Over the last couple of years I’ve become very interested in climbing, camping, and hiking. Very recently I have been enamored with the idea of building out a custom camper van. We now have a van, and are getting ready to deck it out! But, as with everything in my life, I’m interested in chemical-free and organic options. In a camper van, I think it is even more important to have an organic mattress to protect yourself from the outgassing that comes from a non-organic mattress. In a small space like a van there is less room for the chemicals to disperse and therefore you will be breathing in more chemicals than you would in a larger space.
So, how do you go about figuring out what size organic mattress you want in your custom camper van? For people of average height, a lot of people are choosing mattresses that are less than the standard 80” length of a queen or king (so that they have more room in the van). For taller people, and if your van can fit a longer mattress, you may choose the full 80” or even the 84” of a California King. It also depends if you plan to sleep lengthwise or widthwise in the van. If you plan to sleep across the width, you are constrained by the width of your van. As my camping van partner is 6’3”, we are building our camper van with a full length 80” mattress and will be sleeping lengthwise. Our van has 72” of width, so we are customizing an organic mattress made to the dimensions of 72” x 80”, slightly less wide than a king.
You will also want to decide how thick of a mattress you want. With organic latex mattresses (the type of mattress we can customize), generally, the thicker the mattress the more comfortable– unless you prefer a harder/firmer mattress. I’m a bit spoiled on a comfortable mattress, so I’m planning on installing a 9” mattress which means that either we will have less headroom above the mattress or less storage underneath our bed platform. If you want more space, you can choose a thinner mattress. A 6” mattress will work just fine, but will likely be less conforming to your body than a 9” mattress. And if you are just looking for slightly more comfort than tent/ground camping, you could choose a 3” or 4” organic mattress topper instead of an organic mattress- which will feel somewhat hard and maybe slightly better than sleeping on the ground. However, if you choose this option, we would suggest a latex mattress topper (not wool) and you would probably want to choose a medium or a firm piece of latex instead of soft, as a soft layer (or a wool topper) may not offer much of a barrier between you and the ground. Here are a couple of organic mattress topper options that have medium or firm latex options: Healthy Nest Topper and the Harmony Topper. Personally, I’m a big fan of comfort, so I’m sticking with the extremely comfortable 9” latex mattress, but it just depends on what you prefer to sleep on.
After you decide how you are orienting your mattress, it would be best to get your platform built and installed. It is a very good idea to allow air flow beneath your mattress. Ideally, you would build a platform with slats (not more than 2.5 inches apart), however, if you build your platform out of plywood we recommend either drilling holes in the plywood for air flow, or alternatively, you can use a bed rug which will allow air to circulate under the mattress. After you have your platform built and installed, measure the length and width of mattress that will be placed on the platform and give us a call (1-866-663-0859) or email! We can customize a whole variety of organic latex mattresses to whatever length or width that you need! It is generally a little bit of an upcharge and will often take about 3-4 weeks to ship, as it is special made, but well worth the wait to offer you years of comfort!
How about sheets? Although fitted sheets are made to fit a specific size mattress, for example a king fitted sheet is 78” x 80”. For my custom 72” x 80” mattress I will still be able to use king fitted sheets, I just will have a little extra on the sides to tuck in. In my experience, there isn’t much issue with the fitted sheet pulling out, as long as it is tucked in nicely. So, my recommendation is to choose the size of sheets one size up from your custom size camper van mattress.
Have fun customizing your camper van!