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Old 08-07-2020, 01:29 PM   #1
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Flying Cloud: 3 or 4 Season RV?

I'm looking at FCs, and one common negative I read about on various forums is the lack of insulation on Airstreams. And how the enormous, gorgeous windows are essentially big holes in terms of heating/cooling.

I'm definitely looking for a year-round RV, and would love to hear the opinions of folks who've owned them for awhile. It's not my plan to take it to Alaska every January and camp out in -40 degree temps for three months, but I do want the ability to camp (for short periods, i.e. one week maximum) in cold areas.

I'm considering the 23', if that makes a difference. Would love to hear your opinions!
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Old 08-07-2020, 01:53 PM   #2
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While they aren’t “designed” for cold weather camping, many people have successfully done it. Check out PCSkier on here. I as well as a friend who has a 20’ winter camped this past winter (6weeks in Breckinridge a month in steamboat and another month in park city). In breck we made snow skirts that perhaps made a marginal difference (we didn’t make snow skirts in steamboat or pc) I think investing in a proper skirt would be wise for longer term winter camping. We both experimented with window film which did help manage condensation. We placed light bulbs in cabinets where sensitive plumbing is as well as placing lights outside aimed at the dump valves. I did most of the six weeks in breck in a 26’ flying cloud and would go through a 30lb propane tank every 5 days or so. I traded out the 26’ for a 30’ international and found I was going through propane in 3-4 days. I attribute this to the much more open layout/more glass in the 30’. So while they aren’t very well insulated and condensation can be an issue, it is very doable. We have spent a couple of nights boondocking when the temps dip below freezing...not ideal but as long as you have battery and propane it’s manageable.
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Old 08-07-2020, 09:35 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith_Ward View Post
I'm looking at FCs, and one common negative I read about on various forums is the lack of insulation on Airstreams. And how the enormous, gorgeous windows are essentially big holes in terms of heating/cooling.



I'm definitely looking for a year-round RV, and would love to hear the opinions of folks who've owned them for awhile. It's not my plan to take it to Alaska every January and camp out in -40 degree temps for three months, but I do want the ability to camp (for short periods, i.e. one week maximum) in cold areas.



I'm considering the 23', if that makes a difference. Would love to hear your opinions!


Iíve read the the Arctic Fox brand of RV is well designed for four-season camping.
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Old 08-07-2020, 09:59 PM   #4
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You didn't say how cold of temperature you want to attempt. Above 10F is doable with the measures mentioned. Below -10 becomes very difficult according to many seasons of reports here. I have done and overnights of 15-12 with no issue and towed it out at 20 and that went fine but I did leave the furnace on at 40 F till we hit 28 outside. If I were to do it again I would better insulate the spare tire area and improve the skirt. I used bubble wrap on the windows and that did pretty good. stuffed the outside shower with bubble wrap also after removing the cord and head. filled the outside compartments with bubble wrap too. Was on shore power and used electric heaters along with the furnace to reduce propane use but the furnace heats the tank area so I made sure it ran part time.
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Old 08-07-2020, 10:11 PM   #5
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If winter camping is your thing you probably should get a camper designed for that. Lance is one company that does it. They have double pane windows and more insulation. I’m not saying it can’t be done, because others have done it. But to me it would be risky if a mistake is made. That could get very costly.

I have camped in weather in the 20’s for a few days; not because I wanted to, but it was an unusual cold snap in Indiana. I used a ton of LP. Basically a 30lb tank in a day and a half. In fact I bought an extra 30lb tank to make sure I didn’t run out. The furnace was going constantly.

Also the main problem in very cold weather is condensation. You really need to have some way of eliminating moisture. If not all kinds of bad things can happen.

AS’s are just not made for Winter camping. There are other options if that is a major thing for you. In fact, I’ve thought about selling my AS and getting a Lance myself, just because it gives me more options for time of year.
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Old 08-08-2020, 09:23 AM   #6
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Generally speaking AS is not a "winter" trailer.
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Old 08-08-2020, 09:32 AM   #7
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Hi

This is very much a "where?" sort of question. Winter in Florida is not the same as winter in Maine.

In weather that does go below freezing, Water in the tanks / pipes is a risk. It's not just a risk at the campsite, it's at least as much of a risk towing. Fully drying everything out is not a simple task. Assuming you will put it back into unheated storage, either you dry camp or you go through a winterize process each time you come back.

