On our most recent van life adventure through Canada in our Ram Promaster City Camper we left our Exped Sim Comfort Duo 7.5 Mat at home. After sleeping on it for the last year and a half we were ready to experiment with something else. Enter our homemade DIY camper van bed. Believe it or not we’ve actually enjoyed sleeping on it even more than the Sim pad. Here’s why we think the best camper van bed is a DIY bed.

Why Make Your Own DIY Camper Van Bed

Affordable

The total cost of our van life bed was $149.94. Compare that to the $268.95 price on the Exped Sim mat and you’re looking at just under $120 worth of savings. Sometimes a DIY project is worth the effort.

Custom

How to make a DIY Van Life Bed
A DIY van life bed is easy to make and easy to set up.

One of the main reasons we opted to make our own DIY camper van bed was so that we could customize it to our needs. I like a firm mattress and Caroline likes a VERY firm mattress so we chose foam according to those needs. (Note: Caroline sleeps on her side and says that the high density foam prevents her hips from touching the hard wooden boxes in our van. If this sounds like you, consider going with the very firm foam.) With this DIY camper van bed we could each order the foam that met our needs rather than having to compromise and therefore sacrifice comfort.

Comfort

The number one reason we’ve changed up our camper van bed is comfort. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or someone who lives full-time in their van, you absolutely cannot compromise good sleep. (Okay, you can, but it makes the waking hours tough!) This foam DIY bed is super comfortable and makes the challenge of getting a good night’s sleep on the road achievable.

Materials for Making a Camper Van Bed

Making your own camper van bed is a van life hack that is actually relatively easy.

First things first, though, let’s gather your materials. You’ll need:

2 Pieces of 3 Inch Thick High Density Upholstery Foam – each piece of foam is 72.5″ x 30″ x 3″. You’ll need two of these. ($59.99 each)

2 flat sheets (twin size) – we chose navy sheets so they would hide dirt. ($11.99 x 2)
Velcro strips ($5.98)

Tools

Needle and thread OR Sewing machine

How to Make Your Own DIY Camper Van Bed

Once you have your materials, follow these steps:

  • Measure the foam, if necessary, so that it fits inside your Ram Promaster City. We cut our foam pieces down to 28.5″ so that they fit flush against the inside walls of the van. Some people may want to order smaller, more narrower foam so that their camper van bed does not extend past the bed boxes.
a tape measure of the DIY van life bed
The foam on our DIY Camper Van Bed hangs over the bed box about 5 inches.
  • Once your foam is measured, lay the foam on top of one half of the sheet.
  • Fold the sheet over the foam so that it covers the foam like a taco (top, bottom, all four sides).
  • Measure the sheet so that it fully covers the foam with enough room for the Velcro to grab on each side where the sheet edges meet. Allow for some shrinking if you use cotton or wash your sheets first!
    Our measurements are:
  • Place a mark on the sheet where you want the Velcro to go. (We used 6 two-inch Velcro pieces for each sheet. Space them roughly 10 inches apart.)
  • Sew the sheet at the bottom.
  • Sew the Velcro in place.
a photo of the velcro used in a camper van bed
Space the Velcro strips roughly 10 inches apart.
  • Put the foam inside the sheet. This takes a little work because the foam wants to grab the sheet.
  • Lay the foam inside the sheets down on your Wayfarer Conversion Kit boxes and bed.
  • Your van life bed is ready to use!
Use a sharp knife to cut the extra foam off as neatly as possible.

The reason we chose to make two sections is because during the day we break our bed down so that we have some space in the van for working. We prop it up behind the legs of the bed and it rides there all day until we are ready to use it again.

The back of a Ram Promaster City with a Wayfarer Camper Van Conversion Kit and a DIY Bed
Storing the DIY Van Life Bed during the day is simple and fast.

Creating a sheet cover for the foam serves a couple purposes. The first is that it keeps the foam free from dirt and dust. The sheets are a lot easier to wash than the foam. In addition, the foam is somewhat “sticky” and doesn’t move well when you’re trying to get it to fit behind the legs of the bed. It moves a lot easier with the sheets on it.

One of the main reasons we moved away from the Sim pad was because it moved too much when one of us would roll over. So much so that it would often wake the other person up.

Special Ram Promaster City Camper Owner Info

We opted not to buy the cushions that came with the original Wayfarer Kit. At that point we had already decided to go with the SIM comfort mat. If we had to do it again, we would still choose not to get the original cushions and would instead just opt to make our own DIY bed.

The foam on our bed covers the wheel wells and is flush with the sides of our van. We made it this way so that things wouldn’t keep dropping to the floor in the middle of the night. Though we don’t sleep on the edges of the foam, it’s strong enough that we can curl up and rest our legs on it without it caving in.

We sleep with our heads towards the rear of the van and with our feet near the front. We also move the driver and passenger seats forward a few inches before we crawl in for the night. We’ve found that doing so allow us the space to hang our feet over the edge of the bed. It’s made a big difference on how well we sleep and should work no matter what kind of van life bed you’re using.

Why We Don’t Use a Single Piece of Foam

When researching the foam mattress you may get the idea of using just a single foam pad. We thought about that but decided against it for two reasons:

Cost

One single FoamTouch High Density Foam Cushion with dimensions of 80″ x 60″ x 3″ is $136.33. You could cut this in half (or leave it whole) but it’s still more expensive than ordering individual foam pieces.

Storage

The other reason we did not opt for a large, single piece of foam for our camper van bed is because of storage. We have limited space inside our Ram Promaster City. If we had a single piece of foam we would not have anywhere to store it. It’s really useful to us that it can tuck behind the legs of the bed and get somewhat out of the way.

The Best Camper Van Bed is a DIY Bed Recap

Will we get rid of our Sim Comfort mat? Probably not. It’s still a comfortable option, especially when it’s just one of us using the van and rolling over won’t disturb the other person. But we’ll most likely be traveling and using our new DIY van life mattress on future adventures. We hope our post The Best Van Life Bed is a DIY Bed is helpful to you. Do you have any of your own DIY van life hacks? If so we’d love to hear about ’em.

Like this post? Be sure to check out a few of other other van life hack posts such as Van Life: DIY Storage Pockets and DIY Van Window Screens. Both of are fairly easy to create and will help improve your life on the road, especially for those of you with a Ram Promaster City Camper with a Wayfarer Kit.

Authentic Asheville is a team of two, Caroline Whatley and Erin McGrady, who travel the country for work and fun. We’re photographers, writers, web designers and adventurers. Want to work with us? Check out our portfolio here.

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