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The Best Firm Mattresses You Can Buy Online, As Tested By Strategist Editors

Photo: retailer

If you’re the type of person who would be happy snoozing on hardwood or resting on concrete, you’re probably already in the market for a firm mattress. But even if you don’t think you’re a firm-mattress person, one can be a nice option if you need a touch more support when you sleep — and we’ve done the work to help you find one that suits your preferences.

Over the past four years, our writers and editors have been testing mattresses you can buy online, and here, we’ve listed the best firm mattresses we’ve tried. Our reviews are based on at least a week’s worth of sleep by different types of sleepers, so if you’re a back sleeper who needs pressure relief, look for the Strategist editor who is too. And if you don’t see something you like here, don’t worry: We’ve tested more than 30 mattresses total, and we’ve compiled our reviews of all-foam options and cooling mattresses as well. (Note that for ease of comparison, the prices given below are for queen-size mattresses, but all are available in different sizes.)

Best all-around | Best less expensive | Best all-foam | Best for restless sleepers | Best for back pain | Best hotel-quality | Best cooling | Best for mattress obsessives

What we’re looking for

Construction: There are three main types of mattresses: innerspring, all-foam, and hybrid. Typically, innerspring mattresses that contain steel coils will be more firm and supportive than all-foam mattresses, though this is by no means a universal decree.

Materials: The amount and type of foam in a mattress greatly affects its firmness. Polyfoam, memory foam, and latex foam all feature slightly different densities, and different mattresses will combine and layer them to varying results. A thinner topmost layer of foam will result in greater firmness than a thick layer.

Sleep position: The position you prefer to sleep in may affect how comfortable a mattress feels for you. The lack of “sink” in a firm mattress can provide better spinal and hip support for those who sleep on their back or stomach. Side sleepers, meanwhile, may feel that a super-firm mattress exerts uncomfortable pressure on their shoulders and hips and may want a mattress with a bit more give.

Best all-around firm mattress

Hybrid | Memory foam | Back and side sleepers

Saatva’s classic hybrid mattress offers plenty of support and pressure relief, making it an attractive option for those who are comfortable in multiple sleep positions — including Strategist senior editor Simone Kitchens, a back-to-side sleeper who prefers a mattress that supports her “generally sore” back. This hybrid mattress features both steel springs and a layer of memory foam, capped by a plush organic-cotton pillow top. It’s available in three different firmness levels, and Kitchens found that the firmest one was both the most supportive and the most comfortable: “The firmness of this mattress never created a sunken, stuck feeling, which I’ve found happening with memory foam. Instead, the supported feeling of this bed (which still manages to be pretty plush) kept my lower back from collapsing in, making my spine feel more aligned overall.”

Best (less expensive) firm mattress

Hybrid | Memory foam | Stomach and side sleepers

Allswell’s Luxe Hybrid is another firm hybrid mattress nicely suited for different sleep styles, including stomach and side sleepers like former Strategist senior editor Margaret Rhodes. Even though she tends to prefer softer mattresses, she described the firm Allswell as “sumptuously Spartan.” The mattress gets this feel from its construction, which combines coils with a soft layer of memory foam. The top layer is “soft, to be sure,” Rhodes wrote, but not so soft that you’ll sink super-deep into it. In this suspended state, she found nighttime nirvana: “There was something comfortably paralyzing about letting this very firm mattress straighten out my skeleton.” But what really sets this hybrid apart from the firm Saatva mattress above is that you get these “spine unfurling” capabilities for nearly half the price.

Best firm all-foam mattress


All-foam | Memory foam and polyfoam | Back and side sleepers

The Sealy Cocoon Chill is an all-foam mattress that Kitchens, who also tested the Saatva Classic, described as “every bit as firm as the innerspring coil mattress I’ve slept on for years.” The Cocoon has just two foam layers — memory foam on top of high-density foam — but still feels substantial, and it was sturdy enough to combat some of her chronic back pain and neck soreness: “Right before trying the Cocoon Chill, I had a new, specific bit of spinal pain,” she wrote. “But much of that immediately subsided after that first night and hasn’t returned. Crawling into this bed at the end of the day gives me a floating yet hugged feeling that I find to be full-body relaxing.” Plus, if the memory foam shows any indentations or dips lower than one inch, a full return is covered by Sealy’s ten-year limited warranty.

