In this video/post I will address how we stay warm in the pop top, even during the coldest winter days.
How we heat the space when we have shore power, when we are boon docking, and everything in between.
Where do you sleep
We are often asked if we use the pop top during the cold winter nights. The answer is, yes, absolutely!
The only time we do not use the pop top is when the wind picks up and we feel like the van might tip over. We’ve never been close to this happening, but it’s nearly impossible to sleep when your nervous system is getting set off constantly.
The amount of space inside the van (any van) is so minimal that keeping it warm isn’t all that hard. Assuming you have a good heating system.
And this is even true with the minimally insulated pop top area. With our down comforter, we’ve been plenty warm as cold as -3 degrees F.
Our heating options
We have a Rixen’s Diesel/Electric heater located in the middle of our living area. This heater can be powered by our diesel fuel tank (when we don’t have shore power), or via electricity (when we do have shore power). It also provides on demand hot water for our sink/shower(s), AND freeze protector for our 20 gallon interior water tank, water pump, and water lines that run through the wall to our sink.
In addition to our Rixen’s system, we also carry a Caframo True North electric heater that we use when we are plugged into shore power. The Caframo True North is more powerful than the Rixen’s electric heater, and provides the ability to have directional heat.
Directional heat (MUST HAVE)
One of the biggest issue when winter camping is condensation. If you don’t have constant air flow, condensation will build up everywhere it can!
Having condensation is fine until is starts to short out your electrical components (like auto lights and lane assist), and causes MOLD to form.
This is another reason the ability to place the high powered Caframo heater anywhere in the van is so valuable. Most of the time we have the heater pointed toward the front of the van to make sure the electrical components around the front of the van stay dry, but we will also point the heater at pop top canvas wet spots to avoid the mold (and ice build up).
If you don’t have a strategy for condensation, it will take a good half hour to de-ice the INSIDE of your van before you can drive. The ice will build up on the inside of the windshield, and even above the cab, which will drop down on you when the van warms up.
We’ve also found it helpful to have a Caframo warm air circulator running. This will help to keep air moving around the van as a secondary system to the True North or as a primary system when you don’t need the True North blasting.
When dealing with mold… we’ve found that it’s best to have some much air flow and heat that you don’t have mold. But we’ve also found that not having mold is nearly impossible, even with daily practices to avoid it.
Once mold is found, we try to do our best to dry out the area and have found Miracle Mist to work well to remove the mold (and stain). Just know that using the Miracle Mist can stain/bleach your surfaces.
We have also tried other mold and condensation preventers without much success.
If you have any questions, we are happy to answer them. Just drop them in the comments section below or shooting me an email at [email protected]