Four Season Camping - Thoughts, Concerns, Opinions

Hello!

Looking into buying my first GFC Camper! I come from the van world and just looking for something more nimble and offroad capable. That being said, does anyone have opinions or thoughts on camping in these during the fall, winter, or spring months? I currently live in Utah were all those seasons tend to be in the low teens. Ill plan to get a diesel heater for the camper.

I’ve also heard concerns of leaking & waterproofing issues for inside the actual truck bed and wondering if this is still a concern? Im planning on insulating my truck beds floor and adding some seating fixtures to complete the build out.

Let me know if anyone has experience with this.

Thanks,
Ray

I camp all year in Colorado, though typically dont go if its going to be less than a low of 15F. I dont have a diesel heater but have a VERY warm sleeping bag which is absolutely critical even if you do have a heater in case something stops working and you are way out there. I do have a solar set up and my big indulgence is an electric blanket to prewarm the bag and sometimes use again if I wake up chilly. The GFC is not going to compete with the hard walls of a van, its a single wall tent camping situation and you need adjust as such.

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12 degrees, no overnight heat. Buddy heater in the morning. Not a problem at all with a stout bag. Definitely not as comfortable as van-life, but it’s a minimalist way to get pow when everyone else is waiting behind the morning accidents!

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I’ve camped in temps as low as 5 degrees in my GFC multiple times so far.

The main issue is condensation in the morning. This can be solved with a portable diesel heater build. I use a 5kw chinese diesel heater in a knock off pelican style case with an attached 10l tank. Keeps the interior of the camper at a toasty 70 degrees and has the added benefit of keeping things nice and dry.

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Any idea how many hours you can get with the 10L tank?

I would say about 30 hours of run time on full blast, give or take a few.

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My opinion is the GFC is not ideal for extreme cold camping. I camp in the GFC without a heater or much buildout. Extremely cold temps can be done in the GFC, but it will not resemble comfort by any of my definitions. I have definitely camped in cold temps. Its livable, but cold. The inside temp approximates the outside without a heater. I cannot speak to the efficiency of various types of heaters, but my feeling is that they just move the temp up a moderate amount on a good day. Others can correct that statement if it’s wildly inaccurate.

My wife and I use an electric blanket when sleeping in cold temps. We go KOA style for cold weather and plug in to electricity. Sleep warm. Dress for a cold coffee and breakfast prep, and retreat to a hot clean KOA shower before continuing on our journey. As an aside, I have considered the use of an electric heater for the downstairs when plugged in at an RV park. Haven’t really needed it, but its on the possibility list.

The GFC setup is definitely off road capable. My tacoma GFC setup is great for off road camp adventures. I love going to baja. The GFC is perfect. Capable and comfy… But Baja winter is hardly extreme. Maybe lows in the 40s on a super cold baja trip, but it warms up quickly. A good sleeping bag, and I am good. I can’t imagine snowy camping. It would be cold and leaks likely won’t matter because there’s a good chance you’d have to introduce snow to the interior of the hard shell when packing the tent for closure. That moisture would likely get onto the sleeping surface. If I was a snow camper, I’d choose a van. A 4x4 van with all hard sides would be my choice. For non-extreme cold weather camping , its hard to beat the simplicity of the GFC. I love mine.

Also, not talking bad about any tuff souls who enjoy winter GFC camping. Its just not for me. This post is just my perspective.

Peace.

I camp all year in mine and have gone down below zero a few times. In the end you are winter tent camping and should be expecting that experience. It can’t remotely compare to the comfort of a hard sided van or camper, but with a good sleeping bag and good ventilation and it works great. I have a 4 season camper with a propex heater, but if I am solo the GFC is always my choice.

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On low a 5kw will eat 10 l in a little more than 48 hours.

Camping in a GFC is the same as camping in a tent. It’s just a bit faster to put up and down. It has the same condensation issues as a 4 season tent (that means you do have to ventilate it properly or you will be icy and wet. Its purpose is to keep you out of direct wind and keep you dry from the outside. Keeping warm is up to your clothes and sleeping bag.

While I have a diesel heater that will bring the temps into the 70s when outside is in the -teens and 12v electric blankets I am prepared to be fine without either and often do just to be efficient.

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How is the power draw for running the heater fan? I don’t plan on tapping into vehicle power, rather a portable battery unit, and wondering about the run time for a 268Wh pack?

I run off a 500W Jackery Portable Pack. Thing works like a total charm! Just make sure to bring it back in your vehicle when you are done using it. They can freeze up and get destroyed pretty easily.

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My only complaint is the tent quality and construction. I wish GFC offered a true 4 season tent option, like the ones in the Vagabond Drifter or AT Summit. Waterproof, multiple window layers that fully zip, and optional insulation layer.

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That’s not a 4 season tent, that is an insulated tent.

Coming from a mountaineering background a 4 season tent just means that it will fully seal everything out and keep you dry.

I think a lot of confusion happens around the idea of a 3 and 4 season tent. People get a 4 season tent thinking it will keep them warmer when a 4 season tent just means that there is no permanent ventilation and you have to control it yourself. 3 season tents have ventilation and screens that are always allowing air to pass through (something you don’t really want in a blizzard)

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Okay, I get what you’re saying, the insulation is a separate issue. I was mentioning it as an option I wish existed, not as criteria for a 4 season tent.

But the current tent is not 4 season by your definition. It does not seal everything out and will not keep you dry. The small flaps don’t even have top zippers, and the large window flaps don’t have bottom zippers.

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I’ve personally never had an issue with snow or water ingress so the openings when everything is zipped tight have worked for me to keep everything out. But I see your point.

For me the GFC is a minimalist setup, if I wanted multi layered windows and insulation I would have gone a different direction. I can’t speak for GFC but I think their market is to the minimalist group and those that like to modify things as they can’t sit still and can’t leave things alone ( yeah I am calling myself out there), there are many options out there for the luxury side of things I see lots of people saying they wish for clear windows, insulation, built in electronics, heaters, etc but I just don’t see those things coming from the Hey we can hold a truck on top of our super light tough and minimalist camper GFC.

Just my 6p

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Any feedback on the Vagabond Drifter or AT Summit?? I have not fully committed to a GFC yet and still looking at other options. Would easily pay a couple hundred more dollars for a true waterproof and four season tent. Thanks

No, I have a GFC that I am otherwise happy with. But my previous RTT had a significantly better tent, with an optional insulation layer, and I can’t help but compare.

I’m otherwise happy with the minimal nature and quality and happy to mod and build the rest out myself, but there’s no chance me taking a stab at a custom tent ends well.

It’s not a couple hundred, it’s several thousands of dollars more, more weight and more complex.

The GFC is the lightest of the wedge style platform campers.

I agree completely. There is lots to like about the GFC, but I would like the option to add an insulation layer to the tent (like you can in a Four Wheel Camper setup) for the colder months. For us, snow on the ground doesn’t stop us from camping, even in a ground tent, and the insulation with better sealed windows would really help make it more comfortable.

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Heres the formula I use to get a reasonably accurate calculation depending on heater size and hertz. Startup and shutdown use a little bit more fuel but its not just good, its good enough.

Formula for fuel consumption/hr:
Dose * Hertz * minute * hour = milliliters per hour

Example for 5 kW diesel heater:
.022mL * 4.5Hz * 60sec *60 min = 356.4mL/hr
10L Fuel Tank/ .3564L/hr = ~28 hours run time

Example for 2 kW diesel heater:
.018mL * 4.5Hz * 60sec *60 min = 291.6mL/hr
10L Fuel Tank/ .2916L/hr = ~34 hours run time

Edit for formatting

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