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Idle Gel Foam vs Gel Plush

Updated October 26, 2020

Idle Gel Foam is the Right Pick If You:

  • Prefer a sinkier feel
  • Are on a tight budget
  • Tend to have trouble engaging with the deeper layers of your mattress
  • Have a BMI between 18-22
  • Sleep primarily on your side and/or back
  • Have a sleep partner and need excellent motion transfer reduction
  • Sleep hot

Idle Gel Foam is the Right Pick If You:

  • Prefer a firmer feel
  • Are willing to invest a little more in a mattress of higher quality
  • Have a BMI over 22 and want a mattress with excellent contour without excessive sinkage
  • Sleep primarily on your side and/or back
  • Have a sleep partner and need excellent motion transfer reduction
  • Sleep hot

We have the unique opportunity today to take a side-by-side look at Idle’s 12-inch Gel Foam mattress and the 14-inch Gel Plush mattress. Each comes with two complimentary gel memory foam pillows with a value of up to $296.

Both present a unique approach in the balance of memory foam sinkage with responsive buoyancy to reduce pressure points without that notorious excessive hug of traditional memory foam, and you’re definitely going to want to see how their cooling technology worked out in our heat transfer test, so keep reading!

About Idle Sleep

It’s been 14 years since the first bed-in-a-box was shipped, and this has been more than enough time for companies to improve upon the ways they cater to the needs of their customers. While many newer companies get the ball rolling by producing medium products that suit the average person in an attempt to reach the broadest customer base possible, more established companies like Idle Sleep has had longer to develop a wider range of options.

Established in 2017, the company has spent the past three years of carefully evaluating customer feedback in order to fine-tune their products to meet more specific needs. Idle Sleep hit the market with a focus on flippable mattresses with their hybrid and latex models. Since they feature two sleep surfaces, durability expectations are improved.

Today, however, we’re going to take a look at their new gel memory foam mattresses. These products are designed to offer the memory foam feel while countering complaints common in this material type.

Gel Foam vs Gel Plush: How Do They Feel?

Many recipes call for the same ingredients, but, depending on how you use them, you can arrive at many different dishes. The variation of thicknesses and placement of Idle’s proprietary buoyancy, memory, transition and support foams create two very unique experiences when it comes to feel.

Firmness & Contour Analysis

First, let’s examine our firmness and contour chart generated using our proprietary testing tool. When it comes to the Gel Plush mattress, you may be a little surprised to see it’s closer to the top of the chart where we find our firmer products ranked. Let’s talk about why that is when the mattress is called “plush”.

Fifty-seven percent of the Idle Gel Plush mattress is made of support foam. Of the remaining 43% of the foams, you make the most direct contact with, half of that is made of the Buoyancy Foams that work to keep you feeling like you’re floating on top of the mattress rather than sinking excessively. It’s not until we reach the third foam layer that we experience that plusher-feeling memory foam.

Honestly, when I first plopped down on the Idle Gel Plush mattress, I was surprised at the initial contact as it feels very hard upon impact. So, what’s that mean for you?

  • If you have a low body mass index, this mattress is going to feel firmer than you might expect.
  • If your BMI is 18.5 or less, expect a firm feel.
  • Those with a BMI between 18.6-24.9 can expect to experience a little more plushness in an overall firmness that correlates closely with our firmness and contour testing chart.
  • If you have a BMI of 25 or higher, you can expect it to feel a little plusher since you’re able to fully engage with that memory foam layer.

Remember, plusher products are nearer to the bottom of the list. When compared with other products I’ve tried out, the Gel Plush is actually pretty high up on the list. It truly is a unique feel, so let’s make some determinations to see which mattress will provide the ideal firmness for your needs.

Cut to the Chase: Gel Foam or Gel Plush

  • You can’t help but notice the 12-inch Gel Foam mattress is quite a bit further down the list on our firmness chart indicating the transitional foam has a low indentation load deflection. If you’re looking for a plush mattress that provides deeper contour, sleep primarily on your side and/or have a low BMI and have trouble engaging with the deeper layers of your mattress, the 12-inch Gel Foam may be a better fit.
  • The Gel Plush will do a better job offering excellent lumbar support for back sleepers.

Not a Good Fit for Stomach Sleepers

Due to the memory foam sinkage you experience with each mattress, neither provides a preferred feel for people who sleep primarily on their stomachs. If this is you, here are some of our favorite mattresses for stomach sleepers.

Layer Lineup Comparison

As I compared the Idle Gel Foam and Gel Plush mattresses, I removed the cover from each and placed them one on top of the other to give you a great visual of the similarities and differences as we walk through each layer lineup. First, though, let’s talk about the Ice Fabric Cover.

