The following mattresses can be loaded into most cargo vans, although some will only fit at an angle:
- Full size (53” W x 75” L)
- Queen size (60” W x 80” L)
- King size (76” W x 80” L)
- California King size (72” W x 84” L)
The average cargo van has plenty of room for any mattress size thanks to a 126” interior length, 55” interior width, 56” interior height and cargo capacity of 260 ft³.
However, the box spring base might have to be transported separately if you’re moving a really big mattress (e.g. California King), and your cargo van is a low roof, short-wheelbase model.
The other issue would be the width of the mattress as according to the Better Sleep Council, the widest variation in the US is the King size one that’s 76 inches wide.
But you can deal with this by simply loading the mattress at an angle and/or squeezing it. By doing this, you should have extra space to fit a box spring and maybe even a few boxes.
Even a compact work van with a long-wheelbase (e.g. Ford Transit Connect) can accommodate a Queen or even a King size mattress if you bend it and push it in.
However, it’s not recommended to fold in half foam or innerspring mattresses that are thicker than 6 inches.
If it doesn’t fit, you can simply let it stick out from the rear doors or carry it on the roof. Just don’t forget to secure it with ropes or stripes.
To help you get a better idea of how a cargo van can transport a mattress, in this article I’ll cover the following topics:
- How to load a large mattress into a cargo van
- Factors to consider when fitting a mattress into a work van
- Practical tips for moving a mattress with a cargo van
- Alternative ways to transport big mattresses without a cargo van
- Other items that cargo vans can carry in addition to a mattress
- Top cargo van models with the most room for mattresses
How to Load a Mattress & Box Spring in a Cargo Van
This is what you’ll need:
- Mattress bags
- Helper (it’s optional, although recommended)
And here’s how to load a large mattress such as a Queen size one into a cargo van:
- Place the mattress and box spring in mattress bags to protect them from dirt and damage.
- Load the box spring at an angle through the back doors and lean it against the driver’s sidewall
Note: Don’t place it on the passenger’s side as that’s where the side door is.
- Load the mattress at an angle and lean it against the box spring for easier access and more room for carrying stuff.
- Optional: Place the mattress and box spring flat if you have few or no extra items.
- Add any additional items (e.g. boxes) in the remaining space if needed.
- Double-check that everything is loaded correctly.
- Close all doors.
It shouldn’t take you more than 10 minutes if someone is assisting you, although loading a mattress and box spring by yourself is doable if you’re strong enough.
However, note that mattresses are really awkward to carry and dragging them on the floor might tear the material, even if you put it in a mattress bag.
Consider This When Fitting a Mattress into a Work Van
These are the main factors to consider when loading a mattress in a cargo van:
1. The Rear Wheel Housing Can Get In The Way
The size rear wheel arches can reduce the width of the cargo area quite a bit, depending on the model.
This means that you might not be able to lay the mattress flat on the loading area floor unless you come up with some sort of false floor.
One way to make a false floor is by placing some plywood over the wheel housings while putting something under the plywood to ensure that it stays level.
However, note that this method will give you some extra interior width at the cost of height.
But if the mattress that you’re transporting isn’t particularly expensive or made of delicate materials, you can simply angle it in some way so that fits.
2. The Interior Lining Can Reduce Space
Depending on the particular model, your cargo van might have a fully lined cargo area.
The specific lining material might vary, although it usually includes carpet, plywood, or foam insulation.
This interior lining can reduce interior width at the back by around 3” at each side (6” in total), which can make squeezing a mattress inside a real challenge, especially in a compact work van.
3. Modifications Like Speakers Use Up Space
Cargo vans are subject to various interior modifications that greatly reduce loading capacity.
Since they’re typically used for commercial purposes, there could be specific equipment such as cabinets, drawers, and shelves inside.
Other common additions include aftermarket speakers fitted either on the sides of the vehicle’s roof.
Some heavily modified models even have camping equipment installed in the cargo area.
