Why cut the season short when you can extend it throughout the off-season and enjoy a spot of winter camping.
If you’re willing to lose the feeling in your toes, carry an absurd amount of clothing, and push the boundaries when it comes to taking your classic VW out when most people are huddled by their log fires, then winter camping is for you. Whether you head into the Alps or choose the picturesque Scottish Highlands as place to be, there are many hidden spots worth visiting for a winter weekend. Whereas most camping enthusiasts prepare their vans for the winter sleep, for some it is that special time a year when camping brings even more fun. Yes, the rewards of getting away from it all in winter are huge, and we’ve got a few hints, tips and gadgets to make your cold weather trips away a whole lot more fun…
The heater’s on
After a long winter hike or mountain bike ride, there’s nothing more welcoming than sitting inside a warm Bus. With an air blown heating system such as the Heatsource HS200 you don’t have to worry about freezing temperatures in your camper van, allowing you to make the most of the colder season ahead. It is an automatic thermostatically controlled blown air heating system fuelled by propane, butane or LPG gas and provides warmth totally independent of the engine.
Make a snowman
Sure, you have seen many in your life; chubby ones, tall ones, wee babies and utterly ugly ones. For some people the best thing about winter season is building a snowman. Well, we don’t really know whether that’s true but it is the perfect afternoon activity for your weekend on a snowy campsite. For those who need a bit of guidance and don’t want to disappoint the kids – check the site here. What do you reckon, did these guys take it too far? Giant snowman timelapse.
Rugs on the floor
This one’s easy. To help avoid frosty toes and make the winter camping experience so much more homely, put some rugs on the cold vinyl floor of your Camper. Don’t forget to bring a spare doormat to place on the ground outside the sliding door to wipe off the worst of the seasonal mud.
Room with a view
Awnings are not only for sun protection – you can enjoy the beautiful winter, sheltered from the wind and the cold in them too. It is also a great place to store skis, the kids’ sledges, coats, bikes and winter boots. We’ve got some options here.
Some like it hot
Because a trek to the local hostelry might not always be on the cards you can do the next best thing and make up some suitably hot drinks yourself. They do not only heat yourself up but also your van. View some suggestions here to add an extra sparkle to those cold, dark winter nights away.
Knitting is calming and relaxing and doesn’t cost much, making it a great way to spend a winter evening in your Bus or tent. The beauty about knitting is that you can take it with you, making it the perfect activity for your travels. One can spend a lot of money on yarn, or very little. You can choose luxurious cashmere or practical, washable synthetics. Knitting has a wide variety of benefits beyond having something comfy and warm to wear – showing off something you’ve knitted for example. With the step-by-step knitting guide here you will never freeze again on your winter camping weekend.
With the right insulation winter evenings in your camper van can be cosy and warm. Thermo mats are easy to fit and remove, just push the suckers onto your Bus’s window glass and pull the tab to remove. You can see our full range of mats here. Additional thermal curtains, or at least thick lined curtains, will also work wonders when it comes to keeping the cold out.
Keep it covered
You want clothes that can keep you warm during periods of inactivity. So layer up and choose breathable fleece to inhibit the accumulation of perspiration during exertion. The old wisdom of stripping down before you get into a sleeping bag doesn’t make sense, so keep on your thermal underwear during the night. Also, heat some water, pour it into a heat-proof water bottle, and snuggle it into your bed with you. A mattress topper for your van’s rock ‘n’ roll bed is also a worthwhile addition.
Buy a woodburner
One of these will keep you warm on a cold night sat outside under a canopy. Something like this could work quite well. Make sure you don’t have it close to any canvas or anything else for that matter which is likely to go up in flames and have a fire extinguisher handy.
Guilty as charged
In this era of connectedness, there is a good chance you’re camping with a mobile phone, DVD player or other form of tech gear. Preserve battery life by keeping them stored in a warm place. Ideally, stash them in an interior pocket inside of your jacket. They will stay toasty from your body heat and will be ready to go when you need them. Don’t forget to pack your phone/DVD charger and the adaptor needed to plug it into your cigar lighter socket.
We know it’s miserable to get out of your sleeping bag in the middle of the night to pee. However, the human body exerts a lot of effort to keep your urine warm. Wouldn’t you rather channel that same energy towards keeping you warm while you sleep? The tip is not to drink excessive amounts of fluid just before bedtime and if you think you’ll need to go, keep access free and a torch handy so it takes as little effort as possible.
You’ll make this mistake once but hopefully dehydration prevents it from happening again! Store your water bottles upside down so that the bottom liquid freezes first. Hopefully, this will keep the drinkable contents near the mouthpiece so you can stay hydrated.
Bag your Feet
Hopefully you’re already planning on wearing waterproof boots to tramp through the snow. However, moisture can still sneak in, especially if it runs down your wet trousers. Stick your bare feet in a plastic bag before pulling on your socks. This will keep all moisture away from your skin and thus, your toes will stay warmer.
Vent your tent
Yet another counterintuitive tip, but trust us: this one is a must! Before going to sleep, open the vents in your tent or awning, even if it is freezing outside. This will keep your breath from turning into condensation and moisture on the inside of your tent. Who wants that in the middle of a blizzard?
Finally, don’t take any chances. Always carry a fully charged mobile just in case you get stuck or there’s an emergency – and it’s worth becoming a member of an emergency recovery service just in case the worst happens and you become stranded. Don’t always rely on a satnav – if you really get off the beaten track, it might not be able to help you. Sometimes the old methods are best – so take a map and compass so you don’t get lost. Most of all – have fun!
The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of VW Heritage.