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It sometimes feels that summer is over in a heartbeat and before we know it we’re stuck into long cold nights and short cool days. One minute we’re basking in tropical heat and then within a week we’re being battered with freezing rain and gale-force winds.
Maybe I’m showing my age, but the summers seem to be getting shorter, and the winters are getting longer. December is just around the corner, the kids are getting excited for Santa and the temperature will probably continue on its downward trend with no chance of warming up anytime soon.
Common sense dictates that most of the shelf RVs are not meant for exploring the Antarctic. If you’d like to take your RV out during colder weather, you’ll probably need to invest in what’s commonly named an arctic package. These will normally upgrade the existing insulation and provide additional heating for the enjoyment of the RVs passengers and drivers.
However, there are certain models of RVs that have designed and built with the colder weather in mind. These vehicles are meant to be taken out when the mercury drops, through icy gales and even in some cases, snowy roads. If you stay in an area that experiences harsh winters, or you just want to experience the thrill of being on the road with your RV year-round, then these top cold-weather RVs are made to meet that need.
Top-Rated Cold Weather RVs
Windjammer 3008W Travel Trailer
Travel trailers are a great much cheaper alternative to the full-blown RV, they are ideal choices for beginners and those just looking to get a taste of the RV lifestyle. The Windjammer is a fantastic option, it can accommodate a maximum of five beds, so there’s no excuse for not bringing your family along.
This trailer is not exactly small, boasting an 897-pound hitch load, but it will do an admirable job of keeping the bad weather on the outside and the warmth and creature comforts on the inside. Given its impressive size, it can hold a generous 45-gallon black water tank, a 75-gallon gray water tank, and a commendable 45-gallon freshwater tank.
Additionally, the trailer does a great job of providing a host of other features such as a wardrobe, linen closet, kitchen space with microwave, gas cooker hook-up and an awning to keep the sun or snow off. To top it all off, the master suite features a clever table that folds away and a large double bed.
If you’re wondering at this point what exactly makes this trailer a good fit for winter excursions, then read on:
- Inbuilt whole trailer insulation
- The heated tanks that are electronically controlled and monitored
- Upgraded windows
- Electronically heated master bedroom mattress
- Upgraded fireplace
- Heated floor ducts
Pros: This trailer features a ton of traits that make it particularly well suited to winter weather. Admittedly, it’s not much to look at, but what it lacks in the looks department it more than makes up for in the functionality department. We’re sure that if you are someone that likes camping trailers and enjoy the winter months outdoors, the Windjammer will definitely become a firm favorite.
Cons: It’s a heavy trailer to haul around, more so than most other camp trailers. Given its size and weight, it might take a while to get used to using it, especially if you’re new to pulling a trailer.
Jayco Redhawk 26XD
The Jayco is a visually stunning RV that all but guarantees a snug and warm environment, doubly so if you’re looking to purchase one of latest 2017 – 2018 models. You’ll be spoilt for choice with five floorplans to pick from, meaning you’ll no doubt find something to meet your specific requirements. All models boast a robust Ford chassis, ample linen closets, a generous refrigerator, an awning, as well as a massive queen-sized bed.
Every Redhawk is generously proportioned, so in addition to the above, you should have little trouble fitting in the following:
- A queen-sized bed
- More closet space
- A fully equipped bathroom with shower, sink, and toilet
- An array of kitchen appliances, storage, and work surfaces
- A large sofa
- A 32-inch television
Obviously, the equipment and space are impressive, how about the purpose of this article, how does it fare during cold weather? The huge fuel tank, powerful auto-igniting furnace and large capacity water heater all ensure you should feel warm and comfortable no matter what the outside weather is doing. If you want to take your family, your friend’s family, and your dogs with you on your winter excursions, then the eight-person sleeping arrangements should be more than adequate.
Pros: There’s an awful lot to like about the Redhawk, it’s massive and feels like a holiday home, but it’s also easy to maintain a very comfortable temperature no matter what the weather outside is doing.
