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What Type Of Mattress To Get For Your Camper Van + How To Cut It

  • By Kate Moore
  • on 
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Do you want to create a bed design with a unique shape? Beds that turn into benches or fold up small are a great way to save space in a van. Sizing a campervan mattress is easy and can be done at home with just a few tools.

If you’re not sure what you want your bed to look like yet, read our post on 10 campervan bed designs to come up with some ideas.

cutting a campervan mattress

Start With Measuring Your Van

You’ll be surprised to find that many campervans will be able to easily fit a queen-sized mattress or even larger! Mattress sizes are standard so you can use the chart below to see what is going to be the best fit:

Mattress TypeDimensions (inches)Dimensions (centimeters)
King76 x 80194 x 204
Cal King72 x 84183 x 214
Queen60 x 80153 x 204
Full XL53 x 80135 x 204
Full53 x 75135 x 191
Twin XL38 x 8097 x 204
Twin38 x 7597 x 191

RV mattresses have unique sizes that include short-queen and bunk style.

Decide Which Type Of Mattress You Want To Buy

Memory foam mattresses are easy to cut at home and can be shaped to fit your van. They are relatively breathable and make a great choice for bench seats or cushions in addition to sleeping. There are two types of memory foam mattresses to chose from: gel-infused and standard.

A standard memory foam mattress is going to be less stiff and ‘cradle’ your body. A gel-infused mattress is stiffer and has a little more air-circulation. For our van, we chose to purchase a 5” gel memory foam mattress.

Gel-infused mattresses stay cooler than standard memory foam mattresses and can be cut in the same way

Height of your mattress is going to make a big difference in the comfort level. A 4-6” height is most popular among van dwellers. We went with a 5” mattress for a little extra comfort and have been happy with the results. Consider space constraints in the vehicle. Every extra inch is going to bring you closer to the ceiling with a mattress.

Mattress toppers are a great way to add comfort to your existing bed if you already have a mattress.

Tools To Cut A Mattress

Cutting a memory foam mattress in half is easy and can be done at home. Only a few tools are required and you probably already own them:

How To Cut A Campervan Mattress

Step 1
Remove the fabric cover or any extra outer layers encasing the foam.

Step 2
Measure your mattress and mark off the cutting areas with a sharpie. Use a rigid ruler or guide to keep your lines straight.

Step 3
Carefully cut the mattress using a serrated bread knife or electric knife. There’s no tricks! What’s the difference between knives? An electric knife will leave you with a cleaner cut that looks less choppy. Either tool will work fine. Cut slowly and be sure to hold the knife at a 90-degree angle to keep the edges straight.

Pro-tip: the longer the knife blade the better when it comes to cutting a mattress

Chances are, your mattress is not going to be taller than the knife blade when it comes to a van. If your blade does not cut all the way through however, flip your mattress over after the first cut, re-measure on the back side and cut again.

The video below demonstrates cutting through a foam mattress. This is quite a bit thicker than you will probably have but the process is the same.

What about Fiberglass?

Some foam mattresses come with a layer of fiberglass insulation meant to act as a fire retardant. When you cut into the mattress you may see this come off as tiny, shiny fibers. To keep the fibers contained (and off your skin) we recommend covering your freshly cut mattress with a waterproof mattress protector.

What Are Some Good Mattress Choices For VanLife?

Choose a mattress based on your available space and comfort level. We like the gel-infused memory foam because they are slim, breathable and easy to cut. Listed below are a few popular size options.

