Welcome winter's glowing campfire evenings and long moonlit nights. There's so much to love about this time of year when you're bundling up, staying warm and able to enjoy it.
The crisp air and sound of crunching snow or grasses beneath foot on hard, frozen ground make the world feel new and fresh -- slower and more peaceful.
Of course, there are special challenges to prepare for when campervan camping and traveling in winter. In this article we'll cover great winter prep tips and products to include in your van build, along with quick RV winterizing tips for getting the most out of your campervan winter.
Eight Tips for Your Campervan Build to Better Winter RV Living
We know building a van for winter takes a lot of planning and we carry the best gear to get the most out of it. Check out these tips and shoppable products to complete your van build and make your winter RV living better than ever.
Insulation is your first defense against extreme temperature changes and keeping consistently warm in winter. When done correctly insulation will also help block condensation and dampen sound. Check out these insulation products and why we love them:
Insulate your van floor easily and finish your floor build quickly with the Rainier Flooring system.
A dense, rigid subfloor, cut exactly to fit your van model. The subfloor is built from a high-tech composite board made of extremely dense polyurethane foam reinforced with fiberglass. This board is 40% lighter than marine-grade plywood of the same thickness, 3x more insulating than plywood -- meaning there's no need for additional insulation -- and extremely rigid and impervious to moisture, perfect for the temperature extremes of a camper van interior.
You can choose to finish the RV floor assembly with beautiful, durable RV flooring from 2Tec2 or Lonseal.
Lizard Skin 350-TIC Thermal Insulating Coating easy spray-on, water-based insulating coating designed to act as a thermal barrier within all types of vehicles. The coating is tested to ASTM standards and exceeds most criteria for weatherability, adhesion, ﬂexibility and UV resistance.
3M™ Thinsulate™ acoustic insulation is made from a unique combination of fine microfibers that absorb high frequency noise and thicker fibers that provide recovery and loft. It is compressible, lightweight, and conformable.
Thinsulate is hydrophobic meaning it won’t absorb water, is moisture, mold and mildew resistant, and also acts as an additional vapor barrier for your walls. This unique non-woven acoustic insulation is composed of polyester and polypropylene fibers, and provides a R Value of 5.2.
2. Choose the Right Heater
The right heating system makes all the difference. Vans and RVs are small and easy to heat in cold weather, but in extremely cold temperatures the uneven displacement of airflow often makes the van floor freezing cold and the ceiling especially hot.
For proper heating you'll want a well insulated van floor, walls, and a great heating system.
Get heated van flooring. The Columbia Heated Flooring System has everything you need to set up your hydronic heater in combination with this hydronic heated flooring system.
The kit includes dense, rigid subfloor to hold the heat, cut exactly to fit your van model. The subfloor is built from a high-tech composite board made of extremely dense polyurethane foam reinforced with fiberglass. The composite board is CNC-machined with precise grooves for the included PEX tubing and aluminum alloy inlay heat transfer plates, which retain and distribute heat throughout the floor.
The subfloor assembly is finished with marine plywood to provide a smooth, strong substrate for finish flooring, and the plywood is engraved with the PEX tubing pattern so you know where to place fasteners and where to avoid.
Plus, choose to finish the RV floor assembly with beautiful, durable RV flooring from 2Tec2 or Lonseal.
The Aqua Hot Gen1 13500-20000 BTU air and water heater is available in 3 popular fuel options- Diesel, Propane, and Gasoline and is great for new and replacement installs.
Planar diesel heaters use less fuel to generate more heat. It can easily be tapped into the main vehicle fuel tank so you don't need a separate fuel tank for the heater, and has been formally tested at altitudes up to 8500 feet (2600 meters) for camping in the most extreme environments.
The Planar air heater kit contains every component you need for a camper van/motorhome installation, including the heater, exhaust and intake tubing, fuel tap, etc.
3. Upgrade Your Van Flooring
We offer snow-ready 2tec2 and Lonseal flooring that's great for winter RV living. You won't have to worry about water seeping between your floor's vinyl planks while hustling in and out during ski trips. Get an upgraded van flooring with 2tec2 and Lonseal.
2tec2 flooring combines the durability and cleanability of a hard surface with the comforting look and feel of carpet. These high-tech woven vinyl floors are made to last. They’re durable enough to weather at least 10 years of normal use, and are stain resistant and can be cleaned completely using warm water or other natural cleaning substances -- eliminating the need or concern for harsh chemicals or intense cleaning treatments.
