Let’s face it, camping in colder temperatures might not be on the top of everyone’s list of things to do – we get it. However, there are plenty of people that seek out winter destinations for RV getaways. Additionally, there are a number of fulltime RVers that live stationary in locations that experience cold winters. Whatever the case may be, if you plan on RV camping during the winter, you need to be prepared. Here are some key facts that all RV enthusiasts should know to keep your RV healthy and happy if you plan on camping in cold temperatures this winter.
Ensuring your water systems are functioning properly might be one of the most important things to keep in mind when camping in the winter. When temperatures drop below freezing, as they often do, ice-cold water can quickly lead to frozen pipes which can then quickly lead to a huge headache and repair bill. Avoid unnecessary stress by planning ahead. Choosing to inspect your RV and its water systems thoroughly before hitting the road can be the difference between a fun-filled trip or one that skates on very thin ice.
If you are hooked up to water, consider using a heated hose. This hose will keep water at the source, and water that is flowing into the rig, unfrozen making it less likely to burst pipes. To completely avoid worrying about a frozen hose, fill your freshwater tank and use that as your water source instead. As a rule of the road, you should only connect the hose when needing to refill your tank. Doing so can prolong the life of the tank as well as the hose and ward off any potential freezing that could occur.
Once the water is flowing through your pipes and holding tanks, you still have to worry about freezing, unfortunately. To keep your pipes on the warmer side, try opening interior cabinet doors so your heating system is able to keep your internal plumbing warm.
While some RVs come with heaters for holding tanks, many do not. Electric heaters are an option that you can successfully add to the tanks yourself or, if you prefer, you can consult with your local Camping World specialist for assistance. Electric heaters are typically available in both 12V DC and 120V AC models. Or another option to explore is to use a small amount of antifreeze in the holding tank to help keep the liquid from freezing.
During winter, you should only dump tanks when they are full to reduce the amount of times valves are opened. Any warmth trapped inside the tank will work to your advantage and opening the valves more than necessary allows the heat to escape. As always, if you experience any issues on the road (in winter or otherwise), Good Sam Roadside Assistance is available to help.
Insulation is the best way to keep the inside of your RV warm while camping in winter. The floors inside your rig can get extra chilly so insulate under your feet using foam board flooring, carpeting, or rugs. Using an RV skirt is another fantastic way to keep cold air from getting underneath your RV. Not only will this option keep your toes warm, but your holding tanks and vehicle components will be nice and toasty as well.
As you may know, a lot of cold can get in and a lot of heat can escape from your RV windows. Before hitting the road, make a point to check for leaks and seal or caulk any areas that are not well covered. Use weather stripping around doors to keep moisture and cold air out. Window coverings can also make a big difference, both in function and in appearance. Foil can actually be used to reflect heat back into the camper, while heavy drapes can help ensure the heat stays in on those chilly nights. If you are looking to spend a few extra dollars, dual pane windows are the best solution for keeping warm during winter excursions. Don’t forget about your ceiling vents either! Vent cushions can be used for insulation.
As for an actual heat source, there are two main heater options to consider. The first one is a propane furnace. Before winter hits, make sure your furnace is properly running as it should, and that it is cleaned and ready to go. Use compressed air and a soft brush to remove any dirt, dust, and debris build-up from the furnace. Make sure all vents are clean and unblocked. Your second option for a heat source is electric, such as a space heater or a catalytic heater. If you have hookups, electric heat is a great way to heat your RV as it saves on propane. Space heaters can lead to moisture in your rig so make sure to crack a window or use an electric dehumidifier to avoid moisture issues going forward.
There are some important steps that need to be taken to ensure everything on the outside of your RV is ready for those winter wonderland adventures. For instance, your stabilizer jacks. To keep them from freezing directly to the ground underneath, make sure to use wood blocks beneath them. If you have slides, you will want to take care of them as well to avoid the potential of freezing.
Remember to check your awnings, overhangs, and roof. Try to keep ice and snow from accumulating on top of those areas as the additional weight could lead to damage and become a costly repair. Use sprayable antifreeze on gaskets to keep slides functioning properly. Lastly, consider using an insulated AC cover over the unit as you will, more than likely, not be using it while RV camping in the winter. Plus, an insulated cover will help protect the unit while keeping out of those dreadful winter drafts.
Camping in the winter can be an exciting adventure and allow you the chance to enjoy all the fun that snowy destinations have to offer. If you take the time to prepare as you should, you and your rig should have no trouble weathering those frosty winter storms.
Do you have experience camping in the winter? Share your advice with fellow RVers in the comments below!