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June 2020

What are hybrid mattresses & foams?

Hybrid mattresses are the latest mattress craze. Mattress foams with gel beads, intelligent heat dispersal, cooling properties and so forth used in hybrid mattresses which can make choosing a new mattress really confusing. There are a number of hybrid mattresses foams out there but how can you tell them apart? This article tries to help explain the hybrid mattress terms that may baffle you otherwise!

Updated 2020: Hybrid mattresses and foams have burst onto the market with the rise of boxed rolled mattresses such as Eve, Casper, Leesa, MADE, Emma, Nectar and Simba all creating their own branded ‘foams’. Then there’s the mix of pocket spring and foam mattresses. The issue with these is that they lack the detail you need to be able to work out their qualities and whether that’s suitable for your sleeping requirements.

Hybrid 50009 2
Before you set off to buy a new fancy foam mattress make sure you know exactly what to look out for

This article will help show the details of a number of Hybrid mattresses and foams so you can make a more informed purchase decision.

Hybrid Mattresses

  1. What is a hybrid mattress?
  2. What is a hybrid foam mattress?
  3. How to choose the best hybrid mattress
  4. Hybrid support layers
  5. Hybrid mattress comfort layers explained
  6. Why are Hybrid mattresses all one sided/no turn?
  7. What is Geltex?
  8. What is Coolgel foam?
  9. What is a mammoth sports mattress made of?
  10. What is Kaymed foam?
  11. What is Viscool foam?
  12. How to compare hybrid mattresses
  13. Alternatives to Hybrid foam mattresses

What is a hybrid mattress?

A hybrid mattress is any mattress which uses a mix of comfort and mattress support materials or mattress design styles. A hybrid mattress is basically a mismatch of different foams, springs, comfort and support units. These hybrid mattress models usually use multiple forms of support and comfort, with a mixture of memory foam, mattress gel foams (like iGel), innerspring (open coil) or synthetic pocket spring technology. These are then all layered together, usually glued, to give different feels and marketing angles for different overnight mattress brands.

Cutaway of the Fusion 0
An example of a hybrid mattress. Notice the use of Foam encapsulated pocket springs and latex together in one mattress.

Hybrid mattresses often try to bring together ‘the best parts’ of other mattresses in their sales pitches. Though in our experience most hybrid mattresses fail disastrously when doing this. So you really need to find out exactly what’s inside any hybrid mattress them before you part with your cash! As it could be a big mistake.

What is a hybrid foam mattress?

A Hybrid foam mattress is defined as any bed that is using multiple different foams in the comfort and support layers. Whereas a traditional heat reactive memory foam or Tempurpedic uses layers of the same type of foam, a hybrid foam mattress will use many different layers of different foams. Given the issues with memory foam being hot and sloe to react newer improved hybrid foams have been created. Hybrid foam mattresses can offer some excellent benefits over memory foam mattresses.

Remember though there are hundreds of memory foams and hybrid Foams out there with varying qualities, so each supplier is trying to come up with a new way to say or sell the same idea. It’s important you avoid the jargon and spin and get down to the basics. Let’s have a look at what you need to know to find the best hybrid mattress.

A hybrid foam mattress
See the 4 different layers of mattress foam. You’ll need to fully understand each one to know what hybrid mattress you are getting.

How to choose the best hybrid mattress

Before you jump into bed with the first hybrid mattress you see you need to spend some time fully understanding what’s inside each hybrid mattress. By knowing the foams, comfort, support and spring units it contains you can start to see whether or not a hybrid mattress really is the best option for you.

There are two main types of hybrid foam mattresses:

  1. Foam Hybrid mattresses made of memory and other hybrid foams (Can be boxed and rolled)
  2. Sprung Hybrid mattresses with springs and foam combined (Really shouldn’t be boxed and rolled)

The Hybrid Mattress Support Layer Explained

The support layer in the above mattresses is going to be either a firm ‘Reflex’ foam support layer or some form of an open coil or synthetic pocket springs. The support layer in any mattress needs to be matched to your body weight and height. This is essential and the main error that people make when buying a new mattress. They don’t correctly choose the right mattress support for their bodyweight. With a foam, this is really difficult to do because the mattress manufacturers won’t tell you the density or ILD rating of these foams.

