You don’t have to spend a fortune to stay warm in the winter while you’re in your van! These van life winter hacks are all ways that I’ve survived the coldest months on a budget, but have stayed plenty warm at night. Using any of these will help tremendously but combining a few will do more than you think. So stay warm and don’t worry! Van life in the winter can be just as enjoyable as the sunny, summer months. Starting with your conversion and all the way to added essentials down the line.. Here we go!
INSULATE DURING THE BUILD
We’ll start with a more obvious one which is.. INSULATE. Insulation is key when it comes to staying warm in the van. I love the fact that I can escape the freezing cold by jumping into my van. In addition to insulating the actual walls and van itself, make sure you have something for your windows and even your vent fan. I put insulated covers up on my windows at night, shut the pocket door, and put a cover over my vent fan to block any cold air from getting in. This is the best way to start when considering how you’ll stay warm.
Almost everyone I know in a van has a Mr. Buddy propane heater. They’re really cheap and can easily keep your entire van warm. If you do choose to get one, I recommend having it on before bed and then turning it off when you go to sleep. This might make it cold during the night but it’s much safer than keeping propane running all night. You can fire it right back up in the morning, but it isn’t a great idea to have it going the entire night. This is probably the cheapest and best way to stay toasty in the winter!
We love a good, free suggestion over here. Boil water whether it’s for coffee, tea, or dinner. I’ve been in really cold temps and as soon as I boil water, I start taking my extra layers of clothing off. It heats up the van very quickly and very efficiently. This has turned into my go- to method recently because it’s just so easy.
I can’t be the only who likes to bury myself in a thousand blankets at night. Amazon has really soft, cozy blankets for pretty cheap and I have 4 of them in the van. I sleep with one under my comforter and the other 3 on top. You may not want to get out of bed in the morning but you will be very warm at night! Plus if you have a snuggly dog like Ella, they will appreciate this one as well. I think a lot of people overthink being in cold weather in the van but you’d be surprised how something simple like warm blankets can keep you plenty warm at night.
TURN THE VAN HEATER ON
The first thing I do in the morning when I jump out from under my stack of blankets is turn the van on and crank the heat. I don’t have the Mr. Buddy propane heater like my friends so I rely on my van’s heater. It actually heats up the van really well in about 10 minutes. I keep it running until I make coffee and breakfast (boiling water) and no longer need it. Works like a charm! Even with my partition behind the front seats, more than enough warm air gets to the back when I do this.
I was caravanning with a friend a couple weeks ago and he walked up to my van in one of these Selk Bags. It’s basically a sleeping bag onsie for adults. It may look silly but I was pretty jealous the entire time we were together because it looked so warm. They’re fairly inexpensive for what they are (about $100), and honestly so worth it. I can only imagine with one of these, you don’t really need other methods listed. Just walk around in this all the time, stay warm, and laugh at yourself for looking slightly ridiculous.
This one has definitely become the newest, best way to heat up the van lately. These heaters are connected to the van’s fuel tank and can heat the van all night long. You can run it as much as you want and it will simply pull from your gas/diesel tank. It’s typically located in the passenger seat of the van and you can barely notice it once it’s in. They are definitely more expensive and take time to install. However if you have the budget and plan to spend a lot of time in really cold weather, this will be worth it for you.
My favorite way to stay warm. Take the heaters and the blankets. Just give me a dog. You think I’m kidding but I’m very serious (maybe a little kidding but also serious). If you have a dog, consider the fact that they are furnaces at night! I got lucky because Ella cuddles all night long, but she really does keep me warm. I don’t have a human to keep me toasty at night, and I would prefer the dog anyways. But she works better than any heater could ever dream.