Did you know that the oldest known “bed” was dated back 77,000 years? It was made of layers of plant materials measuring 12 inches thick and 22 square feet! Indeed, we’ve come a long way in bed technology.
Case in point: The hybrid mattresses consist of layers of foam (e.g., latex and memory foam) and coils (e.g., pocketed coils and continuous coils). These mattresses have foam for comfort and coils for support, which hits the Goldilocks spot in many cases. The firmness level depends on the type, thickness, and several layers of foam and coils used.
Hybrid mattresses are popular because they have breathable construction, excellent comfort and support, and a luxurious feel. These are best for people who toss and turn at night, who want an on-the-bed experience, or who tend to sleep hot. These are also recommended for couples with slightly different preferences in firmness or people who are heavier than average.
But bed technology doesn’t stop there either! We now have a wide range of choices in hybrid bed-in-a-box mattresses shipped in compressed and rolled form.
And what are the best hybrid bed-in-a-box mattresses? We looked into two of the most popular for comparison purposes – the Casper Wave Hybrid and the GhostBed Flex. We chose these products because of their similarities in materials, construction, and many layers, a fairer orange-on-orange comparison.
First, an introduction to the companies. Casper Sleep is a public e-commerce company with mattresses and other sleep-rated products sold online and in retail locations. While its headquarters and main showroom are in New York City, it has other locations in Chicago and elsewhere. Its mattress manufacturing facilities are in Pennsylvania and Georgia.
Nature’s Sleep makes the line of GhostBed mattresses with the original version released in December 2015. GhostBed mattresses come with a 20-year warranty and a 101-night sleep trial.
Of course, Casper and GhostBed mattresses have other versions aside from the ones featured here.
The other Casper versions are:
- Original, an all-foam mattress
- Element, a mattress with perforated foam for its top layer and a durable foam base
- Nova Hybrid, a hybrid foam
Along with the Casper Wave Hybrid mattress, these versions are available with the Snow Hybrid Technology for a cooler sleeping experience. But the upgrade costs several hundred dollars, so think about it.
The other GhostBed versions are:
- Original, the budget-friendly mattress that still provides a luxurious experience
- Luxe, a 13-inch mattress touted as the coolest bed in the world
- 3D Matrix, a seven-layered luxury mattress
The featured mattresses are the hybrid versions with mid-range prices that we believe will give each other a run for their money.
Table of Contents
- First Impressions: Dimensions and Colors
- Setting Up: Assembly and Platform
- Under the Cover: Materials and Layers
- Sleeping Experience: Firmness and its Related Experience of Comfort and Support
- Practical Aspects: Motion Transfer, Ease of Movement and Edge Support
- Maintenance Matters: Cleaning and Caring for the Mattress
- Freebies: Sleep Trial and Warranty
First Impressions: Dimensions and Colors
Both mattresses are shipped compressed, rolled, and stuffed into shipping boxes, so your first impressions will likely come from images on the online stores. But don’t let that deter your plan of purchasing since these are beautiful and functional mattresses.
Take note that the Wave is a luxury mattress with a higher price than the average hybrid mattresses. But it’s a durable mattress that can last for nearly a decade with proper maintenance. In the long run, it’s a product with better value for your money.
You can choose from standard sizes, including:
- Twin XL
- Cal King
The 13-inch (height) mattress has a white-and-gray color combo that evokes simplicity and sophistication. We love that the cover isn’t a smooth sheet since it has textured lines, but it has a silky feel.
The Flex is a mid-range model in the GhostBed product line – it’s more affordable than the Luxe and 3D Matrix, but it’s more expensive than the Original. You can save money on it by availing of promos, such as discounts, on the official website.
There are also numerous standard sizes to choose from:
- Twin XL
- Cal King
- Split King
This is also a 13-inch mattress with a white cover and dark gray fabric around the edge. We have to say that the Flex has a more striking appearance than the Wave, thanks to its double stitching at the top and vertical stitching around the edge. This isn’t just attention to detail, but these details contribute to its overall durability and functionality.
Winner: GhostBed Flex wins the first round because of its more attractive design and extra size. The split king-sized mattress is two side-by-side twin XL mattresses that form a uniform bed. It’s a popular option coupled with different sleep preferences or those who like adjustable beds.
