New to the forum- suggestions on iComfort Genius alternative?

My wife and I were at the Macy’s mattress sale and we tried out some king beds. We liked the iComfort Genius the best. If felt comfortable and firm and had excellent isolation when the other person moved. We also like the Sealy Captivate Ultrafirm with the idea of putting the iComfort memory foam pad on top.

Subsequently we found Mattress Underground and we learned that the iComfort is manufactured by Sleep Innovations and the Costco version of this mattress may not have the density of the iComfort.

We also learned in this post that we might prefer Talalay GL to the iComfort memory foam.

So any one have any suggestions on how to put together something more or less like the iComfort Genius with Talalay GL on top? It seems like we’d need a something like 6" or more of 44 ILD with 2" or 3" of 36 ILD or it with 2" or 3" of the Talalay GL on top.

Does that sound crazy? How could we try out something like this?

Should we just mail order and build ourselves or use a local manufacturer? We are in the Redmond, WA area.

Thanks in advance for ANY advice or suggestions.

Hi Shew,

I think that rather than trying to duplicate a specific mattress … a “safer” and much more accurate approach approach is to try to duplicate a certain set of characteristics that you like. In other words I would use the Genius as a “pointer” towards a target (your perfect mattress) rather than as the target itself. These characteristics can be “reached” with different materials rather than trying to duplicate a mattress that is made by a company that includes many unknowns in terms of the materials that they use.

The iComfort Genius has 2" of support foam (this would be polyurethane) over 2.75" of gel memory foam (basically a type of firmer memory foam) over a 6" support base of polyurethane. The problem is that Serta doesn’t release any of the details about the layers they use in terms of quality or softness (or at least very few of them).

To duplicate this … or at least come close … you would need to know the density, support factor, and ILD of the top layer of polyurethane (which Serta doesn’t release), you would need to know the ILD, support factor, and density of the gel foam they use (which Serta doesn’t release but the density is about 5 lbs) and you would need to know the density, support factor, and ILD of the base foam layer (which serta doesn’t release). Without knowing these details about each layer … the mattress can only be duplicated by testing other mattresses until you find one that “feels” the same. The problem with this is that the “feel” will vary from person to person depending on how each person interacts with the mattress layers and is also highly subjective. This would mean trying mattresses one at a time until you found one that felt the same to you (even though it may feel different to someone else that sinks into the mattress differently than you do). Even this would depend on the “accuracy” of a very subjective impression and your memory of it. If you have ever tried to test say 4 or 5 different mattresses in a store one after the other you will know how quickly our memories of the specifics of a particular mattress are lost so what you remember the next day will be even less accurate.

So a better way to find something that fits your “target” (your perfect mattress) is to use more objective standards than the feel of a particular mattress. This means using more objective measurements based on your needs and preferences. This will also allow you to test different materials and layers which may have the same performance but feel differently.

The two main functions of a mattress are pressure relief and spinal alignment. Because these are the most critical they are the most important thing to duplicate in another mattress.

Pressure relief depends on the ability of a mattress to form a cradle that matches your body shape and spread your weight over the surface of the mattress. This is the job of the upper layers of the mattress. Different materials can provide equal pressure relief (for example a softer latex and a high quality memory foam can provide equal pressure relief) even though they may feel very different.

Spinal alignment is the ability of the mattress to “stop” your heavier parts from sinking in too deeply into the mattress so that your spine is aligned in all your sleeping positions (with the same alignment as good standing posture). There are many different types of support layers that can all keep you in good alignment (the iComfort uses firmer polyfoam but innersprings and latex are also good and perhaps even better options in many cases). While any of these may work equally well … they will also feel differently from each other.

After these two main functions or “needs”, everything else is about preferences which is also where the “feel” comes from.

For example using latex or polyfoam in the upper layers of a mattress will result in a more “on” the mattress feel while using memory foam in the upper layers will result in a more “in” the mattress feel. Memory foam will “hold” you in position more while more resilient foams that react faster and are not heat sensitive will make movement easier and conform to new positions faster. Memory foam can also be more motion isolating or energy absorbing than other foams although this is increased when the memory foam in on the top of a mattress rather than a deeper layer and also depends on the other layers of the mattress. Other materials and types of layering also have different motion isolating properties that can approach memory foam.

