The days are getting shorter and the first snow is falling. No reason to send the mobile home or caravan into hibernation. Winter camping is growing in popularity and with good reason. Picturesque snowy landscapes, hot tea, and tranquility invite you to relax.
Campsites in ski resorts even offer extras such as spa services or drying rooms for ski equipment. Winter camping with a caravan or mobile home has its own magic. You should definitely experience this for yourself! We’ll show you what to look out for when camping in winter.
1. Choice of the campsite
Caravan in front of a mountain panorama in winter
Not all campsites have the appropriate installations to be able to offer the full service all year round and therefore do not offer pitches in winter. If you want to make a longer trip in winter and stay overnight at the campsites, we recommend that you reserve appropriate pitches. Clarify in advance which services are available at the respective campsite in the winter months, especially when it comes to the northern regions.
You should consider the following criteria when making your selection for the most pleasant and warm holiday possible:
- Shore power, solar panel generator, water, and sewage connection
- heated sanitary facilities
- heated lounges
- heated restaurant or dining room
- Shops nearby
- Exchange of gas bottles
In addition, there are completely different leisure activities available in winter, which has a very special appeal. If leisure activities are important to you, you should also include the range of possible leisure activities when choosing a campsite, such as:
- Skiing or winter hikes
- Wellness such as sauna, heated pool, or thermal bath
- Indoor sports such as fitness, tennis, or table tennis
Safe driving in ice and snow
Mobile homes or caravans behave differently than a car due to their mass. In order to be able to drive safely in winter, you should definitely use suitable winter tires. They must have a tread depth of at least 4-5 millimeters to provide sufficient grip on the road. This is required by law. In addition, snow chains enable good progress on snow-covered roads.
In some regions there is even a snow chain obligation, find out beforehand about the planned travel route. For an optimal view, the windscreen wiper system should be completely filled with sufficient antifreeze. You should always set the mixing ratio a little higher. So you are on the safe side.
Especially in the winter months, the starter battery is subjected to a much greater load. You should therefore fully charge the battery before driving. You should clean the pole terminals and grease them a little for optimal contact.
Having a jumper cable with you in an emergency also doesn’t hurt, especially when the battery is a little weak. Maybe you should have an RV battery for your trip.
We recommend that you replace the wipers if they are already streaking. It is best to also take some spare bulbs for headlights and taillights with you. Especially in winter, it is extremely important to be able to see and be seen.
Energy supply with gas and electricity
The energy requirement, whether gas or electricity, is much higher in winter than in summer. Heating, television, and light are used much more. Any existing solar panel systems are also less efficient in the winter months. Therefore, you should either make sure that you can use 230V shore power when you travel or alternatively recharge your onboard battery as often as possible.
In winter, the gas should always have a high propane content, since butane is no longer able to switch from liquid to gaseous when it is freezing. Propane can also be used optimally at temperatures below 0 °C. Butane, on the other hand, evaporates at 0 °C and no more gas comes out of the bottle. But don’t worry, the conventional gray gas cylinders are mainly filled with propane and only a small amount of butane, so you can use them without any problems. The blue Campingaz gas cylinders, on the other hand, have a larger proportion of butane, which means that their use is limited depending on the temperature.
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To avoid changing the gas bottle at night, which can get pretty cold, we recommend a gas switching system. As soon as the operating bottle is empty, the system automatically switches to the reserve bottle.
With a gas content meter, you can quickly and reliably find out the remaining content of your gas bottle. If you have installed an iNet box from Trauma, you can also retrofit the appropriate “Level Control” filling level control quite inexpensively. Here, the gas level is determined by ultrasound, as is the (calculated) remaining running time. This is sent via Bluetooth via the iNet box to your mobile phone or tablet so that you always have an overview.
water tank & water pipe
At temperatures around zero, it can happen that the water pipes and tank freeze. Frost damage can be avoided with a winter-proof water tank. The seat of the water tank is decisive. This is because the waste water tank is often located under the floor of the vehicle outside of the interior and can therefore not be heated by the heater. Newer vehicles often have an integrated electric waste water tank heater or have the waste water tank integrated into the air heater. If this is not the case, you can also insulate the tank yourself and retrofit frost protection for wastewater or freshwater tanks.
You can use antifreeze to prevent the water from freezing. However, we only recommend using it for the waste water tank and the toilet with its own water tank. Although there is food-safe antifreeze, which is not hazardous to water and is also suitable for the fresh water tank, they are not drinkable. So you can’t cook with it or brush your teeth.
The de-energized frost monitor safety valve protects the boiler tank or the combi heater if there is a risk of frost. The valve is always locked in the normal state. However, if the temperature falls below approx. 3 °C, the valve opens automatically so that the boiler is emptied. Because if the water remained in the boiler and the water froze there, the boiler or other parts could be damaged. The valve closes again as soon as more than approx. 7 °C is reached.
To protect against the cold, this valve is often located indoors in a cupboard or in the service hatch near the heater.
In winter it can quickly get cold and uncomfortable in the vehicle. It is therefore important that as little cold as possible penetrates from the outside into the interior. The driver’s cab is the biggest problem area, as this is where most of the heat is lost. Especially in the area of the windshield, side windows and doors and also with the pedals on the floor, it pulls in. To protect against the cold, a motorhome cab insulation is recommended. External insulation for the front of the vehicle increases the surface temperature on the inside of the windows and the risk of condensation forming inside the vehicle is reduced. In order to optimally protect the living area from cold radiation and heat loss, there is additional insulation that separates the driver’s cab from the living area. An effective supplement to the thermal curtain is also footwell insulation.
