Bamboo is touted as being less harmful to the environment than cotton and just as soft, easy to care for, and good value. Memory foam – typically used in pillows, mattresses and mattress toppers – contours to your body shape for more support. They sound tempting, but what is it like to swap to sleeping in these alternative fabrics?
Since it was time to ditch my old-fashioned pocket spring mattress and invest in some new bedding, I decided to take the plunge with Panda, which deals in both bamboo and memory foam and scores highly in T3’s buying guides. Here’s how I got on.
Making the switch: Panda London Hybrid Bamboo mattress review
Changing a mattress is a big decision, so I was nervous about the Panda London Hybrid Bamboo mattress. After all, something you spend a third of your life on must be perfect. There’s nothing worse than changing mattress and suddenly having back pain and aches as your body gets used to it. Thankfully, that didn’t happen with the Hybrid Bamboo, the company’s only mattress, which comes in various UK and European sizes (£665 to £1,225). I tried it in king-size.
Surprisingly, it was delivered rolled up in a box, cleverly vacuum packed, though it sprung into life instantly. However, it has no springs. Instead, it uses six layers, the uppermost made from soft and luxurious bamboo. I was surprised to find that it was instantly as comfortable as my previous mattress at its best. In the pantheon of mattresses, the Hybrid Bamboo is firm but not to the extreme and plenty supportive enough. My only criticism of the mattress is that it has no handles on the side, making it unnecessarily tricky to move.
Making the switch: Panda 100% Bamboo Bedding and Cloud Duvet review
The main events are the Panda Cloud Bamboo duvet and the Panda 100% Bamboo Bedding bundle. The duvet comes in four UK sizes (£84.96–£135.96), while the all-in-one set bedding (£110-£180) comprises a fitted sheet (£42.50-£67.50 when sold individually), a duvet cover (£70-£110) and two pillowcases (£19.95).
I reviewed the set for a king-size bed. The first surprise is how it feels when you get into bed. It feels cool. It warms up quickly, perhaps even quicker than cotton, but it initially has a fresh feel. Since bamboo is high-wicking, it’s ideal for hot nights; during our test, I always felt warm but never hot, which was a nice change from sometimes waking up sweaty while in cotton bedding.
A real bugbear of duvet covers is when they’re too big for the duvet, leaving handfuls of cover rather than duvet at the top of the bed. It’s an issue with bamboo because of its silky texture, which means it’s prone to sliding around. It’s an issue here because the duvet cover is too big for the duvet. There are ties in each corner of the duvet cover, but they don't prevent some slippage.
The sheets are easy to wash (at a cool temperature, which is economical) and they also temple-dried quickly on low heat. The only issue was the bamboo buttons on the duvet cover, which are somewhat ridged and don’t easily slide in or out of their buttonholes.
I did notice a slight downside to the silky smooth nature of bamboo sheets if you have pets. For example, when a cat jumps onto a bamboo duvet cover it will likely slip slightly and dig its claws in, which increases the chances of pulled threads. It’s something I noticed after a few weeks. Cotton sheets suffer the same fate but perhaps more slowly.
Making the switch: Panda Bamboo Mattress Topper review
A mattress topper is an excellent idea if your mattress is a bit old and you want the contouring and extra comfort a layer of memory foam can add. The Panda mattress topper (£84.96–£169.96) arrives folded, so it has to be left alone for 24 hours to flatten out.
Using the topper makes a massive difference to how you move in bed. To test what the topper does, I tried it with an old mattress that has seen better days. With just the bamboo sheets on my old mattress, there was a slipperiness to sleeping that took a little getting used to. However, I could move freely with the topper while also having the feeling of being anchored in one place.
A worry was that the topper would make it too warm. That wasn’t the case. It envelopes you, keeping you in one place by molding slightly to your body – the whole point of memory foam – but it also makes the bed feel more snug.
Making the switch: Panda Hybrid Bamboo and Memory Foam Bamboo pillows review
Mattresses get all the attention, but pillows are crucial to sleeping comfortably. It’s also a highly personal choice, with some insisting on two deep pillows while others prefer a single slim pillow.
I tried two of Panda’s pillows, the Hybrid Bamboo (£71.96) and the Memory Foam Bamboo (£38.21). Both are incredibly well made, but they won’t suit everyone. For example, the Hybrid Bamboo pillow is big and firm. It just about squeezed into a standard pillowcase and, while perfect for side sleeping, proved too deep for me to lay back on comfortably.
The Memory Foam Bamboo pillow is different. Slightly shallower and using memory foam, it’s a little softer, so it's better for those who like to sleep on their front. Overall, this second pillow impressed me most, though a third, even shallower memory foam option would be closer to my dream pillow.
Final thoughts on bamboo and memory foam
I was impressed by bamboo bedding, which has so far proved comfortable (and silky smooth) while being easy to care. There’s a luxurious feel to it that’s hard to beat this side of silk.
During the review, I also tried out Panda’s Bamboo Towels, which while a completely different product, retain the same softness and underscore why bamboo fibre is catching on. The mattress has been a complete success, as has the duvet, which has impressed at warm and cooler times of the year. However, my favorite product has been Panda’s Memory Foam Bamboo pillow, which feels like a significant upgrade to what I was sleeping on before and has convinced me that bamboo and memory foam makes for a dreamy combination.