As peddlers of beds and mattresses will tell you, the average person spends about one-third of his or her life in bed. Typically—unless you spend the extra money for an upgrade—the standard issue mattresses found in most motorhomes are thin and less than comfortable. Manufacturers usually do this to keep costs down and avoid adding a couple of pounds to the overall weight of the vehicle. This general discomfort is why replacing the original mattress is one of the first things many people choose to do when they purchase an RV or travel trailer of their own.Some experts recommend using a similar or identical mattress to the type you're accustomed to. So, when we began RVing full-time, we merely switched out our RV mattress with the pillow-top spring one from our house (it would've just gone into storage otherwise). Several of our full-timer friends have replaced theirs, and we're currently researching our options. If you're considering getting a new mattress for your RV, you might find this information helpful.
Popular RV Mattress Replacements
There are a few types of mattresses that are light enough for use in a motorhome, but supportive enough to warrant the extra expense. Basically, if you only use your RV occasionally, and don't have any back problems, you don't have to spend too much. You might forego replacing your mattress altogether and merely add a decent foam topper for added comfort.
However, if you live in your rig—or have back problems—you're going to want to spend the additional money that a more supportive option offers. These usually last longer, as well.Air Mattress: These are often topped with layers of latex, memory foam, or urethane to increase comfort. Contrary to a regular blow-up mattress, an RV air mattress uses two air chambers. The pressure in the chambers can be raised or lowered to adjust the firmness of either side of the mattress. This is perfect for couples who require different levels of support, and are looking to spend a little more. The downside, like with any air mattress, is that they can develop leaks.
The price ranges between $1100 to $2000.
Foam: The foam pads standardly issued in new RVs are usually 5 to 6-inches thick with densities of 1 to 2-lbs per cubic foot. The higher the density, the more supportive and durable. Since it's the least expensive, the most common is the RV foam mattress. It's perfect for those who stay in their rig only periodically, because it'll generally wear out faster than other options.
The price generally ranges from $150-$350.
Latex: As one of the more comfortable options, these mattresses are usually constructed from latex and urethane foam. The support comes from the urethane foam bottom layer, and the latex top layer provides the comfort. Since it is closest to your sleeping bodies—plus, synthetic and blended versions discolor and breakdown with UV exposure—you want to make sure that the latex is natural. The separate layers of support and comfort make a latex mattress a good mid-range choice if you live out of your RV or want a comfortable replacement.
The price generally ranges from $599-$999.
Memory Foam: These mattresses are usually constructed from a combination of memory foam and urethane foam. Usually 8-inches with densities of 2.5 to 5.3-lbs, the support comes from the high-density urethane foam bottom layer, and the memory foam top layer provides the comfort. Remember, the higher the density, the more supportive and durable. This is a great mid-range option for full-timers.
The price generally ranges from $399-$799.
Spring or Coil: Of all the options, this is the most like what you'd have in a brick or stick home. Although they're generally seen as more comfortable than the others, they aren't solutions for every RV. Over time, these tend to wear down and become increasingly less comfortable, but periodically flipping the mattress can slow down this process. Thick ones are more durable, but they're heavier and more expensive than their thinner counterparts. A thick pillow top can increase comfort without drastically adding to the weight, however, it makes it impossible to flip the mattress to lengthen its life. Plus, not all RV bed sizes are available in spring mattresses. Odd sizes or rounded-corners may require a custom design.
The price generally ranges from $100-$2000.Determine the Correct Size
Make sure to measure the dimensions of the board on which your current mattress sits to bypass sizing anomalies due to mattress aging or humidity. Before purchasing, ask the retailer for the exact dimensions to ensure they match up; the mattress-size terms don’t have specific legal definitions.
Although many larger, modern coaches use standard-sized mattresses, most RVs have mattresses that are about 6-inches shorter, which are available from specific RV mattress manufacturers. Others have mattresses with rounded corners to accommodate cabinets. These are often more expensive, as well.
Common Sizes Include: There are several sizes provided in motorhomes including bunk-sizes and pullout sofa bed sizes. These, however, are the most common for the master suite.
- RV Full: 53 x 75-inches
- Short Queen: 60 x 75-inches; RV Queen: 60 x 80-inches; Olympic Queen: 66 x 80-inches
- Short King: 72 x 75-inches; RV King: 72 x 80-inches; Cal King: 72 x 84-inches; Eastern King: 76 x 80-inches
Visit a couple of retail stores to "test" the mattresses when possible. Then, when you know what you like, you can order the specific style and brand online, often for a lower price.
Once you measure your mattress, choose a style that works best for you. Then pick a manufacturer or retailer from whom to buy. Before you finalize the sale, however, you should inquire into their return policies in case you aren't satisfied. Remember, though, that it's very expensive to return a mattress since shipping costs are based on weight. So, do your due diligence to ensure that's not an issu