RV camping can be tons of fun and exciting any time of the year. In the winter, however, the cold weather does present a whole new set of challenges for many RV campers.
You could say it’s all about pros and cons. On one hand, you get some pretty good deals in the wintertime, when there are hardly any tourists or crowds. It also means you have all of mother nature to yourself– even most pests and bugs are asleep during the winter. Plus you get some pretty spectacular views in the winter as well.
So long as you continue to have running water and keep warm in your RV while camping, you should be fine. Here are a few tips when it comes to spending winter in an RV camper:
Stay Up-to-Date with Weather Forecasts
Before settling down at your campsite, make sure your camper is in the best position to face the cold. Check the weather forecasts, and prepare adequate insulation for your RV camping trip.
By preparing your camper for inclement weather, you can protect your engine and other RV components from freezing and other damage. An adequately insulated RV will keep you and your loved ones warm enough to make your winter camping experience much more comfortable and enjoyable.
Pack Enough Cold-Weather Clothes
Whether you’re RV’ing or not, when going winter camping, you can never go wrong with layers. Lots of layers to be exact.
The general advice is to wear a thick thermal base first, then a lightweight jumper for additional insulation, and lastly, a weather-proof shell.
Opt for winter clothes that use synthetic materials like Polartec and Goretex, and natural fibers like leather, wool, and fleece.
Stock up on (lots more) food
Did you notice that in freezing weather, your stomach rumbles more frequently than in summer? That’s because your average metabolic response during cold exposure significantly increases, which means you have to stock up on food. Lots of it.
Even if you’re camping near a town, it still makes sense to stock up on ready-to-eat snacks and easy-to-cook meals. Foods like nuts and seeds, energy bars, eggs, store-bought or homemade canned goods, pre-popped popcorn, beans, rice, pancake batter, potatoes, dried fruit, dried herbs and spices, and pasta make great additions to your RV camping pantry.
Get Your RV Camper Insulated
Installing insulation is one of the best and simplest ways to keep a camper warm in winter. RV insulation protects many vehicle components from cold weather damage and helps create a warm and toasty living space.
Insulation around the bottom of the RV can effectively prevent winter cold winds from damaging RV pipes and removing heat from the camper.
Here are some tips on how to insulate your camping trailer for cold weather camping:
Seal your windows and doors
Examine the seals and cord around your RV windows and replace any missing or weak areas. Place a weatherstrip around exterior doors to prevent cold air or moisture from leaking.
Install window coverings
Window film and reflective foil are affordable and effective ways to further insulate your RV windows. Foil-lined reflective insulation can be cut to fit your RV windows and has the added benefit of reflecting heat back into the camper.
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.
Give your floor extra insulation
Foam board floors can be used to insulate the RV floor. If you prefer not to buy foam board flooring, heavy rugs or carpets can help block out cold air that can come up.
Install an RV skirt
Wind blowing under your RV can freeze water tanks and remove the heat. If an RV skirt is installed around the bottom of the RV, it can prevent cold winds from damaging vehicle components and cooling the interior. Foam boards can also be used with a skirt or instead to better insulate the base of your RV.
Use Space Heaters
In the wintertime, the space heater can be your new best friend. Having a space heater will allow you to conserve your propane, while still keeping your rig warm. Place space heaters strategically throughout your RV so you get a good distribution of heat inside.
You’ll also want to run an extension cord through your slide and plug in directly to the electrical panel provided at the RV campground, so you don’t run the risk of tripping a fuse when you’ve plugged in one space heater too many.
Prevent too much humidity
Heating systems like space and catalytic heaters add moisture to the air, which could lead to condensation in the pipes and engine. Take note that too much moisture inside your camper may corrode your pipes and engine and promote mold/mildew growth, which poses serious health hazards.
To remove extra moisture, buy a dehumidifier for your living space.
