It’s no secret that original RV mattresses typically underdeliver. Preinstalled mattresses are often thinner, lighter, and less supportive, which means a less comfortable sleep for you and your camping mates. That’s why an RV mattress upgrade is often the first post-purchase expense for new RV owners.
Frustrating? Certainly. The reasons vary: manufacturer cost-cutting, “de-contenting” to lower the price, a lower dry weight, and others. It’s a known downside of a new RV purchase. But if you must upgrade the factory mattress, at least ensure you get the right one at a reasonable price. Which brings us here.
Why Upgrade Your RV Mattress?
RV beds are generally different than your bed at home. For one, there are no box springs. The sizes can also differ from what you’re accustomed to with standard twin, full, queen, and king beds. This guide breaks down the size differences between conventional and RV mattresses.
While it’s a common upgrade, make sure you actually need a new mattress. Let’s identify the primary reasons you’d want to replace your mattress.
Poor Quality Mattress
You don’t have to sleep in discomfort night after night to deem your mattress insufficient. Tell-tale factors of a low-quality mattress include:
- Low-density foam or padding
- A noticeable, lasting chemical-like odor
- Extreme firmness or softness
- Lumps or uneven padding
Consider any of these red flags that increase the likelihood of replacing your mattress. The more you notice, the more urgent your need for an RV mattress replacement.
Unlike residential beds, RVs don’t typically include box springs due to height and weight constraints. Instead, RV mattresses rest on a platform, and the quality and type of platform can vary RV-to-RV. Inspect the platform where your mattress rests to determine if you need a better mattress with more inner structure and support.
- Plywood Base – Many intro-level RVs and more affordable models will use a simple plywood base. While flat and secure, these don’t provide much comfort. A plywood base paired with a low-quality mattress is a recipe for a sleepless night.
- Slatted Base – Wood slatted bases provide more flexibility and absorb shock from the mattress, making for a comfier sleeping setup.
- Metal Frame – Some high-end RVs include a specialized metal frame to rest your mattress, and these allow for more support, comfort, and ventilation.
- Bunkie Board Alternative – You might find some RV bed platforms equipped with a thin padded board or foam panel on top of the plywood base to add additional support.
Ultimately, your comfort level will determine when to upgrade your mattress. Your back won’t feel supported with a mattress that’s too firm. With a mattress that’s too soft, thin, or low-density, you might feel the platform the mattress rests on — which is never a good sign.
Frequency of Use
A less-than-ideal mattress doesn’t always mean you need to replace it right away.
Consider how often you sleep in your RV. Add your comfort level to the equation. A mattress you sleep on two or three times a year that doesn’t interrupt your sleep? You may be able to put off a mattress upgrade. But one you sleep on monthly or weekly? Make sure it’s as comfortable as your mattress at home.
What Makes An Ideal RV Mattress For You?
Once you’ve decided you need a mattress, how do you decide the ideal mattress for you? Preferences differ, even between two partners, and you might prefer a mattress of different softness or material. Beyond personal preference, what type of mattress is best for your RV? If you aren’t sure what kind of mattress is ideal, consider these factors.
Not sure if you prefer a softer or firmer mattress? Consider how you sleep.
- Side Sleeper – If you sleep on your side, you’ll likely err on the softer side. This allows the foam and padding to adjust for your hips and your body’s variable heights.
- Back Sleeper – If you sleep on your back, a middle-road softness will better support the curve of your back.
- Stomach Sleeper – Look for a more firm mattress if you tend to sleep on your stomach.
Consider the weight of a new mattress. If you own a towable RV, any significant weight change may influence towability, and you must remain within your vehicle’s GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) to remain safe while driving. Most RV mattresses won’t incur a significant weight change. But it’s worth considering, especially if you are already pushing the threshold of your GVWR.
