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Old 11-14-2012, 03:16 PM   #1
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Snow Camping...or not.

Hello all. January will wrap up our first year as Airstreamers. What a fantastic year it has been. We will be heading out on our 8th trip this weekend. I never expected how enjoyable RVing would. I love when the AS comes home from storage before a trip. My 4 year old son and I wait by the window to see it come around the corner. Our Lab, Jet, he knows it's time to go when the silver bullet arrives. I love the rushing and hustling of 'get-ready' day aka Thursday. Even the drive is enjoyable.
Anyhow, winter months are no reason to slow down on the sight seeing, at least not in California.
I think it would be a lot of fun to do some snow camping...but I have a bazillion questions. I don't hear a lot of talk about snow camping in Airstreams here on the forum and couldn't find a thread about it.

A few questions I have:
Is it pointless to go snow camping? LoL.
Does anyone actualy snow camp in an Airstream?
Would I be constantly freezing inside my trailer?
What kind of prep to the trailer and systems, like plumbing, need to be made for snow camping?
Does anyone know of any camp areas that are even open (California) in snow conditions? With a dump site?
Are there any must-do tips for snow camping? Even if it seems obvious, tell me. I have never camped in the snow.

I'm sure I'll think of more questions but this gets the ball rolling. Or if someone could point me to a thread with all the how-to's, that would be appreciated too.

My husband, who moved out of the darkness of Buffalo, NY in the 90's isn't in a hurry for snow camping. His blood has thinned, I suppose. But just like the day I suggested we buy an Airstream....I'm sure he'll get onboard.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 11-14-2012, 03:43 PM   #2
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Well, you asked for obvious, so here goes. Snow is caused by cold weather and precipitation, and usually below freezing. Freezing weather causes water to freeze...duh! There's lots of water in your Airstream pipes and tanks.

The furnace will keep most of it from freezing, provided it doesn't get too cold, and you have enough propane. But that does nothing for the water coming into the Airstream, and going out of the Airstream.

You can camp in freezing, snowy weather, but it's a PITA, IMHO.
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Old 11-14-2012, 03:52 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveH View Post
Well, you asked for obvious, so here goes. Snow is caused by cold weather and precipitation, and usually below freezing. Freezing weather causes water to freeze...duh! There's lots of water in your Airstream pipes and tanks.

The furnace will keep most of it from freezing, provided it doesn't get too cold, and you have enough propane. But that does nothing for the water coming into the Airstream, and going out of the Airstream.

You can camp in freezing, snowy weather, but it's a PITA, IMHO.
THank you. Just the kind of answer I would expect from someone living in Common Sense, TX. As you may know, there is no common sense (or very little) in California. I try not to let my common sense get in the way of a little adventure.
So, if I have any chance of snow camping at all, I'd be boondocking, it seems. Yes?
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Old 11-14-2012, 03:59 PM   #4
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The "Common Sense" thing is just my little attempt at revolt over some of the things that are done on here, but I do live in Texas.

You would either be boondocking or fighting freezing hoses all the time. It can be done, but it's a hastle.

Also, don't forget the possible snow and ice on the roads. Not a good thing to drive on even if you weren't towing a trailer. But, what do I really know....I live in Texas where it hasn't snowed since 1985.
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Old 11-14-2012, 05:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
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The "Common Sense" thing is just my little attempt at revolt over some of the things that are done on here, but I do live in Texas.

You would either be boondocking or fighting freezing hoses all the time. It can be done, but it's a hastle.

Also, don't forget the possible snow and ice on the roads. Not a good thing to drive on even if you weren't towing a trailer. But, what do I really know....I live in Texas where it hasn't snowed since 1985.

Ut-oh. You shouldn't have said that out loud. Murphys Law ya' know... But really, I thought it snowed in Houston a couple years ago??

Mrs.Mod: there's a whole section in this forum about "Winter Living" and you can browse through the threads to get an idea of how others handle the circumstances of COLD living in the A/S:
Full-Timing, Winter Living & Workamping - Airstream Forums

I always read through this posts just to see how others handle the cold. Whether I decide to snow camp or not... maybe someday.

Good luck - my major concern here in Reno is the roadways. I am too timid to consider towing through any icy or snowy conditions. You see, I'm from Florida where it hasn't snowed since - well, probably last year sometime. When I lived there, we counted any day that we witnessed a single flurry as a *snow day*.

Laura
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Old 11-14-2012, 05:15 PM   #6
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We brought our AS from storage to our home, for some remodeling, early last April. I checked the weather reports as I didn't want to try towing in a snowstorm. I kept it heated with an electric heater and opened all the cabinet doors. When the temps dipped, I set the thermostat to allow the forced air to come on. My advice, try your snow camping in the spring with clear weather in the forecast. I believe some ski areas allow overnight camping, but I don't know any that have hookups.

We camped on the Central Coast last February. No snow, but freezing overnight. Our only problem was a frozen water hose. Try a heated one if you want running water.
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Old 11-14-2012, 05:52 PM   #7
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Quote:
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But really, I thought it snowed in Houston a couple years ago??


Laura
It did snow in Houston, but I live in Common Sense.
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Old 11-14-2012, 05:55 PM   #8
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We visit relatives in Denver in the winter. However, we do not plan our trips to coincide with blizzards or 100-year snow storms. With a little planning, winter camping can be a lot of fun. While it's probably impractical to camp in ski areas where it stays below freezing 24/7, you can stay nearby where it's slightly warmer and take day trips into cold country.

