Going on a winter holiday with a caravan, camper or tent? Unimaginable for many. But even in winter camping can be a lot of fun. We give tips in terms of parking space, heating, sewage and more.
It is difficult for some campers to imagine traveling with their motorhome in snow and ice. A trip with the motorhome to the next ski area can be an experience! Utensils such as lined shoes and warm clothing should not be missing during winter camping. But there is more that should be considered when camping in winter. We give tips for a perfect vacation in freezing temperatures.
This should be taken into account when winter camping with the caravan
Use a winter-proof or winter-proof vehicle for camping. Both terms are protected and stand for a precisely specified test procedure. Only then can the manufacturers name their motorhomes with one of the terms. The difference between a winter-capable and a winter-proof vehicle is how well the vehicle walls are insulated and how quickly or slowly a vehicle cools down and can be warmed up again. Ultimately, a winter-proof motorhome does more justice to the conditions of winter camping. Motorhomes that are marked as “suitable for winter” only offer sufficient protection at temperatures around freezing. Therefore, if you are planning a longer trip and are traveling to colder areas, you should make sure that you drive a “winterproof” motorhome.
• Test method “suitable for winter”:
Phase 1 – Cooling down time: The vehicle is cooled down to 0 degrees for at least ten hours. All doors and windows are opened to really cool the motorhome completely.
Phase 2 – Start of heating: The interior of the vehicle should be heated up at maximum speed. Start temperature is 0 degrees. Within two hours, a central measuring point, one meter above the interior floor in the middle of the living area, must have a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius. Additional measuring points may have a difference of up to seven degrees.
• Test method “winterproof”:
Phase 1 – Cooling down time: The test vehicle is cooled down to minus 15 degrees Celsius over at least ten hours. All doors and windows are opened.
Phase 2 – Start of heating: The interior of the vehicle should heat up at maximum speed. The central measuring point above the interior floor in the middle of the living area must be heated to 20 degrees within four hours. Five other measuring points must not differ by more than seven degrees.
Phase 3 – Stabilization time: After a one-hour stabilization period, the water tanks are filled.
Phase 4 – Test of the water system: After another hour, it is checked whether all the pipe systems and taps are free and functional, i.e. that the water in them is not frozen.
If you want to go on a winter holiday with your motorhome, you should definitely mount winter tires with a tread depth of at least four to five millimeters and pack snow chains. Tip: Buy good snow chains, these usually last a lifetime.
In winter it is particularly important that the motorhome or caravan is well insulated. So-called thermal bridges are also available for winter-proof or stable motorhomes. These are certain areas in components through which the heat is transported outside faster than through other adjacent components. This could be, for example, leaky joints in a window. Accordingly, a thermal bridge can often be found in the cab. It is best to cover the windows from the outside so that the heat cannot escape and the panes remain ice-free at the same time. Thermo hoods are suitable for this. There are also thermal mats for insulation in the foot area. Attention: If you drive a camper, you should definitely cover the tailgate. A lot of cold is drawn in here.
Can you discover existing thermal bridges yourself?
Thermal bridges can be uncovered very easily with a thermographic image. At low temperatures, a thermal imager is used to take an exterior picture of the motorhome heated to a certain temperature. The picture then shows different areas of the vehicle that are warm: Cold areas are dark, which means that only a little heat comes from the inside to the outside. Light spots show the warm areas. Here the heating energy is lost to the outside unused.
Anyone traveling with their motorhome in winter definitely needs a motorhome heater. So a heater that works even when the vehicle is parked. Mobile home heaters are differentiated according to the type of heat transfer and the fuel used. These are the most common heaters:
• Gas heating: Gas is carried in the mobile home anyway, since it is used for cooking or for operating the refrigerator. It is therefore also suitable for heating. It is important to take enough gas supplies with you. There are usually 11-kilogram gas cylinders, which last about three to four days. So that the gas does not run out at night, it is advisable to buy an automatic gas bottle switchover. It can also be integrated in a gas pressure regulator.
• Fuel heating: With fuel heating, the fuel is obtained directly from the vehicle tank. Since most RVs run on diesel, diesel heating is the most common. But this form of heating is also available for petrol engines. The practical: No gas bottles have to be carried and the on-board battery is not loaded.
