If you’ve never tried van life before, you might assume it’s not very comfortable. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. As long as you’re willing to invest some time and effort into your van set-up, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a life of luxury on the road.
One item you’ll definitely need is a van mattress. With the right mattress, you can count on having pleasant, peaceful nights of sleep on every road trip. In this article, we’ll go over some of the best mattresses for van life and how you can find the right one for your needs.
Table of Contents
What Should I Consider When Buying a Van Mattress?
Everybody has their own idea of what makes the best van life mattress. Some people prefer the convenience of folding campervan mattresses, while others like the plush feel of memory foam mattresses for van conversion. To help you make a choice, consider these key factors.
It goes without saying that comfort should be a top priority when picking a caravan mattress. This is especially important if you suffer from neck or back ailments — selecting a van mattress designed to minimize pain can help ensure a peaceful, healthy night of sleep. Conversely, if you ignore comfort, you might be subjecting yourself to several sleepless nights.
The amount of space you have available will influence the type of mattress you can enjoy in your vehicle. For instance, squeezing a full size mattress into a minivan would be quite difficult. If you have a small van, you might be better off with a mattress that can conserve space (such as a folding mattress for vans). Don’t forget about your vehicle’s weight limit — a van with a mattress in the back will be heavier than a van without one. While mattress weight usually isn’t an issue, it can have an effect when combined with other furniture items.
Those who live alone in their vans can probably make do with a small, twin-sized caravan mattress. However, if you share the vehicle with others, you might need a large mattress, or perhaps even multiple mattresses throughout your van (unless anyone is willing to sleep on the floor or couch).
Time Spent in Van
It’s safe to say that the more time you spend in your van, the more important a mattress will be. If you only use your van for the occasional road trip, you don’t need to splurge on a fancy, feature-filled mattress. However, if you primarily sleep in your vehicle, it’s worth spending more on a fancier model.
Consider how much you’re willing to spend on a mattress for van conversion. A high-quality mattress loaded with amenities will be more costly than a simple, no-frills mattress. Based on your needs, you can expect to spend anywhere from under $100 (for an inflatable mattress) to over thousands of dollars (for a traditional mattress).
Types of Mattresses for Caravans
Once you have a better idea of what you’re looking for in a van bed mattress, it’s time to pick a model. Here are some top van mattress ideas.
Memory Foam Mattresses
A campervan foam mattress combines traditional springs with a layer of soft, supportive foam. It uses your body heat to soften the surface, then contours to your precise shape (which can help relieve pressure points and ease neck or back pain). These models can also be cut to fit any size, making them one of the best mattresses for van life.
Here are a few pros of foam mattresses for vans:
- Very comfortable
- Size can be adjusted
- Fairly affordable
- Hypoallergenic properties
Here are some of the cons of foam campervan mattresses:
- Can get very hot
- Heavy weight
- Not always stable/supportive
Should I Get a Memory Foam Mattress?
A foam mattress for caravans is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a mattress that is comfortable and saves space while remaining affordable. However, if you struggle with back pain, it may not be supportive enough. If you’re curious about memory foam but unsure if it’s right for you, consider getting a foam mattress topper. This affordable solution can be placed on top of a regular mattress and removed at will.
A hybrid camper van mattress combines the strong support of a traditional spring system with several layers of plush, soft foam. The result is a stable foundation (which helps relieve back pain) and a comfortable upper layer (which helps ease users to sleep).
Top advantages of hybrid van conversion mattresses include:
- Pressure point, joint and back support
- Cooling properties
Drawbacks of having a hybrid mattress in your van include:
- Can be expensive
- Cannot be cut to custom fit in your vehicle
Who Should Get a Hybrid Mattress?
If you’re looking for a cross between comfy foam layers and supportive spring systems, then a hybrid mattress is a great choice. It combines the best of the memory foam and traditional mattress worlds, leading many users to proclaim that it’s the best mattress for camper vans. However, these models cannot be cut down, which isn’t ideal if you have a small vehicle.
