Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky
A great bed-in-a-box offers comfort and support based on your body type and sleeping preferences.
The DreamCloud Premier Hybrid is our top pick, with a 365-day risk-free trial and lifetime warranty.
It performed well in all of our tests, offering great edge support, motion isolation, and cooling.
As of 2019, bed-in-a-box companies accounted for 12% of all mattress sales. That share likely increased during the pandemic as most brick-and-mortar stores were closed to in-person shopping.
Buying a bed online continues to be an attractive option. You can skip the high-pressure sales of the mattress showroom, and virtually all of the online retailers offer long risk-free trial periods so you can try your bed-in-a-box in your home with no commitment. Since the only way to tell if a mattress is right for you is to sleep on it, a long trial period is the most important factor to consider when shopping for a bed-in-a-box.
I tested dozens of mattresses to help you pick the best bed in a box for your needs. While a bed’s suitability is based on individual preferences, I developed many objective tests to determine which models are best for an array of sleeping styles and body types. Each bed I tested in this guide was queen size, the most popular size. The price listed for each mattress is for the queen.
I’d also like to note that I mainly sleep on my back but will occasionally sleep on my back and stomach as well. My wife is mainly a back sleeper. We cover all of the major sleeping styles between us. In addition to our top picks, we list other models we recommend, our testing methodology, what we look forward to testing, and common FAQs at the end of the guide.
Here are the best beds-in-a-box of 2021
Best bed-in-a-box overall: DreamCloud Premier Hybrid MattressBest budget bed-in-a-box: Zinus Cooling Gel Memory Foam MattressBest foam bed-in-a-box: Tempur-Pedic Cloud MattressBest ultra-firm bed-in-a-box: Airweave MattressBest soft bed in a box: Casper Nova Hybrid Mattress
Maria Del Russo/Insider
The DreamCloud Premier Hybrid Mattress performed well in all the tests we put it through, which makes it ideal for most sleeping types, couples, and people who tend to overheat at night.
Best for: Side and back sleepersAvailable sizes: Twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, Cal kingMattress type: HybridFirmness (1 softest to 10 firmest): 5Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best): 7Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool): 6Edge support (1 awful to 10 best): 8Trial period: 365 nightsWarranty: LifetimeWeight: 99 poundsThickness: 15 inchesShipping and returns: Free shipping and returnsWhite-glove delivery and mattress removal: Unavailable due to pandemicShowroom availability: Yes, nationwide
Pros: Side handles help you move it, great motion isolation, made with CertiPUR-US certified foams, 365-night trial period, excellent edge support, good heat dissipation, lifetime warranty
Cons: Stomach sleepers may find this doesn’t offer the support they need
The DreamCloud Premier Hybrid Mattress is the top pick in our main guide to the best mattresses. Since it comes in a box, it’s only natural that it’s our top bed in a box, too. We also consider it to be the best hybrid/innerspring and mid-priced bed.
As a bed-in-a-box, it has several benefits. Setup took about five minutes, and though it had an initial odor, it dissipated by bedtime. It’s heavy, but you can move it around easily thanks to the sewn-in handles. If you decide the Dreamcloud Premier Hybrid isn’t right for you during the first year of ownership, you can return it for a full refund. If you keep it, it’s backed by a lifetime warranty.
The Premier Hybrid is made of high-quality materials, including foams certified by CertiPUR-US to be free of common harmful chemicals. It sports an average firmness that will appeal to most sleeping styles and body types. Plus, it was one of two mattresses to perform well in all of our tests.
It passed our bowling ball test, and when my dog or son jumped on the bed, I barely felt it. This means the bed has outstanding motion isolation. I had the same positive experience with the edge support. I felt supported while lying close to the edge, suggesting the bed is ideal for couples who share a bed.
Lastly, in our heat-dissipation tests, the DreamCloud Premier Hybrid Mattress did an impressive job of cooling down. It showed the biggest temperature drop, falling 14 degrees within two minutes of me getting up from it.
