Image courtesy of Casper
What’s a bed-in-a-box? In the last few years there’s been a mini-revolution in the business of retailing mattresses. Companies such as Casper (one of the first) and its contemporary Leesa, followed by (strikingly) similar brands such as Endy (Canadian) and Yogabed, have made it their fight to do away with the ‘nuisance’ of shopping for a mattress in a physical store. Their solution? Retail primarily online, narrow the choices to very few – just the one, in most cases – and send your purchased mattress to your door in a compact box: ergo, bed in a box.
Image courtesy of Casper
“That’s crazy”, you may be thinking, “a mattress cannot be an out-of-a-box kind of solution (and how the heck do you get a mattress into a box, anyway?)”. Doesn’t one need to lie on it to feel it out? Sleep on it for days? Research the different firmness, thickness, material makeup? Aren’t our mattress needs as unique as we are – like snowflakes?
According to Casper, dear snowflakes, we are a lot less unique than we would like to imagine. Like most of its contemporaries, Casper retails just one mattress – that’s right, for all types of people and needs – because as it turns out, Casper’s extensive consumer testing revealed that an overwhelming majority of us prefer the exact same mattress profile. (Yay for simpler mattress shopping; boo for delusions of complex individualism.)
Image courtesy of Sleepopolis.com
The breakthrough is in the makeup material: memory foam. Each of the aforementioned companies have their own, often proprietary version, made up of several layers of different density foam that look a lot like sponge cake.
But the idea is essentially the same: it seems that the way our weight is distributed on a memory foam mattress is a lot better for our back health and sleep quality than a spring mattress. A spring mattress, no matter how advanced, still cannot absorb our body weight and pressure at different points like memory foam can, which allows for all the peaks and valleys of our unique, snowflake-like shapes to find form-fitting rest however needed. And doing away with springs allows the mattress to be compressed and vacuum sealed into a package a quarter of its inflated size, perfect for launching onto physical doorsteps following the click of a virtual checkout.
Celebs love Casper. Here’s Kylie Jenner making a push for the brand. Image courtesy of Instagram.
Naturally, with every new idea there is some resistance, but despite the very kneejerk skepticism you may be feeling while reading this, the bed-in-a-box industry has taken root like a weed in the garden of traditional mattress retail because, well, customers are sleeping like the dead (one of Casper’s taglines).
Heyyyy, I thought, tearing one of my perpetually tired eyes open in attention, could this mattress also be for me? No, I don’t fancy myself unique, but I do have complications. A brief medical history: carrying my two kids has resulted in a terribly weak lower back and periodic sciatica, which recently culminated in a herniated disk at L5 requiring back surgery. Even post-surgery my lower back still hurts quite regularly and my old spring mattress wasn’t helping.
Cut to my new queen-size Casper mattress-in-a-box on my doorstep. I decided to try it out. Why Casper? Though consumer reviews rate the different brands very similarly (the independent US mattress review site, Sleepopolis.com gives Casper an overall score of 4 out of 5 stars, which is better than Yogabed at 3.9 but less than the Canadian Endy with 4.2 and the top-ranking Leesa mattress, with 4.8), quite frankly, I fell for their marketing (and NOT because Kylie Jenner has one). I love their whole branding shtick (they’ve a very endearing instagram account) and the whole thing feels a bit like my good friends designed me a mattress.
Seeing as I have back problems I had an extra pair of hands to help me get the box up to my third-floor bedroom, but the box is indeed quite manageable should no one be available to help you.
My initial acquaintance with my Casper delivered on all the high points that the internet promised, including the satisfying goodie bag of greetings and instructions and the dramatic unfurling and inflation (watch an unboxing video of one, Michael the Sleepsage, going through the very motions, below), and I personally didn’t notice any ‘new foam mattress’ smell that many customers have noted in various reviews.
Image courtesy of Business Insider
One tragedy: see those scissors my mate is clutching to his chest like it’s the dark ages? We were so eager to watch the thing inflate to size that we completely missed the “Sharp and Steady”, a safe and handy exacto-knife included in Casper’s goodie bag that scores the mattress plastic with 21st-century ease! Watch how Michael the Sleepsage cuts through his plastic like the savvy modern man he deserves to be. If only we had a little bit more chill!
No matter. The point is that since the moment I touched down on my new Casper mattress – my face in the above photo says it all – life has gotten increasingly more restful and significantly less painful. It’s been three weeks since I hoofed my old mattress to the curb (btw, Casper provides you with a recycle bag for your old mattress so that you can donate it) and I have to admit, I’ve never slept better. The final verdict from this snowflake is that the second I lay down, I could feel the right absorption of pressure at all my stress points; my bubble butt and scoliosis-prone upper back and ribcage found the proper sinkage and pressure absorption, alleviating the strain on my spine and sway-prone lower back, which was definitely exasperated by the hammock effect of the old spring mattress. I wouldn’t say I am completely pain-free, but it’s the closest thing I’ve known since before my children. And hey, save for saying I’ve slept on a lot of beds (I just said it, gross), suffice it say that I’m pretty sure this may be as good as it’s going to get.
By the way, Casper and most of its competitors offer a 100-day-and-night (or so) trial or your money back policy, so if you’re still not sure about the bed-in-a-box, they ship to Canada (no hidden fees!) and it’s risk-free. Hey, I’d do it just to use that cutter thingamajiggy!