Best Tips for Cold Weather RVing

Last Updated on February 12, 2024

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Key Takeaways:

  • Top Up Your Power Sources: Ensure all power sources, including batteries and propane, are fully topped up to avoid being stranded in cold weather. Consider bringing extra propane bottles or opt for campgrounds with electric hookups.
  • Bring Extra Batteries: Pack extra batteries for small devices like lamps and heating blankets to ensure you have power throughout your trip.
  • Use Additional Insulation: Enhance the insulation of your RV with thermal curtains, reflective foil, and draft dodgers to keep warmth in and cold out.
  • Bring Lots of Warm Clothes and Bedding: Pack warm clothing, coats, and bedding to stay comfortable both inside and outside the camper. Consider using down comforters or 12V heated blankets for extra warmth.
  • Avoid Air Mattresses: Air mattresses can become cold in wintry weather, making you feel chillier than necessary. Opt for insulating options like sleeping bags or ground pads instead.
  • Bring a Mini Heater: If available, use a portable electric heater or RV heater to warm up the interior of your RV. Ensure proper placement and safety precautions, especially if using it while sleeping.
  • Do Not Forget Essential Tools and Materials: Bring essential repair tools and winter gear for emergencies, including ice scrapers and repair tools. Be prepared for winter conditions and know how to perform necessary repairs.
  • Winterize Your RV: Prepare your RV for freezing temperatures by draining and flushing tanks, adding antifreeze to pipes, and choosing a campsite with facilities if amenities like toilets and showers are unavailable due to winterization.

Cold-weather RVing can offer a unique camping experience that can be as much an adventure as warm-weather camping. If you want to experience going on a trip during chilly days or outright freezing weather, there are some things you need to do to prepare for it. 

What to Do to Prepare for Cold-Weather RVing

Top Up Your Power Sources

The last thing you want to be is stranded, especially if you are going to a not-so-busy campsite in such cold weather. So, the first thing you should do is to make sure that all of the power sources you would be using for the trip are all topped up including your batteries and propane.

In fact, you could do well with extra propane bottles, as long as you make sure that it is restrained and stored in a safe space. Make sure to consider the logistics if you are planning to do this.

Those who prefer not to bring such extra cargo should look for campgrounds with electric hookups. This way, you can simply power your RV using this resource, instead of consuming your own.

Bring Extra Batteries

Depending on how long you will be in colder weather, you should also bring extra batteries for your small devices just in case. such lamps, heating blankets, and the like. This below for example called the Jackery and it is a battery that can be charged in different ways.

Use Additional Insulation

Moving on from what you should bring to power up your things, the next thing you need to do is to address the RV itself. While these vehicles are already insulated, they could do better with additional help.

The right window coverings can help you keep the warmth in while keeping the cold out. You should grab some thermal curtains and reflective foil, which are designed to regulate the temperature inside the vehicle, no matter the weather.

Another thing you should do is to add draft dodgers to openings between doors, slides, or windows and their frames. If you feel a draft coming in through these gaps, you should install dodgers means to prevent cold air from coming in.

Bring Lots of Warm Clothes and Bedding

You want to be comfortable inside and outside of your camper, which is why you should pack a lot of warm clothes, so you can stay comfortable when staying in or going out. Appropriate clothing such as coats, warmers, snowsuits, and boots are your best bet.

However, you should also pack for sleeping. Warm pajamas combined with an insulating sleeping bag or a thick blanket. This way, you can rest easy and comfortably with minimal worries. My favorite is down comforters, those are extremely warm. However, there are cheaper options like 12V heated blankets and they don’t even use much power.

One pro tip is that if you feel the urge to urinate in the middle of the night, you should go do it. Remember, your body uses energy to keep you warm. It also uses more to hold it in. Even if it’s cold.

Do Not Pull Out Your Air Mattress

Air mattresses are convenient whether you are camping in a tent. They come in more portable packages but serve their purpose once inflated. However, you might want to leave your air mattress behind for your cold-weather camping.

This is because the air inside the mattress can turn cold when exposed to wintry weather, which can make the surface much colder to the touch, and in turn, make you feel chillier than necessary. You should go for a more insulating option such as a sleeping bag or a ground pad. If you must use an air mattress, pack a mattress topper. That might help.

Bring a Mini Heater

If you are going to a campground that has an electrical supply, you should turn on your heater or plug in a portable electric heater. This way, you can warm up while inside your RV. Just be careful with its placement to avoid any accidents, especially if you are planning to sleep with it on.

For good measure, a great move is to turn it off before going to bed, but if it is too cold you can’t. I know I can be warm in blankets down to around 40-45F, below that, I turn on the furnace for the night on a low setting around 50F so it won’t cool down too much. You can put hot water bottles in your bed before bedtime which will warm up your bed.

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Do Not Forget Essential Tools and Materials

Any responsible and experienced camper knows to bring every essential tool and materials that can save them in case of emergency while out camping in cold or hot weather. This includes vital repair tools for your vehicle, as well as gear needed for setting up camp.

For your winter camping trip, you should bring ice scrapers and other winter essentials so you can easily address issues with snow. Before going on the trip, be sure that you know how to do repairs and other essential procedures. Else, make sure to have the number of a local tower.

Winterize Your RV

One thing that may not sound attractive to campers is winterizing the RV before the trip. However, it is an essential step to protect your vehicle and its components. This involves preparing the car itself to withstand below-freezing weather.

This is typically done before storing the camper in a garage for winter. However, if you are planning to use it in freezing conditions that last for days, and you don’t have heated pipes then you should winterize your RV.

This process involves draining and flushing your tanks to make sure that no fluids are inside the containers. Remember, cold weather can freeze these fluids, which expand when frozen. This can damage your tanks and become a breeding ground for all kinds of bacteria.

Make sure to flush the pipes, as well because while your tanks may be empty, there may be remaining water in the pipes. After this, you need to add anti-freeze to the pipes, including your toilets. This will prevent it from freezing over.

If you winterized your RV before camping, keep in mind that you will not be able to use amenities that require water including your toilet, shower, sinks, and faucets.

Make sure to pick a campsite with toilet, shower, and sink facilities. You should also pack drinking water, so you can stay hydrated. Plus, storing a container of clean water for emergency purposes can be a great thing. Just keep it in a well-insulated space to prevent it from freezing.

Final Thoughts

I must admit I don’t like cold, my coldest RV nights were in Arizona in the lower 30s without electric hookups. When it gets cold, I put a hot water bottle in my bed before bedtime, I turn on my furnace on a low setting about 50F and I am able to sleep well with warm blankets. During the evening I use my wave heater but I don’t like to keep that on for the night.

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Going on a camping trip in cold weather can be intimidating, but preparedness is always key to making any adventure more enjoyable. With these cold-weather RVing tips, you can make the most out of this unique and fun experience.

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