Lonseal flooring comes in options for every van style, and it’s thoroughly tested for durability with light, heat, chemical and abrasion resistance testing. Lonseal flooring withstands the heavy use of daily outdoor life easily, and will remain beautiful for years down the road.
4. Store More Gear Safely
Bring your gear along and don't become cluttered through snowy months with exterior carriers. We offer a variety of name brand cargo boxes and carriers as well as Packasport rooftop carriers for all your storage needs.
Mounts onto an Owl Vans Carrier for Sprinter or Transit vans. Available in Large and XL options.
Mounts on an Aluminess Tire/Box Carrier for Ram Promaster, Ford Transit, and Mercedes Sprinter vans. Offers a swing arm door. Dimensions: 30"H x 24"W x 16"D
Mounts on Backwoods Adventure Mods rear swingout bumpers for Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter. Dimensions: 30"H x 24"W x 15"D
Mounts to your rooftop roof rack or crossbars mounted on your van's roof rails. Available in several sizes and options. Read our Packasport blog post for more information.
5. Cover Your Windows and Vents
- 1. Van Essential Window Covers
- 2. AVCO. Window Covers
- 3. Tourig Window Covers
- 4. Vanmade Gear Window Covers
6. Add a Cab Curtain
Cab curtains will help close in your living space and eliminate the need to heat the cab portion of your van. Plus the curtain will add more privacy while camping in crowded spaces.
A quintessential privacy divider and insulator to separate the cab from your living quarters. The curtain hangs from a headliner shelf with a rod (sold separately). Slide the divider across and clip the magnetic closure to the passenger side of the vehicle to close. The accordion-style design stays folded with a clip attachment and stow's flush against the sidewall of your van when not in use.
7. Bring the Best Gear
You'll need to be prepared for heavy snows and unexpected conditions while camping throughout winter. Bring the right gear to be prepared for heavy snow conditions and emergencies.
Compact DMOS Shovels can get you out of many unforeseen circumstances. Bring the best tools with you for unexpected winter conditions or for any season of off-road travel.
8. Keep your Van Vented
Stale air creates stale environments and opens up the possibility for mold and mildew. Keeping your RV vented throughout colder months will help eliminate damp air. Check out these roof fan and vent options:
MaxxAir Fans are made for RV living. The rain cover allows you to keep the fan going through storms and prevents the fan from fluttering in heavy winds.
The Fantastic Fan comes in multiple options and offers a reversible airflow to pull air in or out. Some models include a rain sensor to automatically close the lid.
The Dometic Heki Mini Plus RV Rooflight is a compact and sturdy tilting RV skylight that perfectly fits the bill: it's manual and very easy to operate anytime, and with an included retractable blackout blind on one side and a retractable fly screen on the other side, it's a versatile solution.
Quick Campervan Winterizing Tips
There's much to be said about winterizing your RV for the colder months -- here's a few quick tips to start preparing for winters in your van.
1. Upgrade Your Tires
Snow tires are necessary in many states during winter, but they can also help you gain better traction in heavy and icy rains too.
2. Carry Chains
Get appropriate snow chains for your vehicle -- consult your owner’s manual first -- and be sure to carry them with you throughout winter. Read Far Out Ride's review article of the Thule/Konig XG-12 PRO Snow Chains for information on installing chains on a Ford Transit and you can search for your tire chain size with Konig's Fit Guide.
3. Be Prepared for Freezing Conditions
Keep your van's water systems flowing by installing all water lines and tanks inside warm areas of your van, or by keeping water stored inside your van during winter months. If you're gray water tank is exposed outside consider installing a secondary drain line to route water directly into a container inside your van.
If you plan to park your van during the winter months be sure to drain water lines and tanks.
4. Defrost Your Van
Take advantage of your van's defrost option to pull moisture out of the van.
5. Clean Off Your Van Awning
Sweep off your awning prior to rolling it up after a snowy night. Ice can harm the awning's function.
6. Bring an Emergency Kit
Always stay safe, pay attention to weather trends and events, and bring a stocked emergency kit.
Build your camper van with all seasons in mind and keep these tips saved for when you hit the road. Winter may be a tougher season for van life but with the right gear you can be better setup to enjoy winter adventures.