gel memory foam

Good Afternoon Phoenix,

My wife and I are looking to purchase a good gel memory foam mattress. We have read your comments(2011) on the icomfort by Serta as compared to the Costco Novafoam. In those comments you mentioned there were other, better ,more reasonable options for a good gel memory foam mattress. Would you be so kind to provide the names/manufacturers of those mattresses. We live in western North Carolina. We may also consider a latex mattress. Would you provide some information between gel memory foam and latex for comparison purposes. Thanks!

Hi Brad,

As you probably know … I don’t consider either the iComfort or the Novaform to be particularly good value. I also think that the current industry emphasis on gel memory foam is more driven by marketing than by fact or accurate information or even by real benefits. They are one of many materials and methods that can be used to make a mattress cooler (and in many cases they are not close enough to the surface to make a real difference anyway) and are also one of several ways to “offset” the softness and “risk” of memory foam in general because of it’s tendency to soften with heat, humidity, and time spent on the mattress which can lead to sleeping out of alignment if the layers in a mattress are not suitable for the needs and preferences of the person on it.

Comparing memory foam (including it’s variant gel memory foam) to latex is really an apples to oranges comparison because they are completely different materials. You can read a little more about latex here and about memory foam here to get a sense of the pros and cons of each. There are also different types of gel foams and the manufacturers are making sure that there is not enough information to make more meaningful comparisons between them but in general terms … some of the different types and my thoughts about them are in post #26 here. With the information available … I would tend to avoid the type of first generation gel foams that use larger particles because it is likely that they will weaken the foam that they are added to.

There are several larger manufacturers that use gel in a form that it becomes part of the matrix or that have smaller particles that can become part of the cell walls of the memory foam that don’t have the disadvantages of large particulates added to a foam. Flexible foam is one example of gel foam manufacturers that is making some good quality gel foam based on some of the feedback I have had from manufacturers although the specs of this category of materials in general is sorely lacking so it is very difficult to make any kind of meaningful comparisons (and this is by design because most manufacturers are hoping that consumers will believe that “gel foam” is “gel foam” so they can use lower quality materials that are sold at higher prices).

Your best odds of finding higher quality and value though is generally to avoid outlets that focus on the largest brands and to look for local factory direct manufacturers or smaller “sleep shop” types of outlets that sell mattresses made by smaller privately owned independent or local manufacturers. These are generally the types of outlets that tend to know more about materials and construction (particularly if they manufacture the mattress or are more “expert” in mattress materials) and that generally use higher quality materials in every price point.

“Western NC” is a little bit too big of an area for me to search for better options and I normally need a zip code or the closest city rather than a “region” but post #2 here includes the local manufacturers within 100 miles of Hickory, NC and with luck there are some that are close enough to you to warrant a visit. There is some very good value on the list. If you are committed to gel memory foam … I would give each of them a call or check their website to make sure that they make mattresses that use this material. Many of them make and sell high quality latex mattresses.

If you are somewhere else in the Western NC region, if you let me know your zip or the city you live in I’ll be happy to look for any I know of that may be closer to you.

Hope this helps


Thanks for quick response! Zip code is 28756.

Hi Brad,

There is a list in post #2 here centered around Charlotte and another one in post #2 here which is centered around Greenville, SC. These two and the one I linked earlier have some overlap between them but include all the better options in your area. As I mentioned you have some great choices!


Good Evening Phoenix,

Talked with the RMM manufacturer in Conover, NC. They have a factory store, Lake Mattress, in Mooresville, NC and a website named Would you mind reviewing the memory foam, gel foam, laytex, and combo mattress offerings on that website and provide me some feedback as it relates to the RMM mattresses? Hope I’m not asking to much, but being a novice, I find trying to compare confusing. Thanks for all your help. Brad

Hi Brad,

Lake Mattress in Mooresville is connected with . On the other hand … if you call the factory in Conover first to make an appointment … you can test the Rocky Mountain mattresses line right in Conover (they will meet you at the factory). They are two different lines and companies although both make good quality and value mattresses and you would be choosing between “good” and “good”. Each has a different lineup.

