The Ultimate Guide to Winter Travel in a Camper Van
One of the major reasons why camper vans are so much better than tent camping is that they provide a more robust barrier between you and the elements outside. With proper outfitting and the right preparation, your van can feel like a cozy cabin on wheels, even in full winter conditions!
Taking trips in your Sprinter camper van is totally possible during winter. In order to stay warm, dry, and safe, a little extra planning is needed. Use this guide to learn about the best gadgets and tips for wintertime camper van travel.
The main concern when camping in the winter is, well, that it’s cold outside! Even if you’re the type of person who enjoys outdoor winter activities such as skiing or snowshoeing, you’re going to want a warm and dry place to rest and relax at the end of your day. There are some key elements needed to keep your camper van interior warm and cozy during the winter.
When it comes to winter travel with a camper van, nothing is more important than insulation. Insulation in a van has two main purposes: temperature regulation and moisture control. The best insulation for the job is Havelock Wool. Havelock is a natural sheep’s wool insulation that is sustainably sourced and entirely natural. It boasts an excellent R-value per square inch, meaning that it is more efficient at keeping your van warm in the winter than other insulations.
Havelock Wool is also a natural regulator of moisture. This is critical in a camper van because prior to being built out, a Sprinter van is essentially a metal box on wheels. When conditions are right, such as when it is cold outside and warm and humid inside, condensation can build up on the interior walls of your van. This can create issues with mold and wood rot that can ruin your camper van! Fortunately, Havelock Wool naturally absorbs moisture when it appears, and gradually releases it as the air dries out.
Every Muse & Co. Outdoors van comes fully insulated using only R7 Havelock Wool insulation. That’s why our vans stay so warm and cozy on those winter trips!
Effective insulation will help to keep the heat inside of your van, but there’s got to be a heat source to begin with. Every Muse & Co. Outdoors van comes equipped with an Espar D2 heater. The Espar D2 is a state-of-the-art heater designed specifically for use in camper vans. It taps straight into your Sprinter van’s massive diesel fuel tank and is powered by your 12-volt off-grid electrical system, so you never have to worry about running out of heat.
The most important feature of the Espar D2 heater is that it provides “dry” heat. This means that the D2 does not contribute to condensation build-up inside of your van, because it is externally vented. This also means that all the fumes from the heater are expelled outside of the van, so you can safely run it with all your windows and vents closed without worrying about CO poisoning. The D2 provides thermostat-controlled heat, so you can set it to whatever temperature you’d like and enjoy your personal winter retreat.
Another major element of winter travel is safety. If you plan on traveling in the mountains or anywhere it snows during the winter, it is critical to be prepared and bring the right safety equipment.
Traction is Everything
The two biggest hazards when it comes to winter travel in a van are losing traction while driving on snow-or-ice-covered roads, and getting stuck on a backroad or at a campsite due to deep snow. These hazards should be taken seriously, but with the right equipment, you can avoid these dangerous scenarios and safely enjoy winter travel in your Sprinter van.
The best way to ensure you don’t lose traction is to get a 4 wheel-drive Sprinter van. When it comes to driving in winter conditions, there is no comparison between 4wd and 2wd vans. Simply getting a 4wd van will help you to avoid most of the hazards of winter travel.
Even with 4wd equipped, your vehicle’s traction is completely reliant on the contact it makes with the surface you are driving on. That is why snow tires are an absolute essential if you plan on taking winter trips in your van. Snow tires are specifically designed to provide traction when roads are covered in snow and/or ice.
Even with 4wd and snow tires, roads can sometimes be so icy that more traction is needed. In these cases, a good set of tire chains are a must-have. If your van is 2wd and/or you don’t have snow tires, chains are an absolutely essential part of your winter travel kit. In many states, including California, you are required by law to carry chains when driving a 2wd vehicle over mountain passes during the winter.
It is highly recommended that you bring a winter recovery kit along during snowy trips in your campervan. A winter recovery kit is a set of tools you can use during worst-case scenarios, such as if your van were to get stuck in the snow on a backroad. Your kit should, at a minimum, include traction recovery boards, a small snow shovel, and a tow strap. Of course, you should always aim to assess conditions and avoid getting stuck—but in sticky situations, these tools can help you turn a trip-altering fiasco into a 30-minute setback.
Finally, if you are traveling during the winter in your Sprinter van, make sure to bring some extra non-perishable food, ensure that your fuel and propane tanks are full, and carry extra water in an insulated area of your van. These preparations are especially important if you plan on traveling far from towns and main roads during your trip. If you were to get snowed in and have to hunker down in one spot for a period of time, having ample fuel, food, and water would be critical.
Be sure to check out Muse & Co. Outdoors’ options and packages to learn how we can help you outfit your Sprinter van for comfortable and safe winter travel.