Our bed is 42″ off the ground. We used to have the factory bench seat right in front of it, but now we’ve just got a blank space. We needed some way to get up and down from the bed platform.
The front end of our bed platform is right above the passenger bench seat. We added foam pipe insulation to the platform to protect our noggins from getting whacked.
To make it look fancy, we covered the pipe insulation in black vinyl. It’s not exactly the same color as the seat upholstery, but it looks just fine.
If you’ve come from a Westie background, you’ll be used to the benefits of a pop-top camper conversion. But back when Westfalia first converted Volkswagen vans there were no other options you could stand up in.
The high roof Sprinter has 6’3″ of headroom. If stand-up height is your only concern, a pop-top may not be a good fit for you.
Update: for 2018, only Cargo vans can be ordered with a low roof. If you order a Crew or Passenger van, it’ll be high roof. The only big issues here are how many passengers the Cargo vehicle is rated to carry (2 rather than 5+), and the lack of captive nuts in the floor for mounting a passenger bench seat.
Here are the pros and cons of the high roof van versus the low roof with a pop-top conversion.
People often refer to parking overnight in an inhabited area as “stealth camping.” Unless your Sprinter has no exterior adornments, no condensation on the window glass, local license plates, and absolutely no light showing through the window covers, it’s unlikely you’ve gone unnoticed. What’s more important is that you are not disturbed.
Our memory foam mattress was 80″ long. Our bed panel was 73″ long. Time to cut the mattress down to size.
The traditional tool for this is an electric carving knife with two reciprocating blades like a mini hedge trimmer. We don’t have one, so we clamped the foam to compress it, then sliced it with a razor blade. It worked really well, with a smooth, straight cut line.
Rather than heating the whole van overnight, it’s cheaper and easier to just heat the bed. We bought a 12v heated mattress pad to sleep on. It works really well and doesn’t use too much power.
With the platform bed in the van, it’s almost impossible to open the rear door from inside the van. We drilled a hole in just the right place to let us get out in a hurry.
There are no bedside cabinets in our van. We wanted somewhere to hold water bottles, flashlights, our phones while they charge, and so on. Adding grommets to cheap car trunk organizers solved the problem.
We started with an 80″ long bed, but it overhung the bench seat too much. Cutting it down to 73″ is still very workable and makes the bench seat comfy again.
With four bikes in the back of the van, and living space up front, there’s not much room for a bed. The only option is to mount it above the bikes using removable panels. Continue reading “Finding space for a bed in a bike hauling van”