Purple Mattress review: the original GelFlex mattress is a revelation in comfort and cooling

The original Purple Mattress looks and feels unlike any other bed I've tested, but certainly delivers when it comes to support

Original Purple mattress
(Image: © Purple)

TechRadar Verdict

The Purple Mattress feels unlike any other mattress I've tested. Although I'm still not quite sure if I like the feel of GelFlex Grid, it certainly delivers excellent support. Throughout my trials, I slept like a baby, and didn't experience any back pain. I also found my issues with sleeping hot were no longer a problem.

Pros

  • +

    Comfortable in any position

  • +

    Keeps you cool at night

  • +

    Minimal motion transfer

  • +

    Excellent edge support

Cons

  • -

    Heavy and difficult to move about

  • -

    Unusual feel won't appeal to everyone

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Purple Mattress review: Two-minute review

The original Purple Mattress provides a unique sleeping experience. The two-inch tall GelFlex Grid is a proprietary hyper-elastic polymer layer that is the key difference between this and other mattresses I've tested. It appears in all of Purple's mattresses, but for this review I tested out the original model, simply called the Purple Mattress. I slept on this mattress for a week, and during this period I experienced a notable improvement in my sleep quality. 

Although the feel is different from the rest of today's best mattresses, the novel design is very effective. You can feel the checkered-like design immediately when you lay on it. You can also feel how supportive the mattress is, as the Grid contours to the pressure points, and supports the areas that don't immediately press as hard on the mattress, like your lower back.

Close up of GelFlex Grid in Purple mattress

(Image credit: Purple)

The Purple Mattress does an exceptional job at keeping you cool at night. I am a hot sleeper, and I often find myself rolling from one side of the bed to another just to find cool spots. The SoftFlex cover, combined with the open structure of the GelFlex Grid, helps dissipate heat, and I had no issues with overheating when sleeping on this mattress. No rolling around necessary.

The mattress is delivered vacuum-packed and rolled in plastic (in fact, it holds a spot in TechRadar's best mattress in a box guide). I do recommend placing the mattress on your frame before unboxing, and letting the mattress settle and expand on the frame. The design of the mattress makes it incredibly heavy, and moving it around after it has been unboxed is rather difficult.

Any other downsides? The GelFlex Grid gives this mattress an unusual feel that I can imagine won't be for everyone. It really is unlike anything else I've slept on. But one thing I'm certain of – I slept well on the mattress, and felt supported and cool throughout the night. Read on for my full Purple Mattress review…

Purple Mattress review: Materials & design

  • 9.25" tall mattress with foams and GelFlex Grid layer
  • Super-stretchy cover, not removable
  • No handles for maneuvering

The real design story begins with the 2-inch hyper-elastic polymer GelFlex Grid. This proprietary engineering is designed to provide targeted support and pressure relief without trapping body heat. (This Grid appears in almost all of Purple's products – see how it's used differently in our Purple Harmony Pillow review.)

The cover is breathable and soft to the touch, but most importantly, super-stretchy – so you get the full benefit of the Grid beneath it. It can't be removed, so you're probably going to want to invest in the Purple Mattress protector for easy cleaning, without dampening the feel of the mattress. There are also no handles, which is particularly annoying because this isn't the easiest mattress to maneuver in the first place.

Exploded diagram showing internal layers of Purple original mattress

(Image credit: Purple)

Beneath the GelFlex Grid there's a 3.5 inch-polyurethane foam layer that's bordered by an additional edge support layer. The polyurethane foam is essentially your memory foam layer. This helps to provide that contouring feeling when you lay on it. The bordering foam simply provides extra support so the mattress doesn't sag too much around the perimeter. 

The final layer is a sturdier 4-inch polyurethane foam. This serves as a foundational foam to provide a firm support, essentially so when you lay on the bed, you don't sink right through to the platform.

At 9.75 inches tall overall, it's on the thinner side. In fact, we usually recommend a minimum of 10 inches for adult mattresses, although I found the Purple Mattress very effective despite it being slightly shallower than this. The thinner profile and simple design mean this mattress doesn't look particularly luxe or sumptuous.

