Essential Steps for Winterizing Your RV: Prepare Your Camper for Cold Weather Travel

Published: June 11, 2023

Essential Steps for Winterizing Your RV

Winterizing your RV isn’t just about preparing it for storage. With winter on the horizon, numerous RV enthusiasts are eagerly planning their frosty escapades.

From conquering the ski slopes to soaking in the tranquility of a snow-covered landscape, keeping your camper warm and cozy is a must. Taking the time to winterize your RV not only ensures your comfort but also protects your precious investment against potential damage caused by freezing temperatures. In this guide, we’ll share some handy tips on insulating and heating your camper for chilly weather, so you can keep exploring in style and comfort, regardless of the plunging temperatures.

1. Insulation Techniques for Your RV

Proper insulation is a crucial aspect of winterizing your RV, as it helps retain heat, reduce energy consumption, and maintain a comfortable living space during cold weather. Here are some effective insulation techniques to consider:

1.1 Insulating Windows

  • Reflective window covers: Use reflective insulation or bubble wrap to create custom window covers that prevent heat loss and block cold air from entering. These covers work by reflecting heat back into the RV, and you can make DIY window covers for your RV or camper by fitting material to your windows. Attach them to the windows with Velcro or suction cups for easy removal and storage.

  • Thermal curtains: Replace your standard curtains with insulated or thermal curtains to create an extra barrier against the cold. These curtains have a built-in insulating layer that helps retain warmth inside your RV generated by your RV’s heating system. Look for curtains with a high R-value (thermal resistance) for the best insulation performance. You can also layer thermal curtains with regular curtains for added insulation.
  • Window insulation film: Apply window insulation film to trap a layer of air between the film and the glass, providing an insulating barrier that reduces heat loss. Window insulation kits include everything you need to install the film. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper installation to ensure maximum effectiveness.

By focusing on insulating your windows, you’ll make significant progress in winterizing your RV and maintaining a cozy, comfortable interior during cold weather adventures.

1.2 Sealing Gaps and Drafts

  • Weatherstripping: Inspect the seals around your RV’s doors and windows for any signs of wear, cracking, or gaps. Replace or reinforce the seals with weatherstripping to prevent drafts and improve insulation. Be sure to choose the right type of weatherstripping material for your RV, such as adhesive-backed foam tape or V-strip weatherstripping, depending on the size and shape of the gaps.
  • Spray foam insulation: Identify any small gaps or cracks in your RV’s walls, floors, or ceiling where cold air might be entering. Use spray foam insulation to fill these gaps in your RV or camper and create an airtight seal. Remember to wear protective gear, like gloves and a mask, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the best results.
  • Door sweeps: Install door sweeps on your RV’s exterior doors to block drafts from entering underneath the door. These sweeps are typically made of durable materials like rubber or aluminum and can be easily attached to the bottom of the door with screws or adhesive.

1.3 Insulating Walls and Floors

  • Adding insulation: If your RV’s walls and floors have insufficient insulation, consider adding extra material to improve thermal performance. This may involve removing interior panels to access the existing insulation, or installing rigid foam insulation boards or fiberglass batts, depending on your RV’s construction.
  • Using rugs and mats: Laying down thick rugs or mats on your RV’s floors can help insulate the space by creating a barrier between the cold floor and the living area. These rugs also add a layer of comfort and warmth underfoot, making the space feel more inviting.
  • Insulating wheel wells: Wheel wells are often a source of cold air infiltration in RVs. To reduce drafts, insulate the wheel wells with spray foam insulation, fiberglass batts, or foam boards. Be sure to seal any gaps and create a snug fit around the wheel wells for maximum effectiveness.

Implementing these insulation techniques will go a long way in winterizing your RV, ensuring you stay warm and comfortable during your cold weather adventures.

2. Heating Your RV and Camper

A properly functioning heating system is essential for winterizing your RV and maintaining a comfortable temperature inside your camper. Make sure you consider a heater’s safety features, energy efficiency, and suitability for your RV. Refer to our RV heating buyers guide for more detailed information on the various heating options for your RV and camper.

2.1 Built-in RV Heating Systems

  • Furnace systems: Many RVs come equipped with a propane furnace, which provides a reliable and efficient source of heat. Ensure your furnace is well-maintained and functioning correctly by checking the filters, vents, and propane supply before setting out on your winter adventure.
  • Heat pumps: Some RVs feature heat pumps as part of their air conditioning systems. While heat pumps can provide warmth in mildly cold temperatures, they tend to lose efficiency in freezing conditions. Consider supplementing your heat pump with an additional heating source for extra warmth during extreme cold.