Maria Del Russo, a senior editor for Insider Reviews, has slept on the DreamCloud Premier for two months. After the break-in period, she found the mattress incredibly comfortable. She usually sleeps sweaty, but this mattress “keeps me cool as a cucumber,” she said.
Best budget bed-in-a-box
Back and stomach sleepers looking for a budget-friendly bed should strongly consider the Zinus Cooling Gel Memory Foam Mattress.
Best for: Back and stomach sleepers, hot sleepersAvailable sizes: Twin, full, queen, king, Cal kingMattress type: FoamFirmness (1 softest to 10 firmest): 7Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best): 8Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool): 8Edge support (1 awful to 10 best): 3Trial period: 100 nightsWarranty: 10 yearsWeight: 42.3, 51.9, 59.9, or 70.2 pounds depending on thicknessThickness: 8-, 10-, 12-, and 14-inch optionsShipping and returns: Free shipping and free returnsWhite-glove delivery and mattress removal: NoShowroom availability: No
Pros: Ideal for back and stomach sleepers, excellent motion isolation, 10-year warranty, affordable, four thickness options, made of cooling gel memory foam, 100-night trial
Cons: Poor edge support, took a week to fully expand
Zinus is one of the top names in affordable boxed beds. The Cooling Gel Memory Foam Mattress is our budget pick because the gel-infused memory foam did a great job of keeping my hot-sleeping body cool.
The Zinus mattress comes in four thicknesses: 8, 10, 12, and 14 inches. I tested the 14-inch-thick option and strongly recommend picking one of the thicker models since I’ve found in my testing that mattresses less than 10 inches thick generally aren’t supportive enough.
Unboxing the Zinus Cooling Gel Memory Foam Mattress was a fast, simple process, especially since it’s on the lighter side at 70 pounds. However, out of the packaging, the bed was only about half the thickness it was supposed to be. The instructions said it should expand within 72 hours, but it was closer to a week. On the plus side, the initial odor dissipated quickly.
The bed is firmer than average, and it slowly cradled the contours of my body as I lay down. I was most comfortable on my stomach, but I think the firmness will also appeal to back sleepers.
In our objective tests, the Zinus mattress shined in the motion isolation test, and I remained undisturbed when my wife or dog moved around on it in the night. Yet, the edge support left a lot to be desired. When I lay on the edge of the bed, I felt like falling off. For its price, though, the many positives outweigh the few negatives.
Best foam bed-in-a-box
The Tempur-Pedic Cloud Mattress features contouring foam that cradles sleepers of all body types and sleeping styles while offering outstanding pressure relief and heat dissipation.
Best for: All sleeping stylesAvailable sizes: Twin, twin long, full, queen, king, split king, California kingMattress type: FoamFirmness (1 softest to 10 firmest): 6Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best): 7Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool): 9Edge support (1 awful to 10 best): 3Trial period: 90 nightsWarranty: 10 yearsWeight: 58 poundsThickness: 10 inchesShipping and returns: Free shipping, $175 return feeWhite-glove delivery and mattress removal: UnavailableShowroom availability: Yes, nationwide
Pros: Caters to all sleep styles, features 10 inches and three layers of comfortable and supportive Tempur foam, great motion isolation, 90-night trial, outstanding heat dissipation
Cons: No white-glove delivery, there’s a charge for shipping deducted from your refund if you return your mattress, poor edge support
Tempur-Pedic is best known for its traditional mattresses that you pick out in a brick-and-mortar showroom and have delivered fully expanded to your home. The Cloud Mattress represents the brand’s entrance into the bed-in-a-box space, and we think it did a terrific job.
What sets Tempur-Pedic apart is the proprietary CertiPUR-US certified memory foam featured in all of its mattresses. The Tempur material contours to your body to offer an impressive balance of support, pressure relief, and comfort. The Cloud has three foam layers: a durable and supportive base, a firm middle support layer, and a top layer of responsive and soft foam. The cover is made of a polyester blend for breathability and moisture wicking.
