Best Rated Air Mattress Bed Review: Select Comfort vs Natural Form

Recently updated with Review of Natural Form Helix

Natural Form Helix Spring Form Mattress with 11 inch high profile and 3 inch memory foam review
Natural Form Helix Spring Form Mattress with 11 inch high profile and 3 inch memory foam.

Is a best rated air mattress bed worth the money? This honest review of two high end air mattress beds will hopefully help you decide. I was recently asked to provide a review of the Natural Form® bed system. I am a longtime owner of a Select Comfort® bed, so I felt that I was more than qualified to do a review for the best rated air mattress bed. After all, I have slept on a Select Comfort® air mattress for several years. As a matter of fact, my husband and I have many family members who own them. If you are currently looking for the best rated air mattress bed on the market, you may find my experiences with both of these mattress brands valuable to you.

This review has been updated to include information on the newer Natural Form Helix Air Spring design, which is softer and has a deeper depth than the original Natural Form design reviewed here. Read about the new Helix mattress by clicking here.

See a Close up View of the Natural Form® Bed


Natural Form Bed

Is Select Comfort® A Best Rated Air Mattress Bed?

Over 8 years ago we purchased a queen-sized pillow top mattress from the Select Comfort® company. Back then it was a lot of money for a mattress. But we justified the expense based on the company’s claim that it would offer a better night’s rest. My husband was having lower back pain, and we felt the switch would help him sleep better at night. Our first mattress, a spring mattress, had worn itself out in the middle and had a rogue coil that liked to poke the very center of my back. I would like to say that our very pricey Select Comfort® Sleep Number® bed which replaced it had graciously survived the births of all three of our children and the addition of a very rambunctious puppy, but that is not the case.

Last winter I began to notice a leakage problem in the left side air mattress. This began a slow and relentless battle with my mattress, and thus my erratic sleeping habits began. Each night I would pump the mattress up to 100 and by morning it would be at a mere 15. Sometimes the air seemed to leak less. Sometimes the gauge appeared to read the air pressure incorrectly. I soon discovered that if I went to bed late and woke up early I might sleep without waking during the middle of the night to pump more air into my bed. My limit was about 6 hours. Up until this point I was completely satisfied with my bed. The Select Comfort® bed was always very comfortable for me. My husband, on the other hand, never liked it much. He claimed that he still had a sore back even though we had made the switch from an inner spring.

If I had kept the old warranty papers I might have been able to order a replacement pump. I searched online to see how I could buy only the parts that I needed (by now the pillow top was well worn out and in need of a cleaning, and the side panels were quite bowed from constant use.) But I couldn’t find information anywhere on their website that offered individual parts for sale “ala carte.” So we either had to buy a whole new bed, or I was stuck pumping into eternity until we could afford a better air mattress.

Then fate stepped in.

Last summer I was contacted by the Natural Form Sleep System® folks at WCW, Inc. based out of Hoosick Falls, New York. I was asked if I would be willing to review one of their mattress products. I accepted, of course, because I was more than delighted to be rid of my nighttime nemesis. It seemed that God was smiling down on my sore back at long last. The Natural Form technology is not new. In fact, it has been around for quite some time and has been used in both hotels and hospital settings. They claim that it offers a healthier sleep for a variety of reasons and their website makes several claims to that extent. As one of the best rated air mattress bed brands on the market, I was excited to give them a try.

Is the Natural Form® My Best Rated Air Mattress Bed Pick?

I’m not one for buying a mattress based on science as much as getting one that gives me a good night’s sleep. So far the Natural Form has done just that. As far as the science goes, their system is self adjusting. So unlike the Sleep Number® pump, which is manually controlled with a remote, the Natural Form® air mattress will shift the air around through its 9 chambers when your body lies down on it, releasing and filling the chambers with air until your body’s pressure points are properly supported and your spine is aligned.

