Teardrop Trailer Bed Solutions

Continuing with the tiny trailer living series, today we’re going to talk about beds! (Non-teardrop people, you can scroll down to the bottom for a little update on what I’ve been up to the past week.)

In a standard RV, the bed isn’t usually something a new owner needs to think about, as just about all RVs come with a bed frame and mattress included. The mattress may not be the most comfortable, but it’s there. Some teardrop brands may come with a bed included, but many do not, leaving you to come up with your own solution.

Hiker Trailers do not come standard with a bed

The easiest solution, and the one I’ve chosen for the time being, is to simply buy a mattress for the bottom of the teardrop. Since traditional teardrops are too short to stand in you don’t need a bed frame to add height, and having a mattress without a frame gives you the most clearance inside.

It’s not uncommon for the inside of a teardrop to be a non-standard size, so just going out and buying any old mattress rarely works. Before anything else, take (or look up) measurements of your interior space. Couples will probably want a mattress that fills the entire interior of the teardrop. Singles may decide to have a smaller bed. I chose to have only half the interior of mine be a bed, so that the half facing the door is clear to be my changing room, a flat area where I can set up my Buddy heater, and more storage.

If you’re one of the many teardrop owners whose space will not fit a standard size mattress, never fear. The mattress industry is booming, and there are plenty of companies out there that make products for odd-sized spaces. In fact, there are so many that choosing the ‘best’ one can be a daunting task. My friends Kelly and Marshall of Camp Addict have a whole page dedicated to RV mattresses which you can view here. It’s also definitely worth perusing teardrop trailer owner’s groups and forums, and seeing what others who have the same type of teardrop as you do have done. Just be aware of the size of the mattress when rolled up, teardrop doors are smaller than standard doors, and you need to be able to get it inside!

Different people have different tastes, but below I’ll talk about my own thought process I went through when buying my mattress.

The interior of my Hiker Trailer is 74” long and 60” wide. The mattress I bought ended up being from Amazon by a company called Magshion. It measures 27” wide, 75” long, and 4” deep, and cost $80 at the time of purchase. I went with this one because ordering from Amazon is easy, other Hiker Trailer owners had good luck with the brand, and it had good ratings.

I specifically wanted a foam mattress because my interior space is not a perfect square. The front of my tiny trailer has a diagonal corner on the left side, and foam can be cut to fit (some of the companies reviewed in Camp Addict’s article actually let you order a custom mattress with the corners the exact shape you need them to be). Squishy foam also meant that even though the mattress was technically 1” longer than the interior space, it would fit. The fact that it’s snug means it doesn’t slide around much on travel days.

A cut corner

The most notable feature of this mattress is that it’s a trifold, which is a pretty common option chosen by teardroppers. You can fold the mattress up to double as a couch or chair during the day. Honestly, as a full-timer I rarely want to deal with the effort of making and taking apart the bed every day so I keep it as a bed all the time, but it’s nice to know I have that option if I ever need it. Plus, the trifold option does make it easier to pull it out of the teardrop for cleaning.

See the zippers? The foam slides out of the cover so it can be washed.

Reviews for this mattress pegged it as on the hard side, which was perfect to me because I enjoy harder mattresses. Those who want more comfort may desire something thicker than 4”, I decided on that depth for two reasons. First, because my mattress in the Casita was simply the 19 year-old, 4” cushions that came stock without any sort of topper – compared to that, any mattress was going to feel amazing. And second, because less height gives me more wiggle room if I decide I want to get a frame made at some point to put the mattress on top of… more about bed frames in a bit.

If you’re going the just-a-mattress route, there’s probably one more thing you’ll want. Having a mattress right up against the floor of a teardrop can be pretty cold sleeping, and the combination of your body heat on top of the mattress with cold air running under the floor, and humidity from breathing in an enclosed space causes condensation – especially when camping in wet climates. For the part-time teardropper that only sleeps in their rig a few days at a time this might not be an issue, but for full-timers or people taking a long trip in their teardrop, repeated condensation can lead to mold on the bottom of the mattress.

Pulling the bed apart on a regular basis to let the condensation evaporate is one solution (those people who make their trifold bed into a couch everyday are probably safe). The other is to prop the mattress up a bit from the floor and allow air to circulate under it (this air buffer also keeps your mattress warmer when it’s cold out).

You can get pieces of wood to use as slats under your mattress. But what I did is buy a 3/4” mat made of spun polymer that is bonded to a breathable fabric sheet. There’s a brand named version called Hypervent that is marketed to boat owners to put under their mattresses (boats have an even bigger problem with condensation than RVs do), but you can also sometimes find it in rolls at home improvement stores.

