Winter, in our opinion, is the best time to travel by camper van. Crowds are sparse and often non-existent. Our rental prices are at their lowest. When you’re hiking (or adventuring of any kind) the temperature cools your body heat down perfectly. And best of all, you can catch some truly magical moments of white snow and ice against bright red rock. Add in a sunset or sunrise, it can be a truly spectacular thing!
However, camping in colder weather can present several challenges. Luckily, a few key tips can make your camping experience more comfortable and enjoyable.
Travel to Lower Elevations
Traveling to lower elevations is the best way to find the warmest weather. Our camper vans are not equipped with snow tires and we do not allow travel where chains are required. For this reason, you should avoid the snow by traveling to places like Joshua Tree, Sedona, or the California Coast. While they are insulated, our vans are not designed to fight extreme temperatures… instead, they are made to quickly get to the nice weather!
Run the Van’s Heater
When waking up on a chilly morning, leave the keys in an easy to access location. That way, you can immediately start the van and turn on the heater to help make getting out of bed just a little bit easier! It’s also nice to run the heat just before going to bed.
Bring a 12 volt Electric Blanket
It’s a super nice luxury to have an electrical outlet right next to your bed in these camper vans! However, power isn’t limitless and you risk discharging (breaking!) the battery if you draw too much power. Because of this, you cannot use an electric blanket with a normal 120v wall plug. Instead, get one with a cigarette lighter power adapter. This is 12 volts and these will take a bit longer to heat up, but they last through the night!
These are not included with your rental because they don’t survive being washed multiple times, but if you’d like to bring your own, here’s a link to two on amazon:
Use Our Included Portable Heater
We include a Mr. Buddy propane heater and two propane bottles with every rental. These are awesome little heat machines that advertise themselves as indoor safe. However, any combustion created carbon monoxide. Because of this, if you use the heater in the camper, PLEASE open a roof ventilation fan and run it at all times when the heater is on. Each canister lasts 4-8 hours depending on how much heat you’re producing, so you may want to consider buying a few more from Walmart before you leave town.
Layer Up the Provided Sleeping bag + Blanket
If you want to stay extra warm at night, consider layering up a sleeping bag with a quilt. This will provide you with an added layer of insulation that will trap your body heat more effectively and help keep you warm all night long. Additionally, it’s important to make sure that your sleeping bag is properly rated for the temperatures you’ll be encountering on your trip. Otherwise, you run the risk of being too cold and not getting a good night’s sleep, which can ruin the entire experience.
Sleep With Hot Water Bottles
Another great way to stay warm while camping in colder weather is to boil water and fill your water bottles. Then, bring those hot bottles into your sleeping bag or under your blankets to provide targeted heat that will help keep you warm all night long. Just be sure to seal them up real tight and don’t place them directly on your skin!
Bring extra fuel
When camping in colder weather, it’s always a good idea to bring extra fuel for your camp stove. This way, you’ll have plenty of warmth to cook meals or heat up drinks throughout your trip. Additionally, it’s important to make sure that your fuel is properly stored and protected from cold temperatures. Otherwise, it could freeze and become useless, leaving you without a way to cook food or heat up drinks. We provide two full butane canisters plus whatever was left over from the previous renter. You can buy these at Walmart or any camping supply stores.
Drink Coffee, Hot Tea, and hot chocolates!
Many people enjoy camping in colder weather, and there are a few hot beverages that can help make the experience more enjoyable. Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate can all help to warm you up on a cold day. In addition, they can provide a much-needed energy boost if you are hiking or engaging in other activities. Of course, it is important to be careful when consuming hot drinks near open flames. However, if you take precautions, enjoying a cup of coffee or tea around the campfire can be a great way to relax at the end of a long day. And there is nothing quite like sipping on hot chocolate as you watch the snowfall from your tent.
When camping in cold weather, it is important to stay dry. Wet clothing can lead to hypothermia, a condition in which your body loses heat faster than it can produce it. You don’t need to be submerged in water to get hypothermia… wet clothes in winter can cause it! And, this can happen even if the air temperature is above freezing. Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, lethargy, slurred speech, and confusion. If left untreated, hypothermia can be fatal. The best way to prevent hypothermia is to dress in layers of loose, waterproof clothing and to avoid getting wet. If you do get wet, change into dry clothes as soon as possible. By taking these precautions, you can help ensure that your camping trip is safe and enjoyable.
Dress in layers
The most important thing is to dress in layers. This means wearing several light layers that you can easily add or remove as needed. Wool or synthetic socks, hats, and gloves will also help protect you against the cold, so don’t forget these essential items.