Last updated: August 10, 2021

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Toppers are a good solution to make sleep more restful and to prevent back pain of various kinds. They are made of various materials and fit almost every mattress. Although a topper is a relatively simple product, there are a few things to consider when buying one to ensure you get a product that suits your personal needs.

With our Topper Test 2021 we want to help you find the best topper for your mattress. We have compared different materials and hardness levels, and presented the respective advantages and disadvantages. To make your purchase decision as easy as possible, we have listed toppers for each specific need.




The most important facts

  • A mattress topper is a very good solution to make your sleeping surface more comfortable. It also helps to relieve all kinds of back and joint pain.
  • The variations of toppers are mainly determined by individual use, sleeping position as well as preferred sleeping temperature and much more.
  • New materials are constantly being developed for the foam core. In this article we will name the most commonly used ones and describe them in detail.

The Best Topper: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for toppers

In the next sections we will show you which aspects you should consider when buying a topper. The criteria you can use to compare the different types of toppers include:

Material

A topper consists of a core and a cover, just like ordinary mattresses. The core and mattress of the topper can be made of different materials. Each material has special properties and functions, which we will explain in a moment. We have shown the most common material variants in the core in the following sections:

Cold foam

Cold foam is a very elastic material. This means that it quickly adapts to your body shape and quickly returns to its original shape after sleeping.

A topper core made of cold foam is very good at wicking away moisture and is very breathable thanks to its structure. This material is suitable for those who sweat a lot during sleep and sleep relatively restlessly.

Advantages
  • breathable
  • relatively firm
  • wicks away moisture
Disadvantages
  • not suitable for people who prefer to lie on a soft surface

Latex

Latex is also a very breathable material for toppers as it is perforated through the manufacturing process. Latex is also one of the softest fabrics you can find in the core for toppers.

Advantages
  • breathable
  • very soft
Disadvantages
  • not suitable for people who prefer to lie on a hard surface

Visco foam

Visco foam (also called memory foam) is a thermo-active material that reacts to temperatures: when it is cold it is relatively firm and when it is warm this topper is softer and more adaptable. Because visco foam is thermoelastic, it adapts to the figure through body heat.

When the sleeping position is changed, Visco foam only slowly returns to its original shape. As a rule, this material is suitable for people who prefer to be warmer when sleeping because Visco foam retains heat. This material is not a good choice for people who sweat a lot while sleeping.

Advantages
  • thermoelastic
  • relatively soft
  • suitable for those who freeze at night
Disadvantages
  • not suitable for people who sweat at night
  • no good recovery

Soft foam

Soft foam (also called PU foam, comfort foam or soft foam) is much more breathable compared to cold foam. This is a good solution for people who sweat especially during sleep.

The lying feeling is soft and the degree of hardness is low. This means that toppers made of comfort foam adapt very quickly to the shape of the body and return to their original shape. This material is therefore particularly suitable for lighter people who often change their sleeping position.

Advantages
  • very breathable
  • relatively soft
  • very elastic
Disadvantages
  • not suitable for people who prefer to lie on a hard surface

Gel foam

Gel foam is a relatively new material that is very popular. It is elastic, adapts quite well to the shape of the body, has high pressure relief, good resilience and is very breathable. A gel foam topper combines the positive features of visco foam and cold foam. The disadvantage of gel foam toppers is that they are relatively expensive.

Advantages
  • very breathable
  • relatively soft
  • good resilience
Disadvantages
  • relatively expensive

Other materials are constantly being developed in some product niches: Mesh, pocket springs as well as down and even camel hair. However, these are not among the most common variants.

Hardness level

The degree of hardness for the topper is not so easy to determine, as there are no standards. Basically, it can be said that the core should not be too soft or too hard. This usually depends on the body weight. One can make a rough division from the hardness level to the body weights:

Body weight in Kg Hardness level
60-80 H2
80-100 H3
100-130 H4
from 130 H5

This classification should not be taken too strictly, but rather as a guide. The degree of hardness should be considered together with the material of the core.

Height

Most toppers are about 4 cm to 10 cm high. The higher the topper, the better the sinking depth. A high topper is usually suitable for heavy people.

With regard to this criterion, the perfect solution is very subjective: it is advisable to give some thought to your own sleeping habits before buying and, if allowed, simply try out the topper.

Volume weight

The volume weight (RG) indicates how many kilograms of the raw mass of a synthetic material are contained in one cubic metre of foam before processing. This is an important quality feature: the higher the volume weight, the better the quality and durability.

Also, the higher the RG, the faster the topper returns to its original shape. A good topper usually has at least 30-40 Kg/m³ RG. The following table shows the estimated durability of each density level:

Volume weight (Kg/m³) Quality Durability (years)
RG 20-25 low 1-2
RG 30 standard 2-3
RG 35 good 5-6
RG 40 good 6-8
RG 50-60 very good 10
RG 75 very good over 10

The volume weight of a mattress or topper can also be calculated manually using this formula: Weight of topper (in Kg) / [Länge x Breite x Höhe] (in m³) = Volume weight (Kg/m³).

Heat loss

Another important criterion to consider when buying a topper for your mattress is your preferred sleeping temperature, or whether you are usually warm or cold at night when sleeping.

If you often sweat while sleeping, then you should rather choose a topper in a breathable material, such as cold foam or gel. If you often get cold at night, then it makes more sense to buy a topper made of Visco foam.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about toppers answered in detail

What is a topper and why is it worth it?

