Can You Use an RV in the Winter? A Guide to Cold Weather RV Camping 

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For most, winter is a time to hibernate indoors, but not you. You like to enjoy the unique beauty and experiences of every season. That’s why winter RV camping intrigues you. 

Can you use an RV in the winter? Of course! 

Cold weather camping is great for…

  • Avid skiers who want to be the first to hit the slopes
  • All-season hikers who can stand to be cooped up in the winter
  • Nature enthusiasts who want to experience every season
  • Thrifty RVers who want to take advantage of off-season camping rates

But before you dive head-first down the slope, you need to answer some cold-weather camping questions. 

  1. Do you need a specific class of RV for winter camping? 
  2. How do you keep your water pipes from freezing? 
  3. What winter weather is not safe to camp in?

Truth is, you can use (almost) any RV in the winter–even in freezing temperatures. Most RVs will keep you comfortable in temperatures above 0 degrees. All you have to do is be prepared with the right insulation, the right gear, the right information, and the right mindset.

If you plan to park in an area prone to subzero temperatures, RV winter camping could pose additional challenges (but that shouldn’t necessarily scare you off). 

With this in mind, the question isn’t: “Can I use an RV in the winter?”. It’s, “HOW do you camp with your RV in cold weather?”

Here’s how to use your RV in winter–including the necessary preparations and precautions to make the most of this incredible season.

How to Use Your RV for Winter Camping

Can you RV in winter? For full time RV the answer is yes even on cold nights (

Cold weather winter camping in your RV is all about knowing what you and your RV can and can’t handle. As stated, most RVs can keep you comfortable above 0 degrees. 

If subzero temperatures are on the forecast, then you’ll need to make some major modifications before you can brave these extreme temps. 

Here’s where to start:

Check Your RV’s Insulation

You’re looking to see if it has the proper RV insulation. Does it have an enclosed bottom? Are the water lines wrapped with insulation? (Because they should be). 

Check Your RV Heater

Most RVs have a propane heater, meaning you’ll need to have extra propane tanks on hand to run your heater when it gets cold. Depending on whether you want a 20-lb, 40-lb, or 100-lb propane tank, an additional RV propane tank will run you anywhere from $100-$400

You’ll also need to check that the proper safety equipment is functioning (like the smoke alarms and the carbon monoxide monitors). 

Now, some RVs have a heat pump unit that uses a water pump to heat the cold air and cool the warm air. These work great above 32 degrees, but only certain models can function below 32 degrees. 

For your heat pumps, you’ll need electricity or a generator to run it. 

Check Your Engine

Antifreeze is a staple of any RV maintenance routine. When winter approaches, be sure you add antifreeze to your engine so that it works when you need it.

Insulate the Indoors

There are little things that make a big difference when it comes to keeping the cold out. One helpful tip is to let the light in during prime daylight hours. Another is to physically block out the cold using thermal curtains and/or insulating foam board.

Thermal curtains are a prime tool for heating your RV, whether you’re trying to let heat in or keep cold out. 

Another option is to cut insulating foam board into the shape of your ceiling vents and RV windows to keep the cold air from seeping in through these entry points. You can even use foam board insulation as RV skirting. 

Eliminate Cracks and Open Seams

Visually inspect the outside of your RV. Make sure the siding is tight and the RV windows are properly sealed. If you find gaps or open seams you can seal it with all-weather silicone. 

Now that you’ve prepared your RV for winter camping, it’s time to get your gear ready.

Choosing the Right Gear for Winter Camping

What if you only have a small travel trailer or teardrop trailer? These models lack heating systems and ample insulation. So what then? 

Can you still RV camp in winter? If so, how do you stay warm?

Of course, you can still camp. You’ll just have to fill the insulation gap with the right winter gear. 

If you’re considering cold-weather RV camping in the first place, then you’re probably no stranger to being cold. As a resident winter camper, you know how to dress in cold weather, using the proper layering techniques. 

Layering doesn’t just apply to your winter getup–your snow pants, snow boots, gloves, etc. You can also layer heat-trapping technologies, like RV skirting, onto the recreational vehicle itself (which prevents heat from escaping through your RV floors). This will be your first layer of coverage.

This exterior layer will serve as a shell, keeping the moisture and the bitter winter winds out of your RV living spaces. 

The second layer of warmth will come from your sleeping gear. This could be a sleeping bag rated for cold weather or a sleep system of your own make. 

When you’re camping, especially in winter, exhaustion is something to avoid. Your sleeping gear needs to keep you warm, so you can rest without shivering yourself to sleep. You should also be able to remove your heaviest insulating layer if you get too hot. 

Your third and final layer should be your sleepwear. Choose something that fits loosely against your skin to keep your body heat in. Pro tip: your sleepwear shouldn’t fit snuggly. 

If you tend to run cold, you’ll need more than a loose-fitting baselayer and a sleeping bag to stay warm during the winter season. You’ll need to look into portable heaters that are designed for small spaces and built to run off gas or electricity. 

If you’re hooked up to power or don’t mind spending more on gas for your generator, you can also consider a space heater for the specific rooms you want to heat. 

Skirting and Exterior Protection

Skirting is an often overlooked aspect of preparing your RV for winter use. 

Installing skirting around your RV helps protect its underbelly from cold winds and improves insulation. There are various RV skirt options available, from DIY solutions using basic materials to high-quality inflatable systems like AirSkirts.

