Can You Sleep in Your Car During Winter Camping

  • By: Anthony Paton
  • Date: June 23, 2022
  • Time to read: 9 min.

In the winter, nothing beats sleeping in the car with a good book or music. The isolation from society and all that snow is just what you need at times.

The great thing about camping in your car is that it’s both cozy and comfortable. You won’t have the problem of windy conditions like when out on a tent site, but if you’re going to spend an entire night there then things need some work.

Sleeping in the cold is never easy and it can be downright uncomfortable if you’re not used to sleeping outside.

How do you stay warm when camping in the winter? The answer is simple insulated windows and a fleecy layer to retain heat. Make sure there are no condensation problems by using an electric blanket or a portable heater.

I was thrilled to hit the road for our winter trip, but it turned out not be as easy as I thought. The cold and freezing night made me realize how hard this lifestyle really is. The winter nights in my car are now much more enjoyable because I took the time to fix all of these overlooked things.

Most people spend their winter camping in a car or with friends. The problem is that it’s often difficult to get warm when sleeping inside the vehicle, especially if you live far away from any natural heat sources like fires and bodies of water. Luckily there are ways for making sure your night stays comfortable despite these challenges .

Possible Challenges you Could Encounter when sleeping in your Car

The sleeping experience compared to tents is not all that great. Most people would think it’s easy but there are some unique challenges you might face while car camping.

Locating a safe parking spot

If you’re going to use an good campsite and want a chance of sleeping in your car, it’s important that the place allows parking overnight. People like using stealth camping by finding somewhere public where they can park but this could result in fines from local authorities if discovered so be sure before doing anything remotely illegal.

Thermal Car Barrier

The car is an excellent barrier to keep the cold outside, but it may still become a frozen block during night time. The main body of your vehicle consists mainly metal which has good thermal conductivity properties and glasses on both sides are not so effective at stopping heat loss caused by air moisture condensation.

Enough Space to Sleep

This can be one of the major concerns for those who don’t have a car that is at least 7 feet long. You will need enough space to sleep comfortably, and it’s important not only in winter but all year round too.

Snowing on the car

You can make your car cozy and warm by winterproofing the inside. This is a great idea if you will be parking in an public space, because it’ll keep all of that cold air from getting on top of us.


Car camping can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors and explore new places, but it does come with some challenges. One of those is safety if you don’t park your car in an area where there are plenty watchful eyes nearby then this could make for restless nights filled with anxiety about what might happen when nobody’s around.

We all know how challenging winter can be, especially when you are out in the elements. But there is a way to make your camping experience more comfortable and peaceful.

Ways to sleep in a car during winter while camping?

Locate a suitable spot to park

It is illegal to park and sleep in many public places so make sure you check before parking your car. Look out for these things when searching.

The place is so unique that it’s not restricted by city or state authorities. For example, you cannot park and sleep in a public parking area like an airport.

The parking lot is safe, but don’t forget about the areas around you. Make sure to ask locals if it’s okay for your car stay overnight and sleep inside. Some parts of town seem more dangerous than others when parkers are targeted by criminals in their own neighborhoods.

It may be hard to avoid getting stranded with your RV if the weather is prone snowing overnight. Make sure you find a safe place where there aren’t any trees because they could fall on top of it.

If you have a power source for your parking area, that’s even better. You can use the portable heater inside of cars and trucks with this extra feature.

You have found a suitable spot to camp/sleep in for the night. Now it is time prepare your car so that you can enjoy this experience.

Seal car windows

The first thing you need to do before bed is insulate your windows. It’s not as much work and can make a big difference in how warm or cool it stays for sleeping hours.

You may think that your car is sealed and insulated, but it isn’t. Glasses are a good conductor of heat or cold which means you need insulation for all those windows.

The amount of heat that passes through your window glass can be limiting, even when you close all the panes. Sealing them tightly has its own problems if it’s too complete a seal then there could well be condensation and perspiration which makes you colder than before.

The cabin will be cold and uncomfortable if you don’t close the windows slightly to prevent condensation from coming in.

The best and the cheapest solution to insulate car windows is to use reflective sunshades to retain heat attached to a layer of felt that can absorb condensation.

Keep your car cool and protected with reflective sunshades. These custom fit shades will reflective sheets that prevent the heat inside from escaping, making it easier for you to stay comfortable on longer trips.

You can avoid condensation by using woolen felt along with the reflective shades. You might find a woolen felted option on Amazon or at your nearest hardware store it’s easy to put together just ensure you stick two pieces of velcro tape onto each other in order for them stay securely attached when fitted over windows.

