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The term ‘mattress topper’ refers to an extra layer – typically 1″ to 3″ thick – that is placed on top of a mattress to make the sleep surface feel softer and, in some cases, cooler. Toppers can be very beneficial to single sleepers who are dissatisfied with the way their mattress feels; additionally, some toppers are available in larger sizes and suitable for couples.
Toppers sold today are constructed from a wide range of materials, including memory foam and polyfoam, latex, feathers, and wool. The price-points vary significantly, depending on the product’s material composition, but virtually all options are much cheaper than buying a new mattress.
This guide will look at different considerations for topper buyers, as well as our picks for the best mattress toppers sold today. Our choices are based on verified customer and owner experiences, as well as intensive product research and analysis.
The ideal topper adjusts the firmness of a mattress to suit the sleeper’s preferences without feeling lumpy, uneven, or excessively hot. The Birch Plush Pillow Top, our Editor’s Pick, is made in the U.S. from natural, responsibly-sourced materials that make it a great choice for eco-conscious shoppers.
Layers of natural wool and natural Talalay latex provide close, consistent conforming to help alleviate aches and pains throughout the sleeper’s body. It also sleeps exceptionally cool, due to the natural breathability of these components. An organic cotton cover also helps regulate the sleeper’s body temperature throughout the night.
The Birch Plush Pillow Top has a 3″ profile and a ‘Medium’ feel, allowing it to make firmer mattresses feel softer without sinking too much. It also isolates motion transfer very well and doesn’t produce any noise, making it ideal for couples who awaken easily or those with noisier mattresses.
The topper is available in six sizes that correspond to standard mattress dimensions. Although its price-point is somewhat high, Birch offers free shipping to all 50 states. The Plush Pillow Top is backed by a 100-night sleep trial and a one-year warranty.
Unlike some of its competitors, the Lucid 2” Gel Memory Foam Topper has just that — gel. This stands apart from other memory foam brands, as memory foam without any other materials tend to run hot at night. Instead, the gel captures and distributes heat.
Evenly spaced ventilation holes improve the breathability of the material, enhancing airflow throughout. This topper will help align your spine to the natural curve of your shoulders, neck, and head. Best of all, product users still get all the benefits of memory foam — such as elimination of pressure points, distributed weight, and conforming to body curves — without having to deal with all the heat. The topper comes with a three-year warranty.
If you get the right one, a mattress topper has the ability to take a bed from standard to luxury. With its high-tech construction and quality materials, the Molecule AirTEC Mattress Topper can do just that.
Composed of three layers and a cover, the AirTEC comforms well and is impressively cool. It’s ‘comfort’ layer is made of a proprietary foam that provides 7x the airflow of traditional memory foam. Under that is a core layer of a cool, open-cell foam on top of an additional support layer. Finally, the foams are wrapped in a fiber cover with cooling properties. The result is a 3” topper that tested for great conforming, excellent temperature neutrality and favorable scores all across the rest of the board.
The Molecule AirTEC is available in the six standard mattress sizes. It’s priced a little above average, but this is justified by its quality. Plus, it comes with a 5-year limited warranty.
As its name implies, the Natural Latex Topper from PlushBeds is constructed from 100% aerated natural latex. This material is exceptionally durable, giving the topper a longer expected lifespan compared to models made from other materials.
The Natural Latex Topper is also available in 2″ and 3″ profiles, as well as four firmness settings – ‘Soft,’ ‘Medium,’ ‘Medium Firm,’ and ‘Extra Firm.’ This ensures most shoppers will find a model that works for them regardless of their height, weight, sleep position, or comfort preferences.
The topper is a good choice for sleepers with back, neck, and shoulder pain, as well. The latex hugs the body and aligns the spine without sinking excessively.
Additionally, the Natural Latex Topper sleeps exceptionally cool due to good airflow in the interior and a breathable organic cotton cover. It also isolates motion transfer very effectively and produces virtually no noise when bearing weight. The topper qualifies for free shipping anywhere in the contiguous U.S.
Our Best Memory Foam pick is the Select High Density Mattress Topper from Viscosoft. This product is constructed with ventilated, gel-infused memory foam housed in a rayon made from bamboo cover. These breathable materials regulate the sleeper’s body temperature, allowing them to sleep very cool.
The foam also conforms closely and consistently to alleviate pain and pressure points without sinking or excessive body-hugging. It has a 3″ profile and a balanced, ‘Medium’ feel, making it a great choice for those who weigh 230 pounds or less.
Like other memory foam toppers, the Viscosoft model isolates and eliminates motion transfer; it is also virtually silent when bearing weight. These characteristics make it ideal for couples who awaken easily due to movement or noise during the night.
