You love camping but have grown accustomed to a certain level of comfort. We get it, an RV was a clear choice. But after a few camping trips you’ve discovered this cabin on wheels wasn’t quite as comfortable as you’d hoped.
Now just hold your horses and let me stop you right there!
Before you even think of parting company with that RV let’s take a look at what’s holding you back from getting an amazing night’s sleep on your road trip adventures.
The cause of your restless nights can probably be narrowed down to one of these 2 things.
- You bought a used RV which came with a used mattress (We strongly recommend avoiding this…)
- Your original RV mattress was low quality.
After all, RV camping is somewhat of a luxury lifestyle and often times it’s true what they say, “You get what you pay for”.
But have no fear! We have the solution to both of the issues above, and it couldn’t be simpler.
You just need to learn how to select a proper mattress for your motor home.
So, without further ado let me teach you…
The 4 Steps to Picking a Great RV Mattress
- Determine the size you need and how much weight you have to spare
- Assess your necessary level of comfort
- Set a budget and find a product that fits the bill
- Read customer reviews
Let me get this out of the way first thing. Home mattresses and RV mattresses ARE NOT the same thing!
In most instances RV mattresses weigh less, are sized differently, and most importantly are often cheaper than their cousin, the household mattress.
This leads us to our first step…
Step #1 – Sizing Up Your RV Mattress
RVs come in a variety of different shapes and sizes and your mattress will need to fit within the space you’ve got.
Sounds simple, but you wouldn’t believe how often RV owners have to return mattresses that were, “Just a hair too big” or “Just a smidgen too small”.
This is an easy issue to avoid. Let’s break out our tape measures and do some comparisons.
Household Mattress Dimensions:
|Household Mattress Size||Dimensions (In inches)|
|Twin||39 x 75|
|Twin XL||39 x 80|
|Full||54 x 75|
|Queen||60 x 80|
|King||75 x 80|
|California King||72 x 84|
RV Mattress Dimensions:
|RV Mattress Size||Dimensions (In inches)|
|Three Quarter||48 x 75|
|RV Full||53 x 75|
|Short Queen||60 x 75|
|RV King||72 x 75|
The sizes listed above (Short Queen especially) are among the most popular sizes for mattresses in RVs.
And with a little bit of cross examination you will quickly notice that you lose a few inches here and there when comparing these models to our first table.
Of course, you’re entitled to your opinion here, but I assure you that you’re going to be disappointed if you go with a household mattress for your RV. Especially if you should end up needing something a little more “specialty”.
Bunk beds for example can be a real adjustment if you’re accustomed to stacking up twin mattresses (39 x 75 inches).
Here are some common RV bunk mattress sizes:
- 28” by 75”
- 30” by 75”
- 30” by 80”
- 34” by 75”
- 35” by 79”
- 38” by 80”
- 42” by 80”
With so many great RV companies offering models with bunkbeds you can see there is a wide variety of sizes. In any case you’re out of luck with your household twin size…
Always, always, ALWAYS break out your tape measure before buying a mattress for your motor home.
But What About Weight?
I’ll be honest, this is not as big of an issue as the size, but still worth considering when selecting a mattress for your RV.
Most RV camping mattresses weigh between 50 and 75 pounds which should have little to no affect on your total weight whether you’re dealing with a tow behind or a full-sized RV.
However, if you’re about to max out the recommended GTWR (gross trailer weight rating) then you probably want to factor this in and shop light.
This is true of everything you buy for your new RV.
Here’s a video to help you understand tow rating / towing capacity a little bit better:
At any rate, buying an RV mattress over a household one could save you about 25 precious pounds for… A little extra food? Some age appropriate beverages? Your state quarter collection? That telescope you always dreamed of owning?
Not a huge deal, but why waste precious cargo space when you don’t have to?
Step #2 – Assess Your Comfort Needs
You’re uncomfortable in your RV and you know the mattress is to blame… but why?
Let’s talk about that.
Here are some common reasons RV owners look for new mattresses:
- The mattress is too hard (or soft).
- The mattress sleeps too hot (or too cold).
- They have a low-quality mattress
- Their mattress is damaged
If you can identify one of these issues and get to the bottom of your discomfort, you’re well on the way to a great night’s sleep in your RV for years to come.
Types of RV Mattresses for Comfort
Just like conventional mattresses, there are a wide variety of different RV mattress styles.
