What do you use as a mattress?

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  • Hi again!

    For those who have custom size beds, what do you use as a mattress? Since I converted my van in Sept/Oct last year I've been using a camping mat and a single duvet on top of the bed I made from a floorboard... so not the comfiest thing! Ive been thinking about options for more comfort:

    1. Upholstery foam
    2. Cushions from conservatory furniture/garden swingseats etc.
    3. Making my own mattress from eco materials

    I think there are pros and cons for each. Concerns : dampness, need something that won't get misshapen or flattened easily.

    My bed measures 5'6" (166cm) x 2'1" (66cm) and at the foot of the bed the wheel arch cuts into the bed a couple of inches (so I need something I can cut to size).

    Any thoughts?

    Love Raffi

  • I had mine professionally made and covered by a local foam specialists (www.cutfoam.co.uk) - 4 covered cushions (hardish foam) totalling 180cm x 111cm x 9cm cost me about 120 quid a few years back. My logic was that I'd be sleeping on it, and would rather spend extra on a good night's kip than cut corners.

    I've seen campervan cushions going cheap on ebay from time to time, so it may be worth looking there.

    When I had my VW I simply wrapped material around the foam and stapled it to a hardboard base - no need for any fancy stitching, but a fucker to clean.

  • Hi Paul -- Yeah I'm thinking the same re the amount I spend. There have been times where I've woken up all stiff and whatnot from the hard surface so I am fine paying for some nice comfort! Just been looking up upholstery foam from a local upholsters to me and it would cost roughly £30 for the foam. I'd have to make a 'mattress cover' to hold the pieces together (thinking of getting some velcro strips too) but I can throw one of those together on the sewing machine easily enough. Did you have any issues with dampness with the foam?

  • Never had an issue with damp foam with any of my vans - but none of them have ever touched the metal sides.

    The only thing I'd do differently is use a slightly softer foam and make all 4 pieces equal size (for repositioning), but I think 9cm is quite a nice thickness.

    If you're handy with a sewing machine then you'll definitely save some money as I think most of my expense was on the covering - but wrapping it onto a hardboard backing is pretty simple.

    Velcro is pretty good for holding the mattresses down, but you can also get non-slip rubber mats to do the same.

  • I've just got back from the upholsterers. Decided to go get a custom cut piece rather than the smaller ones because I don't really need the seat layout so much for my van. So I've got one piece coming tomorrow for £36.25. Not too bad, I don't reckon. :)

  • Anchor supplies, sell ex army barrack mattresses for about£35 They have a synthetic or canvas cover. Single 3 inch foam. Very good quality or next to best. I have looked on eBay for disabled electric beds/hospital beds. Look on. local bargains eBay within say 20 miles. Often these are high spec. Hardly ever used if at all. Last one I bought -waterproof single mattress for £50 sells for £340 quid online, I use it in the bell tent.

  • Dojo Eco made me an organic cotton canvas mattress cover for £65. Another lady sold me enough organic felted lambs wool to make 12 double bed sized layers for £200. Non organic felted wool must be quite cheap. I like it coz i can take it apart and hang it on the line. Wool resists damp. Nicer to sleep on, slower heartbeat apparently, lovely jubbley

  • i use a cheap foam mattress from lidl width ways across a transit van cut it to size with a bread knive put it back in its cotton cover job done and very warm and comfortable

  • I managed to pick up a seconds king size memory foam mattress which is really thick for £50 from pound stretcher a couple of years back and it is the comfyest thing I've ever slept on. Took a good month to flatten it out caus that seemingly was the reason it was a second but well worth it. My plan when the vans finished is to just cut a section out where the unit will take up a bit of the foot space of the bed and its perfect width already. Just use it on top of the current 3/4 rock and roll bed in there at the moment with bags or toolbox stuffed under the overhang. Wish I'd seen it before spending £150 on an Argos mattress for the house which sticks into me so I ended up getting a thin mattress topper from the same place to go on top of that. A dog is very useful for helping keep a rolled memory foam mattress unfolded while its settling - hard to get off though when you want to lie on it he must think its rather comfy too :-)

  • Haha yeah there's no moving my dogs once they've got themselves settled. I'm sat in the van doing some sketches and dreamin' now and he's occupying about half of the bed! ... and my coat, actually. He's managed to get it all collected up into a little ball and he's sat on it. Bless him.


  • Wouldn't let any of my large dogs on my bed. They lived outside, but slept on the wagon floor or under the wagon. Clean bedding is a blessing & luxury when living on the road. I once returned home to find a strange dog tethered to my wagon. Turns out some beautiful Young hippy chick had decided to move in with me. I washed my best white cotton bedsheets for a night of passion. Only to find her dog laid across my clean pillows and the dog was covered in mud. I kicked out the dog and the hippy chick.

  • We used to make our mattresses out of memory foam from a local upholsterer. Then cut it with an electric carving knife and wrap it in king size sheets so it can be aired if needed