21 Winter Car Camping Tips to Sleep in Comfort and Stay Warm

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Car camping is really popular owing to the fact that, in it, campers get to skip the hassle of carrying heavy loads on their backpack! Not only do they get to use the vehicle to transport their camping baggage but also they don’t need the shelter of a tent and stay almost unguarded in the midst of the wilderness.

However, aside from all the silver linings, finding the perfect amount of comfort to sleep in a car can be difficult, especially during the winter. In case, if you’re worried about the same issue, then, our post on winter car camping tips will surely put your mind at ease! So, without going anywhere, read on to alleviate all your worries –


Top Winter Car Camping Tips for Sleeping Warm

1. Dress To Survive:

winter camping clothing

When it comes to winter car camping, dress to impress doesn’t suit rather dress to survive makes more sense. Here surviving simply means staying warm. And, this ‘staying warm’ can be easily obtained by dressing up in layers.

You should wear as many layers as required for the temperature you’re in. Again, don’t just through in layers upon layers, wear those clothes that you feel comfortable in. This is really important because you’re nestling inside your car, not in your luxury bed.

Yet, again, don’t forget to put on a hat that covers your ears as well. Also, depending on the severity of the cold, wear hand gloves and socks to avoid having freezing palms and toes.


2. The Efficiency Of A Hand Warmer

These easy-to-carry hand warmers are every winter-accustomed campers’ dream. In the cold weather, while driving your car to the desired location it is obvious that your hands can get numb easily. As having gloves on while driving makes the work more challenging, here hand warmers come to the rescue.

In case you are not familiar with them, they are complex compounds consisting of many elements. These elements react with air. Being an exothermic reaction these hand warmers release heat and warms your hand or wherever you put them.

Aside from driving time, you can also utilize them when sleeping by placing them on your sleeping pad. For your confirmation, hand warmers are disposable and not toxic, either. When the elements in the compounds finished reacting they will stop producing heat and then, you can throw them away in the trash.


3. Keep An Eye For The Fuel

Due to the frigid temperatures, not only you but also your car and engine become icy, requiring more fuel to produce energy. Thus in the winter, your car may require more fuel to keep the engine running.

Given that situation, before you start your winter car camping journey, we suggest you keep an eye on the level of fuel in your car. Keep it filled and, make sure to prevent the unnecessary use of the fuel to ensure the success of your winter car camping!


car camping in snow


4. Park Your Car Wisely

When you finally get to your location, don’t just park your car anywhere. As you’ll be staying in your car, shielding it from potential winter calamities like snowfall or severe wind should be your top priority.

Both of the aforementioned calamities may cause your car to become much colder, leaving you to suffer even more while being inside. So, look around for a suitable location at your campsite. Besides that also, keep an eye on the weather forecast and park your car in the direction where the snowfall or wind is expected to be the least.


5. Make Space For The Bed

Camping in a car doesn’t necessarily mean that you are bound to face discomfort while sleeping. Sleeping in a car can also be as comfortable as sleeping in your own bed. But, for that, you need to know the way to turn the car seats into a bed.

This can simply be done by leaning your bucket seats backward. Well, most of the seats are designed in a way that allows them to lean backward. This creates a horizontal surface for you to set up your bed.

The car seats can lean up to quite a horizontal surface. This gives you enough space to rest your body on. However, you don’t want to put much pressure on the car seat which might cause it to get damaged.


6. A Mattress Is A Must Have

Covering up your car seats plays a significant role in ensuring your peaceful sleep. How? The coverage insulates the seat which prevents heat from escaping into the atmosphere. In this role, a mattress really comes in handy. Mattresses tend to be thick and, hence act as good insulators.

Besides that, as you know typically mattresses have fibers within them which enable those mattresses with the exclusive ability to keep you warm. Keep in mind that, you won’t be needing more than one mattress to cover up your car seats, as one mattress is enough to aid you in a peaceful freezing night’s sleep.


7. Try Out A Good Temperature-Rated Sleeping Pad

Sleeping pads are a blessing for humans on cold camping nights, there is no debate on that. Furthermore, they come in all shapes and, sizes so you can easily find one that fits your car seats. Now, if you are thinking about how you would be able to pick the right one!

So, here’s a tip for choosing the perfect sleeping pad for you; remember to keep an eye on the R rating of that sleeping pad whenever you hop in the market to buy one. The more the R rating of the sleeping pad, the more it will prevent the conduction of heat.


sleep comfortably in car camping

8. Don’t Underestimate the Warmth Of A Blanket:

Now that we got the car seat insulated for your winter camping, it is time to insulate yourself! Perhaps you know, that our body loses a lot of heat through conduction into the surroundings all the time. This causes us to get cold easily.

In order to avoid this, you can wrap yourself in a warm blanket. The thicker the blanket, the better for you. Because the thick layer of the blanket will prevent the heat from escaping. However, while choosing a blanket, do make sure it is not hefty enough to use within a car.


9. Use Of Insulating Car Covers

After protecting yourself from the frigid temperature, the idea of keeping your car insulated should concern your mind. For this purpose, you can use an insulating car cover to protect your car from becoming icy cold due to the surrounding freezing atmosphere.

This can easily be achieved by covering up your car with an insulating material, it can also be a plastic cover. Or you can also go down to your local hardware stores where you can find cheap insulating covers for your car. It will be worth every penny you invest in it.


10. Get The Heaters Rolling

Another great way of keeping yourself warm is heaters! If you are concerned if the heater you have will fit into your car or not, then let us tell you that – there are myriads kinds of portable heaters available in the market that will perfectly suit your car.