Here are a few popular mattress types for your motor home:
Foam RV Mattresses
Memory foam, polyfoam, petroleum-based foam. These mattresses go by various names, but the bottom line is that the foam RV camping mattress is a fan favorite.
If you’re looking for a soft mattress, this is probably the type of mattress that you’ll want to shop for.
Memory foam mattresses are affordable as well, which oftentimes makes them a no brainer for comfortable RV camping.
Pro Tip #1 – Not all foam mattresses are ultra, mega, way too soft. They make firmer models as well.
Pro Tip #2 – Thicker foam mattresses seem to last and hold their shape longer than thinner ones.
All things considered, we strongly recommend the DynastyMattress 10-inch CoolBreeze Gel Memory Foam Mattress for RV camping.
Innerspring RV Mattresses
Maybe you want just a little more stability than a foam mattress offers?
Not a rock… but not a cloud… somewhere in the middle.
Welcome to innerspring my friend.
What I’m actually going to recommend here is a hybrid to give you the best of both worlds. We’ll look at the 11.4-inch pillow top pocket spring hybrid by Jacia House.
This hybrid mattress combines the classic support of an innerspring with the padded comfort of memory foam.
What this means is even as your mattress starts to age you won’t feel those awful springs stabbing you in the back… and the neck… and your hips…
An innerspring hybrid tends to be what my wife and I prefer when picking a mattress for our RV.
Note – If you still want to go with an old-fashioned innerspring, we recommend Parkland Mattresses’ “The Explorer”. It’s got a 4.5 rating after over 100 reviews and comes in whatever size you might need.
Inflatable RV Mattresses
This is an option and though I can’t say I understand why, quite a few are sold each year.
For kids? As an emergency backup? No other option? Sure, an air mattress can be an option in those cases, but you’re not going to get the most out of your motor home experience sleeping on a blow-up mattress every night. Period.
They come in a variety of shapes and sizes and though you may have to run the pump now and then to maintain the level of firmness you want, they’re still as comfortable as any blow-up mattress on the market. Not to mention, they are relatively affordable when compared to a more serious mattress.
Other RV Mattress Types
When you boil it down any RV mattress you find is going to be a variation of one of the styles mentioned above.
Mattress stores will try to woo you with fancy lingo and chemicals you’ve never heard of that, “Make all the difference”, but at the end of the day you have:
- Foam RV Mattresses – Soft
- Innerspring RV Mattresses – Firm
- Hybrid RV Mattresses – “Just Right”
- And RV Air Mattresses…
Step #3 – Setting Your Budget
Like I said in the intro, “You get what you pay for”.
But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t affordable options out there! Figure out your needs, your space, and how comfy you hope to be. Then set your budget from there.
There are RV mattresses to fit any budget.
For those of you looking to save some money I have an excellent alternative in Memory foam RV mattress toppers.
This is not the best option on the table, and I won’t tell you it is, but on a tight budget, it’s the spoon full of sugar that helps the medicine go down.
Here’s a topper I would recommend to anyone thinking to go this route.
The Zinus Green Tea RV Mattress Topper comes in a variety of densities and prices.
- 5 Inch Topper – $34.99
- 3 Inch Topper – $58.99
- 4 Inch Topper – $85.99
*Short Queen size used for the pricing details above.
Pro Tip #1 – If worst comes to worst and money is tight 2 of the 3-inch toppers will stack up into a halfway decent mattress to get you through till next summer.
Pro Tip #2 – Try to avoid ultra-cheap “egg crate” foam toppers. They won’t be worth your money.
Step #4 – Actually Read RV Mattress Reviews
In this article, I’ve referred you to several different mattresses to outfit your motor home for comfort. These are mattresses that I actually believe in and would use myself.
But don’t just take my word for it!
Before you add that new mattress to your cart see what people are saying about it and how their reviews match up with the bad experience you had with your last RV mattress.
If your old mattress slept too hot for you and over 50% of reviewers are saying that the mattress your looking to get sleeps too hot for them, it IS NOT the one for you.
Reviews exist for a reason. No matter how many stars the product has or how smoking the deal is you need to keep looking. (Feel free to use that tip for all online shopping).
Now You Know How to Pick the Best RV Mattress
A round of applause for you if you made it this far!
You’ve learned just about everything there is to know about RV mattresses for camping and how to pick one to meet your needs.
Now you’re ready to get that brand-new mattress, hit the open road, and enjoy your little slice of the American Dream.