If you’re wondering what makes a perfect camper mattress, then you’ve come to the right place. Today we’re looking at the different types of mattress and how to customise one to fit your van.

Some people worry that they won’t sleep well in a van as many factors can be more challenging to control than in a house. Sound, space and heat are a few big ones. But, having a good mattress is one thing you can easily do, that will help you on your way to a great nights sleep.

Featured Image Credit : @roundtheworldgirl / Elise Sterck

Different Types of Mattress

There are several different types of mattress on the market, with the main two being memory foam and the more traditional spring mattress. Both have their benefits, and if you have a standard-sized bed in your van, then what you choose is just down to comfort and personal preference.

However, if you’re converting your own van, you may find your layout works best when the bed is a different size. For example, your mattress may need to be slightly shorter to fit widthways across your van. Alternatively, your design might make use of a transforming bed, where you need to cut the mattress to make sofa cushions in the day and a bed at night.

If this is the case for you, then a memory foam mattress is best, as you can cut it up yourself, without damaging the integrity of the mattress. The process may seem daunting, but it’s straightforward, once you know what you’re doing.

Benefits of a Memory Foam Mattress

Camper mattress - bed with colourful blanket in van and sea view
© @whichwaywesty

Before travelling in a van, I had never slept on memory foam and was worried that I would find it an uncomfortable camper van mattress. Two years down the line, I can confirm this isn’t the case. I sleep better on my memory foam mattress than any other I’ve ever had.

Aside from being able to cut the mattress to suit your van, memory foam has other benefits.

Moulds To Your Body

The key thing that memory does is that it moulds to the shape of your body. This makes it comfortable to sleep on as you feel supported when lying down. It is also good for you as it allows your body to rest into its natural alignment, which is beneficial for your spine.

Reduces Pain

As the mattress moulds to your body, this can help to relieve aches and pain. This could be a useful feature for you, especially if you spend a lot of time being active outside. A pain-free sleep means a restorative one, ready for a day of adventuring.

Temperature Control

Memory foam mattresses have the reputation of being too hot to sleep on. A traditional memory foam mattress does absorb your body’s heat which might make it uncomfortable in warm climates, but the newer gel mattress solves this problem.

A gel-infused memory foam mattress has gel pumped into it. The gel promotes better airflow around the mattress, meaning heat is drawn away from your body. If you plan on spending a lot of time in hot climates, then it may be worth spending the extra money on a gel-infused camper mattress.

Best Camper Mattress That’s Perfect For Your Camper Van

1. Amazon Basics

Amazon basics mattress

If you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful camper van mattress, then the Amazon Basics one could be a good option for you. It’s affordable at just $190 for the full 10” model and considering you’re going to be cutting it up anyway; cheaper is probably better.

This mattress is made of four layers, two hard foam, one soft foam and one memory foam. While the memory foam is not gel foam to reduce heat, the soft foam is punched to encourage airflow. This isn’t going to work as well as gel foam, but the price tag reflects that.

2. Iyee Nature Mattress

Camper van mattress - mattress on bed

Even cheaper than Amazon Basics is Iyee Nature, which is just $149.99 for a full-sized mattress. This mattress is advertised as being a gel memory foam mattress, which could be good at keeping the temperature down. However, the memory foam layer is only 1” thick. The 1” of memory foam rests on top of 5” of high-density foam.

The high-density foam will not regulate the heat of the mattress, and I’m not sure if one inch of gel foam will make much difference. However, this is a good option if you’re looking for a thin mattress to fit in your camper as it is only 6” altogether.

3. Sweetnight

Diagram of foam mattress

Up next, we have an example of what you can get if you spend a little bit more on your camper mattress. This may be worth it for you if you plan on living in your van full time or making an extended road trip. The Sweetnight Breeze comes in at $549.99 and is much more luxurious than the other mattresses.

This mattress is a total of 12” thick with three different layers; hard, soft, and then gel memory foam. There is a full 3” of gel memory foam at the top. The layer below is also heat regulated with airflow comfort foam. This is a good quality mattress that is still affordable enough to warrant cutting up.

4. Inofa Gel Topper

Gel topper rolled up with carry case

Finally, we have an example of a mattress topper that you could purchase to go on top of your bed. This will provide extra comfort and will stop you feeling the cracks in your mattress if you have a seating area to bed arrangement in your camper.

This mattress topper is an excellent option as it comes with a storage bag, making it easy to pack away and store when not in use. As it’s made from gel memory foam, this topper is good at regulating temperature, which is great news in hot climates.

How To Cut A Memory Foam Mattress

Bed that turns into seating area
© @alwaystheroad

Tools Needed

  • Measuring tape
  • Permanent marker
  • Long ruler or straight edge
  • Utility knife or serrated bread knife

Process

  • Remove the mattress cover
  • Measure and mark where you want to cut. Be sure to measure accurately, if you have a complicated layout then you may want to make a template first.
  • Using a ruler and knife, carefully make your cuts. If you decide to use a utility knife then fully extend the blade to for a long sharp edge. It may take several cuts to get fully through the thickness of the mattress.
  • Once cut into pieces, reupholster each section in a fabric of your choice.

Re-Upholstering

Re-Upholstering is the trickier part of creating your camper van mattress. If you have just shortened your mattress every so slightly to fit in your bed, then you may get away with just tucking the original cover under the mattress. However, if you have turned your mattress into several pieces, then you will have to make cushion covers for each.

It’s a good idea to choose a washable fabric if this is your sofa, dining area and bed it’s going to get dirty, so being able to wash the covers is a huge bonus. You might even want something waterproof, or a waterproof cover underneath as memory foam mattresses don’t respond well to water.

Choosing your mattress

Camper van mattress - van interior with fixed bed and husky on it
© @consciousvanlife

We’re going to take a look at four different camper van mattress options that would work well for your conversion. Before we dive in, let’s look at a few things to consider when choosing your mattress.

Size

Make sure you accurately measure your bed area. You don’t want to buy a mattress that is too small. Be sure to account for all of the cushions that you need to create from your mattress if you’re doing a seating to bed area.

Thickness

It’s easy to forget about checking the thickness of your camper mattress. You will want to double-check this, especially if you are working with a raised bed and limited clearance to the ceiling.

Firmness

If your camper van mattress is also going to be your seating area, then you will probably want a firm mattress. If it is too soft, then it may start to sag where you sit on it throughout the day, making it uncomfortable to sleep on at night.

Memory Foam Layer

Memory foam mattresses are usually made of several layers; standard foam sections and then the memory foam on top. A mattress can be advertised as memory foam even if there is only a very thin layer of it at the top. For a good quality camper mattress, you will want more memory foam.

Camper Mattress Topper

If you are doing a seating area to bed, then you may want a mattress topper to lay on top of your camper van mattress, so you do not feel the gaps between each cushion. Memory foam can roll up pretty small, but you will still need to think about somewhere to store it when not in use.

Final Thoughts…

Getting the right mattress is so important to enjoying your adventure, so I hope we’ve given you some good options and things to look out for when sourcing a camper mattress. The most important thing to remember is to get your measurements right; the rest is plain sailing!

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