Winter camping essentials

Winter camping essentials
Katarzyna Raczkowska
1 minutes of reading

The days are getting shorter and it's not just us humans who are getting ready for the colder months. While couch potatoes prefer to stay at home when the temperatures drop, others set off on a camping adventure to have the winter of their lives.

Winter camping has found more and more fans in recent years - the chance to gain unique experiences as well as winter sports and wellness offers are making winter increasingly popular with camping enthusiasts.

Benefits of winter camping

  • Fewer tourists in the off-season
  • Activities such as skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing and much more.
  • Unique landscapes in winter

Winter equipment for vans, campervans & RVs

All our campers are suitable for winter and equipped with special features. Our VW Bulli Winter Camper provides extra comfort in the winter season, as well as additional winter equipment, which is available at selected stations.

Here is a list of our individual models with the specific winter camping features & bookable extras

Winterequipment Bulli
Winterequipment Bulli

Vans & VW Bullis suitable for winter

Our Bullis have an integrated parking heater and either all-weather or winter tires. Additionally you can book special winter equipment for your pop-up roof and additional outside insulation for the windshields. The Roof tent insulation is like a cap for your pop-up roof, which keeps the tent dry and insulated. With the Caliheat you can transfer the heat from the auxiliary heater to your sleeping room in the pop-up roof. You are perfectly prepared for the winter landscape in the mountains with the optional snow chains.

With the CaliHeat heating hose, you can channel the heat from the auxiliary heating into your sheep's room in the pop-top roof. You are ideally equipped for the winter landscape in the mountains with the optional snow chains. If you would like to buy or rent snow chains from a provider other than us, you can find more details in our FAQs.

For your winter camping adventure in a van you can book the following extras:

  • Roof tent insulation | 39€
  • Windscreen insulation | 29€
  • Roof tent & windscreen insulation set | 49€
  • CaliHeat heating tube | 29€
  • Snow chains | 39€/set

VW Bulli T6.1 California Ocean - Winter Camper ❄️

The VW Bulli T6.1 California Ocean - Winter Camper is perfectly equipped for your winter adventure and is available in Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich and Stuttgart.

The camper has everything you need for a warm time in the camper included in the price. The winter camper includes insulation ("cap") for the pop-up roof and for the windscreen, which ensures pleasant temperatures in the living area.

For particularly cosy nights, there is a heating tube that directs the heat from the auxiliary heating directly up into your bedroom in the pop-up roof. Look forward to a cosy time in your camper van, even when it gets really frosty outside!

The winter equipment mentioned is already included in your camper van price and does not need to be booked additionally.

VW Bulli winter camper set
VW Bulli winter camper set

Campervans suitable for winter

Thanks to their comprehensive equipment, our campervan models are already well insulated and suitable for winter usage. All campervans have either all-weather or winter tires as well as an integrated auxiliary heater that heats the entire living and sleeping area. In addition you can book outside insulation for the front windows and rear doors to keep you warm and cozy even on the coldest nights. For safe trips through the snowy landscape in the mountains, you can also book optional snow chains.

You can book the following extras for your perfect winter camping adventure:

  • Windscreen insulation | 29€
  • Snow chains | 39€/set
Winterequipment Campervan
Winterequipment Campervan

RVs suitable for winter

Our RV models offer you enough space for a winter camping trip. With the integrated parking heater, all-weather or winter tires and heated side mirrors, you are ready to go right away. Make yourself comfortable in your flat on wheels even in winter.

Winter camping FAQs

In this section we answer all your questions about winter camping:

Wintercamping for Beginners

Winter camping is all the rage - so that you are perfectly equipped for your first winter camping trip, we have all the information you need about winter camping.

Woman standing with VW Grand California in snowy landscape, Austria
Woman standing with VW Grand California in snowy landscape, Austria

What should I bear in mind when winter camping?

