Do pop-up campers stay warm? (7+ tips for avoiding cold)

In this article, we will answer the following question: Do pop-up campers stay warm? We will give you a few essential tips for avoiding cold nights in a pop-up camper. We will also discuss whether pop-up camper insulation is worth it!

Do pop-up campers stay warm?

Unfortunately, pop-up campers do not stay as warm as motorhomes or campervans and are thus not as popular for winter travels. Still, there are many adventurous travellers who take their pop-up camping even on cold nights! 

As long as you prepare, there are several ways to stay warm in a pop-up camper, and we discuss some of the most popular ones below. 

How to keep your pop-up camper warm during cold trips

Sleeping warm is certainly the greatest challenge of winter pop-up camping, but it is far from an insurmountable obstacle!

First of all, the place where you decide to camp should absolutely give you access to electricity. Heating with propane won’t be enough to keep you warm in freezing temperatures. So plug in your camper to ensure maximum comfort.

Then an electric heater will be your best friend. Drag one or two into your vehicle so you can better control the interior temperature of the vehicle. These devices generally retail for less than $100 and are available from most accredited merchants.

Finally, you’ll want to insulate the pop-up camper windows to prevent hot air from escaping. To do this, we recommend that you use reflective insulation, available at most hardware stores and home centres. This is usually sold in a roll, which you can cut to the desired size yourself. You will quickly see how this insulation makes all the difference.

How to keep yourself warm in a pop-up camper

Besides the above-mentioned tips to heat your pop-up camper efficiently, there are several ways you can keep yourself warm in the pop-up camper even on the coldest nights of winter.

  • Let’s start with the basics: check your insulation! Many pop-up campers have thermal bridges. However, these uninsulated body parts, these unfilled holes, these doors that do not close properly or the defective seals represent a significant part of heat loss. We, therefore, recommend that you fill these thermal gaps with insulation or use a pop-up camper cover.
  • Install insulating shutters. Pop-up windows and windshields are a big loss of heat. To avoid this, we strongly advise you to invest or manufacture insulating shutters for all your windows. You can also opt for an insulating curtain that will allow you to maintain the heat.
  • (Re) take out the right hot water bottle. The good old recipes. You don’t necessarily think about it, but when the temperatures are cooler, a simple hot water bottle can warm you up for several hours and require little energy. So this is a good option for winter in a pop-up camper!
  • Opt for the throw-pillow. If your pop-up camper is big enough, you can take a second blanket on board to better withstand the cool nights. However, if your space is limited you can set your sights on the throw pillows.
  • Put on thick socks. Exit the sexy #camperlife but hello comfort! With cosy socks, goodbye to frozen feet on the floor when you prepare breakfast!
  • Choosing a good heater. Big socks and a plaid, that’s not everything … Because sometimes, all these tips are not enough, the best solution will be real heating. There are several options available to you for this: diesel or gas heating or even a wood stove for a little Swiss chalet atmosphere on wheels.

How to protect your pop-up camper pipes during winter travelling

The easiest way to access drinking water in the pop-up camper is to buy jugs. Bottled water will be used not only for drinking or cooking but also for washing dishes or using the toilet in the camper.

If you decide to use the toilet and sinks, however, you will need to make sure to winterize the plumbing. So, for every amount of water you send through the plumbing, be sure to send the same amount of antifreeze liquid. This will prevent broken pipes – and a lot of hassle!

How to ride with a pop-up camper in snow

Driving in the snow with a pop-up camper, like driving in a car, should be done with care. If conditions are favourable for your departure make sure you are legally entitled to tow a camper. 

The safest and most advisable option is to install winter tires on both your vehicles. This can be done safely at a dealer accredited, who will be able to advise you on the right type of tires.

Note, however, that it is also possible to obtain an exemption to be able to drive without winter tires.  In all cases, just like in a car, snow-covered roads can be dangerous for the pop-up camper, so use maximum caution if you take the road, especially if it is without winter tires!

