Rewritten by Joseph Garnett, Jr. - From the Archives
November 4, 2015
For most campers, planning a summer camping trip takes very little effort. Often, it involves packing a few bags, looking at a map, gathering food and away they go. However, a winter trip requires more preparation when the days are shorter and colder. Although winter camping or RVing has challenges, being properly prepared can make for a rewarding experience. Often, most of the necessary supplies will already be inside the RV or luxury motorhome. Some additional items may need to be purchased to become fully prepared.
Here are a few tips compiled to help the winter-time camping adventure more enjoyable.
If your motorhome uses diesel fuel, consider a fuel supplement for starting your engine in cold climates. When the outdoor temperature is above 20 degrees, a luxury motorhome’s engine should be fine. However, if the temperature dips below 20 degrees, a supplement is necessary. DEF helps to keep diesel fuel from breaking apart and partially turning to gel. Gasoline engines may need a dry fuel additive to help eliminate moisture. One of the best ways to help keep your fuel from collecting moisture is to try to top off the fuel tanks prior to parking at your camping area. Topping off the tanks means there is less space for air and moisture to collect.
When a destination is only a short trip away, using the on-board water tanks and filling them at home or prior to leaving your campground, is ideal in warm months. In cold-weather months, hoses can freeze and some of the camping facilities may not even have water. So, when planning a longer stay at a campground with running water, a hose that is capable of use during cold weather is imperative. Some campers have taken regular hoses and wrapped them with pipe heater tape and foam to provide the extra insulation to help keep the water flowing.
Another option would be to buy a hose that comes equipped with built-in heat. This type hose will prove valuable, if there are plans for lots of winter camping. The heat element is built right into the hose.
Black and Grey Tanks:
When enjoying a short-term adventure, leaving the tanks closed and dumping when leaving is all that is necessary. Should the stay become a longer term, dumping periodically will be necessary. There are two ways of managing the water flow. First, consider hooking up to the campground connections, dump the water from the RV or motorhome and then disconnect and stow the hose. The second choice would be to connect to the campground’s system and let the grey water flow and close it prior to dumping the black tank.
Some coaches come with a heater built into the undercarriage stowing compartments. Use it!! If there is not one in the motorhome or RV, it can be retrofitted. The average cost is about $120. Another remedy is to install a 100-watt bulb in a small undercarriage. The bulb will emit enough heat unless the temperature is below 10 degrees Fahrenheit.
Using the furnace as the primary heat source will help solve two issues at once. The furnace also heats the basement where the pipes to the RV or motorhome are located. Using space heaters inside, means there is no heat traveling to the lower compartments where the pipes can freeze in cold weather. Frozen pipes is not something any RVer ever wants to deal with. Also, the furnace draws power from the main house battery. So, it will be necessary to run the generator to keep the batteries charged. It is always good practice to check the batteries before starting a trip to see if they are in good health.
Curtains are easy to install and act as great insulators. At nighttime, closing the curtains will help keep the heat from escaping. In the daytime, the warmth of the sun will help heat the living area. So, open the curtains and shades.
Often when the furnace is used, the air becomes dry. A humidifier restores the moisture. Caution should be taken when using the humidifier as it may create too much moisture. To alleviate the problem, try slightly opening the ceiling vent.
Winter camping can certainly be lots of fun for everyone. It’s a great way to enjoy ski adventures or simply visit families in northern states. Choosing travel days are important to avoid being on icy or snowy roads for extended periods. After each winter trip, a good washing is the best way to remove the grime and salt from the roads.
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