Story by Alex Embry |

September 26, 2022 |

Are you trying to cram in all the fall camping you can before winter sets in? This year you don’t have to pack away the van, with our tips for staying warm in your camper van. With a bit of planning, you’ll be able to make yourself comfortable no matter what mother nature throws at you.

Start with your insulated Wayfarer Van

camper van conversion in one day

It’s important to start with a well-insulated van; otherwise, you are fighting an uphill battle as the van is pretty much a metal box on wheels. We insulate your floor, walls, ceiling and doors. The air in your Wayfarer Van is going to be warmer than the air outside of it, so we want to make sure there are no large gaps for cold air to get through.

We pack the nooks and crannies of your van full of Havelock wool. It is all natural – wool insulation is entirely renewable and sustainable. In addition to keeping you warm it has several benefits of improving air quality, suppressing mold and mildew and absorbing sound.

The windows are one area where heat can leak out quickly. We tackle the windows with a few different accessories. First we pop on our insulated window coverings as you set up camp. These come standard with all of our vans and use magnets for a quick attachment. For our vented windows we also lower our insulated window curtain. Then to make our living quarters smaller and cozier we deploy our Wayfarer insulated partition. On the coldest nights we also use our WeatherTech window coverings up front on the windshield and driver and passenger door windows.

Get A Propex Heater with our Hot Wheelie Box

camper van heating

The insulation in your van will only help you stay warm if you can generate heat within the living space. Our choice of heaters has evolved over the years: we started with a portable propane space heater, we grew into a radiant-based heater and now we’ve graduated to offering the most robust solution with a furnace pumping out warm, dry heat in your van.

The furnace we install is made by Propex, and it offers a reliable, efficient and safe heating option for your van. Propane burns cleaner than gasoline, so it does not require regular maintenance to remove carbon buildup as other types of heaters do, and performs better at altitude. It is effective for consistent heat controlled by a thermostat – you can even set a timer to have it turn on at the end of your ski day, or before you get out of bed in the morning. And most importantly it is safe with no exposed heating elements inside the van and the propane contained in a locker and vented externally.

Minimize Moisture

winter camping in a van

Keeping the condensation out of your van is not only going to make you feel warmer, it’s also going to keep you safe and prevent mold and mildew from growing on your belongings. There are a couple of ways to do this. Ventilation – it may seem counterintuitive, but keep your vent fan or a window cracked at night so you don’t wake up soaked in condensation. Or, with an option like our Hot Wheelie, the heater will dry the air and is externally vented, so there is no need to leave anything cracked.

Watch for other common sources of introducing moisture to your van: dry your gear outside when possible and brush off snow from your skis and boots before storing it in your garage. Another easy to overlook source of moisture is the steam created while cooking. So instead of boiling those spaghetti noodles inside and turning your van into a steamy sauna, layer up and cook your dinner outside. If the conditions are too extreme for an al fresco cooking setup, then consider items that are quicker cooking like precooked pasta, mashed potatoes or couscous versus a long-boil of spaghetti or penne pasta.

Wear Your Layers

winter camping in a van

Your parents prepared you for this every time you complained it was cold as a kid and their answer was to put on a sweater. You’re still camping after all, so layer up just as you would for any other expedition. Start with the basics: wool, fleece, and down. These materials tend to be warm without being bulky and they can easily be layered together for greater warmth and more flexibility than one thick garment could ever provide. 

Keeping a hat or buff near your bed makes it easy to add if the van starts to get chilly in the night. And don’t forget to pack your warm socks and down booties for maximum comfort and warmth when you get up in the morning.

Dial-in your Sleep System

lower bunk for camper vans

Layers are not only for your clothes, but your bed too. For the coldest nights, we recommend flannel sheets, a warm down comforter or sleeping bag(s) and an extra packable camp blanket to layer on if you need extra reinforcements.

There are some great options for heated mattress pads and blankets as well that will keep you warm, even if the temperature inside the van is dipping below freezing.

Preparing yourself for winter camping can be a big undertaking. But if you are prepared with the right tools, you can accomplish this successfully!

wayfarer vans conversions

A few more quick tips for the road:

  • Keep some hand-warmers in your van. They are simple back-up option to keep around when you need a boost of warmth.
  • If you notice condensation on the windows before bed, wipe them off with a towel so you reduce moisture in the van and don’t run into an ice-over window situation.
  • Use a rug inside your van as an extra layer of insulation and to help your feet stay warm in the morning.
  • Stash your clothes for the morning inside your sleep system, they’ll stay warm and it makes crawling out of your warm bed slightly more bearable in the morning. 
  • And bring along a cuddle buddy or a big fluffy dog!

Don’t let the cold weather be a reason to put your adventures on hold. Winter camping is a wonderful experience, and having the right tools will make all the difference between enjoying yourself or not. With our tips above, hopefully you will be able to stay warm in your camper van during winter months! Good luck out there!