Bed-in-a-box mattresses: what to consider

Packaged vacuum-sealed, these mattresses take the hassle out of mattress shopping.

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If you’ve ever been bed shopping, you’ll know it’s a yawn. In-store, you’ll be swooped on by salespeople claiming to have a “deal for you”. It’s also difficult to make comparisons – mattress makers often give the same model a different name depending where it’s sold so you can’t shop on price.

Enter bed-in-a-box mattresses. Companies selling them keep the choices simple – many just sell one type of mattress, betting it’ll suit most sleepers. Packaged vacuum-sealed, they can be easily transported. When opened, the mattress expands into its full size.

Initially the domain of online-only retailers, big bed companies and retailers, such as BedsRus and Harvey Norman, have got in on the action. We’ve surveyed the offerings to see how they compare.

Returns and trial periods

The online-only pioneers of bed-in-a-box mattresses entice you with generous sleep trial periods – taking the risk out of your purchase. Trial periods range from 100 to 120 days. If you’re not happy, simply return the mattress for a full refund. Don’t worry, you don’t have to stuff it back in the box and it’ll be collected for free.

Terms and conditions vary between companies, but you must own the mattress for a minimum period, usually 30 days, before initiating a return.

All companies donate returned mattresses to charity. My Bed either donates to charity or auctions the mattress.

The other retailers don’t offer sleep trials. But you should be able to try their mattress in-store.

How much do they cost?

Bed-in-a-box mattresses are generally cheaper than conventional ones. The queen-sized mattresses in our survey ranged in price from $399 to $1850, compared with thousands for some in-store models. Look out for discount codes at online-only retailers. In-store, try haggling for a bargain.

Online-only retailers don’t charge for delivery. Unless you click and collect, other retailers charge a delivery fee, which varies depending on where you live.

What are they made of?

The first bed-in-a-box mattresses were made up of different foam layers. These included high-density polyurethane foam, gel-infused foam, latex foam or memory foam. Now, some companies combine foam layers with pocket springs (if you prefer the feel of a spring mattress).

When we previously tested performance of foam bed-in-a-box mattresses compared with an inner-spring mattress, the main difference was how firmness changed over time. The inner-spring mattress became firmer, while foam mattresses became softer. This was down to the different materials – foam softens, while metal springs get stiffer.

Some bed-in-a-box companies only offer one comfort level: there’s no choice between soft or firm. Others, such as Ecosa, offer different levels depending on how you arrange the different layers. You can change the comfort of the Peacelily Mattress by flipping it. Some brands sell an optional “pillowtop”, which lies on top of the mattress and makes it softer.

Eco credentials

Despite up to 90 percent of mattress materials – such as timber, metal and foam – being recyclable, a lot of them end up in the landfill, due to the lack of recycling facilities.

BedsRus Sleepyhead Zero claims to be gentler on the planet because it’s recyclable. Once you’ve finished with it, you can return the Zero to where you bought it and Sleepyhead will process it into new products, such as carpet underlay. Instead of coming packaged in plastic and a cardboard box, this mattress comes in a reusable duffle bag with recycled cotton packaging.

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There’s no shortage of other green claims on mattresses, from “eco-friendly” to “chemical-free”, “non-toxic” and “natural”. But these phrases are meaningless.

Look for independent certification to back up green claims. Certifications you may see include the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) labels.

GOTS requires at least 95 percent of the materials in the mattress to be certified organic and prohibits the use of chemicals commonly used in textile processing that can cause serious illness, such as chemical flame retardants and certain dyes. It also has other environmental and social criteria.

GOLS requires a latex mattress to be made of 95 percent organic latex, with restrictions on the other five percent and requirements for emissions testing. Latex mattresses may have both GOTS and GOLS labels.

The Oeko-Tex Standard 100 sets limits for the emission of specific chemicals, such as formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and bans the use of some others, such as flame retardants.

CertiPUR-US is another logo you may find on mattresses. This is an industry certification scheme and only applies to the polyurethane foam in a mattress. CertiPUR sets limits for VOCs and bans certain materials, such as formaldehyde and some phthalates and flame retardants.

“Dust mite resistant”

Some mattresses claim to be dust mite-resistant. Dust mites thrive in beds, where they feed on skin scales, and it’s their faeces that trigger asthma. However, you don’t need a special mattress to avoid dust mites. You can buy allergen-exclusion covers for your mattress, pillows, bed base and duvet inner. They allow moisture to escape but keep mites and their debris out. Air blankets and duvets weekly and vacuum your mattress regularly.

Survey findings

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Kiran S.
11 Nov 2020
Winkl mattress - In a box, but far better than the rest

I was a little skeptical that a mattress in a box which turns up to your door in 24 hours, would be as good as one from a reputable store, plus the huge price difference made me wonder. But I ordered my Winkl king mattress based on all the good reviews and 120 day return policy. 

I Honestly was super impressed how good a mattress in a box could be, As soon as I unboxed it it expanded out to a very thick solid but plush mattress. The quality seemed impressive and better than all the mattresses I've purchased from stores over the years. I can't complain about the quality, comfort and just the general feel of the mattress. Best nights sleep I have had in years.
For anyone who is a bit skeptical about mattresses in a box / delivered, I can confirm that the Winkl mattress is everything it's cracked up to be, and really takes the cake. 

Aron P.
09 Nov 2020
Winkl Mattress A++

The bed and the box industry is awesome and has really saved us a lot of time and money.

We ordered a queen Winkl mattress and it was delivered to my door in a box within 24 hours. Such a great investment that becomes even more comfortable with each week sleeping on it. Not to mention the no partner disturbance A ++.

