I love car camping, especially during the winter because of all the gorgeous scenery up here in the mountains. Everything is just so much more beautiful when it’s covered in snow. So a question I get all the time is, “How do I stay warm sleeping in my car during the winter?”
Recently, I went on an epic midweek solo adventure of snowshoeing and car camping up to Mount Baker here in Washington. I made the three hour drive up to Mount Baker for a sunny, midweek snowshoe hike to Artist Point during the day and then car camped in the overnight parking that night.
The Mount Baker Ski Area has two different areas available for overnight car camping during the wintertime: White Salmon and Heather Meadows. Since I’d be snowshoeing up to Artist Point, I decided to reserve an overnight car camping spot up at Heather Meadows for the night after my snowshoe hike.
WHY CAR CAMPING AND WHY CAR CAMPING IN THE WINTER?
There are so many reason why I love car camping, especially car camping in the winter.
Since there’s less daylight during the winter, camping in my car means I don’t have to make the long drive home in the dark after a big hike.
Winter car camping also usually means that there’s less people out.
With car camping, I always feel safe camping alone in my locked car.
I can literally go car camping anywhere my car will take me.
And when I sleep in my car, I usually don’t have to get up early and can sleep in if I want to, especially since I have insulated sunshades for each of my windows that give me ultimate privacy and block out any outside lights and sunshine.
HOW I STAY WARM SLEEPING IN MY CAR (IN THE WINTER)
A couple of years ago, I converted my Subaru Outback into the ultimate solo car camping setup by building an easy DIY sleeping platform. I’ve been going on a number of solo car camping adventures throughout the Pacific Northwest in the summer, winter and even to Olympic National Park. Since my last winter solo car camping trip, I’ve added two new additions to my car camping setup for the winter:
First, I got a heated mattress pad to put on top of my memory foam topper. Now, while I’m eating dinner, I can turn on the heated mattress pad and preheat my bed so that by the time I am ready to get into bed, my bed is warm and toasty.
And my second new addition to my winter car camping setup is the way I power my new awesome heated mattress pad. I now have portable power station, the Powdeom EN700 Portable Power Station. I’ve been wanting one of these for a long time!
This portable power station is super convenient for car camping and provides a 700-watt AC output. Since my new heated mattress pad is 130 watts, the Powdeom EN700 Portable Power Station can power it for several hours.
There are 8 ports for charging various devices on the portable power station including:
- 2 AC Outlets
- 2 USB Outlets
- 1 USC Outlet
- 2 DC Outlet
- And a 12-volt cigarette lighter plug
This means the Powdeom Portable Power Station is able to charge up to 7 devices simultaneously. I can charge my laptop, use my heated mattress pad and charge all of my other electronics including my phone and satellite messenger without needing to turn my car on.
There’s an LED light on the device which has 3 modes – strong, weak and SOS, but I don’t see myself using this feature since I have my REVEL camping lights hanging in my car which provide plenty of light.
The Powdeom portable power station can be charged using a wall outlet, in the car or a solar charger. This thing charges fast too! It can charge from 0 to 100% in just an hour and a half when using a wall outlet.
The battery inside the portable power station has a 10-year lifespan, with 3,000+ battery 100% charging cycles. It has overcharge protection, overheating protection and short circuit protection. It has an easy-to-read digital display showing power usage and remaining battery life.
I also love how compact and light this is. It weighs about 16 pounds and is the size of a small cooler. It easily fits in my car, behind the driver’s seat, making it perfect for car camping in a Subaru Outback.
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Now, with my new portable power station, I’m able to keep all of my electronics charged while being out on the road AND get to stay nice and warm while camping in my car during the winter.
HAVING GOOD INSULATION IS KEY FOR CAR CAMPING
The KEY to staying warm while sleeping in my car during the winter is having good insulation.
Inside my car, I have a sleeping platform that my dad and I built together. On top of the sleeping platform, I have a memory foam topper along with my new heated mattress pad that I lay on top of.
On top of me, I use a down comforter along with a fleece blanket and yes, I bring my super comfy pillow from home. The nice thing about car camping is since you don’t have to carry everything with you, you can bring heavier, luxury items like heavy blankets, pillows and portable power sources.
For the actual car, I have the WeatherTech Sunshade – Full Vehicle Kit, which are customized, insulated sunshades I can put in each window of my car. These not only help with insulating the car and keep the warm air inside on those really cold nights, but they’re also really effective with keeping outside light from coming inside when I’m sleeping, and they give me complete privacy while I’m in my car.
OTHER WAYS I STAY WARM WHILE CAR CAMPING
Some other ways I’m able to stay warm while sleeping in my car in the winter:
- Not going to bed on an empty stomach, by always making sure I eat a hearty, warm dinner
- Not drinking too much water at the end of the day, otherwise I’ll have to get out of the car in the middle of the night to go pee
And anytime I’m sleeping in my car, I always make sure to have some sort of air circulation going throughout the to help prevent condensation. Since I have a pod on top of my car, I like to crack open my sunroof before I go to bed for fresh air to come in overnight.
For my recent solo car camping trip up to Mount Baker, I ended up sleeping warm and comfortable all night long in my car overnight. It must have gotten really cold overnight because in the morning, everything was frozen over, but that’s winter for you up at Mount Baker.
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