College Student Buying Guide: Mattress Toppers

Nothing is worse than laying down on your first night in your college dorm room and realizing that the mattress is hard as a rock. One of the essential purchases for college is a mattress topper or mattress enhancer. These are products that are added on top of an existing mattress in order to provide comfort to the person(s) sleeping on a mattress. In addition, they also provide protection to the actual mattress itself. The market for these are extremely saturated, but don’t worry, we’ve compiled a ton of research to find you the best options for your college dorm.

What are the Different Types of Mattress Toppers

  • Memory Foam – The first of the two most popular choices for mattress toppers. These types of mattress enhancers are great at reducing pressure, but they can be on the more expensive side. There are also options to purchase “cooling” memory foam toppers that help reduce heat at night. Pro Tip: When purchasing a memory foam mattress, they initially have an odor when you take them out of the packaging. Be sure to let it sit and air out before putting on your new bed.
  • Featherbed – The second of the two most popular choices for mattress toppers, these are often made with down, feathers or cotton. Compared to memory foam, feather beds feel like you’re sleeping on a cloud and provide a very soft sleeping surface. It’s important to remember that down or feathers can cause allergies, therefore if you’re a person who has problems with allergies, it’s important to buy a hypoallergenic option. Hypoallergenic options are often marketed as cotton or a “down alternative”. Down alternative beds are made of a synthetic material meant to imitate the feeling of natural down.
  • Other Types – There are also options for strictly wool, latex and polyester, but each of these don’t serve a valid need to be on top of a college dorm bed. We will not recommend any that are wool, latex or polyester.

what size are college dorm beds

This answer will depend on what size mattress is being provided at your dorm, apartment, or greek housing establishment. Chances are, for dorms that are providing mattresses, they will be a Twin XL. A Twin XL is a twin bed that has 5 additional inches added on to the length, making it a total of 80 inches long by 38 inches wide (vs. 75 inches long by 38 inches wide on a normal twin). If you’re unsure what size to buy, be sure to check with your University housing department.

How Thick of a Mattress Topper Should I buy

With every product comes a ton of different options. There are varying answers but we can determine by your sleeping preference and weight. The more you weigh, the thicker your mattress topper should be. If you primarily sleep on your stomach, you should get a thinner topper as you don’t want to sink your face into the mattress. If you sleep on your side/back, you probably want a thicker mattress topper. As a general guidance, you should aim for the following:

  • Weighing Less than 125 Pounds: Mattress Topper Thickness: 1-2″
  • Weighing Between 125 – 225 Pounds: Mattress Topper Thickness of 2-2.5″
  • Weighing Over 225 Pounds: Mattress Topper Thickness of 2.5″ – 3″

If you opt for a thicker mattress topper, be sure to purchase sheets that have deep pockets. The last thing you want to do is purchase a wonderful mattress enhancer and not have your sheets fit.

The Best College Dorm Mattress Toppers

1. ViscoSoft 3″ Memory Foam Mattress Topper

Topping the list for memory foam options is the 3″ memory foam mattress topper from ViscoSoft. Given this is 3″, it’s most suitable for those who sleep on their side or back and weigh more than ~225 pounds. However, if you weigh less and want something with more cushion, by all means go for this option. The mattress topper comes with a machine washable cover and has four adjustable elastic straps to attach to each corner of the bed. The company offers sizing on all standard mattress sizes, including Twin XL. Pricing is modest, but you can’t put a price on a good nights sleep.


  • Gel-infused memory foam is meant to reduce trapped body heat.
  • Helps relieve common pressure points and prevents from sinking in too much to the foam


  • Pricing may be high to some
  • The topper may be too thick for those who sleep on their stomach or are smaller in size

2. Karrism Extra Thick Mattress Topper

Topping the list for featherbeds is the Karrism extra thick cooling mattress pad topper, filled with cotton. The product is intended to be 100% machine washable, therefore there is no dry cleaning needed. Karrism offers this product for all standard mattress sizes, and even offers a white and grey color option. The topper comes with deep elastic pockets which will ensure that it fits around the bottom of the mattress, and stays attached.


  • Made of 100% 400TC cotton, making it skin-friendly and breathable
  • More affordable than memory foam
  • Baffle box design keeps filling in place


  • May be comfortable, but may not completely support pressure points like memory foam
  • May clump and “de-fluff” over time

3. Linenspa 2″/3″ Gel Infused Memory Foam Mattress

Our second choice for memory foam is the Linenspa 2″ (or) 3″ Gel Infused Memory Foam mattress enhancer. For those who don’t want to spend a ton and are on a strict budget, this is the right product for you. This memory foam is infused with temperature regulating gel beads that help dissipate heat while sleeping. In addition, there are options for both a 2 inch or 3 inch, so this should appeal to nearly everyone who weighs over 125 pounds. Even if you weigh under 125, this will still be a good purchase. If you plan on just living in a dorm for a year and will eventually upgrade bed sizing, this may be the best product for you.


  • Available in both 2″ or 3″ foam toppers
  • Most affordable option of all products reviewed
  • Designed to prevent overheating
  • Top selling foam mattress topper on Amazon with 24K+ reviews at 4.5 stars+


  • With price comes quality; likely will not hold up as well as the better quality and expensive competition
  • Won’t help relieve pressure as well as competition, but can still provide comfort over a baseline mattress

Head back to our recommended college products.