Winter RV camping offers a break from the bustling summer season and a chance to relax in the beautiful snowy outdoors. Winter RV trips can be an affordable way to explore a popular ski destination or enjoy other outdoor winter recreation. If you are considering taking your RV out this winter, don’t let the cold weather get in your way.
Before you embark on a winter RV trip, make sure your camper is in the best condition to face the cold. By preparing your camper for harsh weather, you can protect your engine and other RV components from freezing and other damage. An adequately insulated RV will keep you and your family warm to make your winter camping experience more comfortable and enjoyable. Installing insulation is one of the best and simplest ways to keep a camper warm in the winter. Insulation around the base of the RV can also effectively block cold winter winds from damaging RV piping and sucking heat out of the camper.
Wind blowing underneath your RV can cause water tanks to freeze and suck heat out. Installing RV skirting around the base of the RV can block cold winds from damaging vehicle components and chilling the interior. 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 bonus of reflecting heat back into the camper. Thick fabric drapes block cold drafts around windows and keep warm air in during chilly evenings.
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. Wrap your freshwater hose and sewer hose 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. Instead of connecting your RV to external water sources, fill the internal freshwater tank to use as your primary water source. This allows you to disconnect and safely store your freshwater hose. Adding a small amount of antifreeze in holding tanks can protect the valves from freezing. Only dump tanks when they are full to reduce the risk of freezing. Keep waste valves closed when not in use. Another simple technique to increase the temperature inside your RV is to park it in the sun. A sunny campsite allows the sun to naturally heat your RV and help melt any snow on the roof of your trailer. A spot with some protection from wind also helps to keep your RV warm. If you do have to park in a windy area, position your RV so the wind hits the front of the RV rather than the sides.
Make sure your batteries are fully charged and securely connected. Batteries that are only partly charged are much more likely to freeze or die in cold temperatures. Check your engine antifreeze and refill it with the proper concentration of antifreeze and water. While water may be effective for cooling an engine in warmer months, using at least 50 percent 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.
Check your RV furnace before your winter camping trip to ensure it is in proper working condition. If camping in extremely cold temperatures, it is 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. Check the furnace vents for any damage or obstructions that could prevent air from flowing properly and check that the furnace air return is not blocked. Space heaters and catalytic heaters can make a huge difference for staying warm in a camper in winter. Remember that these heating methods can add moisture to the air which may cause damage to your engine and other RV components. Condensation in the engine or pipes can cause corrosion, and moisture inside your RV may lead to mold. Use a dehumidifier to remove excess moisture if necessary and keep your RV warm and dry.
When packing for winter travel trailer camping, it is best to prepare for even colder weather than you expect and bring back-up 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 should a freeze-up or breakdown occur. When choosing clothing for your winter RV camping, look for waterproof and insulated options. Prepare for any adventure by bringing several different layers, and remember that you can always take layers off if the temperature rises. A lot of body heat can escape from your head and feet if they are not protected. Choose a warm hat and socks to stay cozy in cold temperatures. When the temperature drops in the evening, you can bundle up with extra blankets and warm clothes. If you get wet in the snow or rain, extra clothing is essential to keep you warm. Prepare for fluctuating winter temperatures by packing several different base layers made of insulating and breathable materials, like fleece and wool. Choose a winter coat that is waterproof and sufficiently warm to protect against snow and freezing rain. Bring a sleeping bag that is rated for zero degree temperatures or lower for extra warmth while sleeping. Waterproof and insulated gloves or mittens are perfect for playing in the snow or hiking in cold weather. Waterproof snow boots are a must for walking outside in snowy and wet conditions. The sun sets earlier in the winter, so you may get caught in the dark when hiking or exploring outdoors. Bring a headlamp to navigate your campsite in the evening. A battery-powered lantern can also help light up your campsite at night. When RV camping in the winter, you may need to dig your camper out of the snow. If you do not have skirting, a shovel is also useful for shoveling snow away from RV pipes to prevent freezing. If you get caught driving in the snow, RV tire chains or GripTrax traction tool can greatly improve traction on mountain roads.
Remember that at the end of the day, camping should be fun! If your RV gets too cold during your winter camping trip, there is no shame in heading into the campground facilities to warm up or booking a cabin instead of shivering outdoors. But if you love winter RV camping, then facing some snow and cold is worth it to enjoy the beautiful outdoors all winter long.