Tips for Surviving Van Life in the Winter

Living the #VanLife is no easy task no matter what time of the year it is. However, the wintertime can be especially harsh, especially if you have anchored down in a snowy area. Winter climates throughout the U.S. can easily drop to sub-zero temperatures, so it’s important to stay as warm as possible when living on four wheels. Here are some tips from fellow van lifers on how to survive the winter.

Insulation is key

Brian Laston works on the Freightliner Sprinter High Top van on May 13, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio
Brian Laston works on the Freightliner Sprinter High Top van on May 13, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. | Adam Lee / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

One of the best ways to survive the winter is to insulate your van to keep the cold out and heat in. Sara Sheehy, from The Outbound, notes that foam board and sheep wool are popular ways to insulate a van, but they require you to insulate behind the walls. However, it’s one of the best solutions if you are currently building up your van.

Another tip is to use reflective foil insulation cut into pieces to fit the van’s windows for more insulation. Also, you can hang a couple of heavy blankets over the pass-through and doors, which tend to leak heat.

Take a bottle of water to bed with you for a quick and easy heat source

The interior of Eileah Ohning's Freightliner Sprinter High Top van. | Adam Lee / Barcroft Media via Getty Images
The interior of Eileah Ohning’s Freightliner Sprinter High Top van. | Adam Lee / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

If you’re looking for a quick way to heat yourself up when going to bed, you can take a hot bottle of water with you. Many van lifers suggest filling up a Nalgene bottle with hot water and placing it in the sleeping bag, or bed, with you for a quick and easy heat source.

Hang up your wet clothes

A van drives on a snowy road in the UK
A van drives on a snowy road in the UK | Adrian Sherratt/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images

RELATED: What Ford Transit Model Is Best for a Camper Van?

If you like to ski or snowboard while out on the road, then chances are that your clothes are going to get wet. In that case, one important tip for drying them is to hang a clothesline in your van so that you can hang up your wet clothes immediately. Doing so will prevent you from being cold after a long day of shredding up the mountains, hiking, or whatever cold-weather activities you’re into.

A diesel-powered heater can work wonders

Espar D2 Heater kit
Espar D2 Heater kit | Amazon.com

There are plenty of heat options to go with when it comes to heating up your van. According to Free Skier, there are wood stove, propane, diesel, and electric options available on the market. However, the most recommended solution that we came across is the Espar D2 heater kit, which is powered by diesel fuel. It does a great job of dispersing hot, dry air and it even comes with its own little thermostat.

If you can’t afford a larger heater, then a portable one will help

Mr. Buddy Portable Heater
Mr. Buddy Portable Heater | REI.com

While having a larger diesel-powered heater will work wonders when it comes to heating up your van, it can get pretty expensive. If you can’t afford the $1,000 price of entry, then you can always get a portable propane heater like the one from Mr. Heater Buddy. This little heater runs on liquid propane and radiates 4,000 to 9,000 BTU per hour. That means it to heat spaces up to 225 square feet, but it should be noted that it should not be used overnight, so proper van insulation is key.

Keep your van warm in the winter

While it can be tough to keep living the van life in the wintertime, it’s not impossible. Proper insulation and preparation are key to keeping yourself, your van mates, and your entire van warm. Fortunately, following these few tips should help immensely.

RELATED: Don’t Waste Your Money on These Van Life Scams