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
|Model||Type||Layers||Firmness||Trial and warranty||Rating|
|Dreamcloud||Hybrid||Cashmere blend cover;|
gel-infused memory foam;
Quilted memory foam;
Superdense memory foam (2 layers);
High-density memory foam base.
|Medium Firm||365-day trial, lifetime warranty||9|
|Nectar||Memory foam||Tencel fiber cover;|
Quilted gel-infused memory foam;
Gel memory foam;
Adaptive hi-core memory foam;
High-density foam base.
|Medium Firm||365-day trial, lifetime warranty||7.5|
|Loom & Leaf||Memory foam||Organic cotton cover quilted with foam;|
Convoluted memory foam;
Contouring memory foam;
Transition loft pad;
|Medium, Firm||120-day trial, 15-year warranty||8|
|Saatva||Innerspring||Organic cotton cover;|
Euro pillow top;
Lumbar memory foam pad;
Foam-encased individually wrapped comfort coils;
Foam-encased steel coil base support system.
|Soft, Medium Firm, Firm||120-day trial, 15-year warranty||9|
Fel-infused memory foam euro pillow top;
Foam-encased pocketed micro-air springs;
Lumbar support pad.
pocketed coils encased in polyfoam.
|Soft, Medium Firm||101-day trial, 10-year warranty||8.5|
|Zenhaven||Latex||Organic cotton cover;|
Four layers of 100% Talalay Latex.
|Dual-sided — Soft and Firm||120-day trial, 20-year warranty||8.5|
|Layla||Memory Foam||Fel-infused cover;|
Copper-infused memory foam;
Convoluted support foam;
High-density base support foam;
Copper-infused memory foam;
|Dual-sided — Soft and Firm||120-day trial, lifetime warranty||7.5|
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.
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.
“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, 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.
Our Reviews of 7 Best California King Mattresses
Best Cal King Mattress — Editor’s Choice
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.
Best Cheap California King Mattress
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.
Best Cal King Mattress for Back Pain
Loom and Leaf
The next item on my list of top-rated Cal King mattresses is the Loom and Leaf by Saatva. It looks and feels luxurious and, thanks to foam layers working together, offers outstanding pressure and pain relief properties.
The model is available in two firmness options — Firm and Relaxed Firm. I was testing the Relaxed Firm, which felt like 6 out of 10, and didn’t have any issues in all sleeping positions. Also, the Loom and Leaf is absolutely noiseless and has excellent movement isolation, which is a good option for restless sleepers and their partners.
The mattress consists of foams of different density, which provide reliable, even support and contour your body perfectly, thus helping you deal with back pain. The upper layers are infused with a cooling gel, and there’s also a thin layer of this gel placed in the lumbar zone for an even better cooling effect.
I think that the Loom and Leaf can work perfectly as your new Cal King mattress for back pain. It has that hugging memory foam feel and allows your muscles to relax completely throughout the night.
Best Innerspring California King Mattress
Now, here’s another model by Saatva. The company is known for focusing primarily on quality and eco-friendly materials. And this particular mattress is a great representation of the company’s values.
The Saatva consists of recycled steel coils, eco-friendly, certified foam comfort layers, and an organic cotton cover. Although this doesn’t make it 100% organic, it’s still a great choice for people concerned about environmental issues.
The mattress comes in three firmness options, thus covering the needs of most sleepers. Inside, there’s a steel coil base that is sturdy and supportive even at the edges. It works together with the block of individually pocketed micro-coils placed above, ensuring even body weight distribution and that springy, responsive feel characteristic of innerspring mattresses. The upper foam layer and euro pillow top provide contouring and add some softness.
If you prefer lying on the mattress rather than sinking down into it, this innerspring California King bed is ideal for you. It offers decent pressure relief and remains quite resilient and bouncy at the same time.
Best Cal King Mattress for Heavy Couples
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.
Best Eco-Friendly California King Mattress
Another item on my list of top-rated Cal King mattresses is Zenhaven. Aside from being environmentally friendly and naturally more repellent to dust mites, mold, and bacteria, this model is also very supportive and offers a bouncy feel along with a decent amount of sinkage.
The Zenhaven has a two-sided design, so you can flip it over. But that’s not it:
Each of the two sides comes with a different firmness level. One is Luxury Plush (4.5 out of 10) and the other one is Gentle Firm (7.5 out of 10). These are the ideal comfort levels for side and stomach sleepers.
And this is not where the Zenhaven’s features end.
It’s a 100% natural latex mattress encased in a cotton cover. Latex, in general, is very breathable because it has an open-cell structure that circulates air easily. Combine it with organic cotton, and you will have a perfectly cool sleeping spot.
Now, if you like the bounciness of latex but also want your mattress to be able to conform to your body, the Zenhaven is exactly what you need. The thing is, it uses Talalay latex, which typically feels softer than its Dunlop alternative and allows more sinkage. Also, it’s an excellent eco-friendly Cal King bed for those who want a natural and hypoallergenic bed.
Best Flippable California King Mattress
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.
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.
One more model that impressed me the most was the Saatva. It has a nice, springy feel and comes in three firmness options, which makes it great for all sleepers who appreciate the bounce, regardless of their sleeping position. Plus, I support the eco-friendly ideas of the company.
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!