RV owners have the luxury of being able to get away and vacation any time they choose, and yes, this includes the winter season too! Camping during the summer is extremely popular, but many RV owners miss out on the perks that winter camping brings. Discounted campground rates, minimal tourists, zero bugs, and it is incredibly cozy!
Read below to find our best tips, tricks, and must haves for cold weather camping!
Exactly how cold is cold weather camping?
Anything below 0 degrees Celsius is truly winter camping! It is important to make sure that your RV’s water and plumbing systems are properly protected to prevent the pipes from freezing and bursting, resulting in an expensive repair bill.
Know Your RV
Knowing your RV is important to help you plan and prepare for a successful winter camping trip. It is important to know where the water lines and plumbing system are on your RV so you can protect them from extreme temperatures. You should also be able to locate your RV’s battery bay and refrigerator condenser. Be sure to understand how your RV’s forced air heater works, and how much LP power it draws. It is also helpful to know if your RV is 4 season rated, and if it has heated or enclosed holding tanks.
If your RV does not have heated or enclosed holding tanks, there are accessories you can purchase that will prevent them from freezing and allow them to be used during camping. If you are not looking to purchase any additional products, winterize it by emptying the water tanks, draining the water heater and water lines, and disabling the plumbing. You can still comfortably camp inside a winterized RV, you will just need to bring along your own drinking water and you can not use the sink or toilet.
How To Winterize Your RV
Winterizing your RV is very important! Following our winterizing steps will prepare your RV for the cold and ensure that it will be ready to hit the road come camping season.Read more
Preparing Your RV For Winter Camping
Protect Your RV’s Water and Sewer System
If your RV has enclosed or heated holding tanks there is a better chance it will not freeze. However, it is still a good idea to take precautions to prevent ice from forming in the water lines or sewer system. Many campers use heat tape or a heating cable. These do require electricity, but if you have shore power or a solar power setup heat tape can successfully provide automated pipe protection.
RV skirts are a great way to block out harsh winds and insulate the underneath of your RV to help retain heat and prevent tanks from freezing. RV skirts also make it much easier to keep the inside of your RV warm too! In snowy conditions with no RV skirt you can pile up snow around your battery bay to create an effective wind block. Always make sure that snow or skirting does not block the exhaust or tailpipe vents.
Increase insulation for maximum heat retention
Before you depart for your trip go over your RV to ensure all the weather stripping around the exterior doors, access panels and the windows are still properly intact.
To prevent precious heat from escaping your RV you can purchase insulating foam boards from your local home improvement store and cut them to whatever size you need. Place foam boards into ceiling vents and skylights inside your RV, and even underneath extended slide outs to prevent heat loss in these areas. You can also place vent insulator pillows over vents on the outside of your RV to ensure there will be no cold air or moisture entering.
The main source of heat loss is through your windows, so make sure you prepare your rig by purchasing window trim film and plastic film you can place over them to trap the cold air out. Consider adding heavy drapes in front of your windows, or a rug onto the floor of your RV as these can add one more layer of insulation and make quite the difference! If you have a motorhome use an insulated curtain to separate the cockpit from the living area, reducing the amount of cabin space you need to heat.
Check that the battery is fully charged, and run the furnace to make sure it is working correctly. Always empty the black and grey tanks before a trip.
If you own a Motorhome, it is a good idea to have snow tires on your rig and always check the tires air levels before you depart. Do not forget to pack tire chains too! Make sure the engine is prepared for the extreme temperatures by checking it has the correct mixture of antifreeze and water, and consider adding an engine block heater if it is going to be really cold.
Just like any other camping trip, you should always check the batteries inside your safety devices such as carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms. It is especially important these devices are working effectively during the winter when you are likely to be using heating systems that could accidently cause a fire.
Remember to double check the upcoming weather forecast before your trip, and confirm that your destination campground is open during the off season.
Travelling and camping
Drive carefully, and be aware for black ice on the roads. Always keep your gas tank above 1/2 full to improve engine performance and prevent ice crystals from forming.
When you arrive choose a campsite that has lots of sunshine! This will help warm your RV naturally during the day.
Lower the stabilizing jacks onto wooden blocks to prevent them from freezing to the ground, and always clear off the RV’s roof after a heavy snowfall.
Avoid closing bathroom or kitchen cabinet doors inside your RV if they have water lines running through them. Keeping cabinets open allows warm air to circulate and prevents the lines inside from freezing. If you are using your water and sewer tanks, leave your taps slightly open to allow a slow drip. If you are using hoses, never store them with water inside and always keep them someplace warm.
You should shield your outdoor propane regulator from the wind, and you may even need to wrap a heat cable around the refrigerator condenser and water pump if these are located on the exterior of your RV. Every RV is different, and that is why it is important to know your RV so you can be prepared for your first winter camping trip. Our Traveland team members are always happy to help customers enjoy the outdoors with an RV, so feel free to reach out to us for help finding out what your RV will require for winter camping!
Additional Cold Weather Camping Items To Bring!
Dehumidifier or Moisture Absorber
Condensation can be an RV owners greatest nightmare, but it is difficult to avoid when you are using your RV in cold weather. To protect your RV from the damage condensation can cause, purchase a dehumidifier to run inside your RV! Alternatively you can also place a bowl of moisture absorbing beads on the table and inside cabinets to absorb moisture.
Combat Condensation Inside Your RV
RV’s and condensation are a common yet tragic combination. It is important to know how to combat condensation to protect your RV.Keep reading
Electric Blanket, and extra blankets
An electric blanket is a great way to keep yourself warm without using propane. You should always bring along extra blankets when preparing for a cold weather camping trip just in case of emergency.
Hair Dryer, fluffy socks, and Slippers
A hair dryer is a fantastic tool to help melt frozen water hoses or pipes quickly in case of accidental freezing.
Fuzzy socks are a great way to keep your toes warm, and slippers can be helpful if your RV floor gets dirty from tracking in mud and snow.
Using a space heater to quickly warm up the inside of your RV is inexpensive and simple, but it does pose a fire risk and should be carefully monitored while it is on. Only use electric or propane heaters inside your RV at your own risk, and try to purchase heaters with built in safety features such as shutting off when it is knocked over.
See below for some items you may want to bring on your winter adventure. These checklists are printable!