The Cloud arrives at your door in a reusable, 15-inch-diameter-by-43-inch-long canvas bag. The handles on the bag, along with the weight of the mattress — it only weighs 58 pounds — made it easy to carry up to my third-floor testing room and to unpackage it. By bedtime, the mattress had expanded to full size, and the initial odor had dissipated.
This was one of the most comfortable mattresses I’ve ever tested, whether I slept on my side or stomach. I fell asleep within a few minutes of lying down each night. My back-sleeping wife also enjoyed the feel. Plus, the excellent heat dissipation kept me cool.
In addition to passing my bowling ball motion-transfer tests, the Tempur-Cloud dampened the motion so much that I didn’t notice when my rambunctious rat terrier jumped on board. Yet, the bed has poor edge support. When I lay or sat on the edge of the bed, there was significant sinkage.
Best ultra-firm bed-in-a-box
The Airweave Mattress has a breathable and non-toxic polyethylene core that offers ultra-firm support to all parts of the bed, even the very edges.
Best for: Back and stomach sleepersAvailable sizes: Twin, Twin XL, Full, Queen, King, California KingMattress type: FoamFirmness (1 softest to 10 firmest): 10 (9 with the soft insert)Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best): 7Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool): 7Edge support (1 awful to 10 best): 10Trial period: 100 nightsWarranty: 10 yearsWeight: 71.5 poundsThickness: 8 inchesShipping and returns: Free shipping within the contiguous US and free returnsWhite-glove delivery and mattress removal: $40 for white-glove delivery, $125 for all mattress removals outside the state of California, $0 for California-based removalsShowroom availability: Only one, located in Brooklyn
Pros: Machine-washable cover, decent motion isolation, great heat dissipation, 100-night sleep trial, excellent edge support, comes with soft insert that transforms mattress from ultra-firm to just firm
Cons: Not recommended for side sleepers, hard to move around, some assembly required
Most beds in a box come vacuum-sealed, and the setup process involves nothing more than removing the packaging. However, the Airweave Mattress bucks that trend. It comes fully expanded in two boxes.
The bed consists of three polyethylene blocks that you zip up in a machine-washable cover. You can choose to add the included soft polyester insert to give the mattress a firm — rather than ultra-firm — feel.
The setup process took about 20 minutes, which is about 15 minutes more than most beds in a box, but the Airweave was ready to sleep on right away: There was no waiting for it to expand or for the odor to dissipate.
When assembled, the mattress is hard to move. It only weighs 71.5 pounds, but the foam blocks flop around as you lift it. However, if you disassemble the mattress, it’s much easier and you can fit it in tight spaces for storage or transport.
I prefer a softer-than-average mattress, so the Airweave was not for me. Even with the soft insert added, it was firmer than I would have liked. Yet, I was surprisingly comfortable on both my stomach and back. Plus, the breathable core with its open structure kept it cool through the night.
I’ve found that mattresses that are less than 10 inches thick usually aren’t supportive enough. But the eight-inch-thick Airweave is the exception. The firm construction provided plenty of support. The firmness also continued to the very edges of the bed, which gave it excellent edge support. I didn’t feel like I would fall off when sleeping on the periphery, and I didn’t sink down when sitting on the edge.
The motion transfer is good. In my bowling ball tests, the can would only fall over sometimes. Yet, it’s so bouncy that subsequent bounces of the ball would cause the can to tumble over. The firmness and bounce suggest this would be a good mattress for sex.
Best soft bed-in-a-box
Casper’s Nova Hybrid Mattress is a great option for people looking for a soft and plush yet supportive mattress.
Best for: Side sleepersAvailable sizes: Twin, twin XL, full, queen, king, Cal kingMattress type: HybridFirmness (1 softest to 10 firmest): 4Motion isolation (1 awful to 10 best): 3Heat dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool): 8Edge support (1 awful to 10 best): 6Trial period: 100 nightsWarranty: 10 yearsWeight: 89 poundsThickness: 12 inchesShipping and returns: Free shipping and free returnsWhite-glove delivery and mattress removal: Yes, $149Showroom availability: Yes, nationwide
Pros: Plush comfort perfect for side sleepers, good edge support, made with eco-friendly materials, outstanding heat dissipation, 100-night risk-free trial
Cons: Failed motion transfer tests, held onto its new bed odor, may not be supportive enough for back or stomach sleepers
In addition to being the best soft mattress, we awarded the Casper Nova Hybrid Mattress the title of best mattress for side sleepers in our main mattress guide. (Also, check out our guide to the best mattresses for side sleepers.) Plus, because of its soft feel, it’s the ideal solution for petite sleepers, who might not be able to sink into firmer mattresses, and older individuals, who may lack the natural cushioning they once had and need a little extra soothing comfort.
