A bed-in-a-box is a mattress that ships compressed in a box to your door. It’s a convenient way to order a new bed, and makes lugging the mattress to your bedroom a whole lot easier.
These days, a lot of online mattress brands sell their mattresses in a box, which means there are tons of options out there. The best mattress in a box for you depends on your specific sleep needs, like your preferred sleeping position, body weight, and whether or not you sleep with a partner or pet. Find the right option for you with our comprehensive roundup.
Short on time? Skip down to my handy summary chart.
The Best Mattresses in a Box
- Best Mattress in a Box for Side Sleepers – Nectar
- Best Hybrid Bed in a Box – Helix
- Best Budget Mattress in a Box – GhostBed
- Best Mattress for Back Sleepers – DreamCloud
- Best Bed in a Box for Heavy People – WinkBed
- Best Firm Mattress in a Box – Bear
- Best Memory Foam Mattress in a Box – Layla
- Best Foam Mattress in a Box – Leesa
- Best Mattress in a Box for Combination Sleepers – Casper
What is a Bed-in-a-Box?
A bed-in-a-box is a rolled and compressed mattress that is shipped to a buyer in a cardboard box or in some cases, a bag. After unpackaging, the mattress unrolls and expands to its full size. Though a bed-in-a-box does not arrive ready to use, it is often less expensive and easier to transport, making it a convenient and affordable option for many sleepers.
Mattresses were once the domain of brick-and-mortar department or specialty stores. Before the Internet, information about mattresses was available only through salespeople or company literature. The buying process consisted of trying out mattresses in person and taking one home or having it delivered. But since the advent of the Internet, times have changed. These days, more than 12% of mattresses sold show up on the buyer’s doorstep in a box, ready to unpack and unroll.
So, how did the bed-in-a-box trend catch on? It started in the mid-2000’s when direct-to-consumer sales of mattresses became more common and the popularity of mattress stores began to wane. Then in 2004, a machinist from Tennessee invented a contraption that could roll a foam mattress into a tight cylinder and fit it into a box. He and his partners called the company BedInaBox, and a new industry was born.
Now, many mattress buyers skip the store altogether and browse a myriad of options online. Bed-in-a-box company websites usually offer in-depth descriptions, reviews, and pictures of their products as well as live chat with customer service specialists. Purchasing a mattress has never been easier, and can take a fraction of the time it once did.
Bed-in-a-Box Pros and Cons
Like any mattress, bed-in-a-box models have positive and negative points. Before you buy, consider these pros and cons. I’d also encourage you to check out our How to Choose a Mattress guide for more in-depth information
- Choice – With nearly 200 bed-in-a-box brands to choose from, buyers have more options than ever before. There’s a model for almost any budget and personal preference.
- Price – The majority of bed-in-a-box brands are available exclusively online. The few that make their products available to try out typically do so through the brick-and-mortar stores of other companies. Without showrooms, salespeople, and other overhead expenses, bed-in-a-box mattresses often cost less than traditional models.
- Convenience – Browsing bed-in-a-box mattresses, accessing detailed product information, and reading reviews online can be done anytime, and is typically less time-consuming than traditional brick-and-mortar shopping.
- Privacy – Shopping for a bed-in-a-box online lets buyers bypass the usual sales process and browse in privacy. This can be preferable for people who like to shop without the presence of salespeople.
- Risk-free trial period – Bed-in-a-box brands typically offer a generous sleep trial period for testing out their products. Trial periods can range from a few months to a year.
- Free shipping and returns – Most bed-in-a-box companies include free shipping and delivery of their products in the United States. Buyers in Alaska and Hawaii may need to pay an additional shipping charge.
- No try-before-you-buy – The majority of bed-in-a-box models aren’t available to test out before purchasing, which may be a downside for some people, especially those trying out a new brand or type of mattress.
- Support – Bed-in-a-box mattresses may not be appropriate for heavier people, couples of above-average weight, or others who need more durable support.
- Off-gassing – Some bed-in-box models release volatile organic compounds when first unboxed. This odor can take days or weeks to fully dissipate and cause respiratory or eye irritation.
- Heat – If your bed-in-a-box is made from conventional memory foam without gel or other cooling properties, it may sleep hot. A bed-in-a-box made from latex or a cooling memory foam may be a better choice for warm sleepers. See my top picks for the best mattress for hot sleepers.
Things to Consider When Buying a Bed-in-a-Box
With dozens of bed-in-a-box options to choose from, how do you decide which one to buy? Below, we guide you through the process of buying a bed-in-a-box mattress, from selection to delivery and set-up.
