Winter Vanlife: Staying Warm In the Cold

If you’re cold in your car, van, RV, whatever, THIS is how you stay warm.

People like to overcomplicate this with expensive heating systems, but it is SO MUCH EASIER to fight the cold of winter than to fight the heat of summer. This is what you do:

Go to a big box store and grab a 12v electric blanket. Just about everyone has them on their shelves now. You’re going to spend about $20 for this.

VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure it is a 12v (cigarette charger) and not a wall charger. This makes all the difference in power consumption.

The blanket I have is the Walmart brand with low, medium and high settings. There’s also a timer – I can’t imagine buying one without a timer for safety reasons. For what it’s worth, I’m always asleep before the timer goes off. If I wake up during the night, I simply reset the timer and go back to sleep in a literal blanket of warmth.

When camping, I use this with a Jackery 300. It gets me through the night, easily, even on a high setting.


  1. Heat rises, so sleep on top of the blanket. Duh, but like DUH! From the mattress up I do:
    • Fitted sheet
    • Electric blanket
    • My gorgeous self
    • Top sheet
    • Blanket
    • Another blanket if necessary.
  2. When I do this, I don’t need my propane heater (great considering the price of all fuel these days).
  3. Turn it on 5 minutes before you go to bed. Get your pre-bed peeing out of the way, recheck that your vehicle is locked, set out your coffee tools for the morning, then jump into a warm bed for the night.
  4. Sleep with a cap and thermal socks

Bonus points: tuck a HotHands into your bra. Or not…the label says not to use it against your skin and I don’t want you burning yourself, so don’t…but…yeah.

Do these things and you’ll get so warm that you’re purposely poking toes out of your sheets and into the frigid air for relief.

This image was taken in the middle of the night, so don’t come for me about picture quality. I’m JUST KEEPING IT REAL.

One response to “Winter Vanlife: Staying Warm In the Cold”

  1. Oh heck yeah! This is one of the best bits of advice I’ve seen. We planned/ built our van to “follow the weather” but when we were in the cold and thought we’d want to explore more in the snow, a heater didn’t even fit based on how we built. Totally love this! Out of curiosity, how much does the blanket pull?


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