Tips and Tricks for Winter Camping in an RV

Winter is here, which means most RVers will be winterizing their RVs and putting them into storage for the season. But what if we told you that isn’t the only option? Some RVers instead choose to camp year-round, winterizing and storing the rig between uses but pulling it out multiple times during the winter season. 

Want to join the winter camping club and try your hand at cold weather RV camping? Here are our top tips for doing so comfortably and without damaging your rig. 

Travel trailer in winter

Skip the RV Furnace

The furnaces in RVs are notoriously inefficient, meaning they eat through fuel like crazy. Not only that, but because they run on propane, they create tons of condensation. For this reason, we recommend skipping the furnace entirely when possible. 

What should you use instead while RV camping in winter? We recommend small ceramic space heaters whenever you have access to electricity, especially if it’s included in campground fees. When boondocking, a Mr. Buddy propane heater is a much more efficient heat source than the furnace. Just be sure to crack a window for safety purposes and to let excess moisture escape.

The one time you will want to go ahead and run the furnace is if you have a heated underbelly and the temperature will be dropping below freezing. In this case, the furnace is what heats that underbelly, so running it will help keep your water lines from freezing. 

Find Ways to Eliminate Excess Moisture

As mentioned above, RV furnaces tend to put moisture out into the air, creating tons of condensation. That said, the furnace is far from the only thing that can and will create condensation in your RV. In fact, when RV camping in cold weather, condensation can become a real problem that could potentially cause major damage. 

You can reduce the amount of moisture you create by avoiding propane appliances, opting for electric options instead. Heading to a bathhouse for your shower can also help. When you do have to shower in the rig or use the propane oven or stove, be sure to open a window or vent to let the moisture escape. 

In addition to all of this, we also recommend investing in a dehumidifier and placing DampRid in any closets and cabinets that tend to collect moisture. 

Cover Windows and Vents

RVs aren’t exactly the most insulated structures on earth. Because of this, a lot of heat tends to escape through windows and vents when winter RV camping. It can also sneak out under the door. This is an issue that makes it very hard to keep the rig warm in the coldest months.

To avoid this problem, consider covering your windows and vents with Reflectix. Adding a towel or blanket at the bottom of the door will also help by preventing warm air from seeping out, while also keeping cold air out. 

Consider RV Skirting

Another way to improve the insulation on your RV for winter camping is to add RV skirting. Depending on how you go about this, it can be a fairly big job that only those with stationary rigs will want to take on. That said, there are more portable options out there for those who will be moving a lot during the colder months. 

No matter which skirting option you choose, you’re sure to see a significant improvement in the temperature of your RV. Not only that, but enclosing the underside of your RV will also help protect your plumbing system from freezing. 

Light the Underside of the RV

Looking for something to keep the underside of the RV even warmer along with your skirting while RV camping in winter? Or do you want an idea to use instead of skirting while traveling? It can be extremely helpful to place a work light under the rig to provide a bit of warmth. Not only will this help keep lines from freezing, it can also help keep mice away. 

If the light isn’t enough, consider a small space heater instead. This is sure to keep things nice and toasty. 

Invest in Hoses

A heated fresh water hose and insulated sewer hose can be incredibly helpful when RV camping in cold weather. 

A heated hose will keep fresh water from freezing as it makes its way into your rig and through the water lines. These can be purchased, making this an easy change to make as the temperatures drop. 

An insulated sewer hose, on the other hand, will have to be created by you. Even so, because an insulated sewer hose will help prevent water from freezing mid-dump, making one is definitely a good use of time. We recommend wrapping your sewer hose in heat tape and then wrapping the whole thing in pipe wrap insulation for good measure. 

RV during off-season

Keep Antifreeze on Hand

If temperatures will be dropping low while you’re winter RV camping and you’re worried the water system might freeze, having some RV antifreeze on hand can be a lifesaver. Simply pump the antifreeze through your water lines and add some to the tanks and you should be safe until the coldest weather passes. 

It should be noted that when pouring antifreeze in your tanks, it’s a good idea to empty them first if at all possible. Additionally, make sure you close the tanks before dumping the antifreeze in. Otherwise, it will all trickle out. 

As you can see, RV winter camping does take a bit of extra effort. That said, the ability to camp year-round makes this work well worthwhile. Are you ready to enjoy some cold weather camping? Grab the gear mentioned above and you’ll be ready to hit the road!

About Chelsea Gonzales

Chelsea Gonzales has been living in an RV and traveling with her family for 7 years now. She road schools her two children, using various travel experiences as lessons in history, science, geography, and more. During their time on the road, the Gonzales family has had the pleasure of touring the 48 contiguous United States as well as parts of Canada. They have learned a lot along the way and Chelsea is happy to share some of that knowledge through her writing.