In the world of mattresses, Queen is the queen of sizes.
At the same time, King and California King are quite popular too. But I often come across the fact that many people believe these two to be the same.
And that is not true.
In this article, I will point out the main differences between Cal King and regular King sizes and share our reviews of 7 best California King mattresses that can give you the heaven-quality rest.
So, if you want to make your shopping a lot easier, continue reading!
A Quick Preview
Best Cal King Mattress
|Shop Now on DreamCloudSleep.com|
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Best Cheap Mattress
|Shop Now on NectarSleep.com|
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Best for Adjustable Firmness
|Shop Now on PlushBeds.com|
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Best for Hot Sleepers
|Shop Now on AwaraSleep.com|
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Best for Sensitive Sleepers
|Shop Now on Amerisleep.com|
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Best Mattress for Heavy Couples
|Shop Now on WinkBeds.com|
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Best Flippable Mattress
|Shop Now on LaylaSleep.com|
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Our Reviews of 7 Best California King Mattresses
Best Cal King Mattress - Dreamcloud
I’m starting the list of the best California King mattresses with this model by DreamCloud. Featuring a smart combination of layers, it provides even support and great pressure relief levels to ensure you’ll have a peaceful night.
The model consists of as many as eight layers of different materials, which complement each other and create a pleasant sensation of medium firmness without that “sink-in-a-bed” feeling, which is optimal for most users.
Several materials are responsible for maintaining proper thermoregulation here. A soft cashmere cover fabric and a layer of gel foam right below it effectively draw away excess heat from the body. Plus, a latex layer inside the mattress enhances airflow between the layers and reduces chances of mold and mildew development.
Now, in terms of comfort, the combination of high-density foam and individually wrapped coils allows you to get the needed support for your spine, while the top layers of latex and memory foam offer a balance between cradling and bounciness.
Overall, the DreamCloud mattress is very close to being universally comfortable. It will work perfectly for back and stomach sleepers and well enough for most side sleepers. It’s a real steal for such a price.
- Side sleepers. Thanks to generous cradling and the medium feel, the Dreamcloud can relieve tension in hips and shoulders if you prefer to sleep on your side.
- Hot sleepers. The coil unit promotes good airflow between the mattress layers and helps withdraw some amount of your body heat for a more comfortable shut-eye.
- Couples. The Dreamcloud has reinforced edges, so you can get that extra space to stretch if you share a bed with someone.
- may transfer some motion, which can be a turn-off for sensitive sleepers;
- might fail to properly support a heavy sleeper.
Best Cheap California King Mattress - Nectar
If you were looking for a cheap California King mattress, stop right here. The Nectar mattress in its Cal King option costs under $1,000, and this wasn’t achieved by compromising the quality. That’s why it is on my list.
Its high-density base foam supports your body and isolates movement very well. So, if your partner is actively tossing and turning during sleep, you won’t suffer from this with the Nectar.
Now, all types of foam are known for trapping heat and sleeping hot. With the Nectar, this problem is solved quite effectively by infusing a cooling gel into the top memory foam layers. Plus, the cover of the mattress uses Tencel fabric, which is very breathable and nice to the touch.
The Nectar offers a medium firm feel, somewhere between 5.5 and 7.5, depending on your weight. This is the level of firmness that suits most people. But the company gives you an entire year to understand if it suits personally you.
Overall, it’s a great pick for anyone who loves all-foam mattresses for their cradling feel but doesn’t want to deal with temperature issues. Someone who wants to get a large comfortable bed without emptying their wallet may love this model too.
- People with a limited budget. The Nectar has a really thoughtful construction that can easily compete with more expensive models. However, it won’t tear a hole in your pocket.
- Active sleepers. Good motion absorption is the strong point of this mattress. The Nectar effortlessly deals with sharp movements and can guard your peaceful slumber if your bedmate is a restless sleeper.
- Back pain sufferers. Medium to medium-firm is a perfect level of firmness to support proper spine alignment and alleviate stiffness and pain in people of any body composition.
- might still retain some body heat due to generous cradling;
- mediocre edge support.
Best for Adjustable Firmness - Botanical Bliss
The Botanical Bliss is probably one of the best California King mattresses I’ve reviewed. Particularly because it allows you to adjust the firmness by swapping the upper and medium layers to achieve the result that suits your sleeping style.
