Summer exploration can be one of the most enjoyable activities for us as outdoorsy people, but why does the fun have to end there? As the winter breeze begins rolling in, why not begin preparing your campervan for winter instead of waiting until next spring for the next road trip?
There can be multiple advantages to setting out during the off-season. During the winter, there are fewer tourists, less traffic, and more space on the road. Rental for RVs are also cheaper as there is less demand, if you aren’t in favour of buying a brand new or 2nd hand model. If you like your alone time, crisp mornings, and long empty roads, winter campervanning might not be a bad idea.
When done correctly, campervanning in the winter can be one of the best experiences possible. You just need to consider a couple of additional factors which are extremely important to ensure you don’t find yourself stranded somewhere with your RV heater not functioning.
1. Plan for overnight temperatures
If your campervan already has built-in heating, the good news is you might not need any add-ons. If your campervan does not have built-in heating, investing in an overnight RV heater might be a good option for winter nights.
Adding additional insulation such as sheep’s wool can minimize heat loss within your van. Not to mention, sheep’s wool is sustainable, insulates well, and manages moisture/condensation. Additional options to minimize heat loss include fiberfill insulated window covers and upgrading floor insulation.
2. Check your gas supply
More often than not, our gas supply comes from butane; however, in the winter, an important suggestion is to swap from butane to propane as it has a lower freezing temperature.
Aside from switching your gas source, ensure that all vents are uncovered when using gas in the winter. No one wants to be the campervanner who suffered from a fire/explosion due to lack of ventilation.
3. Set up your winter and snow tires
Set yourself up for success by preparing your tires for winter travel. Before venturing out to a new location, research the terrain and region to ensure your safety while traveling. Some expected terrains in the winter include but are not limited to icy roads, coastal drives with strong winds, frozen lakes, marshes, and snowy mountains.
After researching the terrain and region, try calling/visiting your local tire shops for their expert opinion and quote options. Oftentimes, tire shops offer free quotes and leave you with more information on your van.
During the winter season, activities such as skiing and snowboarding are increasingly popular. If you plan on driving through the snow during the winter to your ski destinations, finding the appropriate tire chains is a must to ensure your safety.
4. Prepare for snowfall
Campervanning in the winter can possess more challenges when compared to summer, but preparing can make it easier.
When preparing for snowfall, it is important that your solar panels are covered with a tarp. This also means that you’ll need direct access to the roof of your van. If you don’t have direct access to the roof of your van, a folding ladder can be a great option.
In addition to accessing the top of your vehicle, ensure that you have a shovel on hand in the event that you need to dig yourself out of the snow. Folding shovels are a great space-saving option for those with little room in their van.
5. Protect your floors
During the winter, wet weather is more probable as we encounter snow and rain. It is important to consider how to manage wet floors or wet pets.
Mats are a cheap and easy alternative for managing wet floors.
Finding a good plastic container is also a great option for holding wet shoes or clothing. The benefits behind a plastic container are that the water or debris can be dumped out and the container will return to its normal condition.
If you are a pet traveler, keeping a towel by the door is a great option for immediately drying off your furry friend.
6. Ensure proper ventilation
With wet gear and indoor cooking comes great risk, mold.
If your van is not properly ventilated, the humidity will rise and mold is more likely to occur within your van. Preventing mold is possible if precautionary measures are taken such as ensuring that all vents, fans, and windows are clear when introducing wet items into your home.
Many campervanners hang their wet clothes near heat sources for drying. Please use extreme caution when using this option as it holds additional risks.
In the event that outside temperatures are too low, ensure that fans are on when cooking to eliminate moisture within your van.
If you are hesitant to hang your wet clothes or want to avoid catastrophes, a quick trip to the laundromat or other solutions is possible.
7. Bedding and Sleeping Conditions
A down comforter is a great all-year bedding option that can keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Keeping the van warm will be less of an issue if you have the proper bedding.
If your electric system is capable, an electric blanket can also be a great option.
8. Have the right gear
While the fun doesn’t have to stop after summer, your summer wardrobe might need a break.
Layering up is one of the most affordable and effective ways to stay warm in the winter. Investing in items such as a base layer, down jackets, and wool socks can be enough to survive the colder months. Vital areas like ears, neck and fingers can be properly protected by investing in a good neck warmer, gloves and beanie.
9. Do a mechanical inspection
Lower temperatures tend to lead to additional mechanical problems, especially when combined with rain.
Prior to taking any trips, perform a mechanical inspection on your van and ensure that all maintenance checks are up to date. Mechanical checks include oil changes, lighting checks (headlights, turn signals, etc.), water tank levels, and checking administrative documents.
10. Analyze your surroundings
Picking a spot to park can be a bit more tricky during the winter. Analyze your surroundings before parking your van in harm’s way.
Finding spots that offer wind protection, water sources, sun, and privacy is vital to having a successful trip. Groups of trees or parking before a hill are great natural wind blocks. Not to mention, parking where the sun rises will warm up your van faster.
Be cautious when parking and avoid parking near avalanche risks and tree hazards. Parking on or below a slope that can slide is a safety hazard along with parking underneath unstable/damaged tree limbs. If you would like to play safe and not go full-on into boondocking, opt for parking at campgrounds and having access to hot showers. Such a pleasure.
Campervanning in the winter can be a bigger challenge and more hassle when compared to summer; however, taking the necessary precautions and measures prior to travel can make it an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Don’t let the additional measures needed deter you from a snowy winter full of twinkling road trip memories.