If you’re planning to venture into colder climes with your RV for some winter camping, there’s plenty you should do before you go—and while you’re there.
Hitting colder areas with your RV is a welcome activity for many. There are ski slopes or cross-country ski areas to try, maybe just the sight of some snow-covered mountains to experience, and perhaps family to visit.
Don’t take the trip lightly. You must act to protect your RV and yourself.
Do you have a warm winter coat or jacket? Gloves that can protect you not just from the cold temperatures, but also from snow and ice? A winter hat? Really good sunglasses? Boots in case it snows? Some really warm sweaters and sweatshirts? An electric blanket for cold nights?
All may come in handy up North or out West, especially in higher elevations. Consider dressing warm when you drive instead of turning up the heat, which makes some drivers drowsy. Include a pair of thin driving gloves to ward off the cold feeling of the steering wheel without reducing grip.
If you’ve ever driven with snow on the roadside and the sun shining a day after a storm, you’ll know why good sunglasses are a must. Those conditions can be blinding.
You can get anything you need online if you can’t find it locally.
Winter driving is tough on a vehicle. You must do quite a few things to be safe on the road and at your campsite.
A collapsing shovel saves a bit of space, but make sure it’s strong and lightweight. A bag of sand is a good idea in case you get stuck on ice or packed snow. Pour the sand into a container with a locking lid to keep your storage space tidy.
Have your antifreeze/coolant checked. A 50/50 mix of antifreeze/water should protect your engine to 50 degrees below zero. That will raise the boiling point, too. Make sure hoses are sound. Carry a vial of stop-leak additive just in case a hose springs a leak. Quality duct tape can help temporarily, along with a spare gallon of antifreeze.
Put winter fluid in your washer reservoir to prevent freezing. (Never add engine-type antifreeze to it; doing so would damage your RV’s finish.) Check wiper blades. They’re cheap and easily replaced.
For campsite hookups, consider heated water lines so they don’t freeze. The safest routine is to fill your tank and disconnect, then store your empty hose. Reconnect when you must refill, then disconnect and empty the line again.
To keep lines from freezing, run your propane furnace and space heaters at all times when temperatures will be close to or constantly below freezing. Place conventional blankets over windows and doors where cold air may enter. (Keep a vent open, however, to allow moisture to escape.) Place small electric space heaters in the vent area to protect water lines there. Install heating pads on your fresh water tank and keep them turned on.
After emptying your tank, make sure the hose is clear before storing it. Any remaining residue—including solid waste—can freeze and block the pipe. Install heating pads to both gray and black tanks—and keep them turned on. Place a small electric space heater in the wet bay.
Temporary skirts help keep you and the lines warm. If there’s snow on the ground, you can pile snow along your camper to keep the wind from getting underneath. Avoid shoveling your RV in.
If warm-climate fuel is in your tank, it may not be formulated for Northern temperatures. Pour diesel additive or, if you’re powered by gasoline, dry gas into the tank. Pour the appropriate additive into your generator tank, too.
Mount snow tires on your tow vehicle or motorhome on all axles. Carry chains for the drive wheels. Towing in snow can be dangerous. Be extra cautious, driving slowly and keeping a longer distance behind vehicles. It’s easier to drive a motorhome in snow than it is to tow. If the forecast says a storm is coming, there’s no shame in deciding to leave early or stay an extra day or to.
You can always prepare your camper for winter and just use campsite facilities. It’s better to have goose bumps going to and from the facilities than a frozen water or waste line.