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Best Camper Van Mattress Options For Your Van Conversion

Emily Laying width-wise across the width of the bed in our van

Having a comfortable mattress in your camper van is one of the most important things in your van conversion. But there are so many different types of mattresses and styles to choose from. And what mattress size and thickness you choose will depend on the size of your van and specific layout. Whether you prefer a firm mattress, want something eco-friendly, or need something budget-friendly, there is a campervan mattress style for you! So let’s dive into the best camper van mattress for your van conversion!

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Memory Foam Mattresses: 

 Most Popular Camper Van Mattress

Memory Foam Mattress Toppers are the most popular camper van mattress choice. They can be very comfortable, form to your body well, and come in all different thicknesses and densities.  And maybe most important is that they can be cut to whatever shape you need.

Plus there are tons of different styles of memory foam as well. You can get a 1 inch topper to a 12+ inch memory foam mattress. 

Therefore, you need to decide what the best size/thickness mattress is for your specific camper van conversion. Interior height is always precious in a van, so many conversions opt for a thinner mattress than they would in a normal house.

For example, Jake and I wanted to sleep sideways in our campervan, but we only fit at the widest part of the van.  The van’s walls curve inward towards the top, so we could only afford about 5-6 inches of memory foam because the thicker the mattress, the shorter our sleeping area gets.  But with 5-6 inches of memory foam, we sometimes (in hot weather) feel like our mattress isn’t quite thick enough.

But with a different layout or van, you may be able to fit a thicker mattress for more comfort.

Pros Of A Memory Foam Mattress

  • Inexpensive
  • Comfortable
  • Relieves pressure points
  • Quiet
  • Can be cut to size for your van build

Cons Of A Memory Foam Mattress

  • Can become hard in winter or colder temperatures
  • Usually need more than a mattress topper to not feel the bed frame
  • Tends to sleep warm/ can become too soft once your body heat, heats them up
  • Depending on mattress, can off-gas/ have a chemical smell
  • Can be heavy
  • Not super supportive

Our Favorite Option

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Budget-Friendly Option

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Polyurethane Foam: 

High Density Foam

Polyurethane foam is another type of mattress you can use as your camper van mattress. It usually comes in all different types of thickness. It isn’t quite as forgiving as memory foam which tends to form to your body.  But it makes a great bottom layer to a mattress.

One challenge is that not all “high-density foam” is created equal. We got what was considered “firm” for our bottom layer of our mattress and used the leftover foam for our seat cushion on our bench. Let’s just say, we felt like we were basically sitting on bare wood the whole time. Until we upgraded our cushion about a year later (Thanks Jake’s Mom! )

Pros Of A Polyurethane Foam Mattress:

  • Inexpensive
  • Light material/not very heavy
  • Can be soft or firm depending on preference
  • Can be cut to size for your van build

Con Of A Polyurethane Foam Mattress:

  • Firmness and quality different between foams
  • Tends to sleep warm
  • Depending on mattress, can off-gas/ have a chemical smell

Our Favorite Option

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Budget-Friendly Option

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Latex Mattress Topper:

Best Eco-Friendly Camper Van Mattress

Latex is an eco-friendly camper van mattress option. Latex is made from the sap of rubber trees and is very durable and stretchy. It is also hypoallergenic, non-toxic, and breathable.

Pros Of Latex Mattress Toppers:

  • Eco-friendly
  • Keeps you cool at night
  • Long-lasting
  • No off-gassing/chemical smell (if 100% latex)
  • Can be cut to size for your van build

Cons Of Latex Mattress Toppers:

  • Firm mattress
  • Material is heavy
  • “Bouncy-ness”

Our Favorite Option

Latex For Less Mattress

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Budget-Friendly Option

Latex For Less 3-in Latex Mattress Topper

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Gel-Infused Mattress:

Best Camper Van Mattress For Hot Sleepers

Another popular camper van mattress is a gel-infused mattress. A gel-infused mattress is memory foam infused with gel microbeads. It is designed to wick heat and keep you cooler at night. It is a great option for van lifers who often find themselves in hot climates. Therefore this can be a great camper van mattress to help prevent mold growth. 

