How To Make A Jack Knife Sofa Comfortable In A RV? 7 Creative Ideas!

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If you’re wondering how to make a jack knife sofa comfortable in your RV, you’re in good company. Many people find them uncomfortable, especially when they lie down on an RV jack knife sofa.

That’s because of the gap between the back and the seat of the jackknife sofa. 

Of course, if you know how to build a jackknife sofa for yourself, you’ll get the best comfort from it.

But you can easily make a jackknife RV sofa comfortable by following some creative ideas, below.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated in September of 2023 to bring you the most up-to-date information.

how to make a jack knife sofa comfortable

CONTENTS – In this article, you will learn how to make a jack knife sofa comfortable and more, including:

First, let’s start with the basics.

What exactly is a Jack Knife Sofa?

And why are they so darn uncomfortable?

What Is A Jackknife RV Sofa?

jackknife RV sofa is a kind of sofa bed where you can lie down for sleeping and also fold the sofa up for sitting. 

That way, you maximize the use of your RV space. 

It is different from traditional sofa beds since it does not require a mattress and therefore, takes less space in your RV. 

When you’re ready to go to sleep, simply unfold it and you can retire for the evening.

To enhance the comfort of your jackknife RV sofa, consider implementing the valuable tips provided in this guide. That way, you can create a more comfortable place for guests to sleep. If you’re interested in exploring premium RV options, you can also check out offerings from the reputable Grech RV dealer.

Benefits of A Jack Knife Sofa

Jack knife sofas are very popular among RVers, because they are easy to move and lighter in weight. 

The best part is you can turn the sofa into a bed easily. You just need to pull down the seat and then the sofa will turn into a flat surface for sleeping. 

Depending on how big your rig is, you may be sleeping on it yourself, or just want the space for extra guests.

Both the sofa & bed are perfect in size to use in a RV.

Related ArticleTips for RVing with Your Grandchildren

Size of a Jack Knife Sofa

comfortable RV sleeping

The size of a jack knife sofa depends on your RV size. 

If you own large RV or fifth wheel camper, then you can choose a big jack knife sofa. But if you have a smaller RV, then you should choose a small size jack knife sofa to fit the space. 

Most Jackknife sofas range from 68-72 inches in length with a depth of about 26-28 inches (when folded).  

The main area you have to consider is when a jack knife sofa is in bed mode. 

Because in bed form, it takes a lot of space. 

If you’re wondering what size sheet fits a jackknife sofa, it will vary with the furniture itself, but you’ll most likely be able to find home bed sheets that will fit.

That’s because the different bed sizes include twin, queen, full, and king.

You can choose one depending on your RV size. Just make sure whatever size you choose, it will fit in your RV.  Of course, that’s one of the most important things!

What Makes A Jack Knife Sofa Uncomfortable? 

Though the jack knife sofa is very convenient, some people find them uncomfortable to sleep on. 

Here are reasons that contribute to making a jack knife sofa uncomfortable:

  • It’s surface is too hard to sleep on
  • The cushion gap between the back and the seat makes it very uncomfortable when the jack knife sofa is in bed form
  • Since the jack knife sofa is designed for space saving and versatility, comfort is not the first priority
  • Jack knife sofas made from leather or leatherette is especially uncomfortable for sleeping
  • If the metal frame (usually a steel frame) is not supported when extended, the sleeping surface can bow 
  • It does not include a mattress to sleep on.

So, how do you make your RV sofa bed more comfortable for sleeping? 

The first step is to unfold it. 

Then, you’ll want to use some creativity. 

Let’s have a deeper look at how to make a jackknife sofa comfortable, below.

7 Creative Ways to Make a Jack Knife Sofa Comfortable in an RV

jack knife sofa unfolded

While a jack knife sofa is a great piece of furniture for your RV, there’s no denying that sometimes it feels uncomfortable while sleeping. 

But, no worries. The good news is, you can take these steps toward getting a better rest on your new sofa. 

Here are some creative methods to make your jack knife sofa comfortable in a RV. 

1. Use A Folded Quilt or Comforter

You can make a jack knife sofa comfortable quite simply by using a quilt or comforter to enhance the cushioning of the sofa. 

You just have to spread it over the jack knife sofa to soften that hard surface. (You’ll want to have some kind of mattress cover anyway to protect the sofa bed.)

Usually a quilt has three layers of fabrics and sometimes wool, and comforters can be very fluffy! So make this your first option.

So if you fold a large quilt or home comforter over your jackknife sofa, you will get more layers beneath you while sleeping. 

That should be thick enough for better sleeping comfort, so it’s the first thing you should try.

2. Get A Mattress Topper

You can also use a mattress topper to make your jack knife sofa surface more comfortable. 

They are thick, usually around 2-3 inches and are made of a layer of high-density foam or memory foam

For the most comfortable situation, make sure the mattress topper is the same size of your sofa.

3. Top With An Egg Crate Foam Pad

An egg crate foam pad is one of the best options for a jack-knife sofa. 

It is very soft and the egg shaped bumps make it more breathable. 

