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Old 12-16-2016, 12:19 PM   #1
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COLD weather Airstream camping

Do not get confused with some individual's idea of 'COLD'.

Someone living in Miami, Florida or an Airstream owner living in International Falls, Minnesota have a totally different sense of Cold Weather!

Airstreams perform well to:
Wind.
Rain.
uhmm... I have run out of ideas.

Airstreams do not preform well to:
Hot.
Cold.
Humidity.

Primarily Off the Grid camping with our former 23 foot Safari and our current 25 foot International Airstream.... we have experienced comfort and some miserable conditions within an Airstream. Cold and Humidity may be the worst.

This has been covered before on a Thread, but it may be difficult to find.

Airstream's without electrical power are great with a daily cycle of 40F to 80F with low humidity. This is Western Rocky Mountain climate and the High Plains over 4,000 feet elevation. Absolutely wonderful!

Humid Climates at 40F to 80F: having electrical power you may fudge somewhat for powering your furnace fan and the AC, if needed to mitigate the cool or hot.

Airstream's are like wearing a light jacket for warmth in 'cool weather'.

Airstream's are like a bread warmer in 'hot weather' and you are the bread.

For 80% of the USA and 100% of Canada during the months of November to March... it can be an experience you do not want to report on these Forums. It is not like a log cabin in Alaska burning firewood... experience. The Airstream is not intended to be an ALL Season domicile. Our metal trailer is intended as a Fair Weather and Climate portable apartment.

The aluminum skin absorbs heat and cold, without prejudice. You will discover that sooner, than later.

Sure... anyone can figure out how to manage from freezing up the entire trailer or cooking the contents when evenings cool down to 80F, but it will not be pleasant. Been there, done that. ... and at times, do it anyways but requiring lots of Summer ventilation to maintain some comfort.

An Airstream is like a tent intended for Arctic conditions... but without the ventilation of excess humidity, sleeping bags good down to -10F, wearing your clothes, hat, gloves and needing to use the restroom... but trying to hold out until the Climate Changes.

One improvement over tent camping and Airstreams, during the Cold and Hot Seasons..., our Airstreams have a tow vehicle that can pull our lavish apartment to places where the current Climate is more appealing and you can skip all of these caveats.
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Old 12-16-2016, 07:05 PM   #2
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Sorry I disagree. I have been enjoying a very nice toasty 68 degree environment in my AS and its been 20 degrees for several days. I have 160 watts on my roof so my batteries are happy. No doubt any trailer made of aluminum with 1.5-2 inches of insulation is not energy efficient. Given that knowledge we shouldn't expect it.
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Old 12-16-2016, 09:10 PM   #3
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Thanks for the pontificating from on up high

People actually do report on it here. Coincidentally a guy just posted a link tonight of a youtube video of his 5 days in Minnesota at -8 degrees at night.

There's a lady and her family posting on Facebook about their full-timing adventure in Whistler for the winter.

Not sure what the point of this thread is. A lecture on reasons why not to winter camp? If you don't like winter camping, don't. If you enjoy it (I love it!), then do it.

Not much more to say.
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Old 12-16-2016, 09:31 PM   #4
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To say that someone else has no experience with anything because of where they live is a bit naive. All of our trailers/coaches are designed for travel....... I live in Alabama, wife is from Michigan, and a child has lived in North Dakota, have traveled to many spots far and between those in all sorts of conditions.
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Old 12-16-2016, 09:58 PM   #5
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It was 14 F last night and my AS only got down to 63F inside. I was using only electric heat and didn't touch my LP. Was using around ~23 amps of electric power for heating.

I definitely haven't seen any catastrophic issues such as condensation and being frozen in their AS yet. That may come once I go below zero F.
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Old 12-17-2016, 03:42 AM   #6
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Cracking roof vents helps with moisture buildup. Fans if you have power.
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Old 12-17-2016, 11:21 AM   #7
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My intent is not to encourage new and unexperienced Airstream owners thinking that the trailer is comfortable in the Winter in States that may not get above freezing for weeks or months overnight.