How to Stay Safe While RV Camping in Winter

During the winter, it’s vital to check the weather conditions before you operate an RV. In summer, if you run into some bad weather, it runs its course and then it’s done. But in winter, when the blizzard snow piles up, there will be some clean-up involved post-storm. In some situations, you may be snowed in for a while. 

When you check the weather for your winter campout, this information will inform what gear you need to bring and even offer insight into whether it’s safe to operate your RV. 

Be Prepared

In winter here are some things to always keep in your RV…

  • Chains for driving through snow
  • Emergency food and water
  • Flares
  • First aid kit
  • Extra gas

This way, no matter what the weather throws at you, you’ll be ready.

Check the Avalanche Report

Skiers know the importance of understanding where the avalanche conditions are. But it’s just as important for you to keep these high-risk areas on your radar, as you’ll be traveling through the same conditions. Avalanches can close down roads or block access to and from campgrounds

Knowing how to read these conditions can help you plan a safe route.

Have a Contact

This tip isn’t specific to winter, but it could prove vitally important in winter: Anytime you go on a winter camping trip, make sure you tell someone where you’re going and when you intend to be back. This helps searchers if a winter disaster does strike your area.

Save up to $1,200/year on RV storage & parking

When Should You NOT Go Winter Camping in an RV?

You’ve been looking forward to a camping trip for a long time, it can be hard to call it off. But there are some definite reasons to say no.

If There’s Inclement Weather

When there’s inclement weather (aka, weather conditions that are either unsafe or undesirable for outdoor events), especially in winter, it’s better to be safe than sorry. The last thing you want to do is put yourself and your family in a cold-weather survival situation. That’s a great way to ruin your family campout. 

If the weather’s acting up, just wait until next time. 

If You Don’t Have the Right Gear

You thought you had everything. But when you went through your pre-camp checklist you can’t find the extra propane tank, your mummy bag…key pieces of gear. You could just tough it out…right?

One of the main causes of hypothermia is insufficient gear for the weather. Don’t be a statistic. Find the proper gear or don’t go

If You’ve Never Been Cold Weather Camping Before

Don’t worry; you can still go cold weather camping. The only way to learn is to do it. 

But don’t go ALONE. Find a camping buddy who’s been RV camping in cold weather before. They can help you make good decisions that will help you avert disaster. 

Can You Drive an RV in Cold Weather? Safe Winter Driving Tips

While traveling with an RV presents certain challenges, adhering to safe winter driving and parking tips can pave the way for an enjoyable experience. Whether you’re navigating icy roads or parking in a snow-covered RV park, being prepared and cautious makes all the difference.

Road Safety Precautions

Before hitting the road, always check the forecast and be prepared for any potential storms or icy conditions. Carry essential emergency supplies, such as a first aid kit, and emergency flares, to ensure your safety on the road.

When driving on icy roads, keep in mind to:

  • Slow down and give yourself extra time to react to changing road conditions
  • Regularly check your tire pressure because when the air temperature drops the air in your tires compresses
  • Equip your RV with appropriate tires for winter driving. Ideally, ones with good traction.
  • Keep tire chains in your car in case you need them.

Parking Considerations

When it comes to parking your RV in winter conditions, remember to use wooden blocks under your stabilizer jacks to prevent them from sticking to the cold ground. 

Choosing the Right Winter Camping Destination

Choosing the idea RV winter camping destination will help keep you and your crew comfortable for your winter road trip. Whether you’re looking for a serene year-round campground or a popular winter RV destination, finding the right spot goes a long way in making memories you’ll actually want to remember. 

Year-Round Campgrounds

Year-round campgrounds are an excellent choice for winter RV camping because they offer amenities and services specifically designed for the colder months. Heated restrooms, heated pools, and laundry facilities help keep winter from becoming unbearable. These campgrounds also offer access to winter activities such as skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.

Off-Season Pricing

Many RV parks close down in winter because there’s less accessibility and less interest in camping. So, if you book a time just before they close down, you’ll usually be eligible for off-season pricing. 

If you’re looking for a place to weather the entire winter, an RV park may not be the right fit. However, if you’re looking for a quick winter getaway, it might be exactly what you’re looking for. 

By choosing a year-round campground, you’ll be able to enjoy the beauty of winter camping without sacrificing the comfort and convenience of your RV.

How to Enjoy Winter RV Camping

The way to enjoy winter camping is to embrace the cold. Plans may change due to weather. But focus on what makes winter beautiful. Hike the trails. Ski the slopes. Play in your winter wonderland all day.

But always have a warm place to come back to. End every day by warming up your body temperature before you lay down to sleep. After all, rest is essential to having a successful cold-weather camping experience. 

The takeaway from your winter RV road trip shouldn’t be, “We were sooo cold!” Instead, the takeaway should be, “We never knew you could do so much in winter”. That’s what winter RV living is all about.  

Where Do You Store Your RV when You’re Not Camping?

You use your RV year-round, but in between camping trips, you do need a place to store it. You’d like a place where you don’t have to fully winterize it, that’s close and easily accessible. Here’s where Neighbor can help.

A peer-to-peer storage marketplace like Neighbor helps you find safe and affordable RV storage options that are close to home.

And if you’re putting your RV away until spring, then check out how to winterize your camper here.

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