After testing all of the top mattresses from Casper, one of the leading names in the bed-in-a-box industry, I found the Nova Hybrid was the most comfortable and best at cooling.
The Nova Hybrid is appealing because of the high-quality materials used in its construction. The CertiPUR-US certified foams feature ergonomic zones that are softer under the shoulders and firmer around the lower back, hips, and waist. The pocket coils add durability and support. Lastly, thanks to a firm foam border, the mattress performed well in our edge-support tests.
Unboxing the Casper Nova Hybrid was a quick process, taking less than five minutes. The mattress flops around, which makes it harder to move, but the handles built into each corner on the bottom helped. Unfortunately, it had a strong new bed smell that took several days to dissipate.
The bed also has noticeable motion transfer. It failed our bowling ball test, and as my wife shifted positions in the night, I could feel her movements.
Casper recently introduced a new version of this bed, the Nova Hybrid Snow, which costs $500 more and is supposed to offer a cooler sleep. I just wrapped up my testing of it, and I still prefer the Nova Hybrid. I found the new model doesn’t have as good of edge support, and any heat dissipation improvements were minimal.
What else we tested
Over the last few years, we’ve tested dozens of boxed beds. Each has the potential to meet the needs of the right person, so there aren’t any we don’t recommend. Yet some models missed the cut for inclusion in our guide:
What else we recommend and why
Nest Bedding Flip Double-Sided Hybrid Mattress: This is a good, cheap alternative if our top budget pick isn’t available or you’re a side sleeper. You can flip it to cater to your firmness needs. One side is firmer than average and the other is medium firmness, which I preferred for side sleeping. The bed is made of CertiPUR-US foam, is easy to transport, and has great edge support. The poor motion dampening was the main downfall.
Casper Original Mattress: We recommend the Casper Original to sleepers of all types because it has an average firmness, great motion isolation, outstanding heat dissipation, and is made of eco-friendly materials. Yet, its edge support falls short. Read our full Casper Original review.
Bear Pro Mattress: I was comfortable on both my side and stomach while testing the Bear Pro. The slightly softer than average, all-foam construction works well for back sleepers too. The mattress features outstanding cooling properties thanks to the breathable Celliant cover, gel-infused foam, and copper-infused foam. The biggest negative is the poor edge support. Read our full Bear Pro review.
Birch Mattress by Helix: The Birch earned accolades in our main mattress guide as our best latex mattress. It’s also one of the most eco-friendly options, receiving certifications from several environmental organizations. The bed’s firmness will appeal most to stomach and back sleepers, but I tested it with the optional plush organic mattress topper, which made it perfect for my side sleeping.
Awara Organic Luxury Hybrid Mattress: Like our top pick, the Awara mattress comes with a 365-night risk-free sleep trial and lifetime warranty. It offers a supportive, slightly firm feel that is balanced by the plush Euro top. I also appreciated that it’s made of eco-friendly materials and offers good heat dissipation. In our main mattress guide, it’s the best mattress for stomach sleepers. It would also work well for back sleepers, but it’s too firm for most side sleepers.
Leesa Hybrid Mattress: I slept on the Leesa Hybrid mattress for about a year before my testing schedule made it impossible. It was my favorite, with its average firmness and outstanding heat dissipation. It also offers great edge support and motion isolation, which makes it ideal for couples. In our main mattress guide, we recommend it as the best mattress for back pain due to its combination of support and comfort. Read our full Leesa Hybrid review.
