The Best Camper Van Mattress – DIY and Store Options

Did you know that mattresses are one of the most profitable businesses? They’re about 80% profit – which is probably why there’s a big box mattress store on every corner.

While a campervan mattress is arguably one of the most important parts of your build – you’re going to sleep on it every night! – it doesn’t need to be the most expensive item in your van build.

There are many options when it comes to the perfect campervan mattress. Depending on your space, comfort preferences, and budget you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in this article!

The Best DIY Campervan Mattress

Campervan Mattress

Signature Sleep Foam Mattress

The best DIY mattress for van life is this memory foam mattress. It’s a comfortable, low cost option that you can easily cut to fit your specific layout.

Best for: Comfort, DIY-capable, Cost


The Best Custom Campervan Mattress

camper bed mattress

Semi-Custom Pre-Cut Van Mattress

The best custom mattress for van life is a pre-cut mattress from RoamRest. There are 11 sizes specific to campervans you can choose from – allowing for a custom mattress on a budget.

Best for: Custom, Cost


Types Of Campervan Mattresses

The best mattress for van life will depend on your comfort preferences, budget and van layout. There are several types of mattresses for camper vans to consider: foam, coil (traditional mattress), futon and air mattresses. Each has its benefits and disadvantages – in general most van lifers choose a foam mattress for their bed.

Foam Campervan Mattress

There are types of foam mattresses for camper vans. Each has its benefits and disadvantages. The best advantage foam mattresses have for van life is that they’re easily cut to size and can fit a custom van layout perfectly. It’s not often discussed, but it’s important to know that not all foam is created equal!

Foam is available in polyurethane foam, memory foam and latex foam – and the differences do matter so make sure you know which kind of foam you’re purchasing!

Polyurethane Foam

Foam Rating: Good ⭐️⭐️⭐️➖➖


✅ Most affordable
✅ Easy to customize


❌ Made with petrochemicals
❌ Lesser quality than memory foam or latex
❌ Less supportive

Polyurethane foam is the least expensive foam option, but that comes with some disadvantages. This foam is the lowest quality and is made primarily with petrochemicals. You’ve probably seen this foam before if you’re familiar with egg crate foam pads.

camper foam mattress

While it’s widely used for mattresses and mattress toppers, polyurethane foam does not hold up well to wear and degrades more quickly than memory foam or latex foam (discussed next).

Because it is easily compressed under pressure, polyurethane foam does not provide the same pinpoint support you would expect from a memory foam or latex mattress, and can be more uncomfortable to sleep on, especially for side sleepers.

futon in van

If you plan to use polyurethane foam for your van mattress be sure to get a higher density foam as it will be more durable and more comfortable. Keep in mind that even the highest density polyurethane foam is still less dense than either memory foam or latex foam alternatives.

Memory Foam

Foam Rating: Better ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️➖


✅ Easy to customize
✅ Supportive
✅ More durable


❌ Firmness fluctuates with temperature
❌ Retains body heat

Memory foam (sometimes also referred to as viscoelastic polyurethane foam or tempurpedic foam) is the most well known type of foam mattress for a camper van. This is actually a polyurethane foam that has had some compounds added to it that give it that “memory” or “slow moving” sensation.

Because memory foam is more dense than regular polyurethane foam it can provide more comfort and support. This is because it molds better to your body shape. However, its slow movement causes some people to feel like they are sinking, and it can be difficult to move around at night as a result.

Temperature impacts the comfort of memory foam. Have you ever laid down on a cold memory foam mattress? It’s usually hard and stiff. Whereas, a warm memory foam mattress will be more forgiving and comfortable.

This might explain why some people find memory foam mattresses to be comfortable while others do not – it’s highly dependent on which climate you’re in. 

Psst – these fans will help keep you cool!

For this reason, some find memory foam mattresses to be difficult to use in a campervan. If you’ll be in warm and cold climates you should expect your mattress comfort to change with the temperature.

best mattress for van life

Memory foam is also known to retain heat, making you more and more uncomfortably warm as the night passes.

Some newer types of memory foam mattresses are introducing gel foam which might help with heat retention.

Like polyurethane foam, memory foam mattresses will last longer and be more comfortable if they are higher in density. Try to avoid buying low density foam of any type.

Latex Foam

Foam Rating: Best ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


✅ Easy to customize
✅ Instant response to movement
✅ Firmness resistant to temperature changes
✅ Incredibly durable


❌ Synthetic mattresses are made with petrochemicals
❌ Can be expensive

Latex foam mattresses are available with synthetic or natural materials.

Natural latex is harvested from rubber trees. Synthetic foam mattresses are made from petrochemicals.

