Next to glamping, van camping with a good van mattress is the most comfortable way to sleep on the road. I like hammocks and ground tents, but having an actual roof over your head and a real mattress underneath you (especially if you’ve got back problems like me) makes sleeping so much more enjoyable.
If you’re living in a van full time, a campervan mattress is even more of a necessity. An inflatable might do you for a while, but spend enough nights on one, and eventually, you’ll probably want the real thing.
With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of what I think are the best van mattresses out there. I’ve categorized them by style and use so that you can choose one that makes sense for your vehicle, your body and your lifestyle.
- Best Campervan Mattress Overall: Tuft & Needle – Legacy Original Full Mattress
- Best Hybrid Van Mattress: LINENSPA 8 Inch Memory Foam and Innerspring Hybrid Mattress
- Best Bed in a Box Van Mattress: Zinus 6 Inch Ultima Memory Foam Mattress
- Best Memory Foam Van Mattress for Bad Backs: Ashley Chime 12″ Memory Foam Mattress
- Best Gel-Infused Memory Foam Van Mattress: Olee Sleep 10-inch Omega Hybrid Gel Infused Memory Foam and Pocket Spring Mattress
- Best Dual Purpose Van Mattress for Vanlifers on a Budget: D & D Futon Furniture Folding Foam Bed
Best Campervan Mattress Overall: Tuft & Needle – Legacy Original Full Mattress
I’ve slept on a Tuft & Needle mattress in a few different places and for me, this is the best van mattress out there for a few reasons.
In addition to just being a great cooling gel and graphite-filled memory foam mattress, it’s ideal for vans and campervans because the mattress is ultra-thick, so you don’t even need a bed frame for it.
It’s also super easy to set up. Just take it out of the box and give it a couple of days to fully expand, and you’re ready to go.
At ten inches thick, you also don’t have to worry about too much compression and, while it’s only a medium-firm mattress, it’s comfortable for side, back and stomach sleepers (provided you don’t have back issues).
It’s also a great mattress for people who, like me, seem to always be too hot at night. Tuft & Needle’s open-cell cooling tech foam, combined with the heat-conducting graphite and gel infusion, work together to disperse heat and moisture.
gel and graphite layers
75″L x 54″W x 9.5″Th
- Heavy mattress. This is the heaviest mattress on the list.
- May not be firm enough for people with back problems
Still, nearly three-quarters of the over 15,000 owners who rated and reviewed this van mattress gave it five stars.
Best Hybrid Van Mattress: LINENSPA 8 Inch Memory Foam and Innerspring Hybrid Mattress
I like a good hybrid mattress because you get the back support of an innerspring with the comfort and plushness of a memory foam mattress.
The Linespa 8-inch Hybrid is a medium-firm bed with a soft memory foam exterior lining that is meant to breathe as you move. I really like this cooling feature because the woven memory foam cover pushes warm air outwards, so you don’t overheat as you sleep. This is important, as anyone who has slept or sleeps in a van knows it can get really hot.
This great hybrid campervan mattress comes in California king, king, queen, full, twin XL and twin, so there is something for every van and van build. There is also a 10” mattress option available.
75″L x 54″W x 8”Th
- Strong factory smell. Some reviewers have indicated that this mattress arrives with a factory perfume smell that lasts for a few days and can be distracting.
Other than that, nearly three-quarters of reviewers/owners loved this hybrid van mattress enough to give it 5 stars.
Best Bed in a Box Van Mattress: Zinus 6 Inch Ultima Memory Foam Mattress
This bed-in-a-box van mattress is a pure memory foam standard full-size mattress (75×54 inches) and comes in 6,8,10 or 12” thicknesses. Bigger mattress sizes are also available if you want something roomier.
1.5-inch top layer of breathable memory foam with 4.5 inches of high-density foam underneath for excellent body support. Cheap memory foam mattresses don’t give you much in the way of base support, but with the Zinus, you don’t need to worry about sinking through to the bed frame while you sleep.
