Getting good sleep will directly impact exactly how much fun you have on your van life adventures.
If you are waking up feeling tired and lethargic you won’t have the energy to go exploring or do anything exciting, and this will quickly sour your van life experience. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your sleep while living in your van.
All of this makes mattress selection really important, read on to find out our best camper van mattresses.
What size and shape do you need?
This is the first thing you need to think about. Lots of vans have beds that become sofas or seats, so your mattress may need to serve a double role.
However, some people prefer to have a fixed bed. If you are going to have a fixed bed that fits normal size parameters, like a queen size, then you might be able to get away with a normal household innerspring mattress.
For the majority of people though, their camper van bed will be a different size to a household mattress, or it will need to transform into seating during the day.
This means you need a custom size mattress. Make sure you are far enough into your camper van conversion to know exactly what size mattress and what type of sleeping configuration you are going to need before purchasing anything.
Have a look at our guide to the best small camper vans for your camper conversion if you are still trying to choose your van.
Use the table below to see if your camper van bed can use a standard mattress size. If your bed size doesn’t fall within a commonly manufactured mattress size you will need to modify a mattress to fit in your van.
|Mattress Size||Dimensions (cm)|
Deciding on a mattress can be overwhelming due to the plethora of different options available. Here’s a quick rundown of four of the most common types, and some pros and cons about each.
1. Gel Foam Mattress
A gel foam mattress consists of a gel foam top with a foam base. Often compared to memory foam these types of mattresses tend to be stiffer with better air circulation. Because of this they are a good choice for hotter climates.
A gel foam mattress is easy to cut to a unique size, perfect for your custom size bed. This makes it a good option for your DIY camper conversion. They are also very affordable so great for those budget minded conversions. If you are trying to figure out your budget have a look at out cost of converting a VW van to get started.
The Inofia gel memory foam mattress is a great choice for your gel foam camper van mattress. Available on Amazon in a variety of different sizes from single to super king. Prices vary from around £200-£400 depending on the size that you choose.
It has an elastic outer cover so this would either need replacing or re-sewing after you’ve cut the mattress to your desire size.
This price is very competitive for a gel foam mattress so it’s a good option for a budget van conversion if you really want gel infused foam. This is one of the best camper van mattresses out there.
2. Futon Mattress
A futon mattress could be a good choice for you in you want a bed that converts into a sofa. Futons are design to be folded and rolled, which prevents damage occuring to the mattress. Futons come in a variety of different types but the most common are filled with a layer of foam and cotton and sometimes a layer of wool as well.
A futon is probably not a good choice if you need a specialised size because they shouldn’t really be cut. Futon layers are often held together by the outer fabric. This is a better option if you can find a futon that fits your specifications and needs.
Futons are built in a variety of ways, as such there are a few options to go through. This Milliard mattress is a tri-folding construction made of foam and costs around £100-£150.
Alternatively, you could get a Japanese style futon that is designed to roll up for £150. Your build design will determine what works best for you. Futons can be folded or rolled making them very adaptable.
Futons are available at a range of price points. While the cheaper £100 options may seem appealing, if you are planning an extended trip it is a good idea to splash out on a more expensive futon.
This is mainly because the materials will be better providing you with more comfort and durability. This nomad futon bed roll is a more expensive option, but is handmade and higher quality than some of the cheaper futons.
3. Memory Foam Mattress
Memory foam mattresses are super popular among the van life community. Memory foam mattresses are affordable and comfortable. It only requires simple tools to cut memory foam mattress to the correct size you need.
They do retain a lot of heat which can make them uncomfortable in very hot climates. In this case a gel foam mattress would be a better choice.
If your bed is going to double as a seat make sure you get a foam mattress that is firm, otherwise the mattress will begin to sag where you sit on it. This can quickly ruin your mattress and give you lots of problems trying to get a good night’s sleep.
It’s very important to note that some memory foam mattresses contain fibreglass. Fo not cut a. this can be a significant health risk. Always check the label of your mattress or carry out research to see if the mattress you have contains fibreglass.
This is one of the most adaptable mattress choices. Memory foam is affordable and easy to cut and shape. It’s no surprise this is a fan favourite among van dwellers. Ikea sell a massive variety of memory foam mattresses from £80 to £200, making them a great choice for your conversion. For example, a firm double costs £180.
As with most foam mattresses they come with a fabric cover. If you are going to cut your mattress to a new size, you will also need to re-sew or replace the cover.
You can also buy plain foam off sites like Ebay. If you are doing a full DIY conversion, then this could be a cheaper alternative for you. You will need to reupholster the foam to transform it into your bed or sofa.
4. Innerspring Mattress
This is your normal household mattress with spring coils topped with foam to give comfort. These are available at a variety of prices, although be wary of extremely cheap options as they may not be very comfortable.
These mattresses are not suitable for cutting. Therefore you need to be very sure that they will fit in your van before purchasing one. The advantage of these is that you get the exact same level of comfort in your van that you would at home.
An innerspring mattress can only be used if you have a fixed bed. Innerspring mattresses don’t fold or roll, because of this they are not suitable to be used as a sofa.
If you have a fixed bed in your van, an innerspring will provide you all the comfort of home. This Silentnight Eco Comfort mattress is a great choice if you are looking for an innerspring mattress for your van.
It is produced in the UK in an environmentally friendly way. No chemical treatment is used, and the mattress fibres contain recycled plastic bottles.
It isn’t the most budget friendly option, costing approximately £390, but its durability will pay off in the long run. This is one of the best camper van mattresses for those that want to feel like their sleeping at home.
5. Mattress Toppers
If your current mattress has seen better days, a mattress topper can provide a big boost in comfort for a small cost.
Lots of vans and motorhomes use seat cushions to create a bed. If this is the case in your van a mattress topper can also help smooth out the bed. It will also help prevent compression and damage to your cushions.
This GM textiles fitted mattress topper is an affordable option. It provides an additional 5cm of microfibre filled comfort, with a baffled stitch to ensure an even distribution of material throughout the mattress. This is one of the best camper van mattresses for extra comfort.
6. Cutting Memory Foam
An entire article could be written about how to cut a piece of memory foam for your best camper van mattresses, so this won’t be an in-depth guide. Rather this will be a few helpful tips and some information about what tools you will need to cut your memory foam.
The most critical piece of information is to make sure you check the label on your mattress to see if it contains fibreglass. As stated earlier cutting a mattress that contains fibreglass can be a danger to your health. Do not cut a mattress that contains fibreglass.
Cutting memory foam with an electric carving knife will give you the neatest edges. If you don’t have an electric carving knife, then a craft knife at full extension will also work. You may also need a pair of scissors to remove your mattress’s fabric cover if it has one.
Use a tape measure and a sharpie to mark your cutting guidelines onto the mattress. Always make sure to follow the mantra “Measure twice cut once.” Laying a piece of wood along your cutting guidelines can help to make sure you cut straight.
Cutting a memory foam mattress is an easy DIY project that anyone can do. Make sure you are methodical and take your time when cutting.
These are our suggestions for the best camper van mattresses. We hope you have found this guide helpful. if you have a favourite let us know via Instagram DM or email! Tag us in your adventures @tinyhomehub.