What is a Gaucho Bed?

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Depending on the size of your RV, campervan, or towable, space is always at a premium. Unless you have an expansive home on wheels, you’ll start looking for space savers almost immediately. This is where an RV gaucho bed comes in.

What is a Gaucho bed? In short, it’s designed to pull out from a single bed size to a double bed. It may also be used as a couch during the day, depending on its design features too.

To get additional space inside your RV or camper, it’s worth considering installing a Gaucho bed. Let’s find out more…

What is a Gaucho Bed?

The modern Gaucho bed (aka a goucho bed) isn’t mainstream in the RV world yet.

Because an RV typically already comes with a bed, initially another one is not always needed. But they’ve picked up interest from camper, trailer, and truck camper owners, and are growing in popularity in the van life world too. In the latter, #vanlifers have been eager to maximize the space-saving while also providing a place to sit down; something that a Gaucho specializes in.  

The Gaucho couch bed has been the solution for van owners who didn’t have space for a separate bed and a couch, respectively. When adding a dinette was out of the question, other solutions have to be found. Enter the Gaucho!

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What is a Gaucho in a Camper?

A gaucho in a camper is a compact version of this bed/couch design.

Depending on the size of the camper in question, a different size Gaucho can be purchased or planned and built to match the size configuration required. The Gaucho is especially useful in a camper because they’re the more restrictive for space of any RV configuration.

Gaucho Bed for Two

It’s possible to get a Gaucho bed for two.

The idea here is that it expands from a single to a double, so it’ll be larger enough for two people to sleep on. While it likely won’t be a Queen size bed at home, you won’t be squeezed together like a couple of sardines either!

There are Ikea Gaucho beds that may be suitable for two people. It’s necessary to hunt around through their bed-related inventory to find suitable models though.

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Gaucho Bed Mattress 101

With Gaucho beds, they’re often designed not only to extend out but also to become a couch or sofa to sit on. Therefore, the firmness needs to be robust enough to not sink into the mattress/seating area during the day. Otherwise, it’ll lose its form pretty quickly. This happens most often with inexpensive mattress choices in the van life world that require replacing quickly.

An extending camper bed will incorporate a mattress that can unfold to cover the entire bed frame but will happily fold up when as a couch. The Gaucho will usually fold near one side to form the back of the couch. This section is then extended out across the bed frame when converting the Gaucho to a bed.

A Gaucho bed mattress needs to capable of providing sufficient support as a couch and yet still be comfortable to sleep on. Usually, it’s thinner by design with its appearance being closer to a futon than a regular mattress. For people who prefer plush (soft) mattresses, a Gaucho may not be for them.

How to Build a Gaucho Couch

Purchasing a Gaucho bed is not easy presently because performing a search for Gaucho beds for sale doesn’t usually bring up many good results. Certainly, some of the larger e-commerce stores struggle to offer something useful, so it’s a bit of a gap in the market right now.  


It’s necessary either to purchase Gaucho bed plans or a Gaucho camper product from a smaller store. Alternatively, acquiring or creating some Gaucho bed plans can be a starting point. Doing so is far more common with Van Life than for RV owners, though Airstream Gaucho replacements are being sought out now too.

Gaucho Bed Plans

The common approach with Gaucho bed frame designs is that the two sections (including the pull-out one) use slats across the frame. The slats alternate as they move down the frame so that the two parts can become one again and not overlap.

The design means that when extending the frame out to make the bed larger, it’s very breathable for the mattress. The gaps between alternating slats allow plenty of airflow beneath the mattress to avoid trapping the heat. This proves to be an ideal design for hot sleepers when using memory foam.

Gaucho Custom Mattresses

Finding a mattress that will work for a Gaucho is tough too.

It may be necessary to place a custom order for a mattress. It will need to be made to measure, but also be one that can bend and adjust for both the couch format and the fully extended bed format too. Therefore, any order needs to be discussed with the mattress provider to make sure it will be appropriate. Any old mattress just won’t do.

Here is a useful video detailing how one van lifer designed and constructed his Gaucho. It should give you a clearer idea about the basics of it:

Sliding Van Bed

The sliding van bed may not be called a Gaucho by people who decide to put one together, but essentially that’s what it is.

The van bed frame needs to be created with a slide out bed design. The camper van bed frame incorporates the space-saving features to allow it to take up half the width of a van but slide out to encompass three-quarters or the full width of the van when needed. This allows van lifers to convert a double-sized bed to a couch to sit on and retrieve items from the rear storage when needed them during the day. Then storing them away before bed, the floor space is cleared to allow the sliding bed to be extended once again.

A slide out bed may also be high enough to allow for storage beneath. However, this is not always the case but is typical of custom designs for added storage.

Also, it’s worth seeing if there are some suitable Ikea van beds available. Given the increasing popularity of van life, these types of beds can sometimes be spotted.  

Closing Thoughts

A Gaucho bed makes for an ideal replacement to the original RV bed or to add into a van as a flexible sleeping arrangement. They’re a bit tricky to find presently, with many people choosing to do a bit of woodworking to build their own and then purchase a custom mattress for it. A few retailers are popping up with relevant products that are worth exploring, but they come and go, so it’s difficult to recommend a single manufacturer.

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