Rather than swimming pools and flip flops it’s time to think about campfires and hiking boots.
Fall and winter camping season is here. Autumn ushers in shorter days, colder nights, spectacular landscapes and prime RV camping season. There’s just something about getting the sweatshirts and sweatpants out and sitting around a campfire gazing at a star-filled sky that makes cold weather camping special. As for the RV, you want to make sure the furnace is operating properly prior to taking any cold weather camping trips.
You can enjoy a trip to the mountains or a solitude journey to the beach after all the swimmers and sunbathers are gone for the season. You can go tailgating at a college football game or plan a Thanksgiving RV trip with family and friends.
The point is just because summer is over doesn’t mean camping season is over. You can enjoy camping in colder regions of the country too, even if the RV water system is already winterized to protect it from freezing. It is actually much easier to winterize an RV than most people think it is, and it’s not very expensive either. I have winterized and de-winterized our RV as many as three times during one winter.
The good news is, it is still possible to use the bathroom facilities when you are traveling with the RV winterized. We take one gallon jugs filled with water to use in the toilet, and if your holding tanks are not heated you can add some RV antifreeze to the gray and black water holding tanks to prevent the contents from freezing. Add the RV antifreeze through the toilet for the black water holding tank and down the shower or tub drain for the gray water tank. The antifreeze will also protect the shower or tub P-trap which is usually located below floor level.
The amount of antifreeze required for the holding tanks will be based on the size of the tanks, and it will be necessary to add more RV antifreeze as waste water is added to the tanks to prevent the antifreeze from being too diluted.
Don’t allow the holding tanks to fill completely before emptying them during cold weather camping. This will reduce the chance of freezing, and possible damage to the holding tanks.
Take bottled water along for drinking and other needs like cooking, washing and brushing your teeth when the RV is winterized. We have a five gallon jug we always take on trips, filled with tap water from our house, for our pet’s drinking water and other needs. This really comes in handy when the RV is winterized.
When we arrive at our camping destination I try to select a site that is exposed to the sun throughout the day, but also where there is some type of wind-break available. Position the RV on the site so the front or rear is facing the brunt of any wind, not the sides of the RV. If electricity is available I dewinterize the water system so we can use the sinks, toilet and shower. All of the water lines in our RV are above floor level, in heated space, so we don’t need to be too concerned about the water system freezing as long as the RV has heat. We leave the water heater turned on whenever the water heater tank is full so there is no chance of it freezing.
Some water heaters operate on LP gas and electricity. Keep in mind if it’s in the electric mode it will use 9 to 13 amps. It’s important that you know where all of the plumbing is located on you RV. Some RVs have heat ducts going to the basement storage areas where the water system is exposed to outside temperatures, but many RVs do not. If portions of the RV water system are below floor level, in areas that are not heated, it is possible for it to freeze and damage the water lines. If you are hooked up to an external water supply one option is to use a heated RV drinking water hose to protect the water supply from freezing temperatures.
If it is really cold outside and the possibility exists that the outside water supply could freeze, or if the campground water supply is shut off for the winter, I fill our fresh water holding tank and use it for all of our water requirements. Again, keep in mind where your fresh water tank is located; ours is in a heated area. If the campground shower facilities are still open it’s a good idea to use them to avoid the gray water holding tank from filling so quickly. In this situation it might be in your best interest to keep the RV winterized and just use the campground facilities.
The best source for heat is to use the RVs forced air furnace. Click to read my
Cold weather camping trips in your RV can be lots of fun with a little prior preparation and planning. Whether you head north, south, east or west get out and enjoy some cold weather RV camping. ~RV101