Cons: To achieve all of these luxury offerings you’ll need to spend a small fortune on the Redhawk, prices are just shy of $100,000. Opting for the previous years’ model will be cheaper but you may have to sacrifice many of the newer luxury features.
Lance 4 Seasons Travel Trailer
Manufactured specifically for all-season driving, including winter and warm weather, the Lance proves that you need not spend a fortune to experience winter trips. Here’s a quick breakdown of its features:
- Easily removable hatch covers, can be added or removed in a matter of seconds depending on what the weather is doing outside. The insulated covers are designed to keep the outdoor weather conditions from encroaching into the indoors of your RV, which means happy campers.
- The design utilizes insulation, which supersedes the more traditional wood. The good thing about this thermoplastic is that it’s a natural insulator which is adept at keeping the heat in and the cold out, it will also provide a certain amount of soundproofing, meaning you’ll be at least partially immune from the sounds of generators or other outdoor noises. Lastly, the insulation won’t rot or be prone to hosting mildew or mold, unlike wood tends to do.
- The RV features an impressive ducted warming system. Clever engineering and design mean that the heating is equally directed across the whole of the RV, ensuring every room is warmed to the same level.
Lastly, the windows are dual paned and tinted, which provides an additional level of insulation and soundproofing.
Pros: With bags and bags of insulation, worrying about the cold weather will be a distant memory. The added benefit of the soundproofing makes driving it an almost peaceful experience.
Cons: Nothing we can find. The Lance package is available for a range of truck trailers and toy trailers, which provides a ton of adaptability.
Forest River Arctic Wolf
The Arctic Wolf is available with six floorplans to pick from, meaning it’ll meet the requirements of nearly every RV fan. The largest models top out at a huge 10,000 pounds, equating to a hitch load of approximately 1,400 pounds. This weight is down to its generous proportions which max out at 35 feet in length and 11 feet in height.
In addition to its comfortable dimensions, Artic Wolf owners can pick from either an Extreme Weather Package or the Arctic Package for any winter excursions. Let’s take a look at each package:
- Windows for the upper bunks
- Wired solar setup
- Pull-out kitchen taps
- Optional fittings for outdoor TV and shower
- Hardwired entertainment system
- Entry doors with friction hinges
Extreme Weather Package
- Arctic insulation fitted throughout
- Ducted air-con
- Featured fast cool fan
- Upper decking with insulation
- Powerful ceiling fan
- Underfloor heating
- High gloss wall construction
- A powerful furnace capable of outputting 35,000 BTUs in a matter of seconds
Pros: If you purchase the Arctic Wolf with the Extreme weather package, you’ll be comfortable, warm and immune from the outside weather conditions, no matter what it’s doing.
Cons: The size and mass of this RV can pose a hurdle for anyone inexperienced driving with such a large vehicle, turning, and other maneuvers may prove to be challenging.
Jayco 327CKTS Eagle
Jayco makes a second appearance on our list with the Eagle. The new model just released in 2018 includes a range of improvements and upgrades, including a sizeable refrigerator, a comfortable and luxurious queen-sized bed, massive wardrobes and a washer dryer combo.
Additionally, you’ll have a full 19 feet of outdoor warning to utilize, a well-equipped full bathroom which includes a toilet, sink, shower and closet, a kitchen with everything you might need, a large sofa and an extra recliner.
If that’s not enough to suit your needs, you can optionally choose a décor package which will make your RV feel more like a home away from home. Additionally, there are a few optional extras:
- Double-glazed tinted windows
- The dry package, which provides LP storage and capacity
- The Waste System
- A digitally managed and monitored tankless water heating system
Pros: As we’ve already discussed, the Jayco name is well known in the RV industry for providing four seasons options. The upgraded 2018 model of the Eagle provides a range of comfort upgrades that rival those of your home. The capabilities and luxury appointments mean you could feasibly keep going on the trail all year round.
Cons: Only the most recent version of the Eagle feature everything detailed above, older models will cost less but won’t be as well-appointed.