The benefits of this kind of product is you can’t feel the texture of it underneath the mattress, and it doesn’t weigh much. The cons are that it can be pricey to buy brand name (usually $10-$12 per foot), and that it comes in a 40” wide roll that you’ll probably have to cut to make the right size for your mattress. The stuff can be cut with regular scissors though if you have decent hand strength.

I recommend sizing the mat so that it’s a couple inches narrower than your mattress, as the cut edges are pretty rough and can give you scrapes. For my 27” by 74” bed, I got 4 feet, and I cut the roll in half, giving me two, 40” by 24” pieces that I laid end to end, then I cut 6” off one piece to fit in my 74” long space. There’s extra fabric on the end of the roll, so overlapping two pieces like this is quite easy. I didn’t even need tape.

Lastly, don’t put your bed up right against the wall. Leave an inch or two of space between the mattress and the wall of your teardrop so that air can get under there, otherwise the mat won’t do its job.

And finally, bed frames. When ordering a Hiker Trailer you have the option of having a bed frame put in right from the factory, other teardrop manufacturers may have that option too. If you’re a do-it-yourself type, you can also put one in yourself.

The main benefit of putting a bed frame in teardrops is to add storage underneath the bed. There is no right or wrong height, you just need to decide for yourself how much space you want underneath the bed vs. how much clearance you want above the bed. Not being a do-it-yourself person, I don’t have good advice on how to go about building a bed frame. But again, owners groups are a wealth of information, as is YouTube. There are a lot of creative ideas out there!

For a while, I considered having a bed frame put in my Hiker from the factory. In the end I decided against it because I wanted to be able to sit in bed and have a good viewing angle out my windows (I’m currently typing this while sitting cross-legged in bed), and because I didn’t need the extra storage space. Not having a bed frame bolted in place also means I can change the interior very easily if at some point down the road I decide I want a larger bed, etc.

As to what to put on top of your mattress for bedding, that’s entirely up to you. Some tiny trailer owners go the traditional route of sheets and blankets, although again you may need to order special sizes to fit an odd-sized mattress. If you don’t have a frame, the sheets will just puddle off the edges of the mattress, so you might not want them as large as you would on a house bed.

I prefer the ease of using a sleeping bag to avoid wrestling with a fitted sheet in a small space. My sleeping bag is a small and light mummy-style that I also take with me on backpacking trips. I own a few blankets that I throw on top of it depending on temperature. I’ve camped with lows in the 20’s and been comfortable without heat with this setup (in the 20’s you’ll want thermals on under your pajamas).

The brand name of my sleeping bag is Slumberjack

That concludes today’s topic. If any of you prospective tiny trailer owners have questions, ask below. And if any of you tiny trailer owners have bed ideas you’d like to share, also comment below.

Previous Teardrop Living articles:

* * *

January has always been crazy busy for me with the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous event followed immediately by the Xscapers Annual Bash, but this week I can take a break from non-stop activities to catch up on work and sleep. Thanks everyone who came out to see me, and I hope those of you who attended my work-camping seminar at the RTR or my beginner’s poi workshop at the AB enjoyed them. I probably won’t be doing a full write-up on those events this year as I have talked about them extensively in past years, plus I have so much other stuff to talk about with Costa Rica now less than three weeks away (eeep!).

RTR and the Annual Bash, 2019

In other news, this week marks my four month anniversary of living in the Hiker Trailer! I have no regrets about switching and am enjoying Tribble immensely. I love the simplicity, travel days are a breeze, and the space is so cozy. No it’s not perfect, no rig is perfect, but I’m enjoying the challenges and looking forward to many more adventures in my tiny trailer.

Thank you Patreon supporters and PayPal donators!

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Becky

At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.

20 Comments

  1. Caroline on January 26, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    Becky, I enjoy your site and loved your very helpful talk at the RTR. When you get a chance… I’d love to hear what you are doing about solar/electric in the squaredrop. (I hope I haven’t missed it.) Did you bring your Renogy panel? What about batteries? I saw your post on bathroom/showering but the benefit of your experience with water management while boondocking would be helpful, too. (In my experience, when car camping, stays are inherently limited unless there is an on-site source. But I keep hoping there is a magical way around this.) Thanks for your insight and inspiration!



