A Class B RV is small inside and offers limited space for premium furniture layouts. Because of this, many van floorplans make use of a bed that folds away or converts into another useful area such as a couch, dining area, or another type of sitting area when the bed is not in use. The idea is to save space or to be able to use that space for something else rather than it being wasted by a bed that isn’t being used.
The problem with this, however, is that it is an inconvenience for you to pack away your bedding after you have slept for the night and then store the bedding somewhere so that the bed platform can be converted to the secondary piece of equipment. This is an inconvenience that you don’t have with a fixed bed. Unlike a convertible bed, a fixed one provides you with a place to sleep and it stays that way. It does not allow you to convert it into anything else. The good thing about this is that you don’t have to worry about setting up the bed each day or storing the bed coverings and then re-covering the bed when it’s time to use.
Some may argue that making the bed is just as much trouble on a fixed bed as it would be to put the bed covers away on a convertible one. However, I have to disagree with this having traveled with both types in the past. My personal preference leans towards a fixed bed because I like the convenience of it always being ready to lay down on without having to convert it from another position.
Motorhome Fixed Bed or Not?
This is a preference that will be different for everyone and each person will have their own reasoning. For the most part, a motorhome with a fixed bed will be more convenient for those looking to have their bedding area set up and ready to go at all times.
A bed that is not fixed, however, is great for those who want to utilize every square inch of their living space and are not concerned with the extra work involved in the constant tear down and setup of their bed.
Since these RVs are larger and have more space to work with, a fixed bed is usually the best option for creating a comfortable and convenient place to sleep. The bed is always fixed and set up but there is usually a good amount of storage space underneath. Besides that, larger RVs generally have a separate bedroom area where the bed stays fixed at all times.
The only exception is a spare bed that may be located elsewhere within the RV. Oftentimes, a dinette converts into an extra bed so that a visitor can stay the night and have space to sleep. If you have children traveling with you, they are likely the ones who will be using it and the setup and teardown could become a daily chore if that is the case. That’s just something you’ll have to live with if you expect to travel with a family.
A camper van, on the other hand, is not as well-equipped as far as space goes to allow for a fixed bed to be set up at all times. When you factor in the size of a queen or king bed, you will be using a lot of valuable space inside the van if you choose a fixed option. For small vans, it makes sense to have some type of convertible bed that can easily stow away or convert into something else when not using it for sleep.
In larger vans, you can easily get away with having a fixed bed and this makes the whole process more convenient in some cases. Having a fixed bed allows you to have a lot of storage underneath that bed so it’s not a total loss when you are not using the bed.
As for my camper van, my pull-out fridge is located underneath my fixed bed as well as all my garage storage. This space gets used quite well and I’m not sure where I would put all the stuff I carry if I didn’t have this space available. I’m not sure I would do it any other way assuming I was starting over with the same size van.
If I was going to use a smaller van such as a 144″ Sprinter, I may consider using a layout where the bed converts into a dining area in the rear of the van.
Pros of a Fixed Bed
1) It’s Always Ready
With a fixed bed, it’s always ready for you to crash on it and go to sleep without the worry of having to convert from couch to bed or vice versa. Unlike a non-fixed bed, you have to spend time putting it together. For those who are involved in outdoor activities or other adventures, putting your bed together is not something you want to be doing after a long hike or other strenuous activity. It’s nice to have everything ready to go at all times.
2) It’s More Convenient
It’s more convenient to always have the bed set up. The bed in my camper van is somewhat of a catchall area when not used for sleeping. You can often find clothes and other odd accessories on my bed and wedged in between pillows when I travel. It’s an easy place to keep items from sliding and moving all over the place.
3) It’s Easier To Build
If you are building your own camper van, having a fixed bed will be much easier to build. A bed that converts into something else will take more planning and execution to pull it off and make it work as it should. A fixed bed, on the other hand, only needs to mount to some supports and stay sturdy enough for regular use. In this case, there isn’t much to think about when building it.
4) One Continuous Comfortable Mattress
If you have a bed that converts to something else, chances are the cushions will serve multiple purposes. These cushions will need to be fitted together to form the mattress which will cause uncomfortable areas that may be felt when lying down. This is not as comfortable as sleeping on a comfortable mattress that serves one purpose. You can make it more comfortable by adding a mattress topper or thick blanket but this is just more stuff that will be packed into your van.
Cons of a Fixed Bed
It Takes Up a Lot of Space
Perhaps the only negative of a fixed bed is that it takes up a lot of space in an RV that doesn’t have a lot of space to spare. Many people have a queen-size or larger bed inside their van. These are quite large and take up a lot of space in the living area. As mentioned above, space underneath the bed is often utilized so nothing goes to waste.