2.2 Portable Heating Options

  • Portable heaters can be an excellent addition to your RV’s built-in heating system, providing extra warmth when needed. Electric space heaters, propane heaters, and catalytic heaters are popular options for RVers. When using portable heaters, always follow safety guidelines and ensure proper ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning or fire hazards.
  • Safety considerations: Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for safe use, and choose a heater with safety features like tip-over protection, overheating protection, and a cool-touch exterior.
  • Energy-efficient heating: Opt for models with adjustable thermostats, multiple heat settings, and energy-saving modes to help conserve power and reduce energy costs.

3. Preparing for Winter RV Living

Taking additional measures to ensure your RV is ready for winter living can make your cold-weather experience more enjoyable and stress-free.

3.1 Skirting Your RV

  • An RV skirt or underbelly enclosure provides an insulating barrier around the base of your camper, preventing cold air from entering and heat from escaping. It also helps protect your RV’s plumbing system from freezing temperatures providing an insulated pocket of air around your RV’s underside.

There are various RV skirting materials available, including vinyl, foam board insulation, and custom-made skirts. Choose a material that suits your needs and budget, and ensure a proper fit for maximum effectiveness.

3.2 Ventilation and Moisture Control

  • Roof vents: Proper ventilation is crucial during winter, as it helps reduce condensation and maintain good indoor air quality. Use roof vents to allow moisture to escape and prevent mold growth.
  • Dehumidifiers: Running a dehumidifier in your RV can help control humidity levels and reduce condensation on windows and walls.
  • Condensation prevention: To further minimize condensation, keep a consistent indoor temperature, avoid excessive use of propane appliances, and try using moisture-absorbing products like desiccant packs.

By addressing these aspects of winter RV living, you’ll be better prepared for a cozy and enjoyable experience, no matter how low the temperature drops.

4. Maintenance and Safety Tips for Winter RVing

Being prepared and staying vigilant during your winter RV adventures is crucial to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are some maintenance and safety tips to consider:

4.1 Plumbing and Water System

  • Insulate pipes: Frozen water lines and tanks can cause significant damage to your RV. To help prevent this, insulate all exposed water lines and tanks with foam pipe insulation or heat tape. These materials will help keep your water lines and tanks from freezing and bursting in low temperatures.
  • Drain and winterize: If you won’t be using your RV’s plumbing system during your winter trip, consider draining and winterizing it to prevent damage from freezing temperatures.
  • Use a heated water hose: If you’re hooked up to a water source, a heated water hose can prevent the water inside from freezing, ensuring a consistent supply.

4.2 Battery Care

  • Inspect and maintain: Cold temperatures can affect your RV’s batteries, reducing their capacity and performance. Inspect your batteries regularly, clean the terminals, and ensure they are fully charged before your trip.
  • Battery insulation: Consider insulating your battery compartment with foam or other insulating materials to help maintain optimal battery performance in cold weather.
  • Portable battery charger: Carry a portable battery charger or booster pack to jump-start your RV if the battery dies during your winter adventure.

4.3 Tire Maintenance

  • Tire pressure: Cold weather can cause tire pressure to decrease, which can lead to poor handling and reduced fuel efficiency. Check your tire pressure regularly and adjust it as needed.
  • Snow chains: If you plan to travel in areas with heavy snowfall, invest in snow chains for your RV’s tires to improve traction and handling.
  • Inspect for wear: Examine your tires for signs of wear or damage before setting out on your trip. Replace any tires that show signs of excessive wear or damage to ensure a safe journey.

By following these maintenance and safety tips while winterizing your RV, you can enjoy a warm, comfortable, and safe cold-weather camping experience. So bundle up, hit the road, and explore the beauty of winter in your well-prepared RV.

5. Packing Essentials for Winter RVing

Having the right gear and supplies can make all the difference in ensuring a comfortable and enjoyable winter RV experience. Here’s a list of essential items to pack for your cold-weather adventure:

5.1 Clothing and Personal Items

  • Layered clothing: Dress in layers to stay warm and comfortable, including moisture-wicking base layers, insulating mid-layers, and waterproof outer layers.
  • Cold-weather accessories: Don’t forget hats, gloves, scarves, and warm socks to protect your extremities from the cold.
  • Footwear: Pack waterproof, insulated boots for outdoor activities and comfortable, warm slippers for use inside the RV.
Warm Clothes for RV Winter Travel

5.2 Bedding and Linens

  • Warm blankets and bedding: Invest in high-quality, warm bedding, such as a go0d quality mattress, flannel sheets, down comforters, and extra blankets to stay cozy during cold nights.
  • Insulated curtains: Use insulated or thermal curtains on your RV’s windows to reduce heat loss and block drafts.
  • Towels and washcloths: Bring plenty of towels and washcloths to accommodate your needs and ensure you have dry linens available after outdoor activities.

