The mattress needs of someone in the RV lifestyle are different than those of a house. The climate and bedframes our mattresses withstand are different than residential circumstances. If you’re someone with spine issues, your RV mattress determines if your able to drive today or boondocking due to breakthrough pain.
My wife and I both suffer from significant spine disease. When we bought our Class A gasser, we immediately had our home memory foam mattress brought in to replace the existing innerspring. After a few years in the RV, it was time to replace it.
On the hottest of days, we could feel the wooden platform underneath. We had a 10-inch memory foam queen mattress from a name brand manufacturer. Our mattress had degraded to the point where it was no longer supporting us and was aggravating our pain instead of alleviating it.
We found ourselves losing driving days due to our medical conditions. It got to the point where we were doing more staying than traveling. We came up with a list of five requirements that our new mattress had to meet:
- It must be a minimum of 10 inches to maintain our comfort and support as it wears down
- It needs to be affordable so we can replace it in five years to compensate for RV conditions
- The mattress needs to alleviate our back pain as much as possible
- We still want to have a residential queen size
- Our budget cannot exceed $1,000
I knew our research would be more extensive than most with our medical issues. My research included the internet, fellow RVers, our medical professionals, and a trip to a furniture store. Here’s what we learned.
Concerns RVers Face With Mattresses
RVs are not as airtight as houses. Even with air conditioners, moisture and heat will come through. As you travel, the mattress gets a workout with the road conditions. In our case, my wife needs to lay down while we’re traveling, so our bed acts as a shock absorber for her.
There are a number of variables mattresses for campers have that residential versions don’t have. Residential sizes come in twin, full, queen, and king. Residential bed manufacturers use these standard measurements in the furniture industry.
RV sizes have more variables. Especially in the queen measurements. RV manufacturers play with the sizing of the master bed to maximize the space of the coach.
|Mattress Size Name||RV Size Range|
|Residential Size Range|
|Twin or Bunk||28 x 75 to 40 x 80||38 x 75(80 for XL)|
|Full||53 x 75 to 55 x 75||54 x 75 to 55 x 75|
|Queen||60 x 80||60 x 80|
|Three Quarter||48 x 75||48 x 75|
|Short||60 x 75||60 x 75|
|Olympic||66 x 80||66 x 80|
|King||76 x 80||76 x 80|
|Eastern||76 x 80||76 x 80|
|California||72 x 80||72 x 80|
|Truck Bed||35 x 79 to 42 x 80||35 x 79 to 42 x 80|
Camping supply stores and online retailers are the best places to find linens for RV bed sizes. You’ll have better luck finding sheets online than walking into a store. An exception may be Elkhart, IN, or areas that are RV meccas.
Mattress Materials and Firmness
The big issue was figuring out if we wanted to buy another foam mattress or try something else. We knew what a foam mattress felt like when it wears down. There are pros and cons to each type of mattress core.
- Memory Foam: Foam is popular due to its cost-effectiveness, lightweight, and comfort. The density and amount of layers determine its firmness. Constant exposure to heat and moisture will speed up the degradation process. Memory foam is mildew and bug resistant, but it’s extremely flammable. Some mattress covers are flame resistant. You can also use a non-flammable pad under your mattress for further protection.
- Latex: Latex is an environmentally-friendly material. It generally has a medium firmness, gives excellent spine support, and transfer heat well. This type of mattress is expensive and heavy.
- Hybrid: Hybrids give you the support of innerspring with the comfort of memory foam. Their cost is similar to all-foam mattresses. Hybrids suffer from the issues that come with springs and foam.
- Innerspring: Innerspring mattresses have strong support for your back. They allow the greatest airflow to prevent heat buildup. Exposure to moisture can rust the springs, but the individual coils now solve the problem of the weight transfer effect.
- Air: For a few years, air chamber beds were standard on a lot of top-end RVs. After many complaints about leaking and their higher costs, the RV industry has switched to foam as a standard feature. Many people do enjoy the individual comfort level they offer.
Firmness levels generally come in plush/soft, medium, or firm. Each manufacturer has their own version of each level, so many RV mattress reviews will show you a dial on how each mattress rates from soft to firm. Since my wife and I haven’t shopped for a mattress in quite some time, we had to relearn what these definitions meant.
How We Shopped
After my first online search, I was inundated with online mattress advertisements. Each one would tell me about their best features, trial periods, and the basic specifications. After reading through everything, we decided to go to a furniture store to try out some mattresses for ourselves to gain perspective.
We tried the name brands, store brands, every type and firmness they had on the floor. Since my wife’s back is much worse than mine, she was the ultimate deciding factor. She tried a plush hybrid store brand. When she told me her pain was gone, I knew we had a winner.
I had her stay on it for 30 minutes. I asked her about her pain level every 10 minutes while I was talking to the sales lady about it. After that half-hour, my wife’s pain was still at a bare minimum.
How The Trial Period’s Work
The online mattress companies offer trial periods that range from 60 to 100 days. If you’re not happy with the performance of the mattress, they’ll refund you money. The return process for RVers can be problematic.
The mattresses are not actually returned to the manufacturer. Each one has an agreement with various charities. If you’re located close to one of these non-profits, they’ll pick up the mattress and use it as a donation for the manufacturer.
Once all of the paperwork is sorted, you then receive your money back. The trick is to have all of this occur within the trial period. If you don’t live near the approved charity, you can either drop it off yourself, or find a charity near you.
If you choose the charity near you, they must apply with the manufacturer, get approved by the company, and then the mattress company will process the refund paperwork. RVs are not the ideal conditions manufacturers have in mind when they wrote their refund policy. You may want to speak with their customer representatives to make sure your trial period is still valid.
What We Decided
- HYBRID MATTRESS: For supportive, dreamy sleeping. This mattress...
- 12" PROFILE: Mattress is designed with gel memory foam,...
- PLUSH SUPPORT: Includes a .75" high density gel memory foam, 1"...
- FULL SIZE: Measures 53.25" W x 74.5" D x 12" H and is compatible...
- READY FOR INSTANT ENJOYMENT: Arrives in a box. Simply unbox, cut...
My wife and I decided on a 12-inch plush hybrid mattress. While the latex is ideal for spine issues, it was too cost-prohibitive and too firm. We knew that we’re going to have to replace it in a few years due to our full-time RV lifestyle, so we needed to keep it affordable.
We found a similar hybrid online with the same level of reviews and quality for half the price of the furniture store brand. Thinking long term, as it wears in, the foam may lose its integrity, but we’ll always have the springs between us and the wooden platform. Since it was half the price, this allowed us to purchase some other accessories we wanted.
To give the mattress longevity, we invested in a top-quality mattress cover. The one we chose was hypoallergenic, waterproof, and breathable. To help with the heat, we also bought new pillows with memory foam and cooling gel elements.
A Last Issue We Didn’t Think About
All of these mail-order mattresses come vacuum sealed. When you open them, they require a period of time to fully expand. The full memory foam mattress generally takes about 24 hours or less. Our hybrid mattress needed 72 hours because of the springs.
Luckily, when we ordered ours, we were staying at my sister-in-law’s place. We opened the mattress in her guest bedroom to give it the three days it needed. On the third day, our nephew helped me move it into our motorhome.
Since we needed new beds for our dogs, we cut up our old foam mattress for them. With three dogs you would think everybody would be happy having a bed that smells like mommy and daddy. No, in true dog form, they had to re-establish who had which spot because our beagle mix wanted them all.
Charles Joseph is one of the original authors of Camper Smarts from when it first started.
Product data was last updated on 2023-06-08 at 11:13.