Just how cold can Battle Born Batteries get and still work? One popular YouTuber put them to the test by driving 2,600 miles to the Arctic Circle in February of 2022. Interested in how he survived and how his equipment fared? Keep reading to learn all about Living the Van Life and how you can prepare for winter camping in Arctic winter temperatures. Let’s dig in.

Van Lifer Drives to the Arctic Circle in February

Disappointed with the Pacific Northwest winter, Chad from Living the Van Life decided to travel to a place where he could find true adventure. This just wasn’t any place, however. He decided to make the long trek to one of the northernmost parts of Canada—Tuktoyaktuk in the Northwest Territories. 

He wanted to test his van, equipment, and himself to see how he would fare in these extreme temperatures. After driving for days on end, he arrived at one of the most remote parts of the world. We’re so happy to say that his van and equipment held up well enough to bring him home to warmer climates (and allowed him to document some awe-inspiring scenes).

Who Is Living the Van Life? 

Chad from Living the Van Life (LTVL) is a van lifer and documentarian with an adventurous spirit. He shares his adventures and travel tips on his LTVL YouTube channel with his 636,000+ subscribers. He began his van life journey on Feb. 1, 2011, when he moved into his 1991 Westfalia Volkswagen camper and never looked back. 

Living the Van Life is most popular for cold weather camping and overlanding with his van builds. He has a Winter Storm video that reached 16 million views. Now, he resides in his 2020 Mercedes 4×4 Sprinter van and continues to live a life most of us only dream of. 

What Was Chad’s Route to the Arctic Ocean?

Chad began in the Pacific Northwest and headed to British Columbia to begin his journey. One of his first stops was Prince George, B.C. Then he painstakingly made his way up the Cassiar Highway, which leads to the Alaskan Highway, just west of Watson Lake, YT.

Chad then followed the Alaskan Highway to Whitehorse, YT. He used the North Klondike Highway to take him to Dawson City, YT. From there, Chad took the Dempster Highway into the Northwest Territories, the Arctic Circle, and finally, Tuktoyaktuk.

What Kind of Systems Are Needed for Living the Van Life in Arctic Winter?

To survive the freezing temperatures Living the Van Life encountered, you’ll need four major things: insulation, heat, power, and fuel. In this case, Chad made sure his van had good insulation. He had quilted black-out curtains. He relied on his diesel heater to keep him nice and toasty when temperatures were as low as -40 degrees outside. 

→ Check out our 10 Tips for Cold Weather Camping in Your Van or RV.

Of course, you need a fuel source to power your van and heater. In Chad’s case, this was diesel. In such a remote part of the world, planned fuel stops are of the utmost importance, as there can be up to 250 miles between gas stations.

Lastly, having a reliable power bank is quite literally the difference between life and death. Chad relied on his GC2 LiFePO4 deep cycle batteries from Battle Born, his Victron inverter/charger, Victron distributor, Victron solar controller, secondary alternator, and Wakespeed alternator regulator. He also used a multi-sensor thermometer to monitor the temperatures both inside his living area and outside. 

Chad says, “I am a huge firm believer in the fact that batteries are the lifeline of anything when it comes to van life. Especially when you’re traveling up into extreme temperatures like this.”

How the Van Handled the Arctic Winter Temps

Chad from Living the Van Life made his Arctic trek in his 2020 Mercedes 4×4 Sprinter van. Amazingly, the van did very well until the Dempster Highway, where it began experiencing consistent temperatures well below zero.

Because of the wind chill, the diesel exhaust fluid system began to fail simply because it couldn’t warm itself up. Chad’s solution was to shove cardboard into his grill to block the extreme cold, which ended up working beautifully. His diesel Sprinter van continued to start up even in the coldest temperatures and took him to all the places he wanted to go.

Can Battle Born Batteries Survive -40 Degree Temperatures?

Remember how we stressed the importance of having a reliable power bank? In his second Arctic video, Chad explains that his Battle Born Batteries are his literal lifeline. They run the diesel heater and they charge his electronics and camera equipment. In short, they keep his entire operation running as it should.

So did they hold up even in the most extreme temperatures? According to Living the Van Life, yes! His lithium batteries worked perfectly the entire time he was on the road, even when it was -40 degrees outside. 

thermometer reading -40 degrees F

“Here we are at -40 degrees and this whole entire operation is depending on the Battle Born Lithium Batteries. It has become the lifeline in this whole entire project,” DeRosa says about the batteries.

He adds, “I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for your battery system to be complete and reliable. Not only is it keeping your lights on, not only is it keeping your food cold, but it is also providing your heat source, all the way down to actually powering your navigation devices and your satellite communication devices that are going to let somebody know if you’re in extreme danger or need help.

It’s so important to make sure your battery system is up to snuff. It’s not the thing that you want to skimp on.”

Lithium Versus Lead-Acid Batteries in Cold Weather Temperatures

When it comes to operating in cold weather, lithium batteries come out on top compared to traditional lead-acid batteries. For one thing, you can use or discharge LiFePO4 batteries in temperatures ranging from -4 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit with no negative consequences. In comparison, the more you use lead-acid batteries in cold temperatures, the less power they have. This is thanks to the Peukert effect and how cold temperatures amplifies this effect.

When it comes to recharging the batteries, lithium also has an advantage. At 24° F, a Battle Born battery will no longer accept a charge due to its intelligent battery management system (BMS). This is to preserve the cells in the battery, and the internal BMS will allow a recharge when the temperature is above 24°F. Every single battery that Battle Born Batteries assembles has this intelligent internal BMS.  

Lead-acid AGM batteries do not have an internal BMS, meaning they may operate at colder temperatures for a bit, but you risk damaging the entire battery and losing power for good. Damaging a lead-acid battery can be very dangerous for you and your rig and should be avoided. 

Unlike lead-acid batteries, lithium batteries can be stored in an insulated, non-vented space. This means it is much easier to keep them warm in the first place.

“You want to have the most reliable power system possible, and the Battle Born Lithium batteries performed excellently in cold weather,” Chad said. “The only thing is you do have to keep them warm because when it comes to recharging the batteries, that’s where you can come into problems if the batteries get too cold.

The great thing is that Battle Born actually has a heated battery that they sell specifically for these purposes. They will actually kick in and keep the batteries up at the proper temperatures so that when it comes to recharging them at the end of the day, you’re good to go.”

→ Check out our heated lithium battery kits here. They solve any issues with recharge temperature limitations by staying warm all by themselves.

Get a Battery That’s Up for Your Adventure

In episode three of Van Life in the Arctic, Chad of Living the Van Life finally arrives at Tuktoyaktuk on Feb. 22, 2022. An adorable puppy and several friendly locals greet him, and they reveal that he’s one of the only visitors to Tuktoyaktuk in nearly two years!

One thing’s for sure, Chad’s great attitude and cinematic skills will always keep us coming back for more, and we’re so grateful that he was able to put our batteries to the ultimate cold-weather test.

Want To Learn More About Electrical Systems and Lithium Batteries?

We know that building or upgrading an electrical system can be overwhelming, so we’re here to help. Our Reno, Nevada-based sales and customer service team is standing by at (855) 292-2831 to take your questions!

Also, join us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to learn more about how lithium battery systems can power your lifestyle, see how others have built their systems, and gain the confidence to get out there and stay out there.

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