We usually try to stay where the daytime temperatures are above freezing and overnight lows do not go below 25 degrees. Also, if the roads are snow packed or icy, we park until they are cleared and wet only, with perhaps isolated, small patches of slush. We do not tow when falling snow sticks to the ground, or when the roads are snow-packed and/or icy.

If you can plan your trip within this weather window, you don't need to winterize; and your Airstream can be a great retreat in the cold. If severe weather is predicted, we head south before the storm hits, or pick a spot to wait it out.

A few cold weather tips:

* Do not connect to city water. Fill your freshwater tank during the daytime, and use that source only.

* Do not leave your sewer hose connected 24/7. Only hook it up when actually dumping, as it will freeze solid (and full of black tank contents). We have never had any of our tanks freeze, which I suspect would require constant subfreezing temperatures for a day or two.

* If you have shore power, use the heat strip in your air conditioner or use your heat pump as much as possible to augment or replace the heat from your furnace. This will reduce propane consumption and how often you have to refill the tanks.

* Don't let your propane tanks drop much below half-full before refilling. Running out of propane in the middle of the night is the pits. Also, your furnace may not work properly due to low pressure in extremely cold weather and/or at higher altitudes. Keeping your tanks relatively full keeps the pressure up.

* Use sleeping bags or put them on your bed as comforters, and turn the thermostat down at night. In our Bambi, the lowest setting equals about 50 degrees.

* If the overnight lows are scheduled to drop below 25 degrees for more than an hour or two, avoid the chance of freezing pipes by moving to a warmer location (indoor storage, or a campground where the overnight temperature is forecast to be warmer) or add RV antifreeze.

Note: There are a few campgrounds that stay open in the winter, but you'll have to search the Internet to find them. KOA has a few in snow country; and some federal and state campgrounds are open, but with no hookups, which limits one to dry camping. With a little planning, you can find places to dump and refill with fresh water.

=============

Links to other posts regarding camping in snow country:

* http://www.airforums.com/forums/f462...ml#post1096310

* http://www.airforums.com/forums/f368...ml#post1157482
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Old 11-14-2012, 06:02 PM   #9
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Our only problem was a frozen water hose. Try a heated one if you want running water.
I lived in my Trade Wind one winter and this is easily solved by letting the water constantly run a trickle. The moving water won't let the hose freeze.
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Old 11-14-2012, 06:07 PM   #10
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Some of our favorite camping memories come from snow events (rare here in Mississippi).

As long as it's safe to drive, use the above advise to keep the pipes defrosted by running the furnace and Give it a try!
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Old 11-14-2012, 08:55 PM   #11
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This will be our first "Winter" camping in ours. We have a trip planned between Christmas and New Years to our favorite place in southeastern Oklahoma. As with most anywhere in our part of TX and OK it could be 65 or 25 degrees depending on the weather whims.
Packing list for this trip includes:
Heat tape for the water line and sewer hose
Lots of wood for the camp fire
Electric heater just in case there are any problems with the furnace
Our outdoor enclosed canopy for any cooking we do outside, bacon...
Also, when its a "norther" we always open a water valve to a trickle, we plan on doing this as well.
Preparing for the wait a few minutes and the weather will change scenario...
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Old 11-14-2012, 09:58 PM   #12
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We too are new to travel trailer camping and Airstreaming in particular. In our first year we camped several times where nighttime temperatures dropped well below freezing (Yosemite Valley, Pinnacles, etc). We simply added a down comforter to our bed and kept the thermostat on 50. Worked fine. I agree with the comment about full propane tanks; in cold weather, we keep the interior nice and toasty during the day. So our propane use is a bit profligate. Keeping the temp comfortable really helps with reducing condensation. Even in cold weather, we periodically cycle on the ceiling fans to clear the air.

I changed out the new grp 24 batteries that came with our FC for grp 26s. I think I've got about 40% more capacity. That's particularly important when it cold and when you may be using the heater a lot. Also, in cold weather I always fire up the Yamaha for a couple hours around mid day to recharge the batteries.

Finally, if you're camping in CA as we do, having a portable auxiliary holding tank to ease pressure on the gray water holding tank is really helpful. In cold weather it's a lot easier to pull a full auxiliary tank to the dump station than it is to ration water use (it's a pain to slog thru the mud and/or snow to the restrooms to wash dishes or shave, or, or, or...) or haul your AS to the dump station if there is one.
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Old 11-14-2012, 10:13 PM   #13
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Airstreams in near sub-freezing weather can do OK, but once you get to < 20F (-5C) things start to get difficult... Airstreams aren't 4 season, so the insulation and all the windows are going to create heat-loss a furnace might not keep up with. If you have heated tanks, same thing... if it is cold and windy, there is only so much those heater pads can do in terms of creating BTU's to keep things moving.

My Airstream has the plumbing in non-vented areas, so I would have to take off several access covers and leave cabinet doors open to try keep the pipes warm. Given the difficulty in accessing a lot of Airstream plumbing, and the damage that can be cause by leaks... you might want to consider dry camping in the winter. Take a porta potty, put a big bowl in the sink and empty your dish water outside... showers? Who needs em in the winter? Or, run into the nearest town and use the truck stop facilities every now and then to freshen up.

You basically end up dragging around a lot of trailer for the sake of a bed... take a tent and then you can really winter camp.
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Old 11-14-2012, 10:26 PM   #14
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Snow camping.

Hi, Mrs.Mod. You can read about our wonderful adventure while camping in cold weather in my blog. "Bob & Lee's random trip." It starts on page 8 and ends on page 12. Or you can read the entire blog. This story is about a couple of Californians who wanted to go to South Dakota in October. We were told that we were crazy, and I think they were right. We had a great time.
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