The Natural Form® mattress and box spring arrived in two separate boxes after about a week. We got a curbside drop off through Old Dominion Freight. We carried the bed from the driveway to the house ourselves. It is heavy. So this is not a task for someone with serious back problems or who’s restricted from heavy lifting. The mattresses were not shrink wrapped (because the company claims this would damage the high density foam’s quality). Both were sent in cardboard boxes directly from the Hoosick factory where they are manufactured from scratch. We had a busy weekend and left them in our kitchen until we had time to devote to removal and assembly. Of course once we actually opened the boxes we quickly discovered the error in our original thinking. Unlike the Select Comfort®, which takes quite a bit of time to assemble, the Natural Form Sleep System® bed comes put together like a regular mattress and box spring. There are no additional pumps, no electric cords, no corded comfort dials that need to be wrapped around the headboard and tucked beside the nightstand. All we needed to do was carry them upstairs and put them on the frame.

We’ve given the Natural Form® mattress a 45 day trial, and so far we both like it. It is a much firmer mattress than the Select Comfort®, so mattress shoppers need to be aware of that stark difference. In our case it turned out to be a quite positive shift. My husband claims his back is 100 times better on it. He said he would never go back to a Sleep Number® bed after spending a month on a Natural Form® mattress. So for him the best rated air mattress bed is the Natural Form® bed.

I recommend that you should always splurge for a new mattress. I have no complaints about the new mattress, but I did have to get used to it. When the Natural Form® arrived the gauges were both set to firm. I have always liked my mattress a bit softer than my husband. He kept his at firm and I moved mine down to the softest setting on the dial. It took over a week before I got comfortable on my side. It is noticeably softer than his side, but the difference in softness is nowhere as noticeable as it was in the Sleep Number® bed. At its softest I think the Natural Form® is about 50-55 on a Select Comfort®. That takes getting used to for a sleeper who is used to sleeping at 35-40. For me, is also a warmer bed, due to the organic wool top, which is ideal for eco living consumers. I often have cold feet at night and I am prone to episodes of waking up scrounging for extra covers to get warm again. It seems like the new mattress has fixed that problem for me. We shall see how it is in the summer when it gets warmer outside. According to the company, wool is supposed to adjust to your body temperature. So technically it should be cooler in the summer.

Many mattresses manufactured today contain man-made materials that will emit chemical vapors for quite a while after purchase. For me part of the criteria for a best rated air mattress bed is eco-friendly materials and overall safety from toxic chemicals. Fire retardant mattresses are required by law in the United States, but some companies are proactive in providing fire safety with less toxicity. Some people are sensitive to fire retardant materials which have been proven toxic in scientific studies. In the Natural Form® bed the quilted gusset on the sides of the bed is a fire rated polyester fabric. The cover on the foam is a fire sock, which may be removed by the customer if desired. To combat chemical sensitivity issues, WCW, Inc. uses a virgin wool topper on all their beds. They provided me with a study that claims wool can protect against environmental toxins because it has the ability to absorb them from the air. We are not a chemically sensitive couple, so the sock remains and we feel fine.

If you have chemical sensitivities you should be aware that WCW, Inc. will accommodate any special needs you may have. I believe most mattress companies have similar policies.

According to Eileen Wood, of WCW, Inc. “With a doctor’s RX, we can send out the mattress without the required fire sock that covers the foam topper. However, the fabric around the side of the mattress (the gusset) does have a fire retardant liner on the inside and that fabric is not available without this liner. That does not come in to contact with the sleeper and the wool acts as a filter. We have sent these beds out in the past to those with chemical sensitivity with great success.”

According to WCW, Inc.’s company Chairman John W. Wilkinson, raw materials are brought to the plant in Hoosick Falls and the beds are manufactured completely in that facility. Wilkinson claims, “WCW is an environmentally friendly and clean business. We have no by-products. We recycle everything.”

The company offers a 90 day money back guarantee, but this offer comes with conditions. The purchaser needs to keep the original boxes and is responsible for the return shipping costs. If the mattress is determined to be defective within the first year of ownership WCW, Inc. will replace the bed free of charge and also pay shipping. Any defects that occur in the mattress after the first year of the warranty and until 10 years afterward will be honored by WCW, Inc., but the customer will be responsible for shipping charges.

One of my biggest complaints with the Select Comfort® Sleep System is the inability to purchase separate replacement parts as desired. After three kids, a dog, and eight years of wear and tear, I have often wished I could replace our existing bed top with a new one. I would have loved to upgrade it to a better quality model. This just isn’t an option with Select Comfort at the moment. I certainly hope that someday soon it becomes one. At the present I have my old bed in storage until I have time to root around the bladder with a bottle of dish soap looking for leaks. I  hope to get it up and working properly again with the right parts for our out of town guests who come to visit. Otherwise it is just junk ready for the curb.

