Ever thought about camping in the Winter, but know that you would never be able to handle the freezing cold weather? Well, we might just have some solutions for you!
Before we get started though, we just want to mention that in order for the electronic solutions that we’re about to suggest to work, you’ll most likely need to get a portable power station for plugging them in. We go into our top 6 in this article: The Top 6 Best Portable Power Stations To Give You Electricity When Camping/Overlanding - UK Edition.
Also, this list we're about to give isn't ranked from best to worst, so you can make your own judgment on which you feel is the best one for you!
1. High Quality Sleeping Bags (£100 - £300)
Look at the temperature or comfort rating for these to determine what sort of sleeping bag you need. If they’re rated for anything below -3 degrees, you can be pretty confident that they should keep you warm at night all year round in the UK. The season rating they have should also give you an idea of how well suited to your needs they are too. 1 season sleeping bags are only suited to the Summer, 2 season bags are for Spring and Summer, 3 season bags are for Summer, Spring and Autumn and finally 4 season bags are for Summer, Spring, Autumn and Winter- although you’ll often find that they’ll be too warm to use in the hotter months! We’d also recommend getting a mummy sleeping bag shape, as these have a hood that covers your head, so you keep lots of your body heat in that would have been lost from your head. Plus, take into consideration if you’re able to unzip the sleeping bag down far and therefore adjust the temperature that way too for nights that aren’t quite as cold. One of the advantages that sleeping bag liners and high quality sleeping bags have over other alternatives is that they don’t use any power to heat you and therefore won’t either run out of energy or cost you anything extra to run, so keep this saving in mind when deciding on which option you feel is best too! Here are a few sleeping bags we suggest:
2. Portable Electric Fan Heaters (£10 - £40)
The first method we’d suggest is getting a portable electric fan heater of some sort and heating your roof tent up for around 20 minutes before going to bed. The reason we suggest not keeping it on when you’re asleep is because knocking a heater like this over for an extended period of time could potentially be dangerous (even though the ones we suggest all have tip-over protection features). You could keep them on a low heat setting if you're awake, it’s just that we wouldn’t recommend having them on while you’re asleep for safety concerns.
These portable fan heaters come in two main versions- personal heaters and room heaters. The personal heater models produce less heat, but also take less electricity to power them and the room heater ones are the opposite. For heating small spaces like a roof tent, the personal ones will probably be sufficient, but it’s up to you to decide whether the extra heat from the room heater versions is worth the extra electricity you’ll use! We would probably recommend to use the personal heaters because lots of the portable power stations that you’ll be using to power them have under 500 watt hours of storage and you’ll therefore be able to run these personal heaters for just under an hour before you’ll need to recharge them again versus only 20 minutes or so with the more powerful room heaters. We’ll give you links to both though just in case you have access to plenty of electricity to not worry about the power consumption!
3. Sleeping Bag Liners (£30 - £60)
These simply go into your sleeping bag to act as an extra layer of warmth for your setup. Make sure to get one to suit your type of sleeping bag shape e.g. mummy bag. If you’ve already got one of the high quality sleeping bags that we suggested earlier, you could also add a sleeping bag liner to make your sleeping bag even warmer if needed, but just having a good quality sleeping bag should be perfectly fine for the temperatures we experience in the UK!
4. Hot Water Bottles (£10 - £15)
These are the cheapest and most simple solution on our list, but arguably one of the most effective in ensuring the average camper gets a toasty night’s sleep! You can fill one up by boiling a kettle on a gas stove or with the electricity from your portable power station if yours is powerful enough to heat a kettle. You’ll then obviously fill up the water bottle shortly before going to bed and enjoy your cheap and cheerful little heater!
5. Electric Heated Blankets (£20 - £60)
These simply go underneath you as you sleep and plug into your portable power station to give you a continual source of heat throughout the night. In general they’re quite a reasonably priced option, but like most heated products they do consume a lot of energy when left on all night (especially the double bed versions), so it might be a good idea to just use them to heat up your bed to keep you warm before you go to sleep or leave them on a very low heat setting all night if this is an option for the blanket you buy. However, if your portable power station has a very large storage capacity and you’re able to recharge it frequently, then this shouldn’t be too much of a problem for you!
6. Diesel Heaters (£90 - £130)
These will allow you to go to sleep with the heater on without worrying about potential safety issues. They get powered by a car battery or a portable power station that can handle 12 volts and the diesel that is in the fuel tank. You attach the wires to the power source, which will need to be bought separately. You would then feed the air duct pipe into your roof tent either through the door or through a hole of some sort in the fabric in order to keep it warm.
Most people leave their diesel heaters on all night and don’t experience any condensation. This is probably because it's pumping in dry hot air, rather than heating the existing cold air in the roof tent. We like to leave the exact reasons as to why this happens to the scientists though!
A drawback to these is that if you left one of these on all night, it would consume about 240WH of electricity, so you would most likely need to recharge your portable power station every day or two to run it again. It also obviously consumes some diesel to run, which is another cost you’ll have to add in.
One thing to note about these is that they're at least somewhat complicated to build, so definitely go with a different option we suggest if you don’t fancy doing even a little bit of DIY!
Please note that these will ideally need to have some sort of a covering over them to ensure that they remain safe, as they’re not specifically designed for outdoor use. Some people don’t do this, but we would recommend you either mounting them in a container or covering the tank/unit with fabric to ensure they remain safe.
7. Exterior Propane Heaters (£550 - £700)
These are similar in design to the diesel heaters, except they use propane to power them. This particular one we’re suggesting is designed to be exposed to the outdoor elements too, which should make it easier for you to set it up.
One thing to note is that they’re more expensive than the diesel heaters and again, they’ll require at least a little bit of DIY to get them set up for your personal roof tent layout. Plus, they’ll also need to be mounted outside as they can be quite dangerous when left inside the roof top tent all night.
Again, the advantage of these is the reduction of condensation due to pumping in hot dry air, rather than heating up the existing cold air inside the roof tent, which may be important enough for some of you to put up with the high cost and drawbacks.
Like their diesel heater cousins though, they’ll use up around 240WH of power if left on throughout the night and they’ll obviously use some propane too, so please keep both the cost and inconvenience of these in mind when deciding what solution suits you best.
So there it is, you now have no excuse not to get out camping in the cold! One thing we should mention is that you don’t want the roof tent to be too warm because you could run into problems of condensation and dampness. You will also almost certainly realise that roof tents are warmer than normal tents, so you may not actually need most of this stuff, but we thought we’d give them a mention just in case. Happy camping!
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