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Thread: Winter Pop-up Camper tips...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    181

    Question Winter Pop-up Camper tips...

    I'm thinking about taking my Bethany pop-up camper up to Duluth to work road crossings at the John Beargrease sled dog marathon the end of January...

    I've never used my camper in -20F weather... I've been in it at 20F and the heater works great. But -20 is a different story. My back up heat is a Buddy heater.

    I'm looking for any tips regarding camping at these temps...
    Main concerns are:
    1) condensation build up
    2) propane use (how long will the 20 lb tank last)
    3) remote site requires a generator for power
    4) cold effects on canvas (when it's time to pack it up)

    Any tips or thoughts anybody can share?
    Last edited by Prybry; 01-04-2011 at 03:09 PM.
    Prybry
    "Young enough to know it all, Old enough to know better"

  2. #2
    Not much to add, but a little bit regarding propane use. I would think the heater that came in your camper would run for long time on a 20 lb bottle, a couple weeks long. But I don't know about it's consumption.

    Can you take your camper, set it up, fire up the furnace and leave it running for a few days to gauge the consumption by using a fillable 20 lb bottle? That might be the surest way no matter what anyone tells you... take the bottle and have it topped off (if it's not an exchange bottle, but one that you have filled) use the furnace for some days, then take it back to get filled and see how much it takes to fill it. I've been out of the propane loop for a number of years now and don't know if things are still done that way (filling vs. exchange, etc)

    A thread regarding propane consumption in a pop-up camper. http://www.expeditionportal.com/foru...hlight=propane

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    blacksburg va
    Posts
    22
    We havent used our truck pop up in extreme cold yet but did use our regular pop up several times and I can offer some info.We found the propane tank would last 4 nights running pretty steady and the bateries would last 2. I would imagine that the truck camper would be a little better since it has less canvas.The other thing we found was that the camper folded up much easier if put down when still warm.If you have access to a generator I would think it would help to use a small electric heater and also power lights which you use more in the winter since there is less daylight.We have also used an electric blanket to pre-warm the beds while running a generater.you can also use the electric power to run a Mr. Coffee and keep it in a thermos to further save propane.Have fun,winter camping can be a good time.Hope this helps.
    Jerry

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    181

    Default Other thoughts...

    I'm guessing the 20 lb bottle will be fine for a few days... I think it is a 12,000 btu forced air unit. So my calcs figure about 5 days running time. And I will use the Buddy heater for periods that I don't run the generator.

    As for packing up the canvas... I figure I'll crank up the heat and get the inside roasting just before I drop the top, that way I minimize the stress on the canvas.

    One point to note... The Bethany is more of a pop-up trailer style than a pop-up truck camper so more exposed canvas than normal.

    Nothing I've read gives me a clue on how to deal with condensation issues...
    Prybry
    "Young enough to know it all, Old enough to know better"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    blacksburg va
    Posts
    22
    We have found on both our regular pop up and truck camper that if we leave the roof vent or a side window slightly open it helps cut down on moisture dripping on us.We do lose some heat this way but better than waking up with water dripping on your face.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Boise, Idaho
    Posts
    168
    Keep in mind that in below zero temps your propane may not function well.
    You might have to come up with a way to warm the tank. We had some propane tanks on the Greenland icecap that had insulated covers that helped.
    Just something to think about beforehand.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Fruita, Colorado
    Posts
    366
    We recently camped in -6 degree temps http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/vie...hp?f=11&t=6057 and found that using Thermarest type self inflating, insulated sleeping pads placed around the pop up section worked wonders. It was a huge difference between the Reflectex material and the pads.
    Desert Solitaire


    2001 Nissan Xterra
    2002 Ford F250 CC 4x4 7.3L

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    181

    Default Now I need a heater for my heater?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tumbleweed View Post
    Keep in mind that in below zero temps your propane may not function well.
    You might have to come up with a way to warm the tank. We had some propane tanks on the Greenland icecap that had insulated covers that helped.
    Just something to think about beforehand.
    Great, I hadn't thought about the cold effect on the LP tank... is the problem the tank or the regulator? I will have my Buddy heater for back up so I can use that to warm the tank storage area worst case...
    I'll have to do some more research on cold and LP systems.
    Prybry
    "Young enough to know it all, Old enough to know better"

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    181

    Default Pre heating the camper before setup is a good idea...

    Quote Originally Posted by klahanie View Post
    My tip would be to bring more propane.
    I’ve run out of propane too many times to risk it.

    I can’t tell you how much you will use but for myself, in our FWC, I would be shocked to get 5 days (and nights) in –20F weather from a 20# bottle.
    My old rule of thumb for sub-zero (Celsius) was 1 bottle for a weekend. In the past my backup was “we can just drive home”. In the future, if we ever winter camp again, I would bring a 1500w oil filled heater and a generator – although the noise might be too obtrusive for all but an emergency.

    One thing to consider is how much time you will be in the camper but not sleeping. Naturally it many be acceptable to sleep in a cold air temperature but uncomfortable to sit around. This is when you will really burn through the gas.

    I’ve never had a problem with the vinyl sides although the age of the vinyl may be a factor. I have recently noticed the material is stiffer in freezing weather than I remember (this only in the carport ) You might also want to warm up the inside before raising the roof – if that is possible.

    For condensation we just use towels. The trick is finding a way to dry them between uses; clothes lines help.

    Good luck and enjoy!.
    I have a spare 20lb tank I could bring... sounds like a good idea.

    As for pre heating the camper, thats a great idea... I could set the Buddy heater in the camper for a few minutes prior to setup. I was worried about the clear plastic vinyl windows cracking as I cranked the top up, but adding a little heat would do the trick.

    Now I had a thought about making some thermal covers out of surplus wool blankets... cut and sew them to fit over each side tent. At least it would give a bit of dead air space between the heated inside and cold outside. I'd have to attach them to the top before I cranked it up, then they would just drape over and around the side canvas. I wouldn't worry about the bottom of the side wings... the 6" futon matresses would be enough insulation.
    Prybry
    "Young enough to know it all, Old enough to know better"

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    181

    Default Did you have any issues with LP?

    Quote Originally Posted by Saline View Post
    We recently camped in -6 degree temps http://www.sportsmobileforum.com/vie...hp?f=11&t=6057 and found that using Thermarest type self inflating, insulated sleeping pads placed around the pop up section worked wonders. It was a huge difference between the Reflectex material and the pads.
    Did you have any issues with LP flow? Where is your LP tank stored in your SMB? Inside or Out?

    Any problems with condensation buildup?

    I like your thermal pad idea, but pretty hard to do on my rig... looking at thermal covers made from surplus wool blankets.
    Prybry
    "Young enough to know it all, Old enough to know better"

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