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Tips for Cold Weather Camping

More and more RVers are using their rigs year around, and not just in warm weather.  Cold weather camping has become popular for many activities such as downhill and cross country skiing, hiking, snowmobiling, and hunting.   There are even more RVers that attend hobby expos such as quilting, woodworking, and others using their RV rather than a hotel room!

No matter how you are planning to use your RV for winter camping, there are some tips and tricks you can use to make it much more enjoyable and WARM!

First, take some time to get your rig prepared for the colder weather. You will need to take measures to insulate the windows, add supplemental heating, and protect water and sewer systems.


Single pane windows will create a tremendous amount of heat loss and condensation.  Dual pane windows are ideal, however you can use shrink film to add a layer of insulation or even cover the windows with a quilted cover or a material called Reflectix.  Check out last month’s article on window insulation.

Shrink Film

Fresh Water System

Make sure your fresh water tanks are protected by the on board heater or an auxiliary heat system.  Some manufacturers have a 4 seasons package or winter package option that includes a heat blanket.  This also pertains to the water pipes and the water pump.  Even with a heated holding tank area, I typically add an auxiliary heater to this area such as a heat lamp or my preference is a small ceramic heater.  This does require wiring an outlet to that area but provides peace of mind.  Also make sure your water pump is protected as well if it’s not in the same compartment as the tanks.

Don’t forget about your water hose coming into the rig!  You can use heat tape or a heated hose such as the Pirit all-in-one heated hose.  Another option is to just fill the water tank and use the on-board water pump and not worry about the hose outside.  When we camp for a short period of time in cold weather, we winterize the fresh water system and just bring several gallon jugs of water, some for drinking and cooking, others for using the toilet which we just use to manually “flush” through the top.  The only down side of this is we can’t take a shower but it’s usually just an overnight, or we can use the campground facilities.

Holding Tanks

Typically holding tanks do not require heat, however you do not want them to freeze as you will have a rough time getting the valves open and frozen solids to drain.  It’s a good idea to dump a gallon of RV antifreeze in the black and gray water tanks when empty as it will settle to the bottom at the valve and keep it from freezing as well as keeping the sewage from freezing inside the tank.


Most RV sewage hoses are made of soft corrugated material which can be stored at a small length but extended over 5 times in length as well as very flexible to bend around obstacles.  The down side in cold weather is the ridges of the corrugated design trap small amounts of water which can freeze in the winter.  It’s a good idea to dump the tanks when needed, clean the hose completely, and store it in a heated compartment.  Seasoned cold weather RVers use a hard plastic (PVC) hose which has a smooth continual surface, however this is more difficult to store if you are not stationary for a long period of time.

About the author: Dave Solberg: Managing Editor, RV Repair Club

For the last 25 years, Dave has conducted RV maintenance and safety seminars, developed dealer and owner training programs, written RV safety and handyman articles, authored an RV handbook reference guide and logged over 100,000 miles on the road in an RV.

RV Repair ClubRV Repair Club is your go-to online resource for enthusiasts who want quality RV maintenance, repair, and upgrade information – a community where passionate RVers can come together to gather knowledge and share their experiences.

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