Additionally, latex foam has an instant response to movement and won’t lag to reform as you change positions.

van life mattress

Unlike memory foam, latex foam won’t get softer when it’s warm or harder when it’s cold. This is a huge benefit for use as a campervan mattress because it means your bed will be fairly consistent in comfort regardless of which climate you’re in.

Latex foam is a highly durable material and latex foam van mattresses can last over 20 years.

If it’s within your budget, a 100% natural latex foam campervan mattress is the best choice for both comfort and durability.

I use a Latex foam topper in my van, and even my dog enjoys it!

dog on van mattress

A Note On Foam Mattress Certifications

Certipur-US certification is common for foam mattresses and indicates the mattress does not contain certain types of fire retardant chemicals. However, it is very common for polyurethane foam to contain fire retardant additives.

Other certifications to look for, which are less common but more economic and health conscious, are ecoInsitut or Oeko-tex.

Additional Types of Campervan Mattresses

Coil Mattress

A coil mattress, also known as an innerspring mattress, is a type of mattress that is made up of metal coils or springs that are arranged in a grid pattern. This is the traditional mattress structure most people are familiar with.

These coils are then topped with padding, which can include materials such as foam, cotton, or wool. The padding is typically covered with a fabric such as cotton or polyester.

Coil Campervan Mattress

Coil mattresses have been a popular choice for many years, and they are available in a wide range of firmness levels, from ultra soft to extremely firm. I’ve even seen “marshmallow” as an option! 

Some coil mattresses have additional features such as pillow tops, which can provide extra comfort and support in a top layer of foam or other padding.

best mattresses for van life

The quality and durability of a coil mattress can vary depending on the number of coils, the gauge of the wire used in the coils, and the quality of the padding and fabric.

However, coil mattresses are generally known for providing good support and durability, and they can be a good choice for people who prefer a firmer sleeping surface.

The downside to a coil campervan mattress is that it is very difficult to DIY and can be expensive to customize. If you’d prefer a coil campervan mattress you may have to custom order one which can be very costly and can take some time to arrive.

Camper Van Futon Mattress

Having a futon in your van build creates a lot of versatile space. Being able to fold your futon bed up and down is an easy way to go from day mode to night mode. 

However, futon mattresses tend to be far less comfortable than foam or coil mattresses and do not hold up as well over time.

Air Mattress

An air mattress for a camper van is a good budget option, especially if you’re looking for a temporary solution. However, air mattresses are not durable long term so you’ll find yourself replacing them more often. In the long run, this will cost you more.

air mattress for van life

Additionally, air mattresses are typically uninsulated. This means the air inside of the mattress can cool off at night and leave you very cold regardless of how many blankets you have.

DIY Campervan Mattress

This is the category most campervan mattresses fall within! Vans are highly custom and unusual sizes so it can be difficult to effectively get a standard sized mattress to fit your van layout. Custom made campervan mattresses can get very expensive. 

If you’re ok with a foam mattress, the DIY campervan mattress is the best option for non-standard dimensions. This is what I have in my Ford Transit.

Campervan Mattress

How to make a DIY campervan mattress

Step 1: Take measurements

The first thing you’ll need to do is measure the dimensions of your bed. Take whatever the longest length and the longest width measurements are for step 2. 

Step 2: Determine Which Standard Mattress Size You need

Use the longest length and width measurements to determine which size standard mattress you’ll need. You want to size up if you’re in between sizes so you can cut the mattress down to the specific size for your van.

Campervan Mattress

Step 3: Pick the thickness of your campervan mattress

You also need to decide the depth of the mattress. If you don’t have much overhead clearance in your van consider buying a 5” mattress. If you have more clearance then I recommend an 8” van mattress as they are more comfortable to sleep on.

I’ve always had good success with Signature Sleep foam mattresses and highly recommend it for a DIY van mattress. They’re affordable and comfortable. I prefer the 8” option. 

Step 4: Let your foam campervan mattress expand

The foam mattress arrives in a vacuum wrapped container. It’s extremely important to open the mattress at least one day before you cut it so it can fully expand.

They don’t always expand evenly at first, so you don’t want to cut it before it’s reached its final expanded dimensions.

Step 5: Mark dimensions on your campervan Mattress and cut

Once the foam is fully expanded you can mark it with a sharpie. Mark the top and the bottom so you can make sure your cuts are going through straight and not on an angle.

Pro Tip: Many people recommend using an electric knife to cut through the foam, but I found this to be extremely messy and produced jagged edges.

It might take a few extra minutes, but I found these utility knives work really well.

