- Value: 20/20
- Functionality: 18/20
- Quality/Ease of Use: 20/20
- Aesthetics: 20/20
- Back support: 19/20
Back pain is this ubiquitous thing that everybody and their dad (definitely their dad) seems to suffer from. But it doesn’t quite resonate until you’re one leg into a pair of leggings as lightning bolts of agony coarse through your torso. Well, at least that’s what happened to me the morning of my first Covid vaccine shot. I could hardly put pressure on my left leg as I huffed and puffed down my apartment building’s four flights of stairs in anguish. Getting into the car was its own stiff gymnastics and every upcoming speed bump a terror. That day, I saw a physical therapist to no real relief. Sitting was painful. Lying down was painful. And oh, at that point I was late into my second trimester of pregnancy. So, of course everyone’s extremely helpful advice was the same damn stretch (which hurt my back even more) and simply: “It will go away when you have the baby.” Uh, thanks.
Over two weeks, the pain became all-encompassing—not only changing how I physically led my days, but also impacting my emotional and mental well-being. I officially had access to Grunting Dads with Back Pain Club. I tried the standing desk thing, but really, the only recourse that seemed to help me was this pressure-relief seat cushion by CushionLab. I’d take it from my desk to the couch and even to the bed with me—not ideal since it’s meant for a chair, not a bed, and staying on top of it during the night proved its own challenge. I began dreading going to bed and waking up from a bad night’s sleep
So when a fellow Grunting Dads with Back Pain Club member, PureWow’s very own Jillian Quint, told me that one thing that helped her back was a mattress topper, I thought: “Of course.” It seems so obvious, but in a cloud of pain, it took me a bit to get there.
Enter: The Molecule AirTEC Topper, a mattress topper that, according to the site is made of “foam that provides the responsiveness and buoyant feel of latex, but with unprecedented airflow and a high level of durability.” It also promises to help “relieve pressure from the heavier parts of the body like the head, shoulders and hips.” Based on the sales pitch, this was exactly what my sore back needed. Did it live up to its promise? Here’s my review of the product that—spoiler alert—saved my back.
The convenience factor alone is A+
Like other mattress-in-a-box companies, Molecule makes it super easy to order and set up what’s typically a big, bulky product. Considering my limited mobility, the pandemic and living in a four-story walkup, this was especially helpful. And let’s just say…in all of quarantine—and all my shelter-in-place deliveries—I have never been more excited to receive and unbox a package. The mattress topper arrived folded up in two parts—the pad and the pad cover. And the simple directions explain to zip the pad within the cover and tell you which way to face it on your bed. Even if you’re not pregnant with back pain, this is probably a two-person job.
It’s plush, cool and supportive
The quilted honeycomb cover is silky and surprisingly cool to the touch. Sure, the brand promises cooling technology, but because I was so focused on the support elements, I didn’t really care about the temperature regulation. But now that I’ve been sleeping on the Molecule for a few weeks, I can confidently tell you it not only really works but is extra nice for those of us who run warm. As for comfort, sleeping on the topper compared to my mattress was like night and day. In fact, I could actually get through the entire night sleeping on my left side (the doctor-preferred pregnancy position) without rotating. This is important because the rotating was inflaming my back even more and causing shooting round ligament pain. And best of all, my anxiety about going to bed and waking up in pain eased as my pain eased.
The issue with the fitted sheets
My only qualm with the topper is that because it adds around three inches of height to our queen-sized bed, the fitted sheets have a habit of pulling off during the night. This might be because I still occasionally rotate from side-to-side with the grace of a beached walrus still or because the sheets are too small with the addition. For me, considering that I wake up rested and not screaming in pain, this is not a deal breaker in the least.
So why not just get a whole new mattress?
Well, our mattress was totally fine before my body started changing, so investing at least a grand in a brand-new piece of furniture seemed rash. A topper, however, enormously enhances what you’re already working with at a fraction of the cost.
The PureWow100 is a scale our editors use to vet new products and services, so you know what's worth the spend—and what's total hype. Learn more about our process here.