Can I really sleep well in a campervan?
We asked campervan expert Daniel from Sussex Campervans to review different types of rock and roll beds and demonstrate how they work.
What is the best Rock and Roll Bed?
I’ve been comparing the different types of rock and roll beds. Lots of people, when they’re thinking of buying a campervan, wonder whether they can really have a good night’s sleep like they do at home in a campervan bed - or a rock and roll bed, as they’re often called. A lot of people wonder if it’s more like dozing in a chair and you wake up with a stiff neck and an aching back. Well, that needn’t be true, if you’ve got the right one.
I have made a new video all about the different sorts of campervan beds, showing how they convert from travel seat to bed and back again, and offer my thoughts on how to choose one that’s going to work for you.
Early days: sofa-bed style
The first campervans were built from the classic Volkswagen Transporter van. They had an engine at the back, so the rock and roll bed was something like a sofa-bed, with a cushion sitting on top of the engine behind. It just clicked down like this, into a bed.
Times have moved on, and more modern campervans don’t have that problem of the van engine in the boot.
Years ago we used to use a pyramid-style bed, which did not offer much storage below, because of its shape. The back uses up some of the room. It does fold flat into a bed, but putting it away after the night is a bit of a hassle - it’s quite heavy to manipulate and some customers did find it quite difficult.
Most campervan converters buy a kit bed
Now let’s look at a typical rock and roll bed of European manufacture, which is used by a lot of campervan converters. There are two or three makes, which more or less work the same way. So let me demonstrate this one to you and I’ll show you how it goes down.
So you kneel in front of the rear travel seat and pull this lever on the side of the seat. Then you reach between the seat and the back rest and lift the seat up vertically, Use the lever again to allow it to swing towards you and try to get it to lie down nice and flat. Then you kneel on the bed, making sure the seatbelts aren’t in the way, and pull this lever (a thin horizontal metal bar under the seat) to allow the back rest to drop down, then you push another lever at the side of the final section to allow it to drop down. So there are three operations that basically make it turn into a bed. One of the challenges of these is that you do end up with quite a few gaps between the cushions and it’s quite hard to get it entirely flat. Some people are really happy with these, but there are a lot of people who find that they can’t get the same level of comfort as they do from their bed at home.
When you come to put it away in the morning, first of all you lift up the central section and click it into place as the seat backrest. Get the seatbelts out of the mechanism. Then stand in front of the bed, reach across to the lever at the side of the bed and pull the final section upright. Operate the lever again to swing it back down, making sure the belts are out of the way (sometimes it’s easier to have someone else holding the seatbelts free of the mechanism while you do this), and put it back into a seat. And there we are, we’re back in the seating position.
There is one rock and roll bed that is different.
I designed my own rock and roll bed
Do you know, this rock and roll campervan bed I’ve designed, I think it might be the best anyone’s got. It goes down so quickly, and it’s so flat and supportive and comfortable. Let me show you how it works. Push this single lever across, pull the seat back towards you. Push the top layer away to close the gap. And there you are - I’m in bed! And it took under 10 seconds. It’s just as easy to put it away in the morning for travel, too. Pull the top layer towards you to create the gap again. Lift the section nearest to you up and it will click back into position as the back rest of the double travel seat. Boom! Ready for travel.
I hope you found that quick overview of rock and roll beds helpful.