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Ruth Hamilton

Should I buy a bed in a box mattress this Black Friday?

Nectar mattress.

Once upon a time, all mattresses were delivered flat. Then someone with a vacuum-packing machine came along, sucked all the air out, rolled it up and chucked it in a box, and thus the mattress in a box was born. (That's roughly the story, anyway.) These mattresses are known for being convenient and affordable, and form the bulk of the Black Friday mattress deals live today. 

But are they as good as they look, or would a traditional mattress be better? After all, TechRadar's #1 best mattress is delivered flat (read about that in our Saatva mattress review). Let's take a closer look at the benefits, and potential down-sides, of buying a bed in a box mattress this Black Friday...

Today's best bed-in-a-box mattress deals

1. It's convenient

One big benefit of opting for one of today's best mattress in a box beds is that they're very easy to get into place. The vacuum-packed, rolled package will fit through even the narrowest hall, and hopefully won't take out any artwork or ornaments on the way.

As luxury mattresses get ever thicker and more extravagant, this becomes ever more relevant – if you can't physically get your new mattress into place, then it's automatically useless. 

This will be more relevant to some people than others – if you have enormously wide halls with plenty of maneuvering room, you should be fine with a flat-delivered mattress. Also factor in delivery options. Some traditional bed brands, like Saatva, include white glove delivery to your room of choice, to counter any potential inconvenience. Some bed-in-a-box brands also include this, though often with a fee attached.

Helix mattresses are rolled and boxed, but only for a short period before shipping, so they should inflate quickly (Image credit: 3Z Brands for Tom's Guide / TechRadar)

2. It's (usually) quick

Often you'll find that shipping times are faster with bed in a box mattresses. That's because it's easier to store mattresses if they packed in smaller boxes, and shipping out a fairly compact carton opens up more carrier options (some bed in a box mattresses will arrive at your door via FedEx or UPS). While exact delivery times vary from brand to brand, if you're in a mega rush to change up your sleep setup, bed in a box mattresses are your better bet. 

3. ... but you might have to wait to sleep on it

Shipping might be faster, but do factor in decompression time if you're buying a boxed mattress, and potential off-gassing, too. Mattresses that have been vacuum-packed can take a while to reach full height again – sometimes up to 72 hours, although often more like 12. Hopefully, you'll be able to kip on your new mattress on the first night, but be prepared for that not to be possible. A slow decompression time can be a sign that your mattress has been sat in its box for some time, so the better quality bed in a box mattresses should re-inflate pretty quickly. 

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