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Old 12-09-2010, 10:22 PM   #1
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Default Boondocking in Cold Weather

My husband and I are buying a Roadtrek 190 Popular.

I/we plan on doing quite a bit of boondocking this winter here in Pennsylvania.

Any tips or advice?
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Old 12-10-2010, 07:16 AM   #2
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Default Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

I never boondocked in cold weather but I do know you must winterize plumbing if it will be exposed. Personally I would just have a jug for my water that I plan on drinking/cooking and have the plumbing system winterized , have pink in the tank for the toilet only if you are using that. I would not be using the sink either. To wash hands I would use baby wipes or something like that. This way I know nothing would freeze. Maybe I'm over cautious but I'd rather be safe than sorry.
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Old 12-10-2010, 02:58 PM   #3
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Default Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

What g1g said is true, whenever the temps are below freezing, or even close.
Not a good idea to use the sink, or fresh water system. If you need fresh water, better
to stop somewhere and buy it, and use RV antifreeze to flush your toilet if you decide to
use it. Depending on the year of your 190P it may be semi-equipped for sub-freezing use.
Mine is and as such does have a winter mode for the fresh tank, although we don't use it,
and an inside (upper) black/holding tank which can be dumped to the lower external black
tank, and then dumped immediately, to avoid freezing problems, if you do use your toilet.
Some people suggest if you do use the inside fresh water system, to run your water heater
and it'll help keep the lines inside from freezing, as well as maybe setting your furnace to
come on at around 50 degrees, while your van isn't occupied, but we don't use our fresh
water unless it's going to be warmer than freezing. That will require burning propane, so
you'd have to keep an eye on your supply.
Also, batteries tend to drain more quickly in the cold, so be aware of that, as your furnace
and some other appliances require battery power to work (CO and Propane detectors, too!).
If you have a gas generator, make sure the gas tank is topped up. They won't generally
start or run if your gas tank is below 1/4 full.
Also, your breath will tend to condense on interior windows and possibly along weather
stripping by your doors, so be careful you don't try to open a "frozen stcuk" door or window,
or you may damage it in the really cold temps.

I'm sure there are other things to be aware of, but that's all I can think of now.

Welcome and take care.
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Old 12-10-2010, 03:58 PM   #4
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Default Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

I belong to a site for us "all season" campers. The website is www.4scf.com and is full of winter camping information. If you are only going for a weekend each time I would make sure the unit is winterized as in RV anti-freeze in the lines. Our unit is winterized and don't use the plumbing system. We bring water in jugs for washing dishes, hands, brushing teeth and so on. We place a tub that fits in our sink to catch the water and then we dispose of it so it doesn't go in the tank. We use the toilet and flush it down with RV anti freeze and water mix. I mix it according to the temps but a 50/50 mix works for me. I don't use the water heater. It will need to be drained each time or it will freeze and do damage. We just heat water on the stove when hot water is required. Condensation is the biggest thing you will need to deal with in a small space. You will need to crack a vent 1/2" - 1" and also open a window just 1/4". If you don't open the window with the vent it won't pull the air through and you will get condensation. One thing to watch is if it snows you may trap snow and ice between the vent and roof and you may not be able to close it. You can purchase a cover for the vent that allows the vent to be open but keeps rain and snow out. For heat we use the propane furnace when not hooked to electric and a small electric heater when we are. We will run the genny and use the electric heat if needed or if the batteries are getting low.
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Old 12-10-2010, 05:07 PM   #5
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Default Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

Wow, some great info here!

The cold weather boondocking would only be for a weekend or an overnighter.

We are buying a 190 that is equipped with the extra fresh water tank that can be used in cold weather. I did not realize that it comes with an extra black water tank, or is that just in the Pleasure Way?

I had thought to use a small propane heater inside so as not to run the noisy generator, but my husband didn't like the idea, not thinking it safe. What size heater is it?

Also I hadn't given any thought to the potential condesation problem, thanks for the heads up. I will check out the recommended site.

EDIT: Never mind on the comment about the Pleasure Way, I see it is indeed the 190 with the upper black water holding tank.
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Old 12-10-2010, 05:29 PM   #6
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Default Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

Hi again Tonto. Just remember if you decide to use the interior tank you will need to winterize your rig again with the rv antifreeze. Like I said before...it is easier to use a portable water jug and a tub to capture the water. In regards to the heater..I use the propane furnace (built in) in most cases. If we have electricity I use a small ceramic heater to save on propane. Another point I would like to make is if you use the black water holding tank make sure you add as much water to it as possible at the dump station. If you don't it may not clean out very good and become a problem in the future. Lets assume you only use the toilet and dumping the sinking water from the tub that you collected that will be the only thing you need to address after the weekend. If you use your tank for water or run any water through any line you will need to winterize again. Don't forget that after you empty your black water tank to add some RV antifreeze back into the tank to keep the gaskets from drying out.

Steve
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Old 12-10-2010, 08:41 PM   #7
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Default Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

I probably wouldn't use the sink and stuff so as not to have to re-winterize. Just do as described above. But it would be nice to use the toilet. We have a Class C so are familiar with some of the tips about making sure the tanks are full before emptying, even if it means adding fresh water.

If I understand correctly about using the toilet, you are just releasing into the black tank the contents of the toilet and not pumping fresh water through. Then adding a 50/50 mix of water and rv antifreeze directly into the toilet which goes into the black tank to keep solids from getting too solid and to keep the mixture from freezing. When preparing to empty black tank add fresh water if necessary directly into the toilet.

Since it would only be for overnights it wouldn't be worthwhile to use the fresh water lines and re-winterize every time.