Keep in mind that if your bed is always set up, it is going to take up that amount of space all the time. If you are looking for a lot of walking around room, a van with a fixed bed will not provide as much as one that folds away. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether you are willing to take up a certain amount of space for the convenience of having a bed that is always set up.
Tall People May Suffer
Class B RVs that have fixed beds often require you to sleep sideways in the van. This doesn’t offer a lot of room and may be a no-go for those who are taller than around 6 feet. I’m around 5′ 10″ and I have a couple of inches to spare on each side of mine. I’m fine with my bed and the space it provides but this is something to consider if you are taller.
A convertible bed may offer more space depending on which way it is situated within the van.
Examples of Vans With Fixed Beds
1) Custom Ram Promaster Van
For my van, I used a full-size bed frame that I built and it contains a full-sized mattress that measures 54″ x 75″. This bed is always set up and I don’t need to do anything other than pull the covers down, hop in, and go to sleep. When I awake in the morning, I just pull the covers back up as neatly as I want them and I’m done.
The good thing about my setup is that I have a comfortable mattress that doesn’t have uncomfortable areas where cushions have butted up against each other. Instead, it is one solid piece that is comfortable no matter how I stretch out on it.
Most all Class B RVs that have a fixed bed has it located in the rear of the rig. This makes a great area for it and it is often combined with a storage area underneath. I modeled mine after some of the popular ones on the market as well as from other van lifers who have built them before me.
2) Roadtrek Simplicity SRT
The Simplicity SRT has a comfortable fixed queen bed that also doubles as a place with storage. Underneath the bed, you’ll find additional storage so that you can neaten your space up. The bed works great for those who aren’t too tall. A person that is taller than about 5′ 10″ may find that there isn’t enough room on this one.
3) Coachmen Galleria 24A
The Galleria 24A has a fixed bed but it’s a little different from what you might usually find. Rather than one large mattress, it contains two separate sleeping sections that each have a power incline. This allows you to lounge upright in the bed in a comfortable position before going to sleep for the night.
The bed platform itself is fixed and doesn’t move or convert into another piece of furniture. It also has storage that can be accessed from the top of the bed. This area serves as a great lounging, sleeping, and storage area all in one.
Examples of Vans With Non-Fixed Beds
Non-fixed beds probably make the most sense in a small space such as what a Class B offers. However, in my opinion, it shouldn’t be complicated to convert and it should take a minimal amount of time. Otherwise, it becomes a hassle and defeats the purpose of making for a better experience. The following vans have beds that convert but are not overly complicated to work with.
1) Sportsmobile Classic
The Sportsmobile Class has a simple bench seat that converts easily into a bed. It only takes a few seconds to turn the bench into a flat area where a couple of people can sleep lengthwise. If I were to build a convertible bed, this is the way I would want it. I love how simple and quick it converts. You have a comfortable bench to sit on during the day and a comfortable bed to sleep on at night. This van also has an upstairs bed to make use of if you are in an area where you can raise the pop-up roof.
2) Winnebago Solis
The Solis has a dining area in the rear of the van that converts into a bed. It’s also very simple to convert since the bed frame folds up against the wall. The cushions remain on the bed when folded and are there as you pull it down. Add some warm covers and pillows and it makes a nice comfortable bed.
3) Roadtrek Zion
Similar to the Winnebago Solis above, the Zion has a dining area in the rear that turns into a large bed. The rear benches flatten out on each side in order to create this bed. I’m not sure how comfortable this bed is since I prefer one solid mattress but it does give you a nice roomy place to lay down.
A fixed bed in a Class B RV can be great for some people but others may prefer more space. Many people couldn’t be bothered with the chore of having to convert a bed constantly. It just adds more work to your trip. If you have a simple-to-convert one, such as the Sportsmobile classic above, this makes the job much easier. However, it still may require some work to get the covers properly fitted each time.
It comes down to what you are looking for in a bed. If you want more space then a bed that is not fixed will allow you to get that part of the living space out of the way when not using it. This will free up a section of your van to be able to move more freely or utilize it for another type of feature.
If you have a decent-sized van, having a fixed bed will certainly be more convenient and allow you to enjoy your trip rather than fiddling around with tearing down and setting up beds all the time.
This area of a camper van is debated nearly as much as having a bathroom and shower in a van is. Some people want a fixed bed and some would rather have a space that serves multiple purposes. Take a look at both types and decide on what works best for you and your layout and your needs. After all, you are the one who is going to be using it and other people’s opinions of this type of setup won’t matter once you hit the road.