Wool mattresses and toppers

Thanks for this great site. I am currently sleeping on a 20 year old Simmons Beautyrest mattress. It’s a traditional innerspring double sided mattress that has served me well enough. I suspect that I am not a very sensitive sleeper. Lately I wake up some times with a sore hip but mostly I sleep ok on this somewhat lumpy and saggy mattress. It is time to replace it. I am 5’2", 160lb and a side sleeper. I have thought about getting a double sided latex mattress but I worry about it being too heavy for me to flip. I think the fact that my mattress is double sided has increased it longevity. I am intrigued by the shibutons at Soaring Heart. They can be layered. The arrangement which appeals to me is a 3" cotton shibuton plus a 3" dunlop latex shibuton plus a wool topper. I could flip and rotate each individual layer easily I suspect. I would appreciate your comments on this set up. I tend to like things on the firm side but with a bit of give on top.

I am also intrigued by the wool mattresses at Surround Ewe. Something else I have thought about doing is ordering a wool topper to try out on my present aging mattress and see how I liked the feel and then decided what I wanted to get to put underneath it. Do you think this could work or is my mattress so far gone that I wouldn’t be able to come to any valid conclusions?

Optimally I would like a setup that could last another 20 years (I’ll be 84 by then and who knows?) What’s nice about Soaring Heart and Surround Ewe is that their products can be renewed rather than replaced.


Hi jrisman,

While this is longer than most people would use a mattress … it also goes to show that the quality and durability of the mattresses the major manufacturers were building 20 years ago when two sided mattresses were more common was higher than they are today. The industry has changed a lot since then … and not for the better IMO. Simmons was actually the manufacturer that started the trend away from two sided mattresses a little more than a decade ago and the other major manufacturers quickly followed suit.

I would certainly agree that it’s time to replace it :).

Latex is a very durable material and while double sided is still a good option and a “value bonus” even for a more durable material … it is not as necessary as when you have lower quality/durability materials in the mattress where a double sided mattress can extend its lifespan considerably. This is particularly true if a mattress has removable layers where the upper layers which are more prone to softening can be replaced without replacing the whole mattress.

Both wool and latex (either good quality Dunlop or Talalay) are great materials and each has it’s own advantages and disadvantages vs other materials. This would certainly be a “natural” mattress and would also be very breathable and temperature regulating. In the end though … it would be a matter of personal preference based on both your “needs” (pressure relief and alignment) and your preferences (a list of the most important of these for most people is in post #2 here). So while I can’t speak to how you will like this particular combination (your body will tell you more than I can) … it would certainly be a high quality and durable choice. Wool tends to become firmer than various foams when it compresses over time which I would take into account as well if you use it in a thicker top layer. I do think highly of Soaring heart and their knowledge and experience with wool.

I think that adding a wool topper to your current mattress will have a beneficial effect and would give you some sense of how a thicker wool sleeping surface will feel but it’s really not possible to “fix” a mattress that has become too soft except on a partial or temporary basis. So as an experiment into the feel and properties of wool it would be a good idea (bearing in mind that it will feel different on softened comfort layers than it would on different materials or layering underneath) but as a solution to a mattress that was past its due date … it may help to some degree but would not be a viable long term solution IMO. Some of the better sources for wool toppers and products are in post #3 here and they would be well worth talking to (they were all very knowledgeable and informative about wool when I talked with them).

You are certainly looking at very durable materials. The latex may last that long (depending on the specific type and layering you choose) … but most people would tend to replace a wool topper sooner than that (perhaps in the range of 10 years or so depending on how sensitive they are to its compression). As you mentioned though … the wool can be re-carded and used in a replacement and this will save a small amount in its replacement (although the savings are not that significant, every little bit helps and re-using it is certainly more eco friendly :)).

Overall though … a combination of latex and wool would make great choices IMO but the key is to find the specific combination that best fits your needs and preferences and the “feel” you are looking for. I think that conversations with the manufacturers and asking lots of questions along with testing a wool topper will give you a much better sense of how you will like it’s unique properties and performance and whether this is a good direction for you. Any local outlets that gave you the ability to test these combinations would also be a big help because your own personal experience is more meaningful than the “theory” of how different layering combinations will feel.


Thanks Phoenix. I think the latex mattress with a wool topper is the way I will probably go. I plan to go to Fly By Night in Northampton MA to see what they have to try. It’s about 45 minutes away from where I am in Vermont. I talked to Soaring Heart today and they recommended:

which looks really nice, but of course I can’t try it out.


Hi jrisman,

I think highly of fly by night but since you are looking in the area anyway … post #4 here has another couple of local manufacturers in the same area that may be worth including in your trip.


