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How to Sleep in Your Car in Winter? Find 5 Best Methods

Sleeping in a car in winter can be exciting and entertaining. You sometimes want to go into the wilderness, surrounded by snow, read your favourite book, or listen to your favourite music.

Your car is cosier and more comfortable than a tent but less windy. However, for overnight camping in the cold, you need to transform your car into a comfortable sleeping space. Sleeping in your vehicle during the chilly night may be a challenging task for newbie campers.

In this guide, I will explore How to Sleep in Your Car in Winter? along with the essential tips and techniques to help you stay warm, safe, and comfortable while sleeping in your car during winter camping adventures.

With the proper knowledge and preparation, you can turn your car into a comfortable winter cocoon, making your cold-weather camping experience survivable and enjoyable.

Challenges of Sleeping in Your Car During Winter Camping

Most people would think of spending the night in their car instead of in a tent. Most of the time, it is, but it also has some particular difficulties. The following are some challenges you could run into while sleeping in car in winter.

1. Finding a Parking Spot

That is entirely acceptable if you plan to utilize a recognized campsite and wish to sleep in your car. However, you might not be permitted to do so in areas like public parking lots or unrecognized campsites. Consult your local administration if you’re unsure whether parking and overnight car sleeping are permitted. Some people will “stealth camp” by parking wherever, although they always run the danger of being charged by the authorities.

2. Winterizing your Car

Despite the excellent air tightness of your car, it nevertheless runs the risk of freezing over at night. Metal, the primary material of the body, is a significant heat conductor, and the glasses do not do a perfect job of keeping the cold out.

3. Making space for sleep

One of the primary concerns is if you don’t have the appropriate kind of car. To sleep comfortably, you need a room at least 7 feet long. The small cars are itself have problems due to their less space. You should have a car with more space to comfortably sleep on a winter night.

4. Snowing on the car

If you park in an exposed area, you risk waking up covered in a thick layer of ice above and on the sides of your car, no matter how well you winterize the interior.

5. Safety

You can face other safety challenges while camping in your car, which might increase complexity. You should not be able to sleep if you don’t park in a safe area.

Read More: How to Sleep Securely in a Tent While Camping?

How to Sleep in Your Car During Winter Camping: 5 Best Tips

Let’s consider “how to sleep in your car in winter” with more comfort, peace, and pleasant winter car camping while keeping the following issues in mind. Find a suitable parking spot. 

First of all, you cannot park somewhere and sleep. Most public sites prohibit staying in your car overnight. Some individuals call this “stealth camping,” but I do not advise it. Look for an appropriate location before you park your car. It should ideally meet the following fundamental requirements.

Authorities from the city or state have no restrictions on the area. For instance, you are not permitted to overnight at an airport or bus stop in a public location.

The area is secure. Find out if leaving your car parked overnight and sleeping inside is okay; you should ask the locals. Robberies and break-ins are common in some places.

Find a safe area to park your camper van if the weather is likely to snow overnight. Avoid trees because falling branches could damage your car.

A power supply in your parking lot is beneficial, as a portable heater inside the car should be used.

1. Insulate your windows

You must first be aware that your car’s seals and insulation are not perfect. Because it conducts heat and cold well, glass needs insulation in windows. Complete window sealing has its problems. You may encounter condensation and perspiration if your windows are entirely closed; this further cools down your body and leaves you feeling cold. If you leave your windows open to prevent condensation, you risk chilly air entering and lowering the temperature in your car at night. Reflective sunshades that keep heat in and are attached to a layer of felt that can soak up condensation are the best way to insulate vehicle windows.

2. Prepare the backseat to sleep

Preparing the backseat for sleeping is more similar to making your bed before falling asleep on it. Take out or straighten the rear seats before the journey to provide space for camping if you want to make the most of wintertime car camping. Therefore, you are ready to set up your bed as soon as you have the room and a level surface. It will be helpful to clarify concepts about “how to sleep in your car in winter.”

The best part about vehicle camping right now is that you do not have to worry about the weight of your backpack. You can bring everything you need. Bring your favorite inflatable pillows, memory foam or sleeping pad, electric blankets, and a down sleeping bag with you if you want a good night’s sleep.

3. Keep yourself inside layers of cloth

The objective behind layering is to maintain your body heat inside the base layers and add insulating layers to keep it inside for the night. You should wear three layers of clothing for the best protection against the cold.

Bottom thermal layer: Avoid cotton and go for synthetic fabrics like polypropylene blends to enhance wicking.

Middle warm layer: Wool or fleece makes for the warmest middle layer.

Top Protective Layer: Even though you won’t need it while you’re sleeping, put on a waterproof top layer if you have to go outside at night to relieve yourself.

