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Airweave Futon and firm-over-soft builds 08 Nov 2021 17:53 #1

I recently tried the Airweave futon and, yeah, everyone is right: it’s weird!

If you’re not familiar, Airweave is a high-tech, firm, lightweight foam made from fishing line. I call it foam, which I think it technically is, but it’s much more rigid than latex or polyfoam; it can’t be rolled up or compressed. It’s sort of halfway between foam and plastic. The futon is a <3” slab of the foam with a fleecy exterior wrapped around it. It’s slightly flexible, mostly rigid, with pre-set creases, and it makes sort of a crinkling noise when you walk or roll on it (but it doesn’t bother me when sleeping).

It’s meant to be used directly on the floor (for those who like a really firm mattress) or as a firming topper. I liked it best as a firming topper. On the top of a soft stack of toppers, it offers a firm-feeling sleeping surface, prevents sinking in, and gives you a “floating above the mattress” feel.

Directly on the floor, I found it to be too firm, though a significant improvement over bare floor. It’s still quite firm and you can feel the floor through it, but it distributes weight well, reduces pressure points, and keeps you from sinking into the ground.

I was sort of toying with the idea of having the Airweave as the bottom or support layer in a stack, but when I tried to put soft latex toppers on it to soften it, it quickly became MUCH FIRMER. You could feel the firmness radiate up through the topper(s), no matter how soft. 3” of latex on it was more uncomfortable than the same 3” on the floor! Adding another soft topper only made it worse. The heaviness of the latex firmed up the Airweave fibers, making them unforgivingly hard.

I found the behavior of the Airweave surprising because I feel like I’ve had it drilled into me through all my DIY reading that:
  • You can always make a firm mattress softer with toppers
  • But you can’t make a soft mattress firmer
  • Don’t bother putting soft on the bottom of your stack/under your firm layers, you won’t feel it

The Airweave seems to behave in the complete opposite way to this conventional wisdom. You can’t make it softer with toppers! You can use it to make a soft mattress firm! The only way to make it feel softer is to put soft material under it! The world is upside-down!

The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that all the mattress components I’m familiar with get firmer when they’re compressed by weight. Springs, latex, even memory foam to a lesser extent. Pretty much everything is firmer with weight on it/when it's the bottom of a stack. It’s just especially pronounced with the Airweave.

This, and my other recent failures with trying to make a firm mattress soft with toppers, have made me totally question the conventional wisdom. I feel like it might more accurate to say:

You can use toppers to change the surface feel of a mattress, but not the core firmness.

Or, perhaps more precisely, you can change the core firmness a little - but only to make it a little firmer, by adding weight (regardless of the firmness/softness of the topper).

It seems that most people usually want the surface feel to be softer and the support core to be firmer, so adding soft toppers will do both of those things. For me, I feel like I’m learning that I often want the opposite - an “on the mattress” surface feel with a forgiving, flexible support core - and it’s no wonder that the strategy of starting too firm and then adding soft toppers has given me the opposite of what I’m looking for!

I’m not sure the Airweave futon will be a permanent part of my build (I’m still on the trial period), but it has certainly been interesting to try it and to have my brain expanded about what mattress components can be and can do.

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Airweave Futon and firm-over-soft builds 09 Nov 2021 19:15 #2

Hi BurrowingOwl.

What a fascinating review of this futon! Thank you so much for sharing your detailed thoughts and experience with this product here. I know it will prove useful to others on the forum who are consider using the Airweave.

I look forward to your continued testing and updates.

NikkiTMU
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