Bonnell vs Pocket Spring Mattresses: Which is the Best Spring Mattress?

Bonnell and pocket spring are two of the most common types of spring mattresses. They are both very supportive, well-aligned and relieve pain. However, they differ in their construction, feel, and performance. Here we will consider bonnell vs pocket spring mattresses in depth so that you can choose what is good for your needs and pocket.

Overview of Bonnell Spring Mattresses

Bonnell Spring Mattresses

The oldest and most popular type of innerspring mattress is Bonnell coils. This design was patented by James Marshall in 1899 and later became known as Angela Bonnell.
Bonnell mattresses have several hundreds of wire-laced hourglass coils wired together using helical lacing. The interconnected design ensures equal firmness across the surface. The coils are thinner in the ends and wider in the middle to some extent fit in body contours. The number of coils within a model varies between 300-800 based on the thickness and type of a mattress.

Benefits of bonnell spring beds include:

  • Very inexpensive starting around just $200 for a queen
  • Good overall body support from the interconnected coils
  • Allow airflow through coils to dissipate heat
  • Durable performance for the first 5 years or so
  • Bouncy, responsive feel great for sex

Drawbacks of traditional bonnell mattresses:

  • Sag and lose support after 5-7 years as coils weaken
  • Recoil motion transfers easily across the bed
  • Minimal contouring ability around shoulders and hips
  • Can be too firm and cause pressure points for side sleepers
  • Some off-gassing odor from adhesives used in production

The affordability and resilient support of bonnell coils make them ideal for children’s rooms, guest beds, or shoppers on a tight budget. The firmness also suits stomach sleepers who need to prevent their midsection from sinking. People suffering from back pain get relief from the reinforced center third design many bonnell mattresses have.

However, the lack of motion isolation and contouring limit its appeal to couples or those wanting pressure relief at the shoulders and hips. Light sleepers may also find traditional bonnell mattresses disruptive as you feel your partner’s every toss and turn.

Overview of Pocket Spring Mattresses

Pocket Spring Mattresses

Pocket spring mattresses, also called encased coils or Marshall coils, contain hundreds of individual coils wrapped in fabric sleeves. This creates a “pocket” around each spring. Besides cotton or polyester sleeves, manufacturers may use materials like bamboo, eucalyptus, or Celliant infused fabric.

Having each coil operate independently reduces motion transfer between coils. It also allows personalized contouring as the springs compress and decompress where needed. This provides exceptional spinal alignment.

Key benefits of pocket spring mattresses include:

  • Outstanding motion isolation for undisturbed sleep
  • Targeted pressure relief through greater contouring ability
  • Coils around the perimeter provide better edge support
  • Last 8-12 years with minimal sagging or soft spots
  • Available in a wide range of firmness levels

Potential cons of pocketed coil mattresses:

  • More expensive than bonnell starting around $800-$1,500
  • Can sleep warm due to less airflow around coils
  • Difficult to rotate or move due to weight

Pocket spring beds come in all standard mattress sizes from twin to California king. Many manufacturers now offer dual-sided models as well. This allows you to flip the mattress to extend its useful life.

The conformity and support of pocketed coils make them ideal for side sleepers. The materials enclosing each coil also dampen vibrations. This prevents you from feeling your partner’s movements. Pocket coils better match couples with different body types or sleep schedules. Those seeking pressure relief at the shoulders and hips or dealing with back pain also appreciate pocketed coils.

Direct Comparison of Bonnell vs Pocket Springs

Now that we’ve provided an overview of each spring type, let’s compare bonnell and pocket coils head-to-head across several factors:


Both bonnell and pocket coils provide excellent support. However, pocketed coils offer more tailored back support by contouring to the spine’s natural shape. The barrel design and independent suspension allow pocket springs to compress just where needed. Bonnell coils deliver firmer, uniform support.

For targeted relief of back pain or improper alignment, most sleep experts recommend pocket coils. But if you want an ultra-firm, flat feel, traditional bonnell may suit you better.

Pressure Relief

Pocket coils excel at minimizing pressure points by contouring around the shoulders, hips, and other areas. This allows more even weight distribution so you don’t “bottom out”. The independence of each coil creates personalized back support.

Bonnell coils provide less pinpointed pressure relief since the interconnected coils move together. This can leave gaps of unsupported areas along your body. For superior pressure relief, pocketed coils are the clear winner.

Motion Isolation

When it comes to minimizing the transfer of movement between partners, pocket coil mattresses are unmatched. The individual fabric sleeves prevent motion from radiating across the bed. This allows you to sleep undisturbed no matter how much tossing and turning your partner does.

With bonnell mattresses, the helical wires connecting all the coils together mean motion gets transferred whenever the springs compress. Light sleepers often find traditional bonnell mattresses disruptive as they feel every shift their partner makes. For peaceful sleep for couples, pocket coils have a clear advantage.


