Howdy friends. I feel like I always say it’s been a while, but, it has!
I never thought I would become a mattress reviewer, but here I am. Long story short: We wanted to move from a queen bed to a king. Since then, in the space of a month, I’ve used at home:
- Legacy Tuft & Needle (legacy meaning no longer made)
- (new) Tuft & Needle Mint
- Boring (new company that launched early 2024)
In addition, in the past month I have also tested in stores for comparison:
- Nectar Premier
- Nectar Premier Copper
- A bunch of TemperPedics
- And other traditional spring and hybrid mattresses
All this to say, after a LOT of research online and nights spent from agony to comfort, I think I’m now qualified to share! Please note, I am a side sleeper and in a lighter body, but I’ve also considered input from my husband who sleeps on his back and tends to sleep hot.
Just give me the basic mattress comparison
|Full Price (King)
|Comfort for Side Sleeper
|Toxic fume smell?
|Worst pain ever!
|30 to 365 nights
|Tuft & Needle Mint
|up to 100 nights
|up to 99 nights
|Legacy Tuft & Needle
|no longer for sale
Despite wanting to spread out across a king-sized mattress, we had zero concerns with our old queen-sized mattress from Tuft & Needle. (It re-sold for $150 within an hour on Facebook marketplace.)
I started my search for a king sized mattress with Tuft & Needle. I’d always liked the idea of the bed in a box, the simplicity of their products, and their ethos. For reference, we paid $350 for a twin in 2016 and $800 for a queen in 2017. I wasn’t expecting to find prices that low now, as inflation and supply chain issues have impacted every industry. However, I wasn’t expecting the online mattress market to have gotten so confusing.
What I dislike about online shopping for a mattress now
Too many options: It used to be your decision for a bed in a box was just what size. Now it seems like the options include hybrid (which sometimes costs more, sometimes less), special cooling gels and chemicals, tiered pricing options, and there are so many more companies out there now.
Hard to gauge quality and feel: It’s super hard to know what a mattress feels like without going to a store. I first started looking at Tuft & Needle’s website, but since the prices had gone up considerably, I shopped around. I found a blog comparing Nectar to Tuft & Needle, saying they were similar except Nectar was more expensive. Since Nectar was still offering an “end of year” sale at 40% off, I thought I was getting a deal. I’ve since learned that many companies run one sale after another. After “end of year clearance,” there was “MLK Day sale” running into “President’s Day sale.” It’s a sales gimmick.
The comparison bloggers are all paid: The pretty much all have affiliate links. Yes, I have participated in affiliate programs before, like Amazon, but it doesn’t impact what I recommend. And I will straight up tell you NOT to buy a mattress off Amazon but directly from the maker. It’s very important if there’s any chance you want to return it. But it makes it hard to find meaningful comparisons online.
If you like a softer feel, you pay the most: I understand having tiered pricing for quality. But I had always thought of soft-medium-firm as preferences. Since I happen to prefer a softer feel, I find it irritating that I have to pay for the most expensive version.
Too Hard: Nectar Mattresses
Swayed by online sources leaving me to believe a Nectar mattress would be comparable to the Tuft & Needles, I bought one on sale.
Pros: Easy to purchase, arrived quickly, no off-gassing/ weird chemical smell. My husband, a not picky, back sleeper, thought it was “ok.” It’s possible if you weigh more than 250 pounds that you might find it more cushiony.
Cons: Very hard. To me, it felt like there was zero cushioning. Perhaps as much cushioning as our floor with carpet. I had to fight to return it.
The back pain I felt after the first night was debilitating and didn’t stop. I was curious if the firmness was because it was “new.” I found a local brick and mortar mattress store, Mattress Firm, that carried Nectars. We went out to try out their floor model to get a sense of it “broken in”. It was slightly less hard than ours at home, but still way too hard. I also tried out the floor model of their “Premier” and “Premier Copper,” supposedly more plush, and thought both were too hard for side sleeping.