Setting Up: Assembly and Platform
Every bed-in-a-box mattress should ideally be opened next to the foundation or platform where it will be placed on. Otherwise, you will struggle with the heavyweight in transferring it from the floor to the platform. Most, if not all, don’t require specialized tools to remove them from their boxes and inflate them.
While you may place the inflated mattress on the floor, you should think twice about it, even with high-profile mattresses. Getting them on a platform will make getting on and off it easier and extend the mattress’s life.
Casper offered a white glove delivery service for customers in the contiguous United States before the pandemic hit, but it isn’t available at present. Said service included setting up the mattress in your room of choice and then removing the old mattress for proper disposal.
But it isn’t rocket science to set up the Wave either. You will need the assistance of another person since it’s a heavy mattress, even in its compressed state. The unboxing process takes about five minutes and, if needed, you can read the simple instructions first.
There’s a new bed smell, or off-gassing, that happens when it’s inflating. But it will largely dissipate by the time the mattress has achieved full expansion, which takes 10-12 hours. There may be a slight smell remaining, but you can be sleeping without it in 2-5 days.
Flex also has similar instructions for its full expansion. Just remove it from the box, remove the packaging using a dull tool, and then wait for it to expand. You can place it on an existing platform or a new foundation with a suitable size, too. Flex pairs well with box spring, slatted frame, and adjustable frame, but the manufacturer recommends a box spring for excellent support.
There’s little to no break-in period, but it can take 24 hours or more for the mattress to fully expand. But the climate can impact its expansion – in winter, for example, you may have to wait for five days.
The slight off-gassing isn’t toxic. But if it’s a source of concern, you can leave the mattress in a well-ventilated room for a few days to dissipate the odor. You can then sleep on it afterward.
Winner: We think it’s a draw since both take time to expand fully, and both have off-gassing!
Under the Cover: Materials and Layers
A mattress is made of matters because these significantly affect its comfort, support, and responsiveness, to name a few factors. Memory foam, for example, provides a deeper hug than latex foam, but it also tends to run hot; gel-infused memory foam, however, tends to be cooler.
The number of layers of foam and coil, including each layer’s specific thickness, also affects a mattress’s overall performance. In hybrid mattresses, the base layer is usually made of foam that acts as a protective barrier between the coils and the platform.
To show its commitment to customer safety and satisfaction, Casper uses CertiPUR-certified foam products in all its mattresses. These are non-toxic foams with low VOCs and without ozone-depleting chemicals. In short, you can rest easy with the knowledge that you’re coming into contact with harmful chemicals.
The mattress has seven distinct layers from its cover to its base. Each layer has its specific benefits in ensuring restful sleep throughout the night, and each layer builds on the next layer to form a cohesive whole. The layers are arranged such that the comfort and support layers bounce off each other.
- The cover material has a lush look and plush feels with a cottony texture. But it’s made of recycled materials, including polyester and cotton and rayon, and Lycra. Its striped patterns make for an interesting look, but its appeal doesn’t last long since linens will cover it.
- The comfort layer consists of three distinct types of foam. The 1-inch open-cell polyfoam has tiny perforations designed for better airflow and, thus, a cooler sleeping experience. The 1.5-inch open-cell latex foam also has tiny holes that allow cooling airflow. Both of these layers also have an excellent cushioning effect despite their thinness. The last layer is a 1.5-inch-thick memory foam that provides fantastic pressure relief for the shoulders, lower back, and hips.
- The 1.5-inch transition layer of polyfoam with targeted gel pods has a dual purpose. First, it prevents your body from getting into contact with the pocketed coils underneath. While the coils don’t have sharp points, these can cause discomfort when you lie on them – think the Princess and the Pea.
- Second, its gel pods provide extra support around your midsection – fine, your stomach and hips – so that you have an on-the-bed feeling. On the other hand, your shoulders will sink slightly more into the bed, but that’s okay. Your spine is in a fairly neutral position that, in turn, means lesser back pain in the morning.
- The 7-inch support core consists of 6-inch pocketed coils encased in polyfoam. While the coils push back against the body to provide support, these also add more lift and bounce, airflow, and edge support. These coils also rest on a fairly thick polyfoam base.
