13 Hacks for Staying Warm in a Van During Winter

As winter sets in and the temperatures drop, living in a camper van presents unique challenges. With some creativity and resourcefulness, you can stay cozy and comfortable even in the chilliest of conditions. I share the hacks I found most helpful in staying warm in a van during winter.

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pin with black camper van in a winter storm
Epingle avec une van campeur dans une tempête en hiver

How to Stay Warm in Your Van this Winter


Proper insulation is one of the most effective ways to retain heat in your camper van. Different materials can be used to insulate your van effectively. In the winter, it keeps the heat in and the cold out. In the summer, it keeps the heat out. 

van wall covered in insulation

Cover windows and doors with insulation panels, foam boards, or thermal curtains. This will help prevent heat from escaping and cold air from seeping in.

Reflective window covers prevent heat loss by reflecting heat into the van. They’re easy to install and can significantly improve the warmth inside your camper van.

I use window covers in my van life setup, and they’ve proven to be invaluable, especially during the winter months. These covers effectively insulate the van, helping to maintain a comfortable temperature inside. 

window cover for van to insulate

Even better, their utility extends beyond winter; they’re equally effective at keeping the heat out during scorching summer days. Investing in window covers was smart, offering year-round benefits and enhancing the comfort of my van life experience.

You can easily make your own using reflective insulation like this one from Amazon.

I avoid heating the entire cabin by utilizing curtains to partition the living space from the cabin area, effectively retaining warmth where I need it most. This simple yet effective strategy ensures that heat stays in the living area while keeping the cold at bay on the other side of the curtains. 

Since implementing this method, I’ve noticed a significant difference in temperature regulation, making it an invaluable addition to my winter van life arsenal.

These are the curtains I bought from Amazon.

A high-quality sleeping bag can make all the difference in staying warm at night. Look for one with a low-temperature rating, and consider layering with blankets for extra warmth.

I prefer a down quilt. It keeps me cozy once under the covers, even on chilly nights.

Opt for flannel or fleece sheets and blankets, which are excellent insulators and keep you warm overnight. Additionally, consider using a heated mattress pad or an electric blanket for added coziness. 

I opt for a fleece fitted sheet (like these on Amazon) in my camper van paired with a matching fleece blanket in winter. This combination is more than bedding; it is an additional layer of insulation, effectively trapping my body’s warmth and ensuring a cozy night’s sleep even when temperatures plummet outside. The plush fleece material provides comfort and functionality.

Before crawling into bed, warm up your sleeping area with a hot water bottle or heating pad. Place it under the blankets for a few minutes to create a cozy spot to retreat when it’s time to sleep.

Cooking warm meals provides nourishment and generates heat inside your camper van. Prepare hearty soups, stews, and casseroles using a propane stove or slow cooker to keep the interior warm and your belly full.

There’s something incredibly comforting about savouring herbal tea on chilly evenings. Not only does it warm me from the inside out, but it also has a soothing effect that helps me unwind before bed. 

one cup of coffee with the Woods coffee press and dumping a hot chocolate mix in the second cup making hot drinks to stay warm in the van

Portable heaters are a lifesaver during cold winter nights. Choose a safe and efficient option, such as a propane or diesel heater, and ventilate the area properly to avoid carbon monoxide buildup. I strongly recommend a carbon monoxide alarm. It could save your life. 

Check for drafts around windows, doors, and vents, and seal them using weather-stripping or caulking. Even small gaps can let in cold air, so be thorough in your inspection and sealing efforts.

Engage in physical activities during the day to keep your body temperature up. Go for a brisk walk, practice yoga, or do indoor exercises to generate heat and stay warm.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll find joy in outdoor activities like hiking, snowshoeing, or skiing during winter. These pastimes keep the body active and generate natural warmth amid chilly temperatures. 

snowshoeing in a trail covered in snow and bordered by trees

However, after such activities, it’s crucial to swap out sweaty or damp clothing for dry attire to maintain warmth. This simple yet essential step ensures that your body remains cozy and comfortable, allowing you to fully enjoy the benefits of staying active outdoors during winter.

Layering your clothing is key to staying warm in a camper van during winter. Start with moisture-wicking base layers, and add insulating mid-layers like fleece or wool.

stepping in the van on a winter day wearing layers to stay warm

During those bone-chilling days, I find comfort in reaching for my Venustas heated vest. This innovative garment provides extra warmth when the air turns icy, ensuring I stay cozy and insulated against the biting cold. 

I also prioritize ensuring my extremities stay toasty, especially my feet. One of the most effective ways I’ve achieved this is by wearing wool socks, slipping into cozy slippers, or wearing my MEC down booties. 

Wool socks are a winter essential. They are known for their excellent insulation and moisture-wicking properties, keeping my feet dry and snug even in the coldest conditions. 

Slipping into my down booties provides instant relief and warmth inside my camper van. They allow me to relax and unwind without worrying about cold feet. They are so comfortable and warm that I often sleep with them on my feet.

wearing down booties in the van to keep feet warm

By prioritizing foot warmth and core insulation, I can fully enjoy my winter van life adventures with comfort and peace of mind.

Another effective way to add warmth and insulation to the floor of your camper van is by incorporating a thick carpet or sheepskin rug. These materials provide a soft and cozy surface to walk on and act as an additional barrier against the cold rising from the ground. 

A carpet or sheepskin rug can help prevent heat loss through the floor, creating a more comfortable and inviting interior environment. Plus, the natural texture and warmth they add contribute to the overall cozy ambiance of your living space, making it feel like a true home on wheels, even in the depths of winter.

Conclusion about staying warm in a van during winter

Living in a camper van during winter presents challenges, but with these 13 hacks, you can stay warm and comfortable no matter how cold it gets outside. From insulating your van to dressing in layers and utilizing portable heaters, there are plenty of ways to beat the chill and enjoy your van life adventures year-round. So bundle up, embrace the coziness, and let the winter wanderlust begin!

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