Yes, this mattress is incredibly firm. Before we put on the mattress pad, I thought it may be too firm. But I got a nice cushy mattress pad, and my first night on the mattress was heaven. It has a BASIC synthetic cover (no padding to it whatsoever), but it is zippered so that it can come off if necessary. There weren't any of the typical latex or foam fumes when we opened it, which surprised me. I was totally prepared for a long off-gassing period, because those fumes normally give me bad headaches. Nothing of the sort! The only thing that I'd improve in this mattress is a higher natural latex content, but that would send the price through the roof. As it is, this mattress is a great value for a very firm latex mattress.