Firmness – Bed-in-a-box mattresses range from soft to very firm. As a general guide, memory foam mattresses are softer to medium-firm, and mattresses that contain coils are firmer.
Your Sleep Position – Firmness is important when it comes to sleeping position as well. A medium-soft to medium-firm mattress is generally recommended for side sleepers to relieve pressure in the shoulders and hips, whereas a firm mattress can help support the neck and spine of stomach sleepers. Back sleepers typically do best on a medium-firm mattress that supports the spine while cushioning the shoulders and pelvis.
Thickness – Most bed-in-a-box models run from about 6-14 inches thick. Typically, the thinner the mattress, the firmer it will feel. Thickness also helps to determine base support. If your mattress is on the thicker side, a platform alone may be sufficient, while a thinner mattress may feel best on a box spring or other elevating layer.
Support – Most bed-in-a-box models that utilize coils offer additional structural support but are not as supportive as traditional steel coil mattresses. Sleepers who weigh over 200 pounds will need more support in a mattress than those who weigh less. Support becomes even more crucial if you and/or your partner weigh over 250 pounds. Check mattress weight limits to be sure your new bed-in-a-box is designed to support you without sinking or sagging over time.
Edge Support– Similar to support, edge support refers to how well the mattress holds up, but specifically on the sides. A mattress with good edge support will feel larger, as you can sleep all the way on the side of the bed without feeling like you’re going to fall off. It also prevents sagging, which adds to your mattress’s overall durability.
Size – Bed-in-a-box mattresses range from crib size to California king. Some sellers don’t offer exchanges for a smaller or larger mattress, so be sure to measure your bed frame, box spring, and bedroom before buying. And remember — larger may be better if you share a bed with a partner, children, or pets.
Brands – Each bed-in-a-box company offers its own design, blend of materials, and unique mattress feel. Know your preferences and price range before you comparison shop to help narrow down your options. And don’t forget to check out customer reviews, shipping rates, trial periods, and return policies. Here at Sleepopolis, we specialize in comparing mattress options to help take the guesswork out of the purchasing process.
Promotions – Mattress companies frequently offer coupons, holiday discounts, or short-term promotions that can significantly reduce the original price of their products.
Delivery – Most bed-in-a box mattresses are shipped free in the contiguous U.S. and typically arrive by ground delivery. Shipping times vary according to manufacturer and stock levels of a particular product. Expedited shipping is often available for an additional charge. Buyers can also pay extra for White Glove delivery, which usually includes unboxing and setting up the new mattress and removing the old one if necessary.
The Bill – To avoid hidden fees or surprises, check carefully before completing your purchase. Some buyers may need to pay sales tax or recycling fees in addition to the cost of the mattress.
Types of Bed-in-a-Box Mattresses
Bed-in-a-box mattresses are made of materials that can expand without damage after being rolled and compressed. Most are constructed from memory foam, latex, and/or high-density polyfoam, and may contain internal coils for additional support. Each material has unique features and a distinct feel. The most popular bed-in-a-box materials are:
Foam – Many bed-in-a-box mattresses are all-foam, and use a combination of high-density poly foam for support and memory foam (or another comfort foam) for pressure relief. Memory foam conforms to the body and has a plush feel. It allows for gradual sinkage and may sleep warmer than other materials. Memory foam is a great choice for people who like to feel cradled by their mattress.
Sleepopolis Tip: Check to see if the foams your mattress is made of are CertiPUR-US® Certified. CertiPUR-US® Certified foams are free of harmful chemicals and heavy metals, and are better for the environment.
Latex – Latex is a natural material derived from the rubber tree. It has a bouncy, medium to medium-firm feel and less sinkage than memory foam. Natural latex is an eco-friendly material, which makes a latex mattress a great option for green shoppers.
Hybrid– Some bed-in-a-box models combine a foam or latex layer (or both) with internal coils. Coils can offer supportive internal structure to a bed-in-a-box mattress but must be small and light enough to be compressed for shipment.
Innerspring – Innerspring mattresses have a more traditional feel and are usually mostly composed of wrapped coils. These mattresses are bouncy and typically on the firmer side.
Bed-in-a-Box Packaging and Shipping
True to their name, most bed-in-a-box mattresses are shipped in a cardboard box that varies in weight depending on mattress size and materials. Bed-in-a-box mattresses are usually shipped via UPS, Fed-Ex, or the Postal Service, and shipping is typically free. A boxed queen-size mattress weighs around 75-80 pounds, while a king can weigh over 100 pounds. Box dimensions can range from around 18x18x42 to 20x20x44 inches.
