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Extreme Winter Campervanning Tips

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BMVS-Camper-Hire

BMVS-Camper-Hire

Camperhire
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T5 SE 180 4Motion
Hello all

I am a seasoned camper, and have camped in all seasons and weather conditions, probably like most of yourselves. However after my recent trip to Alpe D'Huez, with temperatures down to -25 degrees, I thought I would share some of my findings and tips with you, as it was quite a different experience to your usual winter camping. And obviously others can add their tips to this thread :thumb

1. Winter tyres/snow chains - We had winter tyres fitted but no snow chains, and I felt the tyres were essential, especially as we had 60cm+ snow in the four days we were there. Had we not have had the snow tyres fitted, then I would definitely have taken snow chains. Remember that it is actually law in certain European countries, to have snow tyres fitted between November and March.

2. Silver screens - To be far I think the silver screens are essential in all camping conditions, hot or cold, they insulate in the winter and keep the camper van cooler in the summer. They also go on the outside, so there is no chance of condensation build up on the inside, like with the standard screen covers.

3. Vanorak/Cali Topper - This was definitely a must have, and just gave an extra layer of insulation, and wind protection. It also meant that the roof and all it's fitting were protected from the snow and ice, so when it came time to pack away, you just needed to remove this and the roof went straight down, no need to clear the mechanism of ice or snow.

4. Bedding - Obviously take lots. We had four season sleeping bags, but also had a spare duvet and blankets, but never felt cold enough to use it all. The sleeping bag with the duvet over the top was nice and snug.

5. Heater - I would recommend setting the programme on constant and level 1. We had two adults and an 11 year old in the camper van, and never felt we needed more. We left it on 24hrs a day. We occasionally turned it up but this was usually when we'd got back to the California after boarding or dinner, just to get it toasty, but soon turned it down. Im not sure if it was a one off but we just turned the heating on normally the first night and it turned off after a couple of hours, however when we reset it using the programme, and on constant, we never had any further issues (anyone else found this?) Cost wise, for four days we spent approx £30 on fuel for the heating, but this also included the drive from Grenoble(where we filled up) to ADH, and back again, which is an 80 mile round trip, so we probably only used approx £15-£20 for the heating, for the four days.

6. Water tanks - We kept both empty all the time, we didnt want to have any freezing problems. We took bottled water to drink and any waste water we had went straight down the drain, at the aire.

7. Drying Clothing - After a days boarding we would get back to the California, change into normal clothes. Pull down the top bed, and open up a vent in the roof. The we hung all the snowboarding gear off the top bed, turned the heating up to 10, then went and had a shower and dinner. On returning, the gear would be perfectly dry.

8. Local Diesel - Just to be safe, fill your tank up before parking up in resort. If you buy locally in resort the fuel will have an additive to stop the diesel sludging/freezing, which my effect the heater and the engine. We didn't have any problems at -25, although when starting after this particular night it was a bit lumpy to begin with.

9. Snowboard/skiing equipment security - We took our bike rack, and overnight used a bike lock to padlock the boards onto this. This gave us piece of mind for security of the equipment. You could also strap the gear onto the rack for travelling, but the snowboards fit perfectly down the left handside, in the back, with the rear seat in the forward position.

Hope this helps, with any of you that are thinking of doing this, and please ask any questions if you have any. Oh and would I do it again - YES!

I will upload some photos to this htread when I get a chance. :thumb
 
Great tips Oli. Thanks for taking time out to collect these and share with us.
 
Great must-read post! Did you have a Portapotti? Any freezing issues?
 
ChrisandPenney52 said:
Great must-read post! Did you have a Portapotti? Any freezing issues?

No portapotty as the aire, had its own toilet block. No freezing issues either :thumb
 
Helpful, thanks for the big post.
Was there any sign of condensation when drying the outdoor gear with the heater on full?
Was opening the roof vents enough (with the Vanorak blocking most of the through draft)?
I guess it must have been enough otherwise you'd have mentioned it - but was it?
Were there just the two of you (no pets, small children, aged aunts, and the like)?
 
Excellent Original Post.

Great to have first hand advice.

Thanks
DFPS
 
barry said:
Helpful, thanks for the big post.
Was there any sign of condensation when drying the outdoor gear with the heater on full?
Was opening the roof vents enough (with the Vanarak blocking most of the through draft)?
I guess it must have been enough otherwise you'd have mentioned it - but was it?
Were there just the two of you (no pets, small children, aged aunts, and the like)?

We never had any condensation issues, it worked perfectly with the top vents open. And there was myself, my brother and my 11 year old son :thumb
 
Great tips... its tempting me to go but with 5 in the family it is possibly too cramped!

How did you find it with just the 3 of you? Did you feel the need to put out an awning or cover to add any extra space?
What were the camping costs like in ADH, are they reasonable?

Off Boarding in Austia in March for a weekend as costs for a week over half term were just too much.
 
MKRW said:
Great tips... its tempting me to go but with 5 in the family it is possibly too cramped!

How did you find it with just the 3 of you? Did you feel the need to put out an awning or cover to add any extra space?
What were the camping costs like in ADH, are they reasonable?

Off Boarding in Austia in March for a weekend as costs for a week over half term were just too much.

3 was fine, 4 would be full on, but doable!

Costs were £9 per night.
 
Off to Val Thorens for 6 days over Christmas, I've read that having the heater on and cupboards open will keep the water tanks from freezing (maybe not at -25) has anyone done this?
 
Thanks for that, off tommorrow
I have decided on a site just below meribel , so below 1500 meters, so heater should be ok, and not as cold as higher up, and cable car acess to resort and higher slopes, as the snow isn't brilliant
I felt Val thorens was to high, we have snow chains and summer tyres.
I am sure snow chains are necessary by law in the French Alps
And we wanted showers. I can't see them in Val Thorens
 
Anyone off to Meribel next week ? We're planning to be there for about 5 days from 29 Jan .
 
