So your thinking of using your RV year-round. You can use your camper during the warm month. But, can travel trailers be used in the winter?
Yes, travel trailers can be used during the winter if they have been designed to do so. Campers equipped with a four-season package can be used throughout the year as their underbelly is heated and insulation is designed to allow the travel trailer to withstand the colder temperatures.
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What is a 4-Season Package?
Unfortunately, there isn’t an RV industry standard that defines what is the criteria for a four-season package. However, if you know how and when you are going to use your travel trailer then we can define what you need to look for in a camper that will be suitable for your use.
First off you need to determine how you will use your camper. Here are some questions to consider:
- Are you planning on long trips or short trips?
- Bringing family and/or friends or will just be you?
- Boondocking (dry camping) or planning on getting hook-ups (power, water, sewer)
- Is your RV designed for off-road use in remote, rugged areas?
- Is full-time living in your RV something you expect to do?
Your answer to the questions above is going to help you determine what are the features you should be looking for in a four-season package. In some cases, it may be features you can add to your existing RV to make it four-season ready.
For instance, you may need:
- Solar panels
- A particular amount of interior and storage space
- Additional heating or cooling
- The specific type of thermo-windows
- Additional or larger propane tanks
- A generator or extra batteries
Keep in mind the majority of campers are not outfitted for 4-season use. Most offer protection down to about 40-degrees. If the temperature falls below that you may find yourself at the nearest hotel.
To fully enjoy a comfortable four-season experience your travel trailer needs, at a minimum the following:
1. Enclosed and Heated Underbelly
If you can see your tanks that means they are not protected from the elements. To protect your tanks from freezing temperatures and heat you should have an enclosed and insulated underbelly. Besides, if you are going to camp in areas of extreme cold that a heated underbelly is highly recommended.
2. Water Connections
In a four-season RV water lines run through an inner compartment which keeps them from freezing during cold weather. Some water lines are heated while others can be wrapped in heat tape that you can buy. You can also purchase heated water that will connect from the potable water supply at the campsite to your holding tank. The one below is a good choice.
- Ideal for water line freeze protection down to -20 degree F (-28 degree C) with an energy saving thermostat
- Made with NSF-61 certified drinking water safe hose
Last update on 2020-11-30 / Paid Affiliate Link / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
3. Double Pane Windows
The windows on your travel trailer should be double-pane windows. Double-pane windows provide better protection from the cold as they do not allow the cold air to pass through.
Word of Caution – Double-pane windows may fail and fog up. This is a costly repair that you should know about in advance. Having said that, there are many RV owners who will not get any other type of window for their campers.
A good idea is to have your windows tinted. This will keep the inside of your RV cooler during the hot summer days.
4. Ducted Heating System
An RV with a ducted heating system is going to keep your RV from having cold spots. If well designed the air ducts are going to be spaced appropriately to create a comfortable even temperature throughout the interior of your RV.
One thing to watch out for is loose connections in your ductwork that can allow heated or air-conditioned air to escape. So it’s important to inspect your HVAC and associated ductwork regularly.
5. Insulated Hatch Covers
Insulated hatch covers keep cold weather from seeping into your camper. They also protect pumps and generators, as well as any gear you may have stored in the pass-through storage compartment.
6. Pex Pipes
Unlike copper or solid plastic pipe, Pex pipe actually expands if water was to freeze in them. Once the water thaws Pex pipes are not likely to have any ruptures, cracks, or leaks.
7. An Adequate Furnace
If your RV only has an air-conditioner and heat pump you’ll quickly find out that setup is inadequate when the temperature drops below 32F. The heat will simply not generate enough heat to keep the RV warm.
Look for a furnace the can provide 30,000 BTUs and that is connected to a good heat duck system that will distribute the heat evenly throughout your camper.
Skirting prevents cold air from passing underneath your camper and creating cold floors or cold air seeping in through any openings under the camper. Skirting can be permanent if you intend not to move your RV, however, most of us use our RVs so a temporary skirting solution is a way to go.
Here is the RV Windksirt. It is available n various sizes and works great.
- It also meets new campground requirements for skirting your entire RV
- Keeps the wind from blowing under your RV & into your socializing area
Last update on 2020-11-30 / Paid Affiliate Link / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Here is a video on the installation of the RV Windskirt.
Top 5 Best All-Season Travel Trailers
Below are 5 travel trailers that have been designed to be used in all four seasons. They all meet the minimum criteria we discussed above. Some go above and beyond and we’ll make sure to point those out.
1. Northwood Manufacturing Arctic Fox North Fork
At the top of our list is the Arctic Fox North Fork by Northwood Manufacturing. The Arctic Fox is available in 6 different floor plans, including 3 that are dual entry travel trailers. They range in length from 29′ 5″ to 38 ‘ 11″. Northwood’s 4-Season Package includes a fully insulated holding tank, enclosed knife valves to keep them from freezing, and various residential quality insulation such as Rigid Foam, Batten & Reflective Foil.