  • Bring equipment for thermal insulation, snow handling and defrosting
  • There must be a functioning heating system in the camper
  • Functioning water system in the camper: water must not freeze
  • Take sufficient gas supplies with you

Thanks to the integrated heating, our campers are perfectly equipped for winter and you don't need to worry about the water freezing. The gas supply is normally also sufficient for your trip, but you may need to change it on longer trips - you can find more information on this below in the Winter camping: Technical questions section under "How long will the gas bottles last for?"

What should I take with me when winter camping?

  • Warm clothes
  • Warm, sturdy shoes
  • Warm blankets or sleeping bag
  • Thermos flask
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • De-icing spray and hairdryer
  • Ice scraper
  • Shovel
  • Whisk and small ladder
  • Heated doormat
  • Lighter and kindling

You should have these things with you, especially in winter. If you're not sure what you should pack for camping, we recommend our ultimate packing list to print out.

Which vehicles are suitable for winter camping?

All our campers are suitable for winter. Which of our campers you choose depends entirely on the type of travel you prefer. If you would like to go skiing, for example, you will need a camper that is big enough for all your skiing equipment - in this case, one of our RV models or our Campervan 640 - The Comfortable would be just right for you! If you prefer to explore cities and other countries such as Norway, we recommend a smaller, more maneuverable model such as one of our VW Bullis/Vans or our VW Grand California.

Other campers that are ideal for winter camping:

📌 California Ocean with pop-up roof

  • Compact and agile
  • Perfect for 2 people
  • Extra bed in the pop-up roof (200x120cm)

📌 Campervan 600 – VW Grand California

  • Unique driving experience
  • Sleeps 2 people + bed above the dinette
  • Integrated bathroom with shower and toilet

📌 Campervan 640 - the Comfortable

  • Spacious and comfortable
  • Sleeps 2 people + extra bed for at least 1 child
  • Integrated bathroom with shower and toilet

📌 RV – Class C 700

  • Extra space and comfort
  • Perfect for families
  • Integrated bathroom with WC and shower

Is self-sufficient travel with your own bathroom important to you? Then take a look at our selection of the smallest campers with toilet and shower!

Can I pick up/return my camper at a station every day in winter?

Our stations will have new opening hours in winter from 01.11.2023 to 17.03.2024. See all further information here!

Is it dangerous to drive a camper in winter?

No, all our campers are suitable for winter and equipped for driving on winter roads. However, you should generally drive with extra care in winter and take snow chains with you to be on the safe side.

Is winter camping with a pop-up roof even possible?

VW Bulli Ocean with pop-up roof and rainbow in background
VW Bulli Ocean with pop-up roof and rainbow in background

Of course! Especially our Bulli is suitable for it. With the additional equipment for our VW T6.1 California Ocean - Calicap and Caliheat - you are perfectly equipped even in winter and can enjoy the freedom of the pop-up roof. Additionally you can take an extra warm sleeping bag and a blanket for more comfort 😉

  • Roof tent insulation | 39 €
  • Windscreen insulation | 29 €
  • CaliHeat heating tube | 29 €
  • Snow chains | 39 € / Set

Where do you shower at winter camping?

There are several possibilities. On the one hand of course in our fully equipped campers, like our different Campervan models with integrated bathroom. On the other hand, there are the sanitary facilities at the camping site. You can also use the indoor swimming pool or the sauna at the campsite for a hot shower.

How do I keep my camper warm in winter?

With the right equipment, camping is never too cold. In our campers we have an integrated independent heating and special equipment for the cold season. If you pack a blanket and a warm sleeping bag, you can snuggle up comfortably in your camper bed and enjoy your adventure to the full. You can find all the information about heating the camper below in our Winter camping: Technical questions section.

What are the best winter camping activities?

Winter and winter sports, what else? Whether snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding, ski touring or cross-country skiing, you can experience all of this together with your camper. But if it doesn't turn into a white winter, you can also grab your bike and ride into the Alps or Prealps.

Also, winter camping with children offers many possibilities - snowball fights, sledging or building snowmen.