The Cover

If you could feel it for yourself, you’d understand the meaning behind the name as it’s cool to the touch due to the gel sewn directly into the quilted surface. The cover is designed to work with the natural thermoregulation of the body to help you not only feel cool when you’re hot but also feel warm when the environment is cool.

Visually, they look similar, but the 14-inch Gel Plush option includes one inch of Buoyancy Foam that’s sewn into the quilted surface. Furthermore, the Gel Plush model features a material density of 500 grams per square meter while the 12-inch Gel Foam mattress weighs in at 450, making the Gel Plush a heavier, thicker cover containing more fiber and featuring slightly better durability expectations.

While both densities are pretty high, the 500 gsm rating also offers a slightly more luxurious feel, but it does come at a higher cost. More on that later. Each cover features a 100% cotton barrier that eliminates the use of carcinogenic chemicals and other toxins.

Layer Lineup Comparison

I’ve placed the 12-inch Idle Gel Foam mattress on top, so let’s start with it.

  1. In both mattresses we find Idle’s Cooling Buoyancy Foam in the top layer with three inches comprising the Gel Foam’s comfort layer.

  • This material is designed to counter sinky memory foam with a faster response without compromising on pressure point relief.
  • The proprietary blend incorporates gel infusion that keeps you sleeping nice and cool, a great feature to place near the contact point to reduce heat buildup.

2. The next layer is composed of two inches of Supportive Transition Foam. While we don’t see this material in the Gel Plush layer lineup, it is present in Idle’s Hybrid mattress.

  • This material contains perforated holes to aid in breathability and improve responsiveness all the while offering excellent deep comfort and pressure relief.
  • The Supportive Transition Foam reacts more like a poly foam while the Cooling Buoyancy Foam is more reminiscent of memory foam. This is a popular combination since the memory foam feel is highly valued for its cradling comfort while the more reactive foam beneath reinforces to prevent excessive sinkage.

3. Idle’s Gel Foam mattress ends off with seven inches of high-density base foam. It serves as the primary support for the mattress and is extra durable.

Moving on to the Gel Plush mattress, the layer lineup includes some of the same ingredients used in a different recipe so to speak.

  1. The top layer of each mattress is made of the same material. Where sleepers experience the feeling of three inches of Cooling Buoyancy Foam in the initial comfort layer of the Gel Foam mattress, the Gel Plush features one inch sewn into the cover.

  • This creates a slight uplifting feeling that counters the sinkier foam beneath.
  • Although the Cooling Buoyancy Foam does noticeably respond somewhat slowly, it’s faster than traditional memory foam while still relieving those pesky pressure points.

2. Beneath it is a two-inch layer of Gel-Infused Buoyancy Foam that kicks off the layer lineup of the actual mattress.

  • Much like the Cooling Buoyancy Foam in the cover in terms of its cooling properties and memory foam-like feel, it’s designed to offer a little less plushness and just a little more support.

3. What makes the Gel Plush mattress really unique is the next layer. Here, we find three inches of Idle Memory Foam.

  • Where most memory foam mattresses place this foam type nearer to the surface, Idle applied a unique strategy of placing their more responsive Buoyancy foams above it to add support while still offering that luxurious memory foam feel.
  • Idle’s custom memory foam provides a higher degree of thermal neutrality. If you’ve slept on a traditional memory foam mattress, you may recall how, as your body heat warms up the material, you sink deeper into it. The more heat buildup, the longer it takes for the foam to retain its shape, ergo, making it more difficult to get in and out of bed as well as sleep cool. Idle’s proprietary memory foam counters this issue.

4. Last but not least, we again find the high-density poly foam base layer to provide excellent support for the Gel Plush mattress. At eight inches, it offers superior stability to keep the spine aligned.

The Gel Foam mattress weighs in at 12-inches while the Gel Plush is a bit thicker at 14.

Heat Transfer: Gel Foam vs. Gel Plush

One of my favorite parts about reviewing mattresses containing memory foam or memory foam-like materials is to see what measures were taken to keep the mattress sleeping cool. Traditional memory foam was notorious for hot sleeping, and clever entrepreneurs have come up with all sorts of creative ways to overcome this issue.

Both mattresses offer the cool-to-the-touch Ice Fabric cover that has cooling gel sewn directly into the cotton. Not only does it help you feel cooler when you’re hot, but it makes you feel warmer when you’re cold.

Gel Foam Cooling Features

When it comes to internal cooling capabilities, let’s start with the 12-inch Gel Foam mattress. It incorporates three additional measures to keep heat buildup minimal.

