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Winter car glamping my way

see also:

  • I don't sell any of these nor do I receive any remuneration if you buy them, and I have not personally reviewed all of them, they are listed here to give you perspective



  • the following is MY recipe for a multi-night autumn-winter-spring cool temperate climate camping set up with the following priorities:
    • NOTHING weighing more than 15kg per item - this rules out canvas tents!
    • must be able to fit inside a medium sized normal car without needing a roof rack or trailer - this rules out most Oztents!
    • must keep me warm and dry and that means resistant to winds up to 60kph and water resistant to around 2000-3000mm waterhead
    • must be able to be set up relatively easy and quickly with only one person - this generally rules out larger tents than 5m diameter
    • shelter must be versatile enough to manage changes in wind direction and thus preferably have at least two entrances
    • not too expensive
    • must give me lots of amenity in case there are prolonged periods of rain, this includes:
      • ability to stand up and walk around of at least 8 sq m and preferably around 16sqm
      • space for a table and chair under shelter
      • cooking under a shelter
      • warm showers in a warm shelter
      • awnings over entrances so they can be left open for good visibility of surrounds and still have minimal rain entry
  • the main shelter will take about 20-30min to set up for one person and 20min to take down and pack away
  • the rest of the set up as outlined below will probably take about 45min to set up and take down
  • this, including your clothing and food will all fit in a station wagon with ease although a car roof pod allows extra space and a very useful area to pack up wet tents and gear so you don't get too much water in your car, plus it makes it easy to carry extra awning poles, mats, chairs and table.
  • if doing an overnighter then a minimalist approach would be better - just a swag on a stretcher under an awning or tarp, or a 4 season 2P tent as the shelter, nice thick self-inflating insulated mattress, sleeping bag, and a hiking stove for cooking, and perhaps an open camp fire for warmth
    • much less gear to pack and unpack - you could even leave it in the car
    • much faster set up and take down - under 10 minutes if just a tent of swag, longer if you need to set up a tarp
    • much easier to dry the tent for storage
    • more wind resistant as lower profile than a large tent
    • smaller foot print so more site selection options to be less exposed to the wind or to find suitable flat ground
    • you can even throw in a 12V 100AH LiFePo4 battery and a 12V electric blanket to keep you extra warm!

The two shelters - one inside the other

the main shelter

  • in order to meet the above requirements the first requirement is a good size floor-less shelter which is at least 1.8m high internally and around 4m wide and 4m long
  • floor-less is a requirement as:
    • a wood stove inside the tent would melt or burn a synthetic floor
    • you can't have a shower in your tent so easily if the water cannot run outside
    • makes the tent lighter, cheaper, and there is much less wet material to dry out prior to storing
    • can be set up on uneven rocky ground without worrying about the floor being damaged
  • it should have a fire retardant stove jack at an appropriate location - not too low - otherwise you can't use a chimney pipe oven!

styles to consider

  • a 4-5m polyester/nylon tipi is the cheapest and easiest to set up and is by far the lightest option at around 4kg and should be good in inclement weather with strong winds BUT it has a centre pole and there is limited head space walking area due to the angle of the walls and this head space gets TOO warm when using a wood stove
    • my favourite winter tent when I don't need a lot of space but still big enough for a 2P tent inside plus a stove
    • faster to set up and take down than my other favourite, the larger Mobi Garden Guan Tu V (On The Road V) hot tent / gazebo
    • can have clear PVC panels zipped onto each of the 5 doors for visibility yet wind chill protection
  • a 4m geodesic dome tent is a great option but tends to have a lot more poles to set up, taking much longer, no awnings and are much heavier and much more expensive
    • a hot tent such as the Pomoly Dome x4 is worth considering for the price and weight of only 6.4kg but it is not tall enough to stand inside and only 8 sqm of space
    • the more expensive and larger standing height Mobi Garden Commander 185 may be a better option for its extra space (9.3sqm) and height amenity plus you get stronger fabric of 70D instead of 40D for the Pomoly and comes in at a reasonable 11.4kg PLUS you can buy the optional vestibule
  • my preferred shelter for longer periods especially if lots of rain is forecast
  • most tents will sustain damage in very strong winds - I have not tested any of the above in strong winds as yet but I would expect they should cope with winds up to 60kph if appropriately guyed out
  • if gale force winds are forecast, consider NOT camping!

the secondary inner sleeping tent or swag

  • you need a sleeping compartment with a small air volume which is easy to warm up using your body heat +/- adjuncts such as electric blanket or other warmers
  • if heavy rain is forecast, a preference would be to have this off the ground in case the floor gets flooded and your mattress and sleeping gear gets wet which you definitely don't want to happen!
    • in this case, you have various options:
      • a cheap 1P or 2P tent with or without its fly sitting on a suitably sized stretcher bed
      • a swag sitting on a suitably sized stretcher bed - heavy and bulky but versatile
      • a swag-stretcher bed easy fold kit - these are convenient but are heavy and can break or have the mesh easily torn
      • a tent-stretcher bed easy fold fit - these are convenient but are heavy and can break or have the mesh easily torn
      • a very waterproof bathtub 2P tent would also suffice and be more compact and much lighter - eg. a Mont Dragonfly - this obviously could be used alone for winter hiking as well but is expensive
      • a swag or 1-2P tent on the ground but ensuring any rain water will not be draining under it by appropriate site selection - this is not always a feasible option!
  • if no heavy rain is forecast, you can get away with almost any sleeping option as it will be protected by the main shelter
  • in winter in southern Australia, insect proofing is not such a big requirement as insects are not much of an issue as long as you don't leave food inside and don't pitch tent over an ant mound
  • my preference is a tent or swag with at least two side entrances - one of which I leave unzipped for rapid exit in case of fire or other issue!
  • use a 0.1mm clear PVC sheet to reduce wind chill over the open door and any mesh to also maintain visibility and a rapid exit instead of using the fly (don't fully cover it in PVC otherwise you will get condensation inside it, and clamp it so it won't go near the stove)
  • add further insulation by covering this tent with a not too heavy quilt (if using a PVC sheet, place the quilt above it to avoid the quilt getting wet from internal condensation, but also keep it away from an open door so it doesn't get rain or dew on it)