I didn’t know a bed could hurt me that much
The false advertising: Although Nectar advertises risk free returns “within your 365-night trial,” there was no response to multiple emails to initiate the return. Worse, when I called the customer service line, they told me that in their fine print was a line that I had to sleep on it for 30 nights before requesting a return. Hell to the no was I going to endure more days of pain, all day, as a result! Eventually, after declining the offer to pay more for their “premier” or purchase a separate topper, I asked to escalate my call to a manager. Thankfully, they granted me a “one time exception” to return it early. Seriously, what is their strategy? That people well get used to an uncomfortable bed and then get too lazy to return?
How I survived waiting for the next mattress: Once I came back from Mattress Firm and knew there was no hope for our Nectar Mattress, I ordered a different brand that night. While waiting for it to arrive, I couldn’t take even one night more. So I put a full-sized foam topper we use for the kids’ sleep-overs on top of my side of the mattress.
Yup, I definitely felt stacked up, like I was in the Princess and the Pea. Worse, the full-sized topper hit my husband’s side of the bed awkwardly half way, even trying to cheat it over, draping off my side. I’m still indignant over them charging a thousand dollars or more for essentially a box spring that’s unusable, as is.
Illustration by Edmund Dulac for the fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea” by Hans Christian Andersen.
Shopping in Person: Mattress Firm
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked Jessica at my local Mattress Firm. She wasn’t pushy and she seemed to be honest. However, the options there were disappointing. The value options were the above mentioned Nectars – crazy hard. The beds that felt good to me were the TemperPedics. The price point was out of my budget. I wasn’t interested in financing and taking on a monthly payment similar to another car! The only option in between was the “Sleepy’s” line. But their warranty lasts only two or three years and they tend to get replaced that often. She told me the most affordable option for me to be able to tolerate the Nectar was buying a topper. But my husband said it was silly to have a thousand dollar mattress that isn’t ready to sleep on.
Next: Tuft & Needle isn’t the same as it was
Seven years ago, when our youngest graduated from the crib mattress, I had just heard of Tuft & Needle, and gave it a try. Her twin was the most comfortable bed in the house, so Papa Bird and I ordered a queen a year later. I do recall both mattresses having a strong odor that dissipated in a day or two.
However, things change. The mattresses we purchased back then are now called “Legacy” Tuft and Needle. The “original” now sold is not in fact the original. The Legacy has an all off-white cover.
Upon exploring online, I learned that Serta Simmons purchased Tuft & Needle. Despite being founded as a “disruption” to business as usual mattresses – they are in fact now owned by a large, classic mattress company.
The New Tuft & Needle Mattresses
To get the same approximate comfort as the Legacy, I wondered if it was a safer bet to pay more for a “medium feel” Mint instead of the “new original”. I wasn’t sure if the “cooling gel” would be worth it, but I was scared to have a “medium firm” as the original is described.
The False Advertising: Despite the website saying you can go try out the mattresses in store, this is not actually the case. They list select Target locations (not all.) I was about to drive the 15 miles to the closest Target selling Tuft & Needle mattresses, but upon calling T&N customer service (east coast hours, by the way), I learned that no Target’s have floor models. It doesn’t surprise me, but I wish the website didn’t say that. I’d have to drive to an official Tuft & Needle store in Los Angeles to feel a floor model. (I also learned that the Target version is stripped down and lower quality.)
The Differences: As far as I can tell, the main difference (besides the price) between the Mint and our old Legacy Tuft & Needle is that the cover of the new Mint is grey with a thin mint-colored ribbon. Honestly, that doesn’t really matter as we keep our mattresses inside protective covers to reduce dust mites and allergens. Though, if I had to pick, I personally prefer a more minimal look. But again, no one sees it!
How does the new Tuft & Needle Mint compare?
Temperature? One of the selling factors of the Mint, besides extra plushness is “breathable, open-cell foam infused with ceramic and cooling gel plus heat-conducting graphite.” Unfortunately, it is winter and cold this season, even in San Diego. August in our non-air conditioned house might better test the mattress comparison to Boring and others. But we weren’t able to tell any difference between the different brands ability to be cool or not.
Comfort? I would say this is similar in feel to both the legacy and the Boring mattress for me as a side sleeper. My husband as a back sleeper says he can’t really feel the difference.