Humidity in the trailer is an issue in the cold months. If you are cooking (and using water ...) it gets pretty crazy pretty fast. Even if there are just a couple of people (and dogs ...) dry camping, it builds up. Drying everything out is easier than re-winterizing, but it's still a chore.

Heating the trailer to a comfortable temperature depends a lot on what you consider comfortable. If 20 degrees in the trailer is "just fine", that's one end of the spectrum. A lot of folks like it in the 70's in the day and above 60 at night. That will use a good deal of propane if it's in the 20's all day long and into the low teen's each night. It also will use a bit of electricity to power the furnace (and possibly supplemental heaters ...).

Next up is fun like snow / ice / freezing rain. Getting into a cute little campground and then having the only road turn into a skating rink *is* a risk. Noticing the sign that says "proceed at your own risk, road not maintained in winter" *after* the fact ... yuck .... Indeed, a lot of the places you normally camp are in the "not maintained in winter" category if they are likely to freeze.

So: can you do it? Sure you can? Is it more than a little bit of work? Indeed it is.

Bob
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Old 08-08-2020, 10:10 AM   #8
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We've camped as cold as 2 below. No problems except that I had to chop the ice from around the dump station with a hatchet. We have a 2017 27FB Flying Cloud.

One big thing is that our dump valves are up under the belly pan and protected from the cold. Other rigs including some Airstreams with exposed valves will freeze up. If you plan on cold weather camping look for that on whatever you decide to buy.

Last, we used a lot of propane at those temps. 30lber every 2 days.

Larry
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Old 08-08-2020, 10:18 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith_Ward View Post
I'm looking at FCs, and one common negative I read about on various forums is the lack of insulation on Airstreams. And how the enormous, gorgeous windows are essentially big holes in terms of heating/cooling.

I'm definitely looking for a year-round RV, and would love to hear the opinions of folks who've owned them for awhile. It's not my plan to take it to Alaska every January and camp out in -40 degree temps for three months, but I do want the ability to camp (for short periods, i.e. one week maximum) in cold areas.

I'm considering the 23', if that makes a difference. Would love to hear your opinions!
Not an airstream..unless you travel to warm climates...not -40...not below 20 for long periods...lol..
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Old 08-08-2020, 10:21 AM   #10
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-40...better get an apartment...
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Old 08-08-2020, 11:22 AM   #11
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We use our airstream in below freezing temperatures but if you want a serious 4 season trailer I would look at Oliver trailers.--Frank
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Old 08-08-2020, 01:19 PM   #12
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I think most consider an Airstream to be a three season trailer. There is always the possibility of extreme measures but why not start with something that is properly built and configured for the job at hand, like an Artic Fox (nice trailers)?

Cheers,
John
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Old 08-08-2020, 03:05 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith_Ward View Post
I'm looking at FCs, and one common negative I read about on various forums is the lack of insulation on Airstreams. And how the enormous, gorgeous windows are essentially big holes in terms of heating/cooling.

I'm definitely looking for a year-round RV, and would love to hear the opinions of folks who've owned them for awhile. It's not my plan to take it to Alaska every January and camp out in -40 degree temps for three months, but I do want the ability to camp (for short periods, i.e. one week maximum) in cold areas.

I'm considering the 23', if that makes a difference. Would love to hear your opinions!
Oliver Travel Trailer. 4 season. Similar price range. I love my 30í Excella however the glass isnít insulated as the Oliverís are
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Old 08-08-2020, 03:39 PM   #14
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Airstreams are definitely not 4 season and itís pushing it saying they are 3 season.
I really like airstreams but if you honestly want a 4 season trailer thatís built for Alaska, look at the Bigfoot 25 ft They have the front and rear queen models. I had the rear queen model and loved it. IMO, itís the best built trailer on the road.
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Old 08-08-2020, 03:56 PM   #15
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We left for the 2019-2020 snowbird season on November 15, 2019. We had picked up the trailer (2020 FC 27FBT) on November 8, 2019 in sub-freezing weather. Two days later we had 11" of snow which stuck around for the week. It was winterized when we picked it up, and we left it that way until we got far enough south to safely de-winterize it. Even so, we ran the furnace. Our first few nights on the road we had highs near freezing (+/-) and lows in the mid-20s (F). Our Airstream is definitely NOT designed/built for winter camping, but we managed to stay comfortable enough with the furnace set at 42 (F) and extra blankets. One of the weak points, vis-a-vis insulation, is the three outside bays, none of which appear to have any insulation separating them from the living area.

