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Old 09-21-2023, 11:28 AM   #1
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Howell , Michigan
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Complete NEWBIE. Considering AS for Winter adventures

So, I've never owned an RV. Never even slept in one. I'm going to be an empty nester next year, and I'm already scheming. I'd be traveling solo and looking to do lengthy ski trips in the winter and then have the freedom to do some golf/beach trips in the summer. Obviously, the AS is a very attractive trailer. But I want to make a smart choice.

Considering I'd like to do some significant winter camping, does it make sense for me to pay a premium for an AS? What else should I consider and what are the trade-offs? Artic fox? Much cheaper entry point, sure, but is it going to be that much better in the winter and what will it be worth 5 years later? Should I even care about that? I have a 1000 mile trip to get to the good ski areas from home.

Should I skip the RV and rent someplace in the mountains for a month or two?

Has anyone created "THE" guide to converting your AS for winter camping bliss?

I really appreciate your thoughts. Thank you.
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Old 09-21-2023, 12:29 PM   #2
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Airstream are not true four-season trailers. Lots of folks spend cold winters in them but it takes some effort to make it work. The insulation is very thin. LOTS of condensation.

I'd rent the cabin.
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Old 09-21-2023, 12:45 PM   #3
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In many parts of the country, Airstreams are nine month trailers. They are years round the deep south. They are not that well insulated.

Brian
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Old 09-21-2023, 12:56 PM   #4
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I have stayed in my 25’ Globetrotter in many nights of below freezing. You will stay warm, but be prepared to use a sh**load of propane for the furnace as you want the furnace to run enough to keep your water lines from freezing. I supplemented my heating with a Vornado electric heater and a propane Buddy heater.

For a really good quality alternative brand, I would look at a Lance. I had one and it was a solid 4 season unit.
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Old 09-21-2023, 01:27 PM   #5
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Yea, I have stayed in my FC 26 year-round, but not in ski country. highly recommend the lodge. The Arctic Fox or other 4-season trailer would work, but driving in snow with a trailer seems scary.
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Old 09-22-2023, 09:38 AM   #6
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Hi

A number of folks have tried this sort of thing. There are a number of threads around detailing their experiences. A fairly quick summary:

1) As noted above, none of the RV's out there are insulated really well. Some are better than others. Eliminating things like big windows helps the insulation factor. Still they cost a lot to heat to "comfortable" temperatures when there's a foot or more of snow on the ground.

2) Next up, you get a lot of condensation in an RV. This is sort of a corollary to the insulation side of things. You can run a dehumidifier or two. It will help some. Dampness or dripping water will be a problem. Mould in hidden corners here or there is one side issue.

3) Winter typically means an inventory of heavy clothing. Come in from outdoor activities and it needs to go somewhere. Often it may need to dry out a bit. There isn't a lot of room to hang the stuff up. There also isn't a lot of room to store it. Leaving things like skis outside might be ok ... maybe ... It depends a lot on just where you are set up.

4) Living in an RV typically uses water. Doing that in the winter is a problem due to the fresh water freezing. It's also an issue since you typically have no place to dump waste water (dump stations close at the first freeze). The kitchen sink and toilet both are pretty important for living in an RV.

5) When you pull up with your RV, you will need someplace to set up and "live". It's unlikely you will find a campground open (and the snow plowed ....) anyplace close. That leaves parking lots here or there. Those may or may not be ideal camping locations.

6) Shore power is a very nice thing any time of year. This is even more true in the winter when solar "power hours" may be a bit short. Coming up with a full hookup at an improvised site may or may not be possible. We typically think we're doing great if a 15A outlet is available for a couple hours to charge the batteries.

Lots of compromises involved. You will save the cost of lodging for the night (if the parking lot is free). You will have all your gear right there with you, so no need to do as much unpacking when you arrive. Food wise, your "kitchen" will not be fully functional. Showers and the like will need to be handled "somehow".

Fun !!!

Bob
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Old 09-22-2023, 09:51 AM   #7
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It would be an adventure staying in an airstream in the winter , especially if it gets really cold
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Old 09-22-2023, 10:14 AM   #8
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Point your compass in the opposite direction- go north in the summer, and south in the winter.
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Old 09-22-2023, 11:19 AM   #9
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The consensus is Airstreams are not really designed for winter camping.

Here is one brand you might want to consider.

https://www.outdoorsrvmfg.com/

I have no direct experience with them, but they seem to be well made and have a loyal customer base.
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Old 09-22-2023, 11:38 AM   #10
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Airstreams are really three season trailers, they lack double pane windows and the extra insulation of true four season trailers. They also are subject to oodles of condensation and the interior aluminum surfaces get really cold. You'll also want to add skirting to insulate the belly pans (can be airbags, bales of hay...). Add some reflective materials in the windows and skylights and you are almost ready. Get the heavy clothes out, figure out how to dry out the wet ski pants and your on your way.

Before you pay for an Airstream that will require some retrofitting to work well in the winter, check out the true four season trailers. Our friends have a Keystone Montana that's hard to beat when it is snowing outside. Others to consider are Northwood Artic Fox and Grand Design.

