The Best Winter Camping Gear for RVers
I have to say, I love fall and winter. I love getting out my sweaters and jeans. I love waking up with blankets piled high, with only my cold nose sticking out from under the covers. If you live in an RV, you may get to experience that feeling often in the winter.
We happen to have a four-season rig that is supposed to be well-insulated with heated tanks and plenty of insulation. While we have only spent two winters in the cold, we learned a lot. We did have hot water pipes freeze a couple of times for a few hours, but thankfully we have never been in a deep freeze.
As the day warmed, so did our pipes. Opening cabinet doors and keeping heaters directed on the pipes helped as we navigated colder weather. We’ve found that we can warm up our space quickly with our fireplace or ceramic space heaters but can’t forget to run the furnace. It helps keep the pipes and tanks warm underneath.
Currently, I am living in a warm climate, so I don’t have to worry about anything freezing. At the end of October, I only recently turned off my air conditioner. But as the seasons change, and depending on where you are RVing, you may need some special winter camping gear to stay comfortable this season.
Here are a few must-haves when winter camping:
Heated water hose
If you live in colder temperatures, the best winter camping gear you can purchase is a heated RV water hose. These hoses cost $100 or more, depending mostly on length, but will save you a lot in frozen pipes.
A heated hose has a heat strip along the side of the hose that heats up when plugged into a 110-volt electrical connection. Some brands are rated to keep water flowing at minus 40 degrees.
“This is a good hose! I had to buy some male/female adapters because the power cord was on the opposite end that I needed, but no biggie. The key to making this work well is to take really good care of it, and plug it in before it starts getting too cold out. It has a thermostat, so it’s not going to turn on if it doesn’t need to. I carefully straightened the entire hose before connecting the ends. Then I used a pool noodle and duck tape to insulate the stand pipe, and, pieces of soft foam around the metal hose connections. It was 24 degrees out and did not freeze! I plan to carefully coil this up and store it during the spring and summer, and use a normal drinking water hose during the hot months. I think this way, the hose should last a long time.” Amazon review by DownToEarth
Heat tape is a long plastic ribbon that is spiraled around the water hose. It is relatively inexpensive compared to a heated hose but can work well, depending on your situation. You might be in a place where you experience cold temperatures only on an occasional basis.
Be sure to choose a tape with a temperature sensor that will turn on at cold temperatures and shut off when the temperature rises. Heat tape can be wrapped around your existing hose.
Don’t forget to freeze-proof the spigot at your water source. Non-electrical heat tape on the spigot and then an overturned plastic barrel with insulating materials inside works well. If you are not using insulating material, add a heat lamp underneath and you shouldn’t have any problems with freezing. You can also fill your fresh water tank and unplug your hose from the source.
This simple, yet vital item, should be on your winter camping gear list. Even the smallest of these electric heaters can easily heat a room in your RV.
Find one that has a thermostat and automatic shut-off should it get tipped over. As I mentioned above, these can also be used to keep pipes warm when you open cabinet doors to expose kitchen and bathroom pipes.
We have found temperature sensors to be a must-have item on our winter camping gear list. The one we have is simple and costs around $33. Most brands come with three to four sensors and a display.
The unit monitors temperature and humidity. We have one sensor that we were able to feed down a hole cut out for our kitchen pipes. Another is in our front basement area where the water connection system is located. At one time or another, we’ve also put one of those sensors under the barrel at the spigot.
Sensors can be as simple as the one mentioned or more complex and more expensive with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth capability and an app for your phone so you can monitor the temperature away from the rig. These are great when you have pets and want to make sure they are warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
When possible, plan your destinations for more temperate areas during the winter, but being prepared for a sudden weather change is important as well. With these simple winter gear suggestions, you can always be ready for the next cold spell.
Read more about winter camping
For more winter camping tips, check out these great resources:
- How To Avoid Winter Camping Problems In Your RV
- Maintaining Power And Healthy Batteries When Winter Camping
- How To Keep Your RV Plumbing From Freezing When Winter Camping
- Why Winter Camping In Quartzsite Is A Must For Every RVer
Terri and her husband, Todd, are full time RVers and work campers. They have been living full time in their RV for nearly two years with their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Newton, and currently reside in South Texas on the Gulf Coast. They hope to head west for the summer season. Writing is Terri’s passion but she also loves hiking, kayaking and anything she can do outside.