Camp Westfalia

Archive for Camping Accessories

Winter Van Camping

Tips and advice for staying warm while van-camping

Photo: highsierra, Samba member

Photo: highsierra, Samba member

Most camper vans are put away during the colder months. But we’ve found winter to be a great time for a weekend getaway, with none of the crowds, bugs, or excessive heat of summer.

Off-season camping means you usually have your choice of campsites, too. In fact, we often find ourselves the only residents of the campground!

And winter can be a spectacularly beautiful time to see the great outdoors in a whole new light.

Here are some tips and advice for staying toasty during your own winter van-camping ventures.

Prepare your Van


  • Before embarking on winter camping forays, make sure your Vanagon’s heating and ventilation system is in good working order. Check that the front and rear heater cores are flowing correctly, and are not plugged with mineral deposits, etc.. Ensure that the heater-control valves are functioning well, and the front forced-air flaps are sealing properly to prevent the entry of cold air.
  • Use a winter-grade motor oil as specified in your Owners Manual for the temperature range you plan to drive in: 10W-40 for -5 to 50F (-20 to 10C)
  • Make sure that your coolant mixture offers the correct freeze protection for ambient temperatures. Use a simple tester to ensure you have the correct blend of water and anti-freeze.
Photo: vanis13, Samba member

Photo: vanis13, Samba member

  • Check that your tires are in good condition, with adequate tread. For better traction in snow and ice, you can also deflate your tires to the lower end of your safe load range.
  • Use an antifreeze fuel additive suitable for your specific type of fuel (gasoline or diesel) to prevent fuel gelling or freezing.
  • A winter road kit can help get you out of a snowy jam: jumper cables, tire cables or chains, a small snow shovel, extra fuel, a blanket and additional winter clothing, etc..

While Driving

  • A set of cushy seat covers can help keep your bum warm on long cold drives.
  • Take occasional breaks to warm up; pause during fuel stops at convenience stores to warm up with a cuppa coffee or hot cocoa for the road.
  • When driving in especially cold weather, wear additional comfortable winter clothing if necessary: gloves, hats, heavier socks. These are easy to add or remove as needed.
  • Breakdowns are always an inconvenience, but can be especially dangerous in cold or snowy winter weather. Always keep good winter clothing close at hand, as well as some food, water, any crucial medications, etc..

While Camped

  • Photo: mpabegg, Samba Member

    Photo: mpabegg, Samba Member

    Choose a campsite that offers good protection from winter winds. Pine forests generally offer more wind protection than leafless deciduous trees.

  • A site with eastern exposure will allow the morning sun to help warm your van. If at all possible, avoid raising your Westfalia popup roof, to conserve heat, but if you must, orient the rear of your Vanagon into the prevailing wind to reduce your heat loss.
  • Perhaps the single best way to stay warm while camped is some sort of a space heater. Of course, there are several types available: electric (110-volt), small portable LP (liquid propane) heaters intended for camping, and permanently installed RV furnaces fueled by LP or diesel.
  • Be sure to utilize a small battery-operated household carbon-monoxide detector whenever using a fueled space heater, to prevent CO poisoning.
  • If 110-volt AC campsite shore power is available, an electric blanket can be a great way to stay toasty while sleeping or lounging in your camper.
  • If you have one installed, use an engine block heater to help with starting on especially cold mornings; be sure you carry an extension cord and choose a campsite with a power source.
  • As when driving, warm winter clothing can help take the chill off when camped. Common synthetic outdoors gear (pullovers, caps, gloves, socks, etc.) is all you’ll need.
  • Add a thermal-fleece liner to your three-season sleeping bag for additional winter warmth.


