Getting a quality night’s sleep in today’s truck camper is often difficult. When you consider that one-third of each day is spent in bed, that’s unfortunate. Truck camper manufacturers have outfitted their campers with big bathrooms, spacious kitchens, and massive holding tanks in order to make them more livable, but most have neglected to provide what we think is a critical necessity—a quality bed. The problem is with the approach. Most companies slap a basic spring or foam mattress in their campers and call it a day. That’s not enough. What’s also needed is a some kind of mattress support system that not only provides additional comfort, but can be adjusted to the needs of the owner without using electricity or air. Fortunately, such a system exists—it’s called the Froli Modular Sleep System, an imported product from Germany. This is a Review of the Froli Modular Sleep System.
You may have heard of the Froli Modular Sleep System. It made a splash in the truck camper community in 2015 when NuCamp started featuring it in its excellent Cirrus truck camper line. The Froli has actually been around a longer than that—its history actually starts in 1994 when it was first introduced to the European market. Since that time the sleep system has become popular in the boating community due to its ability to conform to the odd shapes and slopes found in many marine berthing compartments without the need for an expensive custom mattress, and is now making its way into RVs. Several RV companies now offer the Froli as OEM, including Winnebago, Airstream, NuCamp, XP Camper and Tiger Adventure Vehicles, along with several other companies offering it as an option.
How it Works
The Froli Modular Sleep System consists of a grid of high-tech plastic “spring elements,” which together work like a standard box spring mattress. Each spring, measuring roughly 5×5 inches, is made of a thermoplastic elastomer, a high-tech material that combines the flexibility of rubber with the strength of a durable, space-age plastic. This material offers a memory-like effect for precise flexing while returning the spring to its original shape at rest. The Froli provides three spacing options to set the overall firmness of the bed, two sets of color coded springs that provide a different level of firmness—dark blue, firm; light blue, soft—plus a set of red tension clips shaped like four-leaf clovers that provide even more firmness in certain areas if needed. It’s a clever and ingenious design, unrivaled by anything else in today’s market.
Froli makes three modular sleep systems—the Travel, the Star, and the Zona with the height, surface area, and design being the primary differences between the three. Boat owners usually go with the Froli Travel, while truck camper owners typically choose the Froli Star—this is what NuCamp puts in its Cirrus truck campers as OEM and what we retrofitted in our camper. What’s great about the Froli Modular Sleep System is that it can easily be retrofitted in any boat, camper and home without breaking the bank. Better yet, the company claims that its sleep systems last over 10 years—the lifespan of a good mattress—then backs up that claim with a 10 year limited warranty as well as a 30 day unconditional money back guarantee. There’s no risk for trying it out. The Froli Star System for a queen-size bed retails for $398.00.
The biggest benefit that the Froli Modular Sleep System provides is comfort. The main issue with a basic mattress is the lack of lumbar back support and the inability of the mattress to conform to the pressure points in our shoulders and hips when laying on our sides. With the Froli Sleep System, each spring flexes independently, providing support that is superior to even a basic mattress/box-spring set-up. Indeed, the flexible surface of the Froli Sleep System, in combination with a quality mattress, helps prevent uncomfortable pressure points that cause pain and poor circulation. Not only that, but these springs can be adjusted to suit individual settings in larger beds that sleep two people, one side can be set for firm support, while the other side is set for soft, similar to a $2,000 Sleep Number Bed. Pretty cool.
In addition to unrivaled comfort and adjustablility, the Froli Modular Sleep System offers another big benefit for those who own truck campers and boats—the elimination of condensation under the mattress. As you know, condensation is a big problem in many parts of the country and in many truck campers and boats. This moisture can collect underneath a mattress causing mold and mildew, both of which can be hazardous to your health, and depending on the severity, can eventually lead to rot. The Froli Sleep System solves this serious problem through its design that provides a height or lift between 1-3/8 and 2-3/8 inches. This keeps the mattress suspended above the sleep platform allowing for the free flow of air underneath. You can’t get his kind of under mattress airflow with a traditional mattress set-up, even in high-end RV mattresses with integrated coil springs.
The Froli Star System for a queen-size bed comes in two large boxes and includes everything you need for a custom installation. The installation kit consists of 120 base elements, 100 dark blue spring elements, 20 light blue spring elements, 20 red tension clips, and an installation tool. To determine how many elements you need for your mattress, you’ll need to sketch out your mattress’ size and shape using the layout diagram provided in the instructions. For our 60×80-inch queen-size mattress, the layout diagram called for a total of 108 base elements and springs with a grid of nine across and 12 down. As mentioned earlier, the base elements can be installed with narrow, medium, or wide spacing, but since we choose to go with wide spacing, this reduced the size of the grid to 88 elements with eight across and 11 down. As you can see, this left us with plenty of leftovers for any future adjustments.
The installation of the Froli Star Sleep System was surprisingly quick with the instructions consisting of a single sheet of paper. Indeed, the hardest part of our install was getting the mattress out of the camper, always a chore in today’s cabover campers. Building the Froli base grid is easy. All you need to do is layout the individual grid elements and snap them into place using the enclosed installation tool. No screws are needed, the base grid simply “floats” on the surface of the bed platform. Installing the individual spring elements was even easier, a simple push and 90 degree turn with your hand is all that’s needed. The overall installation took about one hour—without a doubt one of the easiest mods we’ve ever done to our camper.
So is there a mattress that works best with the Froli? We asked Elke Nickle, U.S. distributor of the Froli, that question. She explained that since the Froli is so versatile and responsive, with its different firmness zones, distance spacing, etc., it works well with just about any mattress, usually an all-foam mattress, including latex and memory foam. “For RVs, we recommend a minimum thickness of 3 inches, however, a 4- to 5-inch minimum would be preferable. This works best in most RVs where height or headroom can be an issue. On the foam weight, you want to use a quality of at least 1.8 pounds per cubic foot. It should be of medium firmness, not too firm, because the Froli takes care of the support and flexing and you don’t have to worry about bottoming out,” she said.
At first, we were skeptical about the Froli Modular Sleep System. Yes, we read the positive reviews and online feedback, but when it comes to a product like this our first inclination is to pass it off as a gimmick. With our aching backs and shoulders screaming out for relief, however, we decided to give it a try. We’re glad we did. We sleep so much better now. Is the Froli a game-changer? We think so for two reasons—increased comfort and zero condensation. No other sleep system can do both. Sure, a nice mattress can make a difference in sleep quality, but when you pair it with the Froli Modular Sleep System, it can turn a decent bed into a great one. The fact that it can do this without any fancy electronics, with very little weight, and at this price point is a pretty big accomplishment. What would we rate it? On a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest, we enthusiastically give it a rating of 5 stars. It’s a great product. Your mind and body will thank you.