Heartland is a giant within the world of RVs and has established a reputation over the years as a firm that is more than capable of producing RVs that can go up against even the toughest of weather conditions. The Bighorn is not an exception and well deserves the hype associated with the brand. This trailer boasts close to a dozen floor plans to choose from, which means regardless of your requirement, budget or niche needs, there’s going to be a Bighorn that will tick all of your boxes.
These trailers are available in a variety of size combinations, with the largest coming in at an impressive 14,000 points, which equates to a hitching load of close to 3,000 lbs. This mass is largely due to the 45 feet in length.
Nearly every single floor plan features the following feet warming features:
- An inbuilt A/C System with insulation
- A heat pumping furnace that can crank out 42,000 warming BTUs
- Floor heating ducts that move heat equally around the RV
- The design and build feature insulation built into every aspect of the RV, including the floors, walls, roofing, and windows.
- A heated underside
- Enjoy a bathroom away from home with patented water lines.
- The aesthetics provided by the fiberglass walls, laminated flooring, and tinted windows means the RV will turn heads wherever it goes.
- If you’re looking for a comfortable night’s sleep, the Bighorn provides this in bucket loads with extra storage, large king-sized bed, a mattress made from memory foam, and recessed lighting
Pros: Unfortunately we can’t cover every exciting feature of the RV in this article, best rest assured that the Heartland Bighorn delivers impressive comfort and winter capabilities that will leave you impressed. The large selection of floor plans means you’ll be hard-pressed to find a combination that doesn’t meet your requirements.
Cons: We’re hard-pressed to find any faults with the Bighorn, it’s a seriously impressive piece of kit.
Another brilliant camper trailer in our list is the Raptor. As you would expect from a brand such a Keystone, you’ll receive a ton of features, including artic packages to choose from. Additionally, you may choose some optional extras.
The Raptor has a range of eight intelligently designed floor plans to pick from. All designs feature the same basic rooms, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms, however, the exact layout and the amount of room dedicated to each room changes based on the chosen floor plan.
Providing a comfortable and warming environment is the MaxFlo air conditioning unit which can pump out an impressive 15k BTUs. This will keep you warm and toasty during even the biggest cold snaps.
Pros: If you’re looking to buy a Keystone trailer, then we think the Raptor is an obvious choice. Once you’ve chosen your ideal floor plan and you’ve cranked up the heating, you’ll have no excuse for not heading out for a winter adventure.
Cons: None that we can find. The sheer popularity of the Raptor is a testament to its capabilities.
Heartland LM Arlington
If you choose to buy Arlington with the Yeti Package equipped, you’re buying on the most capable and beloved arctic packages that are available. The package is, of course, optional, but if you’re serious about taking your RV out in cold weather conditions, it’s an obvious choice.
Coupled with the away from home package, your RV is going to remain in tip-top condition regardless of how many times you choose to take it out. Read on for some of the outstanding innovations that are available as standard:
- A power bed with inbuilt reading and convenience lights
- A lockable and secure safe
- A generously equipped kitchen including an oven
- A tiled backsplash area with gorgeous backlighting
- Soft-touch tables
- Inbuilt USB charging ports
- An inverter with built-in surge protection as standard
- An ambient illumination system
- You may optionally add the capability for an exterior TV, inbuilt dishwasher and powerful bathroom extractor fans.
In order to fit all these features in the Heartland weighs in at 15,170 lbs which equates to a 3,100 lbs hitch weight, and the ability to carry a further 2,780 lbs, this means that this vehicle is far from the smallest vehicle on our roster. The Heartland measures in at eight feet across and slightly larger than 13 feet in height.
Pros: Taking into consideration the Yeti Package, the Arlington is a seriously capable and comfortable cold-weather RV. It is continually mentioned when the best four-season RVs are discussed. It’s without a doubt the premier artic packages available to buy.
Cons: Without the optional Yeti Package, the Arlington is not as capable. You’ll need to pay for the package which can make it a pricey purchase.