Purple Hybrid Premier Mattress: Purple mattresses feature the patented Purple Grid, which is a series of small, open squares made of a hyper-elastic polymer gel. This mattress also features CertiPUR-US certified foams and pocket coils, giving it an average firmness. The heat dissipation was outstanding. We think it’s the best mattress for hot sleepers. The Purple Hybrid Premier comes in 3- and 4-inch-thick grids. We tested both, and they performed similarly. The Purple 4 was slightly softer, so we’d recommend it for side sleepers.
Visit our guide to the best mattresses for all of the mattresses we’ve tested.
Our testing methodology
I tested each of the beds-in-a-box found in this guide. I slept on all of the mattresses for a minimum of 14 days and put them through a battery of objective tests. Comfort, trial period, and setup are the most important factors to consider when buying a bed-in-a-box.
Here are some of the test results for the main attributes we tested:
DreamCloud Premier Hybrid
Zinus Cooling Gel Memory Foam
Casper Nova Hybrid
Firmness (1 softest to 10 firmest)
10 (9 with insert)
Motion Isolation (1 awful to 10 best)
Edge Support (1 awful to 10 best)
Heat Dissipation (1 traps heat to 10 stays cool)
Here are the main attributes we look for and how we test them:
Comfort: I evaluate the firmness of each mattress by comparing it to my experiences with dozens of other models over the years. My subjective experience also plays into my evaluations of how supportive and comfortable the beds are. I also note which sleeping positions my body gravitates towards. Heat dissipation is also important to comfort. I measure this using an infrared thermometer, taking measurements before, right after, and two minutes after lying on the bed for at least an hour.
Trial and warranty: I look at if there’s white-glove delivery and how much it costs, if the bed is available to test in showrooms, and the fine print of the home trial and warranty. We closely examine the return policy because this is what sets beds-in-a-box apart: You want a mattress that you can try out for months risk free before committing to it.
Setup: If you don’t get white-glove delivery, you want the setup to be as effortless as possible. I timed how long it took me to unbox the mattresses. I noted any strange or confusing steps. Most took less than five minutes. I also took a good whiff to see if there was a “new bed smell,” and I checked again before going to bed (at least 10 hours later) to see if the odor dissipated.
Motion isolation: You don’t want your partner’s tossing and turning to wake you up in the night, so it’s important to find a bed-in-a-box with good motion isolation. In addition to tracking my subjective experience, I perform an objective test where I drop a 15-pound bowling ball onto the mattress from a height of four feet so that it lands 12 inches from a 12-ounce can of soda pop. If the can stays upright, the bed has good motion isolation. If it doesn’t, the motion isolation is poor.
Edge support: This is a somewhat subjective test. I lie on the very edge of the bed and slowly roll until I literally fall. I note how much I’m able to roll before I fall. I also sit on the side of the bed and put my shoes and socks on and observe how much the mattress sinks. Lastly, when sleeping on the bed, I pay attention to how I feel close to the edges. Does it feel like I’m going to fall off? I’m developing an objective edge support test, which I plan to roll out once I have more data.
Portability: We don’t weigh portability heavily, but it’s useful to know how easy a mattress is to move around if you frequently redecorate or relocate, regularly rotate your bed to increase its longevity, or need to reposition it to put on fitted sheets. I move each mattress around several times during testing and note if it flops around, has handles, or is hard to move in general.
What we’re testing next
We regularly test new mattresses and evaluate our top picks for long-term durability. Here are the mattresses we currently have lined up to test:
Helix Midnight Mattress: Helix markets the Midnight, a hybrid bed, as an excellent solution for side sleepers. As someone who mainly sleeps on his side, I’m excited to see if it lives up to the hype.
Bear Hybrid Mattress: I’ve tested the Bear Pro and Original and liked them both. This is supposed to be softer than the other two, which could make for stiff competition with the Casper Nova Hybrid for the best soft bed-in-a-box.
Helix Midnight Luxe Mattress: The Midnight Luxe is an upgrade of the Midnight. It has a breathable Tencel cover, a quilted pillow top, and zoned lumbar support coils for pressure relief. The firmness is supposed to be similar to the Midnight, so I’m excited to see how it caters to my side-sleeping ways.
