Should I buy the Bear Elite Hybrid mattress?

Bear Elite Hybrid mattress
(Image credit: 3Z Brands for Tom's Guide)

The Elite Hybrid sits right at the top of Bear's range. This US-based sleep company sits under parent brand Brooklyn Bedding, and specializes in mattresses for athletes and those with active lifestyles. Its mattresses feature technologies geared towards using sleep for recovery. The Elite is the priciest of Bear's four adult mattresses, and the only one that's available in three different firmness levels, to suit your preference. 

Bear promises world-class luxury via a 14-inch tall hybrid design that includes coils and memory foam with zoned support. At full price, it's a premium mattress, but regular deals drop it into the upper-mid bracket. 

Bear Elite Hybrid mattress specs

Type: Hybrid
Firmness (1-10): 5, 6 or 7
Height: 14"
Trial period: 120 nights
Warranty: Lifetime
Price bracket: Premium (usually available for upper-mid-range)
Materials: Memory foam, other foams, coils

Sitting beneath the Elite in Bear's lineup is the Star Hybrid and Pro Hybrid, and the budget-friendly Original (which you can read about it in our full Bear Original mattress review). The Elite is the thickest option, and designed to deliver superior cooling, comfort and edge support compared to the others in the range. 

We haven't had a chance to sleep on this mattress yet, so we can't do you a full review (we sleep on a mattress for a minimum of three weeks before sharing our official verdict). However, we were able to have some hands-on time with the firm version of this model during a visit the Bear mattress factory, to get an impression of build quality, softness and support, overall comfort and value for money, as well as running our usual tests for edge support and motion transfer. 

We also consulted existing user reviews and factored in our own knowledge and extensive experience of testing mattresses to build a well-rounded view of this model and how it compares to the rest of today's best mattresses. Read on for our hands-on review of the Bear Hybrid Elite (Firm). 

Bear Elite Hybrid mattress

(Image credit: Bear)

Should I buy the Bear Elite Hybrid mattress?

You'll find a more in-depth look at the Bear Elite Hybrid below, but if you're in a hurry and just want the quick version, here's who we would, and would not, recommend this mattress to:

Buy it if...

You have an active lifestyle: Bear mattresses are designed specifically for athletes and those who want to maximize the recovery part of sleep. The Celliant fibers used in the cover also appear in sports clothing, and are meant to boost circulation to help your cells recover faster.

You're a combi-sleeper: The combination of padded upper level and slightly firmer tier underneath makes this mattress comfortable in all positions. It's also easy to change position on. 

Don't buy it if...

You want to be able to sit on the edge of your bed: The edge support is okay but not excellent on this mattress. If you want to be able to use every inch of the sleep surface, or need to be able to push up off the edge of your bed to get up in the morning, look for something with sturdier edges.  

You'd like a luxurious mattress: This mattress is geared towards performance, which means it has a slightly more utilitarian vibe. For a similar sleep feel but a more luxurious look, consider the Brooklyn Bedding Signature Hybrid

Bear Elite Hybrid mattress: Price

  • Regular discounts of 30% off or sometimes more
  • Usually in upper mid-range bracket

Based on full ticket price, the Bear Elite Hybrid is a premium mattress. However, as is the case with many big bed brands, the Bear mattress sales are so regular that you can basically ignore those MSRPs. With a regular discount of 30% or 35% off, this mattress sits in the upper mid-range bracket, and you'll get some free sleep accessories thrown in to sweeten the deal. 

Here's a look at the list prices for the Bear Elite Hybrid mattress, alongside the common discounted prices:

  • Twin size: MSRP $1,721 (usually on sale for ~$1,130)
  • Full size: MSRP $1,917 (usually on sale for ~$1,250)
  • Queen size: MSRP $2,111 (usually on sale for ~$1,380)
  • King size: MSRP $2,511 (usually on sale for ~$1,640)

It's cheaper than most of today's best luxury mattresses, and factor in too that hybrid models always cost a bit more than all-foam models. 

While mattress sales and deals take place all year round, some brands offer bigger discounts around major holidays. The Black Friday mattress deals or Presidents' Day mattress sales often yield the best prices of the year... although sometimes the deals are the same as the rest of the year, so no promises. 

