Pop-up campers are a great way to find your own slice of heaven wherever you park. However, what about the colder seasons?
Can a pop-up camper be used in the dead of winter? Yes, a pop-up camper can be used in winter. But you need to take some preventive measures to ensure that you don’t damage your camper. You will need to make sure that your camper is customized in a way that it can hold heat in.
But before you strap on your snow boots and pack your sleds, make sure that you (and your camper!) are winter weather ready.
Here is everything you need to know about keeping yourself safe.
The most dangerous part of using a camper in the winter is the effect of the elements.
Not only can your camper suffer from damage from a harsh winter, but you may also find that living inside of the camper during the cold can be challenging.
Be Well-Prepared Before You Leave
Before you even set foot in your camper for a winter exploration you should be sure that you have all of your bases covered.
You should be as prepared as possible. From knowing how to understand weather patterns to make sure to pack plenty of warm clothes; preparation is key.
Here are some of the ways you can prepare yourself this winter:
Know the terrain
Half of the fun of having a pop-camper is the unknown. A weekend by the beach or out in the redwoods is truly something magical. However, in the winter time, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Especially if this is your first excursion during the colder months. Study weather reports on where you are traveling and become as familiar you can with the area surrounding where you want to stay.
Even though traveling in a pop-up camper can be a great journey of self-discovery, you don’t have to go through it alone. This is especially true in the case of emergencies.
This is why it is so important to know before heading out the door, the contact information for emergency crews near where you plan on parking.
Bring more warm stuff
When it comes to fighting off the nighttime chill, make sure that you have packed plenty of cold weather clothes and blankets to keep you toasty.
Pop-up campers offer a great amount of creative space that can be used for storage so bring more than you think you may need. During the winter you won’t be able to hang dry wet clothes like you normally would during travel and nothing ruins a cozy night in more than soggy socks.
Plan for outages
Just like ordinary camping trips, you want to make sure to bring the emergency essentials. This will be especially important in the winter.
Extra candles, lanterns as well as heat induction items will be a must. Heavy winter storms can knock down power lines including the ones you may be planning on hooking your camper up to. So, be prepared to weather the potential storm.
How to winterize your pop-up camper
If you are an avid camper, you may already know how to properly winterize your pop-up RV.
However, there is a big difference between weatherproofing your camper for use again in the spring and weatherizing your camper for winter use.
Common steps like bypassing your hot water tank will not be necessary for using your camper in the cold. The main reason this step is taken is to prevent the pipes from bursting during the winter. However, since your camper will be in use and the water will be turned on and off often throughout your trip, you won’t need to worry about the pipes bursting.
While bursting pipes won’t be on your list of worries, there are plenty of other ways you will need to prepare your pop-up camper for the chilly cold:
You Might Consider PVC Pipes
Reinforcing your plumbing with PVC pipes can really help you out during the colder months of winter.
This will help to protect your water tank from freezing cold temperatures. This will also help to add insulation to your water system to keep them from freezing.
Not only will this trick work on your water system but also works wonders on your RV’s sewer system.
Use a Composting Toilet
One unseen problem that may occur when traveling in a camper during the winter is how the cold will affect your sewage system.
Switching to more environmentally responsible toilets will do much more than reducing your carbon footprint. Compositing solid wastes will help to keep them from freezing and doing damage to your sewage line.
Stock Up Well before you leave
Simple items like ice scrapers and windshield fluids should be well stocked inside your camper before adventuring out into the cold.
This is because you will be using these items more than you would for just a simple car trip. Scrapers can easily break and ant-freeze vehicle fluids will be running more frequently causing you to run through your supply rather quickly.
How To Stay Warm
Protecting yourself from the elements is the best way to ensure that you will have a successful winter camping trip. At the end of the day, adventures like these should be fun and enjoyable and nothing can ruin those vacation vibes quicker than a shivering cold night.
This is why it is crucial to make your camper an indoor warm oasis on the most extreme cold of nights.
The first thing you should do is make sure that your camper is built to hold in heat.
Having small air leaks means that you are wasting your precious resource and severely cooling down the inside temperature. Check to make sure that your camper is fully insulated. For extra measure, install plastic sheeting on the windows of your camper and well as extra lining around the door.
This will help to ensure that the heat stays put.
While space heaters are a great option for warming up tiny spaces, like in campers, there are plenty of other ways to keep yourself warm. Invest in high-quality bedding like down comforters which work wonders when it comes to keeping your body warm.
Also, electric blankets are a great way to help you forget that your parked in the dead cold and instead will create a magical warm world for you to sink into.
However, with these types of heat agents, it’s important to remember that safety should always come first. This is why you should find heated blankets and space heaters with automatic shut-off options.
How To Stay Safe
There are many unforeseen problems that can occur when camping during the winter. However, with the right amount of preparation, you can spend more of your vacation relaxing and less time worrying.
Here are a few key things you will want to keep in mind in order to keep yourself safe this winter:
Remember Fire Extinguishers
Any avid camper knows that fire extinguishers are a must while traveling in a pop-up RV. However, this is especially true when you consider all of the extra electricity pumpings through your camper.
With electric blankets and space heaters, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared with a backup (or two!) extinguishers.
If you’re traveling in a vintage camper you need to pay extra attention to the electronics and wiring.
One thing that is often forgotten about when camping in the winter, is mold.
The air will be full of moist inside the camper after a good long sleep, so to offset this it will be necessary to use a mini dehumidifier to keep you comfortable. Along with the increased humidity comes mold, especially with improper ventilation. We recommend these two dehumidifiers.
Keep a Full Tank (or at least half full)
One of the most important things that you should do in order to stay safe during winter travels is to always keep your gas tank at least ½ way full.
The colder weather can deplete your gas supply. You should always assume that some of your gas will evaporate overnight. So, plan ahead by making sure to never leave your tank near empty, especially on below freezing temperature nights.
Knowing is half the battle when it comes to planning a successful winter time camping trip.
While your summer adventures are met with sun and sand, winter takes much more preparation. This doesn’t mean that it has to be all work and no play either. Winter is one of the best times to get out there and explore so don’t let the freezing cold scare you away.
With the right amount of skill and preparation, you can see all of winter’s magical splendor up close without any hesitation. Pop-up campers are the perfect vessel for all of your winter traveling needs.
The intimate and cozy space provides the best source of installation to keep you warm even on the coldest of nights. This, paired with the amazing backdrop of ice-laced trees and snow slurry sunsets will leave you hitting the road during winter each year.
Further reading: How Does Pop-up Camper Work?
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Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.