Family overlanding and camping during the shoulder seasons with kids always makes me think about 1 thing in particular…
Keeping kids warm!
Keep kids warm is our number one child care and happiness focus when we are out exploring. We live in the Rocky Mountains and even in the middle of the summer temperatures can drop to 5C overnight. The shoulder season is commonly below 0C at night and you will often wake to snow at least once. If you live somewhere warm year-round your safety and comfort priorities are likely different! Below is how we manage the cold on overnight trips.
If you have a trailer then there is likely a built in heater to be used at your discretion which is handy.
If you are in a tent then you need an alternative approach.
We are tenters and my family has just found a neat tool to tackle the challenge of cold temperatures called the Mr. Heater Buddy Portable.
Mr Heater Buddy and Sibling Hugs in Tent
Using 1lb propane canisters or an adapter to hook up to a 20 lb propane tank this heater will warm up our 6 person tent (we have the MEC Cabin 6) in about 5-10 minutes! We use this to warm up our tent during the night if it’s really cold but mostly to warm up the tent in the morning when we wake up and are getting changed. During an especially rainy / snowy morning when we were stuck under our awning cooking breakfast we also used it in the middle for the kids to huddle around to keep warm which worked nicely.
Starting the unit can be a little finicky. When turning on you have to hold a dial down while trying to get an integrated piezo electric ignition to start the pilot light. This sometimes takes around 10-20 tries but has always worked eventually. Once the pilot light is going, which looks like a small blow torch, you must turn the heater to high in order for the ceramic plate to fully warm before turning to low. At this point watch out for any flammable materials above or in front of the heater as it’s going to get hot even on low. This Mr Buddy has a large amount of heat being distributed, which is why we only have had to run the heater for about ten minutes to heat our whole 6 man tent even when it was snowing outside. Mr Buddy comes with several safety features including oxygen depletion sensor and tip over detection.
Storing the heater was always done once the unit had cooled down. Due to its external shell with handle we were always able to find a place for it in the back of our Land Rover. We always take the propane bottle off when storing to make sure nothing would leak.
So far we have been very impressed with this little gadget as it gives us peace of mind to get out and discover with the family even if the forecast calls for cold weather.
Use any heater inside a tent or vehicle with caution and your own discretion!
We also keep the kids warm by:
- Lots of layers, no matter if it says rain or shine we bring rain pants and jackets great as a top layer for playing in mud or to keep warmer at night. Our one year old often sleeps in his snowsuit as he crawls out of his sleeping bag in the middle of the night and still stays warm (and asleep).
- Bring a minimum of two spare outfits, the kids are always playing in whatever water they can find but then get cool.
- Hats, toques and gloves are a must. Our kids often sleep in toques.
- Get them moving. Waking to snow is often more work for mom and dad to manage but stop and play some running games with the kids. Ours are young so we can just chase them or pretend to catch fairies and they will squeal around and get their body heat up a little.
- Hot chocolate and herbal tea, bring more than you think you could consume! A spare travel mug for the kids is handy to keep items warm longer. We have a spare sippy cup to put warm drinks in for our one year old, they only need to be barely warm and it puts a smile on their face.
Hot Chocolate in the Back of the Land Rover is the Best!
We love to have adventures as a family. A little extra planning goes a long way for a happy trip and warm kids. Don’t let the weather hold you back from getting outdoors with kids!