Preparing for Cold Weather

Traveling in cold weather can be exciting, but it can also be perilous if you are not prepared. RV owners who live in northern areas generally do one of two things with their RV during the winter: They store it or they travel south with the well-known migration of other RV snowbirds.

Winter camping in places like Wisconsin is difficult at the least. Most RV parks in these areas are seasonal, closing for the winter (their owners often travel south for the winter themselves). What this means is camping without hookups, depending on batteries or a generator for electricity, and carrying all the water you need.

Your RV may not be equipped for extremely cold temperatures. If you are in the market for a new RV and plan on doing any winter (cold weather) camping at all, you may want to consider buying a motorhome that has been equipped with a winter package. Most manufacturers offer this package as an option.

To be prepared for winter weather, your RV will need upgraded insulation, improved heating options, and insulated water pipes. If you have one of the larger RVs, you probably have at least two air-conditioning units. If you plan on winter camping trips, you will want two furnaces on your big rig.


According to Jim Kerr in Canadian Driver, your battery may need to be charged for thirty minutes just to get warm enough to accept a charge in very cold temperatures. If you are camping in this type of weather, you might want to consider using an electric battery blanket to keep your battery charged.

If your motorhome is powered by diesel fuel, you may find that your rig does not start as well in cold weather. Diesel fuel thickens when it is cold. If it is especially cold, the fuel may not flow well from the tank to the engine. If you are using your diesel rig in winter, it should be equipped with heaters in the manifold to help keep the fuel at the proper consistency. You may also consider using the winter mix of diesel fuel. Most truck-stop gas stations that cater to long-distance truckers carry this winter mix (check your owner's manual for information, as the winter mix may not be approved for your engine).


The owner's manual for your motorhome has a wealth of information on the care and use of the diesel engine. Look under “cold-weather operation” for information on fuel and fuel additives that will keep the diesel fuel at the needed consistency for proper operation.

Additional Cold-Weather Tips

Here are some other things you should do when setting off on a cold-weather RV excursion:

  • Keep roof vents clear. Birds love to nest in these, but if blocked they can cause a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide.

  • Add antifreeze (available at your RV supply dealer) to the holding tanks in order to prevent their contents from freezing.

  • Add insulation to draperies and keep them closed to retain heat.

  • Check for wear and replace weather-stripping around doors and windows if necessary.

  • Camp in areas that are sheltered from the wind but allow for thermal heating from the sun.

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