  2. Mike Scherer on January 25, 2019 at 10:24 am

    Becky,
    Thanks for sharing your initial experiences with your Hiker trailer. I ordered the 5′ x 8′ Highway Deluxe back in July and should pick it up sometime last month. As a part-time tent camper, I’m looking forward to the luxury of sleeping indoors. However, I have to admit I was second-guessing my decision to purchase the Hiker but your posts have eased those doubts. Thanks for sharing.
    Mike



    • Becky on January 25, 2019 at 11:47 am

      You’re welcome Mike. Hiker Trailers are well built and easy to tow. I hope you enjoy yours as much as I’m enjoying mine. 🙂



  3. Tom Kepler on January 23, 2019 at 10:30 am

    The idea of the spun polymer was a good one. I was wondering about the possibility of condensation. My RTTC Polar Bear has a raised bed, so my wife and I avoid that problem. We removed the cumbersome stock sleeping pad (all one piece) and bought 5-inch latex foam, which was cut into a large piece and three small pieces. The large piece stays permanently at the back of the bed, the three small pieces fit the table/seat area that we fold down. Pretty traditional, like the old Terry trailer my parents had. We also bought a wool mat covering from a cottage industry artisan that covers the entire mattress. We fold it back when setting up the table, toss the middle (table-covering space) pillow to the rear of the trailer, and use the other two pillow/mattress pads for the table benches. Works well.
    Tom Kepler recently posted..Why Choose a Teardrop or Tiny Trailer?My Profile



    • Becky on January 23, 2019 at 11:26 am

      Thanks for sharing your bed setup Tom.



  4. Tom on January 23, 2019 at 10:14 am

    Apologies if you have already explained this somewhere, but can you stand up in the teardrop? If not, is it a pita that it isn’t a full height trailer? I know there are many advantages, but I don’t think I would like not being able to stand inside. Thank you!



    • Becky on January 23, 2019 at 11:25 am

      I’ve said in multiple posts before (and on the rig page) that my Hiker isn’t tall enough to stand up in. 😉 It doesn’t bother me because I spend so much time outside and am flexible enough to not need to stand to change clothes and do other indoor tasks. You’re absolutely right though that tiny trailers aren’t for everyone!



  5. Rena on January 23, 2019 at 9:26 am

    My TD came with a 2 piece 4” mattress. For 3 years I had it as a queen size bed with a memory foam topper. Now that I am FT, I changed the configuration to a twin with the 2 mattresses stacked. I use a deep twin fitted sheet with elastic and clips to hold it firm. A folded fleece on top and a zero degree sleeping bag finishes my bed. Like you I have the other side for storage. It works well.

    It was great meeting you at the RTR!



    • Becky on January 23, 2019 at 11:19 am

      Thanks for sharing your bed setup Rena! And it was great meeting you too. 🙂



  6. Rhonda on January 23, 2019 at 7:56 am

    Enjoyed this great article about bed set-ups in tiny campers. I’ve gone through four mini travel trailers and each bed/mattress arrangement/size was different from the next. Your Hiker looks like a sweet little home and it’s nice to hear you are enjoying the cozy space. I LOVE tiny campers! Hope you have a marvelous time in Costa Rica! 🙂



    • Becky on January 23, 2019 at 11:18 am

      Thanks Rhonda and I’m glad you found this helpful! Tiny campers unite!



  7. Paula Frazee on January 23, 2019 at 1:09 am

    I am learning a lot from your “downsizing” from the Casita. We have traveled and camped for years in a standard length Ford Econoline van and have upsized to a longer and taller Dodge Rampro Van in preparation for retirement – and more time travelling! What we have in common is evaluating our space and how we live in it and organize it. And with any vehicle/trailor – you don’t know for sure until you HAVE lived in it. It is really helpful to read about the experiences of others who love traveling as much as we do – happy travels!



    • Becky on January 23, 2019 at 11:14 am

      I’m glad to hear that you’re enjoying my posts Paula. Happy travels to you as well, enjoy your Rampro!



  8. Ava on January 22, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    I would love to have attended RTR but it just didn’t fit in my schedule. I’ve only had my trailer since last summer and I know I would have learned so much. And it would have been fun to meet you!
    Ava recently posted..Museums of Harlingen: Early Rio Grande Valley to WWIIMy Profile



    • Becky on January 23, 2019 at 11:13 am

      There’s always next year Ava! It is worth attending.



  9. Pat Voeks on January 22, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    I’m picking up a teardrop in two weeks and will be living in it full time this Spring. I’m starting out working as a campground host in Ohio working 3 days a week. The job lasts through October and will play it by ear what I will be doing after that.
    Taking the teardrop for a couple week run to Florida in February.
    I’m looking forward to living outside and at the very least it should be interesting.



    • Becky on January 23, 2019 at 11:11 am

      Sounds like fun Pat! If you enjoy spending a lot of time outdoors, you’ll enjoy teardrop living. 🙂



  10. Diane Ely on January 22, 2019 at 6:16 pm

    What a perfectly composed photo of Tribble in the desert, with the cactus king in the background!



    • Becky on January 23, 2019 at 11:06 am

      Thanks Diane! That photo is from Darby Wells Road near Ajo, AZ. A beautiful boondocking area.



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