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How cold have you slept in your vehicle ?

abc

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Let’s talk about something not pandemic related.

I know some of you occasionally sleep in the car in the spring time (@Cornhead?). In the past, I always thought that’s kind of hard core...

A week ago, I went on my leaf peeping trip up in the Adirondack, CAMPING! It went down to the low 40’s at night. But in my tent, I was sleeping warm and comfortable. So nice it was, I’m probably going to do one more camping trip before the campgrounds all close (a little further south, where campground stay open a little longer).

I can see myself sleeping COMFORTABLY down to the mid-to-high 30’s, which may just be the kind of temperature in late season, say April? Unfortunately, few campgrounds are open at that time of year. So sleeping in the vehicle in a parking lot is more than likely the only option.

I’m curious what‘s the lowest temperature those of you who sleep in your car (probably more likely SUV/Van/Truck) managed to do? At what point do you feel it’s too uncomfortable to bother and spring for a motel room?

Granted, I also understand it probably depends somewhat (or pretty strongly?) on the insulation (or the lack of) of your vehicle. But I would guess the temperature inside the vehicle got to be a little warmer than the outside? So maybe inside temperature of 40 when the outside is 30?

(A few decades ago, me and my partner build a platform bed inside a van and went touring while staying in deserted campgrounds during early/late season. I kind forgot how nice that was)
 

Smellytele

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Well I have slept in my vehicle at around -5. It really isn’t about the vehicle, it’s about the sleeping bag. A truck with a cap is more comfortable than a car but will be colder. Mini vans with a blow mattress works good. As noted it comes down to the sleeping bag for warmth. I have a -30 bag but I have used my 5 degree bag with a bottle of hot water that helps.


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granite

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There are two camp grounds near Loon and Cannon Mountain that are open all year long. Lafayette Place in Franconia Notch and the Hancock Campground up the Kancamaugus Highway from Loon. Go for it.
 

abc

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Well I have slept in my vehicle at around -5. It really isn’t about the vehicle, it’s about the sleeping bag. A truck with a cap is more comfortable than a car but will be colder. Mini vans with a blow mattress works good. As noted it comes down to the sleeping bag for warmth. I have a -30 bag but I have used my 5 degree bag with a bottle of hot water that helps.
I can pile 2 sleeping bags if need be. I’ve not have much problem with that part. But below a certain temperature, even my face and nose got cold. :( While I can “endure” that, it’s no longer “comfortably warm” in my book.

I know from past experience long ago, that’s around 30 degrees for me. But that’s the temperature INSIDE the vehicle, not the outside temperature. So with a better insulated vehicle, it may translate to 20’ outside...?

Don’t really envision camping in a car in the middle of winter (ling night & sub-zero temperature). But by March & April, the day is longer and night warmer, I would be more motivated.
 

ScottySkis

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I did few times at K when I had a season pass their in 2008 most when it was in 40 at night I parked at Wal-Mart in Rutland I was younger and dumb I don't remember having sleep bag
I think I slept in ski clothing

Last time I did it was at Gore trip it was very cold night like-10 I tried sleep at Wal-Mart in Queensbury
I turned on car like every hour with heat on full blast that was after they gotten lots of snow
 

Brewbeer

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I've slept in a station wagon at 10F. The car doesn't provide any insulation, and you need to crack the widow a bit or it will condense. I've also camped in the low 20s in a lean-to, and agree, it's all about the sleeping bag and sleeping pad. At these temps I was pretty much entirely wrapped in sleeping bag insulation with just a small hole exposed to breathe. Letting your breath escape is important in preventing condensation.

This was in my 20s. I'm in my 50s now, and would spring for a room.
 

Hawk

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I spent a night in a camper in North Conway when I was in college when it was -10 out. I could not sleep because multiple people were snoozing in the house and opted to sleep in the camper in the driveway in a -20 bag. It was still cold as hell and I barely slept. I have been told that the hot water bottle works pretty good for a few hours.
 

kingslug

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Hmm..if I ever slept in my car..and I think I have..I have no recollection of it...alcohol..... may have been involved.......
 

abc

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There are two camp grounds near Loon and Cannon Mountain that are open all year long. Lafayette Place in Franconia Notch and the Hancock Campground up the Kancamaugus Highway from Loon. Go for it.
Thanks for that information. It appears another campground in Gorham is also year round. I've been there xc skiing. Saw a truck or 2 there. Always thought they were just doing it because no one checks. Now I know it's actually a legal winter campground. (I should know better, the road in were plowed)
 
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fbrissette

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Like kingslug, the only time I've slept in my car was not because of skiing. However, I've done my share of sleeping outside in winter, and as mentioned, you need the right equipment. Make sure you keep the boot liners inside the sleeping bag.
 

skef

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There are two camp grounds near Loon and Cannon Mountain that are open all year long. Lafayette Place in Franconia Notch and the Hancock Campground up the Kancamaugus Highway from Loon. Go for it.

Thanks for this info. Just the other day I was trying to figure out from the websites if they are, in fact, open in the winter. Presumably the power hookups are active? My wife thinks I'm crazy, but I just might try camping in my Model Y this year...
 

fbrissette

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For that, I'll rely on my (cigarette lighter powered) boot heater.

I'm not planning to do mid-winter camping in the car. Most for the moderate temperature spring time only.

That was for generic camping. In a car, just start up the car in the morning I guess...
 

jimk

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The only time I car camped for skiing was 1976, stupid college kid on spring break in sunny March. Drove from VA to CO in '69 VW beetle, 10 day trip. Slept in cramped beetle three nights, including inside parking garage at Vail (no longer probably doable) and outdoor parking lot at Snowmass. I used the Scotty method of warmth - turned on the car heater two or three times during the night.
 

skef

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What power hook up?

Lots of campgrounds have RV power hookups; I had thought one of those was in that group. Now, double checking, I see that's not the case. Oh well. Just means taking a little time to charge elsewhere.
 

abc

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Commercial campgrounds often have hok up for RV's. But not many stay open in the winter.

State campground typically don't (though I could be wrong in that). On the other hand, some stay "open", albeit without service, in the winter.
 
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-34F in December 1994. Drove from college in the Oklahoma Panhandle up to Crested Butte in my 85 Nissan pickup. CB was giving away a free ticket to anybody who walked up. No lodging purchase required. It was myself and two friends of football player proportions. The truck had a very narrow extended cab with fold-down "jumpseat" style seats. The fan for the heater was broken, so when driving, the heat would defrost only the bottom third of the windshield. We made it to CB against all odds and slept in the parking lot. I had an Army surplus Arctic sleeping bag, so I was toasty. My friends had brought various blankets from their dorm rooms. Around 6am, I was awakened by one of them complaining: "I can't feel my foot!!"

Now, if there's not a Hilton or Marriott around, I'm likely renting a condo.
 

dblskifanatic

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Last year we camped out on Cottonwood Pass in Colorado at 11,700 feet. During the day it was 55 but at night it got down to 24. Our sleeping bags were more summer oriented and our air mattress deflated so we were on the ground. We ended up in our truck with two dogs. Ran the heat for a bit then turned it off and that got us through the rest of the night.
 
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