RV Camping in Winter
It’s already August. Autumn soon will be giving way to winter. Unless you’re getting ready to head south, it’s time to prep and store your RV, right? Not necessarily. Cold winds and snow don’t have to put an end to your RV adventuring. With some thought and preparation, you can enjoy the RV lifestyle year-round.
When water freezes, it expands. This can damage pipes, hoses and holding tanks. The best solution is to keep them empty as much as possible. Have a gallon of water handy that you can pour into the toilet when you are ready to use it. Fill your fresh water tank, then disconnect your hose and empty it (never store hoses with water still in them). Empty your black and grey water holding tanks before you start your trip. Add antifreeze (made specifically for RVs) to help avoid freezing. Add it to through your sink or shower for grey-water tanks and through your toilet for black-water tanks. Insulate and, when possible, heat all of the hardware that holds water. For example, special heating pads can be purchased that are specifically designed for holding tanks.
It’s important to keep the heat inside and the cold outside. Be sure that windows and doors seal tight. Caulk the windows, if necessary. Make sure all weatherstripping is in good shape. Make well-insulated curtains (the material used for oven mitts is a good choice) for all of your windows. You can also cut pieces of foil-backed foam insulation to fit your windows. Class A and Class C owners can create an insulated curtain that divides the living area from the cockpit, reducing the area that needs to be heated. If your RV isn’t carpeted, throw rugs can help insulate the floor (and keep those toes warm during a trip to the toilet in the middle of the night). You’ll also want to address the roof vents. Foam insulation cut to size is one way to go or, for a little more money, you can get special pillows designed to fit in the vents.
Of course, all of the insulation in the world won’t matter if you don’t have a heat source. Your best source of heat is a factory vented heater. Be sure to test it before you begin your trip. Unvented propane heaters, electric space heaters and catalytic heaters are okay as suppliments. You’ll want to keep a window cracked for ventilation, and with propane you’ll want to be sure there’s a refill station within reach. One nifty alternative is the wood-burning stove. Wood burners made specifically for RV camping are available, and put out quite a bit of heat. You can cook on them and use them to heat up your RV without adding any moisture to the air.
Why is humid air a concern? Condensation, mold and mildew. Use an electric dehumidifier or purchase packets of dessicant crystals to help control the humidity. Crack a window to vent the moisture. You really don’t want to wake up to walls and a ceiling coated with ice.
And don’t forget nature’s heat source, the sun. When you choose a camping spot, try to park where you can benefit from hours of sunlight.
When you park, place boards under your tires and jacks. One balmy day could turn your camping site into a quagmire, stranding your RV in mud. Once parked, use insulated boards or fender skirts to help keep cold air from underneath the RV. Since there’s times when the weather will keep you inside your RV for hours, you might be tempted to invest in a TV. If so, go for an LED set, not LCD. The latter will freeze if it gets too cold.
There’s more work and planning involved when you decide to go camping in the winter, but there’s benefits as well. Year-round campgrounds will be far less crowded during the winter months, and nature provides plenty of serene beauty.