So, before you get to bed turn on the heater, then you are sure to feel cozy and warm even in the coldest places out there. Moreover, as you will be camping in a car, that makes the place quite small. This in turn makes the heater more than sufficient to warm up the entire car in a comparatively small time period.


11. Keep The Light Sources On:

Light is obviously essential for your survival. But, here the main aim for keeping the car lights on is not only to keep you safe from the unknown danger or keep your area lighted up only. As you know any light source produces heat, thus those car lights will bring you a heated comfy ambiance to sleep on.  

Cars have many lighting options available, which you can use for this purpose. However, this might cause the usage of unnecessary energy and, the fuel of your car. So, if you’re running less on fuel or don’t want to waste much fuel for this purpose, then you may keep the lights on only when it is most required.


camping lantern


12. Light Up Some Lanterns

If you see any hook attached to your car or if you have the opportunity to include extra lighting sources in your car, then you should definitely go for it. It doesn’t have to be a lantern as any light source will do.

This will not consume the fuel of your car while supplying you with extra heat anyway. The heat produced by a lantern might be very insignificant in amount, yet out there in the cold damp weather, any source of heat is a blessing.  


13. The More The People, The More The Warmth

As the title suggests, the more the gathering the more you will feel warm. Having more people means that there will be more body warmth. If the space in your car allows two people to sleep, then you should use the opportunity to save more heat energy from convecting from your body.

This may sound funny to you, but people actually act like insulating materials, preventing the flow of heat into the atmosphere. Even if humans are not an option for you then why not invite your pet to have a camping night with you in the car.


car camping with tent


14. Hot Water Bags To The Rescue

Hot water bags have versatile benefits. Not only do they reduce your pain when you get hurt, but their heat can also provide you the comfort of a good night’s sleep in your car. They are portable and, easily available which makes them a great option on wintery camps.

You can use them on your cold feet, hands and, even other body parts to keep warm. The damp cold can cause several diseases like cold, or pneumonia. In order to save yourself from such cruel diseases, you should carry two to three water bags when going camping.


15. Ever Heard Of Hot Rocks?

If you are into spa sessions then you might be familiar with the term hot rocks. They are exactly what they sound like. These are rocks that are heated up and, placed on specific parts of the body in spas.

You can adapt this relaxation and therapeutic technique at your car camp to keep yourself warm. Not only will this be able to provide you somebody heat, but it will also enhance your sleep which is a much-needed thing when it comes to camping in winter.

In addition, these hot rocks will also reduce your stress and, tension. However, you shouldn’t use rocks with sharp edges for this method. There are some smooth rocks out there that will be gentle on your skin.


16. Snuggle With Your Hot Water Bottle

After warming up some rocks, let’s learn another interesting tip to keep yourself warm in your next winter car camping. In case, even layers of cloth or the warmth of a blanket fail to bring the perfect warmth you’re yearning for, try snuggling with your hot water bottle.

This may sound funny to you, but this hack really works. The warmth that the hot bottle exudes quickly makes you feel warmer than before. Nevertheless, make sure the hot water bottle does not come into contact with your bare skin, since this may cause skin burns.

So, we recommend you be extra cautious anytime you try this hot bottle snuggling technique.


17. Prep Your Meals On A Portable Stove

You might think that meal prepping or cooking in the car is more like a hell of a challenge and hazardous as well. In this case, we are happy to burst your bubble that this is not the truth. You can simplify your cooking process, by using portable stoves.

There are different types of portable stoves out there that you can easily get your hands on. These portable stoves are usually efficient. You can carry it in your car. Besides, this portable stove will not only offer you fresh and hot cooked food, but it will also supply you with some extra warmth!

This is more like two in one scheme, isn’t it?


cooking while car camping


18. Treat Yourself To More Calories

The more calories you eat, the warmer you will feel! Now, if you’re wondering what this sorcery is, then let us assure you this is actually biology! This happens because our bodies create heat naturally while digesting the meal we ate earlier.

So, when you’re in your winter car camping, don’t mind gorging on food as much as you can. This not only satisfies your appetite but also saves you in those shivering cold nights by raising your inner body temperature.


19. Drink Warm Water

After getting that stomach full, it’s essential to keep your thirst satisfied. But, drinking icy water may cause you cold and sore throat during your winter car camping; so this is one thing you must avoid. Make sure to drink warm water every time you drink it.

If you’re worried that how you would keep the water warm at all times, we recommend that you carry a water heater. Water heaters are quite popular; you may even have one in your home, and besides, they are portable and easy to use.


20. Staying Organized Is The Key

You must have so much to bring with you when it comes to camping in your cars that too in winter. Let’s be honest, the car you’re riding to your campsite might not be able to provide you much space to pack up all the things you’re wishing to take.

In this case, you will have to be choosy about what you pack in your car considering the limited amount of space. But, storing things by organizing in order may come in handy here, and doing that you may take on some extra stuff with you to your destined campsite.


Tent on top of car


21. Why Not Use A Car-Sized Tent

If you are into experiencing something new and exciting then why not try out the car-sized tent. These tents are specialized in fitting in your car. Moreover, some tents can be placed on top of the car.

As exciting as it sounds, this will also extend your winter car camping fun to another level. Although these kinds of tents are a little on the pricey side, we would recommend investing in them because one purchase may last a lifetime.


Final Words:

We have prepared this very article with 21 winter car camping tips to elevate your next winter car camping experience. After going through this list of effective tips and tricks on how to stay warm on winter camping in a car, the cold won’t dare to bother you anymore from having the best camping experience of your life. Just keep all these in mind while heading into the wild and you are good to survive, campers!