- If you want to enjoy a cooler sleeping surface and can afford it, you may request an upgrade. The Snow Technology upgrade includes a QuickCool cover with 50% more cooling gel beads infused into it and HeatDelete Bands, which supposedly remove 34% more heat from the mattress. According to the manufacturer, these features result in a six-degree reduction in heat (i.e., cooler).
Do we recommend the upgrade? Yes, especially if you tend to sleep hot or you simply want a cooler mattress to sleep on. If sleeping through the night instead of waking up nearly covered in a seat is your desire, then the added cost should be worth it.
The Flex also uses a combination of synthetic rubber latex and memory foam for its comfort layer. The former is used for its durability, responsiveness, and comfort. If you’re concerned about latex allergies – and it’s a valid concern – you can take comfort in knowing that the allergy risk is negligible, if at all.
The foams used are also CertiPUR-certified, and, thus, there are no harmful toxins in the Flex mattress. There’s no need to worry about ozone depleters, flame retardants, heavy metals, and formaldehyde. Even its VOC content is within government standards at less than 0.5 ppm.
Like the Wave Hybrid mattress, Flex has seven distinct layers.
- The quilted cover feels cool to the touch aside from being silky soft and supple, even soothing if you’re a tactile person.
- The 1-inch cooling fiber underneath the cover adds to the cooling effect. The cooling effect stays for several hours, so you won’t wake up feeling hot.
- The 1-inch gel memory foam reinforces the cooling effect of the layers above it, too. But its most important function isn’t in the cooling but in ensuring a good hug. The manufacturer calls it the “GhostHug” feeling, but we like to describe it as giving a slight in-the-bed experience.
- The 1-inch gel memory foam below it enhances the comfortable hug-your-curves feeling when you’re on the mattress. However, it does so much more than increase comfort! Memory foam responds to body heat and then conforms to the unique curves and indentations of your body. Your sore pressure points are soothed, and your spine becomes more aligned when you’re lying down.
- The 1-inch polyfoam transition layer called the Ghost Bounce layer and touted as the manufacturer’s exclusive product combines the responsiveness of latex with the contouring quality of memory foam. It’s also marketed as the layer that gives the “floating in a cloud” feeling.
- The 8.5-inch-thick layer of individually wrapped and reinforced – and patented – GhostFlex coil unit comprises the support layer. Their arrangement results in notable benefits, including substantial airflow in the mattress and minimum motion transfer. Plus, the two rows of reinforced coils around the mattress’s perimeter give it a sturdier quality.
- The 1-inch polyfoam layer below the coils wraps things up. This is the base that protects the coil from the foundation or platform, aside from giving it an attractive appearance. Nobody wants coils poking through the bottom.
With these multiple layers, you and your bed partner should be able to enjoy the full hybrid mattress experience.
Winner: Both hybrid mattresses have seven layers of foam and coils, so it’s a draw in this aspect. But we have to give the Wave Hybrid mattress this round because of its thicker comfort layer. Wave’s 4-inch layer with a 1.5-inch memory foam layer is just 0.5-inch shy of the 2-inch memory foam layer on the Flex mattress, too.
Sleeping Experience: Firmness and its Related Experience of Comfort and Support
Each person uniquely experiences firmness. What may be medium-firm to you will be extra-firm to another because of differences in your body weight, size, and shape. Fortunately, there’s a fairly objective standard when manufacturers rate their mattresses from soft to extra-firm.
Firmness refers to what you feel when you first laid down on the mattress. Were you resting on top of the mattress (on-the-bed feeling) or sinking into it (in-the-bed feeling)? Was your body being hugged by the mattress (i.e., conforming to your curves) or experiencing plenty of pushback?
Mattresses are typically scored on a 10-point scale, with one being the softest and ten the firmest. The standard for medium firmness is 6.5/10, and many hybrid mattresses belong to this scale.
Firmness determines the level of support and comfort experienced, and these are interrelated concepts, too. Comfort pertains to the feeling of softness or firmness when you lie down on the mattress. Support refers to the pushback of the mattress that, in turn, affects spine alignment and sleeping posture.
These are interrelated – your level of comfort will be directly affected by the support you’re getting. With a misaligned spine, you’re not getting any comfort.
