Want to carry on using your campervan in winter but not sure what to expect or how to prepare? Here Van Life Matters offers its winter campervan preparation tips and advice.
While some are getting ready for winter storage, others will be swapping the t-shirts and shorts for thermals, loading up with winter campervan essentials and planning-out a route for the colder months.
With some planning and preparation, winter in a campervan offers an entirely different experience to that of touring in the spring and summer months.
With reduced costs, free-flowing traffic and quieter attractions, there’s a lot to be said for winter campervan trips.
Campervan frost protection
Fresh and waste water tanks are at risk of freezing in sub-zero temperatures, particularly campervans that have externally-mounted tanks.
Frozen tanks, pipes and connections could not only cause damage but will leave you without a supply of water.
- Wastewater tank anti-freeze: Add a small amount of non-toxic anti-freeze to your wastewater tank to help prevent freezing.
- Insulation: Newer campervans tend to already have insulated water tanks but you may still need to add additional insulation to protect pipes and connections. Older tanks may not have any insulation at all and should be protected with lagging.
- Immersion heaters: Campervan water tank immersion heaters prevents water from getting too cold and freezing.
- Store backup water inside: As the ultimate fail-safe, it’s worth storing a backup water container inside your campervan in case your main water source does freeze.
How to keep a campervan warm in winter
There’s nothing like a cosy autumn or winter night in your campervan.
- Thermal insulation covers: External windscreen cover will help to reduce condensation on the inside of your cab windows, while thermal insulation covers will help keep the coldest part of your campervan warm. Campervan cab floor insulation covers, underbed insulation and rooflight thermal solutions are also widely available.
- Campervan gas: Due to its higher supply rate and ability to operate in sub-zero temperatures, propane gas tends to be the preferred choice in the winter. Propane is better at providing a greater number of appliances at once than butane, which begins to produce less gas below around 4C.
- Carpets, mats and rugs: Additional floor mats are a great way to stay warm underfoot – just be careful not to block any vents.
- Winter warmers: Ensure you’ve packed plenty of blankets, warm clothing, hats and gloves. It’s much easier to stay warm, than to try warming up when you’ve already got too cold.
Winter campervan bedding
- Sleeping bags: Use a three or four-season sleeping bag with extra filling.
- Duvets: If you prefer a duvet you’ll need to switch to a higher tog come autumn/winter.
Dealing with wet weather and mud
Often forgotten about, until it’s too late, is the wet and mud that comes with winter motorhoming.
- Choose hardstanding pitches: Try to park up on a hard-standing pitch if possible.
- Grip mats: Where hardstanding is not possible, asses soft pitches before parking-up and consider how heavy rainfall might effect the ground. If the pitch is deemed acceptable, place a set on grip mats under your driven wheels – the majority of campervans are front-wheel drive, so grip mats should be placed under the front tyres.
- Tow rope: If you do get stuck, you’ll be thankful for a tow rope.
- Waterproof clothing: Don’t forget your waterproofs, walking boots and wellies but don’t leave wet clothes in your campervan. Instead, store them in your awning or utility tent to avoid the risk of condensation, mould and mildew.
Campervan condensation can occur at any time of the year but it’s much more common during autumn and winter, and while some might consider it to be a minor annoyance, it can actually be very damaging to not only your campervan but to your health too.
Condensation is more likely to form in your campervan when you cook, boil the kettle, wash the dishes, take a shower, have damp clothes, or let wet dogs in.
- Increase ventilation: Open vents, sky lights and even a window to maintain air flow and be sure to use the extractor when showering or cooking.
- External thermal cab window screens: External thermal window covers provides insulation to the windscreen and cab doors, helping to prevent condensation by reducing the temperature difference between the inside and outside.
- Dehumidifier: Dehumidifiers reduces and maintains the level of humidity and can be used to in your campervan to minimise the risk of condensation – both while on the road and while in storage. Desiccant dehumidifiers, available as self-contained disposable packs or re-usable traps with replacement desiccant, are a good choice for motorhomes. Plug-in refrigerant dehumidifiers are another option.
- Handheld window vacuum cleaner: If you do still end up with condensation on your windows, a handheld electric window cleaner is the ideal tool for clearing the moisture.
Find lots more information about campervan condensation, mould and mildew here.
Before any long journey, it’s important to carryout the usual fluid level checks on your campervan and, even more important in the autumn and winter, check the condition of your wiper blades, ensure all lights are clean and working, and ensure your tyres have sufficient tread.
If you have tours planned throughout the winter, you should consider fitting campervan winter tyres.
NEED TO KNOW: If you’re heading to Europe this winter, check local laws as winter tyres are a legal requirement in some countries and you may also be required to carry snow chains too.
You should also ensure all onboard equipment and habitation facilities are serviced and working efficiently – a habitation check will provide you with a detailed report with observations of any problems identified and actions required.
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