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When you use your car to camp, you never have to worry about finding a campsite, spending money on a good campsite, or having to set up in the dark. Camping in your car is convenient, but it’s not always easy or safe to do in the winter. Let’s look at how to safely and comfortably camp in your car during winter so that you can have fun, save money, and stay safe all at the same time,
Find the Right Parking Spot
Your first job is to figure out a good place to park your car. The last thing you want is to park illegally and wake up to a ticket or buried in snow. You may want to park under trees, but branches can easily fall, damaging your car or putting you in danger. There are many establishments, including Walmart, interstate rest areas, and truck stops, that will let you park overnight for free.
Insulate Your Windows
Insulating your window is where things can get a little tricky. You don’t want to completely close your windows, as condensation can build up in the vehicle and cover you in a layer of ice. However, if you open them, cold air will get in, and you’ll just get colder–so what do you do? You can make or buy reflective sunshades to absorb moisture and insulate you from the cold. Many campers choose to use a material known as Reflectix to absorb moisture.
Prep Your Sleeping Space
You should flatten the back seats or remove them entirely before your trip to give yourself enough comfortable space to insulate your sleeping area. You then need to provide a layer of insulation before you lay down, which is where an insulated sleeping pad comes in handy. Then you can whip out your sleeping bag and, ideally, your sleeping bag liner. You can also use a battery-powered or chargeable electric blanket to put on top of or beneath you.
Wear the Right Pajamas
Just as you’d layer up for an outdoor adventure, you need to wear the right layers to bed as well. Your bottom thermal layer is there to absorb perspiration. While it may sound strange to wear this in the cold, you will sweat, and one of the benefits of moisture-wicking clothing is that it keeps you dry at any temperature. Your middle layer, ideally wool or fleece, will help keep warmth close to your body while allowing sweat to evaporate. While you don’t need a protective layer, you may want to keep it on if you need to step out to use the bathroom.
Heating Tips and Safety
If you want to camp in your car during the winter, you need to learn how to heat your car safely. When you’ve insulated your car, plug in your electric car heater and let it run for 20 to 30 minutes. It should be warm enough to comfortably fall asleep, although you may need to plug it in and run the engine again if you need more warmth throughout the night.
However, you should never, under any circumstances, use a heater that burns fuel, especially in an insulated car. Burning fuel in an insulated space can quickly lead to fatal CO2 poisoning. Remember to have fun, but plan smart! You want to have plenty of future trips to look forward to.