Red Rover Campsite - small

Winter Roadtreking

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Humpf!  The muffled noise stirred Lynn to full consciousness.  Actually she was only half asleep, having previously woken up cold and tried to roll over, but discovered she was pinned on her left side by one dog curled against her chest and another behind her knees.  The 27 inch wide “single” beds in the Roadtrek was not meant for one person and two  dogs (especially 50 lb dogs.)  Roger uttered the “humpf” – Becky was trying to climb in bed with him.  It was freezing and the three Poodles were cold.

Red Rover Campsite - smallWe were parked in the West Virginia mountains above Cass (in the quiet zone of the Greenbank Observatory.)  It was January and the temperature was 12 degrees outside.  We were at friend’s house, plugged into a 15 amp circuit,  and we had turned on our little electric heater before retiring.   We had been in the same location the night before and had been comfortable in our Travasaks (winter side up,) with the little heater on the same setting.   But the temperature had plunged this night to 12 degrees (F) and the heater was not keeping up.

Three Dog Twin Bed-small

Simon, Becky & Mark think a Roadtrek twin is the perfect size for 3 Poodles. And they claimed it first.

We got up, turned on the propane furnace.  Ahhh!  Nice and warm.  We remade the bed as a king and we and the dogs slept comfortably the rest of the night.

We have learned a lot about comfort in winter Roadtreking since that night.  There are multiple approaches to winter RVing,  so we will describe what works for us and our Roadtrek.  Our comments apply to the less exotic Roadtreks — we will leave the eTrek and other new products to Mike.

Some owners park their Roadtreks when the temperatures dip below freezing.  Our Roadtrek gets about the same amount of use year- round.  Since we got our Roadtrek, we have spent every Christmas Eve in the comfort of it, in a relative’s driveway.  Our winter trips , except for those to warmer climates,  are often fairly short –2-3 nights– but still occur regularly.

ReflectixThe first thing to know about winter camping is Reflectix.   You need some.  It looks like bubble wrap between two layers of aluminum foil.  It is available at Lowes or Home Depot in the insulation department.  You can also find it at Camping World.  It is great for summertime use in the windows to keep down the sun heat load,  but it is equally useful in the winter to prevent heat loss. Use scissors to cut it.

Reflectix in Side Window (Medium)

Side rear window. Cut Reflectix to fit and label each piece.

Cut pieces that fit the windows tightly.  Most  of the time you can press them into the window and they will stay in place.  If you have screens on your door windows you can cut the pieces to fit between the screen and the window — pop the window open,  insert the Reflectix panel and close the window.

Reflectix over Fantastic Fan (Medium)

Reflectix cut to cover Fantastic Fan. Useful for keeping light out when sleeping too.

Cover all your windows.   We use a folding reflective  sun screen for the windshield. A piece for the Fantastic Fan in the roof is useful , secured with a couple of mini-bungees to hold it against the opening.  A piece for the stove vent fan is even more useful  because it is drafty even when closed. We’ve heard of owners who wrap a big piece of the stuff around the entire head of the bed to avoid any drafts from the rear door.  And some use a piece of it to direct heat from a front furnace toward the rear.  Reflectix is wonderful multi-purpose stuff for the RVer.

Although Travasaks (or equivalent) are wonderful, consider a warmer sleeping bag for winter camping.  We have several weights of down sleeping bags from our bicycle camping days and have never regretted using them when the weather turned cold.

Use your furnace.  It works well.  Even if you are using an electric heater, turn on the furnace and set it to a low temperature.  That way if the electric heater can’t handle the temperature drop, it will not get too cold inside your Roadtrek.

Usually the obstacles to winter RVing involve water and tanks.  Our Roadtrek was not built for winter use  plumbing, so we do winterize when cold weather comes.  That doesn’t keep us from living comfortably in our Roadtrek.

Water Jug over sink - small

Put dishpan in sink and swivel drinking water container over the sink. You got running water!

First running water for washing, brushing teeth and cooking:  we fill a container of drinking water that sits on a foam pad against the kitchen wall.  When winterized, we put an RV dishpan in the sink (perfect fit) and swivel the water container so the spout is over the dishpan.  Viola!  Now we have running water.  Water for dish washing or shaving can be heated in the microwave or on the stove.

