Fixed Bed vs. Convertible Bed?
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 any further. In fact, we think this isn’t a debate at all and a convertible campervan bed wins hands down.
We will discuss EIGHT reasons why we think convertible beds are the way to go. There are several cons with this choice as well, which we will touch on at the end.
So let’s get started!
What Do We Mean By "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 day time.
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 work in the back-half of our van. And at night, we lay the table top in the middle of the U-bench to create a full size bed.
“Fixed beds” are permanent beds 100% of the time.
1. Convertible Beds Are More Space Efficient
Though we live in a van, we would like to have several creature comforts from home. This includes:
And in an interior space of ~90 sq. ft. (8.4 sq. m), how can you reasonably fit these three very different spaces? If you try to build three distinct “rooms” in such a small area, you’ll have to make sacrifices.
We didn’t want to have to make meals in a tiny, cramped kitchen. And we didn’t want to squeeze around a tiny 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!
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 just 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 it’s possible to have a fixed bed and still have a large kitchen and living space, 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’re able to 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 place mats, bowls, plates, cups, and silverware. And if we want to watch a movie while we eat, our table can easily accommodate a laptop as well.
If we had a fixed bed, we could probably eek out a small dining area with a compact table and two small bench chairs.
And for some that would be perfectly OK.
But we feel 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
When the moment calls for it, we enjoy hosting game nights or just tea and conversation in our living space.
Our current record is 6 people crammed around our table for dinner and an epic round of Settler’s of Catan.
One of the best aspects of van life is meeting all the different people you come across during your travels.
And yes, we enjoy spending time outside with our friends, too. But hosting friends in our own van is really a special time to hangout over drinks and great conversation.
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; rain storms, sub-zero temperatures, gusty sand storms, or just simply pitch dark and cold.
It’s during these times that we especially enjoy our full-sized living room space.
During bad days, we’ll have sushi and movie nights or simply lounge around with a book.
Either way, having a space to hangout when the weather is bad that isn’t directly on our beds is important to us and helps to make our van even more like home.
5. Laying In Bed Becomes A Reward
To continue on 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 laying 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 their futons away in a closet once they wake up.
They do this for space efficiency, but also to let their futon breathe and prevent mold growth underneath.
Mattresses need to be aired out. Especially the underside.
We’ve actually met other van life travelers with fixed beds who discovered mold growing under the mattresses!
We understand there are some mattress liners that 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
In our humble opinion, beds are for sleeping!
Bed’s 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 out our bedding out and make our bed every evening, we’re ensuring 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 just gives your van different looks for your Instagram shots.
In a van, there are only so many different angles you can shoot for your social media account. But having a convertible dining & sleeping area helps bring a little more variety to those shots!
We are currently driving the Pan-American highway from Canada to Argentina. If you’re interested to follow along, give us a follow!
Negative Aspects For Convertible Campervan Beds
But of course, having a convertible campervan bed isn’t without it’s issues. There are compromises for all of life’s choices. We’ve identified 3 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 fairly 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 & Tired!
Assembling our bed at night takes roughly 7-10 minutes. Every day. And there are days we just REALLY don’t feel like going through the hassle of making the bed. But we’re forced to, unless we want to sleep just on our benches.
We actually did sleep all night on our benches once and regret it the next morning.
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.
With a convertible campervan bed, bringing along larger, bulky items is significantly harder.
Want A Photogenic Campervan? Read Full Guide!
We hope you enjoyed our article on why we think the fixed bed vs convertible bed debate ends up being a no-brainer.
We believe installing a convertible campervan bed is clearly the better choice.
If there are any points you think we forgot, please let us know! You can easily contact us through email or by filling out the form in our footer.