Welcome to “Ask an RV Expert,” the advice column where RVillage experts answer your questions about common RV maintenance problems.
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Dear RVillage Expert: I’m looking for some winter camping advice. What things should we do or buy? —Anita C.
When it comes to RVing during the winter months, some like it hot, while others like to keep things cold. That’s right, believe it or not, there are RVers who refrain from escaping to warmer temperatures and instead embrace the cold, blustery winter elements. While cold-weather RVing can offer an immersive, winter wonderland experience unlike any other camping season, it does require more gear, preparation, and awareness.
Are you ready to bundle up and take on the cold in your RV? Here are a few tips and gear recommendations for safe, successful winter camping.
Insulation. When camping in cold temperatures, insulating your rig is crucial. From your windows to the underbelly of your RV, here’s how you can insulate and protect vital areas.
- Use Reflectix for your RV windows, cabinets, and closets.
- Weather stripping can be used to insulate door trim and slide-outs; however, keeping slides in during extremely cold conditions is the best option.
- Consider covering your floors with heavy rugs or mats to keep heat from escaping and cold air from coming inside.
- RV skirting is the best way to keep cold air from entering the underbelly of your rig, plus it can help protect your plumbing and other important components from freezing temps.
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Plumbing protection. You’ll also need to protect your RV’s plumbing system. This means keeping your water lines, tanks, and sewer hose safe from damage that can be caused by the cold. If you’re expecting temps to dip below freezing, consider taking these steps to protect your rig:
- Invest in a heated water hose and consider insulating your sewer hose, if you have to stay connected during your trip.
- Keep cabinet doors open inside your bathroom and kitchen sink areas so your pipes are receiving heat from inside your RV.
- Put RV antifreeze in your holding tanks when you know the temps will be below freezing.
- If you’re expecting multiple days of freezing weather at a campground, it might be best to winterize your RV’s plumbing and use the campground’s restroom and shower facilities instead. Just remember to pack plenty of drinking water to keep in your rig.
Heating solutions. Purchase a portable heater so you’re not using all of your propane to heat the interior of your rig. There are several propane and electric heating systems on the market that are perfect for RVing. Heated blankets can also go a long way on a cold day of camping.
Campsite location. When choosing your campsite, look for sites that are blocked from the wind and receive the most sunlight. Also, dig your site out from any snowfall before parking, and consider what the area will look like in the event of significant accumulation. You don’t want to park somewhere that will be impossible to leave after a winter storm.
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Check batteries. Before taking off on a winter camping trip, check to make sure that your batteries are functioning properly and that they’re fully charged. If your battery isn’t up to par, consider replacing it before you leave.
Pack layers. From hats, jackets, gloves, and socks to blankets and sleeping bags, staying safe and warm means you’ll need to bring extra clothing items and camping items on your journey. Having too many layers is always better than too few when it comes to winter temps.
Be prepared and aware. Winter camping can be a fun, whimsical experience, as long as you’re prepared for everything the season can throw your way. A little prep can make a huge difference when it comes to taking on the cold.
- Check the forecast regularly for both your destination and stops along your travel route.
- Pack recovery gear such as shovels, traction boards, tow straps, ice melt, and even tire chains.
- Always bring extra drinking water and food.
- Consider purchasing a satellite GPS device so you can contact emergency responders in the event you lose cell phone coverage.
- Tell a trusted loved one where you’re going, how long you’ll be camping, and what route you’ll be taking. Regularly check in with them so they know your status.
- Drive slow, have fun, and remember to embrace the season.
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