Winter is not the time most people think about camping, unless they are heading south to warmer climates. RV camping lends itself to winter as the RV is more weatherproof than a tent. Winter RV camping requires a little more planning than camping during the rest of the year, but the rewards are great. A winter ready RV will let you camp inexpensively near major ski and winter resorts without having to pay top dollar for lodging; giving you more money to spend on skiing, snowmobiling and snowboarding.
Prepare the RV
It does not matter if your RV is a travel trailer, pop-up camper, class C or class A motor home, you can use it for winter camping. Preparing the RV for winter is important. There are a few items that must be taken care of before heading out into the freezing weather.
Winterize the RV by adding weather stripping to all doors, windows, basement areas and access panels. Check the RV from top to bottom and replace all worn seals along windows, doors and seams.
Clean out the RV furnace area. Use a can of compressed air or a soft brush to remove all dirt, debris and unwanted insects. Check the furnace to be sure that it is working properly before you head out. If your RV does not have a furnace and only has a heat pump or heat fins, you may want to look into an additional heat source as these systems are not effective if the outside temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Empty the black water and gray water tanks. Add RV antifreeze (not the same type you use in cars, this is for water systems) to the black water and gray water tanks. Insulate pipes with foam pipe insulation. You may want to consider adding electric pipe heaters if you will be in an area that has below freezing temperatures for an extended length of time.
Cut insulating foam boards (blue core or pink core) to fit around the base of your RV. The boards should fit snugly between the RV frame and the ground. This will help insulate tanks, pipes, and keep out cold air.
Replace or add insulated curtains to the RV. Hang them over the windows and keep them closed at night to hold in the heat. If you are traveling in a class C or class A RV, have an insulating curtain made to divide the cabin area from the living quarters of the RV. This will keep you warmer and save on propane or electric costs.
Winter RV camping requires that you take along a few extra items in case of emergency. Have a set of tire chains with you. A weather band radio will keep you up to date on winter weather advisories or snow storms. If you are not prepared with supplies to ride out a bad storm, get out of harm’s way as fast as possible.
Extra blankets are important. Your RV should have a sleeping bag rated for temperatures down to zero degrees available for every person traveling with you. Keep at least five gallons of fresh drinking water in the RV’s heated space in case of electrical or mechanical failure. Other emergency items should include a camping stove that does not require propane to operate, a gas powered generator, extra full LP or propane tanks, a blow dryer to defrost frozen pipes and tanks, and an emergency GPS system such as the Delorme PN-60 with SPOT Satellite Communicator, which allows you to access emergency help with the press of a button.
Call campgrounds to be sure they are open during the winter months. Boondocking or camping without hookups is not advisable in remote areas that are prone to winter storms as you may find yourself stranded with limited supplies if a surprise storm hits.
Call the local RV repair shops to see if they have winter hours. Joining a club for RV enthusiasts such as Good Sam is a smart idea when traveling in winter. Having a membership in a club may mean the difference between sleeping on the roadside in a winter storm or getting you and your family to safety.
The great thing about winter RV camping is that the rates at campgrounds are discounted, sometimes you can camp for free. This frees up money for lift tickets, gas money for “toys” and winter gear.
Have fun and be safe while winter camping in your RV. Remember to let someone know about your travel plans. Go prepared for the unexpected and have a great winter adventure.
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