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In the world of mattresses, the Queen is the queen of sizes.
At the same time, King and California King are quite popular too. But I often come across many people who believe these two are the same.
And that is not entirely true.
In this article, I will point out the main differences between the Cal King and regular King sizes and share my reviews of the 7 best California King mattresses that can give you the heaven-quality rest.
So, if you want to make your shopping 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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Reviews of 7 Best California King Mattresses
Best Cal King Mattress - Dreamcloud
- balanced medium support;
- luxury look and feel;
- breathable design.
I’m starting the list of best California King mattresses with this model by DreamCloud. Featuring a smart combination of layers, it provides even support and great pressure relief levels, ensuring that you’ll have a peaceful night.
This model is constructed with eight different layers of various materials, which complement each other seamlessly. This creates a pleasant sensation of medium firmness, without that “sinking-in-your-bed” feeling, which is optimal for most users.
Several materials are responsible for maintaining proper thermoregulation here. The soft cashmere cover fabric and layer of gel foam right below it effectively draw away excess heat from your body. Plus, the latex inside the mattress enhances airflow between the layers and reduces the 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 the right balance of cradling and bounciness.
Overall, the DreamCloud mattress is pretty comfortable. It works well for back and stomach sleepers and is supportive enough for most side sleepers. What’s more — It’s a real steal for such a price.
- Side sleepers. Thanks to generous cradling and a 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 cool airflow between the mattress layers and helps wick some of your body heat for a more comfortable shut-eye.
- Couples. The Dreamcloud has reinforced edges, meaning you can get that extra space you need to stretch when you’re sharing 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
- great motion isolation;
- proper spine support in different positions;
- temperature-neutral design.
If you are 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 on the quality. That’s why it is on this list.
Its high-density base foam supports your body and isolates movement extremely well. So, if your partner actively tosses and turns during sleep, you won’t suffer from motion transfer with the Nectar.
Now, most 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 quite breathable and nice to the touch.
The Nectar offers a medium-firm feel, somewhere between 5.5 and 7.5 (with 10 being the firmest and 1 being the softest), depending on your weight. This level of firmness has been found to suit most people. The real benefit here is the company gives you an entire year to understand if it suits you personally.
Overall, it’s a great pick if you love an all-foam mattress for the cradling feel but don’t want to deal with temperature issues. If you’re somebody who wants to get a large comfortable bed without emptying your wallet, you may love this model.
- People with a limited budget. The Nectar has a thoughtful construction that easily competes with more expensive models. However, the price won’t tear a hole in your pocket.
- Active sleepers. Maximum motion absorption is a 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 the ideal level of firmness to support proper spine alignment and alleviate stiffness and pain in people of most body compositions.
- might still retain some body heat due to generous cradling;
- mediocre edge support.
Best for Adjustable Firmness - Botanical Bliss
- 2-in-1 firmness;
- 3 thickness options: 9”, 10”, and 12”;
- available in a split configuration.
The Botanical Bliss is probably one of the best California King mattresses I’ve reviewed. Particularly because it allows you to adjust the firmness level by swapping the upper and medium layers to achieve the result that best suits your sleeping style.
Now, this mattress features three layers of Dunlop latex, each with a different firmness feel. In the medium build that we 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 want to scale up and go for the medium-firm version with an extra-firm base that can deliver more sufficient support.
Above the latex comfort layer, there’s a padding made of natural wool which enhances the breathability of the mattress. It adapts to changes in your body heat and can keep your bed temperature-neutral all year round.
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 being said, if you’re looking for an eco-friendly bed that leaves some room for customization, I would recommend the Botanical Bliss.
- Indecisive sleepers. Having two firmness levels in one mattress is a great deal, especially if you don’t know which one you want yet.
- Those who need a cooler mattress. Natural latex has superb cooling properties and may help you deal better 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
- high-profile construction;
- has four convenient side handles
The main reason I’ve placed the Awara in my review of the best California King mattresses is that it’s more than just 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 any 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 additional comfort.
Overall, I enjoyed sleeping on the Awara mattress. Its instant response to pressure and the incredible cooling effect won’t leave you 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 contribute towards a healthier, happier 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 be 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 honestly won’t need to move a lot to get comfy!
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 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 bets, and it 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 you won’t toss and turn a lot. If you have difficulty falling asleep — 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
- four firmness levels available;
- great lumbar support;
- breathable construction.
The Winkbeds deserves 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—they've got the rest covered.
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 long time without sagging. Plus, it is quite 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 heavyy 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 heavier-sized 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) results in a cool and comfortable slumber.
- People with back problems. One of the Winkbed’s strongest points is its lumbar support. It may even help you cope with chronic pain and might 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
- flippable design;
- copper-infused for better durability;
- removable cover.
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 here’s where I 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’re almost guaranteed to get a safe and hypoallergenic sleeping surface.
In terms of overall feel, the softer side of this mattress is about a 5 out of 10, while its firmer side is closer to a 7 out of 10. Whichever side you choose, your body will be gently hugged by memory foam, but the softer side, will allow for 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 for both your body and for your wallet.