Bed-in-a-box mattresses usually come wrapped in vacuum-sealed plastic sheeting along with additional binding material to keep the product from unrolling. Once the plastic packaging is removed, the mattress begins to expand. When opening the packaging with scissors or a knife, care should be taken not to cut or damage the mattress.
How to Unbox Your Bed-in-a-Box
Some mattress companies offer White Glove service to unpack and set up your new bed-in-a-box. Many buyers avoid the additional fee that comes with this service by setting up the mattress themselves.
Because even a partially expanded bed-in-a-box can be heavy and cumbersome, most manufacturers recommend taking it to your bedroom before unboxing it. Place the mattress on the box spring or platform before removing the plastic packaging. The expansion will begin immediately as the mattress regains air pressed out during the compression process. A bed-in-a-box can take up to two days to fully expand, though many expand in less time.
Some mattresses give off a scent when first unpackaged. The odor is also known as off-gassing and is caused by the release of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, from the mattress materials. Other sources of VOCs include paint, gasoline, and plants. Some VOCs are hazardous, whereas others are relatively harmless. Studies are needed to determine whether VOCs released by bed-in-a-box mattresses are harmful over the long term.
To help minimize the odor from your new mattress, ventilate the bedroom as much as possible during the expansion process. Waiting until most of the odor is gone before sleeping on the mattress can help prevent headaches and breathing issues.
Returns, Exchanges, and Warranties
The return policy is crucial for bed-in-a-box mattresses, which are typically purchased based on reviews and descriptions rather than personal experience. Most bed-in-a-box manufacturers offer a 100-night trial period, which allows buyers to try out a mattress for more than three months before returning it. A few manufacturers offer a full year trial period. Return shipping is usually free.
Before buying a bed-in-a-box, make sure you understand how returns work. In some cases, you may be required to box up your mattress and prepare it for shipment, while in others a company representative will take care of the process. Keep careful track of how long you’ve had your mattress to avoid missing the return or exchange window.
Some bed-in-a-box companies require buyers to keep the mattress for a certain period to “break it in” and allow adequate time to adapt to the feel of the materials. Once this break-in period is over, a return can be initiated if necessary.
Many companies offer exchanges during the trial period in addition to returns. The exchange process will vary according to the manufacturer, but will often require contacting a customer service representative by phone, email, or chat to make arrangements for pickup or return shipping, delivery of the new item, and additional payment or partial refund.
A warranty is important for both traditional and bed-in-a-box mattresses. According to the Federal Trade Commission, a warranty guarantees that a manufacturer stands behind a product’s performance for a set period of time.
How will I know when I need a new mattress?
Most mattresses last about seven years. Mattresses that are less supportive or made of less durable materials can sag or flatten in less time. Signs that it’s time to replace a mattress include the following:
- The mattress becomes uncomfortable, lumpy, or loses support along the edges
- You wake up feeling achy or stiff
- Rotating the mattress no longer helps
- You’re heavier or lighter than you used to be, or your mattress needs have changed (Yay, you got married! Or divorced.)
- Your bed has a different odor or causes eye or respiratory irritation
Will a bed-in-a-box last as long as a traditional mattress that arrives in ready-to-sleep condition?
It depends on the mattress. Many bed-in-a-box mattresses are made of durable material and strong support layers that can last as long as a conventional mattress. A hybrid bed-in-a-box may be more likely to last than one made exclusively of foam, but may not be as durable as a traditional coil mattress that doesn’t need to be compressed or rolled for shipment. See: best hybrid mattresses
How quickly do I need to unbox my new mattress?
Most bed-in-a-box manufacturers recommend taking your mattress out of the box within 30 to 60 days to prevent damage from long-term compression.
What do bed-in-a-box manufacturers do with returned mattresses?
Federal law does not allow manufacturers to resell mattresses once they’ve been used. Most bed-in-a-box mattresses that have been returned are donated or recycled.
|Mattress||Best For||Price (Queen)||Coupon||Review|
|Nectar||Budget||$1,199||Nectar Coupon||Read Our Review!|
|Helix||Innerspring||$1,099||Helix Coupon||Read Our Review!|
|GhostBed||Budget||$1,140||Ghostbed Coupon||Read Our Review!|
|DreamCloud||Back Sleepers||$1,099||DreamCloud Coupon||Read Our Review!|
|Bear||Firm||$995||Bear Coupon||Read Our Review!|
|Leesa||Upper Back Pain||$899||Leesa Coupon||Read Our Review!|
|Birch||Hybrid||$1,499||Mattress Coupons||Read Our Review!|
|WinkBeds||Heavy People||$1,599||WinkBeds Coupon||Read Our Review!|
|Layla||Memory Foam||$1,099||Layla Coupon||Read Our Review!|