Chandlery April 15, 2005 Issue

Froli Sleep System

A new mattress underlayment device enhances comfort with adjustability and promotes ventilation; what more could one desire?

A small piece of four-inch foam sits atop several sections of the Froli Sleep System as they would be assembled and connected for use on board.

When the box is tipped up, out spills a jumble of strange plastic pieces that resemble Picasso's work when he was in his synthetic phase of cubism, right after his rose period.

And it's when the odd plastic parts are sorted out that one might puzzle over Practical Sailor's proclivity for getting involved in some odd enterprises.

Basically it's because PS is always interested in new marine stuff, and because the publication's staff is forever lending an ear to inventors, dreamers, even schemers, basement tinkerers, and garage entrepreneurs—anyone except poets, who are generally beyond help.

In this case, it started right after our Oct. 15, 2004 report about boat mattresses, with a phone call from a very pleasant voice that belonged to Elke Nickle, who lives with her husband, Wolfgang, in northern Virgina. The Nickles have been PS readers since 1992.

Elke told us that the couple liked spending time aboard their Ovni 345, but weren't happy with the boat's bunks. At a boat show in Germany a few years ago, Elke saw something called the Froli Sleep System made by Froli Kunststoffwerk. She bought it, tried it out, and became convinced it truly makes for comfortable sleeping aboard.

"It makes a boat bunk like a regular bed with springs," she said. "We've had ours for two seasons, and with four-inch foam cushions, it's marvelous."

What is it?

It's a user-assembled spring base that, when made up, fits under a foam rubber mattress or bunk cushion. It provides both flexibility (a quality sorely needed with most platform-type beds), adjustability (depending on a user's body weight and personal preference from very firm to soft), and most importantly for boats, ventilation.

A tribute to injection molding, the Froli spring base can be assembled and adjusted to be very firm or very soft, with each of five adjustments possible in any area. For instance, the base needs to be much softer in the leg area, firm in the torso areas, perhaps medium under the shoulders, and light under the head. The adjustments can be made and unmade, until the user finds it just right.

Using the dimensions of any bunk, a Froli base is made first by laying out a set of individual thermoplastic bases. When properly dimensioned, the base pieces are connected (in one of three positions) with a pressing tool. Spreading the bases out means a softer spring base; closer together provides a much firmer sleep surface.

Next, pieces called "spring elements," made of thermoelastic plastic, are attached to the bases and locked with a simple 90° turn. (Dark blue pieces are firm; light blue pieces are softer.)

Even more adjustability is provided by tension rings, shaped like four-leafed clovers, which are snapped on the top of the spring elements.

When assembled, the lightweight "spring" is less than 1.5" thick and fits easily under any boat bunk cushion. No fasteners and no tools are needed, other that the press-on one supplied. The entire base can be disassembled and done over again, if need be. To provide for non-rectangular shapes, the spring elements swivel, and half-size elements are available.

Although there are numerous models of the Froli system, Nickle said she handles only the "Travel" version, which makes a bunk spring about 27.5" x 79" and the "Star," which is 31.5" x 79". Both sells for $169.95.

The dimensions can take almost any shape, of course, with the addition of more bases and spring elements. Precision is provided by the half-size pieces.

"You supply the dimensions of a bunk, I'll do the rest," Nickle told us. "You can assemble a bunk spring kit in less than an hour, and then take all the time you need to adjust it to your liking."

The warranty is five years, but it would appear that the Froli spring system should last for many more than that.

When we assembled the samples Nickle supplied, the springiness was amazing. Placed beneath a good quality bunk cushion, the spring undoubtedly would enhance comfort. And for sure, the Froli system would seem to be the answer to under-mattress moisture and odor problems associated with foam bunk mattresses placed directly on plywood bunks.

Just don't take your bunk cushions and Froli springs on deck for a good airing. If you do, the questions from passersby will come thick and fast.

Contact - Froli Sleep System, 703/924-5926.

Comments (1)

We love our Froli system. When we became liveaboards in 2008, for the first six months we were both wrestling with severe back pain. I was living on Vicodin. We added memory foam, changed out the base foam, but any gains were incremental. We added Froli, and it was an INSTANT relief. We immediately began sleeping through the night. Back pain simply vanished. Highly recommended, and relatively inexpensive.

Cary & Maureen Stotland
s/vs C-Lover

Posted by: Cary S | December 1, 2011 11:05 AM    Report this comment

New to Practical Sailor?
Register for Free!

Already Registered?
Log In