If you plan on using your RV in the winter, don’t just trust any old travel trailer.
We’ve found some of the best cold weather travel trailers to keep you cozy all season long.
Surviving winter in an RV can be a challenge, but there are a few things you can look for when buying to set yourself up for success.
We want you to not only survive the winter in your RV, but we want you to do well. Let’s get started!
Can you live in a motorhome in the winter?
Yes, you can live in a camper in the winter, and many people do. However, your comfort depends largely on the model and what cold weather features the manufacturer offers.
Most manufacturers design their RVs for recreational purposes, that is, for the peak season when most RV owners camp. This means that most RVs are designed for the summer and fall months.
However, if you are looking for an RV that is also suitable for the winter months, we have something for you. First, let’s take a look at a few important features to look for when shopping.
What to look for in a cold weather travel trailer
Various “R-values” are used for insulation in mobile homes. The higher the R-value, the better insulated your RV is.
A typical RV sidewall has an insulation value between R-5 and R-7, but if you plan to live in it during the winter, don’t just use a typical RV.
A motorhome with a four-season classification has increased insulation. Typically, the side walls have an R-9 rating, the underbody has an R-11 rating, and the roof and front wall have an R-40 rating. You’ll appreciate having more insulation between you and freezing temperatures!
It is important to note that these insulation ratings are not the same as the insulation in your home. Many RV manufacturers layer their insulation values, which is a tricky way to increase the R-value.
For example, an RV might have a layer of Reflectix with an R-5 value in the underbody, then a layer of insulation with an R-10 value, and then another layer of Reflectix. This is touted as the R-20 value of the underbody, but it is actually three separate layers of insulation.
Two-pane thermal insulation window
The next feature you should look for is double-paned windows. The windows of a mobile home can let in a tremendous amount of cold air from the outside.
Manufacturers who want to build a weatherproof RV use double-glazed thermal windows. These are heavier and more expensive, but they provide excellent insulation for the vehicle.
Many RV owners like double-paned windows because they prevent condensation. The inside of your RV’s windows will sweat if the inside temperature is warmer than the outside temperature.
Fortunately, with double-paned windows, you don’t have to worry about condensation forming on the inside of your windows.
Pro Tip: Double pane windows are great, but they can fog up. Here’s how to fix your fogged RV windows if you have them!
If you live in your RV in the winter, you obviously need a heat source. Many RVs have a propane furnace that pumps heat through vents throughout the RV.
Some RVs also have electric fireplaces in the living room or bedroom. However, these use a lot of electricity, so they are not ideal if you are staying outdoors or paying for electricity at a long-term campground.
Finally, you can supplement your heat source with a portable heater. We recommend reading about the best propane heaters for RVs that will keep you warm if you decide to go that route.
Heated Underbody Panel
The best cold weather motorhomes have a heated underbody. This means that the RV’s heating system has a vent or two that blows warm air from the furnace into the underbody. This protects sensitive water pipes, plumbing and other parts that should not be exposed to the cold.
While this does not keep the temperature as warm as the living space, it can often keep it above freezing to avoid potential damage.
If you have an RV with a heated underfloor, you should run your furnace regularly. If the furnace is not running, warm air will not be pumped into your underfloor.
Many RV owners make the mistake of running their electric fireplaces or heaters so often that the furnace does not come on regularly. If warm air is not pumped into your underfloor, water pipes and other components can freeze.
Learn more: Do you like discovering great products? Here’s some cold weather camping gear you’ll really love!
Heated holding tanks
When your RV’s holding tanks freeze, you have no way to empty them. Motorhomes built for cold weather are always equipped with heated holding tanks.
Manufacturers wrap the tanks with some sort of electric heating blanket that RVers can turn on with the push of a button. The blankets warm the tanks enough to prevent the liquids inside from freezing.
Many of these heaters shut off as soon as conditions change and they are no longer needed.
The best cold weather travel trailers for winter camping
Now that you know what to look for in a cold weather travel trailer, let’s take a look at some of the best on the market.
Lance 2285 travel trailerMSRP: $74,073
Length: 27 feet 5 inches
GVWR: 8,000 lbs.
Cold weather features: The Lance 2285 Travel Trailer is equipped with the Lance all-weather package. This includes a ducted heater with vents in the enclosed underbody to protect your RV’s sensitive components.
Lance also has an easy-to-use water heater bypass that makes it easy to winterize your RV. It comes with insulated hatch covers that limit the loss of warm air through the roof vent.
About: The Lance 2285 is equipped with a 45-gallon fresh water tank, two 40-gallon gray tanks and a 40-gallon black tank. This gives you plenty of room to store water and waste while braving the elements.
With a cargo capacity of 2,225 pounds, you’ll have plenty of room for just about anything you want to take with you.
The trailer has a large floor area and multiple doors for guests to come and go. Just because you live in a trailer in the winter doesn’t mean you can’t invite your friends and family.