Despite its exceptional performance, the Select High Density Mattress Topper has a lower-than-average price-point compared to similar toppers from other brands; all six sizes are available for less than $180. Viscosoft offers free shipping within the contiguous U.S.; the topper is backed by a 60-night sleep trial with free returns and exchanges, along with a three-year warranty.
This soft, comfortable topper from Parachute is Responsible Down Standard certified. That means its materials are ethically and sustainably repurposed from geese and ducks that are treated humanely.
The three inches of plush down material allow you room to sink in comfortably. While some down products struggle with proper distribution, three-dimensional baffle box stitching keeps the fill from moving to one side or the other.
One note: many reviewers found that these materials stayed cool, but also enjoyed the product for winter weather.
A topper can provide additional comfort to sleepers who are unsatisfied with the comfort layer of the current mattress. Toppers are removable by design, though some simply lay on top of the mattress while others can be tucked beneath fitted sheets. Different types of toppers sold today include memory foam, wool, latex, convoluted foam, and feather models (also known as featherbeds), although price and availability vary by type.
This page will look at what toppers do, pros and cons of using them, and some distinctive characteristics of each topper type, as well as tips for adding and maintaining optimal comfort levels.
A mattress topper is simply defined as any separate layer of cushioning that can be added or removed from the top surface of a mattress.
Toppers are primarily used to provide extra comfort as well as adjusting the firmness of the sleep surface. They may also serve other purposes, such as alleviating pain and pressure or cooling the bed.
A mattress topper is typically most suitable in the following situations:
The terms ‘mattress topper’ and ‘mattress pad‘ are often used interchangeably, but these are actually distinct products with different characteristics and uses. The table below breaks down the main differences between toppers and pads.
|Product||Mattress Topper||Mattress Pad|
|Primary Purpose||Toppers are designed to add an extra comfort to the mattress||Pads are designed to protect mattresses from stains and contaminants|
|Material Composition||Toppers may be made from an assortment of different materials, including memory foam, latex, wool, feathers, or fibers||Most pads are made from fibers like cotton or polyester|
|Thickness||Some topper types, such as memory foam and latex, come in varying thicknesses to accommodate different sleepers. Other types may be limited in terms of thickness options||Thickness options are fairly limited for pads, and most are fairly thin|
|Application||Toppers may rest freely on top of the mattress surface, or they may be tucked beneath fitted sheets||Most mattress pads are designed to be tucked beneath sheets, and do not rest freely on top of the mattress|
|Cushioning||Toppers are made to create extra cushioning, and most are thick enough to alter the feel of an existing sleep surface||Most mattress pads are relatively thin, and do not change the comfort level of a mattress to a significant extent|
|Mattress Protection||Toppers may protect mattress surfaces from contamination to some extent, even though this is not their primary purpose||Mattress pads generally provide adequate protection for mattress surfaces|
|Durability||The durability of a mattress topper varies by its material composition. Memory foam and latex toppers tend to have longer lifespans than toppers made of fibers, wool, or feathers||Mattress pads are usually machine washable, but most have below-average durability and may wear out over time due to machine cleaning|
|Average Cost||The price range varies, as some topper types are more expensive than others, but most have medium to high price-points||Mattress pads are typically lower-priced. Most models typically cost $100 or less|
Mattress toppers can make a huge difference for sleepers, ranging from alleviating pain and pressure to creating an experience that regulates body temperature. There are also the less advertised pros, such as less noise and even better responsiveness for sex.
Pros of using a mattress topper on an existing mattress include the following:
Despite the benefits of using a mattress topper listed above, there are also some drawbacks associated with these products. You may overestimate how much the topper can help your sleeping situation if you have a mattress that badly needs replacing. Additionally, some toppers may not fit your bed very well or make it difficult for you to move around freely at night.
Here are some of the downsides to look out for:
Next, let’s look at some of the key factors to keep in mind when shopping for a mattress topper and browsing different types, brands, and models:
Mattress toppers are made of a wide variety of materials, from down feathers to memory foam, gel, and even polyester. Each material type has its own benefits and drawbacks. What you like will largely depend on your taste, needs, and sleeping style. In the table below, we’ll examine some key similarities and differences between the six most common mattress topper types.