Polyfoam has a more “dead” feeling as a support layer while latex is springer and an innerspring will be springier yet. These are also preferences of “feel”. Higher quality materials such as some of the better innersprings or latex can also adapt to different sleeping positions better than polyfoam or other lower quality materials.

Another example of “feel” is temperature regulation and breathability. Another in the case of memory foam is the “speed” of reaction and the degree of temperature sensitivity. Examples of other preferences that are not so much about feel but may be important to some are how natural the materials are and the degree of offgassing that they may have. Durability (and the price that goes with more durable materials) are also an important preference.

So some of the “pointers” that you can use the Genius for are …

  1. It seems you like a little bit more “on” the mattress feeling than sleeping directly on memory foam. The Genius points to this because the top two inches are an “instant reacting” polyfoam.

  2. Under this there is 2.75" of firmer than average memory foam (the gel foam). This would roughly translate into a higher density memory foam. This means that even though you like to be more “on” the mattress to some degree, that you also like a little bit of the “slow sinking in” that a deeper layer of memory foam can provide. This would be “in between” having an all fast reacting foam (like latex) in the comfort layers and having an all slower reacting foam (like memory foam) in the comfort layers.

  3. Because the Genius has 2" of firmer foam on top and then has firmer memory foam underneath this … it “points to” you liking a little bit firmer comfort layers overall. The Genius is slightly softer than the firmer insight but firmer than the Revolution and the Prodigy. This would translate into either a similar thickness of similar materials and layering or a slightly thinner layer of softer foam (which would have the firmer support layer underneath it to add a bit to the firmness).

  4. It would also point to an “average” support layer which is most likely the firmness level of the iComfort polyfoam used in the base foam.

  5. It would also point to a preference of good motion isolation (if this was one of the reasons you liked the Genius and were testing it with a partner). there are also different ways to achieve this if this is one of your considerations.

All of this assumes that you were testing the Genius specifically for pressure relief and alignment in all your sleeping positions (your needs) and specifically for various preferences rather than just an overall “feel”.

If this all seems too complex … then the simpler “translation” would be that you seem to like a mattress with a slightly firmer comfort layers, average support, a bit of a slow response feeling that holds you in the mattress and restricts movement a little bit along with some degree of a more “on” the mattress feeling and good motion isolation.

You may or may not like the feeling of a more springy support layer because you also liked the Sealy Captivate mattress which is an innerspring mattress and would have a much different feel than the iComfort polyfoam support core. Putting a gel memory foam topper on the Sealy would also feel very different than the Genius because you would be sleeping directly on the gel foam (firmer memory foam) which has a much different feel than sleeping on a comfort layer that has a more instant reacting polyfoam over the gel memory foam and because the innerspring would feel different from a polyfoam support core.

Besides all of this … the iComfort Genius (and the Sealy) of course is poor value and the prices are high for the quality of materials used.

What I would suggest is that you focus your efforts on some of the better outlets or factory direct manufacturers that are near you. Assuming that you tested the Genius specifically for pressure relief and alignment and not just the overall feel (which means the pointers would be fairly accurate) they will be able to use these “pointers” and help you find a mattress that has the same or better pressure relief, the same or better alignment, and a variety of different “feels”, some of which you may like even better than the Genius. In other words … the “target” that you end up choosing may be better than the Genius in some or all of the qualities that you need and prefer regardless of the materials and layering and the value will certainly be better. They will also help you to understand the different types of materials and how they will affect the durability and longevity of your mattress. Best of all … you won’t be paying a “premium” price for either average or lower quality materials.

Some of the better choices in the Seattle area are in post #2 here.

Hope this helps.


Thank you for the detailed response. Especially the list of top places to work with in the Seattle area.

On the iComfort Genius site they showed the 2.75" of CoolAction Gel Memory foam on the top layer. To see what I mean about the layering take a look at this link and click on the Genius picture.

Given this, do you think it would make sense to go with the layering that I described above? Talalay GL on top with a couple of layers of increasingly firm foam below?

