Meeting Our First Dunlop/Talalay Latex Mattress and A Symphony of a Sunset

So my wife and I went up to Madison two weekends ago to do a little research on getting a new mattress. We’d been fantasizing about getting a natural latex mattress since my wife and I read a blog post three years ago of a young couple who wrote about, and then revisited, how much they loved their new natural dunlop latex mattress. We thought it was time to check one out for ourselves.

Natural latex is supposed to be really supportive, last a really long time, not release Volatile Organic Compounds–as petroleum based mattresses do–and not retain the body heat of synthetic latex mattresses. They are made from curing white milky liquid of the rubber tree into either dunlop latex or talalay latex.

I’d been researching them online and it seemed like a lot of people were pretty happy with them. The downsides I found were the cost and the odor. The cost for a queen starts around $2500 and apparently natural latex gives off a rather strong sweetish latex smell. Some say there is no odor, other say it goes away, and others say it doesn’t.

In Louisiana we’d been sleeping on a sketchy mattress that we bought of craigslist knowing we were most likely only going to be there a couple of years and didn’t have much money. Back here we’ve been sleeping on my wife’s double mattress from adolescence. It has a terrible permanent sink in the center of it. A good night’s rest is impossible.

So to Madison it was to try one out for ourselves. The sales people were kind and helpful. We took our time and tried out a number of different mattress firmness configurations. The most comfortable configuration was a layer of dunlop firm on the bottom, followed by a layer of dunlop medium, and then topped with a soft layer of the talalay latex. Online, they say to order the layers of the mattress softer than you’d think you’d like. I like a firm mattress, so I was surprised to find one of their softest combinations to be plenty firm for me. I can confirm: definitely err on the side of soft.

In fact, the softest possible layer topping the mattress left it even a bit too firm for me. When they added the 4″ think wool mattress topper to the bed, that’s when we were really talking. The wool made it the perfect supportive yet soft bed.

We were sold. On the mattress at least. We weren’t quite sold on spending the money, if there was any way around it. We decided to wait on making the purchase. Maybe we’d do some scouting on craigslist now that we knew it was something we wanted.


We drove the two hours back home right through a symphony of a sunset. We were surprised to see a wind farm had gone up in Stephenson Co., IL since we’d moved to Louisiana. I was offended to see the giant robotic force invading the landscape.

But as we got closer and the sun sunk into it’s magenta bath, the light silhouettes of the turbines worked in concert with the fields and sky. The sight was suddenly more beautiful than offensive. In that moment, I saw how they too might become a comforting symbol of land and home.

2 thoughts on “Meeting Our First Dunlop/Talalay Latex Mattress and A Symphony of a Sunset

  1. Those are beautiful pictures. And thanks for the tips– I’ve been looking into a talalay latex mattress and have heard it’s best to err on the side of soft as well, but it’s nice to have it confirmed by someone who prefers a more firm mattress. Hope you ended up with something you enjoy!

    • Hi, thank you for the compliment on the photos. Definitely go soft, because as far as I can tell, even the soft talalay isn’t soft. It’s quite firm. We ended up finding a mattress on craigslist that I wrote about here: A half year into it, I’d say we like our mattress but definitely needed a wool topper. It was too firm without the wool, which surprised me.

      If we had it to do all over again, I’d only get this mattress because of my wife’s allergies. It’s a good option for us because it won’t off-gas and is dust mite resistant. On the sleep side of the equation, I don’t think it’s the best night’s sleep you’ll have ever had. I think a nice mattress in an upper end hotel sleeps better than the latex mattresses. In that regard I was a little disappointed. Please write with any questions, I’d be happy to help.

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