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Unboxing a Tuft&Needle bed-in-a-box foam mattress.

Best Foam Mattresses for Moving Off Campus

For $600 or less you can ship yourself a bed-in-a-box foam mattress that gets good marks in Consumer Reports' tests

Of course you know the reasons why living off-campus is awesome. But we're here to school you on a serious perk: Stepping up from your dorm-issued mattress, now that you have a choice. That's right, it's time for a big-boy bed.

Fortunately, the days of driving to college with a rigid innerspring mattress strapped to the roof of the car are gone. You can order a foam mattress online for as little as $600 and have the bed-in-a-box delivered to your doorstep. If it scored well in CR's tests, the mattress will definitely be more comfortable than the extra-long twin you were stuck with at the dorm.

Consumer Reports tests the most common size mattress: queen. But if you’re looking for a single or double in a foam model—the size most college kids have space for—you can still rely on our ratings to find the best one for you. “The support level of the smaller mattresses should be in line with the queen-size mattresses,” says Christopher Regan, CR's test engineer for mattresses. 

More on Back-to-School for College

In our mattress tests, we use real people—petite women and large men—to see how support varies for sleepers of different sizes. Then we measure support when the test subjects are lying on their side and again on their back. The idea is that you can use our ratings to match your mattress to your size and favorite sleeping position.

Below, then, are foam bed-in-a-box mattresses that perform well in CR's tests. If you’re not a CR subscriber—and we hope you’ll become one—we’ve given you two examples. If you’re a subscriber—thank you!—you can see a wide variety from such brands as Ikea, Novaform, Serta, Sleep Innovations, Spa Sensations, and Tuft & Needle. Mattresses are arranged in order of price, lowest to highest, for a twin—they are not ranked in order of performance in CR's test labs. In addition to the twin pricing, we also included the price of the queen-size mattress we tested, in case you end up in really sweet digs.

What About Casper?

Casper has done a lot to popularize the bed-in-a-box concept, and it's consistently been one of CR's recommended foam mattresses. It didn't make the grade for this list based on price: It costs $800 for a double and $950 for a queen. But if you’re planning to buy a twin or twin XL, you can now find those sizes for $550 and $600, respectively, at Target as well as at West Elm and on Casper’s own website.

Best Foam Mattresses for $600 or Less

Spa Sensations 10-inch Memory Foam SPA-1000Q
Best for: People who are petite or average size who sleep on their back.
Where to buy: Walmart
What you’ll pay: Twin: $162, Queen: $360

Ikea Matrand
Best for: Petite side and back sleepers.
Where to buy: Ikea
What you’ll pay: Twin: $300, Queen: $400

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