There are several ways to keep warm in your travel trailer or RV in the winter; insulation, heat, clothing, and activities. All can be a great way to keep warm in the winter months while camping. To keep warm in your travel trailer, you can implement some or all of these items to have a more comfortable trip.
There is one goal in the winter, keep the warm air in and the cold air out.
Here are 14 tips to keep your RV and you in its warmest condition:
Install a Heated Mattress Pad
Utilizing a heated mattress pad in your travel trailer to keep your body warm while in bed is a wonderful way to stay toasty while sleeping or watching a movie. Simply turn up the heat on the dial, and you can be warm. Shore power is needed to run a 110 v mattress pad. If you run off an power inverter, make sure you have a way to keep your batteries charged. A generator, plug in power, or solar can accomplish this task.
Use an Electric Blanket
An electric blanket can work on 110v or 12v battery power and is great if you want to sit on the couch or go somewhere your heated mattress pad won’t. The electric blanket is a simple addition and does not take much room in your RV and can be left on your bed when not in use. As with the mattress pad, if you run off batteries, make sure they do not die.
Utilize an Electric heater
Adding a simple electric heater to your trailer can do wonders to keep you more comfortable. It can either supplement your gas furnace, or take the place. Having a quiet heater in your RV is very beneficial at night so you do not have to hear your furnace crank on every hour, or burn through your propane tanks in a weekend. Learn more about how long propane will last in a travel trailer from our Propane Guide. Leaving the electric heat on while you are gone on a hike can ensure you come back to a warm camper! Make sure to keep combustibles away from the electric unit and find one with safety features such as overheat protection and knock over protection. When buying an electric heater for your travel trailer make sure it has a fan to move the air around your trailer and a thermostat so you don’t wake up in a 90-degree trailer.
Cook Foods on the Stove or Oven
Here is a simple keep warm hack for your travel trailer: When you are on a trip, cook foods in the oven or on the stove to help heat up the RV. Our favorite is to throw a lasagna in the oven for an hour and a half and have a hot meal and a warmer RV awaiting us. Who could beat fresh baked cookies while on the road, simply pre-make your dough, and throw them in the oven for a quick fresh sweet treat.
Position your Trailer Towards the Sun
Positioning your travel trailer to allow the majority of your windows and the door face the sun will help heat your RV when the sun is shining. This is a simple, free hack to get the suns rays to do the work for you. Not only will it help heat your RV, but you will be happier seeing some sunshine in the winter.
Heating Duct Placement and Angle
The gas furnace in your travel trailer is not the most efficient way to heat your RV. First make sure the louvers on your ducts are open and aimed in the correct directions. Second, in our case, we have two heat ducts total, one in the bathroom, and one by the fridge which is far away from our bed directly pointing at the thermostat.
At night the unit prematurely shuts off before the heat makes its way to the bed area where we sleep. If we have our curtain closed, we get no heat. Our unit does kick on the ducted fan for the a/c unit if plugged in to shore power to better distribute the heat which gives us two ceiling ducts in the “bedroom” if the curtain is closed. This is ok during the day, but at night the a/c fan is so loud we do not use this feature. The feature also does not work if we are on battery power still giving us only the two heating ducts far away on the other side of the trailer.
We are going to solve this heat issue in our travel trailer by adding an additional heat duct towards the front of the trailer. We have more than enough pressure blowing out of the two current ducts, so adding a third should not be an issue. I will be making a branch off of the bathroom duct, running it in the enclosed underbelly or behind the drawers in the cupboards and aiming it to our sleeping area with a factory vent cover. This should help the heat circulation in our travel trailer and provide us a better heat experience in the front of the trailer and help to solve our issue of a cold sleeping area. If you are running on battery camping in the cold, learn about how long your batteries will last from our Battery Guide.
Wear Proper Clothing
Keeping warm starts with what you are wearing when you are in your travel trailer or while you sleep. Having warm dry clothes to wear in bed can make or break your night. Make sure you have a dedicated pair of sleeping sweatpants or merino wool base layer and sweatshirt to wear at night with some warm socks. If it is very cold, a stocking hat can also be a big help. I have started purchasing merino wool clothes and they work wonders with varying temperatures. They keep me comfortable when I sleep and are not too hot nor too cold. Having a base layer of merino wool long sleeve shirt and pants to sleep in is the best. They are also very comfortable on your skin, and can be washed and dried easily in the sink making merino wool great when traveling.
Use a Sleeping Bag
My wife and I invested in good sleeping bags when we were doing more tent camping. We chose the Kelty Cosmic Down 20 degree bag as they are good quality bags that pack down to a small space.
