Are the low-end mattresses sold in retail stores really “prison mattresses?” That’s what one dealer called them when speaking to one of our bed-testing colleagues down the hall at Consumer Reports. That made them wonder: how would an actual mattress made for the prison market do compared to the mattresses that we use here on the outside?
There are important concerns in institutional mattresses that you might not think of. They’re cheap ($145), durable, and have sealed seams instead of sewn so inmates can’t remove the tough thread and use it as a weapon, or open a seam and conceal things they aren’t supposed to have inside the mattress. Derby, the company whose mattress they tested, even makes a model out of clear plastic that prison authorities can see through.
The mattress comes with a built-in pillow, which is a bonus. It resembles a thick gym mat, about five inches thick and filled only with foam. A thinner variation on the same mattress is available as a nap mat for schools and daycare facilities,
As you might expect, it’s very firm, which some people prefer in a mattress. It isn’t very bouncy, which is probably just as well. However, it didn’t do well with all of the standard mattress-testing criteria. It isn’t breathable, which is probably to be expected for a mattress coated in plastic fabric. It also scored only “Fair” in durability, which is a test that simulates eight years of regular use.
We were disappointed to see that the Derby isn’t included on their list of matrress ratings, probably because most people don’t actually want to buy one. Or ever have the opportunity to use one.
Doing Hard Time on Your Mattress? [Consumer Reports]