Van Build | Bed

A quick google search will provide you with more than enough bedding options. The choice is yours to come up with the most practical design to suit your needs.

Being tall when it comes to the so-called ‘Van Life’ proves to have a few problems. At just a maximum of 174cm, we can sleep sideways in comfort. Not to rub it at all! Here’s where our bubble popping game comes into play. Remember as a kid, how much fun you had popping bubble wrap? Turns out the novelty doesn’t die as you get older. For those who have no idea what I’m referring to, our upper walls are essentially insulated with bubble wrap.

The style we went for was a platform bed to maximise storage and leisure space. Originally, this plan was made so we could fit the bikes under the bed. But with a low roof, there wouldn’t have been enough room for activities… so we scratched that, lowered the bed to 72cm elevation, and used the space under for storage instead.

Dylan Laying on bed frame


We went about installing a little differently. Instead of making a bed frame, which takes up well sought after storage space, we attached the platform to the walls… a bit worrying we know. To achieve this, we first cut steel angles to 140cm (width of a double bed) and bolted them onto the walls, using insertion rubber as padding between the two steel surfaces.

Cutting the steel angle for bed platform
Candace sitting next to mounted steel angle for bed


Secondly, we had to build the platforms. The one rule we made was to make the bed removable, after all this is a cargo van right? To accomplish this, we cut 6 lengths of aluminum tube and attached them widthways to boards of plywood. The aluminum tubes are the supports that sit on top of the steel angles and provide the strength of the platform. Meanwhile, the boards were cut to a neat fit up against the walls, not allowing any movement. As an afterthought, the platform was made into three pieces (two bars to one piece of wood) to accommodate an easier process of lifting in and out.

Testing out bed theory

First test of the theory, not worried at all…!

One completed bed platform


Finally, the mattress. We don’t know about you, but we love our sleep! Especially since our trips generally have some sort of intense exercise involved. So we came to the conclusion that we did not want to cheap out on a mattress. However, you also have the problem of needing it custom-sized. What do you do?

After laying on some foam mattresses we weren’t very optimistic, but then we tried the deluxe memory foam at Clark Rubber and can honestly say it’s as good as our bed at home! The best part is they are easily cut to size and the deluxe comes with a washable liner… am I starting to sound a bit like a salesman? While this wasn’t the cheapest option (coming in at $400) it turned out to be money well spent.

The idea of having two people sleeping on such a mounting system was a bit worrying. But to our surprise, the bed barely flexes. This either shows that we are really fit or the supports are strong enough to hold two adults. We’ll leave that for you to decide.

Making the bed removable already served its purpose, perhaps for the first and last time. We removed it to add permanent shelving underneath as we got sick of playing Tetris every time we wanted to go away!

New shelve installed under the bed

In conclusion, this installation was fairly straight forward with the only difficult part being cutting the wooden platform to the perfect size. Why can’t they just design vans to be symmetrical?

It took us two days to complete, although if we had of pulled our finger out, one day would have been more than enough.

Equipment used:

  • 40 x 40 steel angle
  • 25 x 25 aluminium tube
  • 15mm plywood
  • Insertion rubber
  • 10mm nuts and bolts
  • Self-drilling screw

Tools used:

  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Hack saw
  • Files
  • Socket set
  • Spanner
  • Tape measure
  • Stanley knife

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