  1. The gel infusion of the Cooling Buoyancy foam neutralizes the material to combat body heat.
  2. The materials are free of visco elastic.
  3. The uplifting feel of the comfort layer prevents excessive heat buildup.

Gel Plush Cooling Features

The 14-inch Gel Plush mattress offers similar features.

  1. The gel infusion is present in all three comfort layers.
  2. It’s free of any visco elastic chemicals.
  3. It’s even firmer than the Gel Foam mattress, an indicator you won’t have to worry about sinking excessively into the comfort layers.

Putting It to the Test

To see how these cooling tactics worked out, I tested each mattress to compare their heat transfer capabilities with over 80 other mattresses I’ve tested. The results were very impressive.

  • The 12-inch Gel Foam mattress cooled off 40% faster than average.
  • The 14-inch Gel Plush model was able to return to room temperature an incredibly impressive 55% faster.

I attribute the difference to the firmner feel of the Gel Plush mattress which prevents excessive sinkage. Either way, both of Idle’s foam mattresses performed above and beyond in terms of heat transfer reduction, making them a terrific choice for anyone who desires the memory foam feel without feeling like you’re sleeping in an oven.

Performance Testing Comparison

Edge Support

Good edge support, especially on a mattress containing memory foam, is important. It makes it easier to get in and out of bed and keeps you from falling out while you sleep. Before we compare edge support, I want to throw it out there that, if you have significant mobility issues, mattresses made entirely of foam and especially those containing memory foams or memory-foam-like materials aren’t ideal. For you, I’d suggest bouncier innerspring or latex mattresses.

With that being said, if effective contour and a more luxurious, cradling feel is higher up on your list of priorities, the edge support offered by both the Gel Foam and Gel Plush Idle models should be sufficient. You can see on both products that, while I do sink into the comfort layers, the base layers do a decent job at keeping me from sinking excessively, and I attribute a lot of this to the dense and buoyant foams they each contain.

In mattresses made entirely of foam, edge support is often lacking, but this is most notable in products that are 10-inches thick or less. Although the Gel Plush mattress is firmer on our firmness chart, you can see it does a slightly better job keeping me supported on the edge.

When your weight is stacked vertically, you’re relying primarily on the support base. Considering the Gel Plush base is thicker as is the mattress as a whole, this is to be expected.

Cutting to the Chase

  • If you need a product with great edge support and don’t mind that slightly firmer feel, the Gel Plush could be the way to go.
  • People with a BMI less than 18.5 and/or those who sleep primarily on their sides may prefer the Gel Foam unless you have significant issues moving around or getting in and out of bed.

Motion Isolation

Mattresses made entirely of foam usually dominate when it comes to motion transfer reduction, so products like the Gel Foam and Gel Plush are often popular options for sleep partners. When someone moves on one side of a bouncy mattress, the person on the other side is affected. It doesn’t take a genius to understand how this can throw a monkey wrench into the achievement of restful sleep.

In the video above, you can see a comparison shot when I drop a 20-pound medicine ball next to another of equal weight. The disturbance on the resting ball is minimal, and they both perform very well. If motion isolation is your main buying point, both the Gel Foam and Gel Plush are excellent, so it’s important to start taking other factors into consideration.

  • If you need something that’ll give you that little extra boost when you get in and out of bed, the Gel Plush may be a better fit.
  • The Gel Foam may be preferred if you’re on a tighter budget or need something that offers a little extra contour.

Idle Gel Foam & Gel Plush Durability Expectations

Let’s take a moment to examine the durability expectations so you can ensure you’re getting your money’s-worth if you decide to make a purchase. If you’re shopping for a mattress in the price range of between $800 to $1,200 for a queen, I’d definitely say you’re getting a good deal, and here’s why.

  • Each mattress is over the average mattress thickness of 11 inches.
  • The base of each mattress goes far above and beyond in material composition. Good durability in poly foam is indicated by a density of at least 1.8 pounds per cubic foot. Both the Gel Foam and Gel Plush mattresses feature a pcf of 2.4.
  • The cover makes the most direct contact with the body, and Idle only uses Tier-1, high-density natural cotton fibers in the cover with the Gel Plush being of slightly higher quality.
  • You get two free pillows with your order along with free shipping.
  • The impressive Forever Warranty ensures any manufacturer-related issue is covered for as long as you own the mattress. This even includes body impressions, so, while we weren’t provided the densities of the comfort layers, you can rest assured they’re protected against premature indents and sagging.