Thank you again Phoenix. You insights and the site has made it possible to make sense out of a very complicated set of options and understand where the value is.

Hi Shew,

You are correct.

I often do a quick check on layering here (and a diagram here) because they have one of the best layering specs for many mainstream mattresses. They also have the same description here. I believe the Serta site is probably correct though.

Given that … I would say that 3" of the GL on top of a couple of inches of firmer foam (although the firmness of the Serta foam is unknown except that it is “support” foam) would be closer than the other way around yes.

Having said that … the feel of the Talalay GL is still not well known because not many people have tested it and compared it to other better known foams. Based on “reasonable expectations” though … it would seem to be somewhat similar in its properties (a firmer version of “pressure relieving” foam with slow recovery and a higher support factor) so a 3" GL layer could in theory come close. The GL would be more breathable and probably cooler as well.

While there would still be different ways to get the same level of pressure relief and alignment … the “feeling” of slow recovery foam on top would be hard to duplicate with faster recovery materials like polyurethane or “regular” latex because you wouldn’t sink in the same way. This means that if this was your preferred feel (and testing other types of materials on top of your mattress would confirm this) you would likely prefer either a firmer memory foam (5 lb or higher) with a relatively fast recovery (for memory foam) and less temperature sensitivity than “typical” memory foams … or slow recovery latex … on the top of your mattress.

Thanks for pointing out the layering error. It would make a significant difference.

Just to clarify as well … I usually list all the factory direct manufacturers in my “lists” but some are better than others and there are often retail outlets that compare well to some factory directs.

My preferences on the list that are in Seattle or north would be Slumberease (manufacturer), Bedrooms and more, (retail outlet) and 4day mattress store (retail outlet).


Great - that really helps - thanks again Phoenix.

Couple of additional questions and comments:

  1. Very helpful to know that Slumberease; Bedrooms and more; and 4day are top choices in the Seattle area. Just FYI the links for Slumberease’s and are both dead.
  2. Saw that you used for a quick reference - they seem pretty well informed. Are they a solid internet retailer?
  3. You suggested looking into a firmer (5 lb or higher) memory foam as an option. Do you have any recommendations or links? Are there firmer memory foams that come in a “cool” / breathable version; e.g. with a gel additive?

Hi Shew,

Thanks for letting me know. I’ve replaced Eastside with their new link and deleted Seattle Better Bedding (which was a duplicate site anyway).

I use them (and others) as a reference and for research but they don’t tend to carry the types of mattresses I would buy (local manufacturers and alternative brands that have better quality and value). If they happened to carry a specific mattress or product that I wanted for some reason and their price and return options (if that was important) was better than any other options that I had then I would probably buy from them but I can’t imagine this happening. They are the internet equivalent of a mass marketing outlet or chain store that carries mostly major brands and these are the types of outlets and brands that I tend to avoid for the most part. If I was buying from an outlet like this (mass marketing online outlet) … I would tend towards Costco, WalMart, and Sams Club because they offer no questions asked refunds.

This “seemingly” simple question has a far more complex answer that might be apparent.

There are hundreds of different types of memory foam that are formulated or fabricated differently to achieve different characteristics such as breathability (how open celled they are), response rate, temperature sensitivity, “relative” firmness (all memory foams are soft and suitable only for use in upper layers) and other properties. In addition to this … memory foam is only part of the mattress layering and how it feels and performs is also greatly affected by layer thickness and the layers that are above and below it. There are so many variables that only personal testing of a mattress or a more detailed conversation with a knowledgeable online outlet that knows the specific qualities of the mattresses they build or sell can answer these types of questions. Memory foam is a very “tricky” substance. There is more in post #9 here about the different qualities of memory foam. In terms of quality and durability … density is the most important “spec” but density is only loosely related to the other properties of memory foam.