Across all mattress types, coils tend to be the most durable component. However, pocket coils maintain their shape and performance slightly longer than traditional bonnell springs. Each coil working independently preserves the integrity and resilience of the mattress as a whole. Bonnell coils sag at a faster rate as the mattress ages.

Higher coil counts also improve the lifespan of both spring types. But overall, expect a pocket spring mattress to last 8-12 years compared to 5-7 with most bonnell mattresses. Rotating your mattress from head-to-foot a few times per year maximizes durability as well.

Temperature Regulation

The open construction of bonnell coils allows more airflow through the mattress. This dissipates heat and moisture to keep your sleeping surface cooler. Encased pocket coils can retain a bit more body heat since airflow is restricted.

That said, many modern mattresses use phase change materials, copper infusions, gel, and other technologies to help regulate temperature. With these added cooling components, pocket coil mattresses can sleep just as cool or cooler than some bonnell mattress options.


Bonnell coils make a bit more noise than pocket springs when bearing weight. The creaking of the interconnected coils transferring motion can be disruptive for light sleepers. Independent pocketed coils operate silently so you don’t hear any squeaking, even as they compress and decompress. This is another benefit for couples.


Without a doubt, bonnell coil mattresses are far less expensive than pocket spring models. You can find a basic bonnell mattress for as little as $200 for a queen size while pocketed coil mattresses start around $800 and go up to over $2,000.

Bonnell coils allow manufacturers to create low-cost mattresses by using thin, low gauge coils wired together. The labor involved in individually encasing hundreds of pocket springs adds to the price. But you get what you pay for in terms of longevity, comfort, and performance.

Mattress TypePrice Range for Queen
Bonnell$200 – $500
Pocket Coil$800 – $1,500

Best Spring Mattress by Sleep Position

Your sleep position helps determine whether a bonnell or pocket coil mattress will provide you the best night’s sleep. Here are our recommendations by sleeper type:

For Back Sleepers

Back sleepers need a mattress that supports their spine’s natural alignment while cushioning the lumbar region. Either a medium bonnell or pocket coil mattress paired with a plush topper helps fill this contour. This prevents hammocking of the hips and flattening of the natural spine curve.

For Side Sleepers

Side sleeping concentrates weight on the hips and shoulders. To prevent pressure points while supporting alignment, a pocket coil mattress is ideal. Softer pocket coils allow more “give” around protruding areas. Add a thick comfort layer for extra cushioning around the shoulders and hips to prevent misalignment.

For Stomach Sleepers

Stomach sleepers do best with a firmer, flatter mattress to keep the abdomen from sinking in. This prevents hyperextension of the neck. Traditional bonnell coils provide an ultra-firm feel great for preventing midsection sag. Just be sure to augment it with a padded topper for comfort.

For Combination Sleepers

People who change positions often need a balance of responsiveness and conforming ability. A medium or medium-firm pocket coil mattress allows contouring for side and back positions while preventing sinkage on the stomach. The barrel-shaped coils provide consistent comfort and support in all sleeping positions.

Choosing Between Bonnell and Pocket Coil Mattresses

When deciding between these two coil types, first consider your budget, sleep habits, size, and weight. Bonnell provides unbeatable affordability while pocketed coils offer superior contouring and motion isolation. Next, evaluate your priorities in terms of support, pressure relief, and responsiveness. This helps narrow your options.

Testing out mattresses first-hand at showrooms gives you a feel for each one. Don’t hesitate to spend 15-20 minutes lying on a mattress mimicking your actual sleep position. See how your spine aligns and any pressure builds at the hips, shoulders or lower back.

Be sure to ask about coil gauge, count, and quality too. Many coil mattresses now add foam encasement and comfort layers for enhanced performance. With proper research and testing, you can find the highest quality mattress at the best price, no matter which spring type you choose.

The Verdict: Bonnell vs Pocket Springs

For superior contouring, pressure relief, and motion isolation, pocket coil mattresses with individually encased springs beat traditional bonnell models. But quality bonnell mattresses cost far less while providing decent overall support. Stomach sleepers and those wanting bounce also prefer interconnected bonnell coils.

Ultimately, the type of sleeper you are and your budget play the biggest roles in deciding between these two popular types of spring mattresses. With some testing and expert guidance from retailers, you can find the perfect bonnell or pocket coil mattress tailored to your needs for many years of comfortable sleep.

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Moumita Ghosh

Moumita Ghosh

Moumita Ghosh is an experienced Sleep Health Educator and lead editor at From testing bedding to authoring guides on sleep hygiene, her aim is to assist readers in achieving restful sleep. She also stars in educational videos on our YouTube channel. Moumita graduated from King's College London with a degree in health science and a focus on sleep medicine. She has invested over a decade honing her expertise to measure and evaluate how products impact sleep quality. As an oft-cited authority on sleep products, Moumita steers millions of consumers toward personalized recommendations for everything from pillows to mattresses. Previously, she directed search and social media strategy for premier lifestyle brands at Harrods. In her free time, she enjoys outdoor activities, exploring new cafes, cuddling her furry friends, and of course - catching some quality shut-eye.

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