  • Put some hot water in an uninsulated camping water bottle and stow it at the bottom your sleeping bag, to keep your feet warm through the cold night.
  • The shorter daylight hours of winter mean more time spent lounging in your van, so bring plenty of games, books, and digital entertainment.
  • In the morning, bring your daytime clothing inside your sleeping bag with you to warm it up for several minutes, to avoid putting on icy clothes.
  • Add a set of thermal covers to your van’s windows to help retain heat. This series of infrared photos provides some valuable insights into areas of heat loss in a Vanagon Westfalia, and offers some tips on insulating your own camper.
  • If you ever need to remove your van’s interior panels or cabinets for other work, take the opportunity to add more insulation wherever you can.

Following these tips will keep Jack Frost from nipping at your nose while winter camping in your van, and help you enjoy a safe and unique camping experience.

Have any tips for your fellow winter van-campers? Leave a suggestion or question below, and use the social links to share with friends!

Original Vanagon Westfalia Toilet & Cabinet

Making boom-boom the European way, mit die Defäkation Karton!

We recently sold our original-equipment portable chemical toilet with wooden cabinet. Though the previous owners seldom used it, and we never did, I thought I’d share these photos and a bit of history for the sake of posterity.

Apparently available only to those customers who picked up their new Vanagon Campers in Germany as part of VW’s tourist delivery program, the cabinet boasts classic Westfalia design.

Reproductions Now Available here

This authentic vintage piece features a sturdy plywood cabinet with the familiar Westfalia laminate finish, and a padded seat top upholstered to match the interior of the early Vanagon Westies.

The enclosed Porta-Potti is a compact two-chamber toilet: open the lid and do yer bidness, pull the front handle to open the bowl valve, and give the unit a couple of flush pumps to rinse the bowl clean; then close the valve. Waste is collected in the sealed lower chamber, preventing odors. When full, simply empty into any campground toilet or sanitary station, rinse, and continue using! Refresh with common RV toilet chemicals available at any RV supplier.

Made by Thetford, still the world’s leading manufacturer of mobile sanitation products for the RV, marine, camping and truck markets.

Here’s more info on operating one of Thetford’s similar models:

When you don’t need a toilet for your trip, the entire combo can be easily removed for storage, or simply remove the toilet and just use the cabinet as a basic storage compartment with convenient padded seat top!

The Westfalia-Thetford portable toilet combo is a classic piece of vintage camping kit, and ready to ‘go’ wherever you go!

Reproductions Now Available here

Due to the surprising amount of interest in this unique vintage item, even after it was sold, I took some measurements, made some blueprints and started makin’ sawdust …

I can now offer a handful of these very authentic reproductions of the toilet cabinet, in both Beige/Brown and in Gray.

These reproduction cabinets are the same approximate dimensions as the original (but sized to fit popular modern Porta-Potties), utilize all the same materials (laminated birch plywood, trim, hardware, etc.), and are upholstered in new complementary fabrics.

Check them out, and contact me with any questions!

Jeffrey Lee
Camp Westfalia

Vanagon or Westfalia Gift Ideas

Looking for the perfect Vanagon or Westfalia gift for a loved one? (Or for you?)

These gifts will keep your favorite camper (or camper van) safe, comfortable, entertained, and looking good!

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Travel Pillow for Camping, Backpacking, Airplanes and Road Trips

  • Ultralight compressible travel pillow with soft foam filling that packs down small for road trips, plane travel, camping, and backpacking
  • Foam filling expands into a 4-inch thick pillow for head, neck, and back support in tents, cars, planes, and other tough-to-get-comfortable places
  • Compact design packs into a backpack, duffle, suitcase, or tote; drawstring and cord lock keeps pillow securely compressed when not in use
  • Brushed polyester cover is soft against skin for comfort; lofty urethane fill is an upcycled byproduct of Thermarest mattresses
  • Machine washable
  • Made in the USA

Get it here!

