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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Love the photo of the buddy with the Xmas tree in the background! My buddy is on its way via UPS, just in time for the Death Valley run!
OK, y'all are going to rag on me about being a SoCal weather wimp. I admit it!!! We decided that our lower temp limit with no heater is 42 F.

Our most-often used excuse for not camping on a whim during winter is, "no shore power ... no heater overnight ... too cold!" And I'm paranoid about the carbon monoxide. So our next van project is to have a propane furnace properly installed (with venting). So, two questions to start with:

1) Who has one installed, what is it, and what do you like and dislike about it?
2) What about the condensation. What's the best way to deal with that?

(Oh, BTW. We *always* sleep up in the top. Can't be bothered to move all our gear that travels in back in order to sleep 'downstairs'. Not having to move gear is what moved us to switch from tent camping to van camping.)
We have a Mr.Buddy and an Electric heater we use when there's hook ups. We turn it on before bed for a bit and turn it off before we go to sleep and in the morning turn it on to brake the chill. We had a Propex in our Vanagon and it was amazing. It will work down to 10 volts and all you do is set the thermostat like at home. If anyone is interested I have quite a few of the Ebershpacher for both early and late Bay Windows. They are not 100% complete but a good starting point for someone.
This is an old boater's trick to warm up. Use a terracotta clay flower pot with a hole in the bottom. Place it upside down on one of your lit propane burners and adjust the heat to your liking. So you are concerned about carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is producded only when there is an inadequate amount of oxegen. No worries, mate, your westy is not that tight.

We even used this technique in our house with natural gas for six straight days when we lost electricity because of an ice storm. We use this in our 87 westy whenever the temperature drops and are still alive to share this with you.
Well, to start with I'm up here in Or. and 32 isn't cold, it's cool. We went to Buses by the Bridge XI and on the way back we stop at a road side rest in Boron, Ca., when we woke up the next morning it was -10 degrees F. Now that is cold. We left our heater buddy on all night (didn't die) and there was ice on the inside of all the windows and a 3" icicle hanging off the fridge vent. Our heater buddy really helped. As far as what to wear while sleeping, nothing, you'll stay a lot warmer that way, even though it doesn't sound that way, try it. Two people with nothing on really helps. We use a 4 lb. bag with flannel on the inside. We do sleep with our head toward the front and on those chilly nights when your feet get cold, it's nice to have an extra pillow to put down at the bottom to keep your feet warm. The propex is way to go if you plan on doing a lot of winter camping in cold places. It's safe, the combustion air is drawn from outside and exhausted outside with the inside air circulated inside, it's the same thing the big rv's use on a mini scale for us, it's the best, but $$$. The mr. buddy heater comes in second, what I have. It is a little bit of a storage problem when not in use but worth it when it is in use. A small electric heater for when you do have shore power works great. If you know it's going to be cold and you can, drop the top, you loose a lot of heat though the tent and it really warms up quick with the top down in the morning.
I like the "change into fresh dry clothes before going to bed" line from the previous page, but there's no way you're going to convince me that naked is the way to go when it's below freezing. Maybe with two people, and maybe while running a heater, but even then I'm skeptical. I've slept in an unheated bus at -13F and I'm sure if I'd been naked I'd be dead.
Have you ever tried it ????? I didn't believe it either, until I tried it, now I'm a believer. And yes, it is better with two people. I'm sure there in MT. it cools down at night pretty good even now, so next time you go camping, try it, and let us know what you think.
Well, I like to think I'm a moderately adventurous person and all, but I'm generally not up to trying things that'll likely end in hypothermia ;)

The point about dressing dry and more lightly than may be intuitive (contra my own advice at the beginning of this post) is well-taken. But the only evidence I can find that in the buff is the way to go is anecdotal; anything resembling a reliable source (no offense) recommends some measure of clothing, except maybe in the case where you have an exceptionally good sleeping bag, when clothes could mean too much perspiration. (I have no doubt that in more temperate conditions the birthday suit is best, however.)

The general rule (of physics, not just of camping) is that, all other things being equal (i.e. you're not sweating like a pig), layers=warmth.
No offense taken, but as for reliable sources, eskimos sleep in the buff, fact.
I used the portable buddy on an overnight that got down to 22 degrees. Not sure about the newer models but this one ran for 4 hours on a can of coleman propane. I was nervous though and wanted to play it safe. This thing doesn't have an O2 sensor that I know of to automatically shut off so I kept the 2 front windows cracked to provide fresh air to avoid any carbon monoxide disasters. Went to sleep, the heater ran the propane can dry in the night and my gf and I nearly froze to death. I certainly came very close to frost bite on my feet. If we were better prepared for the weather with cold weather sleeping bags and warmer clothes we probably would have been a bit better off but we went expecting overnight temps in the lower 40's. Oops. I now have a small electric heater. Used it once and it worked well. Probably needs a little air for safety but won't run out of propane and shut off in the night leaving you in the cold until you wake up shivering with burning feet. Of course electric hook ups aren't always available. Was thinking a generator would solve that problem but for that amount of money you could install the propex furnace.
I went on a trip without my bio-heater husband, aka Mr. BTUs, and I used my Mr. Heater. I left it on for about 3 hours before bedtime in 32-34 degree weather. I had it up on the bulkhead with the wing windows open a crack, and it was warm, but the place was WET, drippy wet, especially the windows, from condensation. It rolled down the dash; I had to put a towel down at the back hatch window because the moisture had dripped on my sleeping bag and that was where my head was going to be. No one likes a wet binky when it's binky-na-na time. At home, I plugged it in at the house and ran a fan to dry it out. Super Bowl weekend in Rio Vista: Plug-in heater, plug in lamp, yeah!

Greg Jannacone said:
I used the portable buddy on an overnight that got down to 22 degrees. Not sure about the newer models but this one ran for 4 hours on a can of coleman propane. I was nervous though and wanted to play it safe. This thing doesn't have an O2 sensor that I know of to automatically shut off so I kept the 2 front windows cracked to provide fresh air to avoid any carbon monoxide disasters. Went to sleep, the heater ran the propane can dry in the night and my gf and I nearly froze to death. I certainly came very close to frost bite on my feet. If we were better prepared for the weather with cold weather sleeping bags and warmer clothes we probably would have been a bit better off but we went expecting overnight temps in the lower 40's. Oops. I now have a small electric heater. Used it once and it worked well. Probably needs a little air for safety but won't run out of propane and shut off in the night leaving you in the cold until you wake up shivering with burning feet. Of course electric hook ups aren't always available. Was thinking a generator would solve that problem but for that amount of money you could install the propex furnace.
we are cold weather campers and have not had heaters...we live by our -15 sleeping bags...hubby and I zip ours together, add some thick socks and you're nice and toasty...(our girls have the same cold weather sleep sacks too). even with the pop top up!

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