Big Fig Mattress: I love that the Big Fig is specifically designed for full-figured individuals. It can hold up to 1,100 pounds, and a foundation is included with your purchase. I’m curious to see how the firm construction feels and if it dissipates heat well.
Casper Wave Hybrid Snow Mattress: This is Casper’s most expensive bed-in-a-box. It’s supposed to be a cooler version of the Wave Hybrid, which I liked the least when I tested all of Casper’s mattresses. One of the negatives of the Wave Hybrid was that it slept hot. I’m curious to see if this new version provides the cooling it claims to.
What’s the difference between a bed-in-a-box and a traditional mattress?
The differences between the two types of mattresses keep getting hazier every day.
When online mattresses were first introduced, they were mainly made of foam. The biggest benefit was the at-home trial period, where you could sleep on the mattress for several nights before deciding whether or not you wanted to keep it.
However, these days, online retailers offer a range of mattress types, including hybrid or innerspring mattresses. Some brick-and-mortar stores now offer trial periods. Retailers on both sides are trying to neutralize the benefits of the other.
For instance, many bed-in-a-box brands now let you test out their mattresses in showrooms across the country. You can go to a physical store, try out a mattress for 15 minutes or so, and then buy the bed online.
“You get overall cost savings because you aren’t paying the additional fees that come with the in-store shopping experiences, such as shipping, delivery, and setup,” saud Russell Jelinek, the senior director of engineering, quality, and compliance at Casper.
If you’re concerned about a salesperson trying to pressure you into buying a mattress, going online and skipping the in-person experience is the way to go.
What happens to mattresses that are returned?
This varies by manufacturer. Once you sleep on a mattress, the manufacturer can’t resell it. They may coordinate with a local organization to recycle your mattress or donate it to those in need. If you’re concerned about the environmental impact your returned mattress might have, we encourage you to ask the manufacturer about what they do with returned mattresses in your area.
How do you unbox a bed-in-a-box?
First off, we recommend you unbox your mattress within a day or two of its arrival. The beds are not designed to stay in the box for long periods, and prolonged time spent in the vacuum seal (a month or more) could impact the structural integrity of the mattress. Jelinek said Casper mattresses can stay in the box for at least six months without experiencing structural damage. However, this is from the manufacture date, which could be months before you received your mattress.
We recommend unboxing the mattress in the room where you will sleep on it. Some companies provide you with an envelope slitter to safely cut the packaging without cutting the mattress. If you don’t have an envelope slitter, use extreme caution when removing the packaging and cut parallel to the mattress, not towards it. Also, have another person help you with the process since most mattresses weigh around 100 pounds. I’ve injured my back trying to do it on my own.
Cut open one end of the box and tip it onto your foundation or bed frame. Lift the unopened end of the box and shake the sealed mattress onto the foundation. Take a second to look for any instructions or materials that may have come in the box. This is when you might find an envelope slitter.
You can use the slitter or other cutting implement to cut through the first layer of plastic, but I’ve found it’s easier to just unroll the plastic with a yanking motion. Once this plastic is removed, unfold the mattress onto your foundation. You may need to flip it so the top is facing up. If you can find the seam in the second plastic layer, you can pull at it, and the plastic should be easy to remove. I rarely find the right place to pull at the plastic and instead end up using my cutting implement to cut the plastic along the length and width.
Then I push all of the plastic that’s on top to the far end of the mattress. Lastly, I use a yanking motion while trying to keep the mattress in place so I can remove the plastic from the bottom of the mattress, kind of like a magician might pull the tablecloth off a table. This should be the final step.
Jelinek says you can then sleep on the mattress right away. “However, we recommend giving it some time to acclimate to the room temperature,” he said. He also warned that some mattresses may take longer to expand to their full size. I’ve found it rarely takes more than a few hours for a mattress to fully expand.
For answers to general mattress questions, check out our guide to the best mattresses.
Check out more mattress guides
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