One of my favourite features of this campervan mattress is that it is treated with a natural plant oil that prevents drying and cracking. In addition to this, it also comes with a quilted sleeve for even more comfort.
pure memory foam
75″L x 54″W x 6”Th
official weight 28.3 lbs (maybe not accurate)
- Heavy mattress. Some owners contend that the official product weight isn’t entirely accurate and that the mattress is actually heavier than advertised and, therefore, a bit more difficult to manoeuvre.
Still, over 70 percent of reviewers loved this great bed-in-a-box van mattress enough to give it 5 stars.
Best Memory Foam Van Mattress for Bad Backs: Ashley Chime 12″ Memory Foam Mattress
This is a great campervan mattress to bring on the road if you have a bad back and need something that isn’t going to exacerbate aches and pains.
Ashley Furniture’s signature design 12” memory foam mattress does a great job of moulding to your body and holds that shape throughout your sleep, reducing pressure points and keeping your spine, neck and shoulders aligned.
Keep in mind that because this is memory foam and because it arrives in a box, you need to let it sit on a flat surface for between 24-72 hours so that it expands to the full purchase size.
pure memory foam
74 x 52 x 12”Th
- Chemical smell on arrival. This is pretty much standard with any mattress, though.
- Need to wait before use. Because the memory foam comes boxed, it needs up to a few days to take its final form.
Those two things aside, over three-quarters of owners loved this van mattress enough to give it a five-star rating.
Best Gel-Infused Memory Foam Van Mattress: Olee Sleep 10 inch Omega Hybrid Gel Infused Memory Foam and Pocket Spring Mattress
The Olee Sleep 10-inch Omega Hybrid Gel Infused Memory Foam and Pocket Spring Mattress is one of the best van mattresses out there because it is designed to provide something for every type of sleeper.
The gel-infused memory foam provides more support than traditional memory foam, in addition to making the mattress more breathable for people who overheat at night, while the springs provide excellent support.
Available in twin, double, queen and king, this five-layer mattress gives you contoured back support while still not being overly firm.
gel-infused memory foam + steel coils
75″L x 54″W x 10″Th
- Soft ends. The edge support is a little lacking in this mattress, which means if you’re sleeping at the periphery, you will find that you sink down.
Still, three-quarters of reviewers loved this great campervan mattress enough to award it five stars.
Best Dual Purpose Van Mattress for Vanlifers on a Budget: D & D Futon Furniture Folding Foam Bed
Space is at a premium when you’re living on wheels, so sometimes you need a mattress that is also a chair or couch, especially if you do digital work while on the road.
The D&D Futon Folding Foam Bed is that van mattress–a folding chair and bed combo good for one person (or two if you buy two).
Made of high-density six-inch foam, it measures 70×24”, which is enough to comfortably sleep a single person.
When you lay it out flat as a bed, the chair’s back becomes a pillow, and it is actually quite comfortable as a bed. It’s not the greatest (although I do like the velcro fasteners that hold it together in chair mode), but it will suffice if you are really looking to economize on space.
70″L x 24″W x 6″Th
- Chair is not amazing. As noted, and as some reviewers back up, with the conclusion being that yes, you’re not going to have a lazy boy recliner in your van, but it still does the job.
All in all, a great little combo campervan mattress that nearly two-thirds of owners love enough to give five stars.
Evaluation Criteria When Choosing a Van Mattress
Being able to sleep comfortably while in a van or any confined space, whether you’re a weekend warrior or a #vanlifer, will make or break your experience.
With that in mind, below are the main criteria to consider when shopping for a van mattress:
- Sleeping habits
- Bed type and your body
- Mattress topper
Sleeping habits refers to how we position ourselves at night while in bed. Ask yourself whether you are a side, back or stomach sleeper, or if you rotate between these positions during the night.
Side sleepers tend to prefer thicker mattresses that provide additional cushion for hips and shoulders. People who sleep on their stomachs often prefer a firmer mattress because it means less contortion of the spine. The same goes for back sleepers.
Scientists, using data collected by fitness trackers, have actually identified 16 different categories of sleepers. Know your sleep style, and you will know your campervan mattress style much better.
