Inexpensive But Decent Mattress?

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Overland One

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I have one more solar panel to install then, I am starting on my bed build. Does anyone have any suggestions for a decent mattress that does not cost a lot of money? I can upgrade it later on down the road but just need something to get started with that is comfortable. The best I could find so far, and I have been shopping around for the past few weeks, is one Walmart has that is 5" thick twin size, made of several layers of various firmness foams and comes with a cover for $90. I would be happy with just some foam I could cut to size myself but all the suppliers I found wanted about $130+ for 30" wide 3" thick foam and I think that is way too much for too little. My cat sleeps with me every night so an air mattress is out of the question. (Been there, done that) After my divorce (a long time ago) I bought a piece of 6" thick foam for like $30 and cut it to my bed size and slept on it on the floor in my apt. for a year and it was fine. I realize the prices will have gone up since then but I can't afford to be paying well over $100 for just a piece of foam. Any and all suggestions welcome. I am going to make my raised bed frame 38" wide (twin size) in case I find one I like later but something 30" or wider would be fine for now. Thanks.
 

bullfrog !

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A cheap sleeping bag makes a nice pillow top cover/case for a 30” x 80” piece of three or 4 inch thick foam. We sew up the open end of the sleeping bag to keep the foam enclosed. As we need two we usually buy a queen foam mattress topper and cut it in half.
 

eDJ_

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If you want to build your own mattress that has good firmness for restful sleep, consider fabricating it with a 2 inch bottom sheet of extra firm foam. The middle sheet is 2 inches thick of soft foam. The top sheet of 2 inch thickness will be of firm foam. This 6 inch overall thickness gives a progressive resistance to one's bodily weight, so that when you lay down you don't bottom out and hit the plywood board the bed rest on.

Once you have your mattress built, you could go to an upholstery shop and have a lite canvas envelope made to contain it. A zipper or closable opening at both ends will be helpful in stuffing the foam into the canvas envelope.
 

maki2

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Buying a second hand twin mattress is your only option for a firm mattress under $100.00. Look on Craigslist or Facebook marketplace. Sometimes thrift stores such as Goodwill have new twin mattresses at a lower price than department store and mattress shops.

Also look in the free section on Craigslist and Facebook marketplace for twin mattresses. Sometimes when people get ready to move they give away mattresses that are in very good condition rather than trying to move them tied to the top of a car. Or when they switch from a twin to a larger bed. Or convert a guest bedroom into an office space. Be very diligent when searching for free stuff, check the postings twice a day!

My firm foam bed cushions came from
A marine upholstery business in Seattle. Boats tend to change owners and new owners want to redecorate. That upholstery business likes to do some recycling so they post in the Craigslist free section that they have put the useable pieces outside in a covered area for the taking. But of course there was plenty of cutting to size and sewing cushion covers labor time involved.
 
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maki2

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There is another option for an inexpensive but firm mattress setup. Buy a twin size inflatable mattress and also a twin size foam mattress topper. You can adjust the firmness by adjusting the inflation. The foam topper provides a soft top as well as providing insulation from cold air from the vinyl inflatable surface and also keeps you from that sticky wet perspiration that can happen in an air bed that does not have an absorbent top layer.

One thing to note…. If you are moving from lower elevation up to higher elevation let some air out of the mattress before you head up higher or it will become over inflated!

Travel with a pump and a patch kit and this inflatable bed with foam mattress topper should last you for quite a while until you find yourself in a financial position to get the regular firm foam mattress you want.
 
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Overland One

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I use 24 x 72 foam 6" thick for my coach and a true mattress in narrow twin size for my bed. Both were less than $100.


Thank you. The first one is exactly what I have been looking around for but I need it to be wider than 24". I wish they offered it in 30 or 34 or thereabouts. The 2nd link it really great also except I do not have 75" in length across my van. I am just under 6 ft. and to get that I am making my bed platform raised high enough so it will extend into the window ledges on both sides. (Conversion van) When I do this I can get 73" without hitting the windows but I need to leave a little room for the wood frame. If this mattress was in a zippered cover I could open, I would just trim off a few inches and stuff it back in there. If I cut it open to do that, I am not sure I could close it up well enough, unless maybe I could find a cover and stick it into that? That is the best price I have seen anywhere on anything that looks decent to sleep on so thanks a lot. I believe I will go with this one.
 