RV mattresses come in differing sizes and types beyond your standard residential king, queen, and twin. RV mattresses come in the following categories, with various sizes for each:
- RV Bunk Mattress
- Truck Mattress
- RV Twin Mattress
- XL Twin Mattress
- Short RV Full Size
- Full RV
- RV Short Queen
- Standard Queen
- RV Short King
- Standard King
- RV King
- RV California King
To determine the right mattress size for your RV, take accurate measurements to determine which mattress fits the various sleeping spots in your floorplan.
While a mattress may fit the width and length of your previous mattress, additional mattress height may prove to be a problem, especially in units with bunks or overhead beds, like Class Cs.
Lastly, certain RV mattresses have customized shapes, curves, and cut angles to fit specific layouts. Luckily, companies specializing in RV mattresses offer many cut-corner options to fit these unique placements. Check out this curved mattress from Cozyway, for example.
Types of RV Replacement RV Mattresses
Once you’ve narrowed down shape, size, and what you’re looking for in comfort, choose from the following types of mattresses. Each option has unique advantages and disadvantages, and some may perform better depending on preference and where you travel.
There are two primary types of foam mattresses — memory foam and polyfoam — and both are found in RV and residential mattresses.
Likely, the original mattress in your new RV is or was a polyfoam mattress. Polyfoam is inexpensive and low-density, both ideal for RV manufacturers. While polyfoam mattresses vary in density — and some are better than others — you likely won’t experience a night-and-day difference with a polyfoam upgrade.
As its name implies, memory foam is made with material that is slow to return to its previous shape and adapts to your body, adding extra comfort. However, this can also negatively affect those who may “sleep hot” or those traveling in warmer climates.
Memory foam mattresses are generally more expensive, but most find them more comfortable. Densities vary, and you should be able to find a memory foam mattress to fit your needs. Just check out this memory foam gel mattress from Cozyway.
Two types of latex are used for mattresses: natural and synthetic.
Natural latex mattresses can be created using natural latex harvested from rubber trees. This material is durable, supportive, comfortable, eco-friendly, and resistant to mold and mildew. If you plan to RV in especially humid or wet locations, consider the extra investment in latex.
Sourced from non-organic processes, synthetic latex includes many of the benefits of natural latex. The main differences? It is not as eco-friendly and may not hold up as long. But, like natural latex, it is resistant to mold and mildew.
Innerspring mattresses are common in residential settings. They use a metal wire system and springs to retain rigidity while offering comfort. These have a bouncy, supportive surface and come in various firmnesses, but they will likely be heavier and firmer due to the metal internal frame and components.
Hybrid mattresses can be manufactured with any combination of the above technologies and components. Most commonly, hybrid mattresses combine memory foam or latex foam with the standard innerspring mattress.
RV Mattress Pads & Toppers
Mattress pads and toppers are positioned on top of your mattress to provide additional comfort. For RVers looking for a quick, affordable fix for their less-than-luxury mattress, mattress pads are great alternatives to an RV mattress replacement. These are some of the benefits of mattress pads and toppers:
Typically made of foam, gel, wool, polyester, cotton, or a combination, these add comfort to your mattress by changing the firmness of the sleeping surface. If you haven’t explored a memory foam mattress or a cooling gel mattress, a mattress pad of those materials might be a good first step.
Some mattresses and mattress pads are designed to provide a cooling or warming element while you sleep. Certain foam and gel mattress pads are great for cooling you in temperatures and climates where air conditioning alone isn’t enough – even if you use these tips for staying cool while camping in the heat.
Mattress pads and toppers also protect the mattress underneath from spills, stains, or leakage. Waterproof mattress pads are a helpful addition to increase the longevity of your RV mattress. With memory foam and thicker mattress pads, you also put less strain on the padding of your mattress pad.
Good sleep can make all the difference on a camping trip. Ready to find your ideal RV mattress? Shop Camping World for all of your RV bedroom needs, including mattresses and mattress pads.
What has been your experience with RV mattresses? Let us know in the comments below.