Now, the mattress features three layers of Dunlop latex, each with a different firmness. In the Medium build that we’ve tested, the layers have a soft, medium-soft, and medium firmness and result in an optimal feel for petite and average-weight sleepers. Heavy sleepers might scale up and go for the medium-firm version with an extra-firm base that can deliver them sufficient support.
Above the latex comfort layer, there’s a padding made of natural wool used to enhance the breathability of the mattress. It adapts to changes in the body heat to keep your bed temperature-neutral around the year.
Finally, natural latex is more resilient than synthetic foams, so you can expect a longer lifespan from the Botanical Bliss and enjoy its moderate hug and breeze-like sleeping experience.
With all of that said, if you’re looking for a totally eco-friendly bed that leaves some room for customization, I can definitely recommend the Botanical Bliss.
- Indecisive sleepers. Having two firmness levels in one mattress sounds like a great deal especially if you don’t know which one you really need.
- Those who need a cooler mattress. Natural latex has great cooling properties and may help you deal with hot sleeping.
- Allergy sufferers. Latex has tiny pores, so no mold or dust mites can get in there. If you’re sensitive to home allergens, a latex mattress like the Botanical Bliss might be a good pick for you.
- may take some time to adjust to the latex feel;
- might feel too bouncy for some users.
Best for Hot Sleepers - Awara Sleeping
The main reason I’ve placed the Awara in my review of the best California King mattresses is that it isn’t your average hybrid mattress. The Awara features natural materials — latex, wool, and cotton along with pocketed coils. That’s a combo powerful enough to cool down even a chronic hot sleeper!
So, the mattress features a 4-inch thick layer of Dunlop latex with a medium feel. Combined with the sturdy coils, it feels medium to medium-firm and can suit average-weight and heavy sleepers regardless of their sleeping style.
Unlike memory foam, latex doesn’t restrict your movements when you switch positions or get up from the bed. This can be an advantage for those who have certain mobility concerns or are recovering from surgery.
Finally, the pillow-top layer made of organic cotton and stuffed with New Zealand wool enhances the breathability even further. Plus, the wool creates an additional layer of padding between your body and the coil system, which adds some comfort.
Overall, I enjoyed sleeping on the Awara mattress. Its instant response to pressure and the incredible cooling effect won’t leave anyone disappointed.
- Hot sleepers. The Awara is designed to be breathable and can suit even chronic hot sleepers.
- Heavier users. Coils and dense Dunlop latex can withstand larger weight pretty easily and will offer a heavy sleeper proper spinal support.
- Eco-conscious sleepers. With every purchase, the company plants 10 trees to restore forests, so buying this mattress would be an easy way to make something good for our planet.
- natural wool might have an unpleasant smell during the first couple of nights.
- might feel too rigid for small sleepers.
Best for Sensitive Sleepers - Amerisleep AS3
Sharing a bed with a partner who actively moves in their sleep can be a nightmare, especially if your mattress reacts to every movement that comes from the other side. The AS3 by Amerisleep can become a lifesaver for light sleepers and offer blissful sleep for both sides without sacrificing comfort.
One thing that makes the AS3 one of the best California King mattresses is the comfort layer made of Bio-Pur foam. This is the brand’s proprietary material and it seems to be pretty viscous and able to absorb excess motion. Then, there’s a zoned transition layer that utilizes HIVE technology, which makes finding a comfortable position easier — you just won’t have the need to move a lot!
Finally, the mattress features temperature-neutral materials and doesn’t sleep hot even on summer nights. The open-cell foam and breathable cover easily remove body heat and excess moisture to keep you cool and dry.
To sum up, if you need a durable mattress that can help you deal with the active sleeper by your side — the AS3 is definitely your best bet.
- People sensitive to movement during sleep. The motion absorption of the AS3 is just great, and if you share a bed with a restless sleeper or allow your pet in, you can stop worrying about your shut-eye.
- Side and back sleepers. The medium feel of the AS3 suits side and back sleepers and can offer proper support for their natural spine curves.
- Those who appreciate the cradling feel. The AS3 has a noticeable sinkage that can lull you to sleep so that you won’t toss and turn a lot. If you have difficulty falling asleep — definitely give this mattress a try.
