Wanted: Vehicle for boondocking in extreme cold


Engineer In Residence
In temps that cold, its best to have a backup system. Heat from the engine with a coolant loop, or a backup air heater.


One other alternative to above would be, since you are running the engine 24/7, a hydronic heater would be very efficient. It would use the coolant from the engine of the vehicle to heat the camper. Since you will be running it 24/7 you get "free" heat. All you would need to do then is fill up the gasoline tank and voila.
Letting a diesel idle 24/7 is a great way to shorten its life. Heating with your main engine at idle will be super inefficient using many times the fuel of a hydronic heater, just to glaze your cylinders.


White Turtle Adventures
Honestly to answer your questions we really need a lot more information. To start when you say start after being off for a time how long are you talking? If it is more then a day running the vehicle that long is not wise. You may find more things breaking with just letting it idle for days on end then letting it sit and starting it cold. There are many ways to preheat the engine before starting in the cold, then once the engine starts the heat will warm up the things around it. One of the problems in the cold is people start the engine from cold and then try driving away in a couple minutes. If you block off the front and the sides and get some heat building up for 30 minutes or more you will have a lot less breakage of other things. PLUS running 24/7 the added fuel will be crazy for a long trip.

I have never seen a small pellet stove, small wood stoves yes but not a lot of trees and the wood you would need to carry to get enough BTU's to heat over a long time would be more then a few boxes.
Propane is out as it will loose its ability to flow and trying to keep it warm would be countering any benefit that it would give.

So to what everyone has been mentioning and getting either a gas or diesel heater to heat the living unit. Done properly you could use this to preheat the engine. BUT the problem is again the fuel usage. You will need to have something VERY well insulated to help reduce that.

I would forget your solar/wind turbine ideas in this climate as you will have little light that is useful and the wind idea is only good if the wind is blowing and your turbines do not break from the cold. Get extra batteries, keep them inside the with the heat and a large alternator with heavy wire to charge it up when you are moving (one way, there are more). I would never take a built in generator in these temps. I have taken a portable generator, it worked but what a pain to refuel and to pack.

We are about to enter a period of -30C lows, honestly we do not do a lot with our vehicles in this or even -40C other than plug in. You will find if you have a problem this is when it will show no matter what you do. When I am camping in these temps I carry a portable Buddy heater to use as extra heat in the camper if I need it but also to help heat things outside like the tires should I need to change a tire or put under the front to add some heat to the engine area should I need it.


Active member
There's already been a ton of good advice in this thread but I'll add the only anecdote I can.

I was a handler for a Yukon Quest musher in 2018. That involved a few thousand miles of driving and living in the F150 while temps ranged between -50f and prob not above 0f at any time. The truck bed was occupied by the dogs area so myself and my co-handler/driver basically lived in the truck when I wasn't watching the dogs.

I don't think we turned the truck off more than once in the couple of weeks we spent in that environment.

I have no idea if battery power is possible to keep things running but we didn't chance it. Just never drove passed a gas station and never turned it off.

None of that is super helpful besides to add a +whatever to the folks that say you're in for some interesting situations. And that more details of what exactly you're trying to accomplish here and your cold weather experience is.


With the lack of knowledge the OP seems to have about these conditions is it really prudent for him to be the one outfitting and purchasing the vehicle. Seems to me like wrong decisions could mean a loss of life.


I’m not aware of a particular vehicle that is well-suited to Arctic off-road/overloading for any length of time (BV-206 and the newer “Viking” notwithstanding...those things are fantastic but get ready to maintain a huge parts block and become something of a mechanic). The “buggies” that roam over snow on Yellowstone roads and the Icelandic Toyotas that can cross some glaciated terrain can “go there” somewhat but are perhaps not what you’re talking about. Sir Edmund Hillary and many others have journeyed across Polar regions in motorized convoys on both tracked and wheeled vehicles and I’m sure there have been solo vehicle journeys as well. I would posit that going “off-road” into the taiga and tundra would represent the pinnacle of vehicle capability and driver/explorer experience. Simply driving the haul road/dalton, etc. and camping and maintaining your rig in between northern AK/Canadian towns and villages is a worthy challenge, but relatively straightforward with some planning and prep....but mistakes can be costly when the weather can kill, obviously. I don’t know your background and experience of course, but it sounds like you might really benefit from a few shorter trips to the far north from your home in Virginia. A few weeks in a cabin or camping in the Arctic/subarctic at different times of the year (each of the three northern seasons: winter, summer and mud, has its own charm) would provide a measure of safety and let you develop some fundamentals to help you begin planning and getting out on your expedition. You will learn a good deal each day about cold & austere environment, diesel vs gasoline, medical/first aid, battery life, clothing, foot and hand wear, skis vs snowshoes, food/water, snow/ice driving, tire chains, nav/route plannning, communications, interpersonal dynamics, staying dry and clean, etc. (and maybe something about bears but they don’t usually present much of an “attack” threat vs vehicles and normally alert/prepared humans). It is not a long apprenticeship, for example like alpinism/mountaineering, but living in the cold is far easier and can be very rewarding with the right skills, experience and patience. A few weeks of long Arctic nights in a cabin/tent when it is snowing and blowing just outside is a good time to sit down with your notebook and pencil and start looking at maps, winter logistical requirements and figuring out what sort of vehicle and travel goals might work for you.


