Are Pop Top Vans Cold? What You Need to Know


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Pop top vans offer the convenience and portability of a campervan with the freeing feeling of sleeping in a tent. They’re great for camping in most weather patterns, but many campers worry if they’re ideal for freezing winter nights. After all, the thin canvas and mesh aren’t as durable and thick as the outer metal shell.

Pop top vans are cold if you sleep with the top open since it’s made of mesh and canvas. However, you can lower the pop top and enjoy the insulated top combined with seams to prevent cold air from entering the vehicle. Consider adding spray foam inside of the van’s walls for extra protection.

Throughout this post, you’ll learn how cold it can be inside of a pop top campervan and whether or not these vans are insulated for cold weather camping. We’ll also provide a few quick tips to stay warm in a cold pop top campervan.


Will You Get Cold in a Pop Top Van?

You will get cold in a pop top van if you don’t close the top on freezing nights. There’s little to no insulation in the top mesh portion; But once you close the top, it seals to the roof and creates a comfortable barrier to prevent cold air from lowering your van’s internal temperature. Heavy rain, wind, and debris can damage the seams, though.

Here’s why you might get cold in a pop top van:

  • Heat goes up, which means all of it can escape through the pop top. To the Mountains and Back explains how almost all of the body heat in your van naturally flows through the pop top, preventing you from warming the vehicle. Most campervans without pop tops warm-up eventually because of the body heat.
  • Some pop tops have open mesh windows that let the breeze through the vehicle. The windows are typically equipped with plastic covers that use zippers to stay closed. If your pop top van doesn’t have a cover for the windows, you might be out of luck. All it takes is a cold breeze to drop the van’s interior temperature.
  • Loose or damaged seams don’t protect your van from cold temperatures. Inspect the van’s pop top seams every few months and after each heavy rainstorm. You can use silicone sealant to prevent rain and humidity from ruining the seams. Once they crack or break, they have to be replaced.
  • Canvas isn’t much of an insulating material, so it provides very little temperature resistance. Almost every pop top van uses canvas since it’s flexible and semi-durable against leaves, sand, and snow. However, it doesn’t help you stay warm on a cold night, nor will it slow a heavy breeze.

Brand-new pop tops have quite a bit of life left in them, but improper care can quickly damage the seams. Never use pressure washers or leave it outside during a hailstorm. The good news is that some roofs are insulated. We’ll talk more about this feature below.


Are Pop Top Roofs Insulated?

Pop top roofs are insulated, but the insulation is ineffective if you open the top all the way. The top windows are made of mesh that’s surrounded by canvas, neither of which are known to keep cold temperatures out of a van. Nevertheless, you can use sleeping bags and warm clothes to sleep with the pop top raised.

While the insulation might not be the best, there are plenty of ways to sleep comfortably in a pop top van during the winter. Read on to find out our five-step process.


How to Stay Warm in a Pop Top

To stay warm in a pop top, follow these instructions:

  1. Hang a blanket over the inside of the pop top when you’re not using it. You can use C-hooks or D-rings along the roof to hold the blanket. This layer might not keep moisture out if the seams are broken, but it definitely adds a layer of warmth and comfort to the exposed roof. You can also hang a tarp over the van if it gets too cold to handle.
  2. Keep the pop top down to prevent cold air from entering the van. This goes without saying, but the pop top is much less insulated when it’s lifted. Lowering it to be flush with the van’s roof lets the metal or fiberglass cover protect the inside of the van against various weather patterns and extreme temperatures.
  3. Add spray foam insulation to the walls and floor of the campervan for extra temperature regulation. You can also use insulation foam batts or boars. Whatever you choose, make sure you cover as much of the floor and walls as possible. The fewer gaps there are between the insulation, the better.
  4. Consider installing an insulated pop top wrap around the pop top to keep it open without getting too cold. Van Shades shows how effective pop top wraps are at keeping your pop top looking stylish while insulating it. You won’t have to worry about wind, rain, snow, or cold weather with one of them.
  5. Park near tall mountains, boulders, or trees to prevent the wind from pushing cold air over your pop top van. The less wind that hits your van’s pop top, the less you’ll have to deal with freezing gusts of air getting inside. Parking next to natural features can make a huge difference by improving the temperature regulation.

Staying warm in a pop top is relatively manageable, provided it’s not below freezing outside. Bring extra clothes and a low-temperature sleeping bag in case it gets too cold outside. Remember to seal the windows and vents, too.


Conclusion

Pop top vans don’t have to be cold, especially if you’re not camping in freezing temperatures. Following the numerous suggestions mentioned throughout this article will keep you feeling comfortable, regardless of what time of year it is. Remember to pack extra clothes if you think it’ll dip below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius).


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Martin

As an independent traveler, I try to share my positive and negative observations about van life as well as tips and tricks to make your life on the road easier. I travel and work in my old RV and would greatly appreciate a coffee from you if you find my content useful.

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