5 Camper Van Bed Ideas for Your Next Van Build

By: Scott Adamson
/ June 11, 2020
Looking for some camper van bed inspiration?

One of the fun parts of designing your camper van layout is exploring the innovative ways you can set up your bed.

This part of the van conversion is best planned in the very early stages of your layout design. Why? Because nearly all other aspects of your vans layout will revolve around your sleeping arrangements.

The configuration of your bed will affect your:

  • Storage allowance
  • Walking/Moving space
  • Seating arrangements
  • Ability to entertain guests (or not)
  • Overall comfort

There are so many genius camper van bed hacks out there, these days. We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorites to help inspire your next van build.

Let’s jump in!

1) The Fixed Bed / Platform Bed

Fixed beds are always set up and ready to use, making them one of the most popular bed styles in the vanlife community.

Aside from the obvious advantage of being able to hop into bed at any time, the key benefit of this configuration is the storage space it allows underneath the sleeping area.

 

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(Instagram post by @nomadvanz)

 

 

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(Instagram post by @outdoor.wanderlust)

 

HappiJac Electric Bed Lift

If you’re looking for something a little more high-tech and flexible, the HappyJac electric bed lift is a very interesting solution.

It allows you to move the bed up and down to suit your needs, making it a great option for bunk beds or varying storage needs. Here’s a clip from Sara and Alex James who built an incredible van for a family of 4.

 

2) The Convertible Bed

The key to any tiny home is finding multiple uses for everything. Whether that means storing your toilet under a seat or converting your kitchen dining space into a bed at night.

Some of the key advantages of a convertible bed are:

  • You can build a comfortable workspace during the day.
  • You can have a great entertainment area for friends and family.
  • Overall more liveable space.

Some people describe the convertible bed as a hassle because it requires you to set up your bed each night.  As someone who has been living with a convertible bed for over 4 years, I can assure you that it really takes an insignificant amount of time. This obviously depends on the type of configuration and whether efficiency played a factor in the design.

There are countless ways to convert a seating and dining space into a bed. Here are a couple of our favorites.

Table to Bed

If a workspace and entertainment area is important to you, one of the best uses of space is to convert a dinette to a bed.

For a demonstration on how easy it is to set up each night, check out this van tour.

(Scott (aka yours truly) from @comeswithaview)

Sofa Pullout Bed

Another great use of space is to convert a sofa into a bed. Check out Bearfoot Theory’s (first) van tour for some inspiration.

(Video by Bearfoot Theory)

3. The Murphy Bed

If you really want to open up space in your van during the day, an interesting option is the Murphy Bed.

Here’s a great video from our friend Jarrod Tocci.

(Video by Jarrod Tocci)

4) Bunk Beds

Traveling with kids or friends and don’t feel like cozying up together? Bunk beds could be the solution for you.

 

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(Instagram post by @outsidevan)

5) Hammock (aka. the spare bedroom)

If you have “houseguests” and need a temporary spare bedroom, an inexpensive option is to install a hammock inside your van.

Some people even choose to sleep in a hammock full time!

Adding Flares

One thing to consider when designing your bed is the orientation. Will you be sleeping width-wise in the van or length-wise?

In order to save on precious living space, some vanlifers prefer to sleep width-wise. However, unless you’re a fairly short person, this might not be a comfortable option for you.

One option is to have flares installed to add space where your head and feet will go.

 

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While we love the idea of flares, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Adding flares to your van is not the most DIY friendly project, and often require a professional ($).
  2. In general, flares aren’t cheap. They run at about ~$1600+ US just for the materials.
  3. Don’t forget to include insulation thickness in your width calculations. Unless you want cold air and condensation to come in, don’t leave your flares bare.

So which bed is best for vanlife?

Now that you’ve explored some camper van bed options, it’s time to narrow down the best bed for you. You may even come up with a bed the vanlife community has never attempted before!

Just remember that while there are varying opinions on what “the best bed for vanlife” is, everyone has different priorities.

The best thing you can do to kick-off your bed design is to ask yourself these questions:

  1. How many people will be sleeping in the van?
  2. Can you comfortably sleep width-wise in the van or will you need to install the bed length-wise?
  3. Do you want to store large gear (e.g bikes) under your bed?
  4. Do you need a workspace in the van?
  5. Do you want to be able to entertain guests?

 

We hope this article has inspired you to find creative ways of using your small space. Goodnight! 💤

Scott Adamson
Wanderful Idea Guy
Coffee drinker, adventure seeker, below average photographer.
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