I certainly hope this review proves helpful to you. Please use the comparison chart to get a visualization of the basic features/policies of the two companies. As with all products, there are many pros and cons to consider. In our case, we feel that the Natural Form® bed is a better product for our needs and we hope that it will last for us.

Best Rated Air Mattress Bed Comparison Chart

Here is a breakdown of my findings when I researched the two companies side by side in 2010:

Best Rated Air Mattress Bed: Select Comfort versus Natural Form
Best Rated Air Mattress Bed: Select Comfort versus Natural Form

2017 Update with New Natural Form Helix Air Spring Mattress

Natural Form has added a new line of mattresses and we’ve tested out the Helix from their Air Spring line with a 90 day trial period. This mattress is much softer than the original Natural Form mattress, due in large part to the addition of a 3 inch quality hybrid memory foam topper that sits just below the soft marino wool topper.This memory foam has a nice density and it offers a very soft, comfortable sinking feeling that gives you the feeling that you are resting on air. This mattress is 11 inches in depth, a full inch deeper than the 2010 Natural Form mattress reviewed in 2010.

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17 Comments on Best Rated Air Mattress Bed Review: Select Comfort vs Natural Form

  1. So your husband likes it better than the Sleep Number? I would think that a firmer mattress would be harder to adjust to with a sore back.

  2. That was my feeling when I first decided to go with a Sleep Number. He has tried every number on that bed, and ended up choosing a very high one after trying many levels. He has some alignment problems and plays sports, is physical with his job. I don’t have back problems myself. For him the Natural Form is working better. They claim it aligns your spine with a multi-chamber channel system. It must be working, because he is very happy with the switch.

  3. Hi,
    I have been looking for some sort of air system bed and it looks like this one is the only self adjustable one. Obviously, there must be an air source pump.
    Doesn’t this make noise while adjusting at night which may awaken you?

  4. Jim,
    The Select Comfort Sleep Number® bed has a motorized pump that you plug into the wall and attach by hose to the bed. There are two wired remotes that adjust the comfort level by raising and lowering the air pressure manually. All you do is press it up or down. The bed does make noise when you are adjusting the pressure. Most people only make adjustments once a week. Some adjust regularly. There really is no need to adjust it in the middle of the night unless you wake up uncomfortable (or as in my case, because the pump has a slow leak–which is not common but probable with these beds.) The Natural Form® bed on the other hand, doesn’t have any mechanisms. It is just a mattress with an attached dial on its side. (Watch the video and you will see a pic of a black and white pressure control dial with settings from soft to firm). This dial is hidden inside a pouch that uses velcro enclosures. When I adjusted the Natural Form® bed there was no noise made by a motorized pump because this bed brand uses multi-chamber air tubes that are connected by valves inside the bed. (The video shows them; they are dark blue in color). I did not feel an immediate change in the bed’s pressure when I moved the dial from firm to soft. For me it took about a week to get comfortable on it. Both the Natural Form® and Sleep Number® beds are self adjustable. It is a matter of personal preference. In our case, we prefer the Natural Form. My husband claims it is better for his back. So yes, so far it is the best adjustable sleep system we have tried.

  5. I recently purchased a new mattress because I sleep miserably on my former one. I have an all foam bed with a memory foam topper – similar to a Tempurpedic bed. It has body depressions and is not supportive.

    I purchased an 8″ natural latex mattress consisting of the following layers:

    Bottom Layer: 3″ hard (ILD 45)
    Middle Layer: 3″ extra firm (ILD 36)
    Top Layer: 2″ firm (ILD 31)

    Unlike petro based foam latex density is directly proportional to its firmness. As a result, the firmer the bed, the denser the material, and the longer it lasts. Foam can be firm but not dense (cheap foam) and will quickly lose its supportive qualities (i.e. body depressions).

    I found out that if you buy the latex material separate from the case (i.e. not assembled, but can be in the same purchase) you can avoid the US law requiring the case to be saturated with fire retardant chemicals.

    I purchased my mattress components from foamorder.com because they are one of the few shops that will sell untreated mattress components and their prices seem competitive. If anyone finds a better online source for latex cores, please post.

