Cold Weather Camping Tips and Tricks
RV campers who love the open road and the quiet of getting away from things may have noticed that the road has recently been a little less open and the campsites a little less quiet. The COVID pandemic has caused a boom in RV camping that has increased traffic to popular destinations. But if it’s quiet you seek, there’s a solution. You can still enjoy the social interactions of the warm spring and summer months, while seeking solace in the hush of snow falling on cedars . . . and aspens . . . and firs. Oh my!
There’s just nothing like hunkering under a blanket near a fire, roasting s’mores, watching your breath steam against the chilly air, and listening to the quiet of an unpopulated campsite. But if you’re going to set out into the cold, set yourself up for an enjoyable experience by preparing for the elements.
- Insulation is key
- You can do a lot to protect the plumbing and circuitry that runs beneath your RV (and help keep the interior warmer) by protecting your undercarriage with insulated skirting board. This keeps the conduction of cold winter winds from causing things to freeze.
- Be sure to check window and door caulking and weather stripping are in good condition. Replace or reseal where necessary.
- Insulate interior windows with foil coated insulation board to seal heat in, or if you want a little light, try using plastic bubble wrap cut to fit. For those windows where you want to maintain a view, be sure to use heavy curtains to insulate when you close them at night.
- Speaking of curtains, you can cut down on heated space by separating your driver’s compartment from your living area with heavy floor to ceiling curtains.
- Insulate your floors with either foam board or with throw rugs to help keep heat in and your feet warm.
- Protect your equipment
- If you travel in extremely cold areas, you may want to install an engine warmer in your engine compartment. Be sure to warm the engine for several hours before starting.
- Remember that your battery requires more amps to start in cold, so always check that electrolyte fluids are topped off and that your battery is in good condition when you travel in cold weather.
- Fill your interior water tank and then detach the hose to prevent freezing, or opt for a hose with a heating element to prevent ice blockage.
- Pour a little antifreeze in your holding tanks and only dump when necessary to prevent valves and contents from freezing.
- Let cabinets and drawers where pipes run stand slightly open so interior heating reaches them more readily.
- Use wooden blocks beneath your stabilizing jacks so that they don’t freeze to concrete pads.
- Use heat wisely
- Because of the draw on battery power created by your furnace, it’s a good idea to set it to 45 degrees fahrenheit and then supplement with other heating sources.
- Use the right heat source for you. Choices include catalytic heating, which produces no carbon monoxide and requires no electricity; electric heaters, which you should monitor for fire safety; and fueled heaters, which must be used carefully because of fire and carbon monoxide hazards.
- Remember that heating will cause potentially damaging moisture, so a dehumidifier may be necessary. You will also want to check that smoke alarms and CO detectors are in good working order and have fresh batteries. Do not block vents if you are using a carbon monoxide producing source!
- Cook inside rather than outside. Your stove or oven can help keep your interior space cozy, with the added benefit of those delicious smells!
- Park your RV in the sun to promote snow melt and to help warm the interior during the day.
- Be prepared
- Bring zero degree rated sleeping bags with you and plenty of extra blankets in case of emergencies.
- A hot water bottle or a microwaveable gel pack is a nice way to make your sleeping space a little cozier during the winter months.
- Hand warmers and heated gloves or socks are a great way to rewarm those extremities when they get chilled.
- Carry extra food and water stored in a warm area, and a back up stove with liquid fuel in case of power outages or other emergencies.
- Stock up on road gear like a snow shovel, snow chains, antifreeze, and cat litter, grit, or sand (which can give you traction).
- A blow dryer on hand can help you quickly thaw frozen lines or other equipment.
Ivan Young is a writer from Happy Writers, Co. in partnership with Pakmule hitch rack carriers.