Maybe you need a Hagglunds. It will go anywhere but I wouldn't want to live in one, or pay the fuel bill. We need to know what the goal of this trip is before we can offer more.

Earth Rigs

New member
I am looking for a vehicle for boondocking in the Canadian arctic/subarctic for one month, where the temperature will often be around -40 F. Here are the basic requirements:
  • Vehicle can maintain the interior temperature 24/7 at 55 F or warmer.
  • Supports 1-2 people inside.
  • Engine and other systems will start and work in the extreme cold. Unless vehicle will run continually for a month, it needs to be able to start in the extreme cold after it has been shutdown for some period.
  • In the ideal world, the vehicle will have running water during this period. Otherwise, if this isn't possible, bottled water will suffice.
  • Vehicle can be driven on and off-road over long distances. That is, it's durable, has sufficient ground clearance, rugged suspension, etc.
  • Vehicle can be used.
  • Price - Less than USD $100k.
Related information:
  • The vehicle does not need TV.
  • Vehicle will be used 24/7 during this period.
  • No gas station or mechanic will be within 100 miles.
Here are some crazy ideas I have to help:
  • Vehicle might tow a small fuel trailer to serve as an auxiliary fuel tank. This could then be used to help run a heater. However, the tuel trailer would need to be useable in the extreme cold. And, it shouldn't require a driver's license that is different than what is needed for the main vehicle.
  • Vehicle could have a small pellet stove to help heat it. It would then need to have significant storage space for enough bags of wood pellets to keep it running for a month. The pellet stove would also need a source of electricity to run its motors.
  • If there isn't sufficient sun for solar, vehicle could generate some power using 1-2 small wind turbines, such as the Airdolphin Mark Zero Off Grid Small Wind Turbine 24V.
I have 2 rigs available. Both are capable for what you desire. One has a block heater for the engine.


Expedition Vehicle Engineer Guy
An Espar heater will keep the engine and the rest warm, without idle. Also it can run off the same diesel fuel tank, as well as keep the house area warm.
I was just going to say the same thing. Those diesel heaters sip fuel and will get the camper so hot you'll be opening windows. :)
Also, diesel doesn't dump moisture into the air so less of an issue with condensation.


Viking with a Hammer
I think a big gas engine flatbed truck with a box camper on the back would work. A diesel tank could be added under the flatbed to feed the campers heater.

Pretty sure a Bundutec Bundutray could be ordered with extra insulation.


My Uncle drove a government issued Jeep in Europe
After 10 years living north of 60 I have to ask where you are going and why.

Number 1 consideration is learning how northerners survive. Your requirements are very southern.

"Roads" are few and far between. Gas stations even further. I can offer no advice without knowing your itinery. Make simplicity your top concern. Forget solar and wind, there is none of either. Pellet heat, really? Emergency service and towing are either non existent or incredibly expensive. Many of the winter roads are private and you will need permission to travel them. If they are ice roads.... the speed limit is 20mph.... often for hundreds of miles.

ps, no one shuts the engine off up north

up here, I'd recommend gas engines only unless you are driving a heavy truck


you should have a sat phone

dec-23 ft prov 10 we will be home for christmas.jpg
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I recognize this game, we are playing Picture Taboo. I think the OP is thinking of a dogsled.

The best way to prepare will be to read The Worst Journey in the World by Apsley Cherry-Garrard. To quote, "Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised.”


White Turtle Adventures
"Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised.”
I have camped in insane temperatures in gear that was not made for it because I was young. I have camped in insane temperatures in equipment that was designed for it. I have a vehicle that is 1' outside my studio door that can go all winter in crazy temps and I would survive very well. BUT I am sitting inside my warm studio and will drive home to my house after work as the quote is so right. It is suppose to get to -31c tonight and having a warm place with all the luxeries is so nice. If I have to be out that is one thing but I would never go out just for the "fun" of it. Maybe it is just that I am getting old :ROFLMAO::unsure::cautious:


My Uncle drove a government issued Jeep in Europe
but when it dropped too low their power steering started leaking fluid because it got too cold
yes, the engine is the easy part. in Yellowknife we had to replace the struts on our Subaru every year. 40 below is too cold for anything hydraulic.