Mattresses rank up there with milk and diapers as something you should never buy used. Bed bugs and DNA evidence aside, the quality of your mattress is integral to your performance at work, the gym and, unsurprisingly, in the bedroom. It’s a spare-no-expense investment, a purchase where any money saved at the checkout station will cost far more in the long run with fatigue and back pain. And if you’ve had yours for seven to ten years, it might be time to start looking for a new sleeping surface. This quest for a good night’s sleep shouldn’t be taken lightly and, after spending hours in showrooms full of mattresses, you’d be wise to consider the new Casper ($500-$950) mattress, which seems aimed to catch the traditional mattress world napping.
Casper is an oddball. They’re a start-up mattress company, which is admittedly a tough industry to break into, especially with the trifecta of S’s — Sealy, Serta and Simmons — dominating the market. But their small size and business model lets them sell directly from company headquarters in New York City, cutting costs on salesmen and showroom space, and also keeps them transparent about business practices and attentive to customer needs. They only sell one model, a memory foam mattress, which is currently the fastest growing market segment in the mattress world. This limits their costumers’ options, but allows Casper to undercut the price of comparable mattress by a large margin. Queen-sized Tempur-Pedic mattresses start at about $1,500 for the base model and top off at $7,500; the queen-sized Casper is $850, with free shipping.
Their mattresses, with a base layer of memory foam — the same quicksand stuff featured in the mattresses my grandparents sleep on — and a top layer of expensive, supportive latex foam, combine the best materials on the market. The founders wanted to combat the sinking, heat-retaining feel of memory foam by topping it with something that allows air circulation and a little spring. You can’t jump around while a wine glass is on the bed, but you can do something that’s rather difficult on a traditional memory foam mattress: have sex.
This was the second aspect of the Casper mattress that CEO Philip Krim mentioned to me at Casper’s launch party last April and, along with the price and shipping method, it steadies the brand’s aim squarely on a younger demographic. Krim said he set out to maintain the comfort of a foam mattress, while adding back the certain spring you need for what is arguably a mattress’s second most important feature.
The mattresses are sold online (a place mattresses are rarely sold, and one the company is trying to bring more mainstream), so while customers can’t go to a showroom and run from Casper to Casper, lying on each one for a few minutes before buying, the company does offer a 100-day test period. The lack of a store also means Casper mattresses are shipped directly to you for testing. They arrive compressed to fit a box the size of two moving boxes stacked on top of each other. This allows them to be delivered same-day via Uber or bike messenger to residents of New York, and within five days nationally. If a customer isn’t satisfied after three months, the company will pick the mattress back up, hassle free.
After my mattress arrived, I slid all of its 80 pounds into my room and cut it out of the box. It looked like a gigantic sushi roll wrapped in a white tarp sheet instead of seaweed. Included in the box was a handwritten note thanking me for my early support of the company and a blade to cut off the wrapping. Finally out of the packaging, the mattress expanded to full size in about ten seconds and was ready to sleep on. And while there’s no putting the mattress back in the box for easy moving, the unboxed mattress is still flexible enough to bend around doorways and staircases, making it ideal for a demographic that moves more (and faster) than their parents.
I propped the new bed on the platform their website suggested (as a start-up producing only mattresses, they don’t have a conflict of interest when it comes to recommending bed frames, protective covers and even company-tested linens for customers to make the most out of their mattresses). I only used the mattress platform to make use of storage space under my bed; because foam mattresses don’t need a box spring, you can literally sleep with the mattress on the floor, if that’s your thing, though I wouldn’t recommend it — the mattress looks thin at only ten inches tall without a bed frame, box spring and mattress topper. But the founders argue that big isn’t better and admittedly the Casper’s sleek design didn’t overflow into the feng shui of my bedroom. Then I climbed in.
The founders argue that big isn’t better, and, admittedly, the Casper’s sleek design didn’t overflow into the feng shui of my bedroom.
Before I speak to its comfort, know that mattresses are extremely personal; the sleep number people designed an entire campaign around this premise. Still, as soon as I got under the covers and started sleeping on the thing, all previous thoughts of a thin and squeaky mattress disappeared. It’s a Goldilocks bed: the 4-pound high-density memory foam bottom provides softness and relieves pressure while the non-allergenic dunlop latex provides support and spring (both are CertiPUR certified), so if you need one extreme or the other, look elsewhere. I’m a side and back sleeper, and the mattress sank around my “pressure points” without making me feel like I was going to drown. After about ten minutes of lying there I couldn’t remember which side of my body I was actually lying on… I was long gone. In the morning I was converted; I had slept through the night and woke feeling refreshed, rare for a first night’s sleep of any new mattress.
Because of its construction, the mattress, like a pillow top, can’t be flipped to battle body impressions, but the ten-year warranty should handle any problems down the line from normal use. Unfortunately, the foam mattress is sealed with a cover that isn’t machine washable, so any embarrassing spills or odors will require a new cover to be shipped from the company directly. And for those status-obsessed sleepers, the mattress definitely doesn’t look as comfortable as it sleeps.
Everyone else more concerned with getting a good night’s sleep on memory foam should try out a free trial, or can stop by the headquarters in NoHo in Manhattan to lie on the display bed if they’re in the area.