    I decided against innerspring mattresses for the following reason:

    http://www.foodconsumer.org/newsite/Non-food/Environment/mattress_1808100754.html

    I decided against standard foam and fire retardant treated mattress for the following reasons:

    http://www.enn.com/pollution/article/33754/print

    http://news.softpedia.com/news/Can-Your-Mattress-Kill-You-76887.shtml

    After sleeping on the mattress for a week or so, my wife and I felt it was too firm. Fortunately, foamorder.com has a 90 day comfort guarantee, so I swapped my 3″ hard (ILD 45) layer for a 3″ firm (ILD 31) layer and now use this as the middle layer. The bed is still quite firm and I’m debating swapping out my extra firm (ILD 36) layer.

    Other than tweaking the firmness, I’m very pleased with this mattress.

  6. Michael,

    Thanks for your comments. We have used a memory foam mattress toppers before as well. They are a great addition to an inflatable bed. Our guests prefer it to sleeping on a ‘raft’ so to speak.

    It is good to know there are companies out there that cater to people with chemical sensitivities like Natural Form and Foam Order.

    We still do love our wool topped self-adjusting air mattress. If you can afford it, this sleep system is fantastic.

    • The sleep number we bought came with a pillow top, but it was not their high end one. The Natural Form mattress has a wool top and underneath it a thin piece of added foam that is covered by the fire sock. It is not a pillow top, but is equally as comfortable.

  7. I had the same experience with my Select Comfort bed of 7 years, including air leakage, multiple problems with the zipper breaking, and even mold. (Although they did replace the mattress parts for that) I purchased the Natural Form bed a year ago to help my Fibromyalgia and Chemical Sensitivities, and even though it is firmer it’s still very comfortable because it is always self adjusting to my movements. I also added an additional thick wool mattress topper, which is extremely soft and plush. The combination of the sightly firm mattress and the soft topper is just right to relieve pressure points to reduce my Fibromyalgia pain. I’ve also had no problems (unlike with the Sleep number bed) with Chemical Sensitivities. It is by far the better choice in air beds, and I’m happy that I’ve finally found a bed I can count on!!

  8. When was this originally posted? How long has it been since you’ve been sleeping on the Natural Form? I’ve slept on one in a Hilton Garden Inn and have really enjoyed it. However, it’s very costly and am a little hesitant to pull the trigger. I’ve also heard some negative things online about them. I’d like to hear you opinion of the bed after you’ve been sleeping on it for a while.

    • Sandy,
      We’re still sleeping on it after almost two years. And we still like it. The only problem I have noticed with it is a gradual slippage of the foam piece inside the fire sock. Every so often I have to unzip the wool top and re-align it. I’ve never removed the fire sock. I wonder if that would correct it. We’ve got a large household with three rambunctious boys who’ve been caught jumping on that bed often. I have attributed the slippage to their rough housing, but it may be common with these mattresses. It hasn’t leaked or lost its form since we’ve gotten it. The sides haven’t lost their shape either. We are still very comfortable in the bed. Overall, I am pleased. Would I recommend it? Yes if you can afford one. I wouldn’t overextend myself unless there was a medical reason to get such a costly bed.

  9. I am so excited; I purchased a similar air bed from The Nautilus Group in 2005, the warranty is now covered by a different company and they will sell you replacement parts. In the same way, my husband has complained about the bed since the purchase and now we are not getting very much sleep these last few months, both of us waking after just a 5-6 hours of sleep.

    The price is high on the mattress you reviewed maybe if they have a 90-returned an partially used mattress they could sell me we could afford that mattress. 🙂 We both have horrible back problems, and possibly have our chiropractor call and have the company swing a deal on one of the returns that isn’t damaged.

  10. Hi, i have had natural form bed system with the nine air chambers for 10 years now. back then it was called the sam bed {self adjusting mattress} by comfort direct. they replaced the 9 air chambers on one side of the bed free and also paid shipping charges because of a small leak in a chamber. Now I have one side of the bed not quite inflating as much as the other side so I am going to call them and see what they can do for me. Over all i am very pleased with the bed and it still looks exactly like the same one they sell now. By the way the company has only change their name still great service.

  11. Sleep number has terrible reviews! Just look up- Sleep Number scam
    The warranty does not cover the base or shipping charges and after 2 years everything is prorated…You are NOT covered 20-25 years…and that’s NO lie!

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