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Why a Fixed Camper Van Bed Sucks!

Ahh…the age-old debate on whether the convenience of a fixed campervan bed beats out the utility of a convertible bed.

Fixed bed vs. convertible bed. Which is better?

In our article, we’re here to tell you not to think further. We believe this isn’t a debate and a convertible campervan bed wins hands down.

We will discuss EIGHT reasons why we think convertible beds are the way to go. Convertible beds also have several vital cons, which we will discuss at the end.

What Is a “Convertible Bed”?

A convertible campervan bed is a bed that can be folded away during the day. Most convertible beds become sofas or benches in a campervan during the daytime.

Inside a camper van looking out the back doors. Parked on BLM land
Our multi-purpose sleeping, dining, and social space

And at night, these sofas/benches can be converted into a bed.

In our van, during the day, we have a dining table and a U-bench formation around this table. We eat, and we work in the back half of our van. At night, we place the tabletop in the middle of the U-bench to create a full-sized bed.

1. Convertible Beds Are More Space Efficient

A woman sitting inside a camper van looking outside with the back doors open
Taking it easy on a rough day

Though we live in a van, we would like to have several creature comforts from home. This includes:

  • 1. A Kitchen
  • 2. A Bedroom
  • 3. And A Dining/Working/Socializing Space

And how can you reasonably fit these three very different spaces in an interior space of ~90 sq. ft. (8.4 sq. m)? You’ll have to make sacrifices if you try to build three distinct “rooms” in such a small area.

We didn’t want to have to make meals in a tiny, cramped kitchen. And we didn’t want to squeeze around a small dinette table to eat our meals and work. We also wanted to have people over in our van and socialize, just like if we were to have a regular-sized house.

We wanted everything in our space-limited campervan!

A woman working on a laptop in her Ford Transit camper van
Yuko working in our camper
Woman laying down inside a camper van
Laying on my white blanket worry-free from leaks!

And having a convertible bed can give you everything you want. At night, you can have a full-size bed space for comfortable sleeping, and during the day, the bed converts to a comfortable space for eating, working, socializing, or simply hanging out.

Having a convertible bed allows the back half of our van to have dual purposes. It’s space-efficient and a smart choice.

Of course, while having a fixed bed and still having a large kitchen and living space is possible, it requires having to drive a larger & heavier vehicle. And that is something we 100% do not want to do.

With our <20ft (<6m) campervan, we can park almost anywhere we want and have navigated some of Mexico’s narrowest roads with relative ease.

Also Read: We Don’t Carry RV Toilet, Here Is Why

2. Have a Proper Sit-Down Meal

We love having proper sit-down meals on our full-size dining table.

We lay out our placemats, bowls, plates, cups, and silverware. And if we want to watch a movie while we eat, our table can also easily accommodate a laptop.

Eric and Yuko eating lunch inside their camper van
Having fun just before starting lunch!

We could probably eke out a small dining area with a compact table and two small bench chairs if we had a fixed bed.

And for some, that would be perfectly OK.

But we feel that for long-term van living and traveling, we enjoy and prefer having a full-sized dining area to place our dishes, drinks, cutlery, and condiments.

Read More: Campervan Kitchen Essentials

3. In-Door Social Gatherings Is Easier

Five people sitting inside a Ford Transit camper van eating dinner
Socializing with friends over dinner

When the moment calls for it, we enjoy hosting game nights or just tea and conversation in our living space.

Our current record is six people crammed around our table for dinner and an epic round of Settlers of Catan.

One of the best aspects of van life is meeting everyone you come across during your travels.

And yes, we enjoy spending time outside with our friends, too. But hosting friends in our van is a special time to hang out over drinks and have great conversations.

4. Rainy Days Are Comfortable

If we’re being honest here, not every van life day is awesome.

Sometimes, it’s flat-out terrible outside where it’s rainy, sub-zero temperatures, gusty sand storms, or pitch dark and cold.

During these times, we especially enjoy our full-sized living room space.

During bad days, we’ll have sushi and movie nights or lounge around with a book.

Either way, having a space to hang out when the weather is bad that isn’t directly on our beds is essential and helps make our van even more like home.

Also Read: How To Design Your Campervan Floor Plan With No Experience

5. Laying in Bed Becomes a Reward

Boy reading next to a reading light on the bed, inside a Ford Transit camper van

To continue from point #4, after you’ve been hanging out in your living area, it feels amazing to set up the bed and lay in it.

Because we haven’t been lying on the bed during the day, being on the bed at night feels like a fresh and new experience.

It’s like being in a completely different room that you haven’t entered since the previous 12 hours.

We’ve found that this helps us sleep better at night, too.

6. Mold-Free Mattresses

In Japan, those who sleep on futons on the floor religiously store them away in a closet once they wake up.

They do this for space efficiency and to let their futon breathe to prevent mold growth underneath.

Mattresses need to be aired out—especially the underside.

We’ve met other van life travelers with fixed beds who discovered mold growing under the mattresses!

We understand some mattress liners can improve airflow under the bed, but we choose to skip all that with our setup.

Because we disassemble our bed daily, our mattress cushions get regularly aired out and kept dry.

7. Convertible Beds Keep Your Bed Clean and Uncluttered

Woman laying on the bed inside a camper van looking out the back doors towards a river and trees

In our humble opinion, beds are for sleeping!

Beds aren’t for throwing our stuff on.

They aren’t for eating our food and spilling crumbs on.

And they certainly aren’t for sitting on with our outdoor clothes.

So when we take our bedding out and make our bed every evening, we ensure our bed is clean and clutter-free for sleeping.

Few things in our van feel as good as jumping onto a clean bed at night (with our sleeping clothes, of course).

8. More Configurations for Your IG Account

Lastly, and for some people, possibly not the least, having a van with multiple configurations gives your van different looks for your Instagram shots.

Woman living van life - Thinking About The Best Vans For Van Life

You can shoot only so many angles for your social media account in a van. But having a convertible dining & sleeping area helps bring a little more variety to those shots!

Cons of Convertible Campervan Beds

But having a convertible campervan bed isn’t without its issues. There are compromises for all of life’s choices. We’ve identified three cons with our decision to install a convertible bed.

Where To Put the Bedding?

With the bed put away during the day, you’ll have to find space to store your blanket, pillows, and sheets. And these are pretty bulky items.

We actually pack our bedding into vacuum-sealed bags and squeeze all the air out so they shrink in volume.

Sometimes, We’re Just Lazy and Tired!

Assembling our bed at night takes roughly 7-10 minutes—every day. And sometimes, we don’t feel like going through the hassle of making the bed. But we’re forced to unless we want to sleep on our benches.

We actually did sleep all night on our benches once and regret it the following day.

Less Overall Storage Space

Though we have ample storage space under our benches, we would have considerably more storage if we had a fixed bed.

In fact, with a propped-up fixed bed, we’ve seen people fit mountain bikes, large water tanks, and even a surfboard.

Bringing larger, bulky items is significantly more complex with a convertible campervan bed.

Conclusion

We hope you enjoyed our article on why we think the fixed bed vs convertible bed debate is a no-brainer.

We believe installing a convertible campervan bed is the better choice.

If there are any points you think we forgot, please let us know by posting a comment below.

Happy building!

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2 Comments

    1. Congratulations! You’re officially our first comment on our blog.

      To answer your question, we purchased a 5″ king size foam mattress on Amazon and cut the foam mattress down to size with an electric turkey knife. We then found a local seamstress to sew the cushion covers. Actually, you can read more about how we made the bed in another post: https://asobolife.com/campervan-bed-and-mattress/

      Hope it helps!

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