Budge Protector IV Van Cover, 4 Layer Reliable Weather Protection, Waterproof, Dustproof, UV Treated Van Cover

The Protector IV van cover is a completely unique 4 layer van cover. This van cover is made from 4 durable layers that work together to provide unparalleled waterproof protection for your vehicle. This all weather cover combines two layers of exceptionally waterproof polypropylene with an interior waterproof membrane while the inner most layer of the cover is comprised of a non abrasive fleece-like material. This van cover is also UV treated to protect against harsh sun exposure. This van cover will repel rain, water, snow, dust, dirt and much more. This cover is suitable for long term outdoor storage and will remain durable overtime. Covers comes with a strap and buckle system to help keep the cover secure to your van and to prevent billowing from windy weather.

  • EXCELLENT WEATHER PROTECTION: Van cover is 100% waterproof and UV resistant for superior outdoor protection
  • DURABLE: This all weather van cover is made from 4 durable layers
  • SECURE YOUR COVER: This cover includes straps and buckles to easy tie down and is nonabrasive to your van’s finish
  • DESIGNED TO FIT: This van cover fits vans 228″ L x 72″ W x 72″
    Fit type: Universal Fit

Get it here!

“Blue Highways: A Journey into America”

Hailed as a masterpiece of American travel writing, Blue Highways is an unforgettable journey along our nation’s backroads.

William Least Heat-Moon set out with little more than the need to put home behind him and a sense of curiosity about “those little towns that get on the map-if they get on at all-only because some cartographer has a blank space to fill.”

Get it here!

Camp Westfalia Merch Store

Unique and custom VW Bus & Vanagon camping designs, available on a variety of tee shirts, hoodies, mugs, and more.

Wear your love of VWs and van-camping with pride!

Shop here!

Blue Royal Hippie Van Tumbler Cup with Lid, Thermos Insulated Travel Coffee Mug

  • TRIPLE INSULATION TECHNOLOGY: Each 64Hydro tumbler has double-walled, vacuum-sealed and copper-coated insulation, which helps keep drinks cold for up to 24 hours & hot for up to 12 hours.
  • CONSTRUCTED OF 18/8 STAINLESS STEEL: Known for its strength and purity, our 18/8 food-grade tumbler won’t break, rust, retain or transfer flavors. Unlike other tumblers, our tumblers provide a clean, non-metallic taste.
  • ANTI-LEAK, BPA-FREE FLIP LID: Each tumbler comes with an Anti-Leak, BPA-Free flip lid. The lid will prevent any accidental spills. Anti-glug hole ensures the smooth flow of water and a comfortable drinking experience. NO SWEAT, NO PROBLEMS: Our copper wall layer creates a condensation-free exterior that won’t sweat on your hands or in your bag.

Get it here!

ENO Eagles Nest Outfitters – DoubleNest Hammock

This comfortable hammock is versatile, durable, and compact, making it perfect for traveling, hiking, or chillin’ in camp. The strong nylon taffeta fabric and roomy design accommodate up to 400 pounds, so you can relax with a friend or just hog the whole thing for yourself. Built to last with triple-stitched seams, this baby will keep you swinging for a long time.

Get it here!

TOPDC Double-Cylinder Portable Air Compressor

Vanagon travellers tend to wander off the beaten path, often finding themselves far from major highways, and perhaps beyond reliable phone reception. Self-reliance is crucial, and a portable compressor like this can be a real trip saver.

The TOPDC Double-Cylinder Air Compressor fits neatly in the storage space beneath the Vanagon bench seat, and gives the assurance and peace of mind when travelling in the backcountry. With its compact size, weight, and versatility for other tasks, there’s no reason not to carry one of these as part of your emergency tool kit.

Full Review Here

Get it here!

Flower Power

Sometimes, when diesel is difficult to find, the Camp Westfalia rig runs entirely on alternative fuels. Like, Groovy Vibes, man!

Once, while parked and waiting for Lorie to return with coffee, I was approached by an old farmer who couldn’t resist asking me if I was a ‘real hippie’. I reached out the open window, peeled one of the many magnetic flower decals off the van and waggled it in the air. “Nah,” I replied, “I’m only a hippie on the weekends.”

Get ’em here!