4. Use a portable car heater

Here is another solution to a standard query regarding “how to sleep in your car in winter” for comfortable sleep. Utilizing an electric car heater is ideal for warming up your vehicle. Once the car has been properly insulated, please turn on the heater for 20 to 25 minutes or until the trunk is comfortably warm, then turn it off to avoid using up all the fuel overnight.

If you don’t want to start your car engine for the car heater to operate, you can alternatively utilize small portable car heaters and defoggers. These heaters are small, simple to use, and powered by a car charger, so they do not need an additional power source. Even though they take 12 volts of power, they might help you feel more at ease at night.

5. Light up your camp with a camping lantern

Consider being bored inside a closed vehicle where you cannot view the outside. Keep your favorite books nearby to ease you through the sleepless nights. But the question is, how will you read them?

Most vehicles have lights somewhere around the top. Nevertheless, you hardly see anything because of how weak these lights are. If you leave them running for too long, you risk having a dead ignition the following day.

Because of this, it’s a good idea to have a battery or rechargeable powered lantern with you when you go camping.

If it runs on batteries, you can purchase batteries from any roadside store. You can recharge it at home and wherever you can find wall power when traveling.

Read More: How to heat a tent with a candle?

Watch the video of Joel Eggimann about how to sleep in your car in winter.

Safety Considerations for Sleeping in Your car

While discussing “how to sleep in your car in winter,” the safety of men and materials is another critical part. The most potential obstacle when considering sleeping in the vehicle is your safety. Most of the risk will come from outside the car; you should take precautionary measures to probe into:

  • A car is drifting off the road or hitting you from behind.
  • Police problems if sleeping in a car is regarded as vagrancy.
  • Poor ventilation results in poor air quality.
  • Being seen by someone who could rob you or hurt you with Carbon monoxide poisoning.

How Cold is Too Cold To Sleep in Your Car?

According to the experienced campers’ opinion, any temperature below -30 degrees Fahrenheit would be dangerous. In any case, you should avoid letting yourself be trapped in this cold weather; if you do, you will have enough supplies to last you through the late night. This element can be significantly impacted by wind chill. Therefore, understanding “how to sleep in your car in winter” is necessary. Here, other vehicles are also taken into account for:

Trucks and SUVs

Consider your car to be similar to a tent. The minimum temperature for sleeping in a car during the winter should be around 15°F with a sleeping bag (15°F).

Cargo Vans

With an excellent mattress, a thick-down comforter, and one person, a well-insulated van without a heater is typically comfy down to about 0°F. It is usually bearable down to about -10°F with two persons with double the body heat.

Campers and RVs

Any weather may be comfortable in vans and campers with electric or propane heaters.

Do I Have a Backup Plan?

Even diehard ski lovers must ask for help when the nights are freezing. Have a backup plan if you’re new to wintertime car camping. We advise remembering a nearby hotel that is open late. Another good option is to carry a space blanket, additional layers of clothing, and a full tank of gas to use the heater in your car for a short while if you wake up cold.

Outfit your car for winter camping

Although everyone has a different kind approach regarding “how to sleep in your car in winter,” a varied arrangement, these concepts will help you feel at home quickly.

1. Fold down the back seats.

Make sure your seats can be folded down and lie flat for sleeping.

2. Add insulation

The majority of a car’s heat loss occurs through the windows. Put a reflective sunscreen on your front windshield to reflect sunlight. It would help if you insulated the windows during car camping in the winter.

3. Throw in a mattress

We advise a thick memory foam mattress for car camping, which you can trim to size with a bread knife. Additionally, they can store by folding. Using a sleeping pad designed for winter camping is another choice.

4. Build your bedding

Gather your pillows and find suitable blankets. We advise utilizing a sleeping bag if you wish to brave below-freezing temperatures. For temps around 0°F, a few substantial down comforters can also be helpful. After knowing about different techniques about “how to sleep in your car in winter,” you will feel like bedding at home.

5. Pick the right pajamas

Your base layers for skiing are excellent winter pyjamas. Most of us who sleep in vehicles don hats and loose, thick socks.

6. Heat it

Use the heater to its maximum before sleeping; you may curl up in warm covers. Before going to bed, make sure the vehicle is off.

7. Crack your windows

Even in the winter, cars can become stuffy. To encourage airflow, we advise slightly breaking your front windows.

8. Dream of fresh pow

Keep enjoying the dream of fresh snow in the morning.

Final Thoughts

Finally, sleeping in a car during a chilly night may be challenging for newbie campers. Wintertime car camping is a terrific option is more economical and gets out of the mountains. To achieve it, you’ll need a car with four-season camping gear. However, car campers can make their trip pleasant after knowing “how to sleep in your car in winter.”  There are plenty of ways like folding down the backseats, adding insulation, taking a foam mattress, heating resources, and fitting pajamas to make more comfortable sleep in a car in snowing weather.

Read More: How to Blackout A Tent?