For the wellness fans among you, the combination of freedom while camping and luxury in an indoor pool or sauna is especially beneficial. Sauna at the campsite and through the cold snow back to the camper? Do you dare?

In our blog "Winter camping in the alps" we show you the best campsites for winter camping and skiing fans!

What should I pay attention to when choosing a campsite?

That depends on your requirements. Our tip: pay attention to the location and the offers of the campsite. The proximity to the skiing areas is also an advantage. For the wellness friends among you, campsites with wellness offers like sauna and indoor swimming pool are useful. And you should also take a close look at the sanitary facilities, because you will need them especially after a day of skiing, if the camper has not integrated his own bathroom. 😉

Winter camping: Technical questions

Winter camping with a camper and skis in the snowy mountains, Bavaria
Winter camping with a camper and skis in the snowy mountains, Bavaria

Can I heat my camper?

Of course you can heat your camper. All of our campers have a parking heater, so it is always nice and warm in your camper. In our VW models this is a diesel heater, the Campervan models as well as the RV's are equipped with a gas heater.

What do I have to pay attention to when heating?

For a comfortable camping experience the right temperature inside the camper is crucial. If the water system is used and therefore there is water in the tank and in the pipes, the camper must be heated continuously to at least 8 degrees, otherwise the water system will be seriously damaged. Of course it is not always necessary to heat at the highest level, but depending on the needs and situation. We recommend the following temperature settings: 18-22 degrees when staying in the camper, 16-18 degrees at night, 8-9 degrees when leaving the camper. When leaving a camper with pop-up roof, it should also be closed so that not too much heat gets lost (also with Calicap for VW Bulli). We also recommend regular airing to ensure a pleasant room climate.

How long are the gas cylinders sufficient for?

How long your gas supply will last depends, of course, on the type of use and duration. In the VW models, you use the gas exclusively for cooking (equipment: 1x approx. 3 kg gas bottle), which normally lasts 6 months. In our campervan and motorhome models, you use the gas for cooking, heating and hot water. At least one full gas cylinder is installed here (approx. 11 kg). In summer, the gas will normally last for about 4 weeks, but this figure is highly variable in the winter months and depends on certain factors. With differentiated use of the heating (i.e. turn the heating down at night and when leaving the camper) and an outside temperature of around 0 degrees, an 11 kg gas bottle is sufficient for approx. 3 days.

What do I do if the gas bottle is suddenly empty?

In case of longer booking periods and intensive use of gas, it can happen that a gas bottle has to be replaced. To exchange the gas bottle you can buy one from conventional DIY stores, various gas stations and dealers of the company Scharr.

Some campsites also offer a gas bottle exchange service. Otherwise, you can use the Gas Finder app to quickly and easily find a place to refill or exchange your gas bottle.

Can I also use my camper's water system in winter?

Yes, but there are a few important things to consider if the outside temperature is 6 degrees or less. During the winter months, due to the cold temperatures, the campers are handed over completely drained of water so that no water can freeze in the system and thus damage the entire water system. So if water is used during the rental period the camper must be heated continuously (at least 8 degrees) to prevent damage.

We recommend the following differentiated use of the heating in the RV and the campervan models: 18-22 degrees when staying in the camper, 16-18 degrees at night, 8-9 degrees when leaving the camper.

The VW Bulli models should be heated at least to level 3. In addition, the waste water tank drain cock must be left open all the time. A detailed explanation and briefing will take place on site when picking up the vehicle.

What do I have to consider when using the water system in my camper in winter?

The water should never freeze, therefore it is absolutely necessary to heat the camper starting from an outside temperature of 6 degrees or lower as soon as there is water in the system. We recommend a differentiated heating (always at least 8 degrees inside the camper). In addition, the waste water tap must always be left open and the grey water must be collected in an additional tank (for a grey water disposal in accordance with regulations).

Furthermore the water system must be completely emptied when returning the camper. A detailed explanation and instruction will be given to you when you pick up the camper on site, so that any questions can be clarified.

How do I empty my water tank and water system correctly and what do I have to pay attention to?

