The kids are back in school, days are shorter, nights are colder, leaves are changing colors and falling off the trees. For many, Fall signals the end of the RV season and time to winterize the RV, but for those of us that live in more temperate zones like Puget Sound, Fall means more opportunities to camp as campgrounds are less crowded and the weather is more exhilarating.
14 Tips to Make Cold Weather Camping More Enjoyable
1. Your RV's furnace should be ample for keeping the interior of your rig warm, but remember in addition to burning propane, it will draw upwards of seven amps of 12-volt power while operating. This could represent a considerable drain on the RV house battery if electric hookups are not available.
2. Another battery concern is the starting battery on your motorhome or tow vehicle. In cold weather, engines demand more cold cranking amps from your battery. Be sure to check that the electrolyte levels are correct and the terminals are clean and tight.
3. Place some foam rubber, fiberglass or other insulated material in your outside shower compartment and latch the door. This will keep the faucet from freezing and reduce the amount of cold air that enters your RV through the outside shower housing.
4. When camping without hookups, cook inside your RV rather than outside on a grill. The heat from your range will keep the inside of your RV toasty warm saving you from running the furnace and drawing your house battery down. A pot roast simmering in the oven will keep you cozy and the smell can’t be beat on a cold day!
5. Use heavy drapes or curtains to insulate the windows in your RV to keep the cold at bay. Do you have windows where you seldom raise the blinds like the bedroom? Buy some foil bubble wrap and custom cut a piece for each window. Not only will it keep the cold out, but the sun too allowing you to sleep in longer!
6. Insulate the inside of roof vents and skylights with custom cut blocks of styrofoam, foam rubber or vinyl covers that snap over the vents.
7. Throw rugs placed on your vinyl flooring will add insulation to the floors and keep your feet warm. You can also use them on your carpeting to protect against tracked mud and rain.
8. Check the weather stripping around the main entry and exterior baggage doors. Add or replace as necessary.
9. Are there any places where the plumbing is vulnerable to freezing weather, such as a water line that runs below the exterior refrigerator vent or through an unheated storage compartment? If so, take preventative measures to prevent freeze damage.
10. If you will be camping in extended freezing temperatures, pour a couple quarts of non-toxic, biodegradable antifreeze into each holding tank. This will keep the holding tanks from freezing solid and help protect the dump valves. Continue to add antifreeze as the holding tank fills. The P-trap in many RV showers are susceptible to freezing, so be sure to pour some antifreeze into it when showering is completed.
11. When extended freezing weather is expected, use a fresh water hose containing a heat strip or fill your fresh water tank and then drain and stow the hose.
12. Slightly open the cabinet doors of interior cupboards that contain plumbing allowing warm air from the interior of the RV to reach the pipes.
13. If you camp extensively in cold weather, consider installing electric heating pads to your exposed fresh water and holding tanks. You can purchase them at your local RV dealer or online.
14. If your campsite will be down a dirt or gravel road, will you be able to safely exit if the road becomes muddy from rain or snow covered? Choose a campsite that will maximize your exposure to the sun while minimizing exposure to wind. If you are unable to find a site that is sheltered from the wind, aim the nose or tail end of your RV into the prevailing wind to minimize the impact. If you are camping where it snows, don't let accumulating snow on the roof block the top vent of your refrigerator.
Camping in cold weather doesn't necessarily mean snow and freezing temperatures, but you should be prepared for the possibility of both. You will likely find cold weather camping enjoyable with tolerable weather and having the whole campground practically to yourself.