All of this reduces the usable cargo capacity and puts all aftermarket tools and equipment at risk when trying to navigate a mattress between everything.
4. Some Flooring Types Reduce the Interior Height
Some work vans have a specific flooring type that might include a rubber work mat, linoleum, carpet, and even wood.
Rubber mats are probably the most popular option due to being more affordable as they’re used for sound dampening and improved grip.
But certain models rely on composite flooring that looks more professional.
Regardless of the type, flooring solutions eat up interior height at the back of the work van.
5. Larger Cargo Area Lighting Can Be Bulky
The interior lighting that’s fitted as standard isn’t always enough, and that’s why some cargo vans have additional lighting sources installed.
This can include both portable and fixed sources of lighting, although it’s the fixed lamps that are most problematic when transporting a mattress.
Larger lighting units can easily be several inches high and they’re also rather fragile, unless fitted with a metal guard.
Essential Tips for Moving a Mattress in a Cargo Van
You have to ensure that the mattress is adequately packed before transporting it, and here are some useful tips for moving a mattress in a cargo van:
1. Strap the Folded Mattress to Secure It
If your mattress can be folded (i.e. it’s not a pocket spring or innerspring mattress), then you’d want to secure it using straps.
This will make carrying and loading the mattress into the cargo van much easier, and here’s how to do it:
- Fold the mattress (make sure that it can be folded)
- Wrap the straps around it and secure them
Note: Don’t tighten them too much to not risk damaging the mattress
- Make sure that the strap isn’t cutting into the mattress and that the strap doesn’t slip (it has to be tight enough, just not too tight)
Keep in mind that the number of straps needed will depend on how large your mattress is.
Usually though, using more straps is better as it’ll help to evenly distribute pressure across the mattress, reducing the risk for potential damage.
2. Shrink a Foam Mattress in a Vacuum Bag
The best way to transport a foam mattress is by packing it in a vacuum bag.
This will compress the mattress, making it a tad more compact while also protecting it from any dust, dirt, or moisture present in the cargo area of the van.
Moisture or any type of dirt can affect the mattress’s hygiene and smell, especially its longevity.
Here’s how to vacuum pack a foam mattress:
- Get a vacuum bag that’s big enough for the mattress
- Put the mattress in the bag
- Ensure that it’s air-tight and properly sealed
- Grab a vacuum cleaner and attach it to the bag’s valve
- Turn on the vacuum cleaner to suck all air out of the bag
- Seal the valve
- Roll up the mattress and wrap straps around it to ensure that it stays compressed
- To unpack it, simply unroll the mattress and remove it from the bag
Apart from preventing the growth of bacteria, a vacuum bag will also protect the mattress from stains while loading and unloading it from the cargo van.
3. Get Lifting and Moving Straps
Using moving straps can be affordable and really helpful for safely transporting an awkward and heavy mattress in and out of a cargo van.
Opting for a 2-person strap lifting system (.e.g shoulder strap or forearm forklift system) will distribute the weight of the mattress more evenly across your body.
The straps will also protect you from an injury as you’ll be lifting and carrying the weight with your entire body.
4. Opt for a Cart or a Dolly
If you don’t feel like carrying the mattress to the work van yourself, then consider using a cart or a dolly.
You can rent one to effortlessly load and unload a mattress, especially if it’s a massive California King size type.
This will also lower the risk of tearing the material or getting the mattress all dirty.
Ways to Move a Mattress Without a Cargo Van
Using a cargo van isn’t the only way to transport a mattress, and here are the main alternatives:
1. Get a Door-to-Door Delivery
The furniture company where you bought the mattress from most likely offers delivery that might even be free.
But if you want to transport your mattress to a different location, then consider using a moving company.
Although it’ll come at a certain cost, you won’t have to do the loading, driving, and unloading yourself.
2. Use a Trailer
Even if a cargo van isn’t an option, any vehicle with a trailer hitch (e.g. a car) can help transport your mattress.