“Out West: A Journey through Lewis and Clark’s America”

One hundred and eighty years after Lewis and Clark’s “Voyage of Discovery” (1804–1806), Dayton Duncan set out in a VW Camper to retrace their steps.

Out West is an account of three separate journeys: Lewis and Clark’s epic adventure through uncharted wilderness; Duncan’s retracing of the historic trail, now in various ways tamed, paved, and settled; and the journey of the American West in the years in between.

Get it here!

GSI Outdoors – Bugaboo Backpacker, Nesting Cook Set

This compact nesting cookset is perfect for preparing meals in a crowded camper van, and is the perfect companion to the GSI Bugaboo folding fry pan!

  • DURABLE AND LONG LASTING: The Bugaboo Backpacker is coated with Teflon Classic for good non-stick performance. Features a crushproof, heat-resistant nylon strainer lid and an easily removable folding pot handle.
  • EASY STORING AND CLEAN UP: Waterproof stuff sack holds set together and doubles as a sink or washbasin.
  • COOK WITH CONFIDENCE: Folding pot handle locks onto exterior brackets on pot and fry pan to provide a secure handle while cooking.

Get it here!

2023 GoWesty Calendar

The 2023 Westy Life calendar features inspiring VW camper images sure to pique your wanderlust! Their annual calendar contest drew over 400 entries from around the world—and the caliber of the entries was incredible.

Get it here!

Vanagon Workshop Manuals

“The Bentley” Official Factory Repair Manual

Volkswagen Vanagon Repair Manual: 1980-1991

This Official Factory Repair Manual, published by Robert Bentley, is rightfully considered “the bible” for Vanagon repair.

This was the manual used by the wrenchers at your local VW dealership, but now that most VW technicians have lain neither eyes nor hands on a Vanagon, the Bentley is used only by the occasional independent shop and by shade-tree diehards like you and me. It remains the final authority in accuracy and precision, providing the proper sequences, torque values, and tolerances for most repairs. Repairs are well organized by topic and sub-topic.

Get it here!

VW T1 Bus BBQ Utensil Set with Carrying Case

Campervans are perfect for chillin’ and grillin’.

And this set of barbecue tools combines the best of both. Stainless steel utensils embossed with classic split-windshield Busses, and featuring bamboo handles, these cool tools come packed in a nylon carry case.

Get it here!

Christmas Vacation – Heavyweight, Tear-Resistant,  Holiday Gift Wrapping Paper

Whatever gift you decide on for your favorite camping companion, apply the final classy touch and wrap it in this limited edition decorative Camper Van design!

Get it here!

From the Camp Westfalia crew, here’s wishing you and yours a happy holiday season, and a Happy (Camper) New Year of adventures!

Product Review: 3 Shelf Closet Organizer

A great way to organize the Vanagon Westfalia clothes closet


Dimensions: 10″ W X 15″ D X 24″ H

  • Natural canvas fabric
  • 3 large shelves
  • Each shelf reinforced with fiberboard liner
  • Includes two closet hooks

I’ve always found the stock Westfalia ‘clothes closet’ to be an underutilized space. Located along the driver’s-side wall, just behind the bench seat, the compartment is empty except for a tiny closet rod, presumably for hanging one’s assortment of pressed Oxford dress shirts or blouses.

Cuz that’s how people camp, right?

The rather large cavernous space offers no other means to organize the contents, so it quickly becomes a dark, cluttered catch-all of chaos. Recently, Lorie came up with this quick and easy solution, and it has transformed our closet into a neat and tidy storage space, always a precious commodity when packing your camper van.

First Impressions

The Three Shelf Organizer is intended to store sweaters, jeans, shirts, etc. in your home closet, but this particular size fits perfectly in the Vanagon Westfalia closet. Made of canvas, with internal fiberboard stiffeners, the shelves easily support lightweight linens like clothing, towels, pillows, etc.. Among other domestic goods, we store our Westfalia camper curtains here when not in use. The organizer is not intended for storing heavier objects like canned goods or tools.