I went to Fly By Night today and tried out the Berkeley Ergonomic mattresses. I bought the 8" firm all latex mattress with the firmer of the 2 possible comfort layers. I asked about the ILD’s of the layers and they were looking them up for me and then I forgot to get them. Whatever they are, the mattress felt great and if I decide I want to soften it up I will buy a wool topper, but I really don’t think I will need one. I wasn’t really planning to buy it today, just try it out, but it felt so good that I really didn’t think I could do better, especially since there isn’t anyplace else nearby that sells 100% natural latex mattresses that I can try.

I tried out the BE innerspring with latex mattresses but I really liked the feel of the latex rather than the springiness of the coils. I also bought a basic platform bed called the Yarmouth, no headboard but solid and nice looking and reasonably priced. All and all I am very happy with my purchases and the store is the opposite of high pressure. After being shown around the various mattress offerings the salesman left me alone to lie on them for as long as I liked. I imagine that this is the opposite of the experience I would have had if I had gone to Sleepy’s, the only mattress store that did not involve a long ride but I chose not to even bother. I was the only person wandering around the mattresses while I was there so it was a perfect mattress shopping experience. The other brand of latex mattresses they had was Pure Latex Bliss but all of them felt too soft to me. I seems to like firmer rather than softer mattresses, which is what I thought and have now verified. I spend many years sleeping on a cotton futon until I could feel the slats through the futon.

Another plus about getting my mattress locally (I am just at the northern edge of their delivery zone) is that they will carry the mattress and bed up to my second floor apartment, put it all together, clean up all debris and even remove my old mattress and box spring, for a price of course, but reasonable. I live alone and ordering a mattress online and having it delivered to my threshold for me to figure out how to deal with seemed daunting to me. I thought I was going to get a mattress from Soaring Heart. Their website is very seductive and their products appeal to my sense of aesthetics and ecological consciousness but I think I have made a very good choice going with the BE mattress, even if it is well over any amount of money I ever thought I would spend on a mattress. It has to be ordered but I should get it in about 4 weeks,

Thanks Phoenix for this wonderful site. I couldn’t have done it without you. I told them about this site and that you recommend them and the salesman said he would have to check out the forum, so perhaps he will.

Here’s the mattress: http://www.flybynight.com/8-Firm-Natural-Talalay-Latex-Mattress_p_921.html

and here’s the bed (without the drawers) http://www.flybynight.com/Yarmouth-Bed_p_536.html


Hi jrisman,

As you probably know I think highly of the Berkeley Ergonomics mattresses and I also think highly of the people at Fly By Night. In my conversations with them they have always been helpful, informative, and open about their mattresses. I particularly like the video they have here which is very much in alignment with the values and goals of this site.

The owner there is also very interesting and he lives his ideals and “off the grid”.

So congratulations on your new mattress. I think you made a good choice and I also appreciate your feedback for other members of the forum to read :slight_smile:



I hadn’t seen that video before but Richard was there today and although he isn’t the person I primarily dealt with I did interact with him a bit and he gives off a very nice vibe. I thought he was the owner. The whole store gives off a nice vibe in fact and that must be his doing. I don’t know whether you are familiar with this area but it is filled with aging hippies like myself, back to the earth 60’s type folk, and Richard must be one of them/us too. I am in Brattleboro VT about 45 minutes north of Northampton where the store is located. For the most part Brattleboro keeps the big stores out and still has a thriving downtown filled with small shops but somehow Sleepy’s managed to set up shop on the outskirts of town.

I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my mattress and bed. I will be happy to see the old Simmons Beautyrest depart, although I can’t complain. It served me well for a long time but I look forward to sleeping on my Berkeley Ergonomic all natural latex.

I also wanted to add that this site got me thinking about the meaning of the term “value”. I generally opt to pay a little extra for good quality but still I shop around for things not liking to overpay. The BE mattress was probably not the least expensive option I could have gone with but for me value included the ease of delivery and set-up from a local merchant including not only the mattress but the platform bed as well.

Thanks again,

Hi jrisman,

I couldn’t agree with you more. Each person can have a different idea of all the things that are more or less important to them and where you buy a mattress (or anything else for that matter) and the knowledge and service they provide is just as important a part of the purchase and its “value” as the product. This is what I call someone’s “value equation” (some of the many things that may be part of this are in post #46 here) and even though BE may not be the least expensive mattress you can buy … they have great quality, are lower priced than most similar mattresses that use similar quality materials, and the knowledge and service of their retailers (like Fly By Night) and their ability and willingness to help their customers make good choices is among the best.

And I do like the platform bed you chose as well … It looks great :slight_smile: