Winter camping strategies

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Winter camping strategies

Postby lfhoward » Mon Jan 27, 2020 3:05 pm

Hi All,

I’ve done a bunch of winter camping in my trailer in below zero weather where I’ve had access to shore power. The trailer is nice and cozy with its baseboard heater cranking out all sorts of BTU’s. I’ve always kept the side windows cracked open maybe half an inch and the fantastic fan vent cap open about the same. The convective airflow carries away most of the humidity from our breathing but it’s slow enough to keep the trailer nice and warm. We do get condensation and ice on our single pane windows but we wipe that down in the morning with a towel.

Here’s the trailer:
Image

I plan to be camping this March for 3 consecutive nights on a wildlife management area with primitive campsites (no electricity). It’s possible the temperature will be quite chilly overnight. I have electric blankets and the trailer is insulated on all sides, ceiling, and floor. However, without central heating, I’m thinking about what I can do to keep warm. I doubt I’ll be able to run the electric blankets continuously, even with solar. Thus, this is what I’m thinking:
- Lots of extra blankets and quilts
- Wear a hat to bed
- Block off most windows with foam to reduce heat loss. Leave an opening maybe 1” tall on both side windows for airflow.
- Block off the ceiling vent with foam. I’m thinking since heat rises, this would be a major source of heat loss.

Here are my questions:
- What are your strategies for winter off the grid?
- If you have tried anything I listed above, how did it go?
- Is it a bad idea to block off the roof vent because of condensation inside the trailer?
- How much open air space in the windows is needed to keep the air breathable? (Don’t want to get the CO2 levels too high in a small space.)

Thanks!
Lauren
My off-road camper build on an M116A3 military chassis:
http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=62581
Tow vehicle: 2008 Jeep Liberty with a 4 inch lift.
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Re: Winter camping strategies

Postby skyl4rk » Mon Jan 27, 2020 3:24 pm

Use a warm sleeping bag or quilt as your main warmth source. Crack open the top vent to reduce condensation. I find it comfortable to put a fleece throw blanket over my head down to my nose, and my quilt up to my chin, so only a narrow opening is above my mouth and nose to breath through. That allows me to turn to either side and still have a good breathing air opening. Putting insulation over the side windows is a good idea, just keep the top vent cracked open. It will get cold in the trailer but if you shut everything up, it will get cold AND damp.
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Re: Winter camping strategies

Postby eLink » Mon Jan 27, 2020 7:33 pm

I have used a Mr. Heater for van camping (with window cracked). The small propane tanks last only 6 hours though.
Looks like it will fit on your shelf!
mrheat.JPG
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Re: Winter camping strategies

Postby Vtec44 » Mon Jan 27, 2020 8:08 pm

My trailer is fully insulated all around with R10 foam. The roof isn't insulated inside but it is on the outside under the polycarbonate roof. I have a vent hole toward the front of the trailer with 2 12v DC fans that will provide some air circulation when necessary. In addition, I have a Mr Buddy Heater and a carbon monoxide detector. I've camped in 30 degrees weather where the inside of the trailer remained in the high 50's without using the heater all night. I generally turn it on at the beginning of the night before I go to sleep. It gets up to the mid 70's quickly. I turn it off before I go to bed and only turn it on again if it gets too cold. I have plenty of standard blankets and a 0-degree sleeping back as an emergency if it gets too cold. So far it has been working very well for me.

So my strategy:
- 2" R10 foam insulation all around
- Air vent with fans for air circulation if necessary
- Mr Buddy Heater and carbon monoxide detector
- Thick blankets
- 0 degree sleeping bag as emergency.

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Re: Winter camping strategies

Postby Modstock » Mon Jan 27, 2020 8:15 pm

I use a heater buddy. Little bit smaller than pic above.
I usually only run it about 10-15 minutes before bed. In a 4x8 teardrop it gets warm quickly.

With a -5° bag also, once im warm I can sleep all night.

And both windows cracked about a 1/2" OR more.
I tend to keep the roof vent closed to keep heat in.

One warning I'd give is, be careful about how hot the ceiling gets in small spaces.

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Re: Winter camping strategies

Postby tony.latham » Mon Jan 27, 2020 9:01 pm

Image

My strategy that morning --after harvesting a tom-- was to hitch up and head for the nearest restaurant.

I've teardropped down to +12 in Stanley Basin. Here's a pic I stole from the 'net. The Basin is in the middle of Idaho, BTW.

Image

It's a purty place and everyone should put it in their bucket.

Now, back to camping when it's cold. I haven't had a problem inside. A couple of down comforters and maybe wear my sweats so I don't freeze my butt during the midnight step-out. The challenge I've had is cooking outdoors when it's cold.

:frightened:

Tony
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Re: Winter camping strategies

Postby Vtec44 » Mon Jan 27, 2020 9:28 pm

tony.latham wrote:
The challenge I've had is cooking outdoors when it's cold.

:frightened:

Tony


Oh I had the same issue on my last camping trip. It was in the low 20's which wasn't bad, but my hands were frozen! LOL So I bought this thing on Amazon and a grill to put on top of it. It's basically a fire place which will radiate heat while I'm cooking on top of it outside :D



https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01HT ... UTF8&psc=1

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Re: Winter camping strategies

Postby lfhoward » Mon Jan 27, 2020 10:35 pm

Thanks to all who have answered!! This gives me a lot to think about.

eLink wrote:I have used a Mr. Heater for van camping (with window cracked). The small propane tanks last only 6 hours though.
Looks like it will fit on your shelf!
mrheat.JPG

Has anyone used the small version, the “Little Buddy”?

Image

https://www.mrheater.com/little-buddy-heater.html

I was thinking on economizing on space, and this little one seems to have the same safety features as the bigger one. I only need to heat 48 square feet so the larger one seems like it might be overkill. This would fit nicely in that corner. I originally built that shelf for a space heater, but it turned out to make the ceiling way too hot. I’d fold it down and place the heater on the bench, so that it’s safer and the heat mixes better with the air before it hits the ceiling.
My off-road camper build on an M116A3 military chassis:
http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=62581
Tow vehicle: 2008 Jeep Liberty with a 4 inch lift.
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Re: Winter camping strategies

Postby eLink » Mon Jan 27, 2020 11:06 pm

lfhoward wrote:Has anyone used the small version, the “Little Buddy”?


Oddly enough, the Little Buddy is actually a bit taller and the heating element sits higher. They both get hot directly above so they cannot be placed too close to the ceiling. They Need 30" of clearance or so.
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Re: Winter camping strategies

Postby rjgimp » Tue Jan 28, 2020 1:22 am

I grew up in Duluth. The one in the frozen tundra at the tip of Lake Superior, not the one in Georgia. In scouts we did a lot of camping in all kinds of weather. Back in the 70s and early 80s this still involved a lot of old-school thinking and mostly natural fabrics. Near Ely MN, a veritable stone's throw from Canada, the BSA has a high adventure camp that has year-round programming. They have a winter camping program called Okpik where you learn how to survive in extreme cold. When I was about 12 I skied out to a frozen lake and built a snow shelter where I slept for the night. BTW, regarding your venting question: there were three of us sleeping in a snow dome with about an 8' interior diameter and a 4' ceiling. In the ceiling and walls we had about a half dozen vent holes of maybe an inch diameter each. We woke up to about 10 degrees outside and about 35 inside with the ceiling dripping on us a little bit, mostly from our breathing but we also had a single candle burning all night. It was awesome and some 40 years later here I am to talk about the experience. :lol:

So, boondocking in the cold requires some planning. If you don't have the benefit of a safe, reliable heat source (a propane or diesel heater or a small properly vented woodstove would be ideal) that you can run all night, you'll need to run your heat as long as you can to get your space and your body to a comfortable temperature and then have a way to maintain and contain that heat within the space for as long as possible.

All that said, here are my suggestions...

*Moisture is your enemy. Prior to turning in get cleaned up, dry off, and put on clean dry socks and underclothes that wick moisture away from the skin. All we had when I was a kid were cotton and wool. Wool is great in cold weather but cotton is of the devil. Use modern technology to your advantage. Polypropylene long underwear is great stuff. A layer of fleece and/or wool over that is spectacular.

*Use layers. Think about the structure of the insulation in your house or camper. What keeps heat on one side of the wall and cold on the other regardless of whether it is foam, cellulose, or fiberglass is hundreds of layered air pockets within the insulation. Your clothing works in a similar way. The air pockets trapped between layers, as long as that air is as dry as possible, will help keep you warm. Multiple layers of blankets will do the same. The 12 year old me was shocked to learn that I could use TWO or even THREE sleeping bags, one lighter one inside a heavier one, and would stay toasty warm all night. Who knew? :lol:

*Preheat your personal space. Boil some water on the campfire and use a hot water bottle to warm up your bedding before you crawl in and then put a fresh one (or several) under the covers with you when you do go to bed. If it doesn't make you skittish and you have one with a good seal, use that "other" water bottle (y'know, the one you pee in in the wee hours so you don't need to go outside) put the cap on it nice and tight and leave that little bundle of heat right there under the covers with you! It comes out at a wonderful 98.6 degrees, don't let that precious heat go to waste! :thumbsup:

*Fuel your body properly. Whatever you eat and drink make sure it is well balanced and also good and warm. A good mix of fats, proteins, and carbs will keep your internal furnace churning away all night and into the morning. Eating and drinking cold things needlessly drops your core temperature and wastes energy. Maybe not noticeable for a couple hour hike but can make a great difference in your comfort and safety over the course of multiple days and nights.
-Rob


I hope to make it to a Procrastinators Anonymous meeting someday...
just as soon as the steering committee gets around to scheduling one!
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Re: Winter camping strategies

Postby edgeau » Tue Jan 28, 2020 6:56 am

Hi all, just a safety note. I heard on the news tonight a family here in Australia were found dead because they had a gas leak from a fridge in their tent. If you are using gas heaters etc please have sufficient venting and leak detection.

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Re: Winter camping strategies

Postby booyah » Tue Jan 28, 2020 7:36 am

One thing to seriously consider, stick a piece of foam board insulation under the mattress in your camper. You may have insulated under there, and yes you have your mattress, but you have solid contact from you to the floor even with those, and the floor is exposed to the outside world. More insulation here is worth the $15 a 8x4 sheet of r5 foam board will cost you.

I get worried about running propane in my camper, so if I have no shore power my option is cold weather mummy bags, hot water bottles, and those get me through.
My build, 5x8 modified benroy "Smiles to go". Started April 2nd 2015, first trip August 2nd 2015.

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Re: Winter camping strategies

Postby BigDave_185 » Tue Jan 28, 2020 8:04 am

The stand up heater buddy. The little one works pretty well. I have used that in my 8x25 enclosed ( no insulation at the time) to take the chill off so my 4 yr olds can get to sleep. It works well and does its job. It does not have a tip over switch that I could locate. The base is floppy so don’t let it fall over!!!!


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Re: Winter camping strategies

Postby lfhoward » Tue Jan 28, 2020 7:52 pm

Today I took some measurements in the corner of the trailer where a heater would have to go. (The shelf would be stowed in the down position and the heater would sit on the bench.)

Trailer corner measurements:
14x11 rectangular space for heater, 44” bench to ceiling
(14 side to side, 11 long)

I payed a visit to the local Walmart and verified that the bigger of the 2 heaters will NOT fit in the corner of the trailer. It would be wedged in with no place for the heat to go.

The smaller round version will fit, and it’s tall enough to throw heat over the top of the bed.

The base of the Little Buddy heater is 8” in diameter.
Image

So is the casing around the heating element.
Image

The heater is 10 inches tall, plus the height of a propane cylinder, which is 8” (18” total when assembled). That leaves 26” of clearance between the top of the unit and the ceiling. Technically it’s supposed to be 30” but 26” is close. It would probably still be fine.
My off-road camper build on an M116A3 military chassis:
http://www.tnttt.com/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=62581
Tow vehicle: 2008 Jeep Liberty with a 4 inch lift.
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Re: Winter camping strategies

Postby tony.latham » Tue Jan 28, 2020 8:05 pm

You could start saving your dimes (and quarters) for a Propex...

Image

180º heat coming into the cabin with a thermostat is a good thing.

:FNP

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