Cold Weather Camping Tips

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sheltie

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Joined
Jan 8, 2009
Posts
526
I've never gone camping in my MH in cold weather but I'm about to this week.  I think I know most of the common sense things (don't leave your water hose connected when below freezing, leave a window cracked when using an electric heater inside, etc) but what else should I be aware of.  I'm pretty sure my tanks are all exposed to heat so I shouldn't need to worry about them freezing.  I won't be carrying any water in the fresh water tank on the trip.  I'm told that I can use the propane to power my furnace going down the road and I've never done that before. I'll layer clothes, use an electric blanket, etc.

Any tips would be appreciated.
 
I am assume a lot off of your post like you will have hook ups and you have a 4 season rig.

The tanks are heated by the furnace, so use the electric heat to augment but that furnace has to run to keep you from freezing up. Just in case, I would add some anti-freeze to the waste tanks. Also remember the sewer hose isn't heated, will freeze up and may break, so don't leave the gray water valve open.

You mentioned not leaving the hose connected because it may freeze, I'd have water in the fresh water tank for a few reasons. First, the whole system can go down to freezing up. Second, with the tap hooked up, if a line in your rig freezes and breaks, the water will just keep coming. Using the tank means you can shut down the pump and if a break happens, you won't have a flooded rig. You can get a heated hose for the tap but I still suggest shutting it off when you dont need it or at least while you are away.

Open the cabinet doors and drawers where the plumbing runs behind them. No heat is usually forced into those areas and they can get mighty cold.

The fridge is fine down to 20 degrees, below that and it will stop cooling. Putting a 100w light bulb in the compartment will keep it warm enough to keep going.

We put heavy bath towels over our windows on cold nights. It really cuts down on the heat loss. Rugs on the floor help too as do inserts for the vents. Those are just thin plastic and you can really feel the cold dropping from them.

The stove and oven are propane and are not vented, so make sure you vent while using them.

The last things are make sure your propane tank is full and you have a means of charging up the battery if the electric fails.

These are basis things, there are more if you would be doing it a lot or for extended periods of time.
 
sheltie said:
.... leave a window cracked when using an electric heater inside, etc) but what else should I be aware of. Any tips would be appreciated.

One thing to be aware of when using an electric heater. The more you use electric rather than your furnace, the colder your holding tanks get. Electric heaters warm the living area but do not force warm air into your holding tank area or where your water lines run. Your furnace should force warm air into these areas.

Richard
 
Sheltie,

What make and model of RV?  Knowing that someone with the same could give you more specific info.  Some have heated tanks, and some do not.  Some have exposed water lines also.

Howard
 
SargeW said:
No water in your fresh tank, so you won't be using the toilet?

Surely you're more experienced than to ask a question like that? ;D  Sorry, I should've clarified that by saying that I don't TRAVEL with fresh water in my tanks.  I carry two gallons of water in containers to use, if needed.  That combined with using rest stops and I'm good to go (no pun intended!).  Now you and others know more about me than you wanted. ;)
 
Howard R said:
Sheltie,

What make and model of RV?  Knowing that someone with the same could give you more specific info.  Some have heated tanks, and some do not.  Some have exposed water lines also.

Howard

Sorry, I always seem to assume that everyone knows what I have. ;D  I have a 2004 Itasca Suncruiser (gasser, class A).
 
This morning it was 22 degrees and our water hose was frozen.  We switched to our fresh water tank and used it for showers instead.  It's now thawed out and we're back on the campground water.

ArdraF
 
sheltie said:
Surely you're more experienced than to ask a question like that?
[/quote]

Yep, way more experienced. Its just that in 20 years of RVing I have NEVER considered carrying a jug of fresh water to dump down a toilet to avoid using the built in water tank in the rig. It just doesn't make any sense to me.
 
SargeW said:
Yep, way more experienced. Its just that in 20 years of RVing I have NEVER considered carrying a jug of fresh water to dump down a toilet to avoid using the built in water tank in the rig. It just doesn't make any sense to me.

If you had a close tolerance on how much weight you could carry - and if you cared (many don't) - you'd learn ways to save.  Carrying 16.6 lbs of water as opposed to over 400 lbs means quite a bit.
 
