Winter RVing looks like a magical experience in the spectacular photos I’ve seen on Instagram over the past few weeks. (Thank you polar vortex.) However, the comments under some of those photos reveal the challenges of RVing in the winter.
I’m a Floridian and the prospect of RVing in the snow is very exciting. Curt doesn’t share my enthusiasm… yet. Thanks to many nomads who’ve pioneered cold weather RVing, there are plenty of tips to help us stay warm and keep our rigs working properly on a winter RV trip.
Even if you don’t plan on driving or camping in the snow, you might get caught in an unexpected winter storm. One tip that I’ve seen over and over again during my research is all RVers need to have the right tools and supplies onboard in case of inclement weather.
DRIVING IN SNOW
Although traveling in the winter might not be your cup of tea, it’s helpful to know that you can safely drive an RV in snowy and icy conditions should the need arise.
- Keep an ice scraper in your RV.
- Purchase and use the right snow chains for your motorhome, truck and/or toad.
PREPARING RV WATER SYSTEM FOR WINTER
One option for protecting your RV water system against cold-weather damage is winterizing it and using only campground toilets, sinks and showers. You would also need to store plenty of drinking water in your RV.
Click here to download the Winterizing RV Checklist by Drive to RV.
If you’re boondocking when a severe winter storm hits, you should expect your plumbing to freeze and prepare for that. Fill up a tub or bucket, Brita and/or Berkey water filter with fresh water. Then, turn off your water pump, open all faucets, and flush your toilet until all water is flushed out. Once it warms up, you should be able to turn on your water pump and use the water system without any issues.
To keep your water running and prevent damage to your RV plumbing while you’re hooked up at a campground, you need to retain heat under your rig and around piping and hoses that are located outside. Here are some tips for keeping your RV water system components warm and operational.
- Use a heated RV drinking water hose.
- Install RV tank heaters.
- Wrap your water pipes with heating cables and pipe insulation.
- Run small electric space heaters in storage bays with plumbing. Make sure the heaters have an emergency shut-off and follow the directions.
- Install reflective insulation shield on doors to storage bays with plumbing.
- Wrap the bottom of your rig with an RV skirt. If you don’t have an RV skirt, you can pack snow around the RV bays.
KEEPING THE COLD OUT
Preventing the cold from entering your RV is important for you and your rig! Follow the steps below to keep drafts to a minimum.
- Insulate your slide-outs by placing reflective insulation shield around each slide-out once they’re extended outside.
- Use a windshield cover, preferably one with Reflectix.
- Separate the cab from the living area by draping an industrial blanket or heavy-weight thermal curtains from the cabover bed or ceiling to the floor.
- Insulate your windows with a window insulator kit, Reflectix, and/or heavy-weight thermal curtains.
- Insert RV vent insulators in all vents.
- Stuff the stairwell with blankets, pillows or a large foam block.
- Put area rugs or connecting foam flooring blocks on the floor.
STAYING WARM, DRY & COMFORTABLE
You should be able to stay warm and dry inside of your RV during the winter. The following measures will keep you comfortable in your home on wheels throughout most winter storms.
- Use space heaters. There are several types of space heaters (i.e., electric, propane, alcohol, etc.) No matter what kind of heater you decide to use, follow the directions and use a carbon monoxide alarm. A few space heaters that come highly recommended on RV blogs and Amazon are:
- Run your stove.
- Use your cast iron skillet to cook a meal and leave it on top of the stove afterwards.
- Sleep on a heated mattress pad.
- Use an electric blanket or layer several blankets on top of you with the top one being a down comforter or wool blanket.
- Wear layers of clothing and don’t wear cotton:
- Upper Body – shirt, wool sweater, hoodie, down jacket, and insulated coat
- Lower Body – tight leggings, fleece pants, and pants or jeans (For extreme cold, wear Carhart coveralls when you go outside.)
- Feet – heavy nylon socks, wool socks, and Baffin Base Camp Slippers
- Head – heavy insulated hat
- Hands – heavy insulated gloves
Now, all that heat in one confined space can lead to humidity and condensation, which can cause mold in your RV. Steps you can take to prevent or remove moisture are:
It sounds like winter RVing can be tons of fun with some planning and preparation. It’s also apparent that staying warm in your rig on chilly winter mornings and cold evenings makes all the difference between having a wonderful time and wishing you were in a sticks-n-bricks.
Do you have any tips for staying warm in an RV during the winter?
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