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What Is A Murphy Bed In An RV?

Murphy bed in an RV

Some RVs come with Murphy beds installed. “Ah, yes,” says the discerning shopper. “The Murphy bed!” But not everyone is familiar with this remarkable innovation. So what exactly is a Murphy bed in an RV?

An RV Murphy bed is a bed frame designed to fold up into the wall of your living space, with the mattress and bedding pre-made for use later. Murphy beds often hide over couches to provide seating space when not being used for sleeping. They are great in compact spaces as they quickly disappear to make room for living space.

Are RV Murphy beds comfortable? Do they really save space? Why are they even called Murphy beds to begin with? Do I need to buy a particular mattress? Read on to find the answers to these and other questions.

RV Murphy Beds: Convenient, Compact, Comfortable

A Murphy bed is a type of bed that is hinged on one side and can fold up to store vertically against a wall or inside of an enclosure such as a small cabinet. Originally invented by an Irish immigrant named William Lawrence Murphy in New York City, Murphy beds are frequently used in small spaces as a way of making a sleeping space without taking up an excessive amount of room. This feature makes them ideal for situations where every inch counts, like camping in an RV.

In an RV, Murphy beds are commonly found folded into a niche in the wall in the aft section or folded above a couch in the living area. Oftentimes, sofas or couches are built with Murphy beds integrated into them to make it easier for the RV’s occupants to conserve living space and still enjoy the amenity of a full sized bed.

How do you get a Murphy bed unfolded from the wall into the sleeping position? Doing this might sound like a complicated endeavor, but it is rather easy. The Murphy bed will be held in place by a latch or multiple latches to keep it snug against the wall when not in use. Then, when you are ready to sleep, simply undo the latches and pull the bed down. If your bed is located over a sofa or couch, the couch will usually have a mechanism that lets it fold flat so that the bed rests on top of it.

Once you are done sleeping and ready to resume using your space for living, you must stash the Murphy bed back in its nook. Putting it away is just as easy as deploying the Murphy bed:

  1. Simply strap the mattress to the frame using the mattress straps that are included with your bed.
  2. Fold the bed back into the wall.
  3. Secure the latches.
  4. Return any furnishings that you had hidden beneath the Murphy bed to their usable position.

How Much Weight Can a Murphy Bed Support?

Are they only suitable for single campers, or can camping pairs share a Murphy bed? The specific weight tolerance of your Murphy bed will vary depending on the manufacturer, but in general, Murphy beds can hold up to about 1,000 pounds.

How Does a Murphy Bed Work in an RV?

The specifics of your Murphy bed may vary depending on the make and model of your camper. Still, in general, Murphy beds in an RV are incorporated into the design in such a way as to maximize living space when not being used for sleeping. For example, the Keystone Passport 219BHWE features a queen-sized Murphy bed that folds up to reveal a sofa that provides additional seating space for the family. Then, when it is time for bed, the bed folds down over the sofa.

You can find a similar example in the Grand Design Imagine XLS 17MKE. This compact travel trailer features a queen size Murphy bed that folds up above a sofa when not in use. In addition, the Winnebago Solis camper features a Murphy bed on the aft end of the vehicle that folds up into the portside wall.

Before you head out on your next camping trip, check out these five items to help you have a better camping experience:

Are Murphy Beds in Campers Comfortable?

So can a bed that folds into the wall of your RV actually be comfortable? To find the answer, we scoured RV forums. The consensus is overwhelmingly positive: most people find the stock Murphy bed and mattress to be comfortable for sleeping. Some users did report that they found it frustrating to have to make and put up the bed every day, but this is a fairly minor tradeoff to gain a relatively large amount of usable space during the day.

Some RVers reported adding memory foam toppers or other accessories to the mattress that comes with the Murphy bed. Others found that there was a small gap between the head of the bed and the wall when the bed was deployed; this gap is easily filled with foam or with pillows if it is a source of annoyance to you.

What Kind of Mattress Do You Use on a Murphy Bed in an RV?

The Murphy bed that comes with your RV will come with a mattress. Many campers find the stock mattress to be comfortable for their needs; some people, though, choose to replace them. However, you won’t be able just to buy any mattress and put it on your Murphy bed. The folding mechanism and the amount of space available between the bed frame and the wall mean that regular mattresses probably won’t work in your Murphy bed.

Most campers find the included mattress to be pretty comfortable. However, if you find that the pre-installed mattress is not for you, there are options. Many companies manufacture mattresses specifically for RVs, trucks, and campers; these mattresses usually ship to you in a box and then unfold and expand when removed from the box.

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Best Mattresses for RV Murphy Beds

One of the best RV Murphy bed mattress companies we found was Tochta, an American firm that specializes in building custom mattresses for RV’s and campers. Their hinged mattresses have a top comfort layer across the entire mattress, so when the mattress is laid down flat, you do not feel the “gap” between the two sections. These mattresses come in a variety of build options, from basic value mattresses to customizable mattresses featuring cooling gel and memory foam.

Another great company that offers RV mattresses is Mattress Insider. This company specializes in replacement RV mattresses, including mattresses specifically built to fit into Murphy beds. They have a number of stock options available, but if you have special mattress requirements or a space that measures in unusual dimensions, this company can also create a custom mattress to meet your needs.

What Are the Advantages of a Murphy Bed in an RV?

The single most significant advantage of a Murphy bed in an RV is space. Even campers who enjoy large and luxurious RVs need to be mindful of how much space is available in their vehicle. The ability to convert a sleeping space into a living area provides more usable room in the camper. This space-saving feature is especially useful for campers who are using smaller RV’s.

What Are the Disadvantages of a Murphy Bed in an RV?

Murphy beds are really popular for their space-saving capabilities, but are there any disadvantages to these unique beds? The biggest problem with Murphy beds is that they require users to make the bed and put it away every day if they want to be able to use the extra space that the Murphy bed provides when stowed. This job is a relatively minor task, but some campers don’t want to deal with the hassle of making and stowing the bed every day.

Another disadvantage of the Murphy bed that we encountered when reading through RV forums came from people who enjoy naps. Of course, a good nap can be a simple pleasure, but if you are ready to nap, you might not want to have to deal with the hassle of deploying the Murphy bed. Doing this can be especially true if you only plan to take a short nap and then need to stash the bed again to use the space.

Mr. Murphy’s Magic Mattress

RVing and RV camping is a great lifestyle! However, the space constraints that come with living or camping in your RV can be challenging. Murphy beds provide a great solution: by simply folding away when not in use, the bed magically provides more usable living space for campers during the day.

So whether you’re shopping for a new RV with built-in Murphy beds or thinking of having one installed to save space, we think you’ll find the advantages of the Murphy bed much to your liking. Happy camping.

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The western part of the country draws me with its mountains, deserts, and red rock vistas. Still, there are numerous other wonders I'm ready to explore., from Maine's rugged coast to California's Big Sur cliffs and everywhere between.