Mattress SizeMattress TypeDimensions (in)Height (in)
KingModway Aveline Gel Infused Memory Foam76 x 806"
QueenModway Aveline Gel Infused Memory Foam60 x 806"
FullModway Aveline Gel Infused Memory Foam53 x 756"
TwinModway Aveline Gel Infused Memory Foam38 x 756"
Mattress SizeMattress TypeDimensions (in)Height (in)
KingLinenspa Gel Memory Foam Mattress76 x 805"
QueenLinenspa Gel Memory Foam Mattress60 x 805"
FullLinenspa Gel Memory Foam Mattress53 x 755"
TwinLinenspa Gel Memory Foam Mattress38 x 755"

Folding Mattresses for a Camper Van

Queen Size
4-inch Folding Portable Mattress
  • High-density foam
  • Washable cover
  • Twin - Queen
4-inch Folding Portable Mattress
  • Tri-fold design
  • Removable cover
  • Includes carry handles

Kate is the lead content creator for and has spent over two years living in a camper van conversion. She has traveled through 48 US states and writes about van life, camping and RV living.

This Post Has 24 Comments

  1. Excellent video and recommendation. I purchased a cheapier 4″ latex mattress as an emergency bed at home. I made a wooden frame and attached the mattress. It is ideal for sleeping, but sags too much for sitting. I trust that the memory foam mattress will do better.

  2. Hey guys!

    Me and my fiancé are building our very first camper van and we’re very excited. Now we’re looking into getting a memory foam mattress and cut it out for our fold out bed but we’re confused by the different reviews about fiberglass getting all over the place when removing the mattress cover. A lot of blogs like yours makes is seem so easy. Is the fiberglass really an issue or is it just scare tactics by fake accounts from competing mattress companies???

    Thank you,

    Johan and Channing

    1. I would love to know this as well! I’m reading so many reviews on Amazon right now about fiberglass in the cover and it’s making me hesitant to purchase anything until I gather more info.

      Thank you!

    2. Good question! After further research we did find that some mattresses do contain strands of fiberglass insulation. This is meant to act as a flame retardant. In this case we would recommend adding a waterproof mattress cover after you’re done cutting to keep the fibers contained. We have read about other van lifers using this solution after cutting their mattresses.

      1. How do you suppose we add a waterproof mattress cover (which are sized to standard mattress sizes) to a custom cut mattress?

      1. What’s a “half twin”? Do you mean a single?

        Are you calling the people who made the website you’re reading and getting information from “morons”? I think that’s a little rude.

      2. There is no such thing as a”half twin”. It’s either a “single” or sometimes called a “narrow” twin. The word “half” generally means the whole is decided into two equal parts. If you “halved” a conventional twin mattress, it would 19.5 inches wide, or 37.5 inches long. That’s about enough space for a crib or a dog bed. Singles are generally 28″ or 30″ by 72″ or 74″, narrow twins are usually 30 by 75.

  3. I cut a mattress with a fiberglass cover on it. It wasn’t too big a deal.

    I took the mattress out to the driveway, took off the outer cover, and saw a fiberglass sock was sewn on underneath. (When the mattress is new, it’s not frayed and shedding fibers at all.) I picked a short end of the mattress, and ran a long piece of packing tape down the edge. I then cut through the tape to catch any stray fibers that might come loose during cutting. After that, I slid the sock off, threw it away, and hit the mattress with a leaf blower to get rid of any fiberglass I might have missed. Nice and clean, no problem.

    Make sure you wear a dust mask and gloves when cutting off the sock, just to be safe.

  4. Hi there!!

    My minivan will have a bench bed where the bench doubles in with and the back cushion becomes the second half of the mattress. I’m hoping for some advice regarding memory foam or just camping foam. I’m concerned when I’m using it as a bench memory foam won’t be comfortable as it will be too squishy and I’ll just sink into it. Does someone have experience using a converting bench to bed with memory foam??

  5. I’m also concerned about the fiberglass. Does anyone else have any recommendations for 5″ mattress without fiberglass?

  6. I am looking for kate moore to reply to me as my daughter has the same name and just bought a ford transit and we will be fixing it up. Would like to chat with you if you can find the time.

  7. First of all thanks for the amazing video, I guess this is the purest way to cut the mattress and use it! The only question I had that can I use a mattress that is OLD enough like 5 to 6 years old?

    1. If you don’t mind, I can answer your question. Sure you can use them – there is plenty of life left! Generally lifespan of a mattress is 8-10 years.

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