It is dangerous to believe it. Hookups to electricity is necessary. The heat pump / furnace will run constantly. As Avionstream mentioned... venting the humidity is necessary or the frost on your windows will melt during the day and the water runs down the interior walls. Interior Rain... for better words. The bed is damp. Your clothes are damp. The bed covers are damp. You are damp and miserable.

Airstream's comfort zone is 40F to 80F.

I have been in 110F to 120F days in the Mohave Desert 'warm season'. We know how to work around it by being outside the trailer. Chocolate inside melts into a glob of goo. By 4Am the interior will cool down into the 80's to 90's.

We can adapt to hot. Just setting up your trailer where the afternoon shade is possible.

Cold... and sub freezing weather is not for those who have not lived in the those climates. You cannot escape cold in the sunlight or shade.

An igloo made of ice blocks is safer than your Airstream without electricity... No Eskimo will be found living in an Airstream in Alaska or Northwest Canada.

Many purchase a travel trailer believing it is All Season durable home on wheels. Be very careful. I believed it true in 2006. No one told me otherwise. The first week of ownership was a lesson learned in March.

Newspapers write about individuals getting into the High Country or Desert Country and become stranded. Locals shake their heads in disbelief. No map. No water. No food. No reason to have been there in the first place without preparation.

Myself. Rent a cabin if you want to ice fish on Flathead Lake in northwest Montana. Common Sense is a rare commodity to those unfamiliar with local Climates and limited options when put in a life and death situation.
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Old 12-17-2016, 11:38 AM   #8
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I had purchased a Geology Library in Oklahoma in March. It took a week to carton the library and several days to load into a UHaul truck. We had permission of a local church to camp our Airstream across the street in their parking lot.

Ardmore, Oklahoma was warm and sunny. Of course, it rained the evening we were packed and leaving.

The weather report of I-35 was clear and reasonable. By the time we arrived with the Airstream and UHaul Truck... the weather changed to blizzard conditions at Goodland, Kansas. The highway was closed down both directions to Colorado.

We found the WalMart just north of I-70. It had a service station. Ourselves and two Blue Heelers discovered an option to finding electricity... the Tundra idled through the day and evening as the snow was blowing across the parking lot and into the 20's. Probably used 1/3 of the tank to power the Airstream and refilled the tank before leaving Goodland.

This powered the furnace, ceiling fans when needed, some lighting to read and the radio for weather conditions.

We vented the interior as Avionstream does to remove the exhaled moisture from two people and two dogs. Even then the interior was damp and the furnace ran continuously.

We went into Walmart and I bought a dozen doughnuts. They were sticky from the humidity at their bakery, already. My clothes felt an extra pound or two heavier just from the humidity inside the trailer. Those who have had this experience... know what I mean. You never can 'warm up'. We did not have one of those Little Buddy propane heaters... which I will have for 2017. They work. Saw one work in 2016 Wyoming Adventure during a 'August Cold Snap'.

The Highway was cleared the next morning, we left the safety of Walmart and made it home to Castle Rock, Colorado. Stuff happens. Be prepared and be smart. Some may say go ahead, its OK... well, sometimes it is best to be careful.
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Old 12-17-2016, 12:00 PM   #9
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Non-vented Propane Heater = High Humidity

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray Eklund View Post
... We did not have one of those Little Buddy propane heaters... which I will have for 2017. They work. Saw one work in 2016 Wyoming Adventure during a 'August Cold Snap'.
I think that you will find that using a non-vented propane heater your humidity problem will be even worse. When you burn a hydrocarbon fuel, such as natural gas or propane in a catalytic heater, the fuel reacts with oxygen producing heat and two primary combustion products: water vapor and carbon dioxide. A 10,000 Btu/hour unvented gas heater will produce about 14 ounces of water per hour — about 2.5 US gallons per day if operated around the clock.
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Old 12-17-2016, 01:00 PM   #10
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It just so happens, due to my wife's illness, I am having to spend the winter in my AS Classic SO. Last night here in Boise it got down to 3F. I had heat tape and foam insulation right up to the connection into the trailer. It froze up. Took me an hour with a hair dryer to finally thaw it out. Both dump valves are also frozen and I had dumped a gallon each into both tanks. Still working on getting them thawed. Supposed to be colder tonight.
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Old 12-17-2016, 01:01 PM   #11
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I lived in a 23' avion when working away from home,for 28 years ,and most of the time it was during the winter months in Wyo, Mt. and Idaho. Sometimes I had water ,more often not , furnace, electric heater running full ,time..we survived it but I wouldn't do it again, as I don't have to anymore...
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Old 12-17-2016, 01:01 PM   #12
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Should read a gallon of antifreeze in each tank.
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Old 12-17-2016, 02:02 PM   #13
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Alaska and Northern Canada