Northwood Arctic Fox
Very few arctic campers are as popular well know or held in such high regard as the Fox. The reason for this is simple enough, the Arctic Fox accomplishes what it was set out to do and contains a ton of helpful features. Let’s take a closer look:
- Built into the bedroom are USB charging ports, as well as a well-proportioned mattress and carpeting throughout
- A fully function bathtub with a skylight and foldable shower screen
- A foot-operated toilet
- Powerful extractor fans in the bedrooms
- Inbuilt skylights and a sizeable fridge as well as ample storage space
- A fully equipped kitchen including a microwave
- A booth eating area and L shaped sofa with comfortable pillows
- A digitally monitored and controlled thermostat for perfect heating
- Inbuilt smoke, carbon monoxide, and LPG detectors
- A foldaway 19-inch widescreen TV with Bluetooth connectivity and CD/DVD player
- A range of clever storage options
- Fully insulated through with four-seasons foam insulation, providing exceptional insulation properties
And that’s not everything! With all the features, it would be easy to mistake the interior for a luxury apartment. If you so choose, you can even add additional features such as generators, solar panels, cameras, thermal windows and much more besides.
Pros: A fantastic offering from an already impressive brand, the Arctic Fox proves that the cold weather doesn’t need to hinder your outdoor adventures. It’s entirely possible that you could be living in the lap of luxury that you’ll not want to go home.
Cons: Like anything that borders the line of luxury, you’re going to have to pay for the privilege of all of these features. The latest models from 2017 onwards will cost upwards of $56,000, and previous models don’t tend to depreciate that much, which in itself is a testament to their quality.
Perhaps the best known cold weather RV, the Montana is a legend in its own right. People have and still do live all year round in this capable vehicle. This model has a 15-year pedigree which has stood the test of time, proving year upon year that it’s at the top of the pile for all-weather RVs and well deserving of its excellent reputation.
In developing and testing the Keystone Montana, technicians would use the RV in Indiana for several weeks on end during freezing temperatures to ensure the vehicle was capable of continued exposure to very low temperatures. Additionally, within the Montana testing facility, the Keystone was tested in temperatures as low as zero degrees Fahrenheit, which is far below what you’re likely to come across in the wild. Needless to say that Montana flew through every test with full marks. This is in part due to the equipment included:
- Digitally controlled and monitored dual thermostat
- Ducted secondary A/C
- Powerful free-flow 15,000 BTU air conditioning
- Heated water drains
- Electrically heated tanks
- Built-in water lines
- Insulated holding tanks and dump valves
- Insulated heated underbelly
- Attic system with full venting
- Insulated heated ducting system
- A 35k BTU heating furnace with auto-igniting feature
- Insulated roofing, flooring, walls, and windows that massively improve heat retention
Pros: If you’re looking for an RV that will stay warm on the inside no matter what the weather is doing on the outside, then you’d be hard pushed to find a better option than Montana. The vehicle has been designed from the ground up to deliver outstanding cold-weather capabilities, ensuring its occupants remain in the lap of luxury.
Cons: Top of the range options will cost quite a bit of money, which may be too much for someone starting out as an RV enthusiast.
All Season RV FAQ
Just because the temperatures are freezing and the days are short does not mean that you cannot enjoy camping in your RV. However, RV camping in colder temperatures is quite different from camping during other seasons.
Having the right information will ensure that you enjoy a safe and relaxing camping trip. The information contained in this cold weather RV FAQ section seeks to answer the most frequently asked questions about winter RV camping.
1. How To Use An RV When Temperatures are Freezing
The most important step to take to ensure a great RV camping trip is to prepare your RV for the rigors of winter weather camping. Not all rigs are designed to take winter weather in stride. Below are some steps you should take in order to RV camp in freezing temperatures.
Air-seal and Insulate the Doors and Windows
RV doors and windows can be poorly insulated and air-sealed and are major sources of heat loss during cold weather. The best way to air-seal your doors is to add some weather-stripping around the door frames.
Using a piece of insulating fabric or blanket, create a full-length curtain for your doors. You can also do the same for the windows. Insulate your windows further by installing double or triple-paned windows, plastic film insulation, and thick fabric curtains.
