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, it can be a nice option if you need a touch more support when you sleep — and we’ve done the work to make sure you’re not stuck with a firm mattress that’s about as comfortable as a flat boulder.
Over the past four years, our writers and editors have been testing mattresses you can buy online, and here, we’ve pulled our reviews of 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 reviewed nearly 30 mattresses here, and we’ve got this roundup of all-foam options. (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 firm mattress
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 — like Strategist senior editor Simone Kitchens, a back and side sleeper who prefers “something very firm to counter a long day of slightly stooped sitting and sinking into my hips while standing.” This mattress is a hybrid, which means it features both steel springs and a layer of memory foam capped by a plush organic-cotton pillow top. And although you can get it in a range of firmness levels, Kitchens found the firmest 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
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 cushier 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 foam 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
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. 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 warranty, making the Cocoon a solid value compared with foam mattresses from competitors like Casper.
Best firm mattress for restless sleepers
At first, Nectar’s memory-foam mattress “seemed almost too firm to the touch,” according to Strategist senior editor Casey Lewis, who sleeps on her stomach and 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, the Nectar mattress consists of three foam layers but has an added “shift resistant” lower cover to provide sturdy support and 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
WinkBed’s mattress is formulated with a combination of springs and memory foam that “saved” New York Magazine features editor Katy Schneider’s boyfriend, a firm-mattress aficionado. 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 WinkBed’s “luxury firm” model. “Because the memory-foam layer is thin, it still felt soft without enveloping my body,” says Schneider. Her boyfriend, who was prone to aches on her too-soft previous mattress, was more enthused. “He claims he hasn’t woken up with pain since we started sleeping on it,” she says. And thanks to the motion isolation provided by WinkBed’s innersprings, 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
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 leach a plasticky aroma the moment 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 she 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 for her: “It’s positioned as a luxury, hotel-style mattress, and it really feels like one.”
Best cooling firm mattress
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” and admittedly hates how hot foam tends to make him. The thick, dense foam layer provides support and makes the mattress feel firm, while the much thinner polymer layer provides a slight sink. The gridlike design makes sure any heat you release as you sleep goes through and then out of the mattress 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
If you’re looking for something well past entry level, Casper’s Wave Hybrid 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 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. If you don’t want to spend the extra $500, Keong notes that the Wave’s wool cover is removable. (And Casper’s 100-night sleep trial is risk free.)
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