I have towed my 76 Land Yacht from my home in Fairbanks Alaska to the Midwest and Arizona and back three times in the late fall and in early spring. I have found I could keep everything running down to 20 degrees. Colder required that the lines and tanks had to be drained and some anti-freeze added. We found we could keep relatively comfortable down to -5 if were plugged in or used a generator. Otherwise the continuous use of the furnace would drain the battery in the night. We were not camping for pleasure but rather traveling to or from warmer climes.
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Old 12-17-2016, 03:26 PM   #14
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Toasty in Denver :)

Furnace seems to be working very well, except for the bedroom on our FC27FB 2016, there seems to be no outlet for the furnace back there, but we like to sleep in that temperature
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Old 12-17-2016, 03:27 PM   #15
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Post #13, Alaskahistor...

I cannot add to the experience of a True Boondocker in America's Last Frontier. Wyoming a close second or third.

When in Siberia, and possibly Alaska in the permafrost intact Mammoths are found that have flesh, hair and some say still eatable. Some day in the distant future, a lost Airstream with occupants may be discovered frozen in the permanent ice. What will these discoverers find most interesting?

Why a refrigerator?
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Old 12-17-2016, 11:27 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pcskier View Post
Thanks for the pontificating from on up high

People actually do report on it here. Coincidentally a guy just posted a link tonight of a youtube video of his 5 days in Minnesota at -8 degrees at night.

There's a lady and her family posting on Facebook about their full-timing adventure in Whistler for the winter.

Not sure what the point of this thread is. A lecture on reasons why not to winter camp? If you don't like winter camping, don't. If you enjoy it (I love it!), then do it.

Not much more to say.
Thanks for that comment. The OP seems to think he knows best for everyone re. winter camping. It's completely different in all parts of North America, with varying degrees of cold and humidity. He can come to the Oregon Coast and change his thinking in a hurry.
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Old 12-17-2016, 11:48 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray Eklund View Post
You never can 'warm up'. We did not have one of those Little Buddy propane heaters... which I will have for 2017. They work. Saw one work in 2016 Wyoming Adventure during a 'August Cold Snap'.
Good luck!
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Old 12-17-2016, 11:55 PM   #18
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I think that you will find that using a non-vented propane heater your humidity problem will be even worse. When you burn a hydrocarbon fuel, such as natural gas or propane in a catalytic heater, the fuel reacts with oxygen producing heat and two primary combustion products: water vapor and carbon dioxide. A 10,000 Btu/hour unvented gas heater will produce about 14 ounces of water per hour — about 2.5 US gallons per day if operated around the clock.
I hope you can persuade this guy!
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Old 12-18-2016, 07:34 AM   #19
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Cold and Hot

I will add that I have experienced cold down to 5 above with no problem and I think than is as cold as I want to go. I have a 2016 Flying Cloud 26 U with the ducked air and 2 air conditioners, Wow it can handle hot to 110 easy. I had older 30 ft. Classics before and anything over 90 got a little uncomfortable.
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Old 12-18-2016, 08:03 AM   #20
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Ray, as always, I enjoy your thoughts and writing style. We are maintaining a comfortable temperature through the winter with our Hobbit wood stove. Nice dry heat, and more entertaining than television. So far we've been very comfortable in 20 degree weather, though we are cheating a bit by running the electric heater on borrowed power from my in-law's house when the Airstream is not occupied.
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