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Old 10-04-2015, 07:18 AM   #1
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REAL Winter Camping

A lot of posts but here is the Question? We live in Wisconsin and are Newbies to RVing not camping. We have January's here with a month below zero and days of -23 or worse are the Norm. Is it possible to use the RV or is this only a fantasy?
Most of the posts (no offense intended) are not talking about "cold" winters. We have campsites up here that are plowed but usually have no hook-ups or waste dumps or water. Should we abandon this idea ? We love to snowshoe and XC ski and the woods in winter can be amazing!
Can anyone help us?
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Old 10-04-2015, 07:45 AM   #2
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Am quite familiar with real winter (way below zero) and cold weather camping, even with our Airstream. There would be no plumbing because it would freeze up, especially traveling. The greatest issue is condensation on the window and within the walls of the Airstream, running down into your plywood subfloor and not able to dry out. There is a good chance this would result in rotting of the wood subfloor, a common Airstream (or other rv) problem.

The other problem is travel on salt covered roadways. The metal shell and underbody components of the Airstream are very susceptible to corrosion. Search filiform corrosion on this forum. It looks terrible and very difficult or impossible to control in heavy salt environment; traveling on winter roads in our part of the country almost guarantees it will happen.

The winter woods are beautiful and active. Airstreams are designed and built as three season campers, I'd rent a cabin.
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Old 10-04-2015, 07:52 AM   #3
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I wouldn't do it.....why even try, really.

If everything didn't freeze up, you would have a difficult time staying warm, plus the risk of getting stuck, sliding here or there.

Don't do it.


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Old 10-04-2015, 08:29 AM   #4
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Northern Wisconsin is noted for winter/snowmobile tourism. There are lot of motels catering to this business. Airstreaming in this environment is a challenge that can reduce your enjoyment. The insulation in Airstreams is minimal and the furnaces were not designed for subzero temperatures. The poor insulation causes condensation to occur on the interior aluminum walls. This leads to damage to the Airstream, as mentioned above. It is better than sleeping in a tent.
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Old 10-04-2015, 08:43 AM   #5
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It is doable. Friends dry camp in thier r.v.'s at ski areas.
We use our 25 Safari for hunting in Colorado where nighttime temps get into the high teens (enough to freeze mud puddles). We sleep in sleeping bags. With the bottom setting on the furnace we have a enough electric power to get through the night barely with upgraded group 27 batteries. Don't use the furnace if temps are any lower. We have a catalytic heater which uses no electricity. So far we haven't used it at night but it could be used if instructions are followed and windows are cracked on each side of the trailer so that there is cross ventilation. If you elect not to use the heater at night, you can draw straws to determine the lucky person who gets to light the heater in the morning. Once it warms for a half hour or so, the interior of the trailer is comfortable.
Colorado is dry so condensation is not a problem.
The water system would freeze so the trailer has to be winterized and water from a jug used. I would use a dish pan and dump grey water outside. If the toilet is used, be sure to put lots of r.v. antifreeze in the black tank or you will have an unpleasant mess.
Airstreams aren't the best for winter use, but they beat a tent.
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Old 10-04-2015, 09:36 AM   #6
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One Colorado mountains winter I was full timing and stationary in an old 5th wheel. We had a week of -20F nights and 0F days - nothing froze, but there was a lot of prep prior to winter.
Heaters on all tanks
Cover the belly with Reflectix
Heat tape and Reflectix on the fresh water in
Heat tape and Reflectix on the dirty water out between tanks and slinky
Skirt to prevent air movement under the trailer
Gas tanks always full and furnace always on
Electric space heater back up

And yes Colorado is arid, but breathing, cooking and showering can steam up the inside of your trailer like a sauna - so a dehumidifier or window cracked open helps.
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Old 10-04-2015, 10:01 AM   #7
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We haven't done REAL winter camping, but our 73 Sovereign did have a catalytic heater, which was very nice to have--quiet, efficient. I have a picture (non digital) of the trailer buried in snow--took all day to dig it out so we could escape!

If you go with a catalytic heater keep in mind: 1) uses oxygen from the air in the trailer and 2) puts water vapor into the air in the trailer. So you have to crack a window and you will have some condensation on the inside of the outer skin where you can't see it.

So for REAL winter camping the catalytic isn't the best choice. For Autumn camping out west with super low humidity--perfect.
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Old 10-04-2015, 10:40 AM   #8
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An even better reason to crack open ventilation when using a catalytic heater is carbon monoxide, CO.
A little light reading about heating an RV
http://home.earthlink.net/~derekgore...ike/id110.html
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Old 10-10-2015, 12:51 PM   #9
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"Real Winter Camping" is not pleasant at all

[QUOTE=Chrisy;1692635]A lot of posts but here is the Question? We live in Wisconsin and are Newbies to RVing not camping. We have January's here with a month below zero and days of -23 or worse are the Norm. Is it possible to use the RV or is this only a fantasy?
Most of the posts (no offense intended) are not talking about "cold" winters. We have campsites up here that are plowed but usually have no hook-ups or waste dumps or water. Should we abandon this idea ? We love to snowshoe and XC ski and the woods in winter can be amazing!
Can anyone help us?[/QUOTE
*********

I would be as enthusiastic as yourself having a new Eddie Bauer Airstream! An Airstream intended for those making the jump from tent to trailer can make one "feel" very invincible to the elements.