We took a long, hard look at the Oliver trailers, including a factory tour, and we were very impressed with everything except the size. Even so, the 18' model is a double axle frame and we were spent a week giving serious consideration to putting down a deposit. In the end, we took a pass for two reasons: The 18' trailer (their largest) was just too small for us, and 2) they were not able to get one built and ready for us to pick up by the time we needed it. Like Airstreams, the Olivers have a following, and people who have them really seem to like them.
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Old 08-09-2020, 06:54 AM   #16
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Just to eliminate some confusion: I was using Alaska as a hyperbolic example. I could see camping in places were it gets down to near zero occasionally, but outings in really cold temps (the New England area) would be limited to weekends mostly.

And thanks for the feedback! Y'all are great. Still soliciting opinions, if you'd like to share.
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Old 08-10-2020, 11:16 AM   #17
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Agree with most of what has been said above. Forced to spend Jan-April in Golden CO. Broke ankle slipped on black ice. Attest to outstanding osteopaths in Golden. See my Avatar taken at Dakota Ridge RV Park. Lows got down to 12 degrees. We had 100 lbs propane tank delivered to our 25' Safari FB, no skirts. We went though 100lbs a month average. Left dump valves open. We used two portable small space heaters, one in kitchen near the front door and one in the bedroom. We were very comfortable. The only real problem we had was when the door frame shrunk and we couldn't close and lock the door. Had to jury rig with my pants belt by looping one end around the door handle and the other to the grab handle by the door. Got a bit breezy in there for a few days.
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Old 08-10-2020, 11:20 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith_Ward View Post
Just to eliminate some confusion: I was using Alaska as a hyperbolic example. I could see camping in places were it gets down to near zero occasionally, but outings in really cold temps (the New England area) would be limited to weekends mostly.

And thanks for the feedback! Y'all are great. Still soliciting opinions, if you'd like to share.
Hi

Even New England in the winter has a lot of variation. If you are on the coast (like Cape Cod) you may rarely see a daytime high below freezing. Even at night, it's not going to (typically) get all that cold.

Head up into northern Vermont and you can see weeks where it's not above zero day or night (I've been up there then ....). It's not common, but it does indeed happen. You can also see weeks of nothing but rain .... Not great if the plan was to go skiing

Just where is the dividing line? It obviously depends a bit on the storm and how that season is going. When we lived in CT, places 20 miles south of us might get a dusting of snow and be above freezing pretty quick. Go 20 miles north of us and they got several feet of snow and sub-freezing for days ....

This all creates a bit of a problem for planning. Nobody really can guess what the weather will be next month. If you have to reserve this or that, you generally are stuck with the plan. If it gets nasty cold .... yikes ....

Will this or that trailer do ok at this or that temperature?

How strong is the wind? (more wind is worse)
What direction is the wind from? (there's always a "bad" direction pipe wise ...)
Which way is the trailer parked?
How much blockage does the local terrain provide?
Where are we measuring temperature? (at the trailer can be *very* different than the local weather station).
How long is it "this cold"? (longer is always worse)
Do you have water in this tank or that tank? If so how much?
Is the city water feed hooked up? (correct answer is no ...)
How warm is it in the trailer?

Yes this goes on and on. Lots of variables. That's why one person has a frozen pipe disaster at 27 degrees (yes it happens, there are threads ...) and another seems to be happy for months at sub zero temperatures ....

Bob
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Old 08-11-2020, 05:36 PM   #19
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Bottom line, you said it yourself, you are looking for a four seasons trailer. Airstream is not a four season trailer.

Aluminum is cold in the winter, hot in summer, single pane windows, lots of condensation with propane. Etc etc.

Yes, all things can be modified and all people can adjust and adapt to some conditions. But for how long since you already know you want a (built for it) 4 Season.
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Old 08-12-2020, 10:15 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith_Ward View Post
I'm definitely looking for a year-round RV, and would love to hear the opinions of folks who've owned them for awhile. It's not my plan to take it to Alaska every January and camp out in -40 degree temps for three months, but I do want the ability to camp (for short periods, i.e. one week maximum) in cold areas.
.
For real four season camping, I'd seriously look at Oliver travel trailers - Airstreams are NOT cold weather trailers.

Oliver trailers are solid, beautiful and extremely well made, well worth your consideration.


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