Honda Element Owners Club banner

1 - 20 of 27 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
20 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I tried overnighting in the back of my E on a cold night and it was a bit too much, even with heavy clothes and a good sleeping bag. All that metal and plastic is not very insulating. What kind of devices do you pro E campers use to keep the inside warm on cold camping nights?
 

·
EOC Rank: Crankypants
Joined
·
14,898 Posts
Reflectix on the windows will help a little, but the best protection against cold is a foam or self-inflating (Thermarest, et al.) sleeping pad—not an air mattress—and a cold-weather sleeping bag. A summer-weight bag won't cut it. Basically use the same gear inside the car that you would use if sleeping in a tent.

There has been considerable discussion on using ceramic heaters, but the consensus seems to be that the warmth isn't worth the risk of fire or suffocation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,214 Posts
What were the temps?

Reflectix helped me a lot when I've camped in the Element. Do a search on this forum and you'll find some helpful Reflectix tips.

Ditto Dan on having Thermarest or foam - something other than just air under you.

I have extra sleeping bags of varying warmth. If I were car camping this time of year I'd be taking every one of them and put them underneath as well as on top.

And this time of year I'd be starting out with a zero-degree sleeping bag. And down booties, long underwear, fleece hat and gloves...

Keep those keys handy, it will be much easier getting out of the sleeping bag in the morning if the car heater has warmed things up.


 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,263 Posts
On most mornings, when I measure the inside temperature, it is about 10 deg (F) warmer than outside. This is with 2 people in the Element, and all windows closed except for one side vent.

So the real trick to being warm is a sleeping bag that is appropriate to the weather outside, and adequate insulation under you.
 

·
Registered
2008 Element EX AWD
Joined
·
2,817 Posts
I've cold-weather camped using just sleeping bags and tents. There is no substitute for dressing for the weather - a lesson most people have never learned. In the winter you must to dress to stay warm, stay dry, and cut wind loss. In the winter a hat is not a fashion accessory, it is a piece of sleeping survival gear that is more important than coat or gloves.

As far as I can see the only thermal benefit of sleeping inside an Element in winter with the engine off is that it provides a wind barrier. The downsides are that the rigid metal/plastic body is a better heat sink than several layers of fabric and air and if you keep the windows closed, humidity and condensation buildup is quite rapid.

Extending what I know about tent camping in the snow, parking so that there's a snowbank/ wall/ hedge or other windbreak on the upwind side of the vehicle will reduce wind-chill effect, as will restricting airflow under the vehicle body. It sounds counter-intuitive, but if the temperature is below 20F, covering the top and upwind windows with snow will retard heat loss (snow:R-1/inch, glass: R-0.24/inch).

I don't think much of the idea of using Reflectix on the windows. Trapping heat close to your body is much more effective than trying to insulate the 100+ cu ft interior of the Element. A temperature-rated mummy bag is a good start. Adding poly-foil space/emergency blankets will improve blocking heat drain, and they are very inexpensive. You should already have at least one in your winter travel emergency kit. Rigid, foil faced expanded plastic building insulation panels should work well as sleeping pads. ( Foil-faced polyisocyanurate rigid panel (Pentane expanded ) initial R-6.8/ inch)

I've looked at the feasibility of using a catalytic heater to heat an Element as a day shelter, but haven't found a simple way to safely do it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfAD0wmIUl8
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=+winter++"car+camping"&search_type=&aq=f

One overlooked aspect of winter camping is bathroom capability. Each time you have to get out of your warm, insulated sleeping facility in the middle of the night, you'll pay for it with heat loss.
It's best to go to bed slightly dehydrated, with an empty bladder, and sip very small amounts of liquid periodically (just enough to make up for transpiration loses) only when you need it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
590 Posts
i've found if i cycle the remote start twice in the night (20 minutes) i can get by pretty solid when it's cold out. if i wake up shivering, just hit the button with the heat on and go back to sleep.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,881 Posts
we just camped last night in the E- temps down in the mid 40s or so up at lake cachuma.
Reflectix on the windows helped keep the inside air warmer, we both had zero degree sleeping bags, thermarest sleeping pads, and I added an old blanket underneath everything to help keep the floor a bit warmer. I hate sleeping with a hat or inside the mummy part of my sleeping bag, so I used my old chicago winter coat in between the top of my head and the back wall of the E.
Loved it, cant wait to camp at j-tree in a few weeks!
 

·
EOC Rank: Crankypants
Joined
·
14,898 Posts
It's best to go to bed slightly dehydrated, with an empty bladder, and sip very small amounts of liquid periodically (just enough to make up for transpiration loses) only when you need it.
Or use a relief bottle. Staying hydrated is important in the cold, too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,263 Posts
I don't think much of the idea of using Reflectix on the windows.
I mainly use Reflectix on the skylight (though I keep a piece permanently in the rear driver's side window). The one in the skylight helps slow down heat loss on clear evenings. I don't think it makes any difference in the early morning temperatures.

