Last Updated: Sep 8, 2020 @ 10:31 am.

What's the best twin XL mattress pad? Yes, a mattress topper can turn a rock-hard college dorm mattress into something much more comfy to sleep on. We tried out several top brands to find the most comfortable and softest toppers . . . at a price that didn't break the bank. Here are the ones we'd recommend.

FYI: We've been reviewing and rating products for the home and families since 1994. To keep it real, we don't take money or freebies from the brands we review. Our work is 100% reader-supported!


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Best Cushy Soft Topper

Spongy soft and machine washable
This quilted cotton mattress topper has polyester fill (a more vegan-friendly alternative to down fill). Soft and doesn't trap heat. Lightweight at 4 lbs. and super easy to transport.
$39.90

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Best Cushy Soft Topper: Oaskys Mattress Pad Cover

What is a mattress topper and why would you want one?

And how do they differ from mattress pads?

Even though they sound much the same, mattress toppers are quite different than pads. As the name implies, mattress toppers sit atop a mattress and are designed to make a rock-hard or otherwise uncomfortable mattress (read: your average college dorm mattress) much easier to sleep on.

Mattress toppers add comfort and support.

Mattress pads, on the other hand, only offer a minimal amount of additional comfort. Pads are designed to prevent damage to a mattress—some are waterproof, others are designed to prevent bed bugs. Mattress pads go on a bed like a sheet, wrapping around the corners.

This article focuses on mattress toppers. There are two basic types of toppers: memory foam and down alternative toppers.

Memory foam mattress toppers are a great way to add comfort to a too-firm mattress . . . but they have one major issue: heat.

Memory foam retains body heat—and since it is a dense material, there isn’t much of a way for the heat to dissipate. And that can be uncomfortable.

If you are a hot sleeper, then we’d consider a down alternative mattress pad cover. What is down alternative? Basically, it is polyester fill instead of duck or goose feathers. Square quilting keeps the fill from shifting.

Another major advantage to down alternative mattress toppers: they are much easier to clean. The one we recommend is machine washable (cold) and can even be put in a dryer (tumble dry low). By contrast, memory foam toppers can only be spot cleaned.

After researching 9 different down alternative mattress toppers to find the most cushy soft one, we think Oaskys is the best bet. We were impressed with the quality here. Pillowy soft, comfortable, yet easy on the wallet. Here’s more:

What We Liked

• Easy to transport.

 Lightweight at 4 lbs.

• Soft!

• Affordable.

• Machine washable and dry! 

• Combed cotton fabric.

What Needs Work

• Probably not the best solution for back support.

• Could be cooler? Overall, we think down alternative mattress toppers are cooler than memory foam . . . and our reader feedback and extensive research confirm this. However, we realize some folks who are hot sleepers may even find down alternative toppers like the Oaskys too hot.

• Not soft enough for some folks. We thought this mattress topper was very soft—but we know some folks want even more softness. In fact, some people buy a memory foam mattress topper and THEN put a down alternative topper on top—that might be a good way to get the both of best worlds. If you want a memory foam mattress topper, we’ll discuss that option next.

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Best Memory Foam Topper

Like sleeping on a cloud
We loved this affordable yet comfortable topper—no odor issues and ships in compact box (great for college dorm move-ins). Caveat: can be hot and no cover.
$42.99

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Best Memory Foam Topper: Linenspa 2 Inch Gel Infused Memory Foam Mattress Topper

Memory foam mattress toppers are popular, thanks to their affordable prices and plush softness. The downside? It can be hot.

We surveyed the readers of our parenting books to find their favorites—it’s always nice to find out what works well in the real world! We took their suggestions and then did additional research. (When we purchase a mattress topper to test ourselves, we use our own money!).

For the best memory foam topper, we picked Linenspa’s 2″ Gel Infused Memory Foam Mattress Topper. It combines the best comfort (“like sleeping on a cloud” said one of our readers) with a price that’s easy on the wallet.