Installation couldn’t be simpler: just put the whole thing inside the closet and clip the hooks over the stock hanger rod. Likewise, it can be just as easily removed later if needed.

Once installed, there is still space beneath the shelf unit for heavier and seldom used items like tools or LP heater, and more space to the right.

Though the Three Shelf Organizer works great right out of the package, we found that if loaded with somewhat heavier items like small storage bins or packaged food, the shelves may tilt and swing around while underway, perhaps spilling their contents. So, I removed the unit and added a simple extension to the bottom-most shelf, which also serves to stiffen it for heavier items.

Just cut a sheet of thin fiberboard or plywood about 10 x 18” and bolt it to the underside of the shelf unit, with the excess protruding to the rear, to stabilize the shelves against the back wall of the closet. I added a couple chunks of foam pipe insulation to keep things quiet.

In The Long Run

We’ve used this shelf unit for a couple of years now, for a few month-long road trips, and have found it to be a great addition to our little temporary home on wheels.

The Three Shelf Organizer is a simple, lightweight solution to organizing the Westfalia clothes closet, and opens up a valuable and previously unused storage space.

Hits: easy, lightweight, removable, affordable
Misses: may sag if overloaded, can tip w/o extension

Get the Three Shelf Organizer here

10 Great Van Camping Accessories

Any day spent on the road is better than a day spent at work, and a good piece of travel gear can make it even better.

gazetteerDeLorme Atlas & Gazetteers

Vanagon campers tend to take the road less traveled, beyond the borderlands of Wi-Fi, cell service, and flush toilets. The DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteers will help you find your way there and back again.

These large-format topographic atlases offer comprehensive details: back roads, backwater lakes and streams, boat ramps, forests, wetlands, trailheads, campgrounds, public lands, prime hunting and fishing spots, and countless landmarks and points of interest. Available for all 50 U.S. states.

Get the DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteers here.

outdoor-products-mammoth-duffel-bag Outdoor Products Deluxe Duffle, Mammoth Size

This large-capacity duffle bag fits perfectly in the Westfalia’s overhead luggage rack, and carries loads of outdoor camping gear. The round barrel shape (18 x 18 x 41 inches) organizes your camp furniture, tarps or flies for rain or shade, small coolers, and other camp gear, freeing up space inside your Vanagon. The water-resistant oxford nylon fabric will protect your gear, and the 2″ web handles make for easy carrying.bungee-net

Get the Outdoor Products Deluxe Duffle here.

Keep the duffle bag and other gear securely in place with this elastic bungee net.


gsi-salt-pepper-shakerGSI Outdoors Salt & Pepper Shaker

This compact, lightweight, dual-compartment shaker holds your salt and pepper, or any other spices you use in your camp kitchen. The waterproof screw caps keep spices dry, and the dispensing screens and caps are easily removed for cleaning and refilling.

This shaker neatly fits in the small Westfalia silverware drawer, so it’s always ready to lend some seasoning to your campsite meals.

Get the GSI Outdoors Salt & Pepper Shaker here.

kampnikKampnik Campground-Finder app

This smartphone app helps you quickly and easily find a great campground while on the road.

Built on the venerable database of more than 13,000 campgrounds in the United States and Canada, Kampnik allows you to find public campgrounds in National Parks, National Forests, Provincial Parks, State Parks, City and County Parks, and more on federal, state, provincial, and local lands. Find campgrounds by browsing a map, or search by name, park, or forest name.

Kampnik should be in the pocket of every Vanagon traveler!

Get the Kampnik Campground-Finder app here

Stack the interlocking blocks to create a solid 'ramp' on which to park.Tri-Lynx RV Levelers

RV leveling blocks keep your Westy interior more comfortably ‘on the level’, and help prevent permanent damage to your Dometic fridge.  The Tri-Lynx “Lynx Levelers” include ten sturdy interlocking blocks, packed in their own zipper pouch. The whole pack fits nicely under the Vanagon rear bench seat, and are a smart solution to a common problem.

