It’s been nearly one year since I purchased a 2010 Jeep Rubicon Unlimited 4×4 off a Jeep dealers lot in Huntington Beach California. While I wish the engine had better horsepower, it’s been the most fun vehicle I’ve owned yet (even more fun than my 1969 Chevrolet Malibu).
Within days of purchasing my jeep I began the gutting project. What fun is it if everything remains stock? The rear seats came out, along with the seatbelts and carpeting, and the project began to build a custom 2 passenger 4×4 Jeep Rubicon with room for camping equipment storage and a place to sleep. Now we are sleeping in comfort.
After all the custom welding was done and the storage system was complete I spent months seeking out the best solution for sleeping in the Jeep. I got the custom latex mattress I’m showing here from Rocky Mountain Mattress company and it turned out to be a perfect fit (thanks to their assistance). Before I decided on this mattress material I had conducted a number of in the field trials.
The photograph above shows my custom storage project (three locking compartments) before the mattress went in. I did several camping and 4×4 trips (like Orocopia Mountains) before getting the mattress so I’ve been able to make some good comparisons. The first camping trip out I slept directly on the steel with just a sleeping bag and a folded over Queen size comforter. That was a mistake. There’s a reason we sleep on mattresses and my bones were beginning to ache in the absence of one. The other thing that occurred was temperatures fell below 40°F and that steel got really cold. I knew I had to put something in there.
After testing an air mattress, a memory foam mattress I got from Costco, sleeping directly on the steel with a sleeping bag, I found myself doing more research online for custom size memory foam and latex mattresses. My 4×4 Jeep Rubicon is a one-of-a-kind, and as far as I know, nobody’s yet duplicated the process. While there are mattresses made for truck beds, buying a premade mattress to fit my Jeep dimensions was out of the question. The folks at Rocky Mountain Mattress assisted me through the process of making sure I got the proper custom mattress size.
I could have gone with a straight rectangle, but that would be too easy, especially after all the other customizing that had been done. The storage compartments directly behind the drivers and passenger seats flare outwards and are flush with the doors. I wanted the mattress to extend all the way to the edges but the rear tire wheel wells posed a potential challenge. The guys at the mattress company helped educate me as to how to get exact measurements on the radius around the wells which resulted in a perfectly snug fit.
The view above shows how the mattress fits snugly behind the Jeep front seats and center console. I removed the stock cupholders before the storage containers were installed. The next step in the process is getting a custom weather resistant cover made for the mattress. I haven’t picked the material yet but I’ll probably go with something similar to what’s used for outdoor garden furniture. Definitely not going with something black in color. The entire Jeep is black and you can feel the heat in the summer sun.
One more project on the agenda is relocating the stock subwoofer. In the JK Unlimited, the subwoofer sits along the back right side (nearby where it is in this photograph) and I’ll be moving this to an alternate location. It is going to require some rewiring and maybe even a new casing. I enjoy listening to loud rock ‘n roll music too much to drive around without a subwoofer. Also in the photo you can see I have an industrial cargo mat on top of the mattress for now. It’s actually been working out great.
Since the mattress has been in I’ve discovered a few things. Getting to the compartments isn’t the easiest task. I’m looking at that as an advantage. I almost never have the top on my Jeep and there is no soft top so it’s pretty much fully exposed. With the mattress on top of the storage compartments they are basically undetectable (although I’m only keeping camping gear stored versus valuables like laptops and camera equipment).
The mattress does come out easily and I discovered it fits perfectly in either of my two camping tents. Wasn’t my first intention, but now when I’ve gone camping I’ve been able to have the option of taking the mattress out of the jeep and putting it in the tent, providing easy access to all my gear while offroading, and replacing it for the trip home.
I’ve found the mattress has helped decrease engine and road noise considerably. Remember, I had removed the carpeting and the back seats, and had been driving around with bare steel (camping gear muffles sounds as well). Besides less noise there is also less slippage of gear placed on top of the mattress. I wasn’t sure how that was going to work out, but everything seems to stay in place real well. I bungee down my beverage cooler and other exposed items just in case. Don’t need those flying onto the freeway when I’m heading home from a weekend in the dirt.
In case you’re wondering, I’m 5 foot 10 and weighing about 180 pounds. There is plenty of room for me to spread out when on road trips. I’ve even taken daytime naps in the back of the Jeep (another bonus I had not anticipated). My spouse and I can both fit comfortably sleeping in the back, but we set up the tent if there’s good flat campground and not too many rattlesnakes hanging out nearby. I’ll take some pics on my next outing and will likely post them here.