The trailer is not as weather resistant as one might believe.

After spending weeks in the Mohave Desert heat during the hottest months of June, July and August, an Airstream has nothing positive for protecting the "contents" without 30amp electrical access. From sunrise to sunset the aluminum is transferring heat "into the living space within". The aluminum remains hot and by morning has cooled to outside temperature, only to restart the heating process. It can actually be hotter inside the trailer than the lowest outside temperature.

We did adjust to finding 105F reasonably comfortable in the sun and 85F within the trailer as a bare minimum of any comfort. Even then, sleeping outside the trailer is better than sleeping within.

Take these these desert heat ranges and reverse them to winter cold. Several times, by the chance of Wyoming elevations, 18F in July was a reminder that the Airstream is not and never can be converted for a Full Time or a summer/winter home on wheels. No matter what anyone says that they were able to spend money and stack bales of straw around the trailer... you will not last two days. You do not have enough propane nor electrical power from solar, generator or batteries to get through one week. No matter the designer of the trailer or the intent of use by the owner.

The first thing noticed when the temperatures drop below freezing is the condensation of interior moisture, frosted thickly onto the interior windows, yourself and the cloth inside the trailer are damp. You will feel it and without running your ceiling vents... in serious trouble. Outside humidity maybe 20% and inside humidity 90%+. You will feel colder inside the trailer than sitting outside. Been there, done that. Once.

Airstreams are not designed for temperature extremes. If I had to assign a low and a high, 40F to 90F are the most comfortable temperature ranges for any extended camping.

Having snow on the ground permanently for the season.. never.

You are actually better off camped in a tent. It cools quickly after sunset and warms quickly at sunrise. Do not confuse this with the Airstream that does not react that fast. Watch the Mt. Everest expeditions. Tents... yes, you are not going to get an Airstream at Base Camp, but tents can handle these extremes of temperature, better than our Airstreams.

It is not by accident nor design that you find RV's and Trailers moving to new base camps by the Seasons. Even the National Forest Service campsite volunteers are gone before the snow flies. Once snowed into the mountains... you are at serious risk of frost bite and starvation without a way to get out.

For starters. Try a week camped at your home without hookups... FIRST. It will be obvious the second day that this is not something to repeat. Do not blame the Airstream. You can be a full timer but you must move with the seasons.

The Mohave Desert at this moment is very pleasant. Five to seven months and then heat beyond your imagination will force you to leave. Same with your winters to the north, but thinking in reverse of the Mohave Desert.

I understand having your trailer parked for months, unused, is a shame, but... think Seasonal camping at best. As I type we are packing to leave the Colorado high country before the first October, maybe November snow to the Southwest USA. Having been exposed to the Spring freezes of the mountains and the Summer heat of the deserts... our Airstream has its limits of use. Make certain you rethink your "dreams", they could be your last.
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Old 10-10-2015, 01:29 PM   #10
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Having experienced a temperature range on a single trip of 22 to 102, I endorse Ray Eklund's conclusion:

"Airstreams are not designed for temperature extremes. If I had to assign a low and a high, 40F to 90F are the most comfortable temperature ranges for any extended camping."
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Old 10-10-2015, 01:54 PM   #11
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Excellent Info. Agree 40-90. We have camped at +20 even that requires "Caution", and more work than I'm willing to do at this stage in my life. I think of our Airstream as an Aluminum tent.
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Old 10-17-2015, 03:53 PM   #12
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Agree totally.
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Old 11-17-2015, 09:37 PM   #13
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Chrisy... have you tried a practice run outside your home? Just curious as to any insulation differences in the Eddie Bauer versus the standard Airstream.

In 2008 we were having warranty issues done at Jackson Center, Ohio. A woman was having her Airstream serviced, maybe a 30 or a 34 footer but I do not recall. She had lost her husband to an accident and was in her late 30's. She was heading to Park City, Utah for a job as a ski instructor at the resort and planning to Winter Full Time there. She might be following this Forum and this Thread. My wife and I were always curious how that might have worked out.

Although I consider Park City, Utah a "high and dry" air environment... it would give you some possible ideas. Wintering "Low and damp" would be much more difficult. It is hard enough, at least for us, to camp during the hot humid climate months north of Hot Springs, Arkansas when we were digging Quartz Crystals at Coleman's.

Park City has a Winter shady side of the interstate and to the north a Winter sunny side when the sun is low in the Winter horizon. Just one aspect of Winter camping in the mountains to consider. Just maybe... we will hear about the experienced of seven seasons ago.
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Old 11-17-2015, 09:51 PM   #14
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i done alot of winter camping with my wife. This is a trip in the Canadian rockies....we do get the real -20 winters!



i love it, campground are empty and it s simply beautifull. That said, i find it much more fun with electric hookup if possible. 2X 1500 watts electric heater and you can keep the trailer nice and warm and dry with minimal condensation.

Make sure your tank are winterized and perhaps use a porta potty. But absolutly, winter camping is a lot of fun.
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