- might fail to support stomach sleepers and heavy users;
- like most all-foam beds, the AS3 lacks edge support.
Best Cal King Mattress for Heavy Couples - Winkbeds
The Winkbeds has deserved its place on this list of the best California King beds due to its versatility. There’s an option to suit almost anyone’s needs, so just knowing yours is enough.
The coil system, which serves as the base of the mattress, is divided into several zones. The number of zones varies depending on the model, but here’s the idea:
No matter what position you sleep in, your body weight is evenly distributed throughout the mattress, helping your spine to maintain a correct and relaxed position.
The mattress comes in four firmness options: Soft, Luxury Firm, Firm, and Plus. The latter is designed especially for people weighing 300 pounds and above. This means it can withstand larger loads for a longer time without sagging. Plus, it is really firm, but heavier sleepers will feel it as a comfortable level of 6-7 out of 10.
Thus, the Winkbeds is a great Cal King mattress for heavy couples, as well as for most sleepers out there due to the range of options and an overall balanced feel.
- Large sleepers. The Firm Plus option of the Winkbed is designed particularly for heavy users and can offer incredible support and even weight distribution.
- Those who sleep hot. The combo of a coil unit and breathable foams (or latex, depending on the model you choose) result in cool and comfortable slumber.
- People with back problems. One of the Winkbed’s strongest points is lumbar support. It can help you cope even with chronic pain and alleviate any unpleasant sensations in your lower back.
- even the softest option might feel too rigid for petite sleepers, especially those who sleep on their side;
- may feel overly responsive to movements.
Best Flippable California King Mattress - Layla
The last option on my list is this flippable Cal King mattress by Layla. Besides the two-in-one design, it also offers a unique combination of copper and memory foam. And I’m right about to explain what’s in it for you.
Copper particles are heat-conductive, meaning they withdraw your body’s heat and allow you to stay cool during sleep. Plus, copper is known for its antimicrobial properties, which means copper-infused foam is more protected from the growth of different microorganisms inside it, compared to regular foam. Combine this with the fact that Layla uses CertiPUR-US certified foams, and you’ll get a safe and hypoallergenic sleeping surface.
In terms of overall feel, the softer side of this mattress is about 5 out of 10, while its firmer side is close to 7 out of 10. Whichever side you choose, your body will be gently hugged by memory foam, but the softer side, obviously, will allow more generous sinkage.
Overall, this mattress offers great value for money due to its flippable design. So, if you’re not sure yet what your comfortable firmness levels are, the Layla is a great choice both for your body and for your wallet.
- Those who haven’t decided on the preferred firmness. Thanks to the dual-sided construction, you can tailor the Layla to suit your exact sleeping preferences.
- Hot sleepers. Copper-infused foam has high thermal conductivity and can quickly cool you down, which is a great feature for those who tend to overheat during sleep.
- Allergy sufferers. The same copper particles aid in better mold and mildew resistance, thereby making a great fit for those who are prone to allergies.
- might take some time to expand;
- may not work for sleepers who need a medium feel.
How Did California King Beds Appear?
California King is the only location-driven bed name in America so far.
But there are no kings in California, right?
Let’s find out.
Historically, before World War II, most beds in America were either Twin or Full. Larger beds known as King and Queen were introduced to the public by two major furniture producers — Sealy and Simmons — in the 1960s. Simmons, at the same time, was making a separate kind of beds for celebrity mansions of West Coast, labeling them as Western King. These beds were 72” x 84”, while the regular (Eastern) King beds measured 76” x 80”.
Western King mattresses became so popular on the West Coast that they remained as the standard bed size up to the 1980s.
When other retailers began to offer 72” x 84” mattresses all over America, they had to name them California King in order to avoid confusion with regular King beds (1).
What Are the Differences Between King and California King Mattresses?
That was a little bit of history, but let’s get back to modern times now.
Today, California King mattress dimensions are 72” x 84”, which makes this size the longest available on the market. At the same time, the regular King measures 76” x 80” and is the widest mattress available (2).
If you have a King bed, there’s an easy way to imagine the approximate size of a Cal King one. Just take 4 inches off your King’s width and add them to the length instead.
Of course, the difference in dimensions has both advantages and drawbacks. Let me explain them below.
