VW Camper Family

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This probably has been around the horn a couple of times but perhaps you all could throw my way some ideas of heating during the night when its cold. Last month we were in Yosemite bundled up nicely but had to get up and at it in the AM when it was 32 degrees outside. Wow, was it cold. Put some info up so that we can get some good direction from all you experts on this cold weather camping for us rookies. Will a coleman heater heat up the inside of a westy or what else will work. thanks. Larry and Hilda

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I used to have a Portable Buddy (until it broke). Worked great, has an O2 sensor, will shut off before you die, hopefully. But I only used it to take the chill off in the am or to hang in the van in the pm. Any radiant type heater is great for warming up your clothes before you put them on in the am: place them in front of the Buddy or Cat heater, snuggle back in your bag and wait five minutes. Voila! They're done!
We have a Northstar Flameless catalytic heater which runs on a small propane tank under the bus. I think the propane tank was a stock thing when the bus was converted to a Riv camper. The heaters are a bit expensive, but they work great. Our heater is very efficient, and heats up the bus like crazy when you turn it on high.
It requires mounting, but you do not have to mount it permanently. We mount our heater in the jumper seat, behind the passenger seat. When its not in use, we cover it up and store inside the jumper seat. Its there because that is where the propane hose comes up into the bus from the tank underneath.

The interior is cramped enough that I'm nervous about running our Coleman catalytic heater at night; a dangling blanket could easily turn into a total disaster. And even if I weren't worried about that, I'm worried about running it while we sleep, lest we don't wake up (I know the literature says it's safe given 6sq. in. of access to outside air, but still).
So keeping warm for us mostly consists in wearing all your clothes to bed, including a stocking cap and two pairs of socks, and having another person under the covers. And shutting the heater off right before sleepytime. And not opening the door if you can at all help it.
We've spent some pretty cold nights in Ludwig and lived to tell the tale.
And keep the top shut tight...

whc03grady said:
The interior is cramped enough that I'm nervous about running our Coleman catalytic heater at night; a dangling blanket could easily turn into a total disaster. And even if I weren't worried about that, I'm worried about running it while we sleep, lest we don't wake up (I know the literature says it's safe given 6sq. in. of access to outside air, but still).
So keeping warm for us mostly consists in wearing all your clothes to bed, including a stocking cap and two pairs of socks, and having another person under the covers. And shutting the heater off right before sleepytime. And not opening the door if you can at all help it.
We've spent some pretty cold nights in Ludwig and lived to tell the tale.
I like the idea of warming it up and the shut it down, and start it up while the coffee is perking. I've been looking at the portable buddy or something close to it. Thanks for good info.

Big Blue's Driver said:
And keep the top shut tight...

whc03grady said:
The interior is cramped enough that I'm nervous about running our Coleman catalytic heater at night; a dangling blanket could easily turn into a total disaster. And even if I weren't worried about that, I'm worried about running it while we sleep, lest we don't wake up (I know the literature says it's safe given 6sq. in. of access to outside air, but still).
So keeping warm for us mostly consists in wearing all your clothes to bed, including a stocking cap and two pairs of socks, and having another person under the covers. And shutting the heater off right before sleepytime. And not opening the door if you can at all help it.
We've spent some pretty cold nights in Ludwig and lived to tell the tale.
BIG BUCKS! Only if you camp frequently in winter or live in your bus! Oh, and BTW, Van Cafe has a better price. Not that I was looking...

Regis said:
..or just go for one of these and be done with it.
http://www.westyventures.com/propex.html
Aaaah...makes the Buddy look all the more inviting! Used to have one- loved it until I broke it. I think need another one. Soon.

Regis said:
The H2000's are about the same and then there is Ca tax and shipping. The 2800 is the one I'd get.. But I'm a Bus pilot with virtually no heat. So ~10K would be nice. You water pumpers live in modern times. The guy who does Westy Ventures offers specials every "Blue Moon " or so. IIRC, this month was no shipping. But that might be for the 2800 only. It's all a wash, I suppose. If I was gonna spend Big Bucks a couple more good or bad wouldn't be a deal breaker, for me.
A sleeping bag works to reflect your body heat back to you, which it can't do if you wear too many clothes. When you have too many layers, your body can't breathe and the layers trap moisture, which produces a chill. From my camping and scuba days, I kept all of my clean clothes in a dry bag. I learned to shed those denim jeans and even the cotton sweat pants and sleep bare-legged; keep the hat, get a comfy Tshirt and put on fresh, dry wool or wool blend socks if you can stand it; otherwise there are synthetics out there. My auntie taught me to put a small blanket (or even a beach towel) in the toe of my sleeping bag to afford extra insulation for those cold-prone feet. Tiz' a bit cold in the morning when putting on the pants, that's true, but it's a cozy night in the sleeping bag in the old relic.

As far as Mr. Buddy or the Coleman Cat (we have both), we never sleep with them on. We have a hinged board that opens and bridges the gap between the dash and the bulkhead. We put the Mr. Buddy on that and start it. Besides Mr. Bud's O2 sensor, I have a home wall-mount Carbon Monoxide detector that I put a battery in, test, and set nearby. Also, the heater is in close proximity to the wing window which we use as a vent. We rarely ever use the heaters and if we do, it's to defog the windshield in the morning so we can see to drive; I may change my tune January 23 -24th if there's snow in the Gold Country! :-)

Regis said:
When I was in boy scouts we did a winter camp trip. I was cold and went to the Scout master. He said to remove the clothes that i was wearing and had worn for the day and to put on fresh socks and a tee shirt. If I still felt cold, remove the fresh tee shirt and socks. Seemed like a bass-ackwards approach at the time. It appears that the body gets used to the daily clothing and although it seems dry the clothes have body moisture and ambient moisture. To remove the clothing and put on fresh jammies to then crawl into the proper bedding allows the body to warm itself correctly.
I used this same scenario this past weekend. The night temps dropped to 30. A fresh Tee and socks, a 30* sleeping bag with a second of the same type as an extra blanket had me all toasty and warm. In the morning about 15 minutes after waking while I was folding back the bedding for the days events, I noticed it was still warm I also use the 10k btu Mr Buddy heater. 15 minutes with the top down is about all that's needed. When sleeping on the bottom bunk I put my head toward the front, feet toward the rear. The heater is just at arms reach away. Turn it on and crank it up. Crawl back under the bedding for a few minutes and it's all good. Just some thoughts. Your results may vary, YRMV
OH, but wait there's more . . . Regis makes a great point about moisture and the type of sleeping bag. If you're sleeping in your bus, don't be tempted to get a sleeping bag that is zero-degree rated or such--you may get too hot and start to sweat. Mike and I, each have a 30-degree flannel-lined sleeping bag of our own plus one that we share--we sleep so cozy all night long.
Let's see how this works:

CO2 has some Oxygen, but CO binds with hemoglobin in your blood instead of O2; it's true, you will sleep well, but without the two O's, you will never wake up. But we don't snow camp, so we can get by without a heater.

Regis said:
Mmmm...toasty. I have the 10k version. Definitely puts out some heat. First thing you'll notice with the open flame heater is the windows will fog up. This might happen with any type of heater though. But it will promote condensation and is why these types recommend a cracked window. Well that and the fact of the CO or CO2 ( can never remember which is worse ) levels increase.
Don't tell Mike, YET.

Regis said:
You don't snow camp....Yet

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