With spring units you should be able to quickly find out the suitability of the spring support for your body weight by the spring wire gauge. Sadly this detail is also frequently missed off by mattress retailers. Meaning you’re just guessing! The spring count will not explain the firmness of the support so shouldn’t be relied on without the spring wire gauge.

The Hybrid Mattress Comfort Layer Explained

On top of the support unit will then be a number of different fillings which are usually a mix of memory foam and hybrid foams. You will very rarely find a natural fibre filling in a Hybrid mattress as they are usually reserved for longer-lasting traditional 2-sided mattresses. Each mattress brand will no doubt have its own propriety foam or memory foam layer. All claiming different benefits. Some may claim to be cooler or more responsive. The bottom line is you need to know the following to be able to understand the quality and comfort level these layers will give you.

  • What is the density of each foam? (Usually the higher the kg the firmer the foam)
  • What is the ILD or hardness rating? (Which also gives an indication of responsivity)
  • What is the depth of each layer? (5cm should be the bare minimum of each layer)
A memory foam mattress hand print
Just like natural fibres you need to know the amount, depth and density of any hybrid mattress foams. If not then you’re just guessing with your purchase.

Why are all hybrid mattresses one sided or no turn?

You may have already realised that all of these mattresses are one-sided. Meaning you can’t turn them leaving you only able to sleep on one side. This is a flaw in the design of all hybrid mattresses. They are built from a firm support layer upwards with softer layers being placed on top. With memory and hybrid foams, the layers themselves are not as resilient or robust as a natural fibre. If hybrid mattresses were to be two-sided then these softer layers would simply be crushed then you turned the mattress over.

Given the fact that memory and hybrid foams compress at an alarming level, the layers that would be underneath the spring unit would quickly become compressed beyond the point of return. This is why all memory foam mattresses including Tempur mattresses are all one-sided. This is why you shouldn’t really spend more than £500 on a hybrid mattress as budgets higher than this should expect a 2-sided mattress as least. You can watch more on the issues of one-sided mattresses below.

Then majority of hybrid mattresses also arrived crushed, rolled and boxed for convenience. This is fine is the mattress is only being transported this way. However, mattresses left crushed and rolled for longer than 30 days will start to be impacted by damage. Due to the stresses placed on the foams and spring units which are not meant to be contorted in this way. You can read more about the disadvantages of boxed rolled mattresses here.

Hybrid mattresses are nearly always 1 sided meaning you can only use half the mattress
Hybrid mattresses are nearly always 1 sided meaning you can only use half the mattress
If you're spending more than £500 on a mattress you should be looking for a pocket spring mattress instead
If you're spending more than £500 on a mattress you should be looking for a pocket spring mattress instead

Geltex Hybrid Mattress Foam

Sealy has released their Geltex foam which we were shown by Sealy scientists themselves at the National Bed show. It’s a hybrid foam mixing a gel compound into a foam. They showed us some cell structures and gave us a demonstration that it has more responsiveness than traditional memory foam. What puzzled me was there were no specifics on the density or hardness of the foam. The representative stated that Geltex has the ‘triangle of sleep’, which covers ventilation, pressure relief and support. What exactly does this mean we asked? We didn’t really get any firm convincing answers!

Any quality hybrid foam should offer these three properties. Without knowing the density and specifics, it’s hard to quantify these 3 pillars of Geltex. There were also no data sheets provided on Geltex. Which as we know makes it very difficult to compare to our hybrid foams, we will have to watch this space as the new Sealy Hybrid range has only recently been released and there is little customer feedback on them.

Cool Gel /Gel-Zone

Cool Gel / Gel Zone has recently started to make an appearance but again there are no specifics on this foam, its density, behaviour or response rates. There are claims that it is 15 times less heat retentive than memory foam but I’ve seen no clinical trials or data sheets to support this. Also, the claim its the ‘softest solid on the planet’ sound very grandiose but I’m unsure what this oxymoronic statement actually means or is tested by!

