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How To Stay Warm When Camping in a Mazda Bongo in Cold Weather

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How To Stay Warm When Camping in a Mazda Bongo in Cold Weather

We once went on a camping to Rhossili Bay in our Mazda Bongo Friendee for a one-night camping trip at the start of October... and it was freezing!  We got a great deal on the campsite as it was the end of the season and they don’t open past the month of October, which should have been a tell-tale sign that it just gets too cold for camping!  I quite enjoyed it as it meant the campsite was really quiet.

Even though we went near the beginning of October, it was still freezing!  The weather was quite unpredictable.  It was 6 degrees when we woke at around 7am to 7.30am in the morning, so who knows how cold it had been overnight.  In the day time, however, it was really warm by midday in the sun.  So warm, in fact, that we had to take all our layers off and we were in t-shirts!

It seems a shame to have the campervan all through winter and not be able to use it.  Even though I detest the cold weather, I do like wrapping up warm and getting outdoors.  I don’t want to totally hibernate inside for the entire winter.  I love being outdoors in nature and seeing the change in season.  I just need to find a way to stay warm! 

So with wishing to camp in winter in mind, here are my suggestions for how to stay warm when camping in a campervan in cold weather.  Some of these we did, and some we will definitely do next time!

How to stay warm when camping in a Mazda Bongo in cold weather 1

Wrap up warm!

Tips for staying warm when camping in winter or cold weather:

Don't let the cold stop your winter camping fun! Learn how to stay warm and cosy with these handy tips.

Mini heater

This is such a great idea!  We have a plug socket in the van and Ben said perhaps we can get a mini heater inside the van.  I have found the perfect solution at Coopers of Stortford who stock a mini heater that they call a ‘pint sized’ heater.  It plugs into a socket and is not much bigger.  It can heat for 1-12 hours and even has temperature control.  I’m not sure if Ben realised there would be something quite so dinky, but I think it’s a perfect solution.  We have a leisure battery installed so we can run it off this without draining the main battery.  Alternatively, if you don’t have a leisure battery fitted under the bonet, you’ll need another way of running your devices and heater with a dual-fuel generator for camping or hooking up to an electrical pitch where possible.

Leave the pop-top down

This was my genius solution whilst camping as I was certain lifting the pop-top roof would just create more space that would need heating up.  We left it down so we were in a more confined space and I believe this kept us warmer.  If you have a poptop then keep it down to stay cosy!

Sleep fully dressed

I didn’t dare get changed into my pyjamas and instead slept fully dressed, socks and all.  I would highly recommend fluffy socks, cosy jogging bottoms and a fluffy jumper to sleep in!  Perhaps even a hat if it’s super freezing! 

Snuggle up

If there’s two or more of you, then snuggle up!  Keep each other warm!

Take lots of blankets

Pack some extra blankets.  And then pack some more.  And then pack some more.  I questioned ben on why he was packing sooooo many blankets and thought it was overkill, but when it came to night time I realised it wasn’t even enough!  We had a couple of cosy blankets under us, our duvet from home and then around three or four throws on top.  It was still cold!  The extra blankets and throws definitely helped though and we’ll be taking every last one we own next time!

Invest in a proper sleeping bag (if you like them!)

Your sleeping bag is your haven from the cold at night, if you can handle them!  Probably the most obvious solution is to use a thermal sleeping bag.  This was Ben’s suggestion, but I just hate sleeping in sleeping bags.  I feel so trapped.  Perhaps I’ll change my mind if we go in even colder weather! They make me feel really trapped, so I prefer to take blankets and a duvet, but if you can sleep in a sleeping bag then it will keep you soooo much warmer! Choose a sleeping bag with a temperature rating that is lower than the expected nighttime temperatures. For winter camping, a mummy-style sleeping bag is ideal, as it traps heat more effectively than a rectangular bag, keeping you extra toasty!

Use an electric blanket or throw

We are definitely going to invest in an electric blanket or throw and ensure we book a pitch with an electric hookup for all winter camping adventures!

How to stay warm when camping in a Mazda Bongo in cold weather

We took a camping stove so we could have warm food first thing!

Use thermal screens

I’ve also discovered these thermal interior screens that will not only keep us warm and retain the heat in the van overnight, but they’ll give us some extra privacy too.  We have built in blinds on all the regular windows, but nothing on the front or back windscreens.  It’s on our list of things to buy, but we were just thinking of something thin for privacy, instead we can choose thermal screens to keep us warm in the colder months.

Have a warm cuppa (and stay hydrated)

There’s nothing more warming than a nice hot cup of tea or cocoa!  Invest in some proper thermos flasks to keep hot drinks hot for hours and use them when you need them the most – to warm up at night time or in the morning!

Talking about drinking, did you know, dehydration can make you feel colder? Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, even if you don't feel thirsty. 

Warm up before bed

Do some jumping jacks or light exercise to get your blood flowing before you get into your sleeping bag!  Go for an amazing hike in the countryside and walk fast, then your camper will feel really warm once you're inside!

Use a hot water bottle

A simple solution and great idea if you don't have an electric hookup for an electric blanket or throw, use a traditional hot water bottle to get warm if you have a source of hot water or a kettle you can boil on a camping stove.

Bring hand and foot warmers

Hand and foot warmers can provide an extra boost of warmth on cold nights.  You can buy hand and foot warmers pretty cheap on eBay by clicking here.


Invest in a van awning

One thing we really want to invest in for our Mazda Bongo is a van awning. This is essentially a tent that attaches the the side of the van giving extra space for storage and living space when camping.  Van Awnings can be used to dry wet clothes and prevent having the cold wet clothes from rainy winter days in the van.  It can also be set up as a windshield to help keep you warmer on windy days.  To do this, park your Bongo with the awning facing away from the wind. This creates a cosy little "outdoor room" next to your van, blocking the windchill and making it much more pleasant to hang out outside.

Use the sun to your advantage

Enjoy the warmth of the morning sun! Park your van facing east whenever possible to take advantage of the morning sun for natural warmth.

Final thoughts on staying warm when camping in a campervan in winter

We definitely need to invest in a few more things for the van to keep us warm outside of the summer months.  I don’t want the cold weather to put us off exploring and we’ll be getting a mini heater and thermal screens ASAP!  By incorporating these tips, you and I are well on our way to a toasty warm winter camping adventure in our Mazda Bongos (or whatever camper you have!)

Here’s some more of our kid-free camping adventures:

And with the kids:

Find more travel blog posts on my dedicated travel blog:

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