You can find all insulating and thermal mats in various sizes and designs in our shop.
Winter covers for refrigerator ventilation grilles
Cold air can enter the interior of the vehicle through the ventilation openings of the refrigerator. Don’t underestimate that. To prevent this, there are special ventilation grilles with winter covers that can be installed quickly and easily.
2. Winter Camping – Useful Equipment for RV & Caravan
An awning makes camping in winter much more pleasant. There you can stow wet winter clothing and equipment in a practical way. In addition, it serves as an entrance lock. Cold air and wind don’t get into your vehicle as quickly. Winter awnings are best suited to the high demands of the cold season. The roof has a strong forward slope and is made of sturdy material.
The snow can simply slide off and heavy loads are avoided. Alternatively, you can also stabilize your (all-season) awning with support poles and storm poles. Then you should make sure to regularly remove the snow from the roof to avoid damage. In our awning guide, you will find out everything you need to know about awnings.
An additional heater can be used to keep it nice and warm in the awning. There are different awning heaters. It is important that you do not position the heater too close to the tarpaulin, as the risk of fire should not be underestimated. In addition to an awning gas heater, there are also electric heaters or petroleum heaters.
The advantage of a camping gas heater is the high heat output, which means that larger rooms in particular can be heated up in a short time. However, since the outside can get very warm, you should be careful with children or pets. When using a gas heater, care must always be taken to ensure good ventilation so that sufficient oxygen always gets into the heated room. The kerosene heater runs on fuel instead of gas, but has similar properties to gas heaters. Here, too, good ventilation is recommended for sufficient oxygen.
Electric fan heaters are usually compact and quick to set up. The inexpensive versions are often only suitable for smaller rooms due to their low heat output. However, there are also high-quality electric fan heaters that are suitable for larger rooms and continuous operation. If you often use some high-power appliances outdoors, you need to buy a power inverter, 3000w pure sine wave inverter would be a good choice.
Other useful tools
Caravan in front of the wintry place
At this point, we would like to tell you about additional important equipment that you should definitely take with you to the campsite! In order to be pleasantly warm in the mobile home or caravan during winter camping, cozy clothing is of course essential. But a hot-water bottle can also keep you nice and warm, especially in bed in the evening.
In order to keep your vehicle in good shape even during snowfall, we recommend that you always have an ice scraper and brush (with telescopic rod), snow shovel, broom, hand brush, defroster spray and a ladder to hand. A doormat also ensures cleanliness. A hammer and pliers can be useful for driving pegs into the ground and pulling them out again. In our shop you will find a wide range of useful tools.
Heated carpets are also a good addition in winter and keep your feet nice and warm in the camper or caravan. You can simply lay the rugs down, connect them to 12V or 230V (depending on the version) and enjoy the warmth straight away.
There are chimney extensions especially for caravans to prevent the chimney pipe from becoming clogged by snow and to allow the exhaust air from the heating system to escape. These can be installed quickly and easily. It is advisable to take them off while driving.
In order to place the caravan or mobile home safely, straight and stable on the campsite, you should use support plates in addition to the crank supports (support legs). These prevent sinking or slipping on soft ground such as mud or snow.
An air dehumidifier is recommended to prevent the formation of condensation in the living room. Because if the humidity in the room is too high, mold can form and waterlogging can occur. You can see this clearly on the frames of the windows, on which water from the air condenses. In many cases, regular airing (intermittent airing) also helps, but this does not always lead to the desired result.
3. Checklist for winter camping – everything at a glance:
- Carry out routine checks (e.g. TÜV, tire pressure, brakes, oil level, etc…)
- Check vehicle for damage and rust
- Winter tires – measure tread depth (at least 4 mm)
- Check vehicle lighting
- Treat rubber seals
- Test heater and fan operation
- Check/top up antifreeze for windshield washer system and radiator
- Check wipers and replace if necessary
- Provide water pipes with heating cable
- Equip uninsulated water tanks with frost monitors or heating coils
Equipment for the vehicle:
- Snow chains
- Safety vest and warning triangle
- Jump starter or jumper cable
- First aid kit
- Replacement bulbs
- Antifreeze for cooling system and windshield washer system
- Ice scraper (possibly with telescopic rod)
Equipment for the campsite:
- (Winter) Awning
- Floor apron against drafts
- Thermal mats or insulation
- Winter cover for refrigerator ventilation grille
- Broom, shovel, hand brush
- Telescope cleaner
- Support plates
- Doormats, floor mats
- Heating mats, heating carpet
- Hot water bottle
- Thermal mug
- Ladder (remove snow from the roof)
Thorough and regular airing is important in winter to enable sufficient air circulation and prevent condensation. This can be caused by wet clothing or cooking, for example. We, therefore, recommend that you air the room twice a day. The forced ventilation must always be open for safety reasons. Make sure that the ventilation and air vents do not snow. It not only ensures that moisture is removed from the living space, but also that enough fresh air gets into the interior.
4.2. Lay the power cable
You should lay the power cable in such a way that it cannot be damaged. In winter, a snow plow often clears the path and the cable should not be in the way.
4.3. Warm inside and out
You should definitely pack a thick sweater, a seat cushion, a cozy blanket, and thick socks. But tea, coffee, and punch can also warm you up properly.