If you plan to enjoy RV travel during the winter, it's important to be sure that your recreational vehicle can withstand conditions during the coldest months of the year. Choosing an RV designed to handle cold weather camping will help you avoid any weather-related pitfalls and give you the best chance for enjoying your vacation.
Look for an Arctic Package
According to Richard Reina, Product Training Director for CARiD.com, a large online retailer specializing in aftermarket parts for cars and RVs, "The most important thing to remember when choosing an RV for winter camping is to select one that features an arctic package. This package usually consists of dual pane windows, extra insulation in the floors and roof, and extra heating solutions for the RVs plumbing to ensure nothing freezes and bursts."
"If you purchase or rent an RV with an arctic package, you will be pretty well set for winter camping," says Reina. He advises, "Some arctic packages will feature temperature guarantees, similar to the way a sleeping bag will, so the potential temperatures of your destination should be taken into account while shopping."
Three RV Models Suited for Winter
Finding the best RV for winter is often a mix of purchasing a model and then adding on the winterizing features that will help the most in the location you plan to spend your winter months. Examples of models with arctic package options include:
1. Starcraft Launch Ultra-Lite (Travel Trailer)
Reina suggests the Launch Ultra-Lite from Starcraft for those who would like to use a travel trailer for winter camping. He explains, "This travel trailer model has an optional arctic package that includes an insulated, heated and enclosed underbelly, as well as foil insulation in the roof. It also has a Magnum Roof System, which Starcraft boasts is 50 percent stronger than other roofs on the market. This can come in handy if you camp in an area where you will have major snowfall on the roof of your RV. It also comes with a 24-month limited warranty."
Use the dealer locator page on Starcraft's website to find a dealer in or around your area. You'll need to enter the city, state zip code and country where you'd like to shop. Mark lightweight and travel trailers to narrow your search as much as possible.
2. Ice Castle Fish Houses (Toy Haulers, Travel Trailers, and Fifth Wheels)
If you plan to participate in cold weather camping, you can't go wrong with an RV made by a company that got its start making portable ice fishing houses. Ice Castle Fish Houses makes a number of RV editions that can be used for much more than just ice fishing, including RV camping and full-time RV living. Some are travel trailers and some are fifth wheels, with size options ranging from 8' X 17' to 8' X 30'. All can be converted to be toy haulers with "garage" compartments for all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), motorcycles, and more. They have many winter-friendly features, including Thermopane windows and fiberglass (R7) insulation in both the ceiling and the walls.
Note that you will have to travel if you do not live in a location where ice fishing is popular (and possible!). Their dealer network is limited to Canada, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa. Visit their website to find a dealer near you.
3. Northwood Arctic Fox (Travel Trailer and Fifth Wheel)
The company blog for Guaranty Chevrolet and RV Supercenters indicates the Arctic Fox line from Northwood is one of their most popular lines with customers looking for an RV that can be used in all four seasons. As Northwood is based in a mountainous part of Oregon, the manufacturer is quite familiar with the demands of extremely cold weather. Their Arctic package models are very well-insulated. Additionally, the dump valves are enclosed and the holding tanks are insulated and suspended, allowing for warm air to circulate around them, providing maximum protection against the elements.
Use the find a dealer feature on the Northwood website to locate a dealer in a convenient area. Select Arctic Fox from the drop-down menu and enter an address or zip code to search.
Additional Winter RV Options
When choosing an RV, also consider options designed to make winter camping as easy on you as possible. Reina suggests, "If you're going to be on a trip long enough that you'll need to do laundry, consider an RV with built in washing and drying capabilities. The alternative is lugging clothes through a snowy parking lot to a laundromat, or worse, doing laundry in an unheated RV park laundry facility." No matter what model you have, be sure that it is properly winterized before setting out on a cold weather camping trip.
Get to Know Your RV Warranty
Reina advises, "A final consideration when choosing a new RV for winter camping is the warranty, especially if your trip will be lengthy. Winter roads are tough on all vehicles, let alone giant RVs, so it's not uncommon to blow a tire, break an axle, or have other mechanical or plumbing issues with the vehicle. Depending on your RV brand, some warranties are only valid with certain mechanics, so you want to be sure you won't be left paying out-of-pocket if there is an incident."