How to Survive Cold Weather Camping … without a Four Seasons RV

004 (640x427)It’s getting cold these days. As repairs on the ol’ camper drag on, I’m watching the thermometer droop ever downwards. Needless to say, I thought I’d be on the road by now, but Murphy and his law had other plans.

So here I sit, watching the odd snowflake drift by, mockingly, and ask myself: How cold does it have to be before the pipes freeze on your RV?

Winter Camping

Am I completely crazy? Almost, but not quite. According to Google, people search for the term “winter rv camping” about 210 times per month. Not a lot. More surprising—people search for the phrase “winter camping”—meaning tent camping—about 4,400 times per month. So get this: tenting in the winter is about 21 times more popular than RV camping in the winter. Now that is crazy. Better put it on my bucket list.

How Cold Before Your Pipes Freeze?

I paid a little visit to several RV forums, like and Imagine my relief when I discovered that RV water lines don’t magically freeze solid the instant the thermometer brushes against 32° F. More than one person noted that if you set a dish of water out on a night that dips below freezing, you won’t find any ice in the morning. Generally speaking, most RVers find their water lines are good down to the upper twenties.

Two important factors come into play:

  • Ice takes time to form–several hours of below-freezing temps
  • The RV itself retains heat, helping to keep the pipes warm

But what if I accidentally get caught in really cold temperatures? I found cool answers to that question, too. RVers are a very creative and determined group of people.

How to Turn a Three Seasons RV into a Four Seasons RV

  • Perform an emergency winterize. Drain the tanks and water pipes and fill with RV antifreeze (usually used for storing your RV over the winter). Then outfit yourself with several gallons of drinking water, park next to a bathroom, and voilà.
  • Perform an emergency semi-winterize. Several people noted that you can still use your own bathroom, so long as you pour RV antifreeze into the holding tank. Flush with bottled water.
  • Invest in heat tape. This stuff looks so cool. It’s like a string of Christmas lights, minus the lights. You wrap the tape around your pipes, cover it with insulation, and plug it in. Tada! Heated pipes.
  • Apply skirting. From the pictures I’ve seen, campers don’t actually look cute in skirts—but it’s the only viable option for severely cold weather. Tarps, plywood, styrofoam, straw bales, and snowbanks have all been used for skirting. For extra coziness, you can park a little heater under the camper. (Does this create heated floors, too?)

Everyone is quick to note that none of these options are fail proof. So you could just …

Buy a Four Seasons RV

I’ve been a very naughty girl. While I’m at the RV stores getting repairs done and picking up supplies, I always succumb to the urge to peek inside the big, fancy new models. Apparently, I’m not the only one who wants to enjoy cold weather camping. Four seasons RVs are the thing now days. They sport such niceties as enclosed and heated water pipes and are guaranteed down to 0° F. Of course, they also come with flat-screen TVs and electric fireplaces. Hey, I wouldn’t complain!

So what do you think? Will I and my camper survive this dare against Jack Frost?

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