Sheltie,

Your OP says nothing about the rig you have or any mention of being close enough to max weight that carrying  2 gallons of water in a jug is a necessity. How would anyone responding to your request for help and "any tips would be appreciated" know this? Also you refer to cold weather but no mention of the temps you might expect to see. 30 degrees F is cold but nothing like 0 F, from an RV'ing standpoint.

SargeW has offered a lot of knowledgable tips on many many subjects on this forum.

 
My best cold weather camping tip is to find a warm hotel. I am in southern Arizona and it will get into the low 20s tonight. Cold weather camping is not fun. I tried to go outside this afternoon to photograph a bird and I had a hard time keeping my breath from fogging the lens. :p
 
dave61 said:
Sheltie,

Your OP says nothing about the rig you have or any mention of being close enough to max weight that carrying  2 gallons of water in a jug is a necessity. How would anyone responding to your request for help and "any tips would be appreciated" know this? Also you refer to cold weather but no mention of the temps you might expect to see. 30 degrees F is cold but nothing like 0 F, from an RV'ing standpoint.

SargeW has offered a lot of knowledgable tips on many many subjects on this forum.

I'm not sure how or why this has turned into a peeing contest.  I was seeking generic answers to generic questions, irrespective of the type of RV I have.  However I have a 2004 Itasca Suncruiser which I said in answer to another question earlier.  I'm pretty sure that Serge doesn't need anyone to defend him as I, too, have gotten advice from him previously and have appreciated it.  In this particular instance, we have a difference of opinion of the necessity of how much water to carry, but it's no big thing.  If I had a diesel or a gasser with larger capacity, I would also carry water in my tank.  I expect to see night time temps as low as 25 and daytime temps near or abov freezing.  The latter don't concern me except in propane usuage. 
 
SeilerBird said:
My best cold weather camping tip is to find a warm hotel. I am in southern Arizona and it will get into the low 20s tonight. Cold weather camping is not fun. I tried to go outside this afternoon to photograph a bird and I had a hard time keeping my breath from fogging the lens. :p

I'll be in Q in a week and I understand it has been pretty cold there.  They tell me that they are expecting warmer weather by the time I get there next week, so I'll keep my fingers crossed.
 
It's 22.3?F right now in Quartzsite as the sun is rising over the horizon. Yesterday morning was warmer, at 30?, but Sunday morning it hit 20?. Forecast for tomorrow morning is 30?, and after that lows of 36.

I've left the lower cabinet doors open the last few nights and had the thermostat set at 70?. I also drained the grey tank into a 5 gallon bucket. The grey tank dump pipe is a relatively long and exposed run, with the slider valve at the end, so I worry about it freezing and cracking. 

The black tank valve, however, is right next to the tank so I worry less about it being damaged by freezing. In my opinion there's plenty of room for expansion on the tank-side of the valve. Also, I have a theory that the black tank contents will not freeze as readily as water in the grey tank. The microbial activity in the tank contents create some heat.

Back in the day my grandpa would place sweet potatoes into the ground in late winter in order to get starts for planting in the spring. The heat source he used to prevent freezing? Manure covered with a layer of sand directly under the sweet potatoes.


 
Water was getting low in the fresh water tank. I had the need to use the "bath room". The only place that I could find to pull over was on uneven ground with the MH leaning to the right. Water pump would not pick up water. I have carries a gallon of water under the bath room sink since that time.
 
Had to giggle a little bit.  Sorry.  Reading the replies about how cold it is where you all are made me smile.

It's 16 degrees with falling temps here in western MI.  Lake effect snow has been taking a toll on us half the night and continuing now.  Suppose to continue for another 24 to 48 hours or so.  And I am getting ready to snowblow my drive and walkways.  I have to work tonight driving along country roads.  That will be fun in a state that can't even pay attention, let alone afford the salt needed to make those roads safe.  Not that salt works well at the temps. predicted.

Not trying to instigate thread drift, my point is cold weather camping is entirely possible and fun.  Doing so just takes special precautions and preparations.  Like Tom (SeilerBird), although not near having the experience as him, I do enjoy going outside in the pristine, new fallen snow and taking a pic or two.  I use the pics for desktops and the like.
I cold weather camp quite often. 

Preparation is the key.  Take along a couple gallons of water if you want.  The end result you want is to have a good time!  Preparing the RV for cold weather takes practice and won't be such a burden/frightening when learned.

My two cents.  I have a great time with it!  Depending where you are at the time, you may see things you would never see during the warm months.  A new experience.

 
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