Is there a way to car camp in the cold comfortably?
This is a pretty common question among van dwellers who aren’t somewhere in the Deep South. That’s because most of us can sleep in humid regions without too much trouble, especially considering the aid of a cooling mattress or some battery-powered fans.
On the flip side, cold weather car camping always becomes an issue. Part of the problem is that heaters draw so much power, making battery-operated versions quite rare.
Sure, one can try to install an inverter or keep the heat on all night, but that way lies the risk of Carbon Monoxide. Propane heaters are not much better, especially if you intend to sleep in a smaller vehicle.
So where does that leave us? As it turns out, with a couple of decent options.
1. Use a Proper Sleeping Bag
Ditch the Coleman easy rip zippers and choose something durable. I’ve found the WolfTraders -30 model to be quite satisfactory, even if it is a bit expensive. Remember, minimalism doesn’t mean Cheapito thinking, particularly when it comes to holding in the heat.
2. Bundle Up
You probably heard as a kid that the body loses heat at its ends. Make sure to wear a fresh pair of warm socks, some gloves, and a thick hat or balaclava while resting. The head is especially crucial, because it is usually more exposed, and you don’t want to be covered by the bag completely, or breathing will create moisture and possible sickness.
Invest in some thermal shirts and long underwear. They’re not terribly expensive, but do the job well.
3. Utilize Hand Warmers
A large pack of these little guys will run 14-20 bucks, but provide excellent comfort. One or two in the bag or in a hoodie pocket can make a lot of difference. Just avoid sticking them in that place.
4. Hot Water Bottles
This is one few people will readily think of, despite the ease and affordability. Purchase one or two of these fellows with the fabric case and boil water at work with an electric kettle or somewhere with a free outlet and place them at the bottom of your bag. They will prevent that chill that builds up around the feet, especially if that end is near a car door or trunk.
5. Get a Remote Starter
Although pricey (usually around $300.00) this feature can be a major boon in chilly weather. Once you get out of the bag upon waking, the change in temperature can be uncomfortable and cause sickness. Instead, keep the button close by and tap it so the car heats up before exiting. This also works as a precedent to going to sleep so the car is not freezing when you get in.
To be cautious, purchase a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector and keep it in the car as a safeguard.