Pros Of A Gel-Infused Mattress:

  • Breathable – keeps you cool at night
  • More supportive than just memory foam (because it retracts heat)
  • Can be cut to size for your van build

Cons Of A Gel-Infused Mattress:

  • Tends to be more expensive than regular memory foam
  • The microbeads are not very environmentally-friendly
  • Can become hard in winter or colder temperatures
  • Depending on mattress, can off-gas/ have a chemical smell
  • Can be heavy

Our Favorite Option

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Budget-Friendly Option

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Air Mattress: 

Great Camper Van Mattress For Temporary Use or Short Trips

An air mattress can be a great budget-friendly camper van mattress. Although I would only suggest this option A. if it is your preferred bed type or B. you are only traveling for a short duration. There just becomes too many variables when your mattress is made of air and you are in a moving vehicle. 

Pros Of An Air Mattress

  • Inexpensive
  • Can be deflated and stowed away

Cons Of An Air Mattress:

  • Could pop and you’d be out of a bed
  • Less comfortable
  • Can’t be cut to size for your van build

Our Favorite Option

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Pillow Topper: 

Best Camper Van Mattress If Paired With Another Mattress

A pillow topper is essentially just a comfy pillow that is put on top of another mattress. It is usually made up of cotton, wool, down, or fiberfil. This should ultimately be paired with another mattress option, as it is not designed to be a mattress itself. 

Pros Of A Pillow Topper:

  • Inexpensive
  • Can make a mattress more comfortable
  • Can double as a protective layer to a mattress
  • Can most likely be washed

Cons Of A Pillow Topper:

  • Can’t be used as a mattress itself

Our Favorite Option

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Budget-Friendly Option

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Innerspring Mattress: 

Best Camper Van Mattress Equivalent To A House Mattress

An innerspring mattress is the best equivalent to a traditional house mattress. But it often is 8 inches or more. And it can’t be cut to size very easily. So an innerspring mattress is best if you can fit an entire un-modified mattress in your camper van build and can have a mattress at least 8 inches thick. 

Pros Of An Innerspring Mattress:

  • Best equivalent to a house mattress
  • MANY different options to choose from
  • Tends to be more comfortable
  • The innersprings provide better airflow throughout your mattress

Cons Of An Innerspring Mattress:

  • More expensive
  • Can’t usually be cut to size for your van conversion

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Budget-Friendly Option

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Great Camper Van Mattress For A Convertible Bed/Couch Set Up

Futons are usually made up of compressed material such as cotton, wool, latex, etc. Traditional a futon is something that can be set up as a couch during the day and a bed at night. So a futon can be a great option for a convertible bed in a campervan. 

But it’s not as easy to cut to the size because the fill comes loose. So my best suggestion is to find the mattress you want and maybe see if it can fit your camper van build. 

Pros Of A Futon:

  • Inexpensive
  • Great camper van mattress for couch/bed convertible set up

Cons Of A Futon:

  • Not as easy to cut to size, although it can be done
  • Not the most comfortable bed option

Our Favorite Option

Natural Wool & Organic Cotton Shiki Futon Mattress

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Budget-Friendly Option

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Camping Pad:

Budget-friendly Camper Van Mattress

A camper van mattress doesn’t have to be super technical. You can go with a simple camping pad. Camping pads do come in all different shapes and sizes, so you could shop around and find a mattress that will work well with your campervan conversion.

Pros Of A Camping Pad:

  • Inexpensive
  • Can be deflated & stowed away

Cons Of A Camping Pad:

  • Can be cut to size for your van build
  • Not the most comfortable option
  • Could pop or easily get a hole

Our Favorite Option

Exped DeepSleep Mat 7.5 Duo Sleeping Pad

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Budget-Friendly Option

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Best Camper Van Mattress For Proper Air Flow (Mold Prevention)

Airfiber is not commonly used in the U.S., but a common mattress topper in Japan. The toppers tend to be firm to extra-firm. And are primarily for aligning the spine and relieving pain. Airfiber is designed to help you move easier, provide more airflow and keep you in a more restful sleep throughout the night. Plus it is also designed to evenly distribute weight. 

I will note, these mattress toppers come with a high price tag but can be worth it if you struggle from back pain. So if the above description applies to you, and you are looking for a more peaceful sleep, this topper could be the answer to your back pain prayers. 

Plus it provide an adequate amount of air flow and is probably one of the best mattresses to prevent mold growing in your camper van. (We know mold can grow pretty easily under your camper van mattress from experience).