• Additional electric heater: This auxiliary heater is operated with electricity. It is suitable for those who can access shore power at the campsite. Many campsites also offer a flat rate for electricity.
It is very important that the water pipes are checked regularly during winter holidays. They can freeze quickly at low temperatures. The waste water tank is particularly at risk since it is usually outside. At low temperatures, it may make sense not to collect the wastewater in the tank, but to let it flow directly into a bucket. In this way, the wastewater can also be disposed of as an “ice block”. Another possibility is to protect the water pipes from freezing with the help of a heating rod or with heating tapes.
If it is cold outside, the on-board battery has less power. To save electricity here, the refrigerator should – if possible – be supplied with external power. For example, you can use the campsite’s electricity connection. Another option is a power generator that runs on petrol, diesel or gas. The disadvantage, however, is that such a generator is usually very loud. This can not only disturb yourself, but also other campers.
An awning is a good addition to a motorhome all year round. It offers additional storage space, which is particularly useful in winter. Ski equipment, sleds and wet boots can then be parked dry without taking up space in the motorhome. When choosing the awning, it is important to choose a special winter awning. It is made of material coated on both sides, and the roof has a slight inclination to the front so that the snow can fall off better. Such a winter awning costs between $ 300 and $ 800.
Those who go camping in winter must never forget the right tools. This includes a hammer that can be used to better peg the tent pegs into the ground for the awning in snow and ice. Also important: brooms and hand brushes for the entrance area. Finally, dirt and snow have to be swept out. A whisk with ice scraper and telescopic rod is also useful. So you can better push the snow off the roof. A winter camper can also use a jump lead or a booster for the car battery.
9) Parking space
It is important to choose the right parking space in winter: For example, if you are traveling with a small camper without a bath, you will be particularly pleased with closed and heated sanitary facilities in snow and ice. Also important: Some pitches have drying rooms for ski equipment and a small shop to buy important camping equipment, food and drinks. Some campsites even offer a sauna. It is best to research in advance on the Internet or call once to find out how well your destination campsite is equipped for the winter time.
9 important tips for camping in winter
Does the tent season have a break in winter? Who actually says it has to be that way? With the following tips from outdoor experts, you can also experience a safe night outdoors in winter!
1. The right tent
A winter-compatible tent must have plenty of space in the vestibule and inner tent. You have more equipment with you and you are not so agile in thick winter clothing. It is also important that the air circulation is continuous and abundant from long side to long side. The ventilation openings must be able to be closed when the snow is blowing.
2. The right place
Find a place sheltered from the wind with sufficient snow depth so that you can anchor the tent. Avoid a location in gorges, on snow-covered slopes or under snow drifts. Snow and avalanches are significantly more dangerous than wind and some snow. Kick the snow flat with skis or snowshoes and let it solidify for a quarter of an hour. Then you set up the tent as normal (with the entrance on the windward side), but use the snow or sand pegs for this.
3. Use your pegs properly
Snow or sand pegs are either used like normal ground pegs or driven in transversely as T-anchors. If the snow is really hard all around, let the pegs freeze for at least a quarter of an hour and then tension the tent lines.
4. Ensure stable anchoring
Make sure that you really use all the attachment points. Snow is often anything but secure anchoring and if the storm pulls in several places on the tent at the same time, the forces must be properly distributed.
5. Build a windbreak
Pile some snow as wind protection on the sides of the tent so that not so much snow can collect between the outer and inner tent. This wind wall should be about one meter high and 3 to 5 meters from the tent (in the wind direction). Your back should be sharply pointed – so that the wind breaks and the drifting snow is kept away from your tent.
6. Dig a footwell
Finally, when the tent is up and the wind wall is ready, dig a pit in the vestibule so that you can sit comfortably on the inner edge of the tent with your feet in the vestibule.
7. Don’t underestimate the snow
There is always a risk that parts of the excavated apse will be blown away by the snow. Therefore, do not leave any loose parts in the apse! Close all backpacks and bags properly.
8. Take a second set of booms with you
For longer tours in the wilderness, you should always have a second set of rods in the rod channels. They provide additional stability in snow and wind. Then there is the greatest risk that the tent will collapse.
9. Use an additional sleeping pad
It’s best to use double mattresses in winter, one made of foam and one inflatable with a pump. A self-inflating sleeping pad rarely inflates properly, especially not in winter.