Pros and Cons of California King Mattress Explained
Both King and California King are excellent choices for couples. But the latter has one significant advantage: it is suited for people whose height is more than 6 feet. So, if you or your partner are tall and like to stretch out in your bed, the 4 extra inches added to the length of the mattress may be exactly what you need.
Now, there’s a common misconception about the California King mattresses:
Some believe that since they have “irregular” length, choosing bed sheets might become a problem.
This might have been an issue. Decades ago.
But today, manufacturers offer different types of sheets and other bedding items in all popular sizes, including Cal King.
To me, the only significant drawback of California King mattresses is that they have a lesser width for one person — 36’’ compared to 38’’ in the regular King bed — and a lesser overall area.
Let me do the math for you here:
For King, 76 x 80 equals 6,080 square inches. And for Cal King, 72 x 84 equals 6,048 square inches of total area.
The gap might seem not so drastic, but in some cases, it can make a difference.
Now, regarding the price range, both King and California King are the most expensive options on the mattress market. Yet, I have found that most manufacturers have the same price for both of these sizes. Overall, low-cost models start at $400, and the price can go as high as $4,000 for top-rated options.
Who Is Cal King Most Suitable For?
Now, you might want to choose between King vs California King mattress in the favor of the latter if:
- you or your partner are more than 6 feet tall;
- your pets sleep with you by your feet;
- your bedroom’s dimensions require a mattress that is narrower than regular King.
And that’s not it:
For couples who have totally different preferences concerning their perfect sleeping surface, some manufacturers offer split King and Cal King sizes.
“Split” means your mattress comes in two different Twin-sized pieces. Thus, you can pick the firmness and the materials suitable exactly for you. And your partner can do the same for themselves.
Another benefit of getting a split Cal King mattress is excellent motion isolation during sleep. When sharing a bed with your partner, you surely want to feel as little of their movement as possible in order to sleep well throughout the night. And split options allows for that.
Plus, they are easier to move around, which is a great bonus when it comes to moving to another house.
Types of Available Mattress Material You Can Choose From
Today’s market has a huge variety of mattress models for every taste. When it comes to a range of materials, you will most likely choose from the options listed below.
One of the most affordable choices, it features a block of coils inside and mostly just one thin comfort layer on top. The number and flexibility of coils determine how the mattress will maintain the correct body position during sleep.
It is a perfect option for fans of a firmer and bouncier feel. If you’re one of them, note that along with that come poor motion isolation, larger weight, and a tendency of springs to rust and start making squeaky sounds over time.
The construction of this kind of mattresses may include several layers of foam of different density, which balance each other out, creating a comfortable and supportive overall feel.
If you like sinking into your bed a little, this material is for you. The main issue you want to know about is that foam beds are often made from petroleum and have a closed-cell structure, which eventually leads to excessive moisture and mold.
Memory foam is a type of foam that is less resilient and more elastic than other types of foam. It’s an excellent choice for side sleepers, as the mattress can gently hug their body and cradle their shoulders, hips, and other pressure points. Some manufacturers infuse the foam with cooling gels in order to make your sleep more comfortable.
Latex mattresses are a more eco-friendly and natural alternative. They are known to maintain better air circulation inside the layers and effectively withdraw body heat, preventing you from sleeping hot. Plus, latex is bouncy and more resilient. It’s hard to find any significant drawback about it except the higher price and the fact that its bouncier feel might simply not appeal to you.
A hybrid mattress combines two or more of the aforementioned materials. This allows it to eliminate the drawbacks and reinforce the benefits of each material. It’s an excellent option for someone who is looking for a balanced feel. Note that hybrids are usually more expensive than other types.
These mattresses have an extra layer on top, which is sewn to the mattress. It is often made of microfiber or soft foam fillers, as well as wool and even feathers. Being used to provide a more luxurious look and feel, a pillowtop also enhances the overall comfort of your bed.
Shopping at a Store vs Shopping Online
For some people, shopping is a way to have a great time with family and friends, while others panic as soon as they hear that word.
Since a mattress is a serious investment that involves spending not only money but also your time, I decided to clarify the pros and cons of online and offline shopping to help you choose how you want to make that investment.
So, with online shopping, you can:
- shop sitting in the pajamas in your room;
- read reviews and research available options in order to make an informed decision;
- “visit” a large number of stores within a short time;
- do this even at night, as online stores are never closed.