Mammoth Sports Mattresses

Mammoth mattresses specialise in ‘sports mattresses’ using medical-grade foam. But what exactly are they? Mammoth doesn’t give any details on the density of their medical-grade foam again making it very hard to compare or say with any certainty. My experience is that any synthetic foam can be classed as a medical-grade if it’s robust and doesn’t harbour bacteria.

Usually, medical-grade foam is used on hospital beds and is basically a very firm reflex foam, the supportive element of a memory or hybrid mattress. Mammoth mattresses castellate and cut lines into the top of their foam which allows them to soften the feel of the top layer without necessarily layering other foams on top. This means that a solid block can be used which is then castellated to give a softer feel on the top but with support.

They do have a range with latex, again no blend given, and other foams together but, in essence, it is the cutting of the foam that provides the comfort / softer top layer.

Kaymeds K3Gel

Kaymed is one of the UK’s foam and mattress manufacturers. They recently released the K3Gel which is a type of grid/mesh like gel material used in mattresses. They describe it as being less heat retentive and allowing air to circulate more freely through the cubes. From our experience, the K3Gel has a rubbery jelly-like feel and it feels quite soft. I’m uncertain of the makeup and density of the foam so can’t really liken it to any other foam or material.

It looks at first glance somewhat similar to Mammoths grid-like mattress construction but upon further inspection is entirely different this being a complete unit of grid gel/foam. The question we have is that once it’s compressed surely the grid flattens into a gel-like sheet once you’re in bed? So how does the air circulation work? What happens to the air flow if it’s compressed entirely? That said, it certainly is an interesting idea.

k3gel mesh john ryan
K3Gel mesh is one of the more intricate hybrid mattress foams

Viscool / Viscoool

What is viscool/ viscoool? Is viscool any good? These are a few recent questions that a few of you have asked and so we have done some digging! We must distinguish that viscool is an American foam made by American Excelsior which manufactures their own brand of breathable foam. We have not been able to test this out as it seems to primarily exist in the USA and not Europe. Then there is viscoool, different to viscool (confusing huh!) seen in Carpet rights beds department. This Viscool is also listed in the Salus Viscool 1000 which categorises it like memory foam whereas Carpet right class is as a less heat retentive foam.

Again there are zero actual details on this foam on their site or any other so it’s a bit of a mystery so far. This material is used on their pillow top ranges at present and you already know our aversion to the dreaded pillow top mattress with its myriad of problems! You can read our review on why pillow top mattresses are a bad idea here.

How to compare Hybrid Mattresses

With any new mattress purchase, you need to find out as much detail as possible before choosing a new mattress. Remember to ask the important questions when looking at hybrid mattresses so you can compare them side by side.

  • What is the depth of the foams used?
  • What is the density of the foams?
  • Are they heat sensitive?
  • What is the rebound rate?
  • is it a 1 or 2 sided mattress?

What are the alternatives to hybrid mattresses?

Whilst hybrid mattress have their place, they should only be considered at the entry-level price point. As hybrid mattresses are both one sided and made from softer foams they will compress far faster than a Pocket Spring and upholstery mattress. So if you’re spending more than £500 on one then we would advise you’re better looking at a Pocket Spring mattress instead. Pocket spring upholstered mattresses will enable you to choose a two sided mattress with specific spring tensions and comfort layers for your bodyweights. Hybrid synthetic mattresses are also notoriously heat retentive so if you’re a hot sleeper then they are best avoided.

Have a look below at the best mattresses depending on your price point (you will see there are almost no hybrid mattresses recommended).

  1. What to expect from a £500 Mattress
  2. What to expect from a £750 Mattress
  3. What to expect from a £1000 Mattress
  4. What to expect from a £1250 Mattress
  5. What to expect from a £1500-£2000 Mattress
  6. What to expect from a £2000 Mattress
Summary

As always there are varying qualities of these foams and we only provide quality foams we have tried and tested ourselves. We have produced a video on the hybrid foams we use, what’s in them and how they react so you can make up your own mind! If you can’t find out the depth, density or logical explanation for how the foams work I would take caution. If one thing is sure, when talking about hybrid foams the science is always wheeled out to confuse and baffle you so take care.

We specialise in explaining absolutely every detail about our mattresses so call us if you need any assistance with hybrid mattresses on 0161 437 4419 or drop us a message for help below.

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