Convert Your Van for Winter Camping

By: Get-Away RV   |   29 Nov 2019
morning coffee over winter camp fire

At Get-Away RV, we are passionate about the lifestyle that being an RV owner can bring: freedom, exploration, adventure, unplugging from technology, getting back to nature, education, community and a smaller environmental footprint. That’s why we not only stock a huge inventory of RVs at our Abbotsford dealership, but we are also Western Canada’s premier RV Centre for van conversions. Are you considering how to convert your van into a mobile living space? With your passion and our know-how, it’s time to make your van conversion dreams come true!

Van-Build Basics

Building a van yourself is not for the faint of heart. For any van conversion, there are many things to consider in order to keep you safe and comfortable while you’re on the road, such as layout, electrical and water systems, building materials, efficient storage space, flooring, galley, toilet, sleeping quarters and living accessories - we outlined many of these items in greater detail in a previous blog post! If your head is already spinning, don’t worry - our team has over 30 years of experience with van conversions, so we will be here to guide you every step of the way.

Preparing for a van-build that can withstand winter camping in British Columbia and across Canada comes with a new set of challenges. If you want to tackle a van conversion this winter, we suggest a combo of DIY and working with our professional Van Conversion Department. It will speed up the process so you can hit the road sooner, allow you to put your personal touch on many components of the build, and save you a lot of headache and frustration!

Van Conversions for Winter Camping

There is something truly special about winter camping, especially in a place as wild and rugged as British Columbia. When you are snuggled under your down comforter in your van, gazing out at the winter constellations, surrounded by few noises other than snow falling from tree branches and the cracking of ice on a nearby lake, you will be thankful that you decided to upgrade your van for winter camping. You’ll need to elevate your conversion in order to survive and thrive through a season of winter camping, with considerations like:

• Additional Insulation. More than likely, your van will need extra insulation added to the walls, ceiling and floors of your van. Every ½-inch counts when the temperature drops below freezing.

• Window Coverings. The majority of heat loss in any RV is through the windows. You may need reflectors, special insulation and extra towels to cover windows and absorb excess moisture.

• Space Heater and Dehumidifier. An efficient space heater will be key to staying cozy during cold nights; but when the inside temperature is warm and the outside temperature is cold, it creates the perfect conditions for moisture and condensation to build up. A dehumidifier will be essential in removing moisture from the air.

• Changes to Flooring. Adding special rugs and flooring to help trap snow and debris when you come inside, store your boots (where they can dry and still be warm in the morning), and add extra insulation is important.

• Protecting your Water Source. Water will freeze at zero degrees, and can potentially destroy your pipes and water tank, leaving you with costly repairs - and no water! Special tank coverings, heating sources, pipe-drainage know-how and backup water supply will be essential. 

• Living Materials. You will need additional sleeping bags, down comforters, towels and a place to store all of these extra items.

Manage Your Expectations

Winter camping in a converted van will (obviously!) be quite different from summer camping; but if you manage your expectations, it will be an experience unlike any other!

• You’ll need to slow down. Everything takes longer when you are putting boots on and off, mopping up extra moisture and wearing four layers of clothing. Set your expectations realistically for how long your morning and nightly routine will take.

• You might get stuck. Be prepared for winter weather by storing winter chains, several shovels and emergency supplies just in case you find yourself lodged in a snow drift.

• You may need new accessories. There are plenty of accessories that can make your winter camping experience more convenient. For example, if you’ve been using the great outdoors to do your business you will most likely need to find a new solution - nobody wants to go outside to pee in the middle of the night in subzero temperatures!

• Plan to spend more time inside. Without being able to lounge in a field or by the beach for hours on end, you’ll need to fill the time with indoor activities. While you’re on the road, plot out some stops at museums, libraries and coffee shops where you can relax, warm up and regroup for a few hours.

• Take up a hobby. Speaking of spending more time inside, being nestled in your van with the twinkle lights on and a cup of warm hot cocoa offers the perfect opportunity to take up a new hobby. Learn to sew, knit, take up adult colouring, learn a new language or become a poker pro.

There are a lot of important things to consider for your van-build, and you don’t have to do this alone! Our experienced team at Get-Away RV has completed hundreds of van conversions, and we listen to our clients to make sure their thoughts, wishes and needs are being met. We love working side-by-side with DIYers on van-builds, but also know that some of the big stuff (hello plumbing and electrical!) can run more smoothly and quickly when you’ve got a professional in your corner. If you are ready to take on a van conversion for winter camping, give us a call to find out how we can help you hit the road for a snowy adventure this season!

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