Can my Camper Van Blow Over?

Parked in high winds

So I’m sitting in our van as it rocks from side to side from the 75mph gusting winds outside trying to decide at what point the wind could actually blow our Sprinter van over. Storm Ciara is currently battering the UK and it’s not much better here in Holland where I’m currently parked, and let’s face it there’s not many hills to hide behind in this part of the world!

I should point out whenever there’s high winds and we’re in the van I’m prone to being slightly neurotic as Will would call it. However, I should also point out Will is usually conveniently tucked away in the safety of a hotel ‘working’ leaving me to batten down the hatches and ride out the storm alone (yep he’s currently in a luxury hotel in Amsterdam!).

It’s easy to tell someone there’s no chance the van will topple over when you have four sturdy, non-rocking walls around you! Plus, we’ve all seen the movies where huge trucks get picked up and tossed by tornadoes. I’m pretty certain they’re a lot heavier than our wee camper!

After much googling I can confirm there’s not much information out there about what speed of wind would be needed to blow our stationary 3.5t Sprinter camper van over, but for all the equally neurotic vanlifers out there here’s what little advice I can offer!

Can a camper van actually blow over?

According to a US study in 1995 it would take perpendicular wind speeds of 101mph to topple a 5m camper van, but only 65mph to topple a 9m motorhome (presumably because they are higher and less streamline).

A more recent study (2003) suggests that at winds over 125mph “cars, vans and pickups may be moved but fewer than 10% will tip over”.

I mean I’m not reassured by the moved part, but it’s looking like it’s pretty unlikely our van is falling over any time soon, especially as camper vans carry all their weight low down.

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Surviving storms in a camper van

Don’t help the wind out

It turns out parked on a flat surface you’re pretty unlikely to go over. However, parked crooked or on an angle it’ll be easier for the wind to catch you. Also, don’t park in the Wicklow Gap in Ireland on a blowy night (note to self!) as parking between two mountains is just going to funnel that wind right at you!

Batten down the hatches

If you’re in a traditional motorhome you may have stabilisers, these will help a lot. If like us you’re in a van conversion you might not have that luxury. Keep everything tucked away and closed, including awnings, fans, windows, aerials etc. There’s definitely more chance of loose items getting ripped off your van! 

Think about how you’re parked

If you can find a more sheltered spot to park, perfect. Obviously keep away from trees as much as possible as branches falling can cause serious damage. If it’s possible to face into the wind you’ll be a whole lot more comfortable but that’s often easier said than done! 

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So, can my camper van blow over? Technically yes, but you’re going to need some incredibly high winds and if that happens it’s probably going to do more than just topple over. Campers carry almost all their weight low down so whilst it might feel like you’re swaying all over the place in reality you’re pretty secure.

Meanwhile, I’m still rocking back and forth like I’m on a boat and hoping everything I’ve written above will prove to be true, and our van (as well as Piglet and I) will still be in one piece in the morning! 

NB – all of the above applies to a stationary/parked camper van… a moving one is a whole different kettle of fish! 

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camper vans in windy weather