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Author Topic: Camper Van Beds  (Read 5119 times)

Camper_Dan

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Camper Van Beds
« on: April 23, 2018, 04:14:58 AM »
Greetings Everybody!

Sleep is one of the most important things in our lives, and beds are one of the important things for a good nights sleep.  In a house or an apartment, we can just go to the store and pick out a comfy bed.  For a camper van it is much more difficult.

The first thing to consider is that we have a very small space to work with.  Many people will need a bed that runs lengthwise, because the van isn't wide enough to accommodate sleeping widthwise.

The next thing to consider is whether our bed is just going to be a bed, or whether it needs to do double duty as a sofa or a dinette.  Permanent beds are better, setting a bed up/down constantly gets old really fast, but sometimes double duty beds are a necessity.  Once we have decided what type of bed we want and it's size, we need to think about our overall floorplan.  Most people want a bed, kitchen, toilet, shower, seating with a table, and ample storage.  To this end, we need a floorplan that will accommodate everything while not being too crowded.  Floorplans can make or break the livability and enjoyment of your space.

Do we even need to build a bed?  Well not necessarily...  Many people just move a futon sofa/bed in.  Fast, cheap, simple and easy...  I did this, with a metal framed one, and I just extended the legs so it would clear the wheel well.  I got the frame for free off Craigslist, and purchased two 4" foam camper pads at a big box store.  I also purchased two summer time sleeping bags from Walmart that are basically like zippered flannel sheets for about $6-$7 each, for the covers for the cushions.

Single or double cots can also be used...  Foam can be added on top for added confort if desired.  I've even seen people who have used patio chaise lounges that lay flat for their beds.  Some people just use those adjustable Hollywood type bed frames and extend the legs to clear the wheel wells.  The point here is that there are many cheap, easy, and lightweight options available if we think outside the box, and nothing actually needs to be built in.

Building a bed is obviously more difficult, and presents us with some additional problems.  While weight is always an issue, one issue that is frequently overlooked in the beginning is moisture problems.  Most people don't normally associate beds with moisture problems, but in a camper van we need to.  Mold can form on the underside of your mattress between it and the base, especially if you have a wood base.  While we're talking about wood bases, slatted, sliding wood bases are a really bad idea.  They are difficult and expensive to build, they don't slide well, you can feel the slats underneath, and those slats promote mold growth.  Plywood is a much better choice than slats, but you still need something between the wood and your mattress to allow ventilation and fight mold growth.

Some people use moisture proof mattress covers, others use these marine type pads under their mattresses that allow ventilation and are said to prevent mold or moisture build up.  One name brand is call Hypervent, and you can read more about them at: http://www.doityourselfrv.com/prevent-under-mattress-mold-hypervent/.

Rather than a wood base, many people choose to use rope or wire mesh to support their mattresses.  Rope beds can wrap and weave rope around your bed frame, it can also be attached to the sides with springs, elastic cord, or bungee's, to add extra spring to your setup.  Hardware cloth, or many types of lightweight fencing wire can also be used.  On a friends build he had an old cot, but the canvas was missing.  Our quick, cheap solution was to buy a $5 campers thin rope hammock, and attach it to the frame by lacing it on using the type of elastic cord that many zero gravity camping loungers use.  Then he added foam on top, and it made a very comfy bed that has lasted 5+ years now.

You can google rope beds and chairs to get some ideas.  I have made many bed frames out of metal electrical conduit.  It's sturdy, light weight, and easy to work with.  I also sometimes use it for cabinet frames, and then attach thin light weight paneling to cover this durable frame.  I have also found that sliding doors instead of swinging doors are a much better choice in cramped spaces.

Built in beds can be preferable to some people.  Built in beds might allow more storage, or be convetible into a sofa or dinette.  While these aren't as user friendly on a day to day basis as a permanent bed, they do have their obvious uses.  Just remember that sliding slat furniture is the pits, and we still need to lend proper consideration to moisture control and mold prevention.

I won't go into a lot of build techniques in this post, because of the myriad of variables, shapes, and styles possible.  Just make sure everything fits, your bed is comfy, and you don't neglect to handle any potential moisture and mold problems.

I can supply pretty extensive build details on just about any bed design you need, just post your desires here...

Cheers!

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meanderingexplorers.com

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Re: Camper Van Beds
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2018, 07:39:22 PM »
Hey Dan!

I totally agree. Sleep is super important, considering we spend ~1/3 of the day in a bed.

Yes, having a platform bed of sorts maximizes storage space and is the most convenient. However, we went with a convertible sofa bed because we wanted a pleasant space to work and hangout in.

We've actually found bed slats to be a great solution to just about all of your concerns, except the cost. Ours was easy to build, but using extruded aluminum is quite pricey. The bed slides in and out very smoothly, but that is because we added UHMW (Ultra High Molecrular Weight Polyethylene) between two bed slats and bolted them really tight together, to prevent the bed from binding when sliding in and out.

Here's an article on our convertible sofa bed and cushion design: https://meanderingexplorers.com/custom-convertible-sofa-bed-in-a-camper-van/

Hope this helps!

Camper_Dan

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Re: Camper Van Beds
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2018, 09:41:41 PM »
Greetings & Welcome!

Looks like a lot of time, thought, and work went into your bed.  I liked your web page about it too.

Thanks for sharing, and hope to see lots of you around here.

Cheers!

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Blacksinger

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Re: Camper Van Beds
« Reply #3 on: October 31, 2018, 05:20:40 PM »
Good bed and nice sleep is very important especially when you like to drive long distance and enjoy your life in your van  :) Thank you for the links above, it is useful information. Unfortunately bed in my van is not that comfortable to sleep everyday that is why sometimes I stay in special camping places or for example last time I preferred to rent property in Spain https://tranio.com/rent/spain/ and explore this country when well rested  ;D

Camper_Dan

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Re: Camper Van Beds
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2018, 09:53:12 PM »
Greetings and Welcome!

You might try a foam mattress topper, they can do wonders to make your bed more comfortable.

Sometimes the simplest little things can make a world of difference.

Cheers!
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rockyroad

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Re: Camper Van Beds
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2019, 03:56:58 AM »
Twice that. I just bought a 60mm thick memory foam mattress from Milliard. It isn't shaped but the edge tucks down nicely on our nearside fixed double bed.

Also, do you use the cushions with the seats face up? The instructions for our last caravan said turn them over and this did produce a flatter surface. If that does not work then a topper is the best bet.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2019, 03:58:45 AM by rockyroad »
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