Hybrid Mattress Review: The Bedding Industry’s Hottest Selling Beds... How And Where To Buy A Great Mattress At A Fair Price.
we'll spin you up on the Bedding Industry’s Hottest Trends, and Tell You How To Get A Good Deal Without Getting scammed!
We've been writing about products in the bedding industry for years now, and up until recently, the mattress business has been lumbering along, offering very few innovative products. Within the last few years, because of a revolutionary machine that can compress and roll almost any kind of mattress, dozens of startup companies have blown up the internet offering an entire new breed of bed - hybrid mattresses. They're called mattress industry disruptors..and, for good reason. They're sleek, comfortable mattresses that sell for far less than the traditional lumpy innerspring mattresses our parents grew up on.
They are the Casper, the Tuft&Needle, the Loom And Leaf, Purple, and Leesa brands of mattress, along with their endless first cousins, their ads following us around everywhere we go, saturating our millennial and baby boomer minds with an endless carousel of hyper-advanced marketing techniques on social media and YouTube. These companies have turned the sleepy brick and mortar mattress marketplace upside down. And they've done it with style and creativity like we've never seen.
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By giving you an overview of what these companies have to offer, we're going to make it a little easier to choose just the right mattress that is right for you, and in our discussion about Hybrid Mattresses, we’ll arm you with some good ammunition whether or not you are shopping in old school brick and mortar retail stores, or shopping online with an e-commerce site. You can learn more about hybrid mattresses below, but if you're ready to buy, visit our MBG Club page, where we feature our carefully curated list of recommended dealers..stop pulling your hair out, and find the mattress of your dreams today. Click here to view our portfolio of vetted dealers.
What Is A Hybrid Mattress, Anyway?
A hybrid mattress is very simply a mattress made using two or more different kinds of unique materials so that you can capitalize on the benefits of all of the components used, even better than say, if you had purchased two separate beds with just one of the key ingredients. In almost all cases, either the base or foundation layers and in many cases the top comfort layers, are made using polyurethane foam, memory foam, or latex foam.
These three basic kinds of foam are latex rubber, memory foam, and a synthetic foam material referred to in the industry as polyurethane foam, also known as HD or HR foam (high density and high resiliency, respectively, but we’ll just call them synthetic foam for simplicity’s sake). If a company is using esoteric names like "Dreamfoam", "Ultrafoam", or "Plushfoam", you can be sure that it's merely marketing fluff, and don't be afraid to ask whether or not the material is polyurethane foam, urethane (memory) foam, or latex rubber, or a combination. It's likely that these proprietary ingredients are acceptable, since these companies generally work tirelessly to improve the materials they are using to reduce return rates, typically the most costly component of any mattress business offering generous return policies. When contemplating a hybrid mattress made using foam, get educated. Ask about the density of these foams, and ask the weight ranges acceptable for the material. Ask if the material, and the way it is configured, may or may not be appropriate for your sleep habits, back, belly, side, or flip flopper.
In general, I recommend densities on top of the mattress you're considering made using foam with at least 2.2 lbs density (the weight of a cubic foot of the material) to deliver proper support and cushiness. This density is pretty standard, and is essential to provide uplifting and decent support without bottoming into the material beneath. The bottom layers, or support layers, should be more dense, let's say in the 4-5 lb density. Another unit of measurement for foam mattresses is something called ILD, or Indentation Load Deflection, which is the amount of weight it takes to depress one cubic foot of foam 25% of its original height of 12", when a solid plate is applied to a one square foot area. You should look for ILD's of 30-35 for bottom, supportive layers.
Keep in mind though, that most hybrid beds are built for and designed to accommodate folks within a weight range of 100-210 lbs. If you're over that weight, you should consider a specialized foam mattress using densities that are higher. There are now several online stores that make mattresses strictly for larger people. Highly niche, but addressing a real need for bigger sleepers- a growing segment of our population. Couples who weigh in at more than 200 lbs. each and buy the typical bed in a box or even coil type bed from a local retailer, often find themselves swallowed hole in the bowl formed by the bodies in the center of their mattress, only to return it within weeks.
Another popular kind of hybrid bedding component, typically referred to as Memory Foam, also called “visco-elastic foam”, is an amazing material that I believe is the true staple ingredient of any foam or bed in a box type mattress. Technically, it is urethane foam, manufactured using a special technique that creates a vast network of permeable bubbles, that move air in and out very slowly, thus giving it a very unique feel. If you like that wonderful “melting in” feel that it is known for, and have pressure issues, definitely consider it within the recipe of the mattress. Made originally by NASA for use in fighter aircraft seats for shock absorption, it should be close to the top in the mattress you are considering, so you get the best benefit, and memory foam should be at least 4lb. density or higher, as it will last longer, will not be likely to form indentations, and will be supportive and quite yielding. Memory foam that is 3lb. density, commonly used in these kinds of mattresses, simply won't hold up. I've seen poorer grades of memory foam split and crack simply due to body movement on a bed.