The Wave Hybrid mattress has a 5/10 firmness scale, and, thus, it has a medium feel. With a 6.5/10 as medium-firm, it’s more on the softer end. This means that there’s more of an in-the-bed experience, thanks to the greater contouring or conforming feel, which you’re likely to get from it. But this shouldn’t be a big deal if you like your mattress on the softer side.
The three layers of foam in the comfort layer make for a truly comfortable sleeping experience for most sleepers. Due to its 4-inch thickness, you’re getting the benefit of better pressure relief than from a thinner layer. You will enjoy the slight in-the-bed feeling, thanks to the memory foam, but you won’t sink too much into the mattress.
Plus, the thick foam layers work better at distributing your body’s weight across a larger surface area. You’re then less likely to feel more pressure being exerted on your wider or heavier parts, such as your hips and shoulders.
And then there’s the 1.5-inch polyfoam transition layer that boosts the comfort layer’s efficacy. The polyfoam is designed with zoned layers for better spine alignment, but it also has gel pod infusions. As previously mentioned, you will enjoy a slight lifting of the lower back and hips, so these body parts don’t sink in too much into the mattress.
The moderate hug from the comfort layer coupled with above-par support means that you’re getting great sleep soon. We say soon because it will take a couple of days before your body fully adjusts to its medium firmness. This is a typical experience for most customers and most mattresses, too.
With a quilted cover and cooling fibers designed to dissipate heat, the Wave Hybrid has better temperature regulation performance. This mattress feels cool to the touch and maintains its coolness even with warm bodies.
Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all mattress, and the Wave Hybrid’s manufacturer doesn’t say that it is! Your sleeping experience will be unique due to your personal firmness preference and body considerations. You may think that it’s too soft because you prefer medium-firm mattresses.
The GhostBed Flex is slightly firmer than the Wave Hybrid, but it still falls in the medium firmness category. With a 6/10 firmness score, it’s still the ideal balance of comfort and support suitable for most sleeping styles. The medium firm experience is also acceptable for most average weight people – neither light nor heavy.
The 13-inch mattress is the quintessential example of a modern hybrid mattress in that its design allows for the near-perfect Goldilocks balance between comfort and support. This is also an excellent mattress for transitioning from a traditional innerspring mattress to an all-foam mattress with memory foam. But if you love the sleeping-on-cloud feeling, then you probably won’t trade it for an all-foam mattress.
Many customers say – and we agree based on personal experience – that the first impression upon lying down on it is a more on-the-bed feeling. There’s less sinking into the mattress and more resting on it, but there’s still noticeable pressure relief on the shoulders, lower back, and hips.
The two layers of memory foam quickly adjust to your body’s unique curves, thanks to its heat-responsive property, and cradle the body in the right places. Your sore pressure points will be a thing of the past after a few days of sleeping on the Flex mattress. Again, there may or may not be an adjustment period in your case, depending on whether you’re accustomed to a medium-firm mattress.
As for temperature regulation, the Flex mattress is also top-of-the-line in this aspect. Its cover has a quilted design and cooling fibers that make it cooler to the touch, breathable and comfortable against the skin. This is particularly true in an air-conditioned bedroom since the environment itself is cooler.
Both layers of memory foam don’t accumulate heat too much because of the gel infusions in them. The gel beads aids in pulling away heat from the mattress and the sleeper’s body. The coils also aid in heat dissipation, so a sleeping cooler becomes a reality.
And speaking of coils, these provide the spine support that every individual wants from a hybrid mattress. You will find that your spine maintains a neutral alignment whether you sleep on your side or back. The coils also create a more responsive base that allows for better pushback during movement.
While the Flex mattress isn’t suitable for everybody’s needs, we daresay that it will meet most people’s needs in comfort and support. But it isn’t a great mattress for lighter- and heavier-than-average people due to its medium firmness – lighter people will find it a tad too firm while heavier people will experience it as too soft.
Winner: We’re hard-pressed to choose a winner because of their similarities in firmness score and, thus, in the level of comfort and support. But if push comes to shove, we would pick the GhostBed Flex mattress for its excellent balance between comfort and support.