As with any topper, you have to consider the size of the egg crate foam pad and how it will fit on your jack knife sofa before you buy it. Ideally, it should be the same size as the sofa. 

In some cases, you can cut them to size, but it’s always better to try for a good fit to begin with. 

Likewise, you can look to a memory foam mattress or memory foam topper to make your jack knife couch a more comfortable sleeping surface.

4. Pool Noodles to the Rescue!

This idea is an especially creative solution, since you’ll be using pool noodles

When you turn the sofa into a bed, you will find it creates a gap between the seat cushion and the back cushion. 

This gap is the main reason it’s so uncomfortable while sleeping. 

So, you need to fill up the gaps with–you guessed it–pool noodles to level it off. Believe it or not, they make an excellent crack filler!

5. Top with an Air Mattress

If the idea of sleeping on pool noodles doesn’t sound much better, you can also layer a mattress topper or air mattress on top. 

The pool noodles will still fill in the gap making the overall sleeping experience better, but some air mattresses are so high, you won’t even need to fill in the gap. 

Either way, when you top your jackknife sofa with an air mattress, you’ll get a fabulous, comfortable night of sleep. It makes a huge difference in making your jackknife sofa bed more comfortable.

According to RV Inspiration, RV Owner Brandy Tidwell found that a futon mattress can be a good fit as a topper for your jackknife bed, too!

6. Make Your Own Sofa Pad

You can make your jack knife sofa more comfortable by making your own sofa pad

Then, you can customize it according to your needs. 

This is especially useful if you can’t find the right size, or you want the sofa pad to be a certain thickness or match your decor.

To make a sofa pad you will need:

  • Measuring tape
  • Thread
  • Wool or Cotton Batting
  • Cotton fabric 
  • Scissors

First, you’ll have to cut the cotton fabric into two pieces that match the size of your sofa bed. 

Then, with the fabric design (if any) facing each other, sew three sides of the fabric together and leave one side unstitched. This will create an envelope, of sorts.  

Next, fill the envelope with wool or cotton batting to the desired thickness. 

Finally, stitch the open side to seal it up.

Now, you can spread the pad over the sofa bed for a comfortable night’s sleep. 

This will make a great addition to your RV furniture, and it gives you the chance to choose your own color options or use different colors to personalize your sofa pad.

It’s also an excellent choice for RV owners who want to stay within an affordable price range.

7. Use A Self Inflating Air Pad

Self inflating air pads are arguably the best way to make your jack knife sofa comfortable. 

These pads can import the air in automatically & make you feel comfortable when you are on the jack knife sofa. 

You can also release the air from the pad and fold it up when you don’t want to use it. That way, it doesn’t take up much space. This makes it a really good option to improve an uncomfortable couch.

Final Thoughts on How to Make A Jack Knife Sofa Comfortable

making coffee in an rv

Jack knife sofas are best for RVs when you know the techniques to make it comfortable for yourself. And one of the most important factors to enjoying your camping experience is getting a good night’s sleep.

Now, you have 7 easy and creative ways to make you more comfortable when you or a guest sleeps on your RV jackknife sofa. Then, you can look forward to start your morning off well-rested, ready for adventure.

Sweet dreams!

Need more ideas to enhance your RV travels? Check out this round-up of the 25 best items for RVers.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Jack Knife Sofas

Here are answers to some common questions you might have about jack knife sofas.

What are jack knife sofas made of?

You’ll find many different varieties of jack knife sofas. In most, the seat of the sofa is usually made of ployhyde euro leather or some other kind of leather material on a steel frame. This unfolds to create an RV sofa sleeper. That’s its best feature! Because when you’re done resting, you can easily restore it to the upright position.

What are the pros and cons of an RV jackknife sofa?

Jack knife sofas are great option for making use of smaller spaces. Some even have additional storage space underneath, where you can hide bedding or even stack your games for rainy days. The only thing is, it’s usually not the most comfortable bed. They can be a good idea for small children and temporary bedding, but not the best option for an achy senior member staying in your travel trailer.

How big is a jack knife sofa?

Your new jackknife sofa likely ranges from 36″ to 84″ wide, depending on the type of sofa bed you have. Some jack knife sofas are not quite as wide as a single bed (38″ wide). Others are wider than a standard pull sleeper sofa (78″ wide). Most pull out with two pieces forming the bed, but a different style is a tri-fold sofa that expands from the center of the couch.

Since jack knife sofas come in many different sizes, you’ll need to consider the different options, whether you need a twin bed size or want a more spacious RV couch bed. Whatever you decide, it will provide the extra sleeping space you need without taking up a lot of space.

How does a jack knife couch work?

The jack knife furniture fixtures in an RV look like a couch, but unfold on a jointed metal frame to reveal a sleeping area. To open your jack knife sofa, you’ll want to remove the arm rests and then lift up and out to to unfold the flat sleeping space. Once you tuck the seatbelts away, you’re ready to use your jack knife sofa. Here’s an easy video demonstration.

