By Mike Willis
Just because your RV has been winterized doesn’t mean that it has to sit parked all season. The winter is an excellent time of year to take your home away from home out on the road. If you had a long summer of competing with the social distancers for campsites, be prepared for a breath of fresh air!
While winter camping is tons of fun, it doesn’t come without its fair share of considerations. This article will provide some insight for a new winter camper who is ready to seek out some cold-weather adventure.
What About the Anti-Freeze?
While you could de-winterize your RV to head out camping, I prefer to leave it winterized. I find that it is much more convenient to use jugs of water than deal with re-winterizing upon my return. You can still pour water down the sinks and use the toilet. Just make sure to leave the water pump off and don’t open any water valves. When using the toilet, use a jug of water to flush.
At the end of your trip, simply dump your tanks as you usually would. Once your tanks are cleaned out, dump some RV anti-freeze in your sink drains to purge the P-Traps. By leaving your lines winterized, you get almost the same amount of luxury as usual without the burden of re-winterizing.
It’s Gonna Be Cold! Be Ready
When camping in very cold weather, heat certainly becomes an issue. As temperatures dip into the low 20s (and especially the teens), your propane bottles stop working effectively. Do you remember in high school science class when they talked about how a decrease in temperature causes a decrease in pressure?
Low temperatures will cause the propane inside the bottle to lose too much pressure to work efficiently. Your furnace needs a certain amount of pressure to work. Even though your bottle is half full, the furnace will begin cutting off as if you are out of propane.
Since cold weather drains batteries fast, be prepared to use a generator on your winter camping trip. Never allow your batteries to be completely depleted in freezing temperatures. You will significantly reduce the life of the battery if you let it freeze while drained.
I like to use two low wattage electric space heaters for heating my RV in the winter. I can usually run off of propane during the day. At night I will use my electric heat.
If you don’t want to use electric heaters, purchase heat trace and wrap it around your propane bottles. Once your heat trace is installed, you will need to wrap the bottles with a blanket (or something similar) to retain the heat generated by the heat trace.
A couple of tips for retaining heat in your RV:
1. When running the heat, open the cabinets up for a bit. The cabinets hold cold air. Allowing every void inside the RV to come up to temperature will help retain heat longer.
2. Close your blinds and curtains. Closing the blinds and curtains is like having double pane glass. They are great insulators. If you don’t close blinds and curtains, your windows will also sweat profusely.
When packing up your camp, don’t forget to clean snow off the top of any slides. It can be easy to forget after a long camping trip that snow and ice have built up on your slide. Forgetting to clean your slides off could cause damage to the slide when retracting it.
Since you may be driving or hauling your RV over some mountain passes, be sure to wash the salt off upon returning. Deicers are terrible for vehicles and RVs. Don’t let that stuff sit on your investment all year!
If you are having a hard time convincing the family to go winter camping, just remind them that there are no bears this time of year!