Pros of an Airfiber Mattress:

  • Firm bed (if you prefer harder beds)
  • Can be cut to desired size
  • Great air flow under bed to prevent mold

Cons of an Airfiber Mattress:

  • Firm bed (if you prefer softer beds)
  • Expensive
  • Not sold or made in the USA

Best Option

airweave Top Mattress

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Our Camper Van Mattress Combination:

Our camper van mattress set up

Jake and I use two different camper van mattress types for our van build. We use 2-inch thick Polyurethane foam as the base layer and a 3-inch memory foam mattress topper for the top layer.

We do find our bed to be relatively comfortable (we’ve been sleeping on it for 4 years). But we definitely wish we could have a thicker mattress overall, but the walls curve inward, so every inch of height reduces the overall length of our mattress. So 5 inches thick is somewhat of a compromise.

When it’s really hot, the foam gets very soft and it’s not really thick enough for comfortable side sleeping. And memory foam doesn’t ventilate well, so when paired with our solid plywood bed platform, moisture can become an issue.

We then used the method below to prevent mold from growing under our mattress!

How To Prevent Mold Under Your Camper Van Mattress:

mold spray is a great way to prevent mold and mildew in a camper van

Don’t make the same mistake as we did and not properly ventilate your camper van mattress. You are living in a 60sq ft box, and we as humans create a lot of moisture. Even with our vent fan running, humid climates or condensation during colder months creates moisture problems. So it’s SUPER IMPORTANT to prevent mold from growing under your camper van mattress by creating enough airflow under your bed.

Our setup is particularly susceptible to moisture because we have a foam mattress on a solid piece of plywood.  It might be less of an issue if you have a more breathable type of mattress or slats instead of a solid bed platform.

We thought by adding a layer of Concrobium Mold Control Spray & a coat of polyurethane would help prevent mold. It did prevent mold from penetrating the wooden bed platform, however mold just grew right on the surface of the wood. Therefore, we knew we had to make changes to our camper van bed set up. 

We used these DIY Hypervents under our mattress, and even stepped up the game and added a humidity sensor under our mattress to run fans when it got too moist. It has seriously been a game changer and we haven’t had any mold problems since!

How To Choose The Best Mattress For Your Camper Van?

Things to consider when choosing the best mattress for you:

  • Size and thickness
  • Firm vs soft
  • Do you need to cut the mattress to a specific shape
  • Are you someone who sleeps hot or cold?

Memory Foam is the best option if you want a mattress to take shape of your body when you sleep. But again, it can sleep pretty warm. Contrary to that, it can be a great option during the winter in vanlife if you don’t have a heater.

If you want a convertible bed so you can have a bed/seating area, you are going to want a campervan mattress that is easy to cut into the shape you need. For example, many van lifers make a bed that converts to their bench seats during the day and bed at night. Memory foam layer, Polyurethane foam, or latex mattresses are your best options for a convertible bed option.

Smaller vans might need to be more creative with their camper mattress option, as they don’t have much area to work with. Most van lifers will work with a twin size mattress, and cut it into the shape that fits their van conversion best.

Vanlifers might consider adding flarespace flares to have extra space for their mattress to sleep sideways in their van.

If you plan to purchase a mattress online, then READ THE REVIEWS. Amazon has some inexpensive beds, but people will let you know if there was something that went horribly wrong. Some people have claimed their mattresses came with bed bugs, or the mattress was filled with fiberglass, etc. But there are also MANY happy customers, and many are fairly priced.

After thorough research, Jake and I found our mattress topper and are happy with our purchase. Check out other ways to make vanlife more comfortable.

How To Cut A Mattress For A Camper Van Conversion

Last but not least, is cutting your camper van mattress to the right size. You will need a measuring tape, marker, & cutting utensil. You can use a serrated bread knife or electric carving knife. 

First, measure the bed frame inside your camper van build. Then, using the measuring tape and marker, trace the desired size onto the mattress. Measure twice, cut once! 

Next, using the knife cut on the marked line. Bam! Not you have a camper van mattress!

NOTE: Some mattresses are made with fiberglass for fire retardant. Be extra careful when cutting these mattresses to not get fiberglass everywhere. I suggest wearing eye protection and a mask. You will want to make sure you have a cover to protect yourself from the fiberglass. I also highly suggest cutting the mattress outside rather than inside a home.

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