This is not the kind of RV camping we normally do! But since we are on #MOUNTAINTRIBE time in Northern Arizona, we got hit with a little winter weather. This blog post and video is everything I’ve learned about RVing in the winter after nearly 6 years of RV living full-time.
Have you tried any of these tips? Let us know in the comments, plus what additional tips would you share with winter RV newbies?
- If you have not purchased your RV yet, consider upgrading (if offered) to an artic package. It might also be called a cold weather package, winter package, etc. depending on the type of RV you are purchasing. These packages will handle the cold weather better with upgrades like: double pained windows, better insulation and more. We didn’t have that option because we purchased our Grand Design Momentum used.
- Before heading out on your winter RV trip, get your RV prepared for it! Have your RV inspected and serviced if needed, especially the furnace. Add these items to your packing list:
Backup heat solution like Mr. Heater Buddy
warm clothing, boots
RV skirting or insulation
RV safe antifreeze
- If you are planning a short trip for skiing, hunting, etc. consider winterizing or keeping your RV winterized. You can’t take a shower or wash dishes, but as long as you keep a mix of antifreeze and water in your fresh water tank, you can still use the bathroom. Make sure you use the right RV safe antifreeze, known as the pink stuff. You can always use the campground facilities if they have one or if they are open in the winter, many will be closed.
The rest of these tips are for living as close to normal in your RV during the winter:
- Watch the temperature! As soon as the temperature is forecasted to get around freezing or below do these things:
- Turn on your RV tank heaters if you have them. They will be on or near your RVs monitor panel. If your RV did not come with tank heaters, consider adding them before your trip.
- These are items are recommended, but we do not have them because we don’t plan on being in this cold of weather very long (crossing our fingers!)
- Double check before you hook up your water hose. If there is water still in it, it might be frozen. You will have to thaw it out before you can use that hose. One option is to fill up your fresh water tank and disconnect, drain and store your hose. That way you won’t have to worry about it freezing up.
- Consider only hooking up your sewer hose when you plan on using it. By keeping your sewer hose in storage, you won’t have to worry about it freezing up and the dreaded poopsicle! Ewe! If you are leaving your sewer hoses connected to your RV, make sure you use a sewer support to help them to drain completely. (Not like what I did in the video haha!)
- Use propane heat instead of electric heat or supplement with propane heat. We usually use electric space heaters and our fireplace to stay warm when it’s not below freezing outside. Why? Electricity is usually included in our camping fees so we save on our propane costs by using electric heat as much as possible. When you pay for your electricity, it’s usually cheaper and better to heat with propane. Plus using propane usually heats the underbelly and storage and keeps your internal pipes from freezing. Of course that depends on the RV you have. A word of caution when using space heaters. Make sure they have plenty of space around them so nothing gets too hot. Also purchase space heaters that have a built in shut off it they overheat or get kicked over.
BONUS TIP: Put a space heater in front of the air intake inside your RV. Then turn on your RV fan. In theory, this will help heat your RV evenly, but I’m guessing if it is too cold outside, this won’t help. I’ve never done it before so let us know in the comments if it works for you.
- Open your RV cabinets up underneath your sinks. This will help the heat get to your pipes on especially cold RV trips.
- Have some kind of back up heat available. If your main heat source like propane runs out or your furnace breaks down, you would be in a tough spot on a cold night. We have the electric space heaters and our fireplace for backup heat. So what if you are boondocking and without regular power? A popular choice is the Mr. Heater Buddy, it’s propane powered and safe to use inside. Let us know if you have tried it and how it works for you.
- You can save some of that heat by keeping your RV shades pulled down. Better yet would be to insulate your RV windows. You can use plastic film or a foil backed foam insulation on your windows. Consider using some of that insulation in your roof vents.
- If you will be RVing in winter long-term at one spot, consider skirting or insulating underneath your RV.
- If condensation is an issue, use vents as much as your temperature allows especially when cooking or showering. Cook outside if you can or use your grill. You may also have to get a dehumidifier.
- Take care of your tow vehicle! Make sure your truck or tow vehicle’s antifreeze is tested as good or get it serviced. Have the proper cold weather windshield fluid as well. If you have a diesel engine make sure you have the right fuel supplement along to stop gelling if necessary.
- Carefully and safely clear the snow off your RV before traveling, especially the tops of slides and slide toppers. Your slides will not close properly when loaded with snow. Ice can also form in the tracks on slides. You can spray them in advance with antifreeze or use a hair dryer. I did that years ago with our first RV. We got caught in a blizzard and I had to use a hairdryer to melt the ice in the tracks before bringing in the bedroom slide. Easier yet would be to bring in the slides before a snowstorm or really cold night. I did this on the way back to Minnesota while winter camping, it was 25 below! Why do that? It’s less space to keep heated when your slides are pulled in. Also not safe for other drivers to have chunks of snow and ice flying off your RV when travelling.
- Don’t forget to have fun!
What did you think of these winter RVing tips? Let us know and also share your tips for staying warm in your RV during the winter.
Thank you for reading, watching, subscribing and sharing this with your RV friends. Safe travels and say hi if you see us on the road!
Tom, Cheri & Logan
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