Keeping warm when cold weather camping

I have spent many a night, and day, cold weather camping in my Roamin Chariot (RC) camper.  When I write cold, I mean temps below -10 degrees (Fahrenheit).

Overnighting in a truck stop parking lot.  I got caught in a late winter storm - snowing so much at times I couldn't see the hood of the truck.  Overnight is was about 20 degrees.

Overnighting in a truck stop parking lot near Walsenburg, CO. I got caught in a late winter storm – snowing so much at times I couldn’t see the hood of the truck. The low was about 20 degrees.

 

The RC doesn’t have a installed heater.  When ‘off the grid’ I use a Mr. Heater Portable Buddy that uses propane fuel and puts out 18,000 BTUs.  My heater is many years old, 15 or 16 years I think, and is actually a ‘Buddy’ sold under the Coleman nameplate.

Mr. Heater is used only when I am awake as it is an open flame heater and the RC doesn’t have a CO sensor.  Mr. Heater quickly gets the camper nice and comfy … though the floor of the camper stays cold and when it is really cold out I will wear good warm socks.  Once the camper is warm I set Mr. Heater to his lowest setting.

When 110V is available I use a heater that doesn’t put out as may BTU’s (about 2500).  The heater is a Vornado model VH101. This little hot air generator has done well in ‘taking the edge off’ when it is chilly and if the outside temp is about 20 degrees the heater will keep the camper just above freezing.  Why so little a heater?  The RC doesn’t have a 110V electrical system, so I am limited in how much power run safely though an extension cord.

Here I am outside Las Vegas, NM, in a KOA.  You can see the orange extension cord used to power the AC heater.  Overnight the temps fell into the single digits.

Here I am outside Las Vegas, NM, in a KOA. You can see the orange extension cord used to power the AC heater. Overnight the temps fell into the single digits.

I will sleep when using the electric heater is operating as the camper has a smoke detector.

Keeping warm while sleeping, as Mr. Heater is turned off, requires good bedding.  I use a quilt and when it really gets cold a 0 degree rated sleeping bag laid over the quilt.  On really cold nights I wear flannel PJ pants, a warm shirt and heavy socks.  Snuggled down for the night I am very comfortable.

The new Outfitter Caribou Lite has a built in 16,000 BTU forced air propane heater with a thermostat.  This will be very nice to keep the camper comfortable even on the coldest nights. When staying in a location with 110V I will heat up the camper with the forced air and then use the Vornado to keep the camper comfortable (the Caribou is also wired for 110V).  Even though the electric heater only puts out fraction of forced air heater, this solution will result in less propane use as the 110V only needs to maintain the camper’s temperature.

 

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5 thoughts on “Keeping warm when cold weather camping

    • my camper is set up for having a PLATINUM CAT installed. i had this done when the camper was built. Roamin’ Chariot wouldn’t install the heater and gave me the contact information for the PLATINUM CAT builder. i just never got around to doing the install.

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  1. That is good information. I’m aiming for a Plat Cat. Seems much safer. Maybe I’ll ask about your set up when I get to that step. Thanks

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    • Dan: I assume that the PCats are still in production. the www-site hasn’t been touched or updated in years … i mean YEARS. the ‘prep’ on my camper is there is a mounting hole cut for the heater. that was ‘prep’ according to the RC guys. they said PCat would complete the install, including run wire and ducting for the fan in addition to the pipe install for the propane feed. i have found i really like the location of the ‘hole’ for storing things. would be strange to not have that location if i did get a heater. for years i didn’t see a use for the heater. the style of camping ‘back then’ was i just slept in the camper. with life changes, and now using the camper occasionally for work travel, means cooking and staying inside the camper is how it is used (especially true when ‘camping’ in a truck stop parking lot or highway rest area). another consideration is getting older and wanting more comforts … why i now have the Caribou Lite.

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  2. Pingback: Cold star filled night | Adventures in a truck slide-in pop-up camper

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