The rise of the direct-to-consumer online mattress industry has allowed many new companies to enter the market with innovative mattress designs and materials. One new direction in mattress construction is the hybrid mattress.
Hybrid mattresses include elements of memory foam, innerspring coils, and/or latex. Specifically, a hybrid mattress has a comfort layer of foam or latex on top of a support core of innerspring coils. The goal of a hybrid is usually to try to capture the benefits of both an innerspring and a foam mattress. But the benefits and downsides of any specific hybrid mattress depend in large part on the layering and materials involved in its construction.
In this guide, we’ll cover all the key topics related to hybrid mattresses including detailed discussions of types of hybrids, their strengths and weaknesses, buying tips, and more. You can keep reading to review these resources, or you can click here to skip straight to our recommendations for the top hybrid mattresses on the market today.
Types of Hybrid Mattresses
All types of hybrid mattresses have the same basic interior structure, which includes a significant support core built with innerspring coils. They also include a comfort layer built with foam and/or latex. Understanding the significance of the variations of this general design structure requires consideration of each of these individual materials.
Innerspring coils are the most well-known and traditional material used in mattress construction. The performance and durability of any set of innerspring coils can vary based on their type and construction, but typically, coils offer at least a mild level of bounce and resilience.
Because hybrid mattresses rely on coils for key elements of their support, we’ll offer an introduction to some key terminology that may help as you examine different hybrid mattresses on the market.
- Coil count: this refers to the number of coils used in the innerspring layer of a mattress. Unfortunately, the amount of coils alone is insufficient to know about the quality of the innerspring layer as the gauge, material, and arrangement of the coils also plays a role. Nevertheless, we recommend avoiding any mattress with less than 400 coils in a queen-sized mattress.
- Gauge: the gauge refers to thickness of the coils. A lower gauge means a thicker coil. Thicker coils tend to have more durability but also have less responsiveness. Generally, we suggest looking for coils with a gauge between 12 and 16.
- Tempered steel: coils made with tempered steel have been heat treated and are more durable than coils made with non-tempered steel.
- Pocketed coils: these are coils that are wrapped in fabric. This design helps to reduce noise from the coils and also reduces the transfer of motion from one part of the mattress to another. These types of coils are usually the most-preferred by customers.
- Offset coils: these coils are designed using a specific type of structure for the coil itself. Offset coils are also typically well-received by most customers but may be more expensive.
- Bonnell coils: these coils are the oldest and most common and utilize an hourglass shape. They can provide quality support but are not as well-reviewed as pocketed and offset coils.
- Continuous coils: these coils are made from a single wire and tend to get the worst reviews from sleepers. While these are rarely seen in hybrid mattresses, we suggest avoiding them if you do come across them.
- Micro-coils: most innerspring layers are several inches tall, but micro-coils have much less height. This typically means a more compressed coil that can provide additional springiness or bounciness to a mattress.
It is important to note that while hybrids use innerspring coils to form the backbone of their support layer, they may not rely exclusively on coils in this layer. Many hybrids may also include layers of polyurethane foam as a type of support foam above and/or below the coils. As such, the “support layer” itself may be composed of multiple actual layers including the innerspring support core.
The support layer forms the foundation of the mattress upon which the comfort layer is built. The comfort layer has the most immediate effect on the feel of a mattress, and its composition can radically alter the performance of a hybrid mattress. The comfort layer in a hybrid is built with either foam or latex.
As with the support layer, the comfort layer itself may be made up of multiple smaller layers of different materials. In this section, we’ll cover the most common materials used in the comfort layers of hybrid mattresses.
Generally, when we refer to foam in the comfort layer, we’re talking about memory foam. Memory foam, also known as viscoelastic polyurethane foam, was initially developed by NASA in the 1970s to provide supportive cushioning for astronauts during launch of high-powered spacecraft. They key feature of memory foam is that it changes shape when pressure is applied and then returns back to its original shape when the pressure is removed.
As a result, memory foam is known for contouring to the body of the sleeper. Because the foam compresses based on the amount of pressure applied, it often feels more responsive than other types of materials. This can be described in different ways. Some people refer to it as a feeling of a “hug” from the foam. Other people describe this as a feeling of sinking into the bed, although how much this happens depends on the firmness of the memory foam and the quality of the mattress support core.