Love the story of Winkl and proud to support a young NZ startup company doing amazing things for charity.

Ben C.
09 Nov 2020
Winkl Lux Mattress

We bought a Winkl Lux mattress last week. I was skeptical after having had 3 spinal operations and my husband having had a recent spinal fusion. I know it’s only been a week but we love our new mattress. Not too soft, not too hard, just right, like Goldilocks likes it. Try it you might like it 👍 Mrs C

Jim & Kuini S.
09 Nov 2020
Can anyone help with a few practical questions please?

We’re about to replace our bed. We’re not worried about comparative testing, but hoped to answer a few practical questions, eg:

- how the quality compares with innerspring equivalents,
- what the different in-a-box materials listed actually mean,
- if we should get a new frame/box base for it, and how different options will impact the life of the mattress.

People who have one: do you think a tall person who reaches right to the edges of the bed will be comfy, or does mattress sag at the ends?

Thanks, Kuini

Frank - Consumer staff
09 Nov 2020
Re: Bed-in-a-box mattress testing

Hi all,

Unfortunately, there’s no accredited testing facility in New Zealand or Australia, making mattresses extremely expensive to test.

Kind regards,
Frank - Consumer NZ staff

Paula O.
08 Nov 2020
Survey but not much else

Agree with other 'Consumer-ites' on this.
No testing so what was the value of the article?

As an aside, we bought a Koala about 3 or so years ago. It's as good now as it was back then. Shame they've pulled out of NZ, but seems to be way more choice now anyway.

David C.
08 Nov 2020
Whatever happened to Consumer's testing?

Mattresses used to be tested for durability, softness and the like - while the comparison list is some use, there's no information to go on to actually purchase anything and user reviews are all subjective opinions with no benchmarks, not data. The latter of those is what I pay my Consumer sub for.

Birgit B.
08 Nov 2020
Matrasses

I support other comments. Where are any test results on material performance vs. price, etc.
I can read reviews on Google. Come on „Consumer“, you can do better than that.

Marian H.
07 Nov 2020
Ecosa

Bought my Ecosa a couple of years ago at the same time as my son.
Very, very comfortable- solved my back pain.
I loved the way I could choose which of the 3 layers I could put on the top, depending on firmness required. Saved the hassle of returning it for a softer or firmer one. I did manage to quite easily break the zip on the cover tho- first time !!😡

Darren B.
07 Nov 2020
Wanting to find ‘ Comfort Direct’ Company, please.

I bought my bed in a box 4 about years ago from ‘Comfort Direct’ company. It has been a comfortable bed, but the zip has zipped right off the zipper after I washed the mattress cover. I won’t be able to ever wash it again unless I can find the company, or if someone knows how a new mattress cover can be sourced?
Thank you,
Bronwyn in Tokoroa.

Chansina C.
07 Nov 2020
Napp

I have a Napp queen size. It’s super comfortable. One of the softer brands among them all. The edges haven’t been an issue like we thought they might be.

Angel A.
07 Nov 2020
Inadequate survey

I was expecting this article to have actual findings under the section called “Survey findings”, i.e information about how they performed or were rated by Consumer NZ. Instead there is just a table of data that anyone can compile from Google. It gives no recommendations about which is the best bed-in-a-box product, or how all these products compare to regular mattresses. The article was described in my inbox as being able to answer whether “low cost equals low comfort”. I see nothing in this article giving an opinion on that.

Richard P.
07 Nov 2020
Ecosa

We are nearing the 100 day return period, however the only issue ( minor ) is the lack of side support, as we both sit on the edge of the bed to do various things. Overall considering price and comfort this would be one of the best mattresses we have owned.

Sandra-Leigh J.
07 Nov 2020
Ecosa - THE BEST!!!!

I have had my Ecosa mattress for three years - very comfortable - no sagging from where my body lies. It is the most comfortable mattress that I have ever slept on - no back pain. I also have an Ecosa pillow - another wise purchase - can alternate the various sides or edges of it to suit.😊

Mike Johnson
07 Nov 2020
Great night sleep

Ecosa, we would 100% recommend, had for nearly one week, what a difference

Paul H.
07 Nov 2020
Agree, need more detail

I was disappointed to see the lack of objective (or even subjective) comparisons between the comfort or durability of each brand. We bought a Koala a few years ago in Sydney and it's been hands down the best mattress we've ever had, including two multi-thousand dollar pillow top pocket spring mattresses from big name suppliers. We're now looking to upgrade the kids mattresses and we'd like to know where to put our money (since Koala is no longer available here)

Daniel H.
07 Nov 2020
Test Results

Agree with others.
One of some objective tests that I can think of is the density figures of the foams used which will give an indication of the quality and life expectancy of the material.
Also, body contour & support test using dummies could be useful.

David P.
07 Nov 2020
I agee with Jan

Yes would be good to have some test results. I bought a Koala mattress in a box about 3 years ago and it has been good. Unfortunately I don't think they deliver to NZ any more.

Jan M.
07 Nov 2020
But what are they like?

I read this with interest but the survey doesn’t actually tell me what these mattresses are like nor how that compares to a “normal” mattress.

Philippa S.
07 Nov 2020
Not what I was expecting

Whilst the price comparisons are useful as was understanding the background information, I too was expecting more a comparison of use / comfort. And whilst comfort is subjective if the same person compares different mattresses, at least it’s relative.

Helen P.
07 Nov 2020
Ecosa

We bought an Ecosa several years ago and I would never go back to spring mattresses, it is the best we have ever slept on.

Anthony G.
07 Nov 2020
But what are they like?

I agree with the comments above - good list but I pay my Consumer subs for reviews on these products, not a helpful article at all.