Memory foam is used in about half of the most popular mattresses sold today. Great stuff, just make sure it at least 2 inches thick, and is flat, not corrugated or “wavy”, as this weakens the supportive qualities of the material. It also works well with our next ingredient, latex rubber. Chat with or call your potential retailer and make sure you’re getting the best memory foam available. Memory foam is often given mysterious names, without any technical description, including density, which is critical. If a mysterious layer of foam used in a mattress you’re considering is called “Sparklyfoam”, don’t be nervous, but ask questions and find out what it is. The minute you do that, you’ll be respected further and whether in a store or chatting online, you’re in charge at that point.
Latex rubber foam has been around longer than almost any other foam material used in bedding. Sears sold pure latex rubber mattresses back in the late 50’s, and millions of Americans hauled them home over the next 30-40 years. Latex went through a bit of a dormant phase when synthetic foam came along, but then enjoyed a renaissance as more consumers sought out cleaner, greener, all natural ingredients for their beds.
Used in many hot hybrid mattresses today, latex is purely wonderful stuff, bordering on frigging amazing. Hand collected, and then converted from liquid to a solid sumptuous and jiggly form, it’s great for a lively, buoyant, and uplifting feel. If you are considering a latex mattress or a mattress with latex in it, make sure you are getting pure latex, and not synthetic latex, as the natural material is livelier, lasts longer, and it won’t yellow and dry out over time. If it’s in a mattress you’re looking at, make sure you get 2” at least, at or near the top (especially if its mixed with synthetic foam) and if you’re looking at a hybrid bed (any bed that has one or two different kinds of material adjacent to one another, meaning practically every mattress out there these days) make sure it’s right above or below memory foam if you want both ingredients.
Probably the most interesting qualities about all natural latex material is that is naturally anti-microbial, resists dust mites, won't collapse or indent over time due to its cellular structure, and is great for tossers and turners because it pushes up and to the side, allowing for easy turning without waking you up. It's kind of like spreading pizza dough on a pan, it distributes its load sideways instead of down, and you tend to "float" above it.
Ask and make sure you’re getting either pure latex, either Dunlop latex, or natural Talalay, and not a blend. Often there is no distinction made between the pure, more expensive foam, and the cheaper synthetic version. Call or chat with your potential retailer. Much longer lifespan, and better bounce!
Also, if you're looking for an all natural bed, you're probably going to want to steer clear of synthetic polyurethane foam, and go with a top to bottom latex mattress. However, most of the biggest sellers out there are made using polyurethane foam.
What is Polyurethane Foam?
Polyurethane is a polymer material made from reacting different monomer materials; isocyanates and polyols both derived from refined crude oil. Polyurethane foam is the most common upholstery material used today. It is found in almost all mattresses, sofas, the seats in your car, spray foam insulation and more.
About a third of the composition of memory foam or polyurethane foam is created from Polyols. Essentially, it is a form of alcohol, which is almost always made entirely from petrochemicals. There are some polyols containing plant based alcohols (soy, castor bean, tea tree, aloe, et cetera), in very small percentages. You might see ads for "soy based foam" or "organic polyurethane foam" which can be very misleading. These foams are often labelled as natural, but the majority of the finished product is not natural and there is zero health related benefit to using plant polyols in polyurethane foam production.
To convert the liquid material into a foam, which contains lots of minute bubbles to give it elasticity and spring back, an ingredient called a blowing agent is added to the mixture. This is a chemical in the form of a gas which is blown into the mixture to turn it into foam, essentially aerating the mix. Different types of polyurethane and memory foams simply use different blowing agents. Some foams are water expanded, which is another clever way of suggesting that somehow the foam is natural. This is simply green washing. The process of making polyurethane is typically not as sophisticated as most would think. Although there are other methods for making ‘continuous’ pieces of foam on more expensive machinery the crude single batch method in the video below can produce foam of the same quality.
A very common hybrid mattress sold today might be a combination of polyurethane, latex and specialized polyurethane foam known as memory foam. Each has very unique benefits. Natural Latex is collected from trees, is chemical free, highly elastic, buoyant, and spongy and cushy, while memory foam fills up around your body offering pressure point relief, cradling you as it fills in void areas and pockets as you melt into it. The polyurethane foam is typically used for the foundation or base piece, but can also be used for top comfort layers when it is fabricated as softer and spongier.