Here are some additional 4-Season Package features:
- Auto-ignition furnace – (25K to 30K BTU depending on floor plan)
- High-density foam block insulation
- R-15 Reflective Foil Insulation in Roof / Slide
- Heated holding tanks
- Frameless Thermal Pane Windows
- Extra Large Fridge (10 Cu Ft) w/ Cold Weather kit
Overall the Arctic Fox is a great travel trailer you can use in the winter just about anywhere.
2. Heartland Elkridge 5th Wheel
The Heartland Elkridge 5th wheel is a 4-season camper with great features and amenities. It is available in 6-floor plans. These are well-made luxury four-season 5th wheels with features such as Amish-crafted cabinetry, solid surface countertops, lots of storage space, and all have one or more slideouts for extra space.
When it comes to its four-season preparedness the Heartland Elkridge does not disappoint. For instance, the 37 Bar included the following:
- 35,000 BTU furnace
- R11 Rvalue for the wall insulation
- Heated and enclosed underbelly
- R-38 Rvalue for the floor insulation
- R-40 Rvalue for the roof insulation
- Azdel laminated sidewalls.
- Ducted heating system
Overall the Heartland Elkridge is a great 5th wheel for all-season camping. The features and amenities that come with it are hard to beat and the luxury interior will make you feel right at home.
3. Outdoors RV Mountain Series
When it comes to manufacturing a 4-season travel trailer right out of the box practically no one comes as close as Outdoors RV. Their Mountain Series has been built to withstand the rigors of the cold climate in the Mountain States and Western Canada.
The Mountain series of campers is available in various floor plan classes. They are the Creekside class which are under 6,000 lbs with floor lengths ranging from 18 feet to 21 feet. There 5-floor plans available in this class.
The Timberridge class range in weight from 6,000 lbs to 7,750 lbs and have a floor-length from 22-28 feet. There are 8 available floor plans in this class.
The Blackstone class is over 7,000 lbs and has a floor-length of 26-31 feet. There are 6-floor plans in this class.
The final class of the Mountain Series is Glacier Peak. These are 5th wheels and available in 3-floor plans.
The features that make the Outdoors RV Mountain Series 4-season are as follows:
- Mountain Extreme Thermal Pane Windows
- Triple-Layered Four Seasons Roof Insulation
- Fully Enclosed Heated Insulated Underbelly
- Insulation Wrapped Holding Tanks
- 1″ Thick Thermal Insulated Luggage Doors
- Thermal Insulated Bedroom Ceiling Vent
- XL Furnace for Extreme Camping Heat System
- Norcold (Refrigerator) Cold Weather Kit – Operation Down to – 0 F
- Exterior Shower Protected by 1″ Insulated Door
- Semi-Auto Winterization System
Outdoors RV is not one of the RV brands you hear much about, but as you can see from the specs they make an excellent travel trailer suitable for all season.
4. Keystone Montana
The Keystone Montana is available in 17 different floor plans. Thee Montana is built solid with welded aluminum-framed walls and floors. %/8 inch floor decking, seamless roto-cast holding tanks, laminated sidewalls, and double-insulated laminated rear wall.
Inside you’ll find a host of luxury features including theater-seating on some models, flush-mounted LED interior lights, a Queen bed, lots of storage, and a whole lot more.
Its 4-season features are just as impressive. Here are just a few of the features you will find.
- 3″x 14″ in-floor straight line heat duct system (Four Season Living Package)
- 35,000 BTU Furnace (Four Season Living Package)
- 16,500 Btu heat pump on the main air conditioner (Four Season Living Package)
- 12V electric tank heaters (Four Season Living Package)
- Enclosed and heated low point drains (Four Season Living Package)
- Dual-pane frameless windows (Optional)
- (R-21) Insulated Main Floor
- (R-38 Equivalent) Radiant Technology Insulated Roof
- Enclosed, Insulated and Heated Underbelly
- Enclosed, Insulated and Heated Holding Tanks and Dump Valves
One of the more interesting things about the Keystone Montana is the testing it went through to determine its extreme cold-weather capabilities.
With the help of Dometic, Keystone engineers develop a test to see just how well the interior temperature of the RV held up as outside temperatures dropped. The Montana 5th wheel was placed in a test chamber and the thermostat was set to 74-degrees.
The ambient temperature of the chamber was reduced to 0-degrees over a sustained period of time. This condition simulated a typical extreme cold weather camping trip.
Probes monitored temperature in critical areas in the RV including holding tanks and pass-through storage. The production model exceeded all expectations. Inside temperature average 70 to 72 degrees even when the outside temperature dropped to -4 degrees.
If RVing in any season including extremely cold weather then getting a 4-season RV that is properly equipped will make the experience a lot more enjoyable and hassle-free. The 4 campers listed above are all excellent units that have the capabilities of being used all year round. As I’ve said before, do your research since specification can change on a particular RV, stay within your budget, and buy for your intended needs.
If you are wanting something a bit more classic and have no need to camp when it’s very cold take a look at these 8 retro campers we write about.