Best firm mattress for restless sleepers


All-foam | Memory foam | Stomach sleepers

At first, Nectar’s memory-foam mattress “seemed almost too firm to the touch,” according to former Strategist senior editor Casey Lewis, a stomach-to-side sleeper who shares a bed with a fidgety pitbull-boxer. “When I plopped down on a corner, it had nearly no bounce at all.” But this quality lends itself to excellent motion isolation, which helped her sleep without worrying about her restless dog waking her up. Like the Sealy Cocoon Chill above, the Nectar mattress contains three foam layers, but has an added “shift resistant” lower cover to provide sturdy support. It also features pressure-relieving gel. The base foam layer is thick and dense, meant to provide the bulk of the support; the middle is a thin layer of soft, transitional foam; and at the top is three inches of memory-foam gel. “Because of all that foam, it’s quite firm (so firm, in fact, that an illustration on the company’s website shows a bowling ball bouncing next to an undisturbed wineglass — a claim I didn’t test),” says Lewis. But despite this mattress’s overall dense structure and feel, the softer top layers of foam supply it with “just the right amount of give.”

Best firm mattress for back pain

Hybrid | Memory foam | Combination sleepers

WinkBeds’ mattress is formulated with a combination of springs and memory foam that “saved” New York Magazine features editor Katy Schneider’s boyfriend, who “claims he hasn’t woken up with pain since we started sleeping on it.” Schneider, who’s always changing her sleeping position and has spent her life sleeping on soft beds, was a tougher sell. But in the end, they both liked WinkBeds’ “luxury firm” model. “Because the memory-foam layer is thin, it still felt soft without enveloping my body,” says Schneider. And thanks to the motion isolation provided by the springs, she no longer notices when her boyfriend comes to bed late. “Though I bristled at the word firm, I quickly converted from ‘Will only sleep on pillows’ to ‘I think I’m a firm-mattress person,’” she says.

Best hotel-quality firm mattress

Innerspring | No foam | Stomach and side sleepers

Parachute makes some of our favorite linens and home staples, but in addition to hotel-quality robes and towels, it offers its own luxury mattress. Dubbed simply “the Mattress,” Parachute’s take on an ecofriendly bed features an all-springs interior and zero foam (loosely inspired by the exuberantly priced Swedish mattress brand Hästens). Rhodes was pleasantly surprised that, unlike other mattresses she has tried, Parachute’s didn’t emit a plasticky aroma when she opened the box. She was also pleased with the bed’s luxurious, handsome tufted cover and appreciated the lack of heat-retaining foam, but pointed out that the springs-only design may be a little too firm for some. “My initial impression was one of sleeping on a very sturdy topper floating on top of nothing,” Rhodes said. If you need something softer, Parachute recommends adding one of its Strategist-approved mattress toppers for extra comfort, which Rhodes ultimately found worked well for her: “It’s positioned as a luxury, hotel-style mattress, and it really feels like one.”

Best cooling firm mattress

Purple Mattress - Queen
Photo: Courtesy of the vendor

All-foam | Polyfoam | Side sleepers

Purple’s mattresses are topped with a gridlike layer of the same airy proprietary polymer you’ll find in Dr. Scholl’s soles and bouncy toy balls. Thanks to this and a supportive layer of foam, the mattress construction proved ideal for former Strategist deputy editor Jason Chen, a side sleeper “who likes a mattress that’s more firm than soft.” The grid structure provides support and makes the mattress feel firm, while the much thinner polymer layer provides a slight sink. It also helps body heat dissipate so you don’t find yourself waking up in the middle of the night on a furnace of your own creation. “When I lay on my side, it was like being cradled, rather than smothered, the way I felt on my old foam mattress,” said Chen. “My pressure points in my shoulders and hips never ached — I used to have to move around to avoid spots that had dipped and retained heat, but the gel layer never held divots. After a week, I was fully converted and found myself wanting to spend time in bed during the day: reading magazines, using my laptop, playing with the dog.”

Best firm mattress for mattress obsessives


Hybrid | Polyfoam | Combination sleepers

If you’re looking for something well past entry level, Casper’s Wave Hybrid model is an upgrade that former Strategist writer Lori Keong called “a mattress for sleep obsessives and mattress-heads.” The Wave Hybrid combines foam and encased springs with specifically placed gel pods for targeted back, neck, and shoulder support. This makes the mattress feel almost reinforced. The feeling was a bit too stiff for Keong, who changes sleep positions often and likes a squarely “middle-of-the-road mattress,” but was ideal for a pair of her friends. “My hips don’t sink in like they used to with our old mattress, so it makes me feel almost weightless,” one of them noted. All of them found the bed ran a little hot, but Casper now sells the mattress with its new Snow cover, which is meant to disperse body heat.

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The Best Firm Mattresses, As Tested by Strategist Editors