Advice for Trucking / Truckers - Team

Great site. Thanks for having me in. :slight_smile:

Truckers and especially “team” truckers have very challenging needs when it comes to a mattress. Not only are the shapes non-standard but in the case of team trucking the mattress is literally in use 24 hours a day. One person drives while the other person sleeps; usually in 12 hour shifts. Add to that the fact that you’re doing this while moving, often on a poorly maintained road, and you begin to get an idea of the problems we face.

There aren’t a lot of retail choices, even on-line. Of those that are out there, I’ve ordered what is “top-of-the-line” more than once and found the solution to be very lacking. We’re talking about 8 inches of foam in three layers - most firm layer on the bottom with memory foam on top. The problem is that even this “top-of-the-line” solution bottoms out on a bumpy road. To combat this I set my mattress atop two layers of high grade carpet padding (it helps greatly), and as the mattress has degraded I’ve stuffed the casing with additional foam that I was able to buy from Walmart.

I believe there has to be a better way. I have two mattress casings (both quilted) and I’d like to build my own mattress this time. To begin, I’m wondering what design ideas I should consider - keeping in my mind that my needs may differ from a mattress designed for the home.


Hi jkbowman,

While I can’t provide specific advice because there are too many unknowns, variables, and personal preferences involved to be able to predict which combination of materials will work best for any particular person or group of people … I can make some more generic suggestions.

I’m not sure who you were working with or purchased from previously but if you deal with a factory direct manufacturer that knows the difference between lower quality and less durable materials and higher quality more durable materials and also makes truck mattresses and can build a custom size mattress and design then talking to them in person about your specific criteria and the quality of the materials they would suggest to make sure that they are durable for the type of conditions they will be used in would probably have the best chance of success. Some online possibilities that make truck mattresses are listed here that would be well worth talking to.

If you do decide to take on the challenges of a DIY design then I would read option #3 in post #15 here first so that you are aware of some of the uncertainty and challenges involved whenever you are trying to design and build your own mattress.

Some generic comments and suggestions that may be useful …

While not everyone likes memory foam … if all or at least most of the people using the mattress like how it feels then it could make a very good choice for a top layer because of its ability to deaden motion and vibration. With an 8" mattress then 2" sounds reasonable to me.

For a middle layer I would consider a higher density polyfoam (2.0 lb density or higher) in a medium firmness level (I wouldn’t go too firm to quickly under only 2" of memory foam or it can “feel like” you are bottoming out) in about a 2" layer as well.

Finally I would use a higher density base layer (again 2.0 lbs or higher) for the final 4" of the mattress in a much higher firmness level so that you won’t bottom out on the mattress.

If you are designing your own then it may also be worth considering HR polyfoam with a density of 2.5 lbs or higher because it has a higher compression modulus which means it gets firmer faster than HD polyfoam and can help prevent bottoming out with a thinner mattress under higher weights.

It may also be a good idea to use a very firm but breathable base underneath your mattress that provides more ventilation to protect against moisture buildup in the mattress and any mold or mildew issues. Something like the bed rug here would make a good choice.

Of course these are just generic suggestions and not specific recommendations because there are many variables involved that may take some trial and error to build a design that is suitable in terms of PPP for the people that are using it. Outside of PPP though … the key will be to make sure you use good quality and durable materials that will hold up under the more rigorous conditions that they will be used in (see the guidelines here).

I would tend to avoid buying foam from Walmart since most of it would be lower quality/density that would soften or break down much too quickly and won’t perform as well as higher quality materials.

A list of the better sources for mattress components and materials I’m aware of are in post #4 here.


Hi jkbowman, I would tend to agree with Phoenix about the memory foam. Not everyone likes memory foam, but I would think even a modest layer would help to some degree due to its’ ability to deaden vibration. A family member of mine has a memory foam mattress and found this out when attempting to use a back massager. The attempt was to lay the massager on the bed and lay back on it to get it to the middle of the back, even on its harshest setting once pressed against the memory foam it’s like it wasn’t even on. It absorbed nearly all the vibration.

That’s only half the issue you face in a rig though. While I think it would help with the normal running vibrations, it would have more to do with the firmness of the rest of the mattress to resist compression. Even air ride cabs are going to bounce pretty good over heavy bumps. Foam sounds like the right direction since I’d think more resilient things like innersprings would just compound the issue. Depending what sort of roads you’re up against, how rough they are on average etc, maybe a bit firmer than usual would help? What may feel too firm while stopped (or in a stationary place like a bed room) may not feel as firm with the bouncing motion on the road and prevent bottoming out.

Hopefully there’s plenty of air ventilation or a/c back there in the event that memory foam combined with the already tight quarters of a sleeper may raise the sleeping temperature moreso than a roomier bedroom. On the plus side, since you mentioned you already have a cover - so long as you were ok with voiding any warranty, just about any foam mattress would be easy enough to trim to give you a custom fit even if the dimensions were off. Using an electric carving knife, even a mattress or pieces of foam larger than would fit back there could be trimmed to the size of your covers.

I don’t know all the ins and outs or requirements, but thought I would add something here. Not sure if this is a private owner/op rig or owned by a company - or what the regulations are. Apparently there are fire ratings for motor vehicles. The only ones I’m even remotely familiar with are the residential 16 CFR 1633, but motor vehicles (trucks) have something called FMVSS302 which is a different federal flammability standard for trucks. I don’t know how this plays into anything as far as safety requirements, insurance, personal safety etc. Someone in another forum (truck forum) mentioned that if logging sleeper berth time you have to have a dot compliant sleeper including mattress, restraints etc. Please don’t take this as nitpicking, I’m just trying to make you aware of anything that may apply so as to keep you out of hot water on that front since as you said, rigs aren’t like sleeping at home. I also don’t have any real knowledge of dot regs concerning that or know whether the issue that poster made was legitimate but thought I’d throw it out there in case it applies to your situation. Hope this helps.

Hi brass,

You are bringing up a good point that I wasn’t aware of and for me this falls under the category of “you learn something new every day” … and thanks for sharing your comments :slight_smile:

While I know that the 16 CFR part 1633 fire regulations for residential mattresses don’t apply to truck mattresses (see here), as you pointed out the FMVSS302 regulations do so I spent some time reading the regulations to familiarize myself with what they say. It seems that the regulations only apply to the mattress cover …

… and it needs to prevent a flame from traveling more than 4" per minute across the surface.

I would assume that this means that if the cover has been tested and approved that the mattress would be “legal”.


Thanks very much for your replies. This is extremely helpful!