Other hybrid mattresses combine memory foam with gel foam, or even thin layers of springs, called microcoils, or other exotic materials like New Zealand free range wool. Some offer their own variety of proprietary foam, giving them unique names, like "Dreamfoam" or "Ultrafoam", transforming ordinary synthetic foam layers into mystical and magical sanctuaries for us to nestle into where we dream of faraway lands and princesses and we don't ever want to get out of our beds. There are hundreds of options that make it so confusing to buy a mattress, you feel as if you are buying a used car. We’ll help you narrow down the options, though, to get you a mattress that is comfortable, supportive, and not over priced.
The beauty of a contemporary Hybrid Mattress design is that the concept follows a minimalist approach, utilizing a few specific ingredients that deliver maximum comfort at a reasonable price. Generally, you can find a mattress like this for under $1,000, though if you want more bells and whistles, such as a more upgraded outer covering, or more than two unique materials inside the mattress, expect to pay $1,500-2,000 or more, especially if it is a brand name. But, as a rule, in today's shopping environment online, keep your price point at or under $1,000, and you'll likely be able to score a really great mattress.
et's say that you wanted something all natural, for example. You can buy a 100% latex mattress which contains zero synthetic foams, if you are concerned about keeping the mattress purely green, with no synthetic or man-made materials. You're going to pay significantly more, though than is you go with a hybridized version of some latex, and some synthetic foams. Expect to pay $1,500 or up for a decent pure latex bed. The trade off is the much less expensive synthetic foam layers, which up until recently, had not evolved much. In the last five years, the technology available with synthetic foam has exploded, and an amazing lineup of material is available. One of them is graphite infused polyurethane foam, which disperses body heat, another is gel/memory foam combination which offer a sumptuous, cloud like feel, and even firmer, yet comfortable foams if you need a resilient feel with no sinking or collapsing. It's also great at dispersing body heat and delivering a unique pressure relieving feel. I've also studied a unique foam that suspends aluminum in the mix, allowing heat to be reflected away from the body, in almost a suction like fashion, great for hot sleepers.
Understanding the engineering and design of today's hybrid mattresses is fairly easy. It's largely driven by a “layer cake” approach which enables a manufacturer to offer their own unique "cake recipe", creating what many of these retailers will claim is a "universally comfortable bed" that appeals to anyone.
The trick for these hybrid bed manufacturers is to create a recipe that satisfies 90% of the customers who get them into their bedrooms. The bed in a box category in bedding is driven by constant testing, and before a bed is put up on a web site, it's likely been test driven by dozens if not hundreds of users. If the return rate is less than 10%, the mattress will likely be kept in play. You're not the guinea pig, trust me. That work has already been done for you. The big players also have a vast number of reviews on their mattresses, and we'll get to that later, but in the back of your mind, remember that while most every site offers reviews, many of them may not be truly third party, independent reviews. In fact, they may have been paid for.
To build a durable and comfortable Hybrid Mattress, construction involves using one ingredient you are looking to exploit the most for comfort as the top layer, and using quality materials as the base or supportive layer to provide the best overall feel. It is important, however, to not overlook the kinds of foam materials that makeup the support layers, as they can fail and develop rutting or depressions over time.
In the case of a hybrid mattress using a premium top layer such as memory foam, gel foam, or pure latex, what you are likely to find is a 2” or maybe 3” layer of these materials, and underneath you’d likely find a combination of one or two different high density synthetic layers which provide good support and accentuate the comfort of the top layer.
The overall effect is to deliver the same or an even higher level of comfort than if the mattress were made from the same material top to bottom. The best part is, the mattress is likely to be substantially less expensive, and in many cases, much lighter in weight.
It’s What’s Underneath That Really Adds To Lifespan And Durability
One key consideration though, is the quality of the synthetic high density foams used underneath, which can broadly range in quality from outright utility grade foams which aren’t even designed to be used as bedding grade material, (like foam you would use to pack household goods in a move) to extremely high quality foam layers that are especially designed to be used for support layers in mattresses. Almost all of them are made using petroleum based products, which may be a concern for some folks. There are new materials and foams out there though that are manufactured without a lot of the toxic ingredients used in the past. Still, though, many people are concerned about synthetic materials being used in their beds, since they are a petroleum based material.
Another really important consideration is how the layers of your candidate mattresses are adhered, or glued, to one another. Believe it or not, this greatly affects the elasticity and comfort of a mattress. Continuous gluing, which means that the entire surface is sprayed with a sheet of adhesive, renders the materials stiffer and less responsive, and can make a mattress feel like styrofoam, rather than squishy, spongy and delightfully sumptuous. The way around that is to apply the glue only at the perimeter edge of the foam layers, thus preserving the dynamics of the individual foam layers. Basically, a "bead" of adhesive is applied at the edges of each layer. If I were buying a hybrid mattress today, the first question I would ask in a chat or on the phone is "how are your layers glued together?"