Given this performance and feel, there are a number of key benefits to memory foam:
- Reduced pressure points: contouring of the foam to the body can relieve pressure points (such as in the hips or shoulders) and provide adequate full-body support. This can improve spinal alignment and prevent back pain.
- The right fit: memory foam’s responsiveness allows it to feel “just right” for each part of the body, making it the most comfortable material for many sleepers.
- Motion isolation: pressure on one part of memory foam does not affect the compression of the foam on other parts of the mattress. For couples, this can reduce the disruption to the other sleeper when one person gets in and out of bed or moves around in bed.
While these can be significant benefits, there are also drawbacks to memory foam:
- Feeling stuck: because of how memory foam responds to weight and pressure, some people can feel that is offers too much “hug” or contouring. The effect can be a feeling of sinking into the bed, and it may be especially pronounced for people who weigh over 230 pounds.
- Heat retention: it is common for people to describe memory foam as “sleeping hot.” This can be a result of the low breathability of memory foam. It can also be a consequence of the hug of the foam as it contours to the body. The amount of heat retention varies based on the composition and thickness of the foam.
- Odor issues: memory foam often is associated with a chemical smell. This issue is also referred to as off-gassing. Particles known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are formed during the manufacturing of most memory foams, and these particles are released when the mattress is removed from its packaging. This is especially likely in mattresses with thick memory foam layers. While some people may have a strong immediate reaction to the smell, there is no evidence that it is harmful, and the smell usually goes away within a few days.
- Disrupting sexual activity: because most memory foam has more sink, it can also inhibit movement. Some couples find that this can give a feeling of “fighting” the bed, which can create a barrier to sexual activity.
Memory foam may have other features included in its construction. For example, gel memory foam mattresses include gel-filled beads within the foam layers. This is designed to help keep the mattress cool, although some research suggests that gel-infused memory foam does not stay any cooler than standard memory foam.
Copper-infused memory foam is another new innovation that incorporates copper-filled beads into the foam layers with the goal of keeping the mattress cool. Copper has also long been promoted as a remedy for joint pain and circulation issues; however, the evidence to support these claims is limited.
Other Comfort Foams
Memory foam is far-and-away the most common type of of foam used in hybrid mattress comfort layers, and it is the benchmark against which other foams are compared. However, in recent years, mattress manufacturers have developed a number of new types of foam that may be advertised as “next generation” foams. Often they have a similar feel to memory foam but may not truly be composed of true memory foam. That said, the goal of these foams is typically to try to achieve the benefits of memory foam (such as relief of pressure points and motion isolation) without its drawbacks (namely heat retention and excessive hug).
None of these new foams can boast about the kind of extensive track record that memory foam has. Most of them are too new to the market to be able to say definitively whether they are able to live up to their lofty promises, but consumers should be aware that these options exist and may provide an optimal comfort layer for some sleepers.
Latex is another material that may be utilized in the comfort layer of a hybrid mattress. This material is made from either natural or synthetic rubber and is known for its resilience (which may also be described as bounce or springiness). As prices for latex have come down in recent years, it has become a more common material used for comfort layers.
There are two main types of latex that are used in mattresses: Talalay and Dunlop latex. The difference stems from how the latex is poured and produced. In most cases, Talalay latex will have a softer and bouncier feel while Dunlop latex, though it still has bounce, has a slightly firmer feel.
Latex can be natural, blended, or synthetic. Natural latex contains 95% or more latex foam derived from rubber tree sap. Blended latex contains at least 30% natural latex foam. Synthetic latex is built from material with a similar feel but that is not derived from actual tree sap.
The key benefits that are typically associated with latex include:
- Resilience: when pressure is removed, latex quickly retakes its original shape. It does so much more rapidly than memory foam, and the result is a feel of much more bounce. Many sleepers find that this helps them move in bed and avoid a feeling of sinking too deeply into their mattress.
- Cushioning: though it is highly resilient, latex also still has enough give to provide quality cushioning and contouring.
- Best for sex: as a consequences of its ability to permit easy movement, a latex comfort layer is often considered to most effectively facilitate sexual activity.