I don’t know the type of gel memory foam that Lake mattress is using but if you call them they will likely tell you. While most manufacturers aren’t releasing any detailed specs about the gel memory foam they are using … you can see my more generic thoughts about the different types in post #26 here.

Other than that, they don’t list the density of their foams (memory foam and polyfoam) so it’s difficult to make a value comparison outside of their all latex mattresses but I would think they will be happy to tell you if they ask. My Luxury mattress does list most of the the foam densities they use on their site and it would be reasonable to assume that the densities are the same or similar. The latex they use is high quality Talalay. My conversations with My Luxury Mattress have been good and I consider them to be knowledgeable and helpful (although there are a few statements on their site I don’t quite agree with and particularly the durability comparisons between Dunlop and Talalay latex).

While they have good value … finding out the suitability of any of their mattresses for any particular person would depend on testing them in person (or on the guidance and skill of the person that was helping you on the phone for an online purchase) and would vary depending on your height/weight/body shape and sleeping positions and preferences.

Of course I think very highly of Rocky Mountain Mattress and their knowledge, service and the value of their products and consider them to be among the “best of the best” which is why they are listed as members of the site.



Thanks for the input you have been very helpful.

Hi Brad,

AS per your question about the gel memory foam vs latex. You can distinguish between these two as follow:

Gel mattress:-

Constructed by placing material in columns, this bedding creates cells of air, which distribute your weight more evenly, reducing the surface area needed to support your body comfortably. Your circulation is improved because the bed relaxes under high-pressure body zones allowing blood and oxygen to circulate more freely within your body.

Latex mattress:-

Latex bed construction does not create the lattice type structures found in gel bedding. The entire bedding is filled with material and has no divisions. This causes increased pressure points where there is more body weight and restricts your blood flow.

Hi garaet,

Just to add some information to your comments … the type of gel you are most likely referring to is more generally known as “buckling column” gel which is different from the gel infusions or particles that are added to foam materials or even gel based fabricated materials such as Technogel. This would be more of a separate class of material typically used in comfort layers with it’s own advantages and disadvantages (and there is more about them here) than an actual foam that is infused with gel. Edizone who owns the patents for the three most common types of buckling column gel (Intelli-Gel and Ortho-Gel and Somnigel) are also releasing two new materials through their subsidiary GelMakers that can be used for quilting layers and for mattress support cores which should also be interesting.

Of course buckling column gel and latex are also two completely different classes of material as well and have their own unique sets of advantages and disadvantages. They would be more like comparing apples to oranges.

Buckling column gel can be a great choice for those that are looking for it’s unique properties and “feel” and as in all things, the choices between them would be based more on the individual parts of each person’s value equation and on their individual needs and preferences.

Just thought I would add some clarification about the material you are referring to.

Thanks for your comments :slight_smile:


Good Evening Phoenix,

My wife and I spent the day laying on mattresses made at the Conover, NC manufacturing plant. Initially, I thought we would prefer laytex, but instead, my wife preferred the gel memory foam. After continuing to spend considerable time laying on mattresses, she was firm in her choice of gel memory foam. We selected a matress with a firm base layer, a middle memory foam layer, a top gel memory foam and a quilted bamboo cover. We are very excited about this mattress and expect it to be produced and delivered in about two weeks. On another note, the individual who assisted us from the plant shared that approximately two hours after our call, he received a call from another north carolinaian inquiring about mattresses after he had visited Mattress Underground. Thought you’d like to know the impact you have. Again, my wife and I would like to thank you for your assistance in making sense of the mattress world!


Hi Brad,

Congratulations on your new mattress!

One thing I’ve learned and am never allowed to “forget” is that when when it comes to the final choice of a mattress … the boss is usually the female half of the partnership :slight_smile:

I’m always happy too to hear that the site is having an effect. One small step at a time … and with the help of more informed consumers … I’m hopeful that local and independent manufacturing can slowly start to regain the market share it deserves and that quality information will replace marketing as the most important factor in the industry.

Thanks for your feedback


Congrates Brad! For New Mattress.