In case you’re late to the show:
Looking the map above, you might be asking “What are they running from??!” We’re not running away from anything, we’re chasing something… keep reading…
We get many winter-related questions, but we don’t feel like we have reach the expert status yet. We will definitely write a more thorough article about winter, but we first need to find a clickbait title like “Ultimate Guide to Epic Winter #Vanlife Adventures” or “This Canadian Couple Share Their Top 18 Tips/Tricks/Hacks to Live in a Van in Winter without FREEZING TO DEATH”. We’re still undecided about that title, meanwhile here are the questions we’re being asked a lot:
Q1: Do you wish you had 4×4? / Is not having a 4×4 a limiting factor?
Ask this question to someone who own a 4×4; he will convince you a 4×4 is necessary. Now ask this question to someone who doesn’t have 4×4; he will convince you a 4×4 is NOT necessary. There is no right or wrong here. The real question is: where do you want to go with your van? In our case, until now, we always have owned cars and it never prevented us from going to a trailhead or a ski resort. So why would it be different with the van? So far, we find that our van has pretty much the same capacity as a car (assuming the van is loaded; an empty van has very poor traction).
Wait. To better answer this question, you need to be aware of the price for 4×4 conversion for a Ford Transit: it’s about 13,000$ US (source: Quigley 4×4 Pricing Guide). If you’re reading and you’re not shocked, you totally should get the 4×4! From our experience, when there is a chain law in effect – it’s either chains OR 4×4 required – it would be nice to just press the magic button; no need to get outside in the snow/rain/slush/wind/dark to put the chains on! And when you’re going up a steep icy hill, it must be a really good feeling to be confident you will make it on top…
Bottom line is: we wish we had 4×4, but for 13k$ we’ll pass!
For now, the Limited Slip Differential (LSD) works for us:
Q2: How warm can the Webasto/Propex maintain the van?
Good question. Warm enough. We can wear t-shirt in the van when it’s 5F outside.
Just keep in mind that the level of comfort inside the van (a.k.a cold drafts) AND the time it takes to increase the temperature vary GREATLY with the outside temperature and the sun.
- We turn the heat off while we’re skiing, but we let the Propex to the minimum temperature to prevent freezing (we found that the Propex fires up when the van reach 37F (3C)). So far we only had a few occasions where the Propex had to work during the day, because it has to be quite cold outside for the van to cool down to freezing temperature.
- We had a sunny day in the Tetons where outside temperature was 23F (-5C); when we came back after a day of splitboarding, the temperature in the van was 77F (25C) because we were parked with the front windshield facing the sun. No heater needed!
- We like to turn the heat off during the night and let the van cool down to 50F (10C), but no less than that. We normally let the Webasto runs for a little while after we go to bed (using the timer) and we set the Webasto to starts early in the morning (using the program feature). Here are some examples:
- If it’s above 40F (5C) during the night, no heater needed; the temperature will stay above our comfort level.
- If it’s near 32F (0C) during the night, it takes about 6-8 hours for the inside temperature to reach 50F (10C).
- If it’s near 23F (-5C) during the night, it takes about 4-6 hours for the inside temperature to reach 50F (10C).
- If it’s near 15F (-10C) during the night, it takes about 3-4 hours for the inside temperature to reach 50F (10C).
- If it’s near 5F (-15C) during the night, it takes about 2-3 hours for the inside temperature to reach 50F (10C).
- We experienced -15F (-27C) temperature last year in Canada, and the heater was running full time, full speed, all night!
Keep in mind that there are many variables, so you could get different results: van size, insulation type, insulated window covers, interior layout, etc… Also, we normally sleep at night we’re not constantly monitoring the van temperature… so the data above might be slightly offset! Thanks for your comprehension 🙂
Q3: How long does it takes to dry the gear after a day of skiing?
Clothes: between 1 hour to 3 hours
Boots: about 1-2 hours each pair
Note: the drying time will vary with outside temperature! Let’s say it’s 15F (-10C) outside, the heater will run much more than if it’s 42F (+5C); it means more hot & dry air for drying. After our gear has dried, the humidity level goes back to normal pretty quickly; it’s not damp during the night.
Alright that’s it for winter. For now.