Note that the law varies according to the states you will visit: inform yourself in order to comply with it before leaving!

Tips for avoiding cold-related issues when towing a camper

  1. If there is one frustrating downside in winter, it is not being able to start your vehicle because of the intense cold. In order not to be in a bad position when starting off, first make sure you always have a battery pack (commonly known as a booster pack) on hand.

If you’re a winter camping enthusiast, you can also opt for an engine block heater (often called block heater) which, although more expensive, is guaranteed to get you started in cold weather. Note that it is recommended to turn on the engine block heater approximately 4 hours before your departure for optimal use.

  1. The humidity! There is still the biggest problem with camping in cold temperatures: humidity! The solution is as easy as adding a dehumidifier. There are small portable ones, but here we forget that. The humidity is so intense that it takes a large residential dehumidifier to do the job. 
  1. Clean water and dirty water. As for the use of water, we recommend ordering a heating wire that you can stick to a garden hose, then wrapped it all in pipe insulation to keep the heat out of the hose and make sure the water doesn’t freeze. 

For dirty water, you can empty the tanks when the mercury is going to rise above freezing point and close the hatches for the colder times. In a worst-case scenario, it will freeze a bit, but there is plenty of room in the reservoirs for the water to expand if it ever freezes.

Is it worth insulating a pop-up camper?

If you plan on making winter trips with your pop-up camper and want to keep warm no matter the temperature outside then yes, insulating a pop-up camper is more than worth it. 

Many pop-up owners are reluctant to this idea as it seems impossible to thoroughly insulate the canvas. Still, insulating your pop-up camper is important and beneficial for both you and your RV. 

Here are our three suggestions for insulating a pop-up camper: 

  • Reflectix Insulation: it can help with any areas where cold air is blowing in your camper. While caulking is the recommended procedure for this stuff, there may be situations where a large expanse of Reflectix will stop the airflow. 

The key to using Reflectix well is that you should take a little time to understand how reflective insulation works in the first place. The Reflectix site provides a wide variety of information on this and how it differs from other types of insulation. 

  • Thermal Insulated Blackout Curtains: The thermal insulation curtain can be made of various materials, such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), PVC, cotton or even wool. The presence of a thermal liner is of real interest in terms of temperature preservation, even in summer when it has anti-heat characteristics by reflecting more than three-quarters of the sun’s rays. 

It is also a sound curtain, which in some cases has very good sound insulation. This reduces the disturbance caused by noise pollution. 

  • PopUP Gizmos: While not a classical insulating material, PopUP Gizmos are a waterproof cover that will protect your camper from moisture, rain, snow and ice (if you like camping in the mountains in winter). 

Without a doubt, a tarp protects your vehicle from the elements. In areas where it snows, it prevents water from melting accumulated snow from entering the camper through the solder joints. 

Final thoughts

It is possible to stay warm in a pop-up camper! It is important to feel warm in your recreational vehicle especially on cold nights. Insulating your camper is therefore essential: it will limit noise, cold and prevent water from entering. Do not miss the thermal bridges (interruption of insulation, heat loss) with hollow bodies, cutting points, bodywork reinforcements, windows and bays. 

Please feel free to get in contact if you have any tips or questions on how to heat a pop-up camper!

FAQ on Do pop-up campers stay warm?

Can you heat a pop-up camper?

Yes, it is possible to heat a pop-up camper either by using an electric heater, a furnace or an external propane heater. 

Does AC work in a pop-up camper?

Yes, AC works in a pop-up camper. We recommend you invest in a portable AC, that is easy to install and a great long-term acquisition. 

Can you sleep in a pop-top in winter?

Yes, you can most certainly sleep in a pop-top (also known as a pop-up camper) in winter, as long as you take all the necessary precautions to stay warm during those cold nights.

Is insulating a pop-up a good idea?

The insulation of the pop-top camper can be more or less valid and efficient, but it is still there. This means that the interior can be heated and the heat maintained, perhaps some models “hold better than others”, but this is not very important: your camper can face the cold. 

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