All that you need is a trailer, which you can borrow from a friend or simply rent.
However, don’t forget to properly strap the mattress to the trailer before transporting it.
3. Rent a Truck
Truck rental might not be the cheapest option, but it makes moving a mattress rather easy.
You can pick the right truck size so that your mattress fits, and you can even go for a box truck where you can fit multiple mattresses if needed.
If you are renting a cargo van for a move, most companies such as Uhaul will have these as an option.
A 9’ cargo van from Uhaul is about $19.95for 4 hoursplus $0.89/mile if you manage to avoid getting any of their extras.
A 10’ box truck is also $19.95 for 4 hours, plus just $1.19 per mile (which is 1/3rd extra)
However, if that reduces the number of journeys you need, it could pay for itself.
Other Items that can Fit into a Cargo Van
Apart from a large mattress and a box spring, you can fit other large and heavy items into a cargo van such as:
- Small/medium-sized wardrobes
- Small/medium-sized tables
- Small couches
- Some sectional sofas (depending on type and structure)
- Dressers, washers, and dryers
Loading some of these items into a cargo van will also leave extra room for other, smaller objects such as chairs, drawers, and sideboards.
Cargo Vans With the Most Room for a Mattress
Some cargo vans will do a better job at transporting large items such as mattresses, and these are the models with the highest cargo capacity:
1. RAM ProMaster
- Cargo capacity (cubic feet) – 462.9′
- Max. payload – 4,680 pounds
- GVWR – 8,550 to 9,350 pounds
The RAM ProMaster offers heaps of practicality with its vast cargo capacity and very low load floor height.
This cargo van also boasts great interior width, and it comes in 3 wheelbase versions (136”, 159” and 159” extended).
2. Ford Transit
- Cargo capacity (cubic feet) – 404.3′
- Max. payload – 4,640 pounds
- GVWR – 10,360 pounds
The Ford Transit needs no introduction as this is arguably the most popular and best-selling cargo van in the US.
The legendary Transit is offered in 3 different roof heights, and 2 wheelbase options as the largest configuration possible give you a maximum cargo capacity of 404.3.’
3. Mercedes Benz Sprinter
- Cargo capacity (cubic feet) – 319′
- Max. payload – 4,354 pounds
- GVWR – 8,550 pounds
Despite its shiny premium packaging, the Sprinter is a very competent cargo van with really practical cargo doors that open quite high.
The Merc can be ordered with a high-roof option and even multiple rear-step variations.
Note that the Freightliner Sprinter is based on this Mercedes model.
4. Chevrolet Express
- Cargo capacity (cubic feet) – 239.4′
- Max. payload – 4,250 pounds
- GVWR – 9,900 pounds
The Chevrolet Express is mechanically identical to the GMC Savanna, and it’s known as a reliable workhorse.
There are a whopping 4 engine options and 2 wheelbase lengths to choose from.
5. Nissan NV2500
- Cargo capacity (cubic feet) – 234.1′
- Max. payload – 3,280 pounds
- GVWR – 9,100 pounds
The Japanese-built Nissan NV2500 comes with a truck-like design, making it one of the biggest cargo vans on the market.
It’s powered by a powerful gas engine, while the high roof version will enable most people to stand up inside.
You can fit just about any type of mattress in the average cargo van, although the box spring base of larger ones (e.g. California King) might not fit, and you’ll probably have to transport it separately.
However, most of the time, only a full-size mattress will be able to lay flat in the cargo area, because larger mattresses are much wider than the width of a regular cargo van.
The solution to this is to load the mattress at an angle, which will open up space for the box spring and maybe even other smaller items.
In fact, larger mattresses may even fit in smaller compact cargo vans with a longer wheelbase if you bend them enough.
But this wouldn’t be an option if you’re transporting an innerspring or foam mattress that’s thicker than 6” as they shouldn’t be folded.
In this case, you can simply secure the mattress to the roof using stripes or ropes.