You’ll likely want to make the bed more comfortable with cushions, mattress toppers, pillows, and bedding. While they are not known to be particularly comfortable, these sofa beds do provide a convenient sleeping space, stored away right within within the couch.

How to support a jack knife sofa overhang?

When you open up your jack knife sofa, the mattress may have as much as a two-foot unsupported overhang. Some jack knife sofas have a built in support bar or kick plate. If not, the overhang can cause discomfort, as the bed will tend to bow. Creative campers suggest installing a sturdy bicycle kickstand to the bed, or using a foot rest, cushion, or camping step to provide support. No one wants to roll out of bed when sleeping!

What can I replace my stock jack knife sofa with?

If you’re looking for an RV sofa bed replacement, you might want to check out the Thomas Payne Collection. They use industry recognized Lippert components in their jack-knife sofas for durability.  Another great alternative for new furniture in your RV is the Recpro Charles Collection. Both of these manufacturers have some of the best RV sofa bed reviews in their comment section.

A good alternative is a traditional hide away with a heavy mattress. You can even find an RV air mattress hide a bed sofa on Amazon. That way, you can replace an uncomfortable jackknife sofa in your 5th wheel with a new couch.

If you’re a Good Sam RV Club Member, be sure to look for member discounts at Camping World and RVs.com, too.

Some people swap out a jackknife sofa for a wall-hugger recliner. This type of reclining chair, sometimes called a “wall away recliner” or “base of the wall hugger recliner,” needs only 4 to 5 inches of space from the wall to fully recline. It’s a great space-saving option when you swap out your jack knife sofa.

recliner as an alternative to jack knife sofa

The main difference is, you can’t hide the chair away to make more space when you’re done sleeping.

What ever option you choose, generally, jack knife sofas are easy to remove from your rig. Most are secured by a few bolts and you can take them right out.


Jackie Gately at the beach


About the Author: Jackie Gately

I'm Jackie Gately, your travel confidante and the creative force behind Enjoy Travel Life, awarded the "Best Casual-Luxury Lifestyle Blog (USA)" in Travel and Tourism by LUXlife Magazine for four consecutive years.

With 25 years of published expertise, I'm a seasoned writer, editor, and photographer curating inspiring travel guides and lifestyle tips for empty nesters. I hope to kindle your spirit of exploration, encouraging you to overcome obstacles and turn your dreams into reality.

Learn to minimize your pre-travel angst and maximize the joy of exploration with insights from my experiences. Let's make every adventure a celebration of this exciting phase of life! 

Follow my social channels for more inspiration.


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18 thoughts on “How To Make A Jack Knife Sofa Comfortable In A RV? 7 Creative Ideas!”

  1. We RVed for 8 years and bought 2 RVs between. My husbandbsaid never buy one with a jackknife sofa. Now I know why from your descriptions. But you have 7 ideas of how to cope!

  2. A very good insight into how to make a jack knife sofa comfortable. Although the concept is new to me it did make me interested and read on. Although you mention they are normally uncomfortable to sleep on, when camping and moving around in a RV it certainly looks more than comfortable to me.

    • Yes, it is definitely more comfortable than sleeping in a tent, for sure. RV life can be quite comfortable, especially when you enhance the comfort of your jackknife sofa. 😀

  3. There was once a time where I could sleep on any surface, and likely the jack knife sofa being too hard to sleep on likely wouldn’t have bothered me. But not anymore! The hard surface, the cushion gap and the size would impact my sleep. So great tips shared on how to improve the comfort of these while camping.

  4. I have one of this sofas in my little Amsterdam studio. It is not the most comfortable place to sleep but has hosted some of my friends on their visits to my home. The idea about adding and inflatable mattress is really good and even if quite obvious I had not thought about it myself. Thanks for sharing these useful tips.

  5. These are some great tips Jackie! I have never heard of a jack knife sofa before so this was interesting. A mattress topper and extra quilt would be the first things I think of. Pool noodles however?! I had to look up what this was!

  6. I had no idea about Jack knife sofa. It was good to learn about something new. It definitely looks versatile and very useful inside an RV. And all your suggestions to make it comfortable are just so helpful. I am sure readers will pick on these techniques to add to their comfort.

  7. Jack knife sofas are definitely an essential furniture of an RV to relax comfortably and sleep.
    These are some of the very useful tips on making sleeping on Jack knife sofas comfortable. Using comforter, quilts, air mattress, egg pads or creating your own is the best way indeed. Traveling in an RV is my dream to accomplish. And sleeping in a jackknife sofa while traveling is the ultimate comfort statement.

    • Yes, it’s so important to be comfortable on the road! Glad to offer up some suggestions and hope you accomplish your dream of RV travel. 🙂

  8. An informative post for those who travel around in a camper van. I hadn’t heard the phrase jackknife sofa (as I’m in the UK) so it was interesting to find out what it was and how to make it comfortable.

    • Thanks, Angela! Yes, the subtle language differences between the US and UK can be confusing sometimes.

  9. I’ve never slept in one of those but found your solutions very ingenious and a great problem solver. An air mattress seems like the obvious answer for bringing something that is compact and has multiple uses for play or sleeping well.

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