Here are our Fifth Month (January 2018) travel expenses:
New Kids On The Blog
Here are the articles that were added during January 2018:
Since we last replaced the burner insert because of carbon buildup, we ran the Webasto for about 350-450 hours and we’re happy to report that it’s still running fine! 🙂 We’re very tempted to say that the issue is fixed, but we will still wait just in case…
(if you don’t know what we’re talking about, we discuss about our issues/solutions in this article: How To Install a New Burner Following Carbon Buildup)
The Propex is our backup plan we haven’t used it extensively yet, so we don’t have much intel for ya’ll, sorry. Oh, wait, we have one thing to say! If the controller is set to the minimum temperature, the Propex will maintain the van to 38F (3C) which is perfect, because our plan is to use the Propex to prevent the van from freezing during daytime when we are out there. We found it has to be very cold (and cloudy) for the Propex to run during the day. (but we haven’t experience extreme cold so far).
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
Did you know the Transit has a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)? Each wheel, except the spare wheel, is equipped with a wireless sensor to monitor the tire pressure.
- If the pressure is too low or too high, the van’s computer will warn you that there is something wrong.
- With the help of a OBDII Bluetooth Device (amzn.to/2noQecu, careful this reader is for Android phones only) and the Torque Pro app, you can monitor the tire pressure of each tires in real-time on your smartphone. And it’s quite accurate; you can see the pressure increasing with tire temperature.
- The tire pressure if different for front / rear; when rotating your tires, you need to teach the system which wheel is where to prevent false alarms… the dealer will do that for you, or you can do it yourself (consult your owner’s manual).
- The spare wheel is NOT equipped with a sensor, so if you include it in your tire rotation you will get a “Tire Pressure Sensor Fault” message; you can press “OK” to dismiss it, but it will come back each time you start the van (and more); it’s getting really irritating. We wish we had installed a sensor in the spare wheel when we had our BFGoodrich KO2 first installed on the rims… If you’re reading this, make yourself a favor and do it from the very beginning!
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Tales from the Road
Fifth month traveled road:
After 84 consecutive days of sun (that’s right!), it’s time to make a U-Turn to chase the snow! We’re not sure what to expect… we love winter, but, in a van?
We’re taking the leap and we’ll see how it goes! Let’s drive north!
One does not simply drive through Utah without stopping to enjoy the view…
We found a quiet place to spend the night just north of Page (AZ).
You can look it up on Freecampsites.net.
Yellow snow? Looks like we need to keep driving north!
We’ve seen worst commute…
Zion National Park!
It’s OK to make a few detours along the road…
We finally made it to Salt Lake City, it was time to swap mountain biking gear for the winter gear!
Salt Lake City is having one of the worst skiing season in history, so we took this opportunity to spend time with people we care about…
Still, it was possible to make a few turns and prepare our gear for the season
Not too bad
Teton Pass, Wyoming
Inbound is not where we belong, so it was time to move on to Teton Pass!
But we haven’t made it to the top yet…
Being at the right place, at the wrong time.
Before dropping in Horseshoe Bowl (one at a time), we all agreed on a safe spot to wait for the others (we were a group of 4); if we had skied all the way down to maximize our turns (and our fun) we would have stand exactly where the avalanche deposit is:
Note that we were skiing on a more gentle slope, left side of the picture (not visible). A snowmobile triggered the avalanche and safely escaped. The avalanche is about 200-300 feet wide and 3-5 feet deep. The amount of snow in the deposit is HUGE; it’s about 30 feet deep at some place.
Turns out someone else witnessed the slide too and it was posted on Instagram. The video shows the snowmobiler going back up after he triggered the avalanche, that’s a MAJOR lack of judgement. Also, he went riding just above us while we were standing on our “safe spot”; he put our lives in danger in doing so. “Please don’t be this guy”.
Video credit: @justafann
As we’re just starting our skiing season, this incident is food for thoughts. Even if we didn’t skied it, we assessed the slope (before the avalanche) as being relatively stable, because the last storm dated from 4 days ago and there was already 6-8 snowmobile tracks on it. This is exactly the kind of “easy” conclusions that our avalanche training class taught us to avoid…
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
This place is just beautiful, there is no words…
Conditions were legit…
Skiing is nice, après-skiing is pretty good too!
Montana and Interior BC
Plans are made to be changed…
Pacific North West
We woke up that morning and there was over 50 inches on the forecast over the next 5 days for the PNW (edit: Mount Baker finally got 12 feet in ten days!!!), so we adjusted our itinerary…
What ensued was pretty epic, but you’ll have to take our words for it; the deeper and better it gets in the resorts, the more we forget to take pictures…
After a week splitboarding the Tetons, 14 hours drive and a week riding the storm, we need some rest…
That should do it!
There is a high pressure system making itself a little too comfortable on the PNW and the interior… who knows where we will go next?!
TO BE CONTINUED…
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Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine 🙂 In 2017 we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers and moved into our self built campervan. We’ve been on the road since then and every day is an opportunity for a new adventure; we’re chasing our dreams and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!