Winter Car Camping Essential Tips

How can you camp out overnight in your vehicle and not freeze to death?

The word camping evokes thoughts of roughing it out in the wilderness beneath the stars, safely in a tent or even in a luxurious recreational vehicle.

What most people don’t think about is camping out in your vehicle.

This is especially so during winter time.

Common sense dictates that a person should go where it’s warm to sleep.

However, the inside temperature of a car can be as cold if not colder than the outside temperature. So how can you effectively camp out overnight in your vehicle and not freeze to death? Listed below are some great tips to make winter car camping easier and more comfortable.

It's good to have a roof-mounted solar power and dedicated extra battery.....

Prepare your vehicle

The first thing you can do is prepare your vehicle before you head out on your trip. Whether you’re sleeping in your car on a cross country trip, a way to save money so you can hit the slopes every weekend, or just want to sleep in your vehicle, make sure that you make your car as insulated as possible.

Grab a foam mat from your local store. It can be as luxurious or as simple as you want it to be. This mat will line the back of your vehicle so make sure that it fits the whole length of the back area after the seats have been laid down or taken out.

Depending on if you’re camping out in parking lots; invest in a suspension curtain rod. Buy some thermal curtains and hang them so that it creates a barrier between the back and the front seat area. This will help to provide you some privacy in the back and to make the space smaller for you to heat up. You will also want to invest in a portable heater.

... and a power inverter with an extra USB port to run your 110V equipment

Before you commit to a heater, make sure that wherever you’re staying gives you the option of electrical outlets and/or hookups. This will be important for your portable space heater. Using a propane based heater can be a serious hazard due to the massive amounts of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide that it gives off.

Another reason you’ll want an electrical outlet handy would be for a light. To avoid draining flash light batteries or the batteries off of personal devices such as phones or tablets, investing in a light will be a big help. There are also a variety of LED lanterns that run off of solar energy in case having an electrical outlet is not possible.

An optional addition to your vehicle might be to put a rain guard on the driver and passenger window. This will allow you to vent the vehicle while keeping the rain out and without anyone realizing that the window is partially open.

To help you prepare for your trip, here is list of must have items that will come in handy:

  • Insulating mat for comfort and for layering
  • An appropriate sleeping bag that is efficient for the level of cold ,
  • An additional light source
  • Extra clothing items such as a stocking cap to keep you warm
  • A personal heater

Optional Items:

  • Privacy curtain
  • Additional mats for comfort
  • Power Strip
  • Additional batteries

Since the majority of your needs are being met with the car- shelter from the elements, animals, and general security, there isn’t much that you need to camp out in your vehicle. Just like winter camping anywhere, the main goal is to stay warm and dry.

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