5.3 Winter RV Accessories and Tools

  • Snow removal equipment: Pack a snow shovel, ice scraper, and broom to remove snow and ice from your RV’s roof, windows, and slide-outs.
  • Keep Your Propane Tanks Full: If you’re relying on propane for heating your RV, be sure to keep your propane tanks full to avoid running out of fuel during a cold spell. Monitor your propane levels regularly and refill your tanks when they reach about 1/4 full. It’s also a good idea to carry a spare propane tank, just in case you can’t find a refill station when you need one.
  • Emergency kit: Assemble a winter emergency kit for your RV, including items like jumper cables, a flashlight, extra batteries, road flares, and a first-aid kit.
  • Portable generator: A portable generator can provide backup power in case of an electrical issue or when you need extra power for heating and other appliances.

5.4 Food and Cooking Supplies

  • Non-perishable foods: Stock up on non-perishable food items like canned goods, dried fruit, and granola bars in case you’re unable to cook or shop for groceries during your trip.
  • Portable cooking gear: Bring a portable stove or grill for outdoor cooking and backup meal preparation if your RV’s appliances become unusable due to extreme cold.
  • Insulated containers: Pack insulated mugs and food containers to keep your beverages and meals warm while you’re out exploring.

By packing these essential items and winterizing your RV properly, you’ll be well-prepared for a memorable cold-weather adventure. Enjoy the beauty and serenity of winter landscapes from the warmth and comfort of your well-equipped RV.

6. Monitor the Weather and Plan Accordingly

Before setting off on your winter RV adventure, be sure to monitor the weather forecast and plan accordingly. Knowing what to expect can help you prepare for potential challenges, such as snowstorms, icy roads, or extreme cold.

In severe weather conditions, it may be necessary to adjust your travel plans or seek shelter at an RV park with hookups and additional amenities.

Final Thoughts about Winterizing Your RV for Winter Travel

Winterizing your RV is an essential step to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable cold-weather camping experience. By taking the time to insulate and heat your camper effectively, you’ll protect your investment from potential damage and create a warm, cozy living space for your winter adventures. 

Don’t forget to follow the maintenance and safety tips we’ve shared, pack the necessary essentials, and be prepared for any unexpected challenges that may come your way. With proper planning and preparation, you can confidently embrace the beauty of winter in your RV and make unforgettable memories with your loved ones. So bundle up, hit the road, and discover the joys of winter RVing!

FAQ’s For Winterizing Your RV Or Camper For Winter Travel

How do I winterize my RV’s water system?

To winterize your RV’s water system, first drain all the water from the tanks, pipes, and water heater. Then, use either non-toxic RV antifreeze or compressed air to clear any remaining water from the plumbing system.

Can I use my RV’S furnace for heating during winter?

Yes, you can use your RV’s built-in furnace for heating during winter. However, make sure to check your propane supply and ensure proper ventilation to avoid any safety hazards.

What types of insulation are best for winterizing my RV?

Some common types of insulation used for winterizing RVs include foam board, spray foam, and reflective insulation. Each type has its pros and cons, so it’s essential to choose one that best fits your needs and budget.

Do I need to insulate my RV’s windows and doors?

Yes, insulating your RV’s windows and doors is crucial for maintaining warmth and preventing heat loss. Use weather stripping, window films, or custom-made covers to help insulate these areas.

Can I use an electric space heater in my RV during winter?

Yes, electric space heaters are a popular and efficient option for supplemental heating in an RV. Make sure to choose a heater with safety features, such as tip-over protection and overheat protection, and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for safe use.

How do I maintain my RV’s batteries during winter?

To maintain your RV’s batteries during winter, keep them fully charged, clean the terminals, and check the water levels in the battery cells regularly. If possible, store the batteries in a temperature-controlled environment when not in use.

Is it safe to use my RV’s appliances during winter?

It is generally safe to use your RV’s appliances during winter, provided you follow safety precautions and ensure proper ventilation. However, some appliances may not function optimally in extremely cold temperatures, so it’s important to check the manufacturer’s recommendations for each appliance’s usage.

How do I winterize my RV if I don’t plan to travel?

If you don’t plan to travel during winter and want to DYI step by step guide to winterizing your RV for storage, we’ve provided a link to a great video.


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