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Learn from my mistakes: Making a fitted mattress for your Prius

May 23, 2015

Cheap, Journal, Prototype

With the success of three camping trips in our Prius with a cobbled-together mattress, I wanted to make something more fitted. Please note, do not do all of these steps. There is an easier way.

Lloyd and I agreed that a three-inch mattress would be plenty comfy. (Note: We are in our forties. It’s almost enough padding. We did have slight backaches in the morning.) Back in December, Wal*Mart had a 3-inch full-sized mattress topper (2 inches of regular foam, 1 inch of memory foam) on clearance for $30. Score!

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It is vacuum-sealed, so I took it out and let it off-gas in the guest room for a couple weeks. Bleh. Do not do this project if you want to immediately use it. It is so, so stinky.

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Once enough time passed, I started to cut it down to fit. (Note: I now know that it is not necessary to have a perfect fit. If I were to do this over, I would just slightly cut down around the wheel wells. The mattress – cut down so precisely – leaves a gap and I have to stuff a pillow in there to be comfortable. Mind you, I’m a big baby.) I used the floor mat as a guide. If you do this, leave at least 2 inches on each side. Stupid me.

See how it fits here? You could just leave it like that. Or, just shave a little from the wheel-well areas.
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This was a mistake. If I could communicate with Past Lauren, I would. “Stop!!”
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Too late now.

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I also trimmed around the top so it would fit nicely against the seats. A good step, but not necessary.

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When we first tested it, we were sleeping with our heads toward the front of the car. Lloyd didn’t like that his toes were dangling over the edge, so I spliced some of the cut foam to the end. As it turns out, with the Habitent we prefer having our heads at the rear of the car, so this step isn’t quite as crucial. (Although, there is the small matter of trying to keep your pillows from falling out of the car, but that’s another post for another day.)

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Now, here is another part that I would do over if I weren’t so cheap. I bought a twin-sized flannel sheet set for $15 and cobbled-together a removable, fitted cover. I wanted to be able to remove it when it got dirty. This was stupid. Next time I would pony up money for two flat sheets and just sew an envelope.

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So, the only benefit of having the mattress cut down is that it folds nicely into thirds and fits the back space wonderfully. However, this is foam, so it could certainly just squish into place as well.

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TL/DR: Get a 3-inch foam topper. Put a sheet on it. Go camping.

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About Lauren

Lauren Sommerer is a preschool teacher who likes to build prototypes, grow cats, cook things once, save money, reduce, reuse and recycle.

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11 Responses to “Learn from my mistakes: Making a fitted mattress for your Prius”

  1. Mom Said on:

    Now you need to take a trip so you can try it out. I see a vacation looming.

    Reply

  2. Lauren Said on:

    Agreed. Also, Happy Birthday!! 🙂

    Reply

  3. Sheila Said on:

    We just recently sold our motor home due to it was so expensive to travel with gas, insurance, tags then have to pull another vehicle and pay for insurance and tags on that as well. We saw this and got excited that we can still sleep in the road and save $ as well. I’m not to sure I want to get the Habitent though. I have the 4 in foam mattress, the plastic storage boxes, window screens I bought at Amazon for 19.99 and fabric for black out windows since our windows aren’t tinted. We plan on a long trip across the country with spending 2 nights in the pruis, one night in a hotel. So far, I’ve spent less than 60.00 for my camper since I had the mattress already. Can’t wait to try this!

    Reply

    • Sheila Said on:

      I guess I should clarify that while on the road for weeks at a time to save money we would sleep 2 nights in the pruis (in a parking lot most likely) and one night in a hotel just to bathe, do laundry ect.

      Reply

      • Lauren Said on:

        Have fun and keep me posted! 🙂 (Seriously, don’t trim your mattress down as much as I did. When you lay down, it pulls away from the sides and you lose a little cushion.)

        Reply

  4. P Said on:

    How did you deal with filling up/bridging the space between front and back seats?

    Reply

  5. John Said on:

    So what does the habitant do for you, other than reduce condensation. I have a 2012 model 2, that I am working up for camping. I guess it can give you a feeling of just having more space. Have you used the heat or AC with the habitant on, if so how has that worked. Thanks for your blog info, it is helpful.

    Reply

    • Lauren Said on:

      Yes, it’s the sense of space that I like. Without it, camping is very do-able, but the ventilation is so much better with the Habitent.

      We only camp in cool weather, so I’ve not run the a/c or heat with it. I think if the temperatures were extreme enough to need those, I’d sleep in just the car.

      Let me know about your adventures! 🙂

      Reply

  6. Carla Said on:

    My hubby & I are both retired & almost 60 years old. We bought our Prius in 2015 & we absolutely love traveling& car camping in it! We have it down to a science packing, setting up our bed & getting in the road without having to set up & breakdown a tent, etc. We love hiking & seeing wonderful sites along the way. We bought a full sized mattress topper & we did not cut it because we like how it gives a cushion to the hard sides of the interior. I would suggest going with a 4 inch mattress topper. Although my hubby has no problem with our 3 inch, I need a little extra for my hips, etc. We take our skin cookstove, 2 lightweight chairs, a small aluminum camp table & small camping lamps. My favorite light is an inflatable solar light our kids got us. I charge it on the dashboard during the day as We drive to our destination. Everything has its place in our Prius. It is cheaper for us to travel & to get in & out of places in our tiny camper. Now we want to create a tiny solar shower to go on the road with us. Happy trails!

    Reply

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