CAMPING - GEAR
This Austrian-developed, Australian-manufactured mattress is designed to offer the durable ‘springiness’ of an innerspring mattress, without the complexity of metal framework and springs.
The premium mattress offered by most makers of new caravans, camper vans, slide-ons and camper trailers is an innerspring one. Base-model foam mattresses are lighter and cheaper, but our experience shows that they soon compress and lose their original ‘springiness’. However, an innerspring mattress is more expensive than a simple foam one and can weigh up to 75kg.
People who graduate to an RV after years of tent camping have experience with self-inflating foam mattresses and at OTA we’ve owned and used many different brands over the past 30 years.
These mattresses have open-cell foam filling that allows air to enter when the bed is needed for sleeping and expel air when it’s needed to be rolled up. In operation, you open the air vents before bedtime, letting air inflate the foam core and then the vents are shut, to trap the air inside.
Without exception, all of our self-inflating mattresses eventually leaked air during the night – usually after a couple of years’ use – leaving us resting on the uninflated foam and the bed base.
We’ve been looking for an alternative to the self-inflating mattress for years and we think we’ve finally found it, in the Flexima Nautic, foam/plastic spring boat mattress.
There are parallel requirements of marine and camping mattresses, given that both beds have to work in environments where condensation is ever present.
The Flexima Nautic mattress design meets the requirements of marine bedding; comfort, customised size, ‘breathability’ and, significantly, no metal parts that can corrode. A bonus is a mattress that is around half the weight of one with metal frame and springs.
The Flexima mattress is an innerspring one, but the springs are made from resilient plastic material, not steel wire. The mattresses are available in three spring-rate grades, for standard, comfort and premium degrees of softness. There are three foam thicknesses available: 140mm, 180mm and 220mm.
Flexima also has ‘pillow-top’ soft-foam cover that can be zipped onto the mattress, for additional comfort.
The removable and washable mattress cover material has inbuilt mesh vents to prevent condensation build up inside the mattress and the cover material is 45-percent Lyocell that is said to be hypo-allergenic and anti-microbial.
Most RV, camper trailer and slide-on mattresses are standard sizes and around 30-percent of Flexima production is in standard mattress sizes, but for those who need a custom size and shape, Flexima has a template kit that allows people to measure up for custom sizing that includes, curves, cut-outs and tapers – vertically and horizontally.
As at early 2024, the prices for a standard 140mm mattresses (including GST) were: single (up to 900 mm wide) from $1287; double (up to 1400mm wide) from $2090 and queen (up to 1600 mm wide) from $2310. Those prices were for rectangular mattresses, including rounded corners if required. Custom sizes were quoted individually.
We bought ours from the importer, Eco Marine Bedding, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, +61 (0)2 9999 6518, or https://ecomarinebedding.com.au/contact-us/
Flexima on test
At OTA, we’ve taken the plunge on a Flexima mattress for our slide-on camper, following the failure of yet another self-inflating foam mattress after only two years of use. We bought a queen-sized, medium-density Flexima Nautic that we started to check out in July 2023.
We ordered our mattress in two single halves, to make it easier to remove them for airing after trips, rather than have to handle a full queen size. The two halves were connected by an integrated zipper and went together easily when in place on the bed base.
Our initial testing was overnight in sub-zero Canberra, where we noted the greatly improved insulation properties of the Flexima, compared with previous self-inflating foam mattresses we’ve tested. We didn’t need a second doona on the bed, because we were kept toasty warm from below.
Support from the mattress was greatly superior to our previous beds and we’re just irritated we didn’t know about this bed sooner. When our home mattress is due for replacement, we plan to go the Flexima way.
An unexpected side benefit of the Flexima was its improved sound insulation: our somewhat squeaky plywood bed base was less so!
The next bout of testing was during Summer 2023/24, when the nights were warm enough to warrant fully-opened mesh side windows, for ventilation. The mattress didn’t feel ‘sweaty’ at any stage.
We still love it and we’re looking forward to a two-month Western Australia trip in winter 2024.