Maintenance, Protection, Care, and Warranty

To ensure you get the most out of your investment, spot clean the top cover if the need arises. To keep stains and other issues minimal, it’s definitely worth the minimal investment to add a quality mattress protector to your order.

More about the Gel Memory Foam Pillows

 

Before we wrap up, let’s not overlook the fact that no matter which mattress you go with, you’ll receive two complementary Gel Memory Foam Pillows with any-size mattress purchase.

Since they’re packed with shredded memory foam, they’re adjustable and can be a good fit for side sleepers as they can be fluffed thick enough to fill the gap created by the shoulders.

In our video review, you can see the memory foam maintains its form better than traditional memory foam, and this is especially important in a pillow since it needs to offer proper support for the delicate cervical spine. I like the way the Zoned Technology™ considers the fact that different levels of support are needed in different areas, and it does an excellent job supporting the neck and cradling the head.

Do the Pillows Sleep Hot?

Not only are the pillows super comfortable, but they also offer excellent airflow.

  • In our thermal testing, the pillow cooled off just as quickly as the mattress.
  • Breathability is further aided by small holes in the material and the same thermal neutrality proprietary features we observed in the mattresses.
  • Temperature regulation is further promoted in the soft rayon found in the bamboo velour cover, a material that’s great for sensitive skin.

I had no issues with hot sleeping as is often the case when using memory foam in pillows.

Caring for Your Pillows

The cover is removable, but it can’t be washed. I’d highly suggest using a pillowcase and spot cleaning the cover only when needed. The inside of the pillow can also be cleaned, but, again, not in the washing machine. Using water and mild soap, rinse and squeeze gently, and allow to air dry away from direct sunlight and heat.

Cost

If either the Gel Foam or Gel Plush mattress sounds like the right sleep solution for your needs, let’s break down the cost.

Gel Foam

Size Price
Twin $449
Twin XL $515
Full $649
Queen $749
King $949
California King $949

Gel Plush

Size Price
Twin $799
Twin XL $849
Full $1,099
Queen $1,249
King $1,499
California King $1,499

Idle Gel Foam vs Gel Plush: Our Final Verdict

Both the Idle Gel Foam and Gel Plush mattress options feature unique qualities, and I can’t say one’s better than the other. That all depends on the needs of the individual. What I can do is break down these qualities to help you decide which will be most appropriate for you.

  • The Gel Foam may be a good fit if:
    • You’re on a budget. It’s about 40% cheaper, so if you’re strictly looking for a mattress under $1,000, it’s going to fit those parameters. With that being said, I can’t stress enough how important it is to buy something that’s going to fit your comfort needs, not just your budget. If you’re compromising on aspects of feel, support, heat transfer, durability or any other feature we covered in this review to meet a budget, you’ll pay more in the long run. If that’s the case, check out this roundup of our top nine picks for mattresses under $1,000 to expand your options.
    • You have a BMI of between 18-22 and/or really prefer something with a plusher feel and deep contour.
    • You’re a side sleeper and appreciate the slightly more accentuated pressure point relief when body weight is stacked over a smaller surface area.
    • You’re a back sleeper needing adequate contour without compromising proper lumbar support.
  • The Gel Plush may be a good fit if:
    • You have a BMI higher than 22.
    • You prefer something with a firmer feel.
    • You want the more durable of the two. It does cost more, but that comes with a higher durability expectation both in the two extra inches of mattress thickness and higher density in the cover, so you get what you pay for.
  • You might want to keep shopping if:
    • You sleep primarily on your stomach. Due to the memory foam contour and plushness, neither mattress is a preferred fit for stomach sleepers. If that’s you, check that description for a link to a roundup of our favorite mattresses for stomach sleepers.

Whether you choose the Gel Foam or Gel Plush Idle mattress, you can expect advanced cooling capabilities and an 18-month trial period. This gives you a full year and a half to try it out and make sure it’s going to meet your needs or your money back. That Forever Warranty has you covered even in the event of the development of indents, something you don’t get with most companies out there.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do they work on adjustable beds?

Yes, you can use either mattress with platform beds, slatted bases, adjustable beds, and box springs.

Do they need to be rotated?

Recommended to rotate 180 degrees every three to six months

Where can these mattresses be shipped?

Free shipping within the continental US

Is it a plush, medium, or firm?

*Gel Foam - Plush *Gel Plush - Medium-firm

How long does it take for the mattress to fully decompress after unboxing?

24-48 hours

Is there a weight limit on either mattress?

The combined weight of 800-1,000 pounds or 400-500 per sleep partner

Can you sleep on either mattress without a cover?

You could, but it’s not recommended.

Can you flip either mattress?

No