COLD WEATHER RV CAMPING GUIDE
COLLEGE TOWNS WITH GREAT RV CAMPING AND TAILGATING
COMMON RV SETUP MISTAKES
PREPARING YOUR RV FOR A HURRICANE
BEST RV ROAD TRIP ROUTES IN THE UNITED STATES
A lot of people pack up their RV and travel south for the winter to avoid the cold weather. A number of others stick around though to enjoy the season. Winter RV trips can be an affordable way to explore a popular ski destination or enjoy other outdoor recreation activities. If you’re considering embracing your RV this winter, don’t let the cold weather stop you. Use this guide to cold weather RVing to stay warm and safe during your winter wonderland adventures!
PREPARING YOUR RV FOR A COLD WEATHER TRIP
Before embarking out into the cold, make sure your RV is in the best condition to face the conditions. By preparing it for harsh weather, you can protect your engine and other components from freezing and additional damage. An adequately insulated RV will keep you warm to make your experience more comfortable and enjoyable. Below are four ways to prepare.
Install and Upgrade RV Insulation:
Installing insulation is one of the best ways to keep an RV warm in the winter. It protects many components from damage and helps create a warm living space. Insulation around the base can also effectively block cold winds from damaging piping and taking heat from the RV. Try these tips for how to insulate an RV underbelly.
- Implement window covering. Window film and reflective foil are affordable, ways to further insulate windows. Foil lined reflective insulation can be cut to fit your windows and has the added bonus of reflecting heat back into the RV.
- Insulate the floors. Foam board flooring can be used to insulate the floor. Heavy rugs or carpets can also help block cold air that may come up.
- Put in RV skirting. Wind blowing underneath can cause water tanks to freeze and allow heat out. Skirting around the base can block cold winds from damaging the RV and chilling the interior. Foam boards can also be used to insulate the base.
- Seal windows and doors, examine seals and caulking, and replace missing or weak areas as well as stripping to prevent air or moisture from leaking in.
- Use heavy drapes. Thick fabric drapes block cold drafts around windows and keep warm air in during cold nights.
- Insulated curtains can also be used to separate the cockpit and living space so you have a smaller area to heat.
Most RV insulation can remain installed throughout the year and requires very little yearly maintenance. Window foil insulation can be easily rolled up and stored during warmer months, and RV skirting can be used year round or stored in the summer.
Prepare the RV Furnace:
Check the RV furnace before your winter camping trip to ensure it’s in proper working condition. If you’re planning to camp in extremely cold temperatures, it’s best to have an inspection performed by a certified RV repair technician. Clean your furnace using compressed air or a soft brush to remove dirt and debris as well as the vents for any damage or obstructions that could prevent air flowing properly.
When heating the RV in the winter, you may choose to use additional heat sources. Space heaters and catalytic heaters can make a big difference. Remember these methods can add moisture to the air, which may cause damage to the engine and other components. Condensation in the engine or pipes can cause corrosion. Moisture inside may lead to mold. Use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture if necessary and keep the RV warm and dry.
Protect RV Plumbing:
Freeze ups are a common challenge for winter RV camping and can lead to plumbing damage. When ice expands in pipes and hoses, it can cause them to crack or burst if not properly insulated. Keep water flowing by following these tips.
- Adding antifreeze in your holding tanks can protect all of the RV’s valves from freezing.
- Dump tanks when full to reduce freezing risk. Keep waste valves closed when not in use.
- If your water pump or lines aren’t protected by a heat source, you can use a space heater to prevent freezing. Keep them the appropriate distance from RV components and vents.
- Instead of connecting to external water sources, fill the internal freshwater tank to use as a primary source. This allows you to disconnect and safely store your fresh water hose.
- Open bathroom and kitchen cabinets so the RV’s heating can keep internal plumbing warm. Allowing a small drip from faucets can combat freezing by keeping water moving.
- Wrap your fresh water and sewer hoses with heat strips to keep the lines warm and prevent freezing.
- Heat tape can be applied around valves and connections most at risk of freeze ups. You can also add foam insulation in addition to heat tape for extra protection.
