6 Winter Car Camping Essentials ❄️
Spring, Summer and Fall all present themselves in good weather when living in your car. What about the other season? The one even house people dread. I’m talking about Winter. Depending on where you live it can bring temperatures in the negatives with a slapping cold windchill. How can anyone survive living in their car in the winter? How crazy do you have to be? To answer the second question: very 😈. If crazy means more money spent on traveling and less on rent, a lower carbon footprint and tougher skin then I’m all for crazy! I’ve been winter car camping for 4 years now and every year gets more comfortable and more manageable.
If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try something new like winter car camping, or you’re just curious, here is a list of essentials that will keep you alive and comfortable.
PRO TIP: DON‘T GO TO BED C🥶LD. You’ll never warm up. Drink some hot water or eat a hot meal before bed.
6 Winter Car Camping Essentials
1. Sleeping Bag (20 degree rating or lower)
I put sleeping bag first because it is most important and also most expensive. A proper rated sleeping bag is a MUST if you want to withstand the frigid elements attached with Winter in your car. A zero degree sleeping bag, which means it will keep you warm at 0 degrees, will cover most temperatures for lower 48 car camping (~$200 minimum). I don’t even think it’s safe to do this in parts of Alaska. A 20 degree sleeping bag, keeps you warm till 20 degrees, is the bare minimum you’ll want to go and make sure to have blankets on hand.
Have you had any water today? Not only are we mostly made of water, but so is our blood - 90% to be exact. This is the blood that carries iron through our body supplying oxygen and keeping us warm. Be good to your body and always have water handy. A gallon jug or a couple water bottles will do - just make sure they don’t freeze!
Let‘s get real here! It’s cold as heck outside in winter and our car is basically half windows and half metal - both with a warming value of 0! One of the best things you can do to keep any and all warmth INSIDE your car is to create window covers from insulation foam boards, reflectix, or a combination of both! These can be found at Home Depot, Lowes, etc and run fairly cheap (~$20). Using a box cutter, pocket knife, or similar sharp object you can custom fit the window covers to slowly prevent heat from escaping (it’s inevitable unless you have a constant supply of heat - but we have sleeping bags instead!). Now, CRANK THE HEAT on your drive and warm your place up!
4. Camping stove
Yet another way to warm the car up, but also provides a hot meal in the morning and before bed. A hot meal, or drink, is one of the best ways to warm up before bed and it gives you something to do in the cold. Kind of like cooking when woods camping - it’s necessary and fills time before cuddling up in the sleeping bag for the night.
5. A pee bottle
Because f**k peeing outside in the middle of winter! I did that my first winter in my van and although I grew a tough mentality I wouldn’t recommend it unless you like the cold challenge. Ladies, try to find a wide rim bottle like a peanut bottle or an old nalgene water bottle. Fellas, use whatever 🙄.
6. Portable phone charger
Phones notoriously lose battery in the cold. What if your car won’t start in the morning - how will you call for help? Always have a fully charged battery pack in case of emergency.
There you have it - 5 essentials when winter camping in your car. Wether you are making a weekend trip or transitioning to full-time living, this list will get you started on the road to freedom.
“Freedom is something that dies unless it’s used.“ -Hunter S. Thompson
Of All Trades,