Get the Tri-Lynx RV Levelers here.

GearWrench 12-piece Metric Ratcheting Combination Wrench Set

The wise traveler will always carry at least a few tools when rolling in a vintage van, but storage space is always at a premium. These combination wrenches include standard open-end jaws plus ratcheting box ends, all in one slim tool great for fitting into confined spaces.
Includes 12 metric sizes: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and 19 mm.

Get the GearWrench Metric Ratcheting Wrench Set here.

tool-rollTool Roll Pouch

Keep your wrenches, sockets, and other important fix-it stuff organized and ready. This compact tool roll includes a variety of pocket sizes for all kinds of tools. The adjustable quick-release buckle fastens the pouch when not in use, and the carrying handle makes for easy transport.

Get the Tool Roll Pouch here.

jiffy-popJiffy Pop Butter-Flavored Popcorn

Imagine my recent gustatorial elation when I spied a pack of Jiffy-Pop popcorn on a grocer’s shelf while on a road trip far from home. That night back in our campsite, this classic blast from the past tasted every bit as good as my childhood memories …

The Jiffy-Pop self-contained easy-pop foil baskets include all the popcorn and oil you’ll need, so just heat it up on the Westy stovetop or campfire (shake vigorously), and you’ll have a quick and easy snack in just minutes. The magical self-rising foil dome provides a bit of much-needed entertainment value for the bored kiddies, making it almost as much fun to watch as it is to eat!

Available in regular and butter-flavored.

Get Jiffy Pop Butter-Flavored Popcorn here.

gasbuddyGasBuddy Mobile Fuel-Finder app

GasBuddy is the world’s largest community-based fuel app, with over 60 million downloads worldwide. Using information provided by users, you can easily find nearby fuel stops, and save money and time.

Get the GasBuddy Mobile Fuel-Finder app here.

GSI Outdoors Bugaboo folding fry panGSI Outdoors Bugaboo Folding Camp Fry Pan

A lightweight, compact non-stick frying pan with folding handle for van-camping and travel. Featuring quality construction, a durable non-stick coating, easy cleaning, even heating, and compact folding design.

The 10-inch Bugaboo pan fits nicely on the Westfalia stove top without crowding out other pots on the adjacent burners, and easily folds up and is stowed with the other pots and pans in the lower kitchen cabinet.

Read the full review here.
Get the GSI Outdoors Bugaboo Frypan here.

Camp Westfalia is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Product Review: Mr. Heater “Little Buddy” Propane Heater

A safe, portable propane camping heater for use in camper vans, RVs, and other small spaces


  • Indoor-safe portable propane heater for rooms up to 95 square feet
  • Continuous odor-free heat for up to 5-1/2 hours; 45-degree heating angle
  • Simple on/off buttons; uses 1-pound disposable propane cylinder (not included)
  • Low-oxygen sensor and accidental tip-over switch with auto shut-off for safety
  • Built-in piezo ignition

Assembled Dimensions, including propane cylinder: 18” H x 9” DIA (46cm H x 23cm DIA)
Weight, without propane cylinder: 5.85 lbs. (2.65 Kg)

The Mr. Heater “Little Buddy” is an easy, portable propane heater that works well in the small space of the Westfalia or other camper vans. Its safety shutoff features helps keep you and your family safe.

Depending on where you live and camp, it’s always just about this time of year that your camping season comes to a close. And if you’re like me, it’s always just a little bit too soon.

Maybe you enjoy the cooler weather of the shoulder seasons, with no stiflingly hot days, no bugs, and no crowds. Or perhaps you simply haven’t yet got the camping jones out of your system for the year …

In any case, even the most pleasantly cool days of autumn or early winter can come with cold nights. If your campsite has 120V AC shore power you can employ a small electric space heater to keep warm. If not, a small portable propane heater like the Mr. Heater “Little Buddy” can be just the ticket when Jack Frost nips at your nose.

