Of the many decisions which go into converting a VW transporter, the most important for a safe and happy camper is, hands down, the choice of folding bed. Besides the fact that it occupies a good chunk of your floor-space, once you’ve made your bed, you have to lie in it – so you’ll sleep easy if you choose wisely.
Folded into a seat by day and laid flat by night, the space-saving rock and roll bed has long been the camper favourite, given its name by some of the earliest VW converters. Fast-forward several decades and a huge catalogue of styles and brands faces the modern camper, all on a sliding scale of comfort, safety, practicality and cost.
If at any point you expect there to be passengers in the rear of your vehicle, opting for a crash-tested seat will ensure the safety of you and your loved ones, plus will keep you from a visit to a VOSA station to ensure your belts are securely anchored. If your VW’s to be a haven just for two, however, there are a range of lightly-built seat/beds without seatbelts which make comfortable couches at a reduced price.
Rather than attaching ourselves to just one R&R bed, we recognise that no one model “does it all” and prefer to offer our clients a considered choice. Below we weigh up the pros and cons of several trusted models.
Rest assured that whichever you choose will be accompanied by a certificate attesting to seat safety, with which you can keep insurers sweet and future buyers happy.
With a unique design, the Cambee bed is unrivaled for flexibility and comfort
Responding to a perceived need for a light bed with good seat ergonomics and maximum comfort without a topper, we set out to design a bed which incorporated 75mm foam and a frame that any DIY camper could fit with ease. Coming in at 65kg, the Cambee Flex 118 double is the lightest M1 tested bed on this list and in the wider market, allowing for better economy, greater carrying capacity, maximised storage and a flexible track option.
We’ve made space another of our priorities, keeping seats low for better headroom, maintaining clear space underneath for surfboards and kayaks, incorporating a lifting rear panel for a RIB sized boot, and working around a completely removable frame (with optional fitting kit), all fully certified to 76/115/EEC/2005 M1 rating.
We’re proud of our own design R&R bed and fit it as a matter of course in all of our range.
Optional Extras: Headrests, under-bed drawer, rail system, easy-fit DIY kit with chassis plates for self-installation
Often the default choice for its brand recognition and car seat aesthetic
For sales alone, the clear market leader, this French import continually tops the polls for good looking, crash-tested R & R beds. The Rib Altair was the first bed to introduce a contoured seat and backrest (with the aesthetic of a conventional car seat) which flips over to reveal a completely flat sleeping surface. It also features rear panels which can be locked in a number of lounging positions or flipped up to gain a bigger boot space. With a variety of sizes, this solidly built bed is also designed to fit any number of conversion configurations.
On the downside, the taller campers among us must sit with heads brushing the roof due to the high-set of the seats, and the under 6’ must suffer sitting with feet dangling off the floor. Sleeper comfort ( or lack thereof) has also commonly given cause for complaint. A mattress topper is an essential buffer from the unforgiving SCOPEX foam, but when stowed will swallow a fair chunk of your valuable boot space.
Optional extras: In-built head and arm rests, chassis plate kit
The RIB’s widely acclaimed crash-testing can be rendered null and void if poorly installed in your van. We use Kiravan’s underfloor brackets, which have been tested in-vehicle, to maintain a recognised level of safety. – Storms
Crash-tested rail flexibility may be pricey but gives peace of mind
If you’re looking for an M1-tested bed on a track system and money is no object, the German-built Reimo is the bed for you. Whilst the most expensive bed on the market, the quality of its craftsmanship and rigorous testing ensure it still holds its own on the best-sellers list.
This bed’s multi-positional track allows you to adjust your load space; leaving plenty of room for bikes and gear, and can also be fitted with removable buddy seats.
In all else it features a very similar sitting and sleeping arrangement to the RIB, with safety measures which have been put through their paces. Seats (each providing 2 to 3 seating positions and covered by integral 3 point seat belt harnesses) and track are M1 rated for fitting in a variety of vehicles including the VW T5 & T6.
Optional extras: Headrests, custom upholstery, topper mattress
With recline and self close options, this new model is uniquely adjustable
The aptly named Smart Bed is a great all-rounder. Besides scoring highly for build quality, innovative under-bed clear space and retro-style upholstery, it features an auto “return-to-seat” mechanism, which operates at the pull of a handle. The seat also has 5 unique reclining positions for daytime lounging, which can be selected with a lift handle on the underside of the seat.
The only thing letting this bed down is the greatly reduced storage due to its traditional four panel design and the small and fixed parcel shelf, usually a deal-breaker for those who need to stow bikes and sports kit in the boot.