It’s -15c outside and I’m sleeping in a van

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  • It’s -15c outside and I’m sleeping in a van
  • Premier Icon howsyourdad1
    Subscriber

    Well, I’m not, but perhaps in the future.

    What small van can I do weekend trips in, sleeping in it for a night or two max, mainly for biking in the summer but also for occasional snowboard trips over winter.

    Cooking facilities not required, space for a bike a bonus, must have 4 seats for the kids during the week.  I’d also like to stay warm when it really is -15c. I’m 185cm so need a reasonable space.

    Budget around 5k.

    Ta!

    Premier Icon cloudnine
    Subscriber

    Screw sleeping in a panel Van in minus 15.. it will be unpleasant.

    qwerty
    Member

    If I really had to,…. I’d be using a campsite with electric hook up & an electric blanket and an army of duvets & sleeping bags!!! Formula 1 FTW!!!

    trail_rat
    Member

    Screw sleeping in a panel Van in minus 15.. it will be unpleasant

    Speaks the voice of has never done it.

    Been down to -18 in our converted panel Van using a 2800w propane heater been beautifully comfortable -18 outside and +20inside at the strathpuffer was it’s crowning glory

    We have slept at cairngorm/ glenshee and the lecht during ski season and been equally as comfortable despite it not being as cold as the puffer.

    And we only have the glass wool guaranteed to make your van rot to pieces insulation in ( although we have double glazed windows in the rear with insulated blinds built in and most of a bulkhead between us and the cab which makes a huge difference to heat inside the van at the expense of not having twiddly round seats.

    It can be done and it can be comfortable but it does depend what you class a small van. For what your asking it to do a dispatch or expert (I think it’s “jumpy” in your neck of the woods) would be the minimum size I’d go for to have any hope of being comfortable.

    I use a Multivan (Caravelle in UK), 7 seater fold out bed jobbie with an eberspacher. Bit of space for sitting around. We’re up in the Pyrenees a fair bit in winter, 15 below would be unusual though and not particularly pleasant – I’d do it on my own but not with the boy. Last winter saw -6 or 8 overnight.

    andylc
    Member

    Our camper would have no trouble keeping us warm at that temperature using the diesel night heater, although I’m not sure how you’d get a reliable van with a decent night heater and presumably some sort of convertible bed arrangement for 5k.

    Night heaters are now incredibly cheap. The Chinese copies of Ebers are proving to be reliable and safe, and can be had all-in for under £200.

    Premier Icon spooky_b329
    Subscriber

    Proper insulation, I think the best for a proper winterised van is spray foam, preferably professionally sprayed as you get a lot more for your cash than a DIY kit, as this sticks to the panels and prevents any condensation. Decent double glazed windows, and a heavy insulated curtain as the cab is impossible to insulate. Similarly for the rear doors, easier to stick an insulated bulkhead across the van to cut out all the cold bridges, but in a small van, another insulated curtain might be more practical.

    Add a double of duvets or sleeping bags and a propex heater and it should be fairly comfortable 🙂

    benv
    Member

    Pretty much any small van in passenger car variant will do that if it’s only for one person and a bike. VW Caddy, Berlingo/Partner, Transit Connect. Same goes for people carriers, large estate cars and a number of SUV and 4×4 type things.

    Premier Icon howsyourdad1
    Subscriber

    Cheers all. So….  cheap night heater, insulation  and so on…. in what van? 🙃

    Premier Icon Drac
    Subscriber

    Hotels are lovely.

    6’2″ here, used to sleep regularly in my wee insulated caddy, standard, not maxi.

    Bike in alongside too. Thatd be about as small as you could go, as long as you’re not cooking etc.

    There’s a few conversion places around that will add proper insurance approved flip out rear seats for around 1000 quid, for you’re kid duties.

    Good thing about caddies is the amount of aftermarket stuff available for them, you can get anything for them.

    Of course, you’d be a lot comfier in big van, but you asked about small.

    Though Id go caddy maxi now tbh. 😊

    benv
    Member

    I’m looking at making something like this for spring next year for my estate car.

    Will make it from plywood, drilled out with some holes to lighten it up a bit, memory foam stuck on and whole lot covered in some heavy wearing fabric which can be removed via zipper. Will do it in 4 quarters (so all 4 parts can be stored in boot with seats up) and will be used either in full when with partner (with roofbox) or in half when solo and bike or other gear can squeeze alongside. To take out unevenness of floor, it will sit on box beams across width made of ply covered in same material so it lies flat. Will add magnetic insulated panels for windows and good sleeping bag, roof box and will see how it goes in colder weather.

    devash
    Member

    Absolute minimum – decent 4+ season mummy style sleeping bag with a minus 20 comfort rating alongside a decent camping mat like the Alpkit Dozer. It won’t be luxury though. Plus you run the risk that if there’s any freak deep freeze you may be caught out. Hypothermia is serious business.

    The type of van doesn’t really matter for your requirements you can sleep in anything. Good insulation, carpeted panels and a quality sleeping bag worked for me in a few snow storms. Never had a heater but I’d buy a Chinese diesel heater nowadays.

    Mikkel
    Member

    Just get a nice toasty sleeping bag and you will be fine down to -50

    Snowboard trips you say? What sort of altitude would you be sleeping at? Most diesel heaters struggle at high (above 1500m) altitude. Eberspacher have a high altitude kit for theirs, not sure about the knock-offs though.

    Premier Icon howsyourdad1
    Subscriber

    no higher than 800m.

    Could a refrigerated van work, but in reverse?

    djglover
    Member

    Could a refrigerated van work, but in reverse?

    One with a heater?