They leave a clean cut and don’t create a mess of shredded foam mattress like the electric knife did.

It’s important to get the ones with the extendable breakaway blades, especially if you have a thicker mattress to cut through. The fully extendable blades mean you can make a deeper cut than the utility knives with a present blade length.

Step 6: Add a pillow top for comfort (optional)

Depending on how firm you like your mattress, you may want to buy a 1- or 2-inch foam mattress topper. You can expand, mark and cut the same way you did previously.

The benefit to a thin top layer is that it can add more comfort, while allowing your firmer bottom layer to give you support.

Step 7: Cover your Campervan mattress

One of the best ways to protect your mattress is to cover it. Even with bedding on, your mattress will get extremely dirty in such a small space. Adding a cover to it will not only make it much easier to clean (simply remove and wash the cover), but it will also keep your foam campervan mattress in good condition for longer.

I like this machine washable mattress cover because it zippers on and completely protects all sides of the mattress. It’s available for 2-, 3- and 4-inch mattresses. Since you cut down your mattress it may fit a little loose, but I haven’t found this to be an issue.

DIY Van Mattress Alternatives – Custom & Store Bought Ideas

If you’re interested in an out-of-the-box alternative to a decent nights sleep consider getting a custom built mattress for your van, or you can buy a mattress that’s custom to your type of van, but not necessarily a full custom order.

Custom Campervan Mattress

Instead of building your own DIY van mattress you can buy a pre-made foam mattress that’s custom built to your van layout specs.

RoamRest offers fully customizable van mattresses. Simply tell them what dimensions you need and they’ll work with you to select fabric and firmness so you get the most comfortable mattress for your campervan.

tri-fold camper van mattress from roamrest
Tri-Fold Campervan Mattress from RoamRest

Pre-Cut Campervan Mattress

Additionally, RoamRest offers tri-fold and no-fold mattresses in an assortment of more common mattresses sizes for campervans – including standard corner cutouts for Ford Transits, Ram ProMasters and Mercedes Sprinters.

While this isn’t a fully custom option, it does offer a highly customizable experience without the price tag or extended delivery timeline.

available van mattress sizes from roam rest
Campervan mattress sizes available from

The Best Custom Campervan Mattress

custom van mattress from roamrest

Semi-Custom Pre-Cut Van Mattress

The best custom mattress for van life is a pre-cut mattress from RoamRest. There are 11 sizes specific to campervans you can choose from – allowing for a custom mattress on a budget.

Best for: Custom, Cost


Campervan Bed Ideas

Fixed Campervan Bed With Garage

Fixed campervan beds are the most popular choice for DIY van builds. They’re typically in the rear of the van, and as the title suggests, they are fixed in place. 

Campervan Mattress

The biggest benefit to having a fixed campervan bed is that it creates a large storage space underneath the bed, commonly referred to as a van garage, and can be accessed through the back cargo doors or through a built-in cabinet door inside the vans living space.

Fixed van beds can be built up higher to create more storage space under them. In this case, it’s also important to consider whether you’ll need a step to get in and out of the bed easily.

A fixed bed is the easiest, cheapest, and quickest type of bed to build in a campervan.

Convertible Dinette Bed For Van

Convertible campervan beds are ones that can be a working space with a table and benches during the day and then made up into a bed at night.

Campervan Mattress

Typically the table doubles as a bed support board at night. These are great van beds for anyone with less space in a smaller van. 

The downside to a convertible dinette bed for a van is that it has less storage space and requires daily setup and tear down. They are also more complicated to build.

Futon In Van

A camper van futon is another great van bed idea if you’re looking to maximize space and versatility. Futons in a van are typically in the back and roll up from a bed to a forward facing couch.

The mechanics of a futon in a van are a bit more complex to build than a convertible van bed or a fixed bed. 

Murphy Bed

Just like in a home, a murphy bed in a van folds up during the day and down at night. In addition to not requiring you to make your bed every day (!!), it also gives you a lot of flexibility in how you use your space.

Murphy Campervan Mattress
Images from Instagram @_coribeth

Conclusion – Best Campervan Mattress

The best campervan mattress is an 8″ firm, high-density foam mattress for support with an additional 2″ mattress topper, made of low-density foam for comfort. This combination will give you enough thickness for comfort as well as firmness for support and plushness for contouring and comfort.

There are many comforts we give up when we live in a campervan, but a good nights sleep doesn’t have to be one of them!

Benefits Of Traveling Alone

Written by Claire Fleming

I’m a travel enthusiast who spends half the year in my self-built camper van with my dog, Oscar, and the other half at my home in Raleigh, North Carolina or on international adventures.

Follow me on Instagram.

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