Arctic Fox North Fork 29RKMSRP: $88,900
Length: 32 feet 3 inches
GVWR: 10,400 pounds
Cold weather features: The Arctic Fox North Fork 29RK is built for four seasons. You’ll appreciate the fully enclosed holding tank area that circulates warm air around the tanks to keep them from freezing.
Plus, the drain valves are enclosed in the heated compartment to prevent potential damage from freezing temperatures.
About: The 29RK is a quality vehicle from a reputable manufacturer of four-season RVs. The 58-gallon fresh water tanks, 35-gallon gray water tanks and 35-gallon black water tanks are all insulated with thermal heating pads.
So you can be sure your tanks are protected from the elements with the push of a button. In addition, Northwood has a reputation for providing the highest quality RV frames in the industry that can take a beating.
Please note: Arctic Fox offers a wide variety of motorhomes! Therefore, we have created an Arctic Fox motorhome buying guide to help you choose the right motorhome for your needs!
Northwood Nash 24BMSRP: $46,391
Length: 28 feet 8 inches
GVWR: 9,200 pounds
Cold weather features: Another of the best cold weather travel trailers to get through the winter is the Northwood Nash 24B. It has all the winter camping features a family could need to stay comfortable.
The insulated and heated holding tanks keep your tanks and underbody warm in freezing temperatures. Northwood uses high-quality batten and reflective foil insulation in its construction to strengthen the insulation of its units.
About: The Nash 24B travel trailer is great for families. It features double bunks with privacy curtains.
The fiberglass exterior and high-density block foam insulation create a barrier between you and Old Man Winter. You can easily keep your rig warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
Jayco Eagle 330RSTSMSRP: $75,218
Length: 40 feet 1 inch
GVWR: 11,995 pounds
Cold weather equipment: The Eagle has a fully enclosed and heated underbody. It also has double-sided radiant insulation in the roof, floor and front cap.
Combine that with the double-layer fiberglass insulation in the ceiling and floor, and you have a well-insulated, winterized vehicle.
About: If you’re tired of boring interiors from RV manufacturers, the 330RSTS is a vehicle you should consider. It has a fresh, bright white interior that looks like it came from a farmhouse.
The fresh colors give the interior a very homey look. However, if you prefer traditional colors, Jayco still offers that option. The Eagle series is one of the longest running and most successful motorhomes on the market.
Bigfoot travel trailer B25MSRP: $71,425
Length: 25 feet 6 inches
GVWR: 7,500 pounds
Cold weather features: Bigfoot Travel Trailers all have a two-piece fiberglass exterior. High density insulation and thermal windows make the Bigfoot B25 one of the best performing and most comfortable cold weather travel trailers.
About: Bigfoot makes an RV that stands up to the elements to keep you comfortable.
Simple things like a porcelain toilet, innerspring mattress and luxurious fabrics for the furniture will make you forget you’re in an RV.
Heartland Sundance Ultra-Lite 262RBMSRP: $50,177
Length: 30 feet 10 inches
GVWR: 7,780 pounds
Cold weather equipment: With 2-inch furnace ducts blowing warm air into the enclosed and insulated subfloor, you won’t have to worry about frozen water pipes or your delicate plumbing.
Heartland uses Azdel laminated sidewalls to create an extra barrier between the inside of your RV and cold winter conditions. Stay warm and cozy in this cold weather camper.
About: One of the first things you’ll notice when you enter the home is the massive ceilings. The vaulted ceilings provide plenty of headroom for even the largest of campers.
Turn on the electric fireplace and take a seat at the dining nook while you watch the snow fall outside. The queen-size bed has an upgraded mattress to give you a restful night’s sleep. However, many people love the lack of carpet.
Pro Tip: Heartland offers some of our most popular RV floorplans. To learn more about this brand and what they offer, please read Who makes Heartland RV?
Additional tips for cold weather camping
Taking the time to prepare your RV for winter will help you weather the cold weather.
Before the temperatures drop, you should purchase a heated water hose. This will ensure that your water hose does not freeze and that you still have water in your RV when the temperature drops below freezing.
We also recommend installing RV skirts to prevent the cold wind from blowing under your vehicle.
You can have your own skirting made from insulation board for a few hundred dollars, or buy custom made for a few thousand dollars. You can find pre-made options that fall between these prices.
Again, the key to surviving winter is the work you do before the temperatures drop. You don’t want to wait for snow to plan how to protect yourself and your RV from the cold.
If you do the work in advance, you can be sitting in your warm RV when the cooler temperatures finally arrive.
Take on the cold weather in one of these travel trailers
You won’t have to shiver through the winter with a travel trailer. These travel trailers can withstand even the coldest winter temperatures.
The most important features when looking for the best cold weather RV are insulation, heating and safety.
Take the time to prepare your RV for the elements, and you’ll have no trouble staying warm all winter long.
Depending on how much you enjoy spending time outdoors, you might fall in love with winter camping.