has a 10-year warranty, but its 101-Night Comfort Trial is a day longer.
There are no Yelp reviews of Yogabed because it is online only, but it does receives a negative mention in this review of Brooklyn Bedding: “Love my firm mattress! It took a few weeks to get used to, but now it is perfect. Definitely recommended over Yogabed which I found too soft and returned before trying Brooklyn Bedding. It was heavy/difficult to get up the steps in the box due to my curved staircase, but that’s more of a personal issue.”
With so few verified customer reviews on Amazon, the average customer rating is not very precise. For now, we give it 4 stars.
In 2016, the Snuggle-Pedic mattress joined the growing list of bed-in-a-box mattresses sold only online. Unlike the Tri-Pedic models made by parent company Selectabed, this is a two-layer model. It is the same 10” height as the T&N, Casper, and Yogabed.
Snuggle-Pedic is advertised as “The Mattress That Breathes.” It features the patented Airflow Transfer System™ (designed by Dr. Swartzburg, VP of Product Development for Relief-Mart), which is an option on Selectabed memory foam mattresses, and a standard feature on Tempflow models. The 3” memory foam Snuggle-Flex Comfort Layer is ventilated to let air flow through vertically. The top surface of the 7” Channeled Support Layer is channel-cut for horizontal airflow to the sides. The breathable cover lets air flow through freely. The air can flow both directions, with warm air going down and out while cool air comes in and up, as seen in this video: https://youtu.be/r21t4qec2ZI.
The Kool-Flow Cover
The Kool-Flow cover is the same fabric as used on the Snuggle-Pedic pillows – the Ultra Luxury Pillow and the Body Pillow by Snuggle-Pedic. It is a blend of bamboo-derived rayon (43%), polyester (56.4%), and lycra (0.6%). Blends of bamboo rayon and polyester are on several of the other highly-rated memory foam pillows on Amazon, demonstrating the favorable customer response to this kind of fabric. This is just one of many reasons for its choice as the cover material on the Snuggle-Pedic mattress.
Kool-Flow material is a thick knit with micro-vents for enhanced airflow – up to 100 times more than other covers. It is actually part of the Airflow Transfer System™. The cover is zippered so it can be removed and washed.
Choice and Customization
Even though, through extensive testing, Snuggle-Pedic has developed a mattress with excellent support and comfort, people differ in their needs. Thus, with one model, it pays to have a means of adjusting the mattress. Unlike Tuft & Needle, Casper, and Yogabed, the Snuggle-Pedic Mattress can be customized for free by exchanging either or both of the layers to change the firmness or the springiness of the mattress, another reason for the zipper. This can be done within Snuggle-Pedic’s 4-month trial period, which is 20% longer than those of the other three brands. Snuggle-Pedic also has the longest warranty, 20 years.
The Only Relief-Mart Mattress in a Box
Selectabed mattresses cannot be compressed for shipping in a box, and neither can the TempFlow models. Seeing the opportunity for a box-in-a-bed mattress, the company researched materials and designs to make a mattress which could be compressed and rolled without compromising quality and durability, yet still have the support and pressure relief benefits of the Tri-Pedic plus the Airflow Transfer System™. The result is the Snuggle-Pedic Mattress, which was extensively tested before being publicly released.
Snuggle-Pedic on Top
On Amazon, the Snuggle-Pedic mattress has higher ratings than the other three: 4.8 out of 5 stars with 157 verified customer reviews as of 10/19/2017 (90% were 5-star). In fact, it is the highest rated memory foam mattress in VCRs on Amazon.
Selectabed and Tempflow Reviews
We are considering Selectabed and TempFlow mattresses here, even though they are not bed-in-a-box mattresses, but they share design concepts and materials with the Snuggle-Pedic Mattress. It also shows the level of customer response for the company’s mattresses as a whole.
Neither Selectabed nor TempFlow mattresses are reviewed on Amazon, since they are not listed there. However, there are reviews of Relief-Mart mattresses in general on Yelp, since the company does have a store in Agoura, California. TempFlow mattresses are also reviewed on Yelp in reviews of stores where they are sold. Additionally, TempFlow has several VCRs on Beds.org, and there is a review of a Relief-Mart Selectabed model.
On Beds.org, one customer posted a 5-star review of a mattress he bought at the Relief-Mart store. It’s way too long to repeat here.
Dr. Swartzburg helped him find the right model and customized it for replacing the couple’s Tempur-Pedic Classic. In the end, the Selectabed mattress (likely a Tri-Pedic) had a better feel and better support than the Tempur-Pedic, and it slept much cooler. Though not specified, it probably has the patented Airflow Transfer System™, an option for Selectabed models.
There are 17 VCRs of Relief-Mart (with its mattresses – Selectabed, TempFlow, and brand not specified) on Yelp, one 3-star, two 4-star, and the rest 5-star. The average customer rating (ACR) is 4.8, the same as Snuggle-Pedic’s rating on Amazon.
TempFlow mattresses have received 12 VCRs on Yelp for two locations, with an ACR of 4.8.
On Beds.org, there are 32 VCRs of TempFlow mattresses, covering 6 of the 10 models plus RV mattresses. Of these, 31 gave 5 stars, and one gave 3 for an ACR of 4.9.
Overall, this shows consistency in quality and customer satisfaction in Relief-Mart’s mattresses, including the Snuggle-Pedic.
Memory foam has been a key part of the current trend of marketing boxed beds online. Even though a number of innerspring mattresses are sold and delivered this way, most mattresses in this category have memory foam. Within this now-established genre of mattress sales, a relative newcomer, Snuggle-Pedic, has gained better ratings than better-known bed-in-a-box brands. Key factors in this are the Airflow Transfer System™, the Kool-Flow cover, free customization, and the longer trial period and warranty. Also a key, as noted by several reviewers, is the level of customer service and the attention and expertise of Dr. Swartzburg.