Insulate the Ceiling Vents
You will require ventilation to replace humid internal air with drier external air. Insulate and plug the ceiling vents with something that seals them but can be easily removed.
To insulate ceiling vents, invest in factory-made vent plugs. You can also use rigid insulation, which you cut to the size of the openings and wrap with duct tape to strengthen it.
Insulate the Plumbing and Electrical Openings
It’s essential that you seal and insulate the areas around electrical openings and plumbing on the outside of your RV. Use expanding foam insulation for large gaps and caulk for smaller gaps.
Be careful when using foams since they can expand and cause damage. Always go for low-expansion foams typically used around windows and doors.
Skirt Your RV
Including skirting to your RV serves to reduce heat loss from the areas underneath the rig. There is a wide range of commercially available skirting solutions build from a variety of materials such as rigid insulation and plywood.
Insulating your skirting with rigid insulation will help keep the area under your RV warm. This will, in turn, keep your floor warm and prevent freezing underneath the rig. It is advisable to bury the skirting a few inches underground if the area is not frozen. Doing this will reduce air flow and add stability.
Prepping the Water Systems
Before embarking on a winter RV camping trip, empty the black and gray water tanks. Add approximately a quart of special RV antifreeze (not the type used in cars) to the tanks. Doing this will prevent freezing in the dump valves.
Ensure that you insulate all the pipes draining into the tanks. If you will be RV camping in cold weather for an extended period, you may consider including electrical pipe heaters. Note that these will require a generator or electric hook up.
You may also invest in AC (120V) or DC (12V) holding tank heaters. Always insulate the sewer hose to prevent the formation of ice dams. It is advisable to empty the tanks periodically instead of continuously.
Purchase a heated water hose in case you utilize a freshwater hook-up. These will help avert freeze-ups and bursting. All cables and hoses should be kept off the ground and out of snow.
Always Have Emergency Items
Many things can go wrong when RV camping in cold weather. Even the best planning may not help you avert unforeseen circumstances. Below are some items that can help you out during emergencies:
• Extra blankets
• Tire chains
• Weather band radio
• Winter rated Sleeping bags
• Drinking water in the heated storage space
• Extra propane tanks
• Emergency GPS system
• Solar charging panels
• Blow drier for defrosting tanks and pipes
2. How can I Insulate RV windows For Cold Weather?
The windows are one of the major sources of heat in RVs. This is also true for homes, apartments and office buildings. Insulating your RV windows can make a huge difference in keeping the RV warmer. There are three main ways that you can insulate your RV windows. They include plastic insulation films, triple-paned windows or double and curtains.
Double or triple-paned windows are windows that have small gaps between the panes. These gaps are usually filled with gas, which helps trap heat. This design helps keep the heat in and your RV warmer.
Double or triple-pane windows also reduce heat transfer and condensation issues. If your RV has these features then that great news. You can have these windows installed if your rig does not have them. Alternatively, there are several ways that you can create the same effect. You can use thick plastic films or Lexan on the outside of your windows.
Add heat-shrink or plastic films on the inside too to reduce cold air filtration and heat loss. Invest in curtains that provide some insulation value as well. Polar fleece or quilted fabrics are great options. You can purchase them at fabric or retail stores.
You can seal the curtains to the wall with fasteners such as Velcro to reduce air drafts. Ensure that you cover the windows that you are not using for light. You can use rigid foam insulation to seal these windows and reduce heat loss considerably.
3. Will a Cold Weather Package Help When Storing the RV?
Cold weather packages, also referred to as arctic or polar packages, are a great addition to your RV when you are storing it during cold weather. Arctic packages have a number of upgrades that will be vital during storage. Some of the upgrades include:
• Double or the triple-paned windows
• Extra floor and roof insulation
• Heating pads for freshwater and the wastewater tanks
• Enclosed underbellies
• Temperature guarantees
• Heated storage bays
There are different types of cold weather packages with different upgrades. Overall, an arctic package will help you maintain comfort and functionality when storing your RV.