Overland One

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There is another option for an inexpensive but firm mattress setup. Buy a twin size inflatable mattress and also a twin size foam mattress topper. You can adjust the firmness by adjusting the inflation. The foam topper provides a soft top as well as providing insulation from cold air from the vinyl inflatable surface and also keeps you from that sticky wet perspiration that can happen in an air bed that does not have an absorbent top layer.

One thing to note…. If you are moving from lower elevation up to higher elevation let some air out of the mattress before you head up higher or it will become over inflated!

Travel with a pump and a patch kit and this inflatable bed with foam mattress topper should last you for quite a while until you find yourself in a financial position to get the regular firm foam mattress you want.
Thanks for your suggestions. I am a bit squeamish about buying a used mattress with the bedbug situation. They have had outbreaks here in town in hotels and apts. and exterminators can not get rid of the things, otherwise I would consider used. My cat has already managed to deflate 2 air mattresses I have owned even with a 2" memory foam topper on them ( no idea how) so I am ruling them out too. That is an excellent tip on deflating when climbing into the mountains. That is something that makes perfect sense when you mentioned it but I never would have even thought of it. I imagine more than a few people who like a hard, firm air mattress and had the pressure way up had them blow out when crossing the Rockies. They were probably like..."What the...?"
 

Overland One

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If you want to build your own mattress that has good firmness for restful sleep, consider fabricating it with a 2 inch bottom sheet of extra firm foam. The middle sheet is 2 inches thick of soft foam. The top sheet of 2 inch thickness will be of firm foam. This 6 inch overall thickness gives a progressive resistance to one's bodily weight, so that when you lay down you don't bottom out and hit the plywood board the bed rest on.

Once you have your mattress built, you could go to an upholstery shop and have a lite canvas envelope made to contain it. A zipper or closable opening at both ends will be helpful in stuffing the foam into the canvas envelope.
I would love to make my own but the prices on any decent thickness of foam is way too high. They are wanting like $50 just for a 2" thick mattress topper and a lot more for anything thicker like 5"-6". I like the layered idea but doubt I could build one for less than the one afblangley linked to and that one is layered as well. I am just going to have to make it a bit shorter is all. Thank you for your idea, I appreciate it.
 

Overland One

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A cheap sleeping bag makes a nice pillow top cover/case for a 30” x 80” piece of three or 4 inch thick foam. We sew up the open end of the sleeping bag to keep the foam enclosed. As we need two we usually buy a queen foam mattress topper and cut it in half.
That's a cool idea too but, where are you finding affordable foam like that? Any I have found looking at 4"-5" has been in the $130-$150 range just for the bare foam which I find to be crazy. I even looked at upholstery shops where they have it on rolls but they wanted more than I could buy a completed mattress for. Thanks for your reply.
 

jacqueg

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I have one more solar panel to install then, I am starting on my bed build. Does anyone have any suggestions for a decent mattress that does not cost a lot of money? I can upgrade it later on down the road but just need something to get started with that is comfortable. The best I could find so far, and I have been shopping around for the past few weeks, is one Walmart has that is 5" thick twin size, made of several layers of various firmness foams and comes with a cover for $90. I would be happy with just some foam I could cut to size myself but all the suppliers I found wanted about $130+ for 30" wide 3" thick foam and I think that is way too much for too little. My cat sleeps with me every night so an air mattress is out of the question. (Been there, done that) After my divorce (a long time ago) I bought a piece of 6" thick foam for like $30 and cut it to my bed size and slept on it on the floor in my apt. for a year and it was fine. I realize the prices will have gone up since then but I can't afford to be paying well over $100 for just a piece of foam. Any and all suggestions welcome. I am going to make my raised bed frame 38" wide (twin size) in case I find one I like later but something 30" or wider would be fine for now. Thanks.
Amazon sells tri-fold matttresses. The 6" twin runs $120. I slept on one for 3 years until I upgraded.
 
