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Sleep system

Sleep systems1) range from the very simple (blankets on the floor) to the complicated buids (slide-outs, Murphys, etc).

Regardless of simplicity/complexity there are factors to keep in mind:

  • physical comfort – most people like to sleep on some padding
  • insulation – sleeping on a bare van floor can be very hold
  • storage – whether or not you want containers, drawers, etc to fit under your bed
  • ventilation – in order to prevent mold/mildew, bedding either needs to be able to breathe underneath2) or be “turned” manually to air out
  • the bed is likely the largest object in the van in terms of square footage, and position can be critical to the layout
  • taller people can get by with shorter beds by sleeping on a diagonal

directly on the floor

Sleeping directly on the floor on a blanket or pad can be a long-term solution for minimalists, a necessity for people with very little vertical space3), or a temporary way to get started immediately.

cot Camping cots are lightweight, highly portable and compact when stored, quick to setup, and more comfortable than many might think. In cold weather a camping pad is often added for underinsulation.

Military-style cots, where the side “stretchers” make a taut sleeping surface, are unusually comfortable. They are slightly harder to set up and take down, and do require a bit of strength to assemble.

Depending on strut and leg design, cots may be difficult to store containers underneath.


Sleeping platforms are common for vandwellers because:

  • the bed can be at any desired height (low for sitting, medium for underbed storage, high to allow space for bicycles, dog crates, etc)
  • underbed storage can be significant
  • the bed is always usuable
  • the platform can be slotted or otherwise ventilated for mold control
  • they can be built simply out of wood. 2x3s are often sufficient.

convertible bed

Convertible beds are movable in some way that maximizes usable space:

  • collapse/slide into a smaller configuration (common)
  • lift-up bed top to access storage below, as one might see in an RV
  • swing up to the wall, murphy style
  • lift up to the ceiling (less common due to complexity)

sleeping bag

A sleeping bag is the most important piece of sleeping gear. Cold-weather sleeping requires mummy bags of the correct temperature rating. Note: some bags will be labeled “zero degree” but the details reveal they mean 0 deg celsius (32F).

further reading

a term borrowed from preppers; for both groups beds are often compromises and serve multiple functions
mattress on slats, or grate
cars, minivans
rv/build/bed.txt · Last modified: 2021/07/06 11:02 by frater_secessus