Pros: Easy to purchase, arrived quickly, along with the comfort listed above. Easy returns by filling out a form and scheduling pick up via an app.
Cons: Weird chemical “off gassing” smell, though it was less obvious after a few days. And the cost – the Mint costs twice as much as a Boring Mattress. Saving a thousand dollars is a thousand dollars!
A Boring Mattress with an Interesting Proposal
While I was trying to research the difference between the legacy Tuft & Needle and the new original and Mint, I stumbled upon a Reddit thread talking about the Boring Mattress Company. The original founders of T&N started Boring – “coming soon.” I dropped my email in their landing page of a website but was in far too much pain from the horrible Nectar mattress to wait or think too much on it. My quick impression was that a Boring mattress would be closer to what Tuft & Needle was like 7-8 years ago than the current Tuft & Needles are now.
Unfortunate timing: About two days after we finally put all the sheets and comforters and mattress covers onto the new Mint, and barely a week after buying it, I got an email. Boring launched. They were offering $100 off for signing up on their interest list. I was out and about running errands, and responded quickly from my phone. I shared that maybe if I had gotten it a week earlier, but we were set, the T&N being “fine” and cash flow not allowing another purchase.
Daehee wrote back, expressing understanding and offering up a sleep trial – meaning a grace period to try out the Boring Mattress with the ability to return it with no money out of pocket. I can’t promise that they will offer this in the future to others, but being so new, they really wanted honest, constructive feedback. I appreciated the offer, but explained it was both a hard sell to my husband for all the heavy lifting, and I was scared of being too uncomfortable on a “medium firm” as a lightweight side sleeper.
The Boring mission
All this time, I thought Daehee was only in customer service, but once I got home and read their website some more, I realized Daehee is in fact cofounder of both Tuft & Needle and Boring. He humored me with menial questions on the specs, and also took the effort of asking his wife, a side sleeper my size, how she compared the Boring to the Legacy Tuft & Needle. How sweet is that? (She thought they were similarly comfortable.)
I really resonate with the mission of Boring. Why is buying a mattress so complicated? What exactly is in “cooling gel”? Why do you have to pay more for basic padding? People are seriously dropping a grand for something that feels like a brick and gets replaced in 2-3 years? And my only other option is to make another car payment each month to sleep on a TempurPedic??
Here we go again: new mattress take three
I waited until a good time to sweet talk my husband into changing up the bed again. He came on board when I shared how much we’d save if we like Boring as much as the Mint. Last week, I happened to be pulling up to the house when FedEx delivered the Boring Mattress box with a proud “Made in America” label.
The driver laughed, “You sure have been ordering a lot of mattresses lately!” It was him! He had brought all three in the space of a month! I laughed trying to imagine what he was picturing… Our house is too small to have three king-sized bedrooms. What was going on in our suburban house? Was I building a Princess and the Pea bed??
My Boring mattress comparison
Just like the others: delivery was quick. Unboxing was the same. (Check the video below!)
Pros: No yucky off gassing or chemical smell at all for us. Boring does warn that it is possible to have briefly, though.
My not so Baby Bird jumped up and rolled on the mattress giggling. I laid down smiling, feeling that classic memory foam give of luxury brands like TemperPedic. I said, “I was hoping to like the Boring mattress as much as the more expensive Mint, but I think I like it better!”
Cons: The mattress seems a teensy bit shorter than T&N Mint and Nectar. I was expecting a gap between the bottom of the headboard and the top of the mattress since the Boring is only 10″ high. My husband also noticed a small gap inside our bed frame once it was pushed back. Understandably, our three-week old deep pocket fitted sheets sag and do not hug the mattress snugly. If I had known ahead of time I’d be buying this mattress, I might have selected a different headboard and sheets. Too late now. But I can live with all that to have a solid mattress at such a reasonable price point.
Bottom line on Boring: It is in fact very similar to the Tuft & Needle of the last decade. AND – if you can believe it – at last decade’s prices.
Thanks for reading, friends! I’m off to sleep on my Boring mattress. If you have questions, please leave them in the comments or head to Boring.Co (not an affiliate link.)