Practical Aspects: Motion Transfer, Ease of Movement and Edge Support
When you sleep with a partner or a pet, the concept of motion transfer takes on a more important role in choosing the right mattress. You don’t want to be woken up one too many times by your bedmate’s tossing and turning. You also don’t want to do it to your bedmate if you change positions and frequently get on and off the bed.
Ease of movement is also a significant consideration as it won’t do you any favors to exert more physical effort to change positions and get off the bed. Being stuck in mattress quicksand will take away from the pleasure we feel from sleeping like a baby. Fortunately, medium and medium-firm mattresses don’t have this issue.
Edge support doesn’t seem significant until you find yourself sleeping near the edge of the bed and then rolling onto the floor. This is also possible when sitting on the edge of the bed, albeit in a less embarrassing way. If you’re like us, we like strong and sturdy edge support so we can sleep near the edge and stay on the bed.
The motion isolation performance of the Wave Hybrid mattress is better than many other hybrid mattresses. Its multiple layers of foam absorb most of the ripple effects of motion, so there’s less being transferred to the coil core. Even the coils absorb the ripple effects, too, thanks to their pocketed design (i.e., the coils are encased in thick foam, too).
The coils also move separately – these are independently pocketed coils – so there’s also minimal motion transfer between them. Unless you or your partner bounces on the bed as if it was a trampoline, you’re not going to feel each other’s movements all that much.
Edge support is moderate, which is typical in most hybrid mattresses. The support foam wraps around the coil layer’s outside perimeter and, thus, provides moderate perimeter reinforcement. If you like sleeping and sitting near the edge, you may find its edge support okay but not excellent.
As for ease of movement, it’s also typical for a hybrid mattress, although just a bit better. You can change positions in a fairly easy manner but expect a bit of a physical effort to push against the mattress.
The multiple layers of memory foam can minimize vibration transfers across the bed. There’s a moderate level of motion isolation, so there’s less possibility of being awakened by your partner’s movements. But if you or your partner are the types who like to bounce more than necessary when changing positions and getting on and off the bed, then expect more motion transfer.
There’s also the matter of the coil core giving the Flex more bounce that, in turn, results in more motion transfer. But it isn’t too much as to rival a sex-related bedroom shake.
We love the sturdy edge support on the Flex mattress! There is a feeling of being safe and secure even when sleeping closer to the mattress’s edge, and it’s possible to sit there, too, for a longer period. The two rows of reinforced coils give the mattress a solid feel, too.
There’s higher-than-average ease of movement, too, since the Flex is a medium-firm mattress. Since the two memory foam layers are fairly thin, there’s less of a feeling of sinking into quicksand.
Winner: The Flex wins the round! We love that it has better ease of movement and stronger edge support, which offsets its less than stellar performance in motion isolation.
Maintenance Matters: Cleaning and Caring for the Mattress
Experts say that mattresses should be replaced every six to eight years, but it will depend on several factors. These include the type of mattress, the maintenance measures performed on it, including the frequency and sleepers. But don’t wait for the six- to eight-year recommended replacement period either!
Consider buying a new mattress if it’s affecting your sleep adversely; it’s sagging or damaged in many areas; it’s aggravating your respiratory issues, or it’s contributing to your muscle and joint stiffness. The cost of a new mattress is worth it.
But you may also be able to extend the life of your existing mattress with proper care and maintenance. Avoiding unnecessary stress on it, such as bouncing on it like a trampoline, is great for starters.
Proper maintenance of the Wave Hybrid mattress is typical of modern mattresses. The manufacturer recommends the following care measures to maintain its overall quality and extend its usable life.
- Place a mattress protector on the cover. This will protect the cover and foam layers from solid and liquid stains, dust and dirt, and normal wear and tear. You can buy a Casper-made water-resistant mattress protector or use one that you already own.
- Consider a professional mattress cleaning service once every year or whenever you feel the need for it. Bathing your mattress will not only make it cleaner, but it will also smell fresher. Don’t forget to vacuum it, too, regularly.
- Air out the mattress regularly. There’s no need to haul it outdoors and place it under the sun for several hours! You can just remove all beddings on it and let it air out in the bedroom. Let the air in by opening your windows. You may also sprinkle baking soda on its surface, leaving it for a few hours, and then vacuuming it; baking soda acts as a deodorizing substance that removes unwanted smells.
