Summer may seem like it was just yesterday, but it’s quickly fading in the rearview mirror. In fact, soon even fall will expire, and we’ll find ourselves smack-dab in the middle of winter.
Depending on who (and where) you are, the coldest season of the year may seem like a blessing or a curse. But one thing’s for sure: just because Jack Frost has arrived doesn’t mean you have to give up your RV camping hobby!
Cold weather RV camping is totally possible, even if you’re venturing into freezing weather. It just comes down to being prepared… which in this case means stocking up on the right gear.
So in this post, we’ll walk you through some of the winter accessories that’ll make using your RV in winter not just possible, but downright comfortable. In fact, winter camping may just become your new favorite kind!
We’ll also offer some winter RV camping tips to help you maximize those short, snowy days and get into all the frosty fun that awaits in winter wonderland.
So grab something hot to drink and settle in — but not for a long winter’s nap. Here’s what you need, and what you need to know, to make your winter into a nonstop adventure.
Classic Winter RV Camping Gear
If you’re headed to Jack Frost’s neck of the woods this winter, don’t forget to add the following accessories to your RV camping list.
1. Heated Water Hose
One thing’s for sure: winter RV camping is made significantly easier by staying in spots with hookups. It’s nice to be able to run your heater along with your furnace to double up on warmth. (Psst — if your RV HVAC system doesn’t have an electric heater, you might want to hop on down to the second item in this list!)
But hookups can only take you so far. If the temperature falls below freezing overnight, you could wake up with your water source frozen… which has a variety of consequences, all of which are not exactly attractive. For one thing, you’ll immediately notice you don’t have water flowing from your taps or showerhead. But if it’s cold enough, your entire water hose could be frozen, which can lead to cracks, leaks, and altogether an unexpected (and uninvited) mess.
Many campers wrap their water hoses in protective tape to help insulate them, but if you want to take the easy (and more reliable) way out, a heated water hose is a no-brainer investment. Although it’s a bit pricy up front — on the order of about $100 — it’s an item you shouldn’t have to buy more than once, and it makes keeping your water source flowing a breeze. Just attach the hose to your RV as per usual, and plug the attached thermostat into the shore power line. Your hose will keep your water warm enough to avoid freezing without using more energy or electricity than necessary — and you can even choose hoses that will protect your water supply down to -40 degrees Fahrenheit. (Which, we have to say, might be a little too cold even for the most extreme campers!)
2. Space Heaters
Even if you consider yourself warm-blooded, winter RV camping is sure to make you shiver. After all, even 4-season, winter-ready RVs with as much insulation as possible are pretty flimsy as compared to sticks-and-bricks homes, which means the cold seeps in through the seams and cracks, especially during the night time while you’re sleeping.
Indoor space heaters may be one of the simplest items on this list of winter RV gear, but to be sure, you’ll be glad you have them if you need them. Small, quiet, and operable using your electric hookups, space heaters can make a huge difference in RVs where the existing HVAC situation isn’t that strong or powerful. Space heaters are also a great way to keep your plumbing system safe if there’s a freeze warning overnight, as your pipes may not get as much heat as the rest of the RV’s interior.
That said, if it dips below freezing, be sure you’re using your onboard propane furnace to do the bulk of your RV’s heating! Electric heaters weren’t designed to deal with extreme cold, and they can easily overheat and wear out when they’re overtaxed in these conditions.
Extreme Cold Weather RV Trip Planned? You Need These Goodies!
Keeping your RV warm in winter is all about the little details. Here’s how to deal with the extreme cold weather in your RV, whether you find yourself in snow, ice, or hail.
3. Dicor (or other sealant)
This may seem a strange pick for a list of winter RV items… but hear us out. Any seals in your rig that aren’t as airtight as possible are places just begging to be infiltrated by cold weather, which is why going around your RV and resealing the doors and windows can be a huge help in preventing the cold. In some cases, you may also need to replace the weather stripping around the exterior doors, which can also help prevent water damage in the long run. It’s a winter win-win!
4. RV Antifreeze
Although it’s non-toxic, you definitely won’t want to introduce RV antifreeze into your plumbing system if you’re planning on actually using your RV over the season. But if you’re planning to winterize your RV and put it in storage, RV antifreeze can help ensure your sensitive plumbing system is good to go next spring… which is definitely preferable to being ready to get on the road only to find your RV filled with freeze-damaged pipes.
RV antifreeze is available almost everywhere, from automotive stores to Amazon. But we recommend upgrading to one that’s based on propylene glycol rather than ethanol; this substance is much less harsh to your RV plumbing system and its fittings, while ethanol will dry out and degrade your plumbing system’s parts over time. And make sure to bypass your RV’s hot water heater before you start pouring in the pink stuff! Once you get antifreeze into your heater, it’s really hard to get out, so it’s better to avoid it altogether.
5. Blow Out Plug
Not interested in introducing RV antifreeze into your rigs pristine tanks? We get it — and fortunately, there’s an alternative option.
A blow out plug allows you to use compressed air to make sure your rig’s system is good and dry inside, which prevents water damage caused by water in your pipes freezing and expanding. Some people say even the high-quality antifreeze does impart a certain not-so-savory flavor to your water supply, so this is a great option if you’d rather not risk it. (Plus, it’s super cheap; you can get a blow out fitting for less than $10 on Amazon!)
What You Need to Know About Cold Weather RV Camping
Having the right winter RV items goes a long way toward ensuring you stay comfortable while cold weather camping. But updating your packing list is only one small part of the overall picture!
For example, choosing destinations with lots of sunshine can help you mitigate even the coldest temperatures. (Ever seen a picture of someone snowing in Colorado in a T-shirt? That’s because the dry air and bright days make those 40-degree days seem downright temperate, though you’ll certainly still have to deal with cold nights.)
Another important thing is to understand how to dress properly in the wintertime. It’s not just about throwing on as many pieces of clothing as you own! Proper winter dressing involves choosing moisture-wicking layers to keep you dry and warm even if you end up sweating, which is all too easy to do when you’re busy adventuring. Plus, using layers allows you to peel off (or put back on) clothing as you need it, rather than being stuck with one big warm item (like a super-heavy coat) and either freezing when it’s off or overheating when it’s on.
Looking for more winter RV tips? We’ve got ’em! Check out the following RVshare blog posts to help you stay warm and cheery in this cold, drab season.
- The 7 Most Beautiful Winter RV Trips for Those Who Love the Snow
- 5 Reasons we Love Winter RVing
- Common Winter RV Problems and How to Fix Them
- How to Set Up Your RV Campsite in Winter
- RV Hot Water Heater Bypass Valve and Drain Valve for Easy Winterization
Happy (winter) camping, and stay warm out there!
This post may contain affiliate links.