Sleep’s an important part of our home life, which makes it an important part of our home-on-wheels and RV life. One of the questions RVers asked most often by renters about the RVs on our site: “How many people does it sleep? Are the beds comfortable?” Everyone’s committed to getting a good night’s sleep, even when on vacation. Even so, renters often feel like they’re going in blind when it comes to sleeping on an RV mattress. This is exactly why we’ve put together this big guide to help steer potential RV owners and renters toward the best possible RV sleep.
RV Mattresses Come in Many Shapes and Sizes
Traditional Beds vs RV Mattress
Motorhomes and travel trailers (including A-frames and hybrids) usually include at least one “traditional” style bed. In this case, traditional refers to a bed that does not fold away or convert to another type of furniture, but remains static. It’s also separate from bunks, which are up off of the floor.
Traditional RV mattress beds come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but very rarely do they match the regular mattress sizes you might see on a bed in a house. For instance, a RV mattress beds may be shorter in length to compensate for lack of walking space. Some RV mattresses may not be as wide as usual for the same reason. Because there is no standard size for traditional RV mattress beds, you often need to measure your bed to get the right size of sheets. RVers want to measure the height (lining your measuring tape up vertically and measuring upward from underside of mattress to top, the same as you would your own height from feet to head if you were standing up next to the mattress).
Bear in mind that all RV stock mattresses are several inches thinner than their house mattress counterparts. While this is wonderful for reducing the overall weight of the RV, it tends to make for a less comfortable sleeping space. You could get a topper to help make the RV mattress softer.
Fold-away sofa beds are very common in motorhomes and travel trailers. RV mattresses can also be found in camper vans and hybrid campers, but are less common in truck campers, A-frame trailers, and pop-ups.
RV sofa beds are often “jackknife” sofas, meaning they fold out much like a futon would. Others are more like traditional hide-a-beds in that there is a mattress tucked away inside of the couch.
A great many RVs have convertible dinettes. These are wonderful for space-saving purposes, but are difficult to set up and are not very comfortable. In order to set up a dinette bed, the table is collapsed down and used in conjunction with the seat bottoms to create a platform for the “mattress” which is made up of the four dinette seat cushions.
These beds are commonly seen in bumper-pulls, fifth-wheels, motorhomes, campervans, hybrids, pop-ups, and A-frames. Occasionally, if an RV is very small, the dinette bed will take the place of the stationary traditional bed.
Several of the bigger RVs will include a bunk room or area with 2-4 small bunks meant for use by children and smaller individuals. These bunks with RV mattresses are quite narrow, measuring only about 28-34 inches from one side to the other. Families with kids often appreciate having these bunks, as they can remain beds throughout the trip and require no setup or tear-down each day.
Found only in hybrid and pop-up trailers, bed ends are canvas-covered protrusions which contain sleeping spaces. These are fabulous for those looking for a lightweight trailer option because the canvas-covered beds require no extra floor space, meaning the folded-down trailer is much smaller than a traditional travel trailer.
That said, these beds do tend to be less comfortable than other RV beds, and replacing the mattresses is nearly impossible due to the fact that the beds must fold away. Therefore, those considering this type of trailer should know that extended stays in a hybrid or pop-up may require extra comfort measures.
Almost all Class-C and truck-bed campers have overhead bunks. Often found in other types of motorhomes as well, these beds are great for providing sleeping space without using up valuable floor space. Overhead bunks jut out over the cab of the vehicle, making use of space that is often wasted otherwise. They are great for those going on relatively short excursions. However, those looking to stay on the road for months at a time may not appreciate the small amount of headroom.
Some newer RVs come with fold-away RV Murphy beds. These beds fold into the wall–bedding and all–in one simple motion to reveal a couch on the underside. When the RV Murphy bed is needed again, it can be quickly and easily pulled out with very little effort. Obviously, these beds are ideal for saving space in slightly shorter RVs.
How to Create More Sleeping Space
Sometimes people find the perfect RV to rent with the exception of one little issue: too little sleeping space. In these cases, there are some things that can be done in order to make the camper work for your group.
Cots are the most obvious option when it comes to creating more sleeping space in your RV. They are lightweight and can fold down to be quite small. These are a great option for weekend trips and even week-long vacations.
A fun spin on collapsible cots, collapsible bunks take full advantage of the vertical space in a tiny vacation home. These are ideal for kids who often find the design pretty exciting, but can also be used for adults.
With enough extra floor space, an air mattress can be just the solution to anyone’s sleeping space problems. Air mattresses are quick and easy to set up (provided an electric pump is brought along) and they require very little storage space during the day.
Some RVs have a corner available for a chair. By finding the right floor plan, travelers can take advantage of that corner by adding a fold-out chair. These chairs function in much the same way as a sofa bed and provide sleeping space for one.
How to Add Comfort
When renting an RV, it is often hard to determine how comfortable the beds will be until using them. Unfortunately, stock RV mattresses don’t provide much in the way of support or cushiness. Therefore, it is a good idea for campers to bring along some items for providing extra comfort should the beds in their rental unit be less than heavenly.
Memory Foam Topper
By providing the softness and support we have come to expect from our beds, a mattress topper can easily make a so-so sleeping space more comfortable and enjoyable to use. As an added bonus, foam toppers of up to two inches thick can be added to bed ends in most pop-up and hybrid campers without interrupting their ability to fold in.
Some people complain of being able to feel the hard surface beneath their RV mattress. This is especially true for those using bed ends and dinette beds. Placing interlocking anti-fatigue mats can take away that hard feeling, providing a better night’s sleep.
In addition to foam toppers and anti-fatigue mats, mattress pads are great for adding just a bit more of a cushy feel to any mattress. They are also wonderful for camping because they protect the actual mattress from dust and dirt and can be removed and washed fairly easily.
Want to Replace Your RV Mattress?
If you are headed out on a months-long adventure and comfortable sleep is high on your list of must-haves, you may want to consider purchasing a mattress to use during your trip. This is a great solution if you can afford it. Just be sure to measure before making any investments and keep in mind that replacing sofa-bed and bed-end mattresses doesn’t usually work due to space constraints.
If you aren’t looking to own an RV mattress of your own, another option is to search for a rental unit with high-quality replacement mattresses already installed. While this is not always possible, it’s worth a look.
Either way, it always helps to start with a great mattress. Below we have compiled a list of highly rated manufacturers of mattresses for RVs, as well as those mainstream manufacturers who make some RV or custom-sized mattresses. These mattresses can be bought at Camping World, Walmart.com, Amazon, or in some cases, directly from the manufacturer. We hope this helps you find the perfect sleeping surface for your next RV adventure.
- Sleep Master
- Serenia Sleep
- Sleep Revolution
- Select Luxury
- Denver Mattress
- Sleep Number
- Resort Sleep
- AB Lifestyles
Equipped with this Big Guide, RVers should be able to find the ideal sleeping configuration and comfort level to for your next RV journey. And remember: there’s nothing like stepping in from a sky full of stars to help a person get a great night of sleep.