Climate is something you definitely want to factor into a campervan mattress purchase and a lot of people, unfortunately, don’t.
Memory foam, for instance, is not well-suited to cold climates because the foam is temperature sensitive and needs heat in order to contour your body. Cold temperatures actually result in memory foam seizing up and staying hard. This article from Explain That Stuff does a good job of explaining how memory foam works.
If you are in a hot climate, however, and you do opt for a memory foam mattress, you will probably want a gel-infused one to keep you cool.
A lot of mattresses, especially box mattresses, come in standard sizes (king, queen, double etc.) that might not fit in a particular van. If you are customizing your own van, you will probably be able to build a sleeping platform to accommodate standard-size mattresses.
The alternatives are to get a custom mattress made for you or find a mattress that you can then cut to fit your vehicle. Another option is to opt for something much smaller and make do.
Bed type and your body
If you’ve got a fixed bed/sleeping platform in your van, the ideal campervan mattress is whatever fits and makes you happy. If you are going with a convertible bed, on the other hand, you are basically stuck with a mattress that can be folded up–like a tri-fold memory foam, camping, or air mattress.
When buying a mattress, you should also try to account for your body, particularly any chronic aches or pains, but also your core temperature. If you have a bad back, sleep on your side and have a tendency to overheat, a medium-firm gel-filled memory foam mattress is nice.
If you are a stomach sleeper with no back issues, a firmer mattress that keeps your spine and neck aligned is going to be better.
If your mattress isn’t as comfortable as you would like it, you should consider purchasing a mattress topper or getting a mattress that has one. Foam mattresses, for instance, often have memory foam mattress toppers for added comfort.
A mattress topper can completely change the kind of sleep you get, and I highly recommend one if you have never tried it.
Different Van Mattress Styles
Van mattresses come in a bunch of different styles:
- Camping pad
- Air mattresses
- Memory Foam
- Natural latex
Pre-cut mattresses are pretty specific. They are usually used in conversions (i.e. Sprinters or Transits) and are suitable if you don’t want to have to cut a mattress to size and find a cover for the mattress.
Companies like Flatline Van Company and Flarespace make specially designed pre-cut van mattresses.
Camping pads are definitely the one of cheapest option for a van mattress. I’ve slept on camping pads in vehicles before, and if you get something like the Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XTherm Camping and Backpacking Sleeping Pad you can actually have a good night’s sleep on just that.
There are some pros and cons to keep in mind if you are opting for a camping pad as your van mattress.
- Easy to setup
- Economize on space
- Are relatively inexpensive
- Usually don’t breathe that well, so may get too hot in warm climates.
- Not as comfortable as the other options
- More delicate and easier to damage than other campervan mattresses
I know, “who wants to sleep full-time on an air mattress,” you may be asking, but there are actually some great air mattress options if you are willing to pay a bit more. They are also much better suited to smaller vans, minivans, SUVs and CUVs.
The SoundAsleep Dream Series Air Mattress with ComfortCoil is actually a comfortable “luxury” air mattress.
Pros of choosing an air mattress:
- You control the firmness (i.e., you can inflate it as much as you like)
Cons of choosing an air mattress:
- Can take a while to inflate a mattress (inconvenient if you’re constantly inflating and deflating)
- Pumps can stop working
- No long-term warranty
- Definitely not as comfortable as a real bed
Futons are a popular van mattress of choice for a lot of people because they tend to be convertible and double as a chair. The D&D Futon Folding Foam Bed on my list is one such example.
They are also lightweight and easy to fold/store.
Pros of choosing a futon:
- Easy to wash
Cons of choosing a futon:
- They have a tendency to be very firm
- Requires regular flipping to stop it from caving in and creating pressure points
This is the most commonly used mattress in campervans because it’s easy to cut and customize for any build.
It’s also a favourite because foam mattresses are manufactured in different densities (extra firm, firm, medium, soft).
Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to foam mattresses, according to the sleep foundation:
Density can also influence a mattress’ responsiveness, durability, motion isolation, and cost. Denser foams are typically more durable than low-density foams, and will not sag as much over time. On the other hand, low-density foams tend to offer better temperature regulation, which can be an important factor for those living in warm climates.
Tips for cutting and customizing a foam mattress
If you buy a standard-size foam mattress for most campervans, odds are you will have to cut it to fit. It’s really not that hard to do.
Here is a step-by-step you can reasonably follow to cut your foam mattress to size:
- Remove the cover (if there is one)
- Make a paper template of the bed to measure the space
- Lay the paper on top of the foam and use a pen to place cut marks
- Get an electric carving knife (they work really well) and start cutting
Here’s a YouTube video from marine foam company Sailrite showing you how to do it.
Originally made by NASA, memory foam’s original application was actually seats and seatbelts, and was eventually incorporated into mattresses in the 1990s.
Memory foam beds are popular all over the world, as hotel, house and van mattresses, because they mould to your body and reduce pressure points and hot spots. Couples also love them because they absorb vibration, so you don’t disturb your partner as much when you move.
High-density foam mattresses also use memory foam as a mattress topper.
Pros of choosing a memory foam mattress:
- Can easily be cut to whatever size
- Probably the most comfortable van mattress
- Less noise/better for couples
- Use hypoallergenic materials
- No flipping required
Cons of choosing memory foam:
- People often complain they are too warm unless they use cooling gel or open cel tech
- Most expensive option
- They can weigh quite a bit
Latex mattresses are popular among vanlifers because they, like foam and memory foam, can also be cut into the ideal van mattress for any campervan.
They are as comfortable and durable as a memory foam mattress but with more bounce. They are also more expensive.
Pros of choosing a latex mattress:
- Customizable. Can be cut to the right size for most vans.
- Durability. These mattresses are more expensive, but they’re made to last a long time.
Cons of a natural latex mattress:
- Latex allergies. If you are allergic to latex, of course, you won’t want a latex mattress.
Tips for Looking After Your Van Mattress
I’m going to cover a couple of basic mattress care tips, as well as a few that apply more so to mattresses in confined spaces like van, campervans, etc.
Keep on top of your mold control
If you’re living in a 60-square-foot space, you are going to be creating a lot of moisture; that’s just the way things are. Even if you run a vent fan, whether you’re traveling through humid areas or just due to your typical winter condensation, moisture can become an issue.
To that end, it’s really important you work to prevent mold from taking hold under your mattress by creating good airflow.
If you’ve got something like a foam mattress on a solid piece of plywood, consider using something like hypervents instead and perhaps even placing a humidity sensor under your mattress so that you can run a fan if things get too moist.
Do this and you will definitely experience less mold. You don’t want to have to spray mold control chemicals around–they’re harmful.
Develop a Mattress Cleaning Schedule
You should think about cleaning your mattress once every six months. Dust mites and bacteria accumulate over time, and you want to keep things as clean as possible when you’re living in a small space, or you will quickly start to feel gross.
The good news is you really don’t need to do anything crazy to clean your mattress while on the road. Here’s an article from Today and an accompanying video showing you the simple steps involved in cleaning a mattress.
Try Not to Work in Bed
There are plenty of reasons not to work in bed, and damaging your mattress is definitely one (though probably not even the biggest).
Your mattress wasn’t designed to have your weight on it all day and night. Mattress life (rated in years) takes into account an 8-hour sleep every night over the useful life of the product. Adding on another 8-plus hours a day is a good way to get way less out of your mattress.
Why Investing in Good Quality Van Mattress Makes Sense
No matter how you slice it, living in a confined space like a van involves sacrificing some comfort. Some people are more tolerant of less space than others, and it is definitely something you can get used to, but having less living space involves some lifestyle changes and compromises.
One thing you shouldn’t, and ultimately don’t have to compromise on is sleep. I’ve had better sleeps in vans and other vehicles than I have in 5-star hotel rooms but it all comes down to the mattress.
I hope this article has provided you with enough options and information to choose the best van mattress for your body, needs, budget and sleep style.
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