The Best 4-Season RV’s for Winter Camping, Living & Road Tripping—Part 1

If you’re like us, this summer’s RVing season didn’t last long enough. Every year as the weather turns cold, we hear from RVers who are disappointed that it’s already time to winterize and put their RV’s into storage until next spring. But there’s no denying that the rain has arrived with a vengeance in our part of Oregon and, sadly, some of our favorite RV’s, while being perfect homes from spring through early fall, just aren’t built to stand up to the kind of cold and/or wet weather that gets thrown at them in the winter months. If you’ve ever spent a hunting or skiing trip in an RV that wasn’t winter-friendly, you know how fast you’ll use up propane trying to stay warm. This blog is for those of you who are already antsy for another camping trip, or who would love to bring your home-on-wheels with you when you take that holiday road trip to see family and friends. If you’re thinking it’s time to upgrade the travel trailer, fifth wheel, camper or motorhome that has served you so well in the warm months, to a model that can serve you all year, we’re going to give you some pointers on how to choose a truly four-season RV.

This week we’re going to spend some time on what to look for in four-season and Arctic packages. Next week, we’ll give you some information on the manufacturers that rate the best for winter RVing.

Four-Season RVs and Arctic Packages

You’ll find a number of RV manufacturers who offer four-season or Arctic packages, and that is a good place to begin your search. However, as much as we’d like to say, “If it’s advertised as a four season RV, you’ll be good to go,” there is no RV industry standard for what an Arctic package is or what four-season means. One four-season model may differ significantly from another, and an RV that could serve you perfectly in a Pacific Northwest winter, might not cut the mustard in a North Dakota winter. Depending on what you need, you’ll have to do some research into the brands and models that you like best. Talk to RV experts like our knowledgeable sales staff and RV service professionals, but also remember that, in the age of the Internet, a wide array of information is available at your fingertips. Visit manufacturer websites and read about their construction methods. Peruse RV forums and see what other RVers have experienced. If you meet some snowbirds at the gas station, go make their acquaintance and see what they have to say; RVers are some of the friendliest people and you’re likely to get great feedback.

While you can’t assume that just any Arctic package is going to give you everything you need to overwinter in the frozen north, the best RV manufacturers are building some spectacularly good four-season models, and they’re improving every year. They’ve spent a lot of time talking to RVers and figuring out how to build with cold weather in mind. As interest has grown in four-season camping, we’ve seen manufacturers making huge advances in construction methods and materials, increased insulation, ducted heating systems, dual pane windows and more—all of which make these winter-friendly RV’s equally good for extremely hot weather, so it’s a win-win for those of us wanting to camp year round.

What to Look For

The most important features in a winter-friendly RV obviously all have to do with heat, whether for yourself or your plumbing. So, when you’re looking for that perfect four-season RV, there are some features that are a must.

The people who have been living in their RV’s full time, like Jason and Nikki Winn, will tell you that one key to staying cozy in your RV in the winter is to have a high capacity propane furnace, a heat pump, ducted heat and good thermostats. The propane furnace is going to be necessary in the coldest temperatures to take the chill off, but having the heat pump will be the better way to heat your RV in regard to cost savings and comfort. The ducted heat and thermostats give you more control over how even the heat is throughout your RV, which means you can pick and choose where you want the most heat at any given time. This saves you more money and enables you to prioritize your comfort.

Many modern RV’s now feature enclosed and heated basements, which does wonders for protecting your pipes and keeping your floors warmer. Alternatively, look for cold weather packages that provide heated holding and water tank pads, as well as a way to protect water and sewage lines.

Do your research regarding insulation in the ceilings, floors and walls. You want plenty of it, and you want it in the right places.

Dual pane windows will make a huge difference in your comfort. In places with rainy winters, like western Oregon, you might also want frameless windows that open out from the bottom; this allows you to get some fresh air if you need it without letting in rain. However, some people want more ventilation in the summer than frameless windows provide, so be sure to look at your options.

In a more general way, think about the plumbing layout. Is the plumbing in your cupboards against the outside wall where it can easily freeze, or is it in the basement where it’s close to the heat from the floor? Do you have easy access in case of an emergency, or is it going to be hard to get to?

We think four-season camping is the best. Seeing the beauty of winter from the comfort of your home on wheels is a perspective we wish everyone could enjoy. By putting a little time into thinking about what you need and which RV manufacturers are doing the best job of creating truly winter-friendly models, you’ll be well on your way to finding your perfect four-season RV. Next week we’re going to take a look at some of the manufacturers that we respect the most for their four-season RV’s and Arctic packages.

If you have any questions, or you’d like to walk through some of the best four-season RV’s, contact us today or come on over to Junction City.

If you would like more information about The Best 4-Season RV’s for Winter Camping, Living & Road Tripping read part #2 of our blog

Photo Credit Colleen Lane

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