Is A Mattress-In-A-Box Worth All The Hype?

Photo: Courtesy of Casper.

The "bed-in-a-box" category has exploded over the past few years, but among all of the competing brands in the space, Casper is probably the most well-known. The O.G. mattress disruptor, it now boasts a range of products that includes everything from pillows to a "dog mattress," 15 retail concept shops in the U.S., and a magazine called Woolly.

For the unfamiliar, Casper claims to offer high-quality mattresses at a fraction of the price thanks to a "vertical integration" approach: Every step — from manufacturing to sale and delivery — is done in-house. With the middle man eliminated, the prices are significantly lower than a mattress bought in-store: According to Sleep Like The Dead, a standard full-sized memory foam mattress costs an average of $1,370, while the Casper version is priced at $895.

That said, $895 is no small investment, even if a mattress is expected to last you anywhere from seven to 10 years. While there's a 100-day money-back trial period plus free shipping, dropping all this money without first testing the mattress is no small decision.

To help you take out the guess work, I've done a sleep test of the full-sized Casper model, the brand's signature and most-popular memory foam offering, to see how it stacks up against sleepers you can find at traditional brick-and-mortar stores. Here's what I discovered:

Photo: Courtesy Of Casper.

First Impressions
Despite its compact appearance, these mail-order mattresses are generally heavier than traditional innerspring ones. A full-sized Casper mattress weighs 60 pounds when unboxed and 81 pounds in its packaging. Given the weight and towering height of the box, moving it around is a two-person job. So, even if you had the product delivered to your door, removing it from the box and getting it to your bedroom might still be a bit of a struggle if you're tackling this on your own.

The unboxing process is relatively simple: Remove the protective film as you unfurl the mattress and wait for it to inflate and bounce back to its original thickness. I'd suggest leaving the mattress alone for at least a few hours before use, so the foam can regain its shape and the smell of plastic packaging can subside.

One design flaw that proved to be inconvenient was the lack of supportive handles, which makes flipping over the bulky mattress a bit of a challenge.

Photo: Courtesy of Casper.

The Material
Each mattress is designed in San Francisco, assembled in the U.S., and composed of a PU foam base, a supportive center layer of memory foam, and a thin top layer of latex foam. As I've previously covered in this mattress guide, latex foam is effective in shielding your bed against dust mites and bed bugs.

A mattress protector is available separately for an additional $85. This polyester layer feels well-constructed and is said to be waterproof. I actually ended up putting this to the test after accidentally pouring tea all over my bed. Most of the droplets stayed atop the protective layer and could be wiped ease, and most of the tea stains came off the cover after scrubbing with a cleansing wipe.

The Sleep Test
I've been sleeping on the Casper foam mattress for about two weeks now, and the experience has been quite different from the much thinner foam mattresses I'm used to — in a good way. The Casper mattress has a balanced firmness due to the combination of different layers. As a side sleeper, I didn't feel particular pressure points: It was easy to change positions in my sleep on the bouncy foam without feeling disturbed by my movements. Most memory foam mattresses also have the problem of trapping body heat — and my body tends to to get really warm when I fall asleep. I usually wake up feeling a bit sweaty and stuffy on a memory foam mattress. However, the latex layer — with its many pinholes — keeps the mattress well-ventilated, and I felt much cooler in my sleep.

The Final Word
I'm happy with the quality of sleep I've been getting since switching over to Casper. The mattress is well-made and has a lovely cocooning response to body weight, without sinking in too much to prohibit movement. It could use a little more firmness on the edges: The entire piece of foam is bouncy without reinforcements on the sides making you feel like you could slip off if you sit too close to the edge of the bed. This slipperiness extends to the heavier books I like to keep next to my pillow. But hey, for a good night's sleep at almost half the price of the traditional mattress, I'm more than willing to put my books up on a shelf.

A Casper mattress was sent to the author for the purpose of reviewing the product.

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