Taking sleeping bags while on your trip can be an easy way to stay warm. You can keep your heat at 50 in your trailer and use a sleeping bag and be perfectly comfortable. I have spent many nights in tents in my bag at less than 34 degrees F out. 50 degrees would be a cakewalk.
Personally, I don’t mind keeping my trailer heated higher to avoid this. I don’t particularly like to use sleeping bags as I bought a trailer for a reason, to sleep in a normal bed and not be constrained in a sleeping bag. If it is truly very cold out while camping, I still pack my bag just in case something happens with the heat in the trailer. Having a small packable bag is helpful when you have to find places to store it.
Seal up Air Leaks
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, one goal to keep warm is to keep the warm air in and the cold air out. A few tools can help you investigate air leaks in your trailer. An infrared thermometer or a wet finger can help you identify cold areas and feel breezes. If you find a window or door allowing a cold breeze into your trailer, use rubber seals or calking to keep the cold air out.
If you want to get crazy about sealing up your trailer and have a fun tool to use in your house or vehicle, an infrared heat detection camera can also help diagnose air leaks or cold spots if you get really serious about warmth. An infrared camera is available on iPhone and Android. Just point the camera throughout the inside as well as the outside of the travel trailer, and the different colors on the screen can alert you of cold spots.
Look for leaks inside the trailer by looking or feeling for cold air, as well as outside by looking or feeling for hot air coming out. Adding rubber seals or calking to these cold areas will keep your travel trailer air tight and comfortable. Windows are typically single pane in most travel trailers or RV’s and are something to look at when beefing up your cold weather game on your rig. Adding Shrink wrap to your windows as well as your screen door can keep additional drafts and cold air out of your travel trailer. Shrink wrapping is an easy process that can be done with a hair dryer.
Add Insulation to your Travel Trailer for Additional Comfort
Along with finding air leaks, you may find your trailer has several cold spots. Vent hatches are an area that holds no insulation and should be the first place to look when insulating your trailer. Vent hatch insulators can be purchased, or made from 2” closed cell foam from a local hardware store.
The windows in your travel trailer also can use insulation. This can be left on all day and night, or just placed at night if you want the windows to remain viewable during the day. Using a reflective insulator on your windows can be a big help in keeping drafts and cold air out of your trailer and the warm air in. The insulator can be installed with velcro to your windows.
On our trailer, we have a murphy bed which flips up into an isolated area of the storage area. As you can guess, the storage area is not insulated and gives us cold drafts around the edges of the bed at night. Our plan to remedy this is to remove the mattress, and use closed cell foam to outline the area where the bed folds down into. Doing this should help keep the cold breeze from entering the trailer right at our heads.
Find the areas that may have weak insulation and add some additional, you would be amazed what $40 of insulation can do towards the comfort of your RV. We also plan to add foam insulation under the couch on our slide out as it also has limited insulation. Our goal is not to have blue foam insulation viewable from all over the travel trailer, but to add it to areas which need it and cannot be seen. We want to mix comfort and functionality by keeping our RV neat, clean, and warm.
Skirt your Travel Trailer
Utilizing foam skirting around your travel trailer in the winter also can work wonders by using geothermal heat from the ground to help keep your RV warm. By not allowing drafts under your rig, your floors will stay warmer on your feet as well as items in your underbelly will keep better heated.
Closed Cell foam can be picked up at your local hardware store to install around the bottom of your trailer. This insulation is more suited if you will be staying in one spot for a longer period of time as it takes time to set up and take down. Also, between sites, you will have to store the foam somewhere.
Add Curtains and Rugs
Utilizing rugs on areas of the floor where you frequently spend lots of time in your travel trailer can help keep your feet off of the cold floor as well as keep you comfortable. Closing the curtains on your windows at night can also keep some of your hot air in and the drafty cold air out.
Exercise in your RV
Keeping active when you are in your RV can help keep your blood flowing and your body warm. When you start to feel cold, drop down and do some push ups, sit ups, as well as some jumping jacks. This can shave some usage on your propane by keeping your RV thermostat a bit cooler.
Along with keeping your body heated, your body will produce a bit of heat into the trailer. This may not be much, but any bit will help.
Drink a warm Beverage
Keeping hot chocolate or coffee warm and easy to drink will keep your internal temperature up. Sipping on hot coffee will keep your hands warm as well as warm up your insides.
The goal of this article is to show you some easy items that can be done in order to make your Travel Trailer or RV more comfortable. The items in this article will help keep you comfortable and are not meant to replace any items which will help your RV function in freezing temperatures such as heating your underbelly, tank heaters, and hose heaters. Items to help you keep you safe from frozen pipes, tanks, water lines, etc. will be posted in a separate article. We hope you have enjoyed reading this article, if you have any hints, tips, or tricks of your own feel free to comment below to help out your fellow campers.
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