Bear Elite Hybrid mattress

(Image credit: 3Z Brands for Tom's Guide)

Bear Elite Hybrid mattress: Design

  • 14-inch tall hybrid with springs and foams
  • Quilted top with phase-change fabric for temperature regulation
  • Zoned support and 3 sleep feels to choose from

The Bear Elite Hybrid is a luxuriously thick, 14-inch tall hybrid mattress that's made in the USA. The internal design is comprised of six different layers. 

One of Bear's USPs is that the top covers of its mattresses all have Celliant fibres woven into them. Celliant is made by materials science company Hologenix, and has minerals crushed into it that make it infrared responsive. Exactly how it works is rather mysterious, but it's the same principle as those far infrared saunas you might have heard about: it promises to boost circulation and improve cellular oxygenation, leading to faster physical recovery. It appears in sports clothing from brands like Under Armour, but it's rarer to find it in mattresses – Bear is the only brand we've come across that uses it. 

On the Bear Elite Hybrid, the uppermost layer is a hand-quilted cover (1 on the diagram below). Although it's by no means unpleasant to touch, the Celiant fabric is designed for performance rather than strokability, and it's not super soft beneath the fingertips. But it's going to be under a sheet almost all the time anyway.

While the Celliant fibres appear in all of Bear's mattress covers, the Elite Hybrid is the only one to also have  phase-change material (PCM), designed to absorb your body heat and help regulate temperature. (Most of parent company 3Z Brands' beds use GlacioTex fabric for cooling, but that can't be combined with the Celliant fibers. We haven't tested the specific cooling fabric used here.)

Bear Elite Hybrid mattress, cross section showing internal layers

(Image credit: Bear)

Beneath the cover are two layers of CertiPUR-US certified foam; memory foam (2) and transition foam (3). The former is infused with copper, for its antimicrobial, cooling properties, while the latter is designed to deliver ergonomic support and even distribution of body weight.

The foams sit on top of a tier of coils (4), which have a higher gauge in the central third to give firmer lumbar support. As with all the best hybrid mattresses, these are individually pocketed to help isolate motion on the sleep surface. They'll also help make the mattress more breathable by providing space for air to circulate within the body of the mattress. The coils around the perimeter (5) have been reinforced to bolster the edges of the mattress and ensure there's no sloping here. All of this sits on a base of high-density support foam (6).

Bear Elite Hybrid mattress: Support & comfort

  • Cushioned top level and slightly firmer tier beneath 
  • Sturdier coils around lumbar
  • Comfortable in all sleep positions

Quilted upper layer gives this mattress a cushioned, undulating top surface, and if you press on it you can feel a slightly firmer layer beneath. 

During our hands-on time with the firm option, we found this mattress comfortable in all sleep positions; the quilted top gives a nice amount of cushioning around the shoulders when lying on your side, but overall the firmer feel is supportive under the hips when lying on your front or back. This is perhaps thanks to the zoned springs, with higher-gauge coils in the centre third to keep the lumbar supported. 

To assess pressure relief more objectively, we placed a 15lb weight in the middle of the mattress. It sank 2.9", which is in the medium-soft bracket (although the firmer lower level provides more support than that reading would suggest). The sleep surface pretty fast moving – i.e. it springs back fairly quickly when you remove pressure. That means it's easy to move around on. 

Bear Elite Hybrid mattress

(Image credit: Bear)

The Elite Hybrid is the only one of Bear's three mattresses to be available in three different firmness profiles: soft (5/10), medium (6/10) or firm (7/10). It's interesting that there's relatively little difference between the options, with them all falling within the medium bracket. However, you do also need to factor in that firmness is very subjective, and different brands measure it in different ways. 

Which option you choose should be guided in part by your preferred sleep position. As a general rule, stomach sleepers and back sleepers should err towards a firmer sleep surface in order to keep your spine in healthy alignment, while the best mattress for side sleepers can be slightly softer, to relieve pressure around the hips and shoulders in this position. 

Bear Elite Hybrid mattress: Motion isolation

A mattress with good motion isolation will absorb movements on the bed, and stop them from reverberating across the sleep surface. This is important for anyone who shares a bed with a partner (/child / pet), but it's also worth considering if you're a solo sleeper who's prone to tossing and turning. A bouncy mattress can disrupt your night further. 