The primary drawbacks associated with latex include:
- Less contouring: latex does not have the same level of contouring that is found with memory foam. For sleepers who prefer a feeling of being hugged by their mattress, latex may feel too firm or insufficiently responsive.
- Higher cost: production costs for latex, especially natural latex, are often higher, which may make hybrids with sizable latex comfort layers more expensive than hybrids with foam comfort layers.
Benefits of a Hybrid Mattress
Through the combination of several different materials, hybrid mattresses offer a number of excellent benefits that stem from its goal of trying to provide the best features of all of those materials.
One of the primary benefits is a solid base of support. Innerspring coils are a tried-and-true powerhouse when it comes to building a strong and durable mattress. Their responsiveness and bounce are vital elements of a high-performance support core.
A second benefit is the feel of the comfort layer. Foam and latex can both deliver a high level of satisfaction in terms of firmness, support, comfort, and overall performance. Customers with a preference for a specific type of comfort layer can seek out a hybrid with that particular composition.
Drawbacks of a Hybrid Mattress
Hybrid mattresses also have potential drawbacks. One is that the complicated construction can be susceptible to a subpar layer that acts as a weak link. In building a mattress that includes many different layers, there is a greater risk that one of those layers is composed of a lower-quality material. Unfortunately, one weak layer can significantly degrade the overall performance of a mattress.
A second downside to hybrid mattresses is that they tend to cost more than simple innerspring or foam mattresses. This is not universally true, of course, but the general price range for hybrids is somewhat higher than for mattresses with more straightforward design.
A third downside is that some hybrids are not able to be delivered as a “bed-in-a-box.” Most foam and latex mattresses can be compressed and delivered inside of a package that is shipped to your doorstep, but many hybrids are not able to be compressed in this way and require more traditional delivery.
Lifespan of a Hybrid Mattress
The lifespan of a hybrid mattress depends largely on the composition of each of the layers and the materials used to build the mattress. With regular use, most hybrid mattresses can be expected to last for at least 6 years and often much longer. In order to get the longest lifespan for your mattress, look carefully at how it is built. Make sure to inspect other parts of the workmanship such as the stitching on the cover and on any seams.
In addition, look for a robust warranty. While the length of the warranty is important, also make sure to carefully read what the warranty covers. For example, try to find a mattress with a warranty that covers sagging of the material in the comfort layer and that covers damage to the cover. The warranty should include clear terms for how the manufacturer handles warranty claims including turnaround time, shipping costs, and mattress replacement.
Cost of a Hybrid Mattress
As with most mattress styles, there’s a broad price range for hybrid mattresses; however, it is rare to find extremely low-cost hybrids. These mattresses typically are slightly more expensive than simple innerspring or foam options.
On the low end, some hybrid mattresses can be found for $600 while luxury mattresses can easily cost over $2,000. Ultimately, you can find an excellent hybrid mattress for between $800 and $1,400.
You can find numerous tips for getting the best value when shopping for a mattress in our Guide to Mattress Sales and Discounts.
Finding a Quality Hybrid Mattress
Within the category of hybrid mattresses, there is a sizable range of types, styles, and brands available. No one hybrid mattress will be best for all sleepers because support and comfort needs are different for every individual. But knowing what to look for when shopping for a hybrid mattress can help make sure that you choose the best option for you.
In the section below, we discuss some of the key considerations for shoppers looking for a top-notch hybrid mattress.
- High-quality materials: nothing determines the performance of a mattress more than the quality of the actual components that are used to make it. You’ll come across a lot of fancy marketing terms for different features, but sometimes this is just window dressing to cover over a mattress built with shoddy internal parts. When looking at the materials, here are some questions to think through:
- Does the company provide detailed specifications? For example, do they list the actual thickness of each layer of the mattress? If it’s a foam layer, do they publicly share the density and/or ILD of the foam? If it’s an innerspring layer, do they tell you about the type of innerspring construction? The more vague the details, the more skeptical you should be that perhaps the company cut corners in choosing their materials.
- Is there a weak spot? Some mattresses may use great materials in the comfort layer but use low-quality coils for support. Remember that one weak layer can dramatically reduce the overall performance of the mattress.