Make room to sleep

Preparing the backseat of your car to sleep is more like prepping for bed. If you want an excellent winter camping experience, I suggest removing or flattening out those pesky seats in order that we may have optimum space when it comes time spend all night tied up inside our vehicles.

The best way to camp is in your own RV. These vehicles are made with the weather and camping trips into account, meaning you’re guaranteed not only comfort but also safety while on site.

Once you have the space and a level surface, it’s time to set up your bed.

The best thing about car camping is that you do not need to worry about your backpack weight. You can pack all of the comforts for a good night’s sleep including inflatable pillows, memory foam or sleeping pad and electric blankets.

So, let me tell you why these are so important.

Get Comfortabke sleeping bag

Camping in a car can be pretty uncomfortable without the right gear. Make sure you buy sleeping bag that has an insulation rating of 0 degree or lower, and choose something like Therm a rest Oberon for its comfortability & warmth.

The sun’s heat drops quickly at night so it might seem chilly when waking up but there are ways around this problem.

Heat Retaining Equipment

The sleeping pad is an essential part of your camping equipment. It will provide insulation beneath you when the trunk gets super cold, and closed cell foam pads have a reputation for retaining heat that keeps people warm on those chilly nights out in nature.

Electric Blanket

You can keep warm while camping with an electric blanket. It only requires 10-12 volts of power and is perfect for cars, since they don’t take up much room.

The output should be about how great these blankets work in cold weather conditions.


I personally can’t sleep with inflatable pillows. If you have the space for a real pillow, get one instead. They’re not as comfortable and may save your packing weight but they do come in handy when setting up camp or traveling light just make sure to research which ones are good quality so that way no regrets later on down road.

Keep yourself inside layers of cloth

Layering is the best way to stay protected from hypothermia and frostbite when camping in a car during winter.

To maximize your body’s natural warmth, it is important to trap as much heat from escaping through the base layers. This way you can stay warm during those cold winter nights by trapping air inside them and adding insulating pieces on top so that they don’t get too chilly.

To stay warm and dry during winter, it is best to dress in three layers.

Thermal layer

Since cotton is a terrible fabric for absorbing sweat, go with synthetic long johns shirts and pajamas to maximize wicking (absorb perspiration). Synthetic clothes make an excellent base layer in winter campers.

Material layer

Fleece or wool is the best material to use when you want maximum warmth.

Protective layer

You may not need this while sleeping, but if you plan on going out at night and need to pee then put on a waterproof top layer.

car heater

The heat from an open flame can be dangerous to your health, so don’t try using one in the car. That’s not counting how they’re also likely poisoned by carbon monoxide.

The best way to warm up your car is with an electric heater. Turn it on for 20-25 minutes or until the trunk feels cozy, then turn off when you don’t want any more exhaust fumes in that cabin.

The car heater will help you stay warm in the cold weather, but be careful not to turn on too much heat or else your engine might overheat.

You can use a portable car heater and defogger if you don’t want to turn on your engine for the heat. These small devices are compact, easy to operate with no external power source needed as they only require 12 volts from plugging in their charger which will make it comfortable inside of any vehicle at night time.

heating your tent in winter is no easy feat. But luckily, I’ve put together a detailed blog on how to make it happen. Most of these methods also work well for cars so check out my page if you want some tips today good luck

Camping lantern

The car is dark and you can’t see outside. If I were in your place, then my favourite books would be beside me to help get through these insomniac nights but how will they read?

In the cars I’ve been in, there’s always a light up somewhere on top. But it’s so dim you can barely see anything and if left running long enough might end with dead battery next morning.

The light from a battery powered lantern is not only cheaper to buy in the first place, but also far more economical when it comes time for recharging. You can charge them at home or anywhere there’s electricity so long as you have access points nearby.

The best way to illuminate your car is with Princeton Tec Helix rechargeable lights. They are not only dimmable but can be used for 18 hours after one full charge, and no need worry about the charging as it’s easy enough done through USB or 12V plug in accessory strings that attach directly onto roof bars.

Planning your winter car camping trip?

Planning your winter car camping trip? Here’s what you need to know.

  • Make sure you don’t get towed. It is illegal to Park overnight in some areas and restricted elsewhere, so check before parking your car
  • During the winter, it’s important to protect your car windows with a reflective sheet and felt layer
  • Make sure you have comfortable bedding in the back with your sleeping pad, bag and thermal blanket
  • Wear clothes that are designed to keep you warm, like 3 layered outfits
  • Use a portable heater to keep you warm on those cold days
  • You can light up your cabin with an overhead lamp or lantern
  • Carry a 12v car kettle or battery operated kettle to make quick coffee/tea when you are feeling under the weather

Winter camping can be uncomfortable and inconvenient, but it is possible to camp in your car if you take care of the basic needs.

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