There are also a few important aspects to consider before returning or not using the water: Fresh water tank, waste water tank and pipes must be completely emptied. When emptying, never let the water run out via the pipes, but always via the direct opening for emptying the water tank (Campervan models: rotating wheel on the water tank in the trunk; VW Bulli models: red lever above the gas cylinder in the trunk; RV's: black lever in the service module on the driver's side). For a complete emptying the water pumps can be switched off first and then the water residues can be emptied by opening the tap and activating the toilet flush (do not forget to turn off the tap!). The exact places for all important pivots will be shown to you again during the briefing, so that at the end of the day there are no questions left unanswered.

Where can I fill up my water tank?

During the winter months, due to the cold temperatures, campers are handed over completely empty. In general it is possible to fill the water tank privately or on campgrounds, but if this is not possible, other places offer possibilities to fill the tank e.g. the Campsite App park4night, App Truck Parking Europe or similar. Please note that in all our camper models only clean drinking water may be filled into the water tank.

Do I have to insulate my camper additionally?

The windows of the camper represent certain cold bridges that are less well insulated than the rest of the vehicle, and heat can always escape through them to the outside. Of course, you can counteract the cold effect with heating. To reduce the amount of heating required, we recommend insulating the strongest cold bridges of the individual models.

  • For the VW Bullis, the windscreens can be additionally insulated with external insulation mats and the roof tent with the Calicap.
  • For the Campervan models, we also offer exterior insulation for the windscreens. You can simply book this as an additional service and easily fit it during your trip.

Are the additional winter products always bookable?

Yes, our winter equipment can be booked all year round. If you travel to colder destinations our winter equipment might be even helpful in summer.

Winter camping destinations

The high season is over, but you're still in camping fever? No problem, we have some off-season destinations for you!

Mercedes Marco Polo at sunset against a wintry mountain backdrop
Mercedes Marco Polo at sunset against a wintry mountain backdrop

Camping in November

Even though it is getting colder outside, November can still be the perfect time for camping! Save some money and check out our Black Friday Deals in November.

Winter camping in Europe

Would you like to spend your winter in Germany or in other regions of Europe? Then take a look at our range of campsites that are open all season.

Winter camping & skiing

Winter camping and skiing go together perfectly, which is why there are more and more campsites located directly on the slopes - here you can strap on your skis or hop on your snowboard and get going straight away.

If you're a fan of winter sports, you can find out all about camping and skiing in our article Winter camping in the alps.

Winter camping over the holidays

Have you ever thought about spending Christmas or New Year's Eve in a camper? You can also start your camping trip with us over the holidays! So the holidays will be adventurous. We have all the important information about camping over Christmas 2023 and camping over New Year's Eve 2023 for you.

5 winter camping tips to make your trip easier

Finally, we'll give you 5 winter camping tips for your trip that will make your vacation much easier:

  • Take snow chains with you on your journey, they not only provide additional grip on snow-covered or icy roads, but may also be required by law in some regions in winter.
  • Remove snow and ice from the roof of the camper during snowfall.
  • Leave your parking heater running all the time to prevent the water in the water tank from freezing and to keep it nice and warm in the camper. From an outside temperature of 6 degrees or lower, it is always necessary to heat so that the water in the water tank does not freeze. See our "Winter camping: technical questions" section above for more information.
  • Regular airing prevents humidity in the camper and ensures that it always smells pleasantly fresh inside your apartment on wheels.
  • Keep an eye on the electricity and gas supply

Two people sitting in front of a VW van in the wintry mountains
Two people sitting in front of a VW van in the wintry mountains

Start your winter adventure now with FreewayCamper. Simply hire the perfect camper for you and off you go! If you want to travel spontaneously and save money at the same time, then take a look at our last-minute offers.

You can also follow our Instagram channel for exciting and entertaining news and stories, as well as information on current offers and competitions. You can also subscribe to our newsletter to get great giveaways.

Have fun on your winter camping vacation

Your FreewayCamper-Team