Many van lifers choose to stay in cold climates in winter, whether that’s because of a job or a particular ski hill. One big struggle is staying warm, especially if you can’t afford an expensive diesel heater.
A campervan electric blanket is a great option to add a little warmth to your situation.
Electric blankets for a campervan do draw significantly more power than a diesel or gas heater. They are also more power-hungry than a propane heater.
But they are small, portable and inexpensive. And they use less power than a campervan electric heater, which you basically need shore power or a huge battery bank to run.
It’s best to use a 12-volt electric blanket inside your campervan. Electric blankets that run on 120-volts usually use too much power, and don’t couple well with modified sine wave inverters.
We researched and rounded up the best heated blankets for camping. Hopefully one of these will help you stay warm and cozy wherever you might be living the van life.
The best 12-volt electric blankets for a campervan
A 12-volt electric blanket for your campervan can plug right into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter or a portable power station, like this Jackery 500.
If you are using your vehicle’s start battery, be very careful that you don’t drain the battery overnight. You may want to consider running your campervan electric blanket for only 30 minutes or so to warm up. Most van lifers say if you leave it plugged in all night you’ll wake up to a dead battery.
You’ll have much more leeway if you’re using a battery bank with solar panels, or a portable power station.
The main benefit of a 12-volt electric blanket for camping is that it doesn’t nearly use as many watts as a 120-volt blanket.
Here are our top picks for the low wattage electric blankets:
Roadpro Polar Fleece 12-volt electric blanket
This Roadpro polar-fleece electric blanket for camping draws just 55-watts (less than a laptop charging), and comes with an 8-foot power cord. It weighs only one pound and folds up into a compact storage bag, perfect for a space-limited campervan.
This campervan electric blanket ranges from 70-degrees up to 104 degrees.
Keep in mind you’ll need 400-watts of battery power to run this blanket overnight for eight hours. It will drain your car battery if you leave it plugged into the cigarette lighter.
Car Cozy 12-volt heated camping blanket
Power Draw: 48 watts
The Car Cozy heated camping blanket is made of 100% polyester fleece, making it soft and cozy. It’s large enough for two people and comes with a safety timer with auto shut-off.
Also, you’ll get a 7′ long power cord and automatic temperature control. The power draw comes in at 48 watts.
Some reviewers love this blanket, and some say it stopped working after a few tries, so beware and read reviews thoroughly before deciding.
Gemgo heated campervan electric blanket
Power Draw: 45 watts
The Gemgo heated campervan blanket is super comfortable and fast to heat up. Plus, it has a thermostat and two heating speeds – high and low, depending on how fast you need it to heat up.
This camping electric blanket has a safety shutoff at 145 degrees, preventing overheating and burns.
Eluto Electric Car Blanket
What makes the Eluto electric camping blanket stand out is that it has three different heat settings. Choose from High, Medium and Low when using this 12-volt electric blanket.
The blanket is also designed to cut power after 45 minutes, so you’ll have to retrigger the blanket to turn it back on. Eluto also promises a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Sojoy 12-volt electric blanket
Power Draw: 3.0-3.7-amps
What’s cool about the Sojoy 12-volt electric blanket is that it shuts off after 45 minutes, preventing you from draining your car battery dry. This is great for falling asleep to give yourself a little extra heat before snuggling down deeper into your sleeping bag.
This campervan electric blanket heats up quickly, up to 118 degrees. It’s also the cheapest 12-volt electric blanket on our list.
Alternatives to a campervan electric blanket
Using an electric blanket in a campervan is a contentious point among van lifers. Some swear by 12-volt electric blankets and love them, while others complain they draw way too much power.
If you have access to shore power, this isn’t a problem.
Here are some of the top alternatives to using a campervan electric blanket in winter.
Happy Heated Water Bottle
This cordless heated water bottle is perfect for keeping warm in winter with minimal use of power. All you have to do is plug in this water bottle for 15-minutes to heat up the water inside. Then, it stays warm for 4-5 hours.
The water temperature goes all the way up to 158-degrees, perfect for putting under your blankets or inside the bottom of your sleeping bag.
The cover is washable, breathable fleece.
A heated mattress pad
One top complaint about a campervan heated blanket is that it dissipates heat too quickly. A heated mattress pad solves that problem by keeping the heat under you. One van lifer recommended this particular heated mattress pad connected to a portable power station.
Through our research, we found a heated mattress pad only draws 55 watts, plus it cycles on and off throughout the night, further saving power.
A high-quality sleeping bag
When we camp in our van in winter, we only use 18-degree sleeping bags. We also wear hats and long johns to stay warm. This is plenty for us! So, if you decide you don’t want to deal with propane or electric heat, just buy a really good sleeping bag and call it good.
This Joule bag from REI is what I use and recommend:
Conclusion on the best 12-volt blankets for camping
A campervan electric blanket is an affordable way to get warm when you’re living van life in winter. 12-volt heated camping blankets have a fairly low wattage draw, and can be plugged into a cigarette lighter, inverter or portable power station.
That being said, a heated blanket for camping still takes significantly more power than a diesel or gas heater or a propane heater.
You can’t leave it plugged into your car overnight without risking a dead battery.
To see other options for keeping a campervan warm in winter, head here: Heating a Van in Winter: The Best Campervan Heating Options
Other posts to check out:
- Campervan conversion kit: 7 simple ways to DIY your van
- How we built a DIY campervan conversion on the cheap
- Honda Element Camper: Why this rig has a cult following
- How to choose an induction cooktop for a van
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Kristin Hanes is a journalist and writer who lives on a sailboat and in a Chevy Astro van in San Francisco. She worked in radio news for 15 years before a massive layoff in 2016. Kristin has written articles about alternative living published in Good Housekeeping, Business Insider, Marie Claire, SF Gate and The Bold Italic, among others.