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8 Ways to Prepare Your Campervan for a Cold Winter

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

While summer might get all the glory, why should your campervan experience be restricted to the warmer parts of the year? Spending time in a conversion van can be just as fun in winter… provided your van is appropriately kitted out.

Here we take a look at how to winterize your van, opening up months to van life adventures in the process. Without further ado, here is how to make your campervan/conversion van winter-ready, in 8 simple steps.

1. Insulate, Insulate, Insulate

Insulation is the most effective way to keep the cold out and the warm in. You should:

  • Use caulking and weather stripping to seal windows and doors.

  • Install double-glazed windows and/or heavy curtains and drapes.

  • Insulate the floor with foam board flooring or heavy rugs, and the walls with fibrous, building-style insulation.

2. Consider Skirting

In truly cold weather the interior insulation mentioned above may not be enough. You may need to insulate the outside too, and that’s where skirting comes in. This is an insulation material that covers the undercarriage of your van, which can be bombarded by wind and snow from tires. Skirting can be easily installed and removed when summer comes back around!

3. Find the Right Furnace

While quality insulation will allow you to keep the heat in, there’s still the small matter of generating that heat. Your own body is an effective heater, as are stovetops and ovens, but these all tend to also increase humidity, making for an uncomfortable time. A purpose-built heater is the way to go, and you have plenty of choices:

  • Electric furnace

  • Propane furnace

  • 12V radiant heaters

  • Gasoline/diesel heaters

  • Wood burning stoves

Do your research to work out the best option for your situation.

4. Protect Your Plumbing

Your plumbing can be put at risk when the temperature dips below freezing, as water expands when it turns to ice. Protect your campervan’s plumbing by:

  • Wrapping heat tape around pipes and hoses

  • Keeping plumbing warm by regularly opening any cupboards it’s hidden within

  • Keeping water moving – and therefore unable to freeze – by allowing the faucet to slowly drip

  • Using water tank heating pads and adding antifreeze to ensure held water doesn’t freeze

  • Installing a water tank inside the van

5. Check Those Tires

Grip is all important in winter weather, so before you hit the road, check that your tires have plenty of tread and that they’re pumped to the recommended pressure. If you’re planning to drive to and around a particularly cold place, be sure to pack a set of tire chains and a shovel.

6. Tune Up Your Motor

Is your engine winter-ready? There are a few simple things that you can do to increase your engine’s reliability and efficiency in the cold, including:

  • Checking your batteries are fully charged and securely connected (batteries are more likely to fail in the cold)

  • Refilling antifreeze at the recommended concentration

  • Installing an engine block heater (for use in extreme cold)

7. Cozy Up At Night

If you plan to be out and about all day, keeping warm in your campervan could be as simple as replacing the bed linen with some winter-rated sleeping bags. These are super-efficient at retaining body heat, so you’ll be perfectly comfortable and cozy if you choose one that is rated to handle the temperatures that you’ll be experiencing.

8. Avoid the Cold All Together

Our last tip? You have four wheels and thousands of miles of highway – who says you need to feel the cold at all? You can instead follow the ducks and fly south for the winter, heading to Florida, Texas, California and beyond, where the winter effort and investment simply isn’t needed!

No matter where you choose to spend the colder months of the year, the team at Drifter is ready to help you make the most out of them. Get in touch today!

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