If the sky is clear, objects like the car and even a tent tarp can cool down rapidly by radiating energy to the sky. Notice, for example, how quickly dew or even frost forms on surfaces like that. Glass, windshield and skylight, also cool down (again note the formation of frost). But I don't think the plastic interior of the car cools down that fast.

As the night progresses, all of the car comes to the same temperature as the surrounding air. The exception is the interior if there are heat generating bodies in it (people). My impression is that the car interior retains heat as well as a tent, even a double wall one. If anything it will be a bit better than a tent, since it is less drafty. The only tenting that would be better would be something like a yurt with insulated walls, or one with a heat source (like a portable wood stove).

Given how I stash gear around the dash and front seats, I don't even think of using the car's heater while camping. If it was just me, and I was traveling light that might be an option, but with 2 of us, every bit of interior storage space counts.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
847 Posts
Try using that reflectix UNDER your bag instead of (or in addition to) on the windows. Backcountry campers have been using it for that purpose for years. It's designed to reflect heat...why not use it to reflect your body heat back at you. Even with blankets under you, cold is radiating up towards you. A layer of relectix on the metal flooring UNDER the blankets or a pad will deflect the cold and bounce a small amount of body heat back at you.
 

·
Registered
2008 Element EX AWD
Joined
·
2,817 Posts
Try using that reflectix UNDER your bag instead of (or in addition to) on the windows. Backcountry campers have been using it for that purpose for years. It's designed to reflect heat...why not use it to reflect your body heat back at you. Even with blankets under you, cold is radiating up towards you. A layer of relectix on the metal flooring UNDER the blankets or a pad will deflect the cold and bounce a small amount of body heat back at you.
This is true, however, if Reflectix is used directly on a hard surface as a pad, without an enclosed airspace on each surface, it's effective transmission R-value drops from 3.7 to around 1.5. That's about the same as a space blanket for 4x the cost/sq ft (though Reflectix makes for a more comfortable sleeping surface.)

That's why I suggested using foil-faced polyisocyanurate rigid panel (Pentane expanded ) with an initial R-value of 6.8/inch. Without the foil facing they have an R-value of 6.5/inch. 1/2" x 48" x96" panel (R3.3) are $9.70 at Lowes. A 96" long panel is long enough to cover the floor with enough left to run part way up the tailgate. While rigid panels would be a too awkward for backpack camping, they are very practical for car camping. Installed on the floor of an Element, the loss of cargo volume is negligible.

Another useful alternative for car camping are the expanded PVC "foam" panels sold as shop flooring. The material comes in 1/2" x 18" and 24" squares that have e interlocking edges and the R-value is around 4.8/inch. I've had a set installed in my Element for about 4 years. It now serves as padding for the carpet, another thermal insulating layer. It helps keep the interior of the Element much warmer in normal winter use :) .
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
84 Posts
We use a sleeping platform, 3" foam mattress. Nice thick down comforter, flannel sheets, and an extra blanket if necessary. Works well for temps down to the 30's. Don't like using the mummy bags because part of the joy of sleeping in the E is turning it into a bedroom, so bedroom activities can take place:razz:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,234 Posts
Or use a relief bottle. Staying hydrated is important in the cold, too.
AMEN! After your first kidney stone episode you'll never let yourself get dehydrated again.


Also- The large "sports drink" bottles work well for a "relief bottle". Leave the label on so you won't get embarrassed when taking it to the john to empty it.;-)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
263 Posts
what about one of those 12v electric heaters you can buy for the winter? Not all night of course, but before bed and in the morning might do some good.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
895 Posts
Last summer I slept in Glacier in the E and it was about 40F. With a decent sleeping bag and my Sweetie and I slept great. I was surprised how comfortable sleeping on the seats was.
Oh the main point I have found sleeping in cars is keep a window cracked to keep moisture from respiration down.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
52 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,749 Posts
The Coleman Sport Cat heater is rated for indoor use and only needs 6 cubic inches of venting of fresh air to keep from using up the oxygen. Cracking the window just a tad will be enough. It puts out a steady 1500btus and is silent. I picked one up this past winter and love it. It needs to run for a while for it's first burn to "burn" off the black paint on the cover, it gets a little stinky. That went away after about 5 hours. It will run for 16 hours on a 1lb propane tank.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,733 Posts
...Also- The large "sports drink" bottles work well for a "relief bottle". Leave the label on so you won't get embarrassed when taking it to the john to empty it.;-)
Just don't get it confused with the bottle you are using for hydration. :shock:
 
1 - 20 of 27 Posts
Top