|Topper Material||Convoluted Polyfoam||Feather||Fiber||Latex||Memory Foam||Wool|
|Composition||Egg-crate polyurethane foam||Feathers/down from ducks or geese||Rayon, polyester, and/or down alternative||Talalay and/or Dunlop latex||Viscoelastic polyfoam||Sheep or lamb wool|
|Average Weight||10 to 15 lbs||10 to 20 lbs||5 to 10 lbs||25 to 40 lbs||20 to 30 lbs||5 to 10 lbs|
|Thickness Selection||Limited||Somewhat Limited||Limited||Somewhat Wide||Wide||Somewhat Limited|
|Durability||Poor to Fair||Fair to Good||Poor to Fair||Very Good to Excellent||Good to Very Good||Very Good to Excellent|
|Support||Poor to Fair||Fair to Good||Fair to Good||Good to Very Good||Good to Very Good||Fair to Good|
|Conforming||Poor to Fair||Poor to Fair||Poor to Fair||Very Good to Excellent||Very Good to Excellent||Fair to Good|
|Pain/Pressure Relief||Poor to Fair||Fair to Good||Fair to Good||Very Good to Excellent||Very Good to Excellent||Fair to Good|
|Motion Isolation||Good to Very Good||Poor to Fair||Poor to Fair||Fair to Good||Very Good to Excellent||Poor to Fair|
|Noise||Very Good to Excellent||Poor to Fair||Good to Very Good||Very Good to Excellent||Very Good to Excellent||Very Good to Excellent|
|Temperature Neutrality||Poor to Fair||Very Good to Excellent||Fair to Good||Fair to Good||Poor to Fair||Very Good to Excellent|
|Odor||Poor to Fair||Fair to Good||Very Good to Excellent||Very Good to Excellent||Poor to Fair||Fair to Good|
|Sex||Fair to Good||Very Good to Excellent||Very Good to Excellent||Very Good to Excellent||Fair to Good||Very Good to Excellent|
|Ease of Moving/Adjusting||Very Good to Excellent||Fair to Good||Very Good to Excellent||Poor to Fair||Poor to Fair||Very Good to Excellent|
|Cleaning||Spot clean or dry clean||Dry clean||Machine wash or dry clean||Spot clean or dry clean||Spot clean or dry clean||Machine wash or dry clean|
|Maintenance||Very Good to Excellent||Poor to Fair||Poor to Fair||Very Good to Excellent||Very Good to Excellent||Poor to Fair|
|Average Price Range||$10 to $30||$100 to $150||$60 to $100||$100 to $400||$100 to $250||$150 to $300|
The right mattress topper for a given sleeper often comes down to two factors: sleep position and body weight.
Side-sleeping creates an unnatural curvature in the spine that puts pressure on sensitive areas, such as the neck, shoulders, and hips. The topper should sink beneath these areas in order to straighten the spine and alleviate pressure.
Lighter sleepers (less than 130 pounds) tend to feel most comfortable on softer, lower-density toppers, while those who weigh 130 pounds or more prefer firmer toppers because they don’t sink too deeply.
Sleeping on one’s back naturally aligns the spine, which helps alleviate pressure, but a higher-density topper is needed to maintain adequate support. Toppers that are too soft cause the back and hips to sink too deeply, while overly firm toppers create a gap between the sleeper’s lower back and the bed.
A medium-firm topper is considered the best option for people of average weights (130 to 230 pounds); lighter sleepers may feel most comfortable on slightly less firm toppers, while heavier sleepers usually prefer toppers that are slightly firmer.
Stomach-sleeping is generally not recommended. Most people carry a large amount of weight in their stomach, and this can cause excessive sinkage around the hips and pelvis that can misalign the spine and increase the potential for pain and pressure.
However, for those who prefer this position, a slightly firmer topper is usually best because it prevents sinkage in the stomach area and keeps the spine straight. The topper should also be somewhat thin, and carry a lower density; this holds true for all weight groups.
The table below looks at the ideal firmness, thickness, and density settings for different sleepers based on position and body weight.
|Position||Weight Group||Ideal Topper Firmness||Ideal Topper Thickness||Ideal Topper Density|
|Side||Less than 130 lbs||Soft to Medium Soft||3 1/2″ or higher
||2.5 PCF and lower|
|130 to 230 lbs||Medium Soft to Medium||2″ to 2 1/2″||3 to 4 PCF|
|More than 230 lbs||Medium Firm to Firm||2 1/2″ or lower||4 PCF and higher|
|Back||Less than 130 lbs||Medium Soft to Medium Firm||3″ or higher||2.5 to 3 PCF|
|130 to 230 lbs||Medium to Firm||2″ to 3″||3.5 to 5 PCF|
|More than 230 lbs||Medium Firm to Firm||2 1/2″ or lower
||4.5 PCF and higher|
|Stomach||Less than 130 lbs||Medium Soft to Medium Firm||2″ or higher
||3 PCF and lower|
|130 to 230 lbs||Medium Firm to Firm||1″ to 2″||2.5 to 4 PCF|
|More than 230 lbs||Firm to Extra Firm||1 1/2″ or lower||3.5 to 4.5 PCF|
If you’re still having trouble narrowing down the best topper, we’ve got you covered. Tuck provides in-depth reviews for toppers sorted by material, including some pillows and mattress pads that will round out your experience for an excellent night’s sleep. Check out the guides below to learn more.