What is the best mattress for a camper van?
Continuing with our vanlife sleep quality series, it’s time to look at the best campervan mattress for your van build.
Choosing the right material is crucial for a good night’s sleep, and to avoid back pain that can accompany long drives in your van.
Modern products and materials mean you don’t have to sacrifice comfort it’s truly possible to get the same quality of sleep in your van as you do in your home.
It’s worthwhile to take the time to get your campervan bed right so you’re never traveling with a sleep deficit.
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First, consider your personal sleeping needs. Do you prefer a soft or firm mattress? Are you a side- or back-sleeper?
Mattress materials available nowadays are vast. If possible, try out the material before you commit.
Every town has a few mattress stores. Don’t feel bad about going in to try a few different types of mattress material.
Just don’t get caught up in the world of high pressure, scammy mattress stores sales.
Once you’ve found the mattress material you want to use for your campervan bed, you can find one on line much cheaper than in a retail store.
And of course there are used options such as Craigslist, thrift stores and OfferUp. I’ve bought used mattresses and never had any problem with them.
Just take the time to look them over carefully before buying and don’t be afraid to walk away if it’s stained or had odors. Ask
What is a mattress topper used for?
Mattress toppers provide a layer of extra softness, can improve breathability, and can even be used as a backup mattress for guests or kids.
Many van campers rely on mattress toppers to improve their campervan beds.
A good topper can transform a mediocre or even uncomfortable bed into an excellent sleep experience.
Mattress toppers come in a variety of material options.
Campervan mattress material options
Memory foam is a popular option for campervans because it’s readily available, and can be custom-cut to your van’s bed dimensions.
Memory foam is good for side sleepers, as it provides great support and comfort for your shoulders and hips.
is similar to memory foam in that it’s readily available and can be easily cut to shape.
Where it differs is in feel and temperature control — memory foam can tend to absorb body heat, while gel helps to dissipate it.
A pillow top mattress is basically what it sounds like: a mattress topped with an extra layer of pillow to make it softer.
They’re usually quite cushiony, and are good for side-sleepers because your body will sink into the material.
Another benefit to pillow-tops is that you can choose the level of softness, and custom build your mattress from the bottom up.
Pillow tops are available as toppers to add to an existing campervan mattress.
Innerspring mattress design
Innerspring mattresses are what you’ll typically find in homes. They typically come in standard sizes, and to customize them is expensive, which is usually a major downside for vandwellers.
However, if you’re designing your bed to be a standard twin, full, queen or king, you shouldn’t have any trouble fitting an innerspring mattress in your campervan.
Innerspring mattresses can vary in the number and distribution of coils, which means variety in firmness.
They’re good for all sleeping styles: back, side, and stomach sleepers can be comfortable on this type of mattress.
Air mattresses are a great option for the minimalist Vandweller. While they can’t be custom-cut, they’re very easy to store when deflated.
If you do go with this option, it’s a good idea to combine it with a mattress topper for extra comfort.
Even if the air mattress isn’t best for you, it’s handy to have one in the van for guests or for when you might want to break out the tent.
Latex mattresses are another option for van builders who are looking to make a customized bed.
They’re made with latex foam instead of memory foam, which makes them easy to cut into shape.
Latex provides different levels of firmness, so side, back, or stomach sleepers can all get a good night’s sleep.
Futon mattresses are yet another option: they can be custom-cut, but remember than the cover is part of the mattress itself.
The futon cover will need to be re-sewn to fit the new size, or the cotton and foam filling will simply spill out of the mattress.
Futons are generally filled with cotton, which isn’t good if you’re traveling in humid climates.
If you’re looking for a futon mattress, aim for one that is wool and or foam filled.
What is the best tool to cut a memory foam campervan mattress?
Now that you’ve chosen your material, you’re ready to create a customized mattress.
The first step is to draw up your bed design, noting not only the length and width, but also how high you’d like it.
This is a crucial design element: if you have a smaller van and you get it wrong, and you might find your nose pressed up against the ceiling.
With memory foam and latex beds, an electric bread knife works great for cutting mattress foam to the right size.
Another option for cutting mattress foam or a futon is a fresh snap blade utility knife on full extension.
However, if you’re going this route, you must remember the golden rule: measure twice, cut once.
Protecting your custom cut mattress with a cover
Once you make your cuts, you’ll want to recover the material to keep it clean.
If you’re planning to have your bed transform into a couch during the day, pick a cover material that’s heavy enough.
And, think about your color scheme when you choose your material, as the couch should complement the rest of the interior of your van.
Unless you have great sewing skills, you’ll probably want to seek out a professional for this.
If you’re comfortable working with a sewing machine, you’ll find lots of info on line for DIY mattress covers.
Video shows how to cover your campervan mattress and cushions
Our Campervan Mattress Top Picks