Protect Your RV’s Plumbing Connections
Freezing is a common challenge for winter RV camping. When ice expands inside pipes and hoses, it can cause plumbing damage, which can make them crack or burst if they are not properly insulated. You’re gonna want that running water. So keep your RV’s water flowing this winter by following these tips to keep pipes from freezing:
Use heat tape on pipes and hoses
Use heat strips for your freshwater and sewer hoses to keep the lines warm and prevent freezing. Heating tape can be applied around valves and connections most at risk of freeze-ups. You can add foam insulation along with heat tape for extra protection.
Give your interior plumbing a little help
Open your bathroom and kitchen cabinets, so that heating your trailer can keep your interior plumbing warm. Allowing a small drip from faucets can help combat freezing by keeping water moving.
Use the internal freshwater tank
Instead of connecting your RV to external water sources, fill the internal freshwater tank to use as your main water source. This allows you to safely disconnect and store your freshwater hose.
Use a space heater near your water tanks
You’ll also want to put a small heater near the tanks in the underbelly of your rig. If a heat source does not protect your RV water lines or water pump, you can also use this space heater to help prevent freezing. Practice safety precautions by keeping space heaters at an appropriate distance from RV components and vents.
Install Vent Covers
During winter, you can’t always hang out outside. And for this reason, you’ll want to install some vent covers. Vent covers are handy when it’s snowy or rainy because you’re gonna want to be inside but still have some circulation going on.
Vent covers will easily install over your current vent and drill in from the side so you’re not putting any holes in the roof. With these in place, it’ll be really great to lower condensation and keep the airflow moving when you’re inside your RV.
Also, keeping your vents open reduces the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if you turn on a space heater inside your caravan, and open vents can also release moisture to keep your RV dry.
Give Your RV A Little Extra Care
RV engines and engine components need additional protection to withstand extreme winter temperatures. So even before your camping trip, inspect your RV batteries for signs of corrosion or damage. Make sure your batteries are fully charged and securely connected. Batteries that are only partially charged are more likely to freeze or die in cold temperatures.
Check your motor antidepressant and refill it with the correct concentration of antidepressant and water. While water can be effective in cooling an engine in warmer months, the use of at least 50 percent antidepressants is necessary for RV camping in freezing temperatures.
For camping in very cold regions, additional protection can be provided by using an engine block heater. Engine block heaters are designed to warm up the engine before you start it, and should run for approximately four to five hours before starting the engine if the temperature is below freezing.
Other Tips When Spending the Winter in Your RV
When operating and living in a travel trailer during the winter, there are many additional precautions you can take to stay warm and avoid freezing.
Use wooden blocks on your stabilizer jacks
When parking your caravan in snowy or icy conditions, your stability jacks can get stuck on the cold ground. Place wooden blocks under the jacks to prevent them from sticking.
Cover your air conditioning unit
When camping in winter, you won’t have to run your RV’s air conditioner. An insulated AC cover can protect your air conditioning unit while not in use and prevent cold drafts.
Mind your plastic parts
Be careful with plastic components. In very cold temperatures, the plastic parts of your RV, such as the levers and trim, can break. Handle plastic components carefully to avoid breakage.
Replace batteries in safety devices
When using space heaters inside your RV, it is essential that carbon monoxide detectors and fire alarms work properly. Try these safety devices and replace the batteries before your winter trip.
A Final Word About Spending Winter in an RV Camper
Winter camping in an RV might be a bit more challenging for some, but the payoffs are pretty huge in terms of experience. You can go skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, or any other fun winter activities you might want to do with your loved ones.
For your next winter camping experience, get in touch with our team at Adventure in Camping. Take your pick from the largest and newest trailer fleet in the business, including over 15 different models. We will then deliver the RV of your choice to one of over 80 campgrounds in the Eastern Sierras including Bishop, Mammoth Lakes, Devil’s Postpile area, June Lake, and Lee Vining.
It’s a unique and easy way for you to enjoy your next RV winter camping experience. Give the Adventure in Camping team a call today at (760) 935-4890.