A topper is a thinner mattress that is placed on top of the bed to provide extra comfort and prolong the life of your mattress. A common topper is between 7 and 15 cm thick and can be made of different materials.

Because a topper can provide extra comfort, it can help people with sleep disorders fall asleep. Also, if you choose the right one for your own needs, a topper can help you with back pain.

In the following video you can take a close look at whether a topper makes sense for you or not:

In most cases, a topper is intended for box-spring beds, but it can also be used on normal beds to improve the sleeping experience.

What types of toppers are there?

If you want to buy a topper, there are six options to choose from:

  • Topper for back sleepers
  • Topper for side sleepers
  • Topper for stomach sleepers
  • Topper for heat-sensitive people
  • Toppers for people who are sensitive to cold
  • Topper for people who sleep restlessly

The different types each have advantages and disadvantages. Depending on what you prefer, a different type will be suitable for you. The following section is designed to help you decide.

Topper for back sleepers

If you prefer to sleep on your back, a topper made of cold foam, Visco foam or latex is very suitable. You should also consider whether you prefer to sleep on a soft or hard surface: Visco foam, latex or gel are best in the first case, whereas cold foam with an appropriate firmness level can provide a firm lying feeling. You should also consider whether you sweat during the night while sleeping: in this case, Visco foam is not recommended.

Topper for side sleepers

For side sleepers, a soft topper is usually the best solution. If you sleep on one side, the sleeping surface should adapt to your body shape particularly well to avoid back pain.

If you prefer to sleep on your side, a soft topper is recommended.

In this case, toppers made of Visco foam, latex or gel, with at least 40-50 kg/m3 as a volume weight, depending on your usual sleeping temperature, are best suited.

Topper for stomach sleepers

If you like to sleep on your stomach, a firm topper is recommended. A soft topper will help prevent a hollow back and other aches and pains.

If you fall into this category, a cold foam topper with at least 45 kg/m3 density is a very good solution for you. If you prefer to sleep warmer, then you can purchase a Visco foam topper with a high degree of firmness.

Toppers for people who are sensitive to heat

Many people are warm when they sleep and some sweat a lot. However, there are some toppers that can help with this.

Visco foam is not recommended if you are always warm when you sleep.

If this is the case for you, we recommend a topper made of soft foam, gel or latex.

However, these materials are relatively soft: if you prefer a firm lying feeling, we recommend either the above-mentioned materials with a high degree of hardness or a topper made of cold foam.

Topper for people sensitive to cold

If you are one of those who often feel cold at night, you should choose a topper made of Visco foam.

Visco foam softens with body heat and adapts very precisely to your body shape. This material has a relatively high heat storage capacity, which is why it is suitable for low room temperatures.

A Visco foam topper is also relatively soft.

If you prefer to lie on a harder surface, then you should pay attention to the degree of hardness or choose a topper made of cold foam, which stores little heat but is somewhat firmer.

Toppers for people who sleep restlessly

There are also some people who do not have a preferred sleeping position and sleep relatively restlessly. In this case, toppers made of cold foam (for the desired firm lying feeling) and soft foam (for the desired soft lying feeling) are particularly recommended. Visco foam is not recommended in this case, as the heat retention could serve to disturb sleep and stimulate sweating.

What is the difference between a topper and a mattress topper?

As mentioned above, a topper is used for comfort and can improve the quality of sleep by also having a positive effect on back pain.

A mattress topper is thinner and is designed to support the hygiene of the bed as well as temperature regulation.

Topper-1

A topper on your mattress can significantly improve the quality of sleep. (Photo source: 123rf.com / belchonock)

What does a topper cost?

Depending on the materials and size, the prices of mattress toppers can vary greatly.

For cold foam, visco foam and soft foam toppers, the prices are usually between 60 and 130 euros, depending on the volume weight: the higher the volume weight, the higher the prices.

Gel foam and latex are high-quality materials that serve a good sleeping comfort and have a long life. With gel foam, the prices are a little higher: you start with 100 euros as a bargain price and even go up to 300 euros.

What are the alternatives to a topper?

Many people simply use a mattress topper as an alternative to a topper. Mattress toppers are usually thinner than a topper, around 2 to 5 cm. A mattress topper can also serve to regulate the temperature.

Topper-2

Toppers look like thin mattresses. Many use a mattress topper instead. However, this does not provide ergonomics and comfort, but rather hygiene. (Image source: 123rf.com / Popov)

Unlike the topper, however, this alternative does not provide comfort and a better lying feeling, but rather serves as a hygienic barrier between the mattress and the bed sheet.

How often should I change my topper?

When answering this question, the quality level plays an important role. Toppers with a low density (less than 30) will only last 2 to 3 years before they start to develop hollows.

Average-weight toppers usually last about 5 years before needing a change, whereas high-quality toppers can last well for up to 10 years.

How do I clean my topper?

Most mattress toppers have a zip so they can be pulled off and washed in the washing machine. Usually the entire topper cannot be washed, only the cover.

As far as the temperature for washing is concerned, you should take a look at the label. The same applies if you want to use a tumble dryer.

Topper-3

It is very important to keep your topper clean and to clean it regularly to remove dust and mites. (Image source: 123rf.com / belchonock )

It is very important that the foam core and cover are not combined until the cover is completely dry. Otherwise, the remaining moisture can result in unpleasant odours or even mould.

How often you should clean the topper depends on various factors: if you sweat during the night, the topper should be cleaned at least once a month. It is also recommended to clean the topper after the sleeper has been ill.

Image source: lightfieldstudios / 123rf.com

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