We looked at those trailers, but we live in California and if we want snow, we go to a cabin in the woods so the 3 season Airstream was perfect for us. I must admit I really liked the fireplace in one we looked at, so cozy!
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Old 09-22-2023, 11:55 AM   #11
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Danger danger, Airstreams are not for winter camping. You need a trailer with the artic package. Wish I never bought mine, freezing our butts off in fall weather. Almost froze to death Nov in Zion.
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Old 09-22-2023, 12:47 PM   #12
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Even with warm days and cool nights flirting with freezing camping in an Airstream is a challenge - and not at all comfortable. If you keep the windows closed condensation builds up quickly - If you keep the airflow going with open windows and vents be prepared to wear a hat and mittens inside. It **may** be possible, but it will not be at all comfortable.


I second the Rent a Cabin solution.
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Old 09-22-2023, 01:36 PM   #13
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Bremerton , Washington
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newbieWJ View Post
So, I've never owned an RV. Never even slept in one. I'm going to be an empty nester next year, and I'm already scheming. I'd be traveling solo and looking to do lengthy ski trips in the winter and then have the freedom to do some golf/beach trips in the summer. Obviously, the AS is a very attractive trailer. But I want to make a smart choice.



Considering I'd like to do some significant winter camping, does it make sense for me to pay a premium for an AS? What else should I consider and what are the trade-offs? Artic fox? Much cheaper entry point, sure, but is it going to be that much better in the winter and what will it be worth 5 years later? Should I even care about that? I have a 1000 mile trip to get to the good ski areas from home.



Should I skip the RV and rent someplace in the mountains for a month or two?



Has anyone created "THE" guide to converting your AS for winter camping bliss?



I really appreciate your thoughts. Thank you.


Aloha newbieWJ,

We are full-timers in our 2022 Flying Cloud 25RBT and this will be our 3rd winter in the PNW. It is do’able to go skiing in the winter and to do golf/beaches in the summer.

Some of the tricks are listed in the other responses. And yes you will go through a butt turn of propane (about 30# tank every 3 days)!!!

We chose an Airstream when we both retired and our youngest was on her own. We weighed all the options and the bottom line was we would make it work for the winter.

We find a campground in the low country within driving distance to the ski slopes. You have to plan ahead to make reservations. Again it is do’able with a little effort.

Good luck…

Aloha,
The Tin Can Overlander sends..
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Old 09-22-2023, 01:52 PM   #14
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Check out the Lance.
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Old 09-22-2023, 03:02 PM   #15
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No

Run don’t walk away from a Airsteam in winter. If towed in Salt roads it will dissolve and rust like the Titanic.
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Old 09-23-2023, 05:52 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Life is a Highway View Post
Run don’t walk away from a Airsteam in winter. If towed in Salt roads it will dissolve and rust like the Titanic.
Hi

There are a *lot* of RV's with steel frames under the trailer. They all share an "aversion" to a bath in salt.

Bob
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Old 09-23-2023, 06:10 AM   #17
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Thanks to everyone for your thoughts. I especially appreciate those of you who spent a decent amount of time sharing them. This post, and some further research convinced me this is a really bad idea for me. It's easy to get caught up in the idea of moving freely around the country but suffering through winter in an RV when it is cheaper to rent a place for a few months doesn't make any sense. It does seem like there would be a market for a solid, reliable winter camper though. Thank you all!
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Old 09-23-2023, 10:26 AM   #18
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4 season campers

Check out
https://olivertraveltrailers.com/tra...lers/4-season/
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Old 09-24-2023, 06:31 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by newbieWJ View Post
Thanks to everyone for your thoughts. I especially appreciate those of you who spent a decent amount of time sharing them. This post, and some further research convinced me this is a really bad idea for me. It's easy to get caught up in the idea of moving freely around the country but suffering through winter in an RV when it is cheaper to rent a place for a few months doesn't make any sense. It does seem like there would be a market for a solid, reliable winter camper though. Thank you all!
Hi

By far, the biggest issue that stops a "winter camper" from being a significant market is the water / dump station issues. With no functional kitchen sink / shower / toilet most folks become uninterested. Very few have heated spaces to store an RV in between trips .....

Bob
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Old 09-27-2023, 12:05 PM   #20
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Many ski areas are adding electrical hookups and keeping their restrooms/showers open for overnight campers. They don’t offer long term camping however. Usually they limit stays to 14 days or less.

That said, you will still burn through a lot of propane to keep warm, even if you completely winterize your trailer, which I would strongly advise regardless of the make/model. Winters in the mountains out west can get extremely cold even without adding in windchill.

I once skied Crystal Mountain in Washington State with the windchill around -64F. They shut down the lifts the next day, afraid that the cables would become too brittle, not to mention the danger of the high winds.

If you choose to go through with this, pick your weather windows carefully and plan on 3-4 days maximum, then head to someplace warm to thaw out.

As a snow bird, I head south in the winter. If I really want to go skiing, I hop a flight north and rent a room. Much cheaper than repairing severe freeze damage!
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