A traditional mattress is a strong, sturdy mattress that is generally found in residential homes. Most are made using a tied coil design, which provides durability while limiting motion transfer. While this isn’t the most common choice for van owners, you’ll definitely find traditional mattresses in vehicles here and there.
These are some pros of traditional mattresses:
- Strong back support
- As comfortable as sleeping at home
These are a few cons of traditional mattresses for vanlife:
- Can’t be cut to fit in your van
Who Should Get a Traditional Mattress?
While a traditional mattress is definitely comfortable, it’s not right for everyone. These mattresses can be rather bulky and heavy, which takes away the already limited space available in vans. Not to mention, the price point is rather high. However, if you live in your vehicle full-time and have lots of free space available, this model might appeal to you.
As the name suggests, an inflatable mattress is one that can be blown up when needed, then deflated and conveniently stored away. Its space-saving and travel-friendly properties make it one of the best mattresses for van camping. However, you probably wouldn’t find this mattress type in a residential home, as it’s not the most comfortable.
Pros of inflatable mattresses for vans include:
- Can be packed away fully
- Easily portable
Cons of inflatable mattresses include:
- Requires inflation before every use
- Not very comfortable
Who Should Get an Inflatable Mattress?
While inflatable mattresses are great for saving space, they’re not ideal for everyday use. Not only are they a bit uncomfortable, but you also have to inflate them frequently — most inflatable mattresses will start to deflate within a couple of days or so. On the flip side, they make for great temporary sleeping solutions, guest beds and camping beds.
What Thickness Should Your Van Mattress Be?
Choosing a van mattress model is just the first step. Next, you’ll have to tailor that mattress to meet your precise preferences. One of the first things you should do is pick a mattress thickness level. Thicker mattresses offer more cushioning and comfort, while thinner mattresses are less likely to overheat.
When using memory foam, aim for a mattress that’s between four and 12 inches thick. If you’re interested in a hybrid or traditional mattress, try to stay close to what you use at home. For instance, if you’re accustomed to a thick, soft mattress, it will be difficult to transition to a thinner, firmer one.
How to Size Your Mattress
Before buying a mattress, it’s important to ensure it will fit into your campervan. Start by measuring the space where your bed will go. Then, compare your measurements to the chart below:
|Bed Type||Dimensions (inches)|
|Twin||39 x 75|
|Full||54 x 75|
|Queen||60 x 80|
|King||76 x 80|
If you have lots of space available, you’ll be able to spring for a queen or even king-sized mattress (which are the most luxurious options). Alternatively, you could stick with a smaller mattress and use the leftover space for other furniture.
You may discover you have a uniquely sized space that doesn’t quite fit the above dimensions. In these cases, you’ll need a custom fit (which requires memory foam).
How to Cut a Custom Mattress
If you require a custom fit mattress, the easiest solution is to purchase a memory foam mattress, then perform the cut yourself. Start by removing the mattress cover (if there is one), then drawing a line for the cut. Use a ruler to be as precise as possible. Then, cut along the line with one of the following materials:
- Long serrated knife
- Electric knife
- Fabric scissors
Try to be as gentle with your cuts as possible. Ideally, you should wind up with a trimmed mattress that’s custom-tailored for your needs.
There’s no right answer when it comes to finding the best mattress for van conversion. It all comes down to your unique preferences and requirements. Soft, adaptable memory foam might be the ideal choice for a van owner who prioritizes comfort and needs custom fitting. Meanwhile, someone who camps often and lives in their van part-time may prefer an inflatable van mattress.
At the end of the day, there are an endless number of mattress options available. Not to mention, each one comes with customization options, letting you personalize everything from size to thickness. Due to this versatility, there’s no reason why every van owner can’t enjoy the best campervan mattress for their needs. If you have any questions, we’re here to help. Feel free to contact us today!