- Those who haven’t decided on their 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?
The 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 the 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 until 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 Main Differences Between King and California King Mattresses?
That was a little bit of history, but now 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 to date. At the same time, the regular King measures 76” x 80” and is currently 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 it 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 considerably tall or you like to stretch out in your bed, the extra 4 inches of the mattress length may just be exactly what you need for a relaxing sleep.
Now, there’s a common misconception about the California King mattresses:
Some believe that since they are “irregular” in length, choosing bed sheets might become a serious problem.
This might have been an issue. Decades ago.
But today, manufacturers offer different types of sheets and other bedding items in various sizes, including the popular Cal King size.
To me, the only significant drawback of California King mattresses is that they have a less width for one person — 36’’ compared to 38’’ in the regular King bed — and surface area overall.
Here, let me do the math for you here:
For King, 76 x 80 equals 6,080 square inches of total area. And for Cal King, 72 x 84 equals 6,048 square inches of total area.
The gap might not seem so drastic, but in some cases, it can make a significant 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, for low-cost models, you’re looking at around $400, with prices reaching as high as $4,000 for top-rated options.
Who Is Cal King Most Suitable For?
Now, if you’re having trouble choosing between the King vs California King mattress, you’ll be in the favor of the latter if:
- you or your partner are more than 6 feet tall;
- your pets sleep with you, on or in your bed;
- your bedroom’s dimensions require a mattress that is narrower than a regular King.
And that’s not all:
For couples who have different preferences concerning their perfect sleeping surface, some manufacturers even offer split King and Cal King sizes in the same mattress.
“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.
Another benefit of getting a split Cal King mattress is the excellent motion isolation during sleep. When sharing a bed with your partner, you surely want to feel as little of their movement as possible to sleep well throughout the night. And split options allow for exactly 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 suitable range of materials, you will most likely be choosing 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 well the mattress will help you maintain the correct spinal position during sleep.
For fans of a firmer and bouncier feel, this could be the perfect option. It is worth noting that along with that comes poor motion isolation, and, for heavier users, a tendency for the springs to rust and start making squeaky sounds over time. Not ideal in a shared apartment, or unit block where you share a wall.
The construction of this kind of mattress 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 is the material for you. Something to be aware of when choosing foam beds is that they are often made from petroleum and have a closed-cell structure. This can eventually lead 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 your body and cradle your shoulders, hips, and other pressure points. Some manufacturers infuse the foam with cooling gels to make your sleep even 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 for the higher price and that its bouncier feel simply might 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 more balanced feel. Note that hybrids are usually more expensive than other types.
These mattresses have an extra layer on top, which is sewn onto the mattress. It is often made of microfiber or soft foam fillers, as well as wool, and sometimes even feathers. This is used to provide a more luxurious look and feel. A pillowtop can also enhance the overall comfort of your bed.
Shopping at a Store vs Shopping Online
For some people, shopping is a way to have a social time with family and friends, while others panic as soon as they hear the word.
Since a mattress is quite a significant investment that involves spending not only your hard-earned money but also your time, I decided to clarify the pros and cons of online and offline shopping to help you choose how best to make that investment.
So, with online shopping, you can:
- shop sitting in your pajamas from the privacy of your own home;
- read reviews and research available options to make an informed decision;
- “visit” a large number of stores within a short amount of time;
- do this at any time, even late 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’re buying an original product.
Do not forget that shops receive your email after you make an order, so don’t be surprised to get spammy emails flooding into your inbox.
Now, when buying a mattress offline or physically in stores, you can:
- talk with a consultant about the model you are interested in;
- test the product yourself without relying on random or even fake reviews;
- have an easy return process, as you will know exactly where to go for help.
- it’s time and energy-consuming;
- the prices in retail stores are usually much 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 and your personal preferences. 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/in-store 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 have gathered for you below.
- Measure your room (and your bed frame).
This is a useful step whatever the size of your mattress. But as Cal king is the largest one and will take up quite 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 of the process. 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 considered optimal.
Now, 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 to separate the furnishing.
Now, if you get a one-piece California King bed, you should also consider how you will bring it into the room. Mattresses of such width cannot always fit through narrow staircases. Plus, they are usually rather heavy, so you might want to use the help of friends, relatives, or removalists. If it’s not possible, then consider buying a split California King mattress instead.
- 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, only to realize that it isn’t exactly what you wanted.
That’s where a sleep trial comes in.
Today, most online mattress companies offer a trial period during which you can return your new mattress and get a full refund if you’re not completely satisfied.
Each mattress company provides slightly 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. Similar to trials and returns, a warranty also comes with particular rules and limitations, so it’s worth reading and understanding how it works.
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 two 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 individual preference and needs.
California King sized mattresses have quite a few features that should certainly be considered before you make a purchase. But my key piece of advice is this: 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 in today’s market. And I’m sure at least one of them has appealed to you. As for me, I personally loved the DreamCloud. It has an impressively diverse construction, and each layer makes a 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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