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How To Plan Your Soft Surfaces In A Small Van

Van life is a combination of function and comfort. Living within a small confined space is something that takes many adjustments to say the least. You will find that one the most valuable things you can do within your small space is to create a place where you can comfortably rest.


Especially in smaller vans where you are unable to stand, a comfortable space to sit and work as well as sleep at night can improve you quality of life during travel and stay in your rig.


But where do you begin??

Finding a floor plan that works best for your needs should be the first thing you do when thinking of your comfort and function. The two most common options are a fixed bed or a rock and roll bed which allows you to convert your space daily from couch mode to bed mode. While each have their advantages and disadvantages this is a completely personal choice that you must first make in regards to finding your happy medium within your small space.


Once you have selected your option for bed placement then it really comes down to the soft surfaces you will be adding to the van. Soft surfaces might include pillows, mattresses or comforters.


If utilizing the Rock and Roll style bed you will need a mattress which can offer a tri-fold surface or a traditional seat surface. With a fixed bed you will have a more traditional style mattress.


The level of firmness should be assessed on your own needs. For example, if you suffer from back issues you might consider a more firm mattress instead of a more fluffy one. Are you considering memory foam or are you looking into gel? Air beds are also an option, however will you be able to maintain optimum conditions depending on the climate you will be traveling to most frequently?



Another factor is how large your bed will actually be. Based on these measurements you might be able to purchase a mattress already to the correct specs or may find yourself having to cut through the mattress to resize it for the perfect fit.


There really is no wrong answer to this step, it is about personal comfort. And while this can be a more costly step in your van build it can also add the most overall value as you are able to rest comfortably in your small space.


Remember a good night sleep sets the tone for how your day begins and ends. If you are already in a smaller space this value is amplified even further.


Upon selecting your mattress now it is time to add the touches which make your selection make sense. Materials such as silk and satin might feel nice on the body, but they are not ideal for van life. Instead you should look more toward microfibers and cotton/synthetics which breathe better and are more durable.


Consider the weather once again you will be traveling in most. If you know there will be a larger chance of cold nights on the road, consider flannel to keep in the warmth. For more warm climates less is more in way of weight and fabric so look at more breathable materials.


Consider your comforter or blanket with the same regard for weather. If you know you will be in sub zero conditions factor in a 0 degree sleeping bag layer to your bedding or consider a heating blanket which can run off of your power source for short periods.


The materials you will want to focus on when ti comes to blankets or comforters are wool, cotton, down or synthetic. Wool is great during cold nights but can also work well during warm weather. Cotton is lightweight and easy to clean and can be a valid option for year round travel. Down is a very warm option, great for those who want to keep bedding to a minimal but keep warmth at maximum. Synthetics are typically moisture wicking which can be a big bonus if you have a condensation problem in your van or often find yourself suffering from night sweats.

My tip for soft surfaces is always to go with what feels best to you when it comes to touch. If you have something that feels soft and cozy you are more apt to get a better night sleep than if you are not as comfortable in the materials.


When it comes to pillows again think of comfort, however look into moisture wicking and hypoallergenic materials. These are going to work best while traveling through various stages of weather and also are less likely to collect road dust when your doors are open. This will keep you breathing a lot easier on your van adventures.


One thing which often goes overlooked when it comes to rest is just how much the pillow can have an impact on your quality of sleep for these reasons. Being able to keep cool, dry, properly elevated and free of debris and dander a pillow can add value to your soft surfaces which is untouched by other factors. Skimping on a pillow is just as bad as picking the wrong mattress.


Remember no two people will have the exact same winning combination for selection. We each are different and have needs which vary from location to location, person to person and van to van. Keep in mind that you might find yourself alternating bedding as you travel into new places that are cooler or warmer. The one constant amongst van life is that nothing stays the same, from our views to our builds, we always are in constant evolution. However, getting your first steps to finding your comfort can make this evolution more fun and comfortable along the way!!





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