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  • Jimmy Sutjak

Best heaters for your camper van during winter adventures.



With the changing of the seasons there is also a shift toward new adventures. Every year, come late fall and early winter, we hangup our summer gear and pull out our winter gear. We shift away from mountain bikes and move toward skiis and snowboards. The weekend camping trip to the local crag turns into daytrips up to the mountains, chasing the fresh powder. Cold snowy nights in a tent is certainly not for everyone. Camping in the snow requires a much greater commitment of gear, knowledge, and fortitude. Even some camper vans that are ideal for a weekend camping trip in the summer are often times winterized and put away until the spring thaw. Fortunately, a well designed, engineered, and constructed camper van, like those created here at Alpinvan, can provide the perfect platform to extend your reach and serve as basecamp for adventures in every season.

A camper van is your one stop shop for taking your adventure on the road. Why should that stop in the winter? Camper vans offer you the convenience of being able to sleep. eat, and haul your gear from spot-to-spot, quickly and easily. The size and manueverability is similar to a large SUV, which lets you chase your adventures. This is exactly what is needed to be able to chase the big snow storm about to hit the high country.



In building an adventure rig that can handle the high country planning and engineering are two key tasks. At the outset, even before you buy a van, you have to plan for your winter adventures. Windows, for example, which can offer wonderful views across the countryside are also conduits for cold air. Limiting the number of windows or designing proper insulation for winter adventures is necessary. Insulation as a whole will will make or break your winter camper van build. Ensuring that every crack, crevice, or hole is filled with insulation will help to keep the van warm in the winter. Additionally, maximum insulation also keeps the van cool on hot summer days.

Winter also has an added impact on your water system. The placement of fresh water tanks, grey water tanks, water lines, and faucets all have to be considered for winter weather use. Frozen lines, tanks, and pumps can easily destroy the system as well as other components in the van. Placing all of the tanks and hardwear inside of the heated cab of the vehicle is one way of preventing the water from freezing. Maintaining a level of heat above freezing inside of the living space is the next step in a safe and comfortable winter build.

Heaters

Heaters are essential if you are looking to camp in extremely cold environments or if you want to camp comfortably in cool climates. Even without heaters, when combined with proper insulation, body heat, blankets, and sleeping bags provide adequate comfort when sleeping in 40-50 degree weather and a livable environment even below freezing. When adequate and livable comfort levels are not enough, heaters can make you feel right at home, even during the deepest of freezes. Here are three different heaters that provide different levels of functionality, ambiance, and price. They are listed in decending order for cost.


Cubic mini wood stoves

The Cub is the smallest of the stoves from Cubic mini wood stoves. These beautifully designed wood stoves do more than just heat your camper van. They bring the campfire inside so that your gaze off into the flames and enjoy the fire like it is a cool summers night.


Pros

- Ambiance

- Measures only 11" (Wide) x 12" (High) x 10.5" (Depth)

- Removes humidity

Cons

- Burns oxygen inside of the vehicle

- Open flame inside of the vehicle

- Wood used to burn has to be carried in the vehicle and has to be the appropriate size to be able to fit in the stove

- This stove should never be running if you are away from the vehicle





Propex

The Heatsource hs2000 is a top of the line propane heater. Oxygen is brought in from outside of the vehicle, combined with fuel in the combustion chamber, and then the exhaust is expelled out of the vehicle. This prevents harmful gases from building up inside of the vehicle. Thermostat that can be set, allowing the heater to kick on and off at a certain temperature


Specs

- 12 volt; operates between 10-15 volts

- 1.4 amps continuous

- 3 pounds of propane every 10 hours

Pros

- The combustion chamber uses external air

- Prevents the buildup of moisture inside of the vehicle as can occur with other heaters that have open flames inside of the vehicle 

- The heater is extremely safe. There are automatic shut offs that engage if there are any issues with the combustion.

- Thermostat

Cons

- British company that has British components which require adaptors to match up to US gas





Diesel Heater


Originally manufactured only in Europe, manufacturers in Asian have now begun to produce these heater in mass. These heaters are certainly the cheapest, but several years of manufacturing have made these heaters more reliable. Additionally, there are now more parts and addons that can go along with these heaters to make their setup much easier. These function in much the same way as the Propex heaters, having the combustion chamber draw air from the outside.


Pros

- Similar to Propex design

- Uses diesel or kerosene, which is available throughout the world

- Cheap

Cons

-Diesel fuel is dirtier, which can cause a buildup of dirt in the combustion chamber and the exhaust

- Device has to be cleaned

- Should be run on higher heat output in order burn most effectively and completely


Proper insulation and a heater can turn your camper van into a year round adventure rig. Rather than simply enduring those cold winter nights, you will be able to enjoy your nights. A climate controlled camper van will allow you to sleep better and be well rested for your nexts days adventures.

Snowy Mountains