The winter weather is here and snowy days and nights are on the horizon. We have put together some helpful tips to keep you safe and warm and guide you in preparing for a winter adventure. It is always a good idea to avoid snowy and icy conditions whenever possible, but you can safely travel and camp in your RV with some common sense and preparedness.
- Upgrade your tires
The road tires on your RV might not be suited for all conditions, so get fitted with some winter, or at the very least, all-season tires if you are able. Snow chains are a good idea as well if your axles accommodate them, and in some areas they are a legal requirement. Keep in mind that in California mountain areas such as the Sierra Nevada mountain passes and some other areas, a snow chain requirement means that you need to have chains on the tires of at least one axle of your trailer as well if you are pulling one.
- Prevent freezing
If your RV is planning to sit for the winter, make sure to treat your interior pipes with RV antifreeze before the cold days come. Make sure you use RV specific antifreeze specifically made for potable water plumbing. If you are traveling, instead of antifreeze a simple and highly effective method of protecting those pipes is to use heating cable, also known as heat tape. Combining the heat tape with a temperature gauge will ensure that the tape works when it needs to and can protect the pipes from conditions all the way down to -60 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Make sure you can see the road
Ice and snow can fall unexpectedly in high altitudes during the winter. The windshield wiper fluid in your RV should be replaced with low temperature fluid, which can withstand very low temperatures that may come out of nowhere. You can also mix in a small amount of isopropyl alcohol with the fluid to make it even more effective.
Dealing with freezing temperatures and ice means having a good method of de-icing your windshield as well. You can mix isopropyl alcohol and water in a spray bottle and mist it on to an icy windshield and the ice and frost will disappear. Use a solution of two thirds alcohol to one third water and keep it with you all winter long.
Keeping an ice scraper with a very long handle is also a necessity. Make sure you have a method to deal with the ice before you have to learn the hard way! Snow and ice on your windshield is dangerous for you, and a buildup of snow or ice on the roof of your RV can be very dangerous to other drivers behind you. It could even get you a ticket for an unsecured load. Bring something to push it off such as a long push broom and keep your roof clean.
- Expect road closures
Winter means potential road closures, and it is important to be prepared. When you are out adventuring you want to make sure you have a good GPS system. Relying on just your phone might be dangerous if you get too far off–grid. Make sure that if you lose signal you always have a back up, and it will help get you out of trouble and give you piece of mind.
When using your navigating tools and plotting out your course be aware that there may be closed roads and passes during the harshest months in some areas, particularly mountainous ones, that are not obvious on your GPS. Stick to major roads whenever possible.
- Be prepared for campground closures
It also may be the case that the campground or site you are planning on visiting has closed down unexpectedly due to conditions or is closed for certain months of the year. Call ahead and make sure your destination is receiving guests, and they may also give you advice on the best routes to take or certain passes to avoid.
- Comfort and safety
Think about your own comfort and that of your passengers as well. It might be hard to keep a stable temperature throughout your RV, so consider buying a space heater or two. Make sure the heater or heaters you choose have safety features such as shutting off if they get tipped over or if they detect low oxygen levels. Never use your space heater while traveling!
You might opt for a small propane heater which can do a lot for a small space. You may also consider electric blankets to ensure you never have to suffer if something goes wrong with the heating situation. Keeping a stable temperature is easier to manage if your RV has insulated covers for the windows. These can be purchased or even fashioned if you are crafty, and a little bit of insulation goes a long way.
As any RV traveler knows, keeping a supply of blankets, raincoats, 2 days of water, extra socks and coats, plus snacks and extra fuel / propane is especially crucial in the winter. Be prepared!
- Consider purchasing an all-weather RV
Many manufacturers have models specifically for cold weather. All new 2022 Lance Travel Trailers are outfitted with 4-season comfort, for example. Look for RV’s with tankless water heaters, extra insulation, and has a generator or great propane heating system.
We learn a lot from experience when it comes to winter camping, but the best thing to do is to plan ahead and be prepared. We hope you find these tips helpful on your journey and welcome you to add your own snow camping tips in the comments below. Safe travels!
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