- Use fitted sheets that add another layer of protection against dust, dirt, and dead skin, as well as dust mites.
Rotate the Wave Hybrid-only! You should never flip over a hybrid mattress because the coils are designed as the bottom layer and the foam as the top layer. Once every six months of rotation will do.
The abovementioned maintenance measures also apply to the Flex hybrid mattress.
Winner: Both are easy to maintain with easy-to-get products, such as mattress protectors, vacuum with a hose attachment, and baking soda. While professional cleaning services will likely be necessary, these are well worth the money. You want a clean, sanitized, and great-smelling bed, particularly if you’re a believer in the restorative power of sleep.
Freebies: Sleep Trial and Warranty
While the sleep trial and warranty have no direct bearing on your sleeping experience, these are important considerations in your search for a suitable mattress. Since you’re unlikely to try the Wave Hybrid and Flex mattresses in a store, the sleep trial provides ample time to test one or the other in your home.
The warranty is a guarantee of quality and, thus, you must take the time to know its general terms and conditions. Generally speaking, a 10-year limited warranty is a norm for hybrid mattresses.
Casper has several brick-and-mortar stores and retail partners across the United States. But if you bought the Wave Hybrid through its online platform, you can rest easy knowing that it offers a 100-night sleep trial.
You may return the mattress within 100 days if you’re not satisfied with it. While you may not do so because it’s a great mattress, it’s still a comforting thought.
The mattress has ten years of limited warranty. It covers splitting or cracking in the foam, defects in the zipper, and indentations larger than an inch.
Nature’s Sleep is more generous with its warranty period for its GhostBed mattresses. Instead of the typical 10-year limited warranty, it offers a 25-year warranty. The warranty itself has terms and conditions including:
- The original owner purchased the mattress from the company or authorized seller and registered it within 30 days of purchase. The proof of purchase should be presented as well
- The warranty is pro-rated. For the first ten years, Nature’s Sleep will replace or repair defective mattresses. The terms change after the tenth year.
The 101-night sleep trial is also longer by a day, and customers can expect full refunds upon return. The company coordinates a free pick-up, but it may depend on health protocols due to the pandemic. The returned mattress is typically donated to Salvation Army or Goodwill, among other charitable organizations.
Winner: We have to give the GhostBed Flex this round because of its better sleep trial and warranty terms. But since most mattresses shouldn’t be used past their ten-year mark, the 25-year pro-rated warranty may be moot. We focused instead on better customer service related to the sleep trial and warranty.
The scoreboard for the Wave Hybrid and Flex mattresses is as follows:
|First Impressions||Setting Up||Under the Cover||Sleeping Experience||Practical Aspects||Maintenance Matters||Freebies||Tally Count|
This was, indeed, a tight race between the two hybrid mattresses. But based on the above scoreboard, GhostBed Flex wins the comparison!
From the first time we inspected it, we thought that it was already a winner. It was such a well-made mattress, as evidenced by the softcover, a fantastic balance between comfort and support, and overall durability. Its shorter warranty period is a minor aspect considering that most people change their mattresses before the warranty period expires.
But we must also say that the GhostBed Flex isn’t for everybody. We also recommend the Casper Wave Hybrid mattress if you:
- Prefer sleeping on your side or back, or a combination of both, and you weigh under 230 pounds
- Tend to be awakened easily with movements from your partner or pet
- Tend to sleep hot even in a cool environment
- Like a bouncier mattress
And if you’re worried about the price, you can look into financing options.
The GhostBed Flex mattress is more suitable if you:
- Sleep with a heavier or lighter person; the middle ground will likely satisfy your different needs
- Prefer a bouncier bed but with minimal motion transfer
- Like a budget-friendly hybrid mattress that doesn’t compromise your sleep quality
Individuals weighing more than 230 pounds are well-advised to look for a firmer mattress than the GhostFlex. Even its medium-firm feel will be no match for the body’s weight, which means sinking in too deeply into the mattress. There’s little spine support to be found there.
In the end, you and you alone can decide on the best type of mattress for your unique needs. But if you’re looking for top-notch mattresses worth the money spent on them, you can’t go wrong with the Flex and Wave Hybrid.