Take Care of the RV Engine:
RV engines and their components need extra protection to withstand extreme winter temperatures. Prior to any winter adventure, inspect RV batteries for signs of corrosion or damage. Make sure batteries are fully charged and securely connected. Partially charged batteries are much more likely to freeze or die in cold temperatures.
Check your engine antifreeze. Refill it with the proper concentration of antifreeze and water. While water may be effective to cool an engine in warmer months, using at least half antifreeze is essential for RV camping in freezing temperatures. For camping in very cold regions, using an engine block heater can provide additional protection. Engine block heaters are meant to warm up your engine before you start it. It should run for four to five hours prior to starting the engine if the temperature is below freezing.
PACKING FOR YOUR WINTER RV TRIP
When packing to RV camp in the winter, it’s best to prepare for even colder weather than you expect and bring backup supplies in case of an emergency. Winter weather can be unpredictable so prepare for a winter storm even if clear weather is in the forecast. Pack an emergency kit that includes anything you may need to repair your RV. When choosing clothing, look for waterproof and insulated options. Prepare for any adventure by bringing several different layers. Remember too you can always take layers off if the temperature rises. Use this check list when packing.
- Additional Drinking Water and Food: Bring extra drinking water for emergencies. Be sure to store it in a warm location. Bring extra food in case a storm delays the trip.
- Backup Propane Tanks: If you plan to use your RV furnace, bring extra propane tanks in case you run out. If using a portable heater, bring extra fuel.
- Blow Dryer: If pipes or hoses freeze, a blow dryer can be great for defrosting.
- Breathable Base Layer: Pack a few base layers made of materials that’ll keep moisture away, but still provide sufficient warmth. When playing outdoors and working up a sweat, it’s important to keep your core warm and dry.
- Extra Blankets and Clothes: When temperatures drop at night, you can bundle up with extra blankets and clothes. If you get wet, extra clothing is essential to keep you warm.
- Goggles: If you plan to ski, snowboard, or snow shoe, goggles will protect your eyes from wind and snow. If you get caught in a storm, goggles will make it easier to navigate.
- Headlamp and Lantern: The sun sets earlier in the winter so you may get caught in the dark outdoors. Bring a headlamp to navigate your campsite in the evening. A battery powered lantern can also help light up your campsite at night.
- Insulated Gloves: Insulated and waterproof gloves are perfect for being in cold weather.
- Shovel: When RV camping in the winter, you may need to dig out of the snow. If you don’t have skirting, it’s also useful for shoveling snow from pipes to prevent freezing.
- Sleeping Bag: Bring a sleeping bag rated meant for cold temperatures.
- Snow Boots: Waterproof snow boots are a must for walking outside in snowy conditions.
- Tire Chains: If you drive in snow, tire chains can improve traction on mountain roads.
- Variety of Mid Layers: Prepare for fluctuating winter temperatures by packing several different base layers made of insulating and breathable materials.
- Warm Hat and Socks: A lot of body heat can escape from your head and feet if they’re not protected. Choose a warm hat and socks to stay cozy in cold temperatures.
- Waterproof Outer Layer: Choose a winter coat that’s waterproof and sufficiently warm to protect against snow and freezing rain.
WAYS TO KEEP YOUR RV WARM IN THE WINTER
After long days of enjoying the outdoors, you’ll want to return to a warm RV. When temperatures drop at night, staying warm in your RV is even more important. If you’ve prepared the RV before your trip, the exterior insulation and skirting can greatly increase the internal temperature. Insulating all seams, vents, windows, and doors will lock in the warmth from the RV furnace. If it snows during the camping trip, be sure to keep the roof clear. Snow piling up on the roof can cause stress as well as make the RV colder.
We’d also suggest parking in the sun to naturally heat the RV and help melt any snow on the roof. A spot with protection from wind also helps keep the RV warm. If you have to park in a windy area, position the RV so the wind hits the front rather than the sides.
In less severe cold temperatures, running the RV furnace will likely be sufficient to keep warm. Since it pulls outside air into the RV, there’s no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. If temperatures dip too low, using an RV furnace alone may not be sufficient to keep you warm. In very cold temperatures, use additional heaters inside.