The best-known mattress in a box brand in Australia, Koala, released three new versions of their popular mattress last year, with the entry-level option simply dubbed the “New Koala Mattress”. This was in addition to the Calm-As, which was a winner at the Product of the Year 2021 awards, and the high-end SoulMate, of which a King is almost $3,000.
Given the original Koala Mattress was still one of the best-reviewed and most popular boxed mattresses in the country (until it was discontinued and manufacturing outsourced to China), is it worth the upgrade? We tested the new entry-level throughout spring to try and get a better idea of how it performs in both cooler and hotter temperatures.
I’ve owned both an Eva and a Koala mattress before, and while there are no significant differences between the two, I’ve always found the Eva to be a bit softer and Koala favouring the firmer side of the scale. It seems that’s no mistake, as the brand clearly attempts to win over those who love their firmer mattresses, which can mean the New Koala Mattress may feel like it has less give for those who prefer to sink into their sleep.
The construction has changed significantly, and as such the New Koala Mattress now comes in 2 boxes instead of 1. One box contains the sleep surface (mattress bass), which is made from a blend of polyester and Tencel Lyocell fabric for better moisture absorption (still, get a mattress protector) and breathability. The non-slip polyester bottom layer is a nice touch to avoid the mattress slipping and sliding around on the bed, although my Queen didn’t perfectly fit my Queen base – there’s no avoiding at least some sliding around, hence I’d occasionally need to re-adjust.
This 2nd box is packed with a new kind of layer that you sit on top of the sleep surface, and it can be flipped over with each side offering something different. It’s a neat touch, but would probably be better realised in the more expensive Calm As and Soul Mate mattresses, given that it still feels like a bit of a gimmick.
Although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Koala is clearly trying to show its customers how flexible a mattress really is, especially for the sleeper who doesn’t really think about the technology and construction of their mattress as a function of their specific needs. However, this isn’t the only brand that offers customisation features on a mattress in a box now. But Koala is clearly at the top for a reason.
The middle of the mattress is a Kloudcell comfort layer made from Polyrethane foam, constructed in such a way that the customisable mattress offers a firm side, and a medium-firm side. On top, you’ve got a 3-zone high-density support layer. Koala suggests that all sleepers, regardless of preference, start with the medium-firm side (there’s a label on each side of make it easier) to get a feel of things before flipping it around.
Both sides are connected to the sleep surface with a zipper, which quite honestly is a bit of a pain to use. The small cylindrical clips and zipper are meant to be there to make it easier to detach and flip the mattress, but they do require a bit of patience and slow, delicate movements to sew up.
The medium-firm side has a softer, spongier feel and will probably be the preferred layer amongst most sleepers. Flip it around to the firm side and you’ll get a bit more harshness, but better stability and spinal support. This would be a better side of those who like to sleep straight on their back, or who sleep with a partner and want their movements isolated to minimise partner disturbance.
But that’s not to say the medium-firm side doesn’t offer good spinal support as well. In fact, I could barely discern the difference between the two. That’s why, as above, I see the customisation as somewhat of a nascent idea that’s possibly better realised by the Calm As and Soul Mate. I’ve tested neither so cannot comment further.
One thing is for sure. This New Koala Mattress is at least a noticeable improvement on the original. There’s much more stability and balance, which is testament to Koala’s improved design. If you want better sleep, it is well worth upgrading.
However, edge support is still an issue for Koala, but that’s an issue for most mattress in a box brands that focus more on contouring in the centres rather than at the edges. This wouldn’t be much of an issue for most sleepers, but it’s still worth mentioning.
Verdict & Value
Koala’s generous 120-night trial and super fast delivery still makes the brand to beat when it comes to mattresses in a box. I admire the fact that they have now gone into customisable mattresses as a standard, and are offering three different mattresses to make the point. The box concept is still super convenient, especially for anyone renting, and Koala’s customer service is always reliable.
The product, however, is good but not as excellent as it promised to be. The technology is tight, the firmness is solid, but promising a difference between two layers that simply isn’t there may leave some sleepers feeling a bit shortchanged. It would be much more valuable to offer two significantly different sides so that sleepers can really dial in their preference, which is what I suspect the Calm As and Soul Mate mattresses are for. As it stands, consider the New Koala Mattress a good entry-level mattress, priced a bit higher than an entry-level mattress should be.
THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Highlights: Much better support when compared to the original; still super convenient even when 2 boxes; very light and easy to change linen.
Lowlights: Expensive; not a huge difference between medium-firm and firm.
Price: $1,050 (for Queen size)