eing prepared is probably the most important part of winter camping and with that in mind the first thing you should do is winterize your RV. There are many different ways of doing this but in this article I will discuss what worked for us. It was trial and error and learning as we went that got us through our first winter. It was tough and dirty work but when everything was done it was very comfortable and cozy. Make sure you give yourself enough time to get everything done in time. I procrastinated and within 2 days the weather went from 40 degrees to -14 degrees with a wind chill that made it -30 degrees. I got to work in -14 degree weather, in the snow for two straight days trying to get everything situated.
The wind was screaming through the seals of the windows and door. The floor was cold to the point where you had to wear shoes and the frost would accumulate on the inside of the window seals only to melt during the warmest part of the day. The first two weeks of our winter camping adventure really got my wife and I wondering if our decision to camp during the winter was a mistake. We got hit very hard, very early into the winter season but what we learned made it a pleasurable experience in the end.
For a better understanding, you need to know what kind of RV we are living in and what needed to be fixed. We live in a 1979 Cruise Air motor home designed by Georgy Boy manufacturers. There were some things that needed to be fixed the first month we were out there, keep this in mind when purchasing an older RV.
– Power Inverter/battery charger – $245 + installation.
– Heater Blower – $195 parts + $400 installation
– Battery – $85
– New fresh water drainage hose – $3
– New Kitchen faucet washers
– Miscellaneous light bulbs and washers.
I’m going to lay this out into sections as to what needed to be done.
– Build skirting
– Insulating the plumbing
– Windows and doors
– Roof vents
– Waterproof the roof
Building the Skirting:
Skirting will help you reduce energy costs, help keep the plumbing, fresh water tank, water pump and all the hoses from freezing. We used plywood and I nailed R-13 insulation onto the plywood that would face inside. Most of the RV’s I have seen with skirting had it coming from under the RV frame but this wasn’t an option for us. The wheel wells, tanks and storage compartments where all uneven and that made it very difficult. I decided to design skirting that would give a 3″ shelf around the outside of the RV. For drawings of the skirting design visit my blog (link can be found in my profile) and the pictures are in the “drawings” tab. Measure everything twice to make sure you get the right dimensions. You will need to cut out an opening in the skirting for the steps and a couple of doors for the waste tank dumping and a storage area, if you want one.
I also drilled a 1″ hole through the skirting for the propane hose to run through. Pack around the hose with insulation to keep the wind, snow and cold out. We rented a 100 gallon propane tank that sits outside the RV so we wouldn’t have to worry about having to run and have it refilled constantly. There are many different options for this, talk to your propane company to find the plan that works best for you. We call the propane company at the end of each month and let them know what percentage is left in the tank and they come out and fill it for us, it is real convenient. Attach skirting together with 2×4’s and screws. You don’t want any gaps or cracks so make sure it all fits together snug, each corner is secure. Check all around the skirting for any openings and fill with insulation, it really helps if no wind or snow can get under your RV.
Insulating the Plumbing:
Under the RV, where the gray and black tank dumping area is, it’s a good idea to get some insulation that can be wrapped around the tanks output. Make sure to leave room so you can still get the cap on and be able to attach the dump hose. I also placed two 500 watt utility lamps, one near each tank, to help keep the tanks and outlet from freezing. Make sure the lamps are not touching the tanks or are to close to any insulation. Also add some non toxic RV anti-freeze to both tanks, this will help to keep things from freezing. Trust me, you are going to want to put some kind of Deodorant in the black tank, we use Aqua-Kem. welding hose manufacturers