Antifreeze and Toilet -smallWith the dishpan in the sink we don’t use the gray tank at all in the winter.  But we do use the black tank.  It works fine as long as you use enough antifreeze to keep liquids in it from freezing solid.  A little slushy is OK.  We keep a jug of antifreeze beside the toilet to flush with, 1/2 cup per use.  If the weather is not too cold, we will used the water in the dishpan for flushing as well.  Just pick a warmer day to dump the tank.    If it sits for many weeks between dumping, it does not hurt anything as long as you have sufficient antifreeze in it.  You can add some warm water to the tank before dumping to ensure good flow.  It is possible to avoid toilet use at all with pee bottles and wag bags, but that is far too much trouble for us.

There is really no reason to avoid winter travels in your RV.  With some preparation and some practice  you and your dogs will be just as comfortable as other times of the year.  Our Roadtrek is an all-weather joy!

 

 

 

 

 


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  • Maureen

    Good info….thanks. I definitely plan on longer stays with relatives in the winter. Very helpful. I like down comforters and sleeping bags and usually never have the heat on in the house through the night unless way below freezing so makes sense to me.

  • John

    I would like to know what it is like to live in the quiet zone of the Greenbank Observatory. No WiFi and other RF emissions. Curious about that. I understand people who are sensitive to RF move there because there isn’t any flying about.

    • http://www.redroverroadtrek.com Lynn & Roger Brucker

      Our friend who lives in the quiet zone is quite happy to be there. He gave us very detailed instructions on finding his place since it was impossible to call him if we got lost. Still we had some confusion (it was after dark) because he said “take Back Mountain Road up the mountain from Cass”. We found Back Mountain Road went two ways and everything was uphill from Cass. The Cass Scenic Railroad is well worth a visit. Our friend volunteers there and we got a great tour of the shops.

  • Pam Hicks

    Thanks, Roger & Lynn! I’m experimenting with winter camping for the first time this year. I love the idea of being able to use my van year round in the northern climate. I use a down comforter or two & stay super warm. The propane furnace is great – extremely reliable & inexpensive. I use the basin in the sink & the toilet. Have thought about getting one of those thermos pumps for hot to warm water.

  • Brenda Rivers

    I live in WV and have been to Cass a lot. Don’t you just love our beautiful state. I camp in my Volvo station wagon, but hope to one day have a Roadtrekker.

  • LInda

    Too cold for me…We love to RV but not in cold weather!

  • Phyllis Button

    Got any pics of in side this one?

  • Donna Hankins Knox

    Too small forme.

  • Myra Taylor

    Need me one one of these machines!!

  • Mimi Wolf

    Love it…. Is it solar powered.. Can I see the inside. I really need one

  • Carolyn Tody

    Wanted, more than anything… please show the inside.

  • Jane Morin

    I really like this big enough for my husband and myself that way we can go alone no room for anyone else ha ha.

  • https://www.facebook.com/tess.carrillo.3 Tess Carrillo

    Thank you for the winter tips

  • MLopez Rodriguez

    thats what i need

  • https://www.facebook.com/karen.b.bell.9 Karen B Bell

    Starting to re-think this concept.

  • https://www.facebook.com/nancy.miller.7355 Nancy Miller

    just right for me

  • Cheryl Dupe

    Sweet :)

  • https://www.facebook.com/ray.harwood1 Ray Harwood

    thank you for you all posts I so enjoy reading them and pray you all are safe

  • https://www.facebook.com/jean.bartibogue Jean Bartibogue

    I will have a roadtrek!!!

  • https://www.facebook.com/mel.deveau.1 Mel Deveau

    What year would this one be ?.

  • https://www.facebook.com/mel.deveau.1 Mel Deveau

    They give good fuel milage.

  • https://www.facebook.com/kathy.markward Kathy RedHat Markward

    Love my 2001 RT, I’m headed north with antifreeze in my potty/black tank. I keep a few gallons of water on hand for washing, but I just use a plastic bowl.

  • Robert Brandt

    almost like mine.

  • Robert Brandt

    Mel, that would be about a 1996 190 Popular on a Dodge

    • http://www.redroverroadtrek.com Lynn & Roger Brucker

      Close. Red Rover is a 1995 Dodge 190 Popular Roadtrek. That means we still have the generator in a compartment and the aisle goes all the way to the rear door. Although we do not have an outdoor shower, we do have low point drain valves for the plumbing. We love our Roadtrek, and really like the 1994/1995/early 1996 Dodge. There are more photos on http://www.RedRoverRoadtrek.com

  • Sue

    I would love to have a list of the cave exploring books Roger has authored or co-authored.