    Premier Icon spooky_b329
    Subscriber

    I think most refrigerated vans would have a very poor use of space, and likely to smell once warmed up unless they are completely watertight from previous spills.

    I’d also avoid ‘car camping’ or passenger variants of vans as the single glazed rear windows and interior fittings would make insulating difficult.

    This guy on youtube is ‘minivan’ camping in freezing temperature but his van has been heavily modified, its not going to be doing the school run anytime soon. He also has a fatbike in this tiny vehicle 🙂

    DickBarton
    Member

    Berlingo…bike at driver’s side and you sleep the other side. Unlikely to be luxurious but it should work for an overnight sleep.
    Insulation will be the key though as you’ll want/need every bit of heat to stay inside the cabin space.
    Also be aware of bringing damp kit into the space.

    Premier Icon howsyourdad1
    Subscriber

    ok, so :

    Caddy

    Berlingo

    multivan

    Will take a look. Any mechanical issues to look out for in particular?

    many thanks all!

    Premier Icon hellothisistom
    Subscriber

    Hi I used to spend some winter nights in my camper van, nothing down to – 15oc though.

    I have a self converted Mercedes sprinter.
    Good insulation, silver bubble wrap, loft wool and celotex all used in various places.

    Then a vapour barrier (very important to stop your insulation getting wet with your breath). Make sure no metal is left exposed as this will collect condensation and lose heat.

    Then cladding over the top.
    And then I have wood burner which keeps me very toasty. Doesn’t stay on all night though.carbon monoxide alarm and smoke alarm is a must.

    I’ve also stayed in vans that have diesel l heaters and they are pretty great. Much easier and less anxious than having a fire in your van.

    joefm
    Member

    Must have some form of heater. Insulation is only part of the solution.

    stevemtb
    Member

    Slept in my Transit crew cab for the Macavalanche years ago in the Glencoe car park. Never got above freezing all day and night was down to -6 IIRC. Didn’t have it converted at all, stuck an inflatable mattress across the back seats, two sleeping bags, various blankets and wore a hat all night. Windows were covered in cardboard to darken it and blanket down from the roof over the front seats. Actually had a decent night sleep too and wasn’t cold until I needed to get out in the morning.

    Not sure if that’s remotely helpful but it is possible to spend a night here in there in an unconverted van below freezing (might have thought twice about it at -15 though!!). That was also a completely still weekend so there was no issue with draughts getting in the van.

    The crew cab can just fit a single blow up mattress across the back seats with enough room to sleep for me at 5’10, any taller and a four or more seater can’t have a bulkhead as you’re going to need to sleep in the rear part (that might also be colder than the front of a crew was for me).

    Marin
    Member

    Insulation.Good quality 4 season sleeping bag, woolly hat, drama resolved.

    scotroutes
    Member

    I’ve bivvied out at minus 6c. As long as you’ve a good sleeping bag and a way to break any wind chill, that’s quite comfy.

    For a van, the three basics have been covered; insulation, ventilation and heating.

    Proper insulation, I think the best for a proper winterised van is spray foam,

    I’ve often wondered about this. Sprayfoam is best bang per inch but I wonder if it would break and detach as the van is driven and flexes? Thinking the high density rockwool might be better.

    andy8442
    Member

    As a bit of a aside, the 70k VW California barely has any insulation fitted and instead relies on the heater.Crackers I know, for so many reasons.

    I think most refrigerated vans would have a very poor use of space, and likely to smell once warmed up unless they are completely watertight from previous spills.

    He’s Swedish, he’ll have had rotten herring and reindeer musk glands for tea

    Got to agree with various posters above. Just get a decent sleeping bag and its a non issue.

    One you’ve slept in a car at minus twenty, or a tent or a snowhole then a van at minus15 is fine for the odd night.

    Premier Icon howsyourdad1
    Subscriber

    No rotting fish but I didn’t just have some tasty Elk 😗

    I mean I won’t be out in -15c every night. I can imagine that 3-5 times a season that may occur. those diesel heaters look great and I have a very good sleeping bag .  I’ll take a look at a few of the suggestions. Caddy maxi looks good. berlingos don’t, but perhaps I need to get over my prejudices

    Teardrop Caravan???

    I’ve slept in my old ambulance down to about -10 degrees C, both with and without heating.

    Without heating it was pretty much an exercise in being either fully in bed or fully clothed, as if you were outdoors in those temps. -15 wouldn’t bother me at all with decent clothing/bedding. With the heating it’s absolutely fine, and there won’t be any frost on the inside in the morning 🙂

    I’ve also done a night in a roof tent down at some silly temperature, not sure as had no thermometer. I was covered in frost when I woke up in the morning though, and was cold in a 4 season sleeping bag and wrapped in 2 duvets. Brrr.

    I think most refrigerated vans would have a very poor use of space, and likely to smell once warmed up unless they are completely watertight from previous spills.

    You wouldn’t like my new camper project then, it’s literally an old fridge 😀

    trail_rat
    Member

    an old fridge

    Don’t forget that it’s mounted on an old bin lorry.

    shermer75
    Member

    Could a refrigerated van work, but in reverse?

    That would effectively be an air-source heat pump wouldn’t it? Would that still be able to work at -15°c?

    Premier Icon rickmeister
    Subscriber

    Caddy Maxi working well here. Flat floor, plenty of space. Good window insulation mat things are a godsend.

    Premier Icon BillOddie
    Subscriber

    It was about that at night in the foothills of Pyrenees in March when we were doing our big Euro trip.

    3 season sleeping bag, extra fleece blanket, merino pjs, wooly hat and a warm wife made it comfortable.

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