  • Design score: 4 out of 5

Purple Mattress review: price & value for money

  • Sits in the upper-mid price bracket, second cheapest in the range
  • Often discounted around major shopping events
  • Not the cheapest, but fairly unique on the market

The original Purple Mattress sits in the brand's Essential Collection, and at time of writing is the second cheapest adult mattress in the range. Despite that, it's not especially cheap. At full price it sits in the upper-mid price bracket, with a queen size costing $1,399.

Purple mattress sales take place fairly regularly, so you can avoid paying that price if you're strategic about when you buy. More on that in a second, but first here's the ticket price of the main size options:

  • Twin: MSRP $799
  • Full: MSRP $1,199
  • Queen: MSRP $1,399
  • King: MSRP $1,799

Some bed brands run sales constantly, but Purple is not one of those. You'll need to plan ahead to get the best prices. There tend to be discounts around major shopping events – for example, the Labor Day mattress sales in September, the Presidents' Day mattress sales in February, Memorial Day mattress sales in May, the 4th of July mattress sales, and – for the biggest bargains – the Black Friday mattress deals

Discounts of $100 or $200 are fairly regular, but occasionally we see up to $400 off, with a queen size dropping to $999. If you spot a $400 discount, it's well worth taking advantage of. The extras – a 100 night trial, free shipping and 10 year warranty are fine but not especially generous.

There are plenty of options in this price bracket, and many with more complex designs and longer trials and warranties. However, due to the Purple mattress' unique feel, none are really direct competitors – if you want a Purple feel, you're going to have to shell out for a Purple mattress. There is one cheaper option in the lineup – the Purple NewDay, which still sits in the upper-mid bracket, with a queen costing $1,295 at MSRP.

  • Value for money score: 3.5 out of 5

Purple Mattress review: comfort & support

  • Medium-firm, with unique feel from the GelFlex Grid top layer
  • Slight sink on pressure points, but supportive elsewhere
  • Supports both lightweight and heavier individuals 

The Purple Mattress' GelFlex Grid provides a unique level of support that is soft on pressure points, yet firm and supportive on other areas. For reference, I am 5'9" and weigh roughly 150 pounds. When I laid down on the bed, as well as sat on the edges, I recorded about 2-inches of sink. I also had a co-worker, who is a big guy (6'3" and weighs about 300 pounds), do the same thing. We measured that same 2-inch sink. That goes to show the impressive amount of support the Purple Mattress provides. Both big and small people will enjoy the same amount of support. 

The hyper-polymer top is responsive, so when you lay on the mattress, and get up, the mold of the mattress snaps back into place immediately. You don't see the slow re-inflation found with classic memory foam. That was the case for me and also my bigger co-worker. 

Diagram of person lying on Purple mattress

(Image credit: Purple)

Purple describes the feel of the mattress as medium firm, and I would generally agree with that. The GelFlex Grid – the hyper-elastic polymer top layer – gives this mattress a unique feel. When you first lay on it, you can feel the grid-like design pressing against your skin, unlike laying on a standard mattress where the material feels flat and uniform. It's not uncomfortable, but it is different from any other mattress, and it might not appeal to everyone.

When I lie on the mattress, I can feel the mattress sink in and give way to the heavier parts of my body. When I lie on my stomach for example, I can feel the mattress sink in a little around my chest area, but rise up to support my stomach area. The same goes for when I lie on my back. I can feel the mattress sink around my upper back and shoulders, but rise up to support my lower back. It provides relief on the pressure point areas, and supports the areas that aren't as heavy. I found it helped ease my lower back pain.

I generally start my night by laying on my back, then move over to my side to fall asleep. But I also felt the same comfort and support when laying on my stomach. The Purple Mattress isn't made for any one sleep style. Regardless of back, side, or stomach sleepers, you'll feel comfortable and supported.

Purple Mattress review: performance

  • GelFlex Grid keeps you cool throughout the night
  • Great edge support bounces you out of bed in the morning
  • Minimal motion transfer – great for couples

A great mattress needs to be comfortable and supportive, of course, but there are other key factors that will affect your overall experience with it too. Read on for my take on how well the Purple Mattress regulates temperature, how supportive the edges are, and how effectively it absorbs movements on the surface.

