8 Simple Tips for Winter Car Camping

car camping
Photo: Courtesy of Vera Petrunina/Shutterstock

This article originally appeared on Powder.com an was republished with permission.

It is now officially too cold to do athleisure-clad yoga on the top of your Sprinter van. Get down from there. Sure you may be seeing photos on your feeds of hot steam wafting from a $50 vessel that keeps your coffee the core temperature of the sun and cozy flannels that cost more than your utility bills, but the road to skiing 100+ days this winter isn’t paved with accessories.

Here’s a list of ways to keep your travel budget tight and ski out of a compact SUV.

1. Plan Ahead—and learn to use a socket wrench.
Unlike your average minivan, the rear seats of a CRV are deviously difficult to remove. Autobody shops know this and will take advantage of someone looking for a quick fix. A flathead screwdriver, a socket wrench, and some patience—or bourbon, or heavy metal music—will keep $72 in your pocket.

2. National Forest land is your friend.
Unless otherwise designated as “No Camping,” this land is your land and this land is my land. Just make sure your pullout of choice is well out of the way of passing plows.

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3. No ski rack, no problem.
If you’re lugging a full ski bag and don’t have a fancy roof box or rack, throw your ski bag on the ground on leeward side of the car. If you’re nervous, you can lightly bury it in snow.

4. The more bodies the better—to a point.
I’ve been more than comfy down to the teens in a 20-degree bag when I had a decent sleeping pad and another dirtbag sleeping next to me. Warm bodies in cars trap a surprising amount of heat. But, packing the bed of your CRV with four ski bums is not the way to happiness. Trust me.

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5. Crack the damn window.
I don’t care if it’s 10-below and blowing snow. If you don’t crack the window your totcho-and-bourbon breath will condense on your sleeping bag and you’ll have to shatter a sheet of ice off your bag when it’s time to get up. Guaranteed way to miss first chair.

6. Your car is your home, so drink once you’ve parked.
I’m not saying don’t après, but remember, you have to get your car to somewhere inaccessible—which invariably means driving it there. So either get a DD who will take you to your pullout-sweet-pullout or keep a bottle in the car and say cheers after you hit the e-brake.

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7. Make sure you bring an ice scraper.
You’ve cracked the window (right?), so waking up with the sun is cake. Try as you might to ventilate, however, but the windows will still be iced from the inside with your foggy mouthbreathing. As you scrape the ice off the inside of the windshield and onto your lap, just try and sing “Let it snow.” You’ll feel better.

8. Treat yourself.
You’ve just made it through the night in a certain degree of comfort while paying only the gas money that got you here. Skip the camp stove and Aeropress and buy yourself a damn cappuccino.

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