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LargeMarge

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...a decent mattress that does not cost a lot of money? I can upgrade it later...
.
a)
Converting your earliest rigs, you will probably switch everything multiple times.
You may even switch vehicles.
.
I think your proposed minimum investment in a minimal bed is probably most economical.
For example:
In the Sacramento area during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, we acquired houses to remodel and rent out.
Instead of moving our entire household into a temporary residence every couple months, we sold everything, then lived inside in lawn furniture.
.
For example:
* our 'mattress' system was some chaise lounge pads laying on the floor.
.
.
b)
After a long series of 'make-do' camping in lesser rigs, we arrived at the opposite camp:
* we prefer to invest long-term instead of living through another series of 'make-do' transitions.
.
As we describe in our introduction:
... in 2003, we evaluated all the floor models at
www.americanmattress.com
...then handed our build-sheet to the on-site assembly crew.
They built our new mattress as we watched, then helped us set it on our bed-platform in the rig.
.
That was two decades ago, two decades of full-time live-aboard.
After a couple-three nights to verify our decision, them topping it with a three-inch foam topper, we saw -- and see -- no reason to change.
.
Amortized over two decades, our cost is pennies per month.
 
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Happy Camper

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Here are a few options with free delivery via Amazon.

$69 DHP Dana 6 Inch Quilted Twin Mattress with Removable Cover and Thermobonded Polyester Fill, Blue https://a.co/d/a2qeeet

$60 DHP Aries 4-Inch Tri Folding Mattress with Carry Bag and Washable Cover, Twin Size https://a.co/d/blwGfMS

$89 Twin Mattress 6 inch Gel Memory Foam Mattress Queen Mattresses Medium Firm Mattresses for Cool Sleep Relieving Pressure Relief CertiPUR-US Certified Mattress in a Box https://a.co/d/69sjA3J
 

KarlH

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There is another option for an inexpensive but firm mattress setup. Buy a twin size inflatable mattress and also a twin size foam mattress topper. You can adjust the firmness by adjusting the inflation. The foam topper provides a soft top as well as providing insulation from cold air from the vinyl inflatable surface and also keeps you from that sticky wet perspiration that can happen in an air bed that does not have an absorbent top layer.
^This is the most comfortable combination I've ever found, cost no object. It doesn't have the 'hammock effect' of a pure air mattress, and it's easier to change position than with a memory foam bed.

Durability can be a problem. I've toyed with building a wood box around the sides of the air mattress and lining it with polyethylene foam to reduce the stress on the seams and protect the sides from punctures. Maybe that way it would last longer between repairs...
 

Zoomyn

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My experience with gel foam & memory foam mattresses / toppers has been they are life sucking torture devices in cold weather, spent more than a few nights where I finally got warm FIVE minutes before having to get up & moving... And that was on top of 2-inch R10 insulation board - cold makes them stiff, body heat melts a pocket that we'd sink into and get trapped in : )

One tip I learned is a reflective insulation beneath the bed helps keep things snuggly but beware condensation - not a year-round addition and weekly mattress flipping needed while using.

A cheat using a heated throw or blanket 10 or 15 minutes before bed works well but temptation keeps them on all night and sweat the covers up...
 

bullfrog !

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^^^Putting the foam inside a sleeping bag and layering a quilt or comforter helps. Stiff carpet that allows air to circulate along with possibly some additional via holes or marine bunk pads in extreme cases.
 

maki2

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Hopefully the author of this thread has by now made a decision on what to try. There are only a very few options for a very low cost, firm mattress and all have been presented.
 

Overland One

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Thanks everyone for all of the replies and excellent suggestions. A friend of mine came over the other day and said he had tons of base foam and he would give me enough to make a twin size base so I ordered a 3" thick memory foam twin mattress pad from walmart for $40, and a twin size water proof zipper cover ($9) to put them both into and now since I know the exact size I need my elevated frame to be, I can begin building it. Now I will have a 6-8 inch thick mattress for $50 and a wterproof cover in case my old cat has an accident or gets car sick on it. I really appreciate all of the information and links and, I am sure my cheap set-up will be far from ideal so I am sure I will be coming back here when I can upgrade or add to it. I have also saved many of the links for future refference. Thanks everyone.
 
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Happy Camper

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Post the results and some pictures when you get it done. This is a situation they many probably find themselves in. Especially those they lurk and read, but don't post.
 
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