In terms of gel memory foams … there are also several types in this emerging sub category of memory foam. There is more in post #26 here about the various types available. Each of these would have different properties as well because the gel polymer can also be added to a base of any of the many types of memory foam that are manufactured. I personally would tend to avoid the gel foams that have “beads” or “particles” of gel embedded in them. In general though … gel memory foams would be on the firmer end of the memory foam range and have a higher compression modulus (they get firmer faster with deeper compression) and because the gel is convective (like a marble countertop that feels cool) they would also tend towards being a little cooler than many memory foams but they would still have many of the drawbacks of memory foams in general and like all memory foam I would tend towards using thinner layers rather than the much thicker layers that are quite common in many mattresses today and that I believe is much more risky in terms of alignment. It is yet to be seen if gel foams are just one more temporary phenomenon or whether they are just a “me too” response. IMO … their benefits are overblown in the current marketing frenzy but there is also some basis of “truth” to some of the claims about them.

A firmer, less temperature sensitive, faster response, higher density, and more breathable memory foam would provide similar qualities to a gel foam. Higher density memory foam (like the 7 and 8 lb memory foams available) would also tend towards being firmer although this is not directly linked to density. They are also more conforming (than gel foam as well) but they tend to take longer to conform. In other words … they have more “memory”. The rest of the mattress layering would also have as much or more to do with the overall feel and performance of a mattress that included gel foam than the gel foam itself. Aerus (made by Foamex/FXI) is an example of a much more highly breathable “regular” memory foam but it is softer than the gel foams. All of the foam manufacturers though are making more breathable and “cooler” versions of memory foam using various methods ranging from different formulations and foam pouring methods, ways of mechanically or chemically opening up the cells, fabrication methods like punching holes in the foam, using various types of channels to encourage airflow, or using various phase change additives or various types of ticking/quilting layers to cool down the sleeping temperature.

Overall … whether a foam was a “gel” memory foam or a “regular” memory foam wouldn’t matter to me nearly as much as the combination of factors that lead to a mattress having good pressure relief, alignment, and sleeping cooler and performing and feeling the way I wanted. Just like one mattress that has memory foam can be very different from another … the same is true with a mattress that includes gel memory foam. Both types in essence are just visco elastic slow recovery foams that use different methods to get to similar goals. I would either make decisions between them based on personal testing and making sure that the mattress layers had the quality that justified the price of the mattress I liked best and/or (just as importantly) I would use the knowledge and expertise of the person I was buying from (either online or in person) to tell me about the specific qualities of the materials they are using in their mattresses. This of course assumes that I am buying from someone who is more knowledgeable about mattress materials and construction and has much less focus on “marketing” than they do on educating. The more they know and the more they are on your side (rather than on the side of their profit margin) … the less a consumer has to learn.


Reading through Phoenix’s posting, the iComfort Genius is described as having a top poly layer, then memory foam below - which is what you would think based on the mattress’ description (both on-line and on the card in the store). BUT we were just looking at one this afternoon and got the store manager to unzip the cover for us. Looking at it directly, it really looks like the memory foam is the top layer (it’s thicker than the layer below, when you poke a finger in it feels like memory foam, it’s blue and looks exactly like our recently purchased Novaform gel memory foam topper!). If you lie on it, it definitely feels firm - like a firm traditional mattress more than like a memory foam mattress. Not sure what is going on with it (though I almost fell asleep on it testing it in the store).

Hi shroop,

I’m not sure where you read that the polyfoam was on top for either the Genius or any of the iComfort mattresses because as you are mentioning it’s the other way around. Post #11 here has the layering for all of the iComfort series and they all have either gel memory foam or regular memory foam in the top layer. In the Genius … the layer below the gel memory foam is what Serta calls “support foam” which is a low density but very firm polyfoam which provides the firmness of the Genius but which is subject to early softening.

Sleep Innovations (actually Advanced Urethane Technologies which is their foam pouring division) makes both the gel memory foam for Serta and for Novaform but the Serta version is a higher density and quality (although I don’t think that any “particulate” gel memory foam is as high a quality as the types of gel foams that are mixed together as a liquid). You can read about the different types of gel memory foams in post #2 here.

Unfortunately you can’t “feel” quality and low quality materials can feel and perform just as well as higher quality materials … for a short while. The only way to know the quality or durability of a mattress (outside of actually using it over time) is to know the details of the layers that are in it.