Temperature regulation

With a breathable top cover, and a GelFlex layer beneath, this mattress does wonders in keeping you cool at night. I am a hot sleeper and notorious for rolling around, or putting a fan on me at night to keep me cool. During my testing, I stayed cool throughout the night, sans midnight fan. That's especially notable as my review period took place during the hottest month of the year in Utah. It's not specifically marketed as a cooling bed, but I think it's one of the best cooling mattresses around. 

  • Temperature regulation score: 5 out of 5

Edge support

Great edge support is important for a couple of reasons – you don't want to feel like you're going to roll off the bed at night, and you don't want the mattress to sink in so much that it becomes difficult to lift yourself out of bed. This is especially important for older individuals who may not have the same leg strength as they once did. The Purple Mattress excels in this area.

Both myself and my heavier co-tester found that when we sat on the edge of the bed, the combination of the foam rails and the hyper-elastic polymer grid kind of propelled us up and out of bed. I'm a particular fan of this because as I get older, I'll take all the help I can receive to get out of bed. 

  • Edge support score: 4.5 out of 5

Motion isolation

The 5.5 inches of combined GelFlex Grid top and polyurethane foam below helps curb motion transfer. If I am having a particularly rough night of sleep and tossing and turning, the makeup of the Purple Mattress stops the motion transfer from disturbing the other person. This is great for those who share a bed with someone who is a light sleeper, those who frequently toss and turn, or who get up repeatedly to use the bathroom in the night. 

  • Motion isolation score: 4.5 out of 5

Purple Mattress review: Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
TypeGelFlex hybrid
MaterialsFoams, GelFlex Grid
CoverStretchy, not removable
HandlesNo
Firmness (1-10)7 (medium firm)
Height9.75 inches
Trial period100 nights
Warranty10 years
Price bracketUpper mid-range
Queen priceMSRP $1,399
SizesTwin, twin XL, full, queen, king, Cal king, split king
DeliveryFree standard delivery
ReturnsFree

Should I buy the Purple Mattress?

Buy it if...

✅ You're a hot sleeper: The top cover and GelFlex Grid help make this mattress super-breathable, and won't cling on to your body heat. As a typically hot sleeper, I never found myself getting too warm on this mattress.

You share a bed with a restless person: The Purple Mattress does a great job at eliminating motion transfer. If you or your partner often disturbs the other with relentless tossing and turning throughout the night, this mattress will help keep that motion from interrupting the other's sleep.

You need a mattress with good support: Due to rolling on my stomach during my sleep, I tend to wake up with a sore back on most mattresses. I didn't have that experience with the Purple Mattress. It offers great support that you can feel when you first lay on it.

Don't buy it if...

❌ You're on a tight budget: The Purple Mattress sits in the upper-mid price bracket, and there are plenty of options to choose from in that bracket – some of which arguably offer better value for money. If you want the Purple feel for a lower price, check out the NewDay

You want a traditional feeling mattress: The GelFlex Grid is unlike anything I've ever laid on. And I can imagine that it won't be appealing for everyone. We have separate guides to the best hybrid mattresses and the best memory foam mattresses if you specifically want those feels.

You're planning on moving the mattress about: In most cases, once a mattress finds the platform, it doesn't go anywhere. But if for some reason, you'll be moving the mattress to different rooms in your house, moving the Purple Mattress around is a heavy, and difficult endeavor. 

How I tested the Purple Mattress

I slept on a queen size Purple Mattress for a week in July, the hottest month of the year in Utah. Nights usually stayed in the mid 60s Fahrenheit during this period. I have Baroque sheets that are 100% polyester. Although I did not sleep at night with anyone during the testing, I first opened and did sink tests measurements, and motion isolation testing in our testing lab in Ogden, Utah. I am generally a side sleeper who wakes up on my stomach. I am 5'9” and weigh about 150 pounds, and I also asked a larger and heavier co-worker to try out the mattress and share their experiences. 

First reviewed July 2023

Jonathan Knoder

Jonathan Knoder is a freelance writer and editor, covering a variety of topics from tech to lifestyle, but with a special affinity for audio gear and smart home tech. Jonathan has been reviewing mattresses since 2017. During this time, he has tested some of the most popular online mattress brands such as Leesa, Purple, Casper, Saatva, and many others.