Here’s more:

What We Liked

• Arrives in small package; expands when removed. That’s great if you need to take this topper to college, since it is easy to transport.

• No odor issues. That’s a common complaint about memory foam toppers—this one is stink-free, according to our research and reader feedback.

• Super soft and comfortable.

• Sheet friendly. This topper is only 2″ thick, which means most twin XL sheets should still work to cover the topper and mattress below.

• Lightweight at 7.5 lbs.

• Allergy friendly. This memory foam is latex free (but made in a plant that also makes latex foams).

• Affordable.

• Wide range of sizes available (in case you need another size instead of twin XL).

What Needs Work

• No cover available as of this writing.

• Hot. Unfortunately, this is a problem with many memory foam mattress toppers—they trap heat from your body. This bothers some people more than others, of course. Some folks like the extra warmth. Others think it is too hot.

• Too soft for some folks. 

• Durability could be better. We see a few reports form folks who said this memory foam topper cracked after a year or so of use. These were a minority, however. We’re not sure why it cracked after a year’s use for some folks and not others.

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Best Budget-Friendly

Vegan-friendly fill is hypoallergenic
The bamboo fabric cover is the star here—it breathes (and is cooler) than memory foam. Soft and fluffy, yet lightweight at 4.4 lbs. Caveat: needs to be fluffed occasionally.

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Best Budget-Friendly: AmazonBasics Down-Alternative Mattress Topper Pad with Microfiber Shell 

Yes, mattress toppers can be pricey . . . for some reason, some fancy brands can top out in the three figures. Good news: we found one mattress topper that is both good quality and easy on the wallet: AmazonBasics Down-Alternative topper.

We liked the overall softness and durability. Plus it is machine washable. Here’s more:

What We Liked

• Generously sized to fit over the corners of most mattresses.

• Soft!

• Lightweight at 2.6 lbs.

• Vegan-friendly (no ducks or geese were harmed in the making of this mattress). The synthetic fill still provides cushiness, though.

• Affordable.

• Cotton shell is soft.

• Machine washable. That’s a major advantage of memory foam, which can only be spot cleaned.

What Needs Work

• Not as squishy as memory foam. But that is true for most down alternative mattress toppers—they are soft but not as squishy as memory foam. We think this cover added the right amount of softness, but others may disagree!

• Too hot in the summer, say a minority of users. This is true for most down alternative covers . . . they do trap some body heat. Not as much as memory foam, but some folks who are hot sleepers may still find this topper too hot. If you are a hot sleeper and your room isn’t air conditioned, this may not be the best solution in the summer.

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Best Extra Plush Topper

Machine washable
The bamboo fabric cover is the star here—it breathes (and is cooler) than memory foam. Soft and fluffy, yet lightweight at 4.4 lbs. Caveat: needs to be fluffed occasionally.

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Best Extra Plush Topper: Niagara Sleep Solution Bamboo Mattress Topper

One of the biggest complaints about mattress toppers is they are not soft enough for some folks.

We hear you—if you want something super plush and can afford the upgrade, we’d recommend Niagra’s Sleep Solution Bamboo Mattress Topper. Yes, it is plush and pillowy . . . more than the competition, based on our research and feedback from readers.

Here’s more:

What We Liked

• Fluffy! Yes this mattress topper delivers on the softness.

• Comfortable and cool in the summer. The bamboo fabric breathes better than memory foam.

• Blended rayon (bamboo cover) and polyester filling is vegan-friendly.

• Straps hold it in place on a mattress top. That keeps it from sliding.

What Needs Work

• Pricey.

• Needs to be fluffed occasionally. Yes, this topper can flatten out with use. But that is an issue with most down alternative toppers. You will need to fluff it occasionally. Hint: some folks put it in a dryer set to “air fluff” with a tennis ball to bring back the fluffiness.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing products for the home and families since 1994. We do hands-on testing—we buy the products with our own money and evaluate with an eye toward quality, ease of use and affordability.

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Our work is 100% reader-supported!

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