Great post.
It is compulsory to carry snow chains in France according to the AA and I wouldn't want to be without them.
Regarding ChrisandPenny52's question - we are travelling to the alps and will have the porta potti for the journey, has anyone tried adding anti freeze to the flush?
 
Great post.
It is compulsory to carry snow chains in France according to the AA and I wouldn't want to be without them.
Regarding ChrisandPenny52's question - we are travelling to the alps and will have the porta potti for the journey, has anyone tried adding anti freeze to the flush?
The additives already lower the freezing point, but we always managed to keep the inside temp well above that!! So, no real need.

One thing to add. We do a lot of winter camping (2 weekends ago -15 Celsius in the snow), heater in combination with topper, silver screen and insulation of the cupboard backsides work wonders. But the bottom of the van is not insulated, and you loose a lot of heat there, the cold can really creep up through your feet and lower legs. So, we have a 12V heating mat the size of our living space, that we have insulated on the bottom side. Works wonders!
 
Last edited:
Hello all

I am a seasoned camper, and have camped in all seasons and weather conditions, probably like most of yourselves. However after my recent trip to Alpe D'Huez, with temperatures down to -25 degrees, I thought I would share some of my findings and tips with you, as it was quite a different experience to your usual winter camping. And obviously others can add their tips to this thread :thumb

1. Winter tyres/snow chains - We had winter tyres fitted but no snow chains, and I felt the tyres were essential, especially as we had 60cm+ snow in the four days we were there. Had we not have had the snow tyres fitted, then I would definitely have taken snow chains. Remember that it is actually law in certain European countries, to have snow tyres fitted between November and March.

2. Silver screens - To be far I think the silver screens are essential in all camping conditions, hot or cold, they insulate in the winter and keep the camper van cooler in the summer. They also go on the outside, so there is no chance of condensation build up on the inside, like with the standard screen covers.

3. Vanorak/Cali Topper - This was definitely a must have, and just gave an extra layer of insulation, and wind protection. It also meant that the roof and all it's fitting were protected from the snow and ice, so when it came time to pack away, you just needed to remove this and the roof went straight down, no need to clear the mechanism of ice or snow.

4. Bedding - Obviously take lots. We had four season sleeping bags, but also had a spare duvet and blankets, but never felt cold enough to use it all. The sleeping bag with the duvet over the top was nice and snug.

5. Heater - I would recommend setting the programme on constant and level 1. We had two adults and an 11 year old in the camper van, and never felt we needed more. We left it on 24hrs a day. We occasionally turned it up but this was usually when we'd got back to the California after boarding or dinner, just to get it toasty, but soon turned it down. Im not sure if it was a one off but we just turned the heating on normally the first night and it turned off after a couple of hours, however when we reset it using the programme, and on constant, we never had any further issues (anyone else found this?) Cost wise, for four days we spent approx £30 on fuel for the heating, but this also included the drive from Grenoble(where we filled up) to ADH, and back again, which is an 80 mile round trip, so we probably only used approx £15-£20 for the heating, for the four days.

6. Water tanks - We kept both empty all the time, we didnt want to have any freezing problems. We took bottled water to drink and any waste water we had went straight down the drain, at the aire.

7. Drying Clothing - After a days boarding we would get back to the California, change into normal clothes. Pull down the top bed, and open up a vent in the roof. The we hung all the snowboarding gear off the top bed, turned the heating up to 10, then went and had a shower and dinner. On returning, the gear would be perfectly dry.

8. Local Diesel - Just to be safe, fill your tank up before parking up in resort. If you buy locally in resort the fuel will have an additive to stop the diesel sludging/freezing, which my effect the heater and the engine. We didn't have any problems at -25, although when starting after this particular night it was a bit lumpy to begin with.

9. Snowboard/skiing equipment security - We took our bike rack, and overnight used a bike lock to padlock the boards onto this. This gave us piece of mind for security of the equipment. You could also strap the gear onto the rack for travelling, but the snowboards fit perfectly down the left handside, in the back, with the rear seat in the forward position.

Hope this helps, with any of you that are thinking of doing this, and please ask any questions if you have any. Oh and would I do it again - YES!

I will upload some photos to this htread when I get a chance. :thumb

We did this in our new cali in 2012,
it was fantastic we did a week in le grand bornand French alps...,it got to around -10 to -15......since then we have chopped and changed vans to motorhomes over the years, now we're back waiting for Cali. Number 4,.and our yearly snow boarding trip in Feb,,,cannot wait.... reading your post brought back good memories.
we had about 100cm of snow in 2 days it never stopped we had to take a snow shovel to dig out around the van,then after that it was blue sky's for the rest of the holiday..so so good.we had -20 sleeping bags in the roof big quilts down below a pucer screen fitted
And a Delonghi mini dragon heater on 24hrs on hook up..we loved every minute.plenty warm enough!
Roll on the winter:)
 
The additives already lower the freezing point, but we always managed to keep the inside temp well above that!! So, no real need.

One thing to add. We do a lot of winter camping (2 weekends ago -15 Celsius in the snow), heater in combination with topper, silver screen and insulation of the cupboard backsides work wonders. But the bottom of the van is not insulated, and you loose a lot of heat there, the cold can really creep up through your feet and lower legs. So, we have a 12V heating mat the size of our living space, that we have insulated on the bottom side. Works wonders!

I am interested in the heating mat .. Where can you find them ?
 
I am interested in the heating mat .. Where can you find them ?
We bought it here.
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We have stopped using the electric heater fan you see on this picture. The diesel camping heater in the Cali is goed enough for us, now.
 
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