A floor covering for your main shelter

  • this could be a fire retardant tarp (NOT a cheap polyethylene tarp as these are quite flammable) or an awning style PVC mesh floor which is more fire retardant but heavier and more expensive
  • it does not need to fully cover the tent floor and is best if it is not under the stove and if it is, have the fire mat sit on top of it
  • if using the PVC mesh floor, you will get wet knees when you kneel down to tend the fire - put a waterproof, fire retardant material over this part eg. a small piece of house wall insulation foil which could also double as your waterproofing for your bed setup when showering

Sleeping gear

  • mattress of your preference - preferably one with a good R insulation rating and which is wide and comfortable and not noisy when you roll around
  • sleeping bag - preferably one that can be opened into a quilt - unless you are camping in the snow or subzero nights in which case a mummy style will be warmer
  • optionally, a 12V electric blanket if you want the air you breathe to be warmer inside the sleeping tent
  • a sleeping bag as a quilt is generally a better option than a zipped up overly warm, sweaty sleeping bag unless it is very cold
  • wear warm socks and a head cover to keep these parts warm as you will feel colder if these become cold

A wood stove for cooking and warmth

  • a relatively light, compact stainless steel stove is a game changer for winter camping in southern Australia
  • it's main benefit is for cooking and boiling water and it can dry out your wet gear as well as keep you warm while you are awake - even with a door open (as long as there is no wind blowing in)
  • my preferred option is the Winnerwell Nomad wood camping stoves in medium size with a window on the side as well as on the door combined with the Winnerwell pipe oven and a triple shield chimney pipe section to minimise the chance of heat damage to the tent
    • this packs to a small kit that can sit on the floor of the rear seat of your car (including all the chimney but excluding the triple shield section and the oven)
    • you will need around 1kg dry seasoned kindling or hardwood per hour of use if you are like me and leave the chimney damper fully open to reduce risk of smoke and carbon monoxide coming back into the tent
    • the pipe oven can easily get to baking temperature of 200degC within around 15 minutes of lighting the fire although you do need to maintain are good burn with the air vent open
    • the pipe oven can fit two aluminium trays of food such as a 600g butterflied lamb roast in one and roast vegetables in the other
      • if cooking a roast, I strongly recommend you buy a Bluetooth meat thermometer to avoid you opening the oven door which will rapidly loose your heat eg. Meater Plus
  • whilst you can also purchase a water boiler with a tap, I prefer to save space and just use a 3L collapsible silicon type pot which is great for boiling up your shower water
  • there are a few precautions you need to follow having a wood stove inside your tent:
    • ensure nothing flammable is within 1.2m
    • ensure other items such as your secondary tent is at least 30-50cm away from the stove
    • ensure your tent material cannot touch the stove or chimney (other than the triple-shield section) while the stove is burning even if it gets windy - you will need to guy out that side and you may also need to loosely guy out the chimney to stop the wind warping the hot chimney pipe
    • have a fire mat under the stove and especially in front of the door as this is where embers will fall out
    • have a carbon monoxide alarm in case you fall asleep
    • ensure no pets or kids go near the stove when its on - even the briefest of touches will cause a 3rd degree burn!
  • NO kids or pets or drunkenness if using a wood stove!!!

A warm shower inside your main shelter

  • you only need:
    • a bucket with a narrow bottom to reduce volume of water needed to run the pump eg. a collapsible bucket
    • a cheap lithium battery powered shower pump and hose kit
    • a 2-3L pot to boil water in on the stove
    • some cold water to ensure you have the correct temperature to suit
    • a rubber mat to stand on
    • the main shelter sited so that the corner where you plan to have your shower will have the water running outside the tent
    • a waterproof sheet to cover your bed set up so it does not get wet
    • environmentally friendly biodegradable body wash/shampoo
  • you can get by with using only 500mL of water if you quickly wet yourself, then apply bodywash/shampoo, then rinse off
  • then if the stove is burning, you will finish the brief shower in a warm tent
  • oh, and don't forget to close the tent door if there are others around, plus it reduces wind chill
  • don't forget your towel!

Other amenities as desired

  • lights including head lamp
  • table
  • relaxation chair
  • small fold up fisherman's chair or hiking chair for tending the stove
  • cooking and eating gear
  • car fridge with 100Ah 12V LiFePO4 battery - this could power your electric blanket for 1-2 nights
  • battery powered air pump to top up the mattress if it does not come with its own pump device
australia/wintercarglamping_myway.txt · Last modified: 2023/10/09 22:14 by gary1

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