Cold-weather camping in our Four Wheel Camper

We’re officially out of our house but not driving off into the sunset…at least not yet!  This month we’re finishing up some jobs in Colorado before heading South for the winter.  Before this month even began, I knew it would be an adventure given how volatile the weather can be at high elevation this time of year.  Sure enough, our third day out of our house it snowed 5″ and since then the lows have been hovering around the 20s.  Luckily camping in the 20s is not new to us and our Four Wheel Camper is set up to keep us nice and cozy.  And it’s a good thing because if there is one thing I hate, it’s being cold.

Last night I laid in bed thinking of all the luxuries that would keep us comfortable as the low dropped to 16 degrees and thought you guys might like to know just how we keep warm on cold nights in our pop-up camper.

  1. Furnace.  There’s probably no way I would even attempt camping in 20 degrees without a furnace.  I’m a total wuss, I know, but I love to be warm just as much as I love to camp and the furnace is a luxury I wouldn’t want to live without.
  2. Propane.  You can’t have the furnace without propane.  This is our limiting factor for cold-weather camping.  We typically keep our thermostat set right at or under 60 degrees.  On 16 degree nights, that means it’s running almost constantly.  Our Four Wheel Camper holds 2 – 10 lb. tanks.  When the lows are right around 20 degrees, we make it 4 nights on one tank.  We run the furnace for about 14 hours each night, from around sunset to two hours after sunrise.
  3. Reflectix.  This is probably our most widely used piece of camping gear.  We use it to cover the windows in our truck and warm our butts in our camp chairs (sit on a piece and you’ve got yourself a heated seat) but where we put Reflectix to the best use is lining the canvas pop-up walls in our camper.  When it’s 20 degrees out, you’re going to want more than a single piece of canvas between you and the elements.  It works surprisingly well and is an affordable project.  If you’d rather not go the DIY route, you can alternatively order an Arctic Pack from Four Wheel Camper that will do the same job.  In addition, Mark has placed a sheet of Reflectix underneath the mattress.
  4. Down Comforter.  I know there are some really awesome sleeping bags out there but I love how much our bed feels like home.
  5. Heated mattress pad.  Yep, in addition to the furnace and the Reflectix and the down comforter, we have a heated mattress pad that plugs in to our DC port and runs off our solar powered battery bank.  This sucker gets hot after an hour or so and gets turned off but it sure is nice getting in to a warm bed at night.
  6. Thermal Socks.  My feet are always freezing and even though the Reflectix helps, they still become ice cold pressed up against the canvas walls.  These socks are like little feet heaters.  Love ’em and wouldn’t want to camp without them!

So..now you know, I’m a total wuss when it comes to cold weather.  However, I’m pretty luck to have a husband that knows how to keep this cold-blooded girl happy.  What do you think?  Is cold-weather camping for you or do you think we’re nuts for camping in 16 degrees?

Some of the above links are affiliate links (we earn a small commission at no additional cost to you) but you can count on us only ever linking to products we want you to know about so that you can have as much fun camping as we do!

14 Comments

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  • Just wondering what you do about your water lines and tanks? Is your camper winterized? And your dogs…where do they sleep?

    • We have the Hawk shell model so we don’t have any water tanks. We use water jugs that stay inside the camper with us. Our dinette folds out to make a bed and that’s where our dogs sleep.

    • We to camp in cold weather but have water tank in our FWC. We use a heat exchanger which gets heat from engine coolant while traveling. Once in camp we switch over to a diesel heater which utilizes very little fuel from rear fuel tank on our Ford F 350 7.3 l engine. We still have propane for refrigerator and stove but can go 14 days before needing refill.

  • Great post. We also have a FWC and have done some cold weather camping here in Idaho. That was helpful info that you get four nights out of a propane tank. We have the arctic pack liner and a 12V mattress heating pad like you do. I added a portable Wave 3 catalytic heater to keep the temp more consistent (and save some battery power) when we are hanging out inside (we crack a couple of windows/vents). The biggest issue we had with cold weather camping was inside moisture management if it stayed cold and snowy outside for an extended time and we couldn’t air the camper out. Again, thanks for the your posts and best of luck on your new adventure!

    • Yes, we’ve had the same issue with condensation. We always keep our vent part way open to help with that. Thanks for reading, I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Thanks for the list on cold camping solutions.where is/are your southern destinations if I might? Y’all stay warm, like the look of the blog.
    Russin Vegas

    • Lake Havasu City, AZ is the only definite stop on our list as that is my hometown. From there we’ll see where the weather takes us!

  • Hey guys! What is your battery bank setup like? We were camping a couple of weeks ago and ran the furnace a few time and almost ran our battery completely down. We only have a single house battery so maybe we need more? Thanks for the post!

  • Awesome! I wish I had the courage to do what youre doing! I loved living in the Denver area.

    Question:
    Is there any way you can run some additional solar panels on the roof of your truck or pop up camper to some 12v batteries and plug in some sort of space heater? With your current setup, I think a small space heater would get that camper nice and toasty in a matter of minutes.

    I frequently use solar on my 4×4 Expedition Tacoma and it works great!

    • We actually love the efficiency of our furnace. We have three solar panels and two batteries but aren’t certain that would be able to keep up with the draw of a space heater all night. Do you run a space heater in yours?

  • We bought a four wheel camper this summer with the intent to use it to ski and winter camp with our family. Your blog was super helpful in helping us make the big decision. Thanks for sharing your adventures! If you want to connect with some like-minded folks, I’ll be blogging about our FWC adventures with kids over at https://myoffpistelife.wordpress.com

By michele

About

Hi!  We’re Mark & Michele, a couple of modern-day nomads perfecting the art of slow, perpetual travel.  We believe that being debt-free and free to roam is the ultimate freedom.  This blog is where we share our travels as well as our insights in to this lifestyle that we absolutely love.  We hope you enjoy it!

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