One more important point. The kind of adhesive used can be of paramount importance. Many companies that are producing high volumes of beds per day typically use a quick set adhesive. These glues are fast drying, and are made using VOC compounds that often contain formaldehyde, which can often off-gas or leach out of the mattress for years. The safest adhesives are water based, but they take skill and longer drying time, and likely a bed made with these more expensive but safer adhesives cost a bit more. When I order a mattress, I get even more particular, by asking for a specific brand of water based adhesive, called Simalfa. It is a completely safe glue material, even labeled for infant and crib bedding use. You can visit the Simalfa web site and learn more, if you're sensitive to smells, or VOC compounds in general.
Are Hybrid mattresses safe, since they are made with synthetic foams?
Absolutely. Most polyurethane foams these days are generally considered inert and don't off gas fumes that last for any length of time. You may notice a slight smell at first, which is normal, and this odor will quickly fade, especially if you let the bed "air out" for a few hours or a day, before installing sheets and bedding.
Although different brands can vary as far as ingredients that create odor, beware if a company is trying to sell you “no VOC or VOC free” memory foam, since it actually doesn't exist. A memory foam can be “low VOC” or “free of toxic VOCs”, but as we’ve mentioned before, almost every organic product has at least some minimal off gassing that is essentially harmless, but may frighten you at first.
Amazingly, however, there are synthetic foam materials that are made using a proprietary sequence of steps to remove many harmful materials from the process. One example of this material is a specialized foam that is known as Certi-Pur® foam. This kind of foam is free of harmful ingredients typically found in petroleum based foams, like PBDE’s (poly-brominated di-ethyl ethers) which are toxic and achieved notoriety for contributing to ozone layer depletion, as well as formaldehyde, volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, and other toxins, all of which continue to off-gas over long periods of time.
It is available in many densities and degrees of firmness, so that it can be properly calibrated with the top layers of the mattress to deliver the highest level of comfort and support. Here’s a link to the consumer page for Certi-Pur®, which you can check out after reading my article.
Buying a hybrid mattress can be challenging, considering that most of the components are synthetic, but don't let that confuse you. Technology has advanced far in just a few years, and polyurethane and other advanced polymer foams have vastly improved in comfort, and can be made in a variety of densities, support, and responsiveness. Pricepoints will vary, but in today's competitive marketplace, it's easy to find a decent mattress that can deliver comfort and support, for under $1,000.
Bottom line, it's easy to find a great hybrid mattress that will fall into the $700-900 category for a queen or a king, and if you order a bed in the box type unit that arrives at your door, typically, if sold with a decent 90-180 trial period, you can test the mattress for a good 30 days to see if it works for you. Most people determine whether a mattress works for them within three nights, though if you are going from let's say an innerspring to a foam hybrid mattress, the adjustment period may take a few weeks or so. With so many choices out there and a good no questions asked trial with the ability to get your money back, you're pretty bulletproof from being scammed or taken.
where to buy a great hybrid mattress at a reasonable price, without getting scammed..
We scoured dozens of popular web sites to try and find a company that offers a really great hybrid mattress at a reasonable price, with an attractive warranty, and a great return policy if you don't like it. We looked for BBB A+ ratings, how long the company has been in business, and other factors.
Most of the hype companies, such as Casper, Tuft&Needle, and others, have only been around for 2-3 years, barely enough time to establish how these mattresses hold up over time. One company, called FCO Homegoods, has stood the test of time, having been around for an astonishing 24 years. They started out in the futon business, and gradually developed several mattress options, and the one we love is their FCO Hybrid Mattress.
Their mattress is quite unique. Truly a hybrid bed, the FCO Hybrid offers a layer of natural latex, a higher quality layer of memory foam (they use 4lb. density, rather than cheaper 3lb density), and the support foam layers are made using non-toxic Certi-Pur® foam. The outer covering is organic cotton, and features a zipper that runs around the top edge, allowing you to swap out the position of the latex or the memory foam, which basically gives you two beds for the price of one, since you can get a bouncier, more lively feel with the latex on top, or a more yielding nest like feel with the memory foam up top.
Best of all, they offer a 180 no questions asked trial period, too, giving you a whopping six months to try the bed to see if it is perfect for you..or not. There is a modest return charge if you want to return it. In addition they offer a 10 Year Factory Warranty, which is pretty bulletproof. Their queen size bed seems to be priced at $799 most of the time, making it a better deal than the big players, and with better ingredients. Give them a call at 800-231-1651 or order directly from their web site at FCO Homegoods. We couldn't find any other company that had a better deal for such a high quality hybrid bed. Here's a picture of the mattress they sell..