What No One Tells Newbies About Winter RV Camping

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Lush green grass, blue sky, and pleasant weather. That’s what comes to mind when you think of RV camping, right? Well, I used to imagine something similar until I found myself stuck in my RV in the middle of a freezing winter!

Whether you have experienced it or not, Winter RV camping is a different ballgame altogether. You need to be prepared well to survive and enjoy it. 

In this article, I will shed light on some secrets no one shares about winter RV camping!

What Did No One Tell Me About Winter RV Camping?

I thought winter RV camping would be similar to its warm summer counterpart. I couldn’t be more wrong! 

Here’s how it differs: 

  • It can be rough: With temperatures falling below 32 Fahrenheit, you must be prepared for extreme cold weather. 
  • It can be expensive: Not only will you be spending on extra gear/equipment, but winter resort prices also shoot up in winters!
  •  It requires planning: You need to plan ahead of the season to install the necessary applications so that you are prepared for the showdown.

So, let’s talk about winter RV camping secrets that no one whispers in the wild!

1. Get Ready for a Bumpy Ride

Driving an RV when it’s snowing is something you need to plan for in advance. Here are a few tools that you need to have:

  • Tire Chains: These increase your tire grip, which is super useful when driving on snowy roads. 
  • Shovel: A shovel can come in handy if you want to remove a couple of feet of snow from your RV.
  • Engine Block Heater: This device can heat your engine before starting and is quite useful in freezing temperatures.

A case can also be made for getting your hands on a 4WD drive for rough roads. A 4WD can indeed get you out of rough spots more easily than a 2WD drive.

Pro-tip: Always have a few reliable apps on you to check the weather forecast when you are traveling. AccuWeather and The Weather Channel are my go-to options.

2. Insulation is Your Best Friend

A lot of RV enthusiasts miss out on the importance of insulation until they find themselves stuck in bone-chilling weather in an RV park! Yes, I may be talking about myself here. Here’s why insulation is your best friend in winter RV camping.

  • It keeps you warm and comfortable inside, whether traveling or parked at a resort.
  • It protects your appliances and plumbing from cold chilly winds.

How to Insulate your RV for the Winter?

If you are worried about where to start, don’t worry; I was in the same boat as you. 

Here’s what I did: 

  • Roof Vent Insulation: I used a foam board to insulate my roof vents, and that got me through the winter.
  • Window Insulation: I used Reflectix to make an insulation barrier for my RV windows to keep the winter winds out. I also added an extra layer of curtains/drapes to increase the insulation.
  • Floor Insulation: You can go for automotive insulation that can provide an extra layer of warmth. Otherwise, going for thick carpets will also do the trick!

Pro-tip: I will also advise you to check all windows, doors, and vents to ensure they work properly before jumping on the road.

3. Don’t Forget Your RV’s Underbelly (Literally!)

It’s reassuring to know that you are keeping warm and doing great inside your RV. However, your RV may not be doing so great in freezing weather. This is because many parts of your RV will be exposed to cold winds, sleet and snow.

The most common and efficient solution to protect the outside of your RV is to skirt it. 

Here’s how it works: 

  • The skirt is tied around the RV, keeping chilly winds outside and protecting the plumbing system inside.
  • Ideally, you should go for a skirt that is easy to install and remove (in case you need to move).
  • I prefer a skirt made of insulated vinyl as it offers greater value than other fabrics on the market.

Story: I was too lazy to install the RV skirt as I only planned to stay a short while near a ski resort. The weather turned bad really quickly, and my external plumbing and pipes took a full hit! What lesson did I learn? Don’t be lazy!

4. Keep a Tap on Running Water (Pun Intended)

Having running water in your RV is bliss. I learned it the hard way when I realized you need special tools to keep the water running in the winter! 

Here’s my curated list of what you must have:

  • A heated water hose: This beauty works in freezing temperatures (up to -20 Fahrenheits) and is a very efficient solution. You simply need to connect it to a water supply, and it will work its magic. Depending on your need, you can get it in different lengths (12ft, 25ft, 50ft).
  • Heat tape for pipes: You can also use heat tape to keep your plumbing afloat in cold temperatures. Simply use the heat tape around your hoses and pipes to safeguard your equipment from freezing.

Story: So, my friend advised me to keep a small backup of freshwater tanks inside my RV in case the weather gets rough. It turns out that the advice was really helpful, and the freshwater tanks really helped me get through when it was snowing for hours. 

5. An External Heat Source is a Must

While having confidence in your RV’s heating system is always admirable, sometimes getting an additional heating source may be helpful.

A space heater is a great idea if you are indoors. You can use it to warm yourself and the RV components as well. I got mine for under $50 and it is hands down one of the best investments I ever made.

Checking up on your propane storage is another good idea. In most cases, propane will be your primary mode of heating source as it is cost-efficient and easy to install. 

Pro-tip: You can also go for a diesel heater to keep your van warm. Unlike propane, it does not produce moist air and is not hazardous. It can also keep the temperature up in freezing weather!

6. Only Dump When Full

You also need to be careful around your tanks if you don’t want any gross surprises. I will not advise you to dump waste from your gray and black tanks frequently as the cold can freeze the content. Here’s what you can do

  • Get an antifreeze: Throw a little antifreeze inside the tanks to protect it from freezing. 
  • Be smart about dumping: Only dump once in a while when you are sure your tanks are almost full.

Pro-tip: You can winterize your external plumbing by cutting it off to ensure it doesn’t freeze over.

7. Get Gear to Keep You Warm

Having proper gear for winter RV camping is essential. If you don’t cover up properly, you can run into serious trouble, including health-related problems. 

Here’s what I always keep 

  • Warm blankets: A wool or a cotton fleece blanket is both comfortable and will keep you warm. 
  • Thermal clothing: Go for moisture-free thermal wear that can keep you warm from the inside. 
  • Snow boots: Get a pair that is waterproof, lightweight, warm, and easy to walk in.
  • Accessories: Thick gloves, hats, and scarves can also come in handy in snowy weather. 

Pro-tip: Get a heating pad or warm water bottle for extra warmth when sleeping. It really helps!

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These are a few things that I was never told about winter RV camping. I hope you can get an advantage from a fellow van enthusiast. To all of you planning winter RV camping this year, good luck. It’ll be a memorable experience. 

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