Bed-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 bed-in-a-box mattresses through the same rigorous testing we use for traditional mattresses. Using lab equipment and human subjects, we evaluate how well they support the body for both back and side sleepers, how easily sleepers can shift their weight without disturbing their partner, and how well the mattress keeps its shape over time.
To mimic the typical eight- to 10-year useful life span of a mattress, we conduct a mechanical test in which a 308-pound roller is pushed over each model 30,000 times. For firmness, rather than taking a manufacturer’s word for it, we measure that attribute with a highly calibrated instrument and score firmness 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 bed-in-a-box models and those models purchased in standard brick-and-mortar stores,” says Chris Regan, the CR project leader who tests mattresses.
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.
Not sure where to start when considering buying a mattress? CR’s mattress buying guide breaks down the different types on the market. You can browse even more options in our comprehensive mattress ratings.
CR members can read on for ratings and reviews of the seven best direct-to-consumer mattresses from our tests, listed in rank order. Most are foam, but there is one innerspring mattress on the list (yep, an innerspring mattress-in-a-box).
Many of the companies that sell these mattress have launched their own showrooms, where you can try the mattress out before you buy, or partnered with walk-in stores to the same end.
Many bed-in-a-box companies offer a generous trial period—usually around 100 days—and return policy. We’ve noted these details for each mattress.