4. What Do I Use To Cover My RV Bathroom Vents and Skylights During Freezing Weather?
Your RV loses considerable amounts of heat through the bathroom vents and skylights during winter weather. Vent and skylight insulation can help keep the air inside warmer. You can use several materials for insulation.
They include reflective foil wrap, rigid insulation panels, and loft insulation. Reflective foil wrap is similar to silver bubble wrap. This type of insulation has a dual purpose. You can use it in cold weather to help hold in heat and also in summer as extra shade.
Styrofoam and polystyrene boards are great low-cost insulation panels that you can use to cover the RV skylights. Always go for panels that are foil-lined on either side for extra thermal protection. Loft insulation is the flexible material rolls found in many lofts.
Loft insulation is a great option for bathroom vents as you can squeeze it in spaces where rigid insulation panels cannot fit. There are a variety of materials used in loft insulation including recycled denim, recycled plastic, fiberglass, and wool. These materials have different R-values (thermal protection).
5. How Do I Store My RV In The Winter?
Sometimes you will need to store your RV during very cold weather in order to avoid damaging it. There are two main approaches to storing your RV during winter: renting a storage unit and applying an RV cover. Renting an RV storage unit is a more effective option but also the most costly.
If you are located near a storage facility and want to provide proper protection to your rig, then this is the way to go. A great online tool to locate an RV storage facility near you is Sparefoot. Sparefoot is a convenient platform that allows you to access the closest-storage facilities via your ZIP code.
If your budget doesn’t permit you to rent a storage unit, purchasing an RV cover is a great option to protect your RV in cold weather. RV covers prevent ice buildup and snow accumulation on the exterior of your rig. They also keep meltwater from seeping into the seams, panels and other components of your RV. Below are a few steps that you need to take to safely store your rig under an RV cover:
• Clean and dry the interior and exterior of the RV before covering.
• Remove the batteries and store in a secure place.
• Inflate the RV tires and place something between them and the ground.
• Ensure that you drain out all your water systems.
• Double-check that the cover shelters all sides completely.
• Always monitor the snow that accumulates on your roof.
6. What Is The Best RV Sewer Hose For Winter?
Having a quality RV sewer hose is very essential and more so during cold weather. The RV sewer hose provides a way to drain the waste that accumulates during your RV camping trips. There are certain key characteristics of a quality RV sewer hose.
It has to have durable construction, must be leak-proof, should be easy to install/use and should be able to withstand cold temperatures (most are built for warm weather). Currently, the best RV sewer hose for winter weather is the RhinoExtreme hose from Camco.
Camco is renowned for producing top quality and unique RV products. The company claims that the RhinoExtreme hose can survive -44 degrees F without cracking. It is also abrasion and crush resistant due to a triple TPE vinyl layering and polyolefin wire core. This means that the hose will not dent or rust.
Is it possible to live in an RV in the winter?
With enough preparation and planning it's absolutely possible to live in your RV throughout the cold winter months. Just make sure you've done everything you can insulate your RV against weather extremes.
How cold is too cold for an RV?
Even with a well-equipped cold weather RV, once you start dipping into the minus Fahrenheits, you might find things begin to not work as expected. You'll absolutely need to take extra precautions to insulate anything that's exposed to the elements. Even then you might find that the experience is far from enjoyable.
Can I use my RV toilet in the winter?
This depends on the RV. Four season or cold weather RVs are likely to have insulated holding tanks, in which case using the toilet should be fine. Be wary if your holding tanks are not insulated and the temperatures drop low enough to freeze, in which case I would avoid using the toilet.
All Season RV Conclusion
As the saying goes ‘winter is coming’, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need to migrate south with the starlings. If you want to head out into a winter wonderland, then choosing one of the ten cold weather RVs we’ve discussed will all but guarantee a comfortable trip. Some of them are larger, better equipped or costlier than others, but all are capable and will make great choices for anyone looking to spend some time exploring the winter landscape.