Getting out and about in your campervan during the winter months isn’t to everyone’s taste, but it can offer a totally different and fun experience from the longer summer days. You don’t need to be away for long stretches of time, an extended winter weekend in your campervan can make for a great holiday. However, even if you decide not to head out quite yet, then the tips below also apply for getting set to head off as soon as spring is in the air.
Before You Set Off
Even if you regularly drive your campervan around as a car your leisure battery, during the winter months, is unlikely to be fully topped up – dark days and winter weather mean more frequent use of headlights and wipers which then means more of your driving charge voltage will end up in your vehicle battery than in summer months. The simple solution to ensure your leisure batteries are fully charged up is to hook your van up to a 230v mains supply and leave it charging like that for at least 12 hours. If you’re unsure as what to do then watch our short tutorial video below.
Regardless of whether you’re planning a trip away or not, we would recommend hooking up to the mains and charging your leisure batteries every couple of months in the winter – regular charging will keep them in better shape and lengthen their life. If you do have a solar panel then this will be less effective in the winter months as the angle and intensity of the sun, together with the short length of day will put minimal charge into the leisure battery.
If you’re sure the weather won’t be below freezing then filling your water tank will be fine. If you’ve not filled the tank for a while then part filling it first and then pumping that water out via the sink tap to flush it clean is a good course of action before fully filling the tank. If it looks like the weather will be below freezing then we recommend keeping your water tank empty and instead taking a separate handheld water carrier (10 litre is a good size) with you inside the van.
If you have LPG gas for cooking then as all our vans are supplied with Propane gas bottles the cold weather won’t affect the performance of the stove. However, if you do happen to be using Butane gas then at temperatures below zero the gas will become less and less effective, so switching to Propane is a far better choice. To do this you’ll need an adaptor as the hose and bottle fittings are different – if you’re not sure then don’t hesitate to give us a call as we carry the parts you’ll need in stock. You can also check out the video below to learn more about our gas system.
In the winter what you take with you can make all the difference. Although all our vans have an insulated floor, a piece of carpet can make a big difference over the vinyl floor when you might just have stocking feet! An awning across the sliding door side of the van can also act as a great buffer zone to keeping cold air out and warm air in when you open the slide door – it also acts as great place to hang wet coats and leave muddy boots!
Always remember to check that the van itself is also ready for your trip – ensure the tyres are all in roadworthy condition and inflated to the correct pressure for your load. Make sure the oil, coolant and windscreen wash are full and that all your lights are working front and back. Remember to keep an eye on the vehicle dash display and look out for a small orange spanner logo to light up and tell you when it’s time for a service. The dash display will also tell you when you need more AdBlue, it gives you a warning with around 1000 miles to spare, so don’t panic – AdBlue in a 10 litre container is now available to buy over the counter at most petrol stations.
Where To Go
Remember that not every campsite stays open all winter (particularly in Scotland!), so double check before you head out. Those that are open will undoubtedly be quieter (and probably cheaper!!) than in other months of the year, the surroundings will look totally different than in more familiar months and you’ll find yourself doing different activities than you’d do in warmer weather – all in all it’s a totally different holiday and experience.
If you have an inbuilt hot air heater (normally a diesel fuelled Webasto or Wallas unit) then for 2 or 3 nights camping you won’t necessarily need to plug in and hook up to the mains supply.
Don’t forget to check the weather forecast and road conditions for your planned route before setting off.
Check out our tips for driving in the winter by clicking here.
When You’re Camping
If you don’t have an inbuilt hot air heater in your campervan then finding a campsite with a 230v mains hook up supply is probably a must as it’s very likely you’ll need to take a small mains convector heater with you. Never try to heat your van by lighting a gas ring on the stove and just leaving a naked flame to burn – it can clearly be a very dangerous fire hazard.
Lifting your elevating roof even in the coldest weather will be fine, it is possible to buy thermal silver insulating screens that can go around the inside or outside of the canvas of the raised roof to retain heat – there are a number of online bespoke suppliers, but we are currently in the process of creating our own product to match our Jerba elevating roof canvas, so watch this space!
Although the Ventile cotton roof fabric we use does breathe naturally, it’s always important to remember about ventilation, especially if you have a gas stove. LPG gas will use a small amount of oxygen when burning, so make sure you open a vent in the roof canvas when you’re cooking. Air circulation will also keep moisture levels down and reduce condensation on the vehicle glass windows – moisture in the air is created whenever you breathe out, it’s a product of burning LPG gas, it comes from damp clothes after a day in the rain and from boiling your tea kettle and pan of pasta. It’s impossible to avoid moisture in a campervan in the winter, so understanding the source and managing it with fresher air is important.
In particularly cold weather it’s possible to sleep with the elevating roof closed down (unless you need to use the elevating roof bed!!) but remember that this will block off all ventilation vents in the canvas roof – you must then open a side or front window a little to allow for proper air circulation.
The last thing of course is to enjoy yourself – remember if the weather is too bad, you have the freedom of a campervan, so simply move on to somewhere else, or head for home and try again another day!!!
Want to read more about winter in your campervan? Why not click here and read our winter tips guide.