- How thick is the comfort layer? An extremely thin comfort layer may degrade the feel and performance of a mattress and may limit its long-term durability as more pressure will be put on the supporting layers. In general, look for a comfort layer that is at least 2” thick, and if you are a heavier sleeper or someone with major pressure points, you likely want an even thicker comfort layer or a combination of several comfort layers.
- As a general rule, we recommend avoiding any hybrid mattress option that has a foam comfort layer with a density of less than 3.5 PCF.
- Comfort preference: when shopping for a hybrid mattress, it is important to think about what type of feel you prefer in the comfort layer. Because foam and latex have a different feel, you can narrow your options by first determining the type of comfort layer composition that is most likely to be a good choice for you.
- Free and no-hassle returns: many people get concerned about buying a mattress online because they don’t have an opportunity to scope the mattress out in a store. Thankfully, most direct-to-consumer mattress companies offer an extended sleep trial that allows you to try the mattress out in your own home for several months. If you realize during the sleep trial that the mattress isn’t right for you, you can return it at no charge and with no hassle from the company. We suggest choosing a mattress that has this type of sleep trial and return policy to help protect your investment in case you find that the mattress just isn’t the right fit.
- Free shipping: it’s important to consider the total cost of buying a mattress and not just the price of the mattress itself. Most online mattress companies offer free shipping. If you’re enticed by a mattress that has a shipping charge, just make sure to factor that into your total assessment of the value of the mattress.
- Solid verified reviews: as we’ve stated, there’s a lot of marketing that takes place in the mattress industry, and one of the best ways to cut through the noise is to only rely on trusted reviews. We’ve tried to do a lot of this legwork for you, and you can read more about any specific mattress in our brand reviews.
Questions to Ask When Buying a Hybrid Mattress
When buying a hybrid mattress either online or in the store, make sure that you know and are comfortable with the answers to these questions:
- What is the composition of the support and comfort layers?
- What is the density and firmness of the material used in the comfort layer?
- Will this mattress work well given my preferred sleep position?
- If you share the bed with a partner: will this mattress be comfortable for both of us?
- Is there a trial period to test out the mattress? If so, what is the return policy?
- What are the terms of the manufacturer’s warranty?
Our Choices for the Best Hybrid Mattresses
Our top hybrid mattress for 2017 is the Tuck mattress. While still a relative newcomer to the market, the Tuck nonetheless offers a host of features that help it stand out from the crowd:
- Excellent specifications: the Tuck mattress can be built using 6 different potential layers that include copper-infused gel memory foam, Dunlop latex, fabric-encased micro-coils, pocketed innerspring coils, transition foam, and support foam. The company is upfront with the specifications of each type of material and does not cut corners in terms of the quality of their materials.
- Customized design: when you order a mattress from Tuck, the company has you take a 2-3 minute sleep quiz. Based on the results of this quiz, the exact composition and layering of the mattress is adjusted in order to provide the most tailored mattress to each customer.
- Extended sleep trial: Tuck offers a 145 night sleep trial, which well over a month longer than the industry standard of 100 nights. This gives you ample time to determine if the mattress is the right fit for you.
- Latex and memory foam comfort layer: the combination of both of these two types of foam in the comfort layer can provide a unique mix of resiliency, bounce, and contouring support.
- Value: the Tuck mattress is available in a queen for $990, which represents a considerable value given the quality of the materials used in the mattress.
Potential concerns for the Tuck mattress include:
- Limited track record: the Tuck mattress has not been on the market for very long, and there is a lack of verified reviews that address the overall performance or durability of the mattress.
- Reliance on the customization quiz: some customers who already have a strong preference for a certain material and thickness in the comfort layer may not want to rely on the results of the company’s sleep quiz to determine this.
Though not our top choice, the following two mattresses earned honorable mention and are also worthy of consideration for people seeking out a hybrid mattress.
- Nest Alexander Signature Hybrid: though it costs more than $200 more than the Tuck, the Nest Alexander Signature Hybrid is another solid hybrid option. It features memory foam and a plush quilted cover on top of innerspring coils. It also is available in two firmness options.
- Sapira: though the Sapira mattress, from the makers of the Leesa, is also more expensive than the Tuck, it does feature a support layer made up on an innerspring core buttressed by two foam layers. On top of that, it includes two high-density foam layers.
You can find helpful resources from BestMattressReviews at the links below: