Episode 111

What's the best mattress for a campervan?


June 29th, 2021

11 mins 9 secs

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About this Episode

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What is the best mattress for a campervan?

When deciding on the best campervan mattress for your unique conversion van build, It’s important to keep the following in mind:

  • Do you need to customize the size of your mattress? If so, you’ll need either a foam mattress, or a futon that can be cut.
  • If your bed frame allows for a standard mattress size, aka Single, Double, Queen, King…, you can use any mattress style.
  • You can create the perfect mattress for your personal sleep needs by combing foam rubber, memory foam, futon mattresses, and wool or cotton mattress toppers.

Probably the number one issue for camper van design and build with regard to beds and mattresses is that it's very likely that your mattress size will be a custom shape.

So that eliminates the vast majority of manufactured beds that aren't basic foam. That is, foam that can be cut.

You'll find on our site an entire episode about how to cut a foam mattress. And I will link to that in show notes. So I won't talk about how to cut foam in this episode, but I will talk about which foam or which type of mattress can be adjusted in size.

But getting back to the best mattress for a camper van, my advice with regard to beds and mattresses in general, because I'm a very light sleeper, personally, the smallest sound wakes me up, and if I'm on an uneven surface or in some way, the surface is uncomfortable, then I'm awake and it's that simple. So beds are very important to me.

My advice, is always to prioritize your bed design and the quality of your mattress over just about everything else in your campervan design and build and that would include the size of course of the bed and the fact that everything lays perfectly flat and smooth so that when your mattress lays flat on the bed platform.

Getting back to specifically which mattress is best for your campervan, It's the one that is going to be most comfortable for you personally.

Okay. If you're one of the very, very fortunate people who can sleep through anything under any circumstances, that's wonderful. I'm so I'm so happy for you for first of all, and I'm also so jealous.

But for the rest of us, we want the mattress that works best for you personally. And so I'm just going to take this from the perspective of kind of the average sleeper. You know, your home mattress is probably going to be at least six inches thick.

Typically in this day and age, more like 10 or 12 inches thick eight would be the absolute minimum for a home-style mattress. And so to make a mattress really work well in a camper van, you know, we want to be in the eight inch range and if you're going with a six inch mattress or thinner, then you'll probably want to combine that with a mattress topper.

Mattress toppers, by the way, can completely transform a basic slab of say six inch foam from something that's barely sleepable into something that's wonderfully comfortable.

For example, a high quality wool topper will allow your body to breathe when it's very hot and. That alone can make all the difference in whether or not you sleep well in your campervan, on your mattress.

So things like that, you know, essentially we're going to be typically combining some aspects of good mattresses in order to arrive at the mattress that we really need.

If again you're fortunate enough to be able to sleep under any circumstances, you just need to get some foam and cut it to size.

Maybe two pieces of some nice firm foam rubber plus some memory foam. Not everybody can handle memory foam. It gives a lot and it can be too soft for some people. And it's kind of oddly squishy.

When you get into thinner mattresses, such as for campervan beds and cushions and things like that, memory foam gets a little odd.

But the good news is that on Amazon and most of the mattress companies allow you to purchase the memory foam mattress or topper or the full mattress that you're considering and try it out sometimes for as many as a hundred days and you can return it if you don't like it. So that's a good thing.

That's relatively new. It used to be, you buy a mattress, you're stuck with it, but there's so much profit in the mattress industry that they can afford to do that kind of thing. That's an option to test it.

So what I suggest you do is just get the size that's closest to your bed, frame size, whether that's a single or a double or a queen, and just stuff it in there.

And even if, even though it doesn't fit, or put it on the floor of your apartment or a friend's house or something like that, or maybe just on the bare floor of your van, as long as it's flat, as long as you've got your flooring installed and test it, sleep on it a couple of nights and see how it feels.

Then you can feel comfortable cutting it because they're not going to refund you that mattress foam if you cut it, I guarantee you that. So, so that's one way to do it is just keep in mind that it's returnable treat it nice, don't get it dirty, and if it doesn't work, return it.

And then of course, if you are fortunate enough to have enough room for a queen size mattress, such as a sprinter with the mattress turned sideways and you've got the bump-outs well then you can fit a queen size mattress in there. I think, I think a queen size mattress is six feet long. I'm looking at one right now. Maybe it's seven. Anyway, whatever it is that you end up with for a normal size, if you happen to have room for a normal sized mattress, then you can go to some mattress stores and try them out and see how they feel and, and if they don't work out and you haven't cut it, and so you can go bring it back.

A couple of things to keep in mind, you will want to have an outdoor style covering on your mattress, whatever it is, because you'll have more humidity in your van. So you don't want to just leave a normal house style mattress in your van and expect that it won't get moldy or collect some mildew.

So plan to cover your mattress, whatever it is that you get.

For example, if you love cotton futons, like I do, for some reason I sleep really well on a cotton futon with a foam core, and I'm fortunate that way, by the way, because those are very adjustable. You can cut a futon down to fit any bed frame size.

What you do is unstitch one end or one side whichever way, or both if you need to cut it both ways, and then you peel back the, the cotton cover and you cut through the cotton with scissors, and then you cut through the foam as instructed in our article on how to cut foam and then you just stitch up, you trim the cover of the futon and you just hand stitch it up.

It takes maybe an hour to do that, but no big deal. And now you've got a totally custom mattress. So futons can be a nice way to go. But the way that I got into talking about futons is that cotton absorbs moisture so you really need to cover that with another layer for a kind of outdoor material. You're going to be out in a variety of elements. There will be a wide range of humidity and a mattress, especially cotton, but really any mattress will go bad on you if you don't protect it from the elements.

So that's something to keep in mind if you have to have that cover custom made, do it, it's worth it.

Again. The best mattress for a camper van is the one that you're most comfortable on first of all.

Second of all the mattress that can be adjusted to fit the van, if necessary.

Thirdly, the one that you can cover and take care of for a long period of time, because mattresses are expensive.

Fourth: assemble pieces to create the perfect mattress for yourself, such as memory foam, normal foam rubber toppers.

I'll add another tip, Fifth: Maybe combine more than one mattress. Two, three inch futon mattresses or two already covered three inch or four inch foam mattresses can equal one really good, very comfortable mattress that feels more like a home style mattress.

If you have questions for me or my team about best mattresses for campervans, send me an email at [email protected]. We will get back to you as soon as we can. And we can discuss this through email. Or, you can leave a comment on our camper van mattresses article vansage.com and we'll discuss it there. Okay. Thanks for listening.