Get the Mr. Heater “Little Buddy” Propane Heater here

NOTE: To meet varying regional safety regulations, Mr. Heater also offers a version of this heater suitable for Massachusetts & Canada.

First Impressions

little-buddy-heater-controlsThe “Little Buddy” is a relatively compact and portable heater fueled by common disposable 1-lb. liquid propane (LP) cylinders. It consists of the upper head unit, a propane cylinder (not included), and a base to stabilize the entire unit upright on the floor of your camper or RV.

The heater’s head unit includes an integrated carry handle plus two large control buttons: ON and OFF.

On The Road or In Camp

To assemble the Mr. Heater “Little Buddy” simply thread a propane cylinder into the bottom of the head unit and set the whole thing firmly into the base. NOTE: Some brands of propane cylinders have a thin plastic ‘foot’ glued to the bottom of the tank; you may need to remove this in order to fit the tank into the heater’s base.

little-buddy-heater-burnerOnce assembled, the “Little Buddy” is easily lit be simply pressing and holding the red ON button to light the pilot flame and then the main burner. The honeycomb burner matrix soon turns orange as it heats up, and the heater can then be set somewhere safe on the floor.

The “Little Buddy” soon heats up the Westfalia interior comfortably, even on very chilly nights. For especially cold or windy conditions, keep the Westfalia popup roof down to prevent heat loss. The Little Buddy has no temperature control, so is either On or Off.

If you need more heat, Mr. Heater also offers the “Buddy”, a larger 4,000-9,000-BTU portable heater.

little-buddy-heater-frontThe “Little Buddy” includes a built-in tipover shutoff device, which kills the fuel supply in case the heater is knocked over, as well as an oxygen-depletion sensor which shuts the unit off in a low-oxygen situation. We’ve found the tipover device to be quite sensitive, sometimes shutting the heater off even when only moving the unit, and we still use a common household carbon monoxide detector whenever operating the heater in the van, if only as a backup alert.

The heater requires a bit of fresh air (the manual specifies 4 square inches), so be sure to crack a window a couple of inches. The rim and wire guard of the burner assembly gets quite hot during operation, so always be mindful of it, and teach kids and pets to avoid getting too close to it. Allow the heater to cool down after use before touching or storing.

Like all propane heaters without external venting, the “Little Buddy” produces water vapor during operation; burning an entire 1-lb. propane fuel cylinder will produce about 26 ounces of water. Though invisible and harmless, this vapor will condense on cold interior surfaces such as walls and windows, so just be prepared to towel off your windows before driving in the morning.

In The Long Run

We’ve been using the Mr. Heater “Little Buddy” model in our Westfalia for a few years now, mostly to take the edge off those chilly temps before bedtime or when arising in the morning. I can even turn the heater on from the comfort of my sleeping bag.

little-buddy-heater-34-viewIt’s a safe, easy, and economical heater that doesn’t require us to find a campsite with shore power. After use, the “Little Buddy” easily disassembles for storage, and quickly stows beneath the Vanagon bench seat. The heater does not include a carry bag, but I added a simple stuff sack to keep the parts clean and together.

A 1-lb. propane tank lasts 4 or 5.5 hours in the “Little Buddy”; about a week’s worth of 30-minute daily warmups, or about 70 cents per hour of operation. Extra cylinders are cheap, compact, and easily purchased at sporting goods or hardware stores while travelling.

Hits: high heat output, quiet, large control buttons easily used even with gloves
Misses: no temperature adjustment, 5.5-hour max time, produces condensation

The Mr. Heater “Little Buddy” has proven to be a great way to extend our camping season on both ends of the summer, letting us get out to the woods both earlier and later in the season!

Get the Mr. Heater “Little Buddy” Propane Heater here

NOTE: To meet varying regional safety regulations, Mr. Heater also offers a version of this heater suitable for Massachusetts & Canada.

What do you think? Leave a question or comment below, and use the social links to share with friends!