Choosing a bed historically was always a very physical process. You'd head to a department store full of furniture and throw yourself backwards onto about 20-odd different models, testing to see which was too firm, too soft, too small - Goldilocks and the Three Bears style.
Now, as is the modern way, it's all online process - a few clicks and your new 'bed-in-a-box' can be delivered straight to your door, similar to My Food Bag or Uber Eats. This is even true of an inner-city apartment - without needing a delivery team of four to lug it up to five flights of stairs.
The concept is simple: a vacuumed-packed all-foam mattress gets delivered to your door - in a box, shockingly. Once removed and rolled out onto your bed, it inflates to its actual size, often two or three times what it was packed down into. This can take anywhere from two to 12 hours.
Buying a bed without testing it first seems like a game of Russian roulette, where the price you're paying is precious sleep. Luckily most bed-in-a-box suppliers offer deals like free shipping and returns, 15-year warranties, and 100-night money-back trials. 100 nights! If you sleep eight hours a night, that means you can starfish for 800 hours in that thing before deciding 'I'm not happy, give me my money back please'.
Don't worry, you don't have to stuff it back in the box, and yes, usually it'll be collected for free.
So far so great. But there are so many brands to choose from, often with similar-sounding names - There's local fave Winkl, US pick Casper, Aussie brands Emma and Ecosa… it can be overwhelming, especially when many seem to be offering a similar thing.
Luckily my colleague and I got to try two of the most popular models available on the New Zealand market - here's how they helped our sleep.
Winkl: Trialled by Daniel
Getting a Winkl has meant I'm getting better, comfier sleeps than I have in ages. Ordering one off the website is simple, but what I really liked is how the delivery system gives you the name and mobile number of the delivery driver. I have a really tricky driveway and this was awesome and made the delivery a breeze. Once the mattress is in your front door, be prepared for the task of getting it to your bed - this is a heavy beast. After I rolled it out and first felt it, I worried it was a little too soft. Happily, it is nice and firm but has a lovely soft top that provides an amazingly comfortable sleep, as well as being a superb wrestling mat for me and my toddler.
Ecosa: Trialled by Sarah
I was hesitant about trialling an Ecosa - my old mattress was pretty comfy and I'm so fussy about how I sleep. I'm also very lazy - the thought of unpacking it, trialling it, hating it and having to put the old one back on my bed was - ironically- enough to make me need a nap. So the stakes were high. But I can truly say this mattress has been pretty life-changing. The first night I slept on it I thought it was going to be too firm for me, but the memory foam means I sink down in all the right places - I'm a tummy sleeper, so that's crucial for breathing. Now if I sleep on any bed that's not my own, I have an unsatisfactory night's sleep. Put it this way - I got to review one of the best hotels in Auckland earlier this month and thought the bed was sub-par compared to mine at home.
Sarah and Daniel both received their Winkl and Ecosa mattresses for free, for this review