Help me narrow down my choice

I’m so confused & poor health makes me unable to devote the energy to research that seems needed. I hope you can clear things up for me a bit!
I have some special needs: MCS means I can not tolerate offgassing from memory foam, risky fire retardants & that sort of thing. Latex allergy is not so bad that I need a latex-free factory but I do need a latex-free mattress. And I live in the middle of nowhere & am not well enough to travel, so I can’t try in person, I am stuck ordering online. I live on the Canadian-US border so can buy from either country.

I have a bad back/shoulder/hips/knees so that’s a factor. I don’t want to have to flip or rotate a mattress if I can avoid it! And I need sufficient support but enough (sorry I forget the lingo) loft to prevent pressure points (did that come out right LOL?).

And I just won Disability so I have a retro pay lump sum. This means I can invest a fair amount in my mattress, but since this lump sum is the only significant money I’ll ever see for the rest of my life, I need to get a good value for my expenditure. Not some silly expensive luxury mattress that wears out in five years!

I am considering a wool mattress. They are very firm but with a thick topper of fluffier wool to add softness, they might be very comfy. I have slept surprisingly well on futons. The 2 manufacturers I looked at claimed their mattresses would last generations! That seems like a good value! But could they really be OK for a bad back? One was “surround ewe” and the other “shepherd’s dream”, btw. We do live in a swampy region and I wonder if wool might breathe less, & get moldy, in the 80%+ humidity of our summers. Or did I read somewhere that wool resists mold?

The other thing I was looking at would surely breathe well & not mold- coils on coils. Naturepedic is the one I was looking at. It has pocket coils inside and micro coils on top, with a pad of cotton & wool on top of that. I assume that the coils would wear out some day while a wool mattress would still be going strong. Right? Making this the lower value in the long run. BUT, if I had a moldy wool mattress go to the dump, that sure wouldn’t be a great financial situation!

So my biggest sources of indecision are wondering which type would be best for my chronic pain, and which would withstand a humid climate best, and lastly which would give the longest life & thus the best cost-per-year-of-use.

Thanks to anyone who’s taken the time to read this!

Hi KittyMac,

Welcome to the Mattress Forum! :slight_smile:

While researching a mattress can indeed be confusing, the mattress shopping tutorial here breaks it down into easily manageable steps and is a good reference to have. In its simplest form, choosing the “best possible” mattress for any particular person really comes down to FIRST finding a few knowledgeable and transparent retailers and/or manufacturers (online for you) that sell the types of mattresses that you are most interested in that are in a budget range you are comfortable with and that you have confirmed will provide you with the all the information you need about the materials and components inside the mattresses they sell so you will be able to make informed choices and meaningful comparisons between mattresses and then …

  1. Careful testing (hopefully using the testing guidelines in the tutorial) to make sure that a mattress is a good match for you in terms of “comfort”, firmness, and PPP … and/or that you are comfortable with the options you have available to return, exchange, or “fine tune” the mattress and any costs involved if you can’t test a mattress in person or aren’t confident that your mattress is a suitable choice. As you stated you can’t go out and test anything locally, you would then rely upon detailed phone conversations with knowledgeable and reliable manufacturers or retailers.

  2. Checking to make sure that there are no lower quality materials or weak links in a mattress you are considering relative to your weight/BMI range that could compromise the durability and useful life of the mattress (see the durability guidelines here).

  3. Comparing your finalists for “value” based on #1 and #2 and all the other parts of your personal value equation that are most important to you.

I’m sorry to learn of your multiple health issues. It sounds as if some sort of mattress without any foam might be more appropriate for you.

Wool mattresses can feel soft or hard, depending upon the type of breed used for the raw wool and the thickness and resilience of the wool fibers, the compression of the wool batts, the tufting or quilting of the topper, and the overall construction and layering of the mattress/topper along with the amount of wool inside will all affect the feel and performance. Wool is a great material that is a strong preference for some people and there are certainly some good benefits to sleeping on wool but it will be different and firmer than sleeping on a soft foam material, and it will also get a little firmer (by about 30%) as it compresses over time.

Futons generally use cotton on the inside, but there are some made with wool.

While a good wool mattress can have a durable comfort life, I wouldn’t consider it to be something lasting for generations, although there are wool comforters, toppers and blankets that people keep for a very long time (which again wouldn’t be the norm nor would I recommend).

There would be no way for any company, manufacturer or individual to be able to predict what might be best for your back, as there is no one mattress that is best for a bad back. The most important goal of a mattress is to provide a sleeping surface that helps to provide a more “neutral” alignment and allow you to relax while doing so. What that might be would be different for each person.

Both of those companies are very knowledgeable about their products and I think highly of them and their products. A good source of information about wool, and manufacturers who make wool mattresses and toppers, are listed in post #3 here. I wouldn’t hesitate to browse their web sites and follow up with any of them with a phone call for any particular questions that you might have.

Wool is better at “storing” moisture inside while it stays dry on the outside of the fiber and gradually releases the moisture inside it into the surrounding atmosphere which is why it does such a great job at controlling humidity and temperature. Wool will not control the humidity in a room, but it can help to create a bit more of a comfortable sleeping environment in a more humid atmosphere.

Mold can exist in any type of material as long as there is enough moisture, a proper temperature, high humidity, and a food source. There are even mildews that are specific to wool. The key is to control the humidity within your bedroom (below 65%; 45%-55% preferable) and a temperature between 64-68 degrees also commonly being recommended.

See my note above about mold and where it can grow.

Their EOS mattress can be ordered without latex. The steel in the springs would generally last longer than wool as a comfort layer, as the wool will compress over time and become firm, and a tempered steel spring will tend to maintain a more consistent feel longer than a comfort layer of wool.

Unfortunately, I can only help with “how” to choose. It’s just not possible to make specific suggestions or recommendations for either a mattress, manufacturers/retailers, or combinations of materials or components, because the first “rule” of picking out a mattress is to always remember that you are the only one that can feel what you feel on a mattress and there are too many unknowns, variables, and personal preferences involved that are unique to each person (especially with your unique health concerns) to use a formula or for anyone to be able to predict or make a specific suggestion or recommendation about which mattress or combination of materials and components or which type of mattress would be the best “match” for you in terms of “comfort”, firmness, or PPP or how a mattress will “feel” to you or compare to another mattress based on specs (either yours or a mattress), sleeping positions, health conditions, or “theory at a distance” that can possibly be more reliable than your own careful testing (hopefully using the testing guidelines in step 4 of the tutorial) or your own personal sleeping experience (see mattress firmness/comfort levels in post #2 here).

While it’s not possible to “diagnose” bad back or comfort issues on a forum with any certainty because they can be very complex and there are too many unique unknowns, variables, and complexities involved that can affect how each person sleeps on a mattress in terms of “comfort”, firmness, and PPP or any “symptoms” they experience … there is more about the most common symptoms that people may experience when they sleep on a mattress and the most likely (although not the only) reasons for them in post #2 here .

Another source of information (although certainly not a complete listing) for you regarding mattresses of which I am aware that do not use foams are listed here.

I hope this information gives you a good start in your search.


Wow thanks very much, so much useful info, and such a fast reply! You’re very kind.
I have a lot of reading and thinking to do…

Hi KittyMac,

You’re welcome. I hope the information proves useful for you.