As a bonus, online shopping gives you access to a large number of promotions and discounts, especially if this is your first order.
- you can’t test or feel the item you’re going to buy.
- if you want to buy pillows, blankets, toppers and other bedding items along with the mattress, implying they all come from different online stores, you might end up spending some serious money on delivery;
- it’s harder to make sure that you buy an original product.
Do not forget that shops receive your email after you make an order, so don’t be surprised about spammy emails in your inbox.
Now, when buying a mattress in offline stores, you can:
- talk with a consultant about the model you are interested in;
- test the product yourself without relying on random reviews;
- have an easy return process, as you will know the real place you can come to for help.
- it’s time and energy consuming;
- the prices in retail stores are usually higher;
- not all stores have a great range of items to choose from.
In general, the choice of the appropriate type of shopping depends on you. For example, if you are already familiar with the manufacturer and only want to replace your mattress with a newer model, then making an online purchase can be an ideal option.
And if you are ready to spend time thoroughly testing the models presented at the stores, then offline shopping is what you need.
What to Consider When Shopping for a Cal King Mattress?
Now, before making your purchase, please consider the tips I gathered for you below.
- Measure your room (and your bed frame).
This is a useful step whatever the size of a mattress. But as Cal king is the largest one and will take a lot of space, I suggest that you measure twice.
The ideal room size would be 10 x 12 feet.
Shopping itself is quite a stressful thing, and the availability of discounts and hot deals might often make you feel the urgency to click the “Order” button right away. But that’s just a marketing move. So, calm down and take time to make sure your desired bed will fit into your bedroom.
- Leave enough room to move.
Just making measurements is, in fact, only half the success. It is also important to analyze how much space will be left around the bed and make sure that the bed itself does not engulf the entire room. Leaving 25-30 inches of space on each side is optimal.
Don’t forget about the nightstands. Their size impacts the amount of space around the bed too. Note that you should also have a gap of at least 2 inches between the bed and the nightstand in order to separate the furnishing.
Now, if you get a one-piece California King bed, you must also consider how you will bring it into the room. Mattresses of such width cannot go through a narrow staircase. Plus, they are usually rather heavy, so you might want to use the help of friends or relatives. If it’s not possible, then again, consider buying a split California King mattress.
- Be sure to read the terms of the trial period and return policy.
Sometimes you buy a mattress, sleep on it for a few weeks, and start realizing that this isn’t exactly what you wanted.
That’s when a sleep trial comes in.
Today, most mattress companies that sell online offer you a trial period during which you can return your new mattress and get a full refund if you’re not completely satisfied.
Each of them provides different conditions (3), which is why it’s important to get familiar with the terms offered by the particular company you are considering.
Note that after the trial period is over, you can return a mattress or get it replaced only if it happens to be defective. This is called a warranty. Similarly to trials and returns, it comes with certain rules and limitations, so reading how it works is a good idea too.
What is the difference between a King and a California King mattress?
The Standard King mattress is 76” x 80”, and the California King mattress is 4 inches narrower and 4 inches longer, thus measuring 72” x 84”.
What is a split California king mattress?
A split California King mattress consists of 2 independent halves, each measuring 36” x 84”, that can fit into a Cal King bed frame. This division allows you and your partner to choose a mattress according to your preferences and needs.
California King sized mattresses have quite a few features that should certainly be considered before you make a purchase. But my key advice is: Choose products from well-known brands that provide a trial period allowing you to check whether the mattress is right for you.
Above, I have collected the best models available on today’s market. And I’m sure at least one of them has appealed to you. As for me, I really loved the DreamCloud. It has an impressively diverse construction, and each layer makes its own contribution to your overall comfort. Working together, they adapt to your body in any sleeping position.
What about you? Which criteria are the most important for you when it comes to choosing a new mattress? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!
- Mary Ann Hogan (1994, March 26). California King’s Reign Stops at the State Line. Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1994-03-26-hm-38579-story.html
- Melanie Shebel (2020, February 21). The Difference Between California King and King Sized Mattresses. Retrieved from https://dengarden.com/interior-design/Difference-Between-King-and-California-King
- Ron Lieber (2016, September 16). Buying a Mattress Online Was Easy. Now, About the Return. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/17/your-money/buying-a-mattress-online-was-easy-now-about-the-return.html
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