To test the motion transfer levels on the Bear Elite Hybrid, we placed an empty wine glass on the sleep surface, then dropped a 15lb weight at distances of 4, 10 and 25 inches away from it. On the firm version, we found the glass fell over at 4 inches, but didn't really move at all at 10 or 25 inches. The quilted top section makes a difference here, because it creates an uneven surface that means the glass isn't that stable to start with. 

We also asked another journalist to test out motion isolation with us, by getting into and out of the bed and changing position. We agreed that the Bear Elite Hybrid isolates movements well, and while you can just about feel a parter moving around, it's unlikely to disturb any but the lightest sleepers. 

We'd expect slightly different motion transfer performance on the soft and medium versions of this bed, although not majorly so. 

Bear Elite Hybrid mattress

(Image credit: Bear)

Bear Elite Hybrid mattress: Edge support

Edge support refers to how sturdy the sides and ends of the mattress are. Strong edge support is key if you want to be able to make use of the full sleep surface, without fear of rolling off in the night. It also means you'll be able to sit comfortably on the edge of the mattress, and push up off it when getting up. This mattress has higher gauge coils around the perimeter, specifically to firm up the edges. 

We tested edge support by placing our 15lb weight on the side and end edges of the mattress. On the Bear Elite Hybrid, the edge sinkage was 3.1" compared to 2.9" in the centre. That's not an ideal result – for good edge support, you want a sinkage level that's equal to or less than the sinkage in the centre, and especially so if the mattress is on the softer side.

We also sat and lay on the edge of the bed to see how it felt from a personal point of view. Overall, we judged the mattress have have acceptable rather than great edge support.

Bear Elite Hybrid mattress: Delivery & extras

All of Bear's mattresses come with free shipping in the contiguous US. At time of writing (May 2023), the site says deliveries are still contact-free, for Covid-19 reasons. Sadly, there's no option to upgrade to delivery to your bedroom, or to get someone to unpack it for you, so you'll likely need to make sure there's a second person around to help maneuver the mattress into place.

The sleep trial is 120-nights, which is on the shorter side. 100 nights is about the minimum you'll find at any major mattress brand, 200 nights is common now, and a few brands (Saatva, Nectar and DreamCloud) give you a full 365 nights. While you won't be able to test it out in every season, that's still long enough to get a pretty good feel for the mattress and if it's right for you. Returns are free, and Bear aims to donate any unwanted models to charity. 

A lifetime warranty matches the longest you'll find anywhere, although it is generally recommended you replace your mattress every 7-10 years.

Bear Elite Hybrid mattress: Customer reviews

To get a more well-rounded view of the Elite Hybrid, we took a look at existing customer reviews. Currently this bed has what looks like a 4.2 average over ~250 reviews (April 2023). We say 'looks like' because there's only a graphic to go on, no written out score.

The majority of customers are very impressed with their purchase, with a number saying they were sleeping more soundly and experiencing less stiffness and soreness since switching to the Elite Hybrid. There's also a fair amount of praise for the temperature regulation features, although not everyone agrees, and almost as many commenters say it sleeps warm.

One recurring complaint is that the edge support is lacking. This is a theme we've noticed across the reviews for all of Bear's mattresses, so perhaps something the brand needs to take time to invest in improving. There are also a handful of customers who have found that their Elite is sinking in the middle section and/or has developed body indents.

Firmness is difficult to assess because most people don't say which firmness option they went for, and it looks like the names of those options has changed since launch, too. However, reviews suggest it errs on the softer side (in general you'll find equal numbers of people complaining their mattress is too soft as complaining that it's too firm, but here almost everyone says the former). Three heavier reviewers comment that you should definitely opt for the firmest version, and even then it might be too soft (our best mattress for heavy bodies ranking has plenty of specialist options). 

Ruth Hamilton
Homes Editor, TechRadar

Ruth is currently Homes Editor on Tom's Guide's sister site TechRadar, where she reviews and writes about everything from air fryers to vacuum cleaners to coffee machines, as well as the latest smart home gadgets. Prior to making the shift to Homes, Ruth was Tom's Guide's Sleep Editor. A certified Sleep Science Coach, she has tested more mattresses than her small flat can handle and will talk at length about them to anyone who shows even a passing interest.