Good tip about adding some antifreeze into the tank. We put it into our drains in our Class C, but now I'm thinking I'd like to put more in so it gets to protect the gaskets. Though maybe the Class C is different.....are there gaskets where the valves open and close for emptying in a Class C?

Funny about the furnace, I thought maybe you meant a little portable propane heater, LOL. We've tried to use the generator and the furnace in our Class C and it's so loud we couldn't sleep. Maybe the noise echos off of an asphalt parking lot, that's where we were using it to try and sleep.
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Old 12-10-2010, 08:48 PM   #8
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Default Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

Yes you should add RV antifreeze in the holding tank for the winter. Your gates (empty/close pull) have seals or gaskets regardless trailer/class a/b/c.
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Old 12-10-2010, 11:18 PM   #9
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Default Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve_Guelph
I belong to a site for us "all season" campers. The website is http://www.4scf.com and is full of winter camping information. If you are only going for a weekend each time I would make sure the unit is winterized as in RV anti-freeze in the lines. Our unit is winterized and don't use the plumbing system. We bring water in jugs for washing dishes, hands, brushing teeth and so on. We place a tub that fits in our sink to catch the water and then we dispose of it so it doesn't go in the tank. We use the toilet and flush it down with RV anti freeze and water mix. I mix it according to the temps but a 50/50 mix works for me. I don't use the water heater. It will need to be drained each time or it will freeze and do damage. We just heat water on the stove when hot water is required. Condensation is the biggest thing you will need to deal with in a small space. You will need to crack a vent 1/2" - 1" and also open a window just 1/4". If you don't open the window with the vent it won't pull the air through and you will get condensation. One thing to watch is if it snows you may trap snow and ice between the vent and roof and you may not be able to close it. You can purchase a cover for the vent that allows the vent to be open but keeps rain and snow out. For heat we use the propane furnace when not hooked to electric and a small electric heater when we are. We will run the genny and use the electric heat if needed or if the batteries are getting low.
Hi Steve,
Just signed up on the all season website. Looks interesting. C u there soon?
I agree about use of the water heater and having to re-winterize after every trip.
Probably a bad plan. Although pulling the anode plug with your trusty 1-1/16" socket,
and then allowing it to drain isn't a big deal in the fall, I wouldn't want to do it in the
snow and cold. But you could. I usually then grease the inside threads in the anode plug
hole, and then stuff a scrunched up piece of window screen (plastic, not metallic) into
the hole to allow further drying/draining, while keeping bugs and other critters out.
As for hot water? We don't need much except to wash up in the morning
so public restrooms, Starbucks, and truck stops work pretty well for us.
Tonto: There's no reason you can't use small amounts of RV antifreeze all year round
to lube the valves/seals. Many do.

Mike
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Old 12-22-2010, 01:25 PM   #10
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Default Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

Thank you all for your ideas. We are traveling to Milwaukee tomorrow to pick up our new 190 Popular and driving it to the Rochester, NY area, so we will overnight tomorrow night, but stay with family over the holidays.

So as long as we have antifreeze in the black and grey water tanks and we keep the interior warm enough, we should be OK. It will be parked outside over the weekend, but we can plug in to my in-laws electricity. I read somewhere to set the thermostat to 50 for the inside and that should do the trick.

I am curious as to why some of you use a portable space heater when plugged in to electricity as opposed to the heat pump.

Thanks again for your help!
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Old 12-22-2010, 02:58 PM   #11
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Default Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

In my '02 190P the heat pump isn't really very useful at temperatures approaching
the freezing point, it's more of a "cool" weather warmer than a "cold" weather heater.
If the temps along your travels are below 40F, you might want to consider using your
furnace at a low thermostat setting instead. Or getting some sort of plug in electric heater.
Perhaps others can explain it better, but it has to do with a heat pump extracting warmth
from the air, and then pumping it out as heat. When there's not much heat in the air
to begin with, it doesn't warm up much.
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Old 12-24-2010, 06:15 PM   #12
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Default Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

OMG, we spent our first night last night in a Walmart parking lot in Portage, Indiana.

Though not new to RVs, we are new to a new RV, and boy did we feel like newbies!

So we flew in the a.m. to Wisconsin to pick it up. Everything fine there. Ended up buying new with a great price from Advance Camping in Milwaukee. Family business and they really know their Roadtreks.

Stopped at the local camping/army surplus/supply type store to check out the sleeping bag situation. OK, more later, my turn to drive!
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Old 12-25-2010, 01:15 AM   #13
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Default Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

Not surprising you had to get sleeping bags at the surplus, after buying a new Roadtrek!
As I understand it, they're not cheap (Roadtreks, not sleeping bags ) anymore.
So there's a Wally World Campground in Portage, IN ?
They're everywhere, you'll soon find out how comfortable you can be, when spending an
evening there. We usually try to spend an "overnight camp site fee" in the store whenever
we stay there.

Have fun.
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Old 12-25-2010, 04:32 AM   #14
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Default Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

Well, yes, we traveled light on the plane, some Xmas gifts and a bit of clothing. I wanted to be sure that we had a solution for sleeping and the store was only about 10 minutes from the RV place. Though I figured we'd be stopping to do some additional Xmas shopping I wasn't sure what we would find in the way of stores. Turned out I needn't have worried. Almost as soon as we got on the highway we passed a Gander Mtn., later a Bass Pro Shop, and I sought out a Cabela's because I have gift cards there.

Anyway, I didn't find any sleeping bags that I liked except these fleece liners by Columbia, which can be used by themselves in warmer weather. The label said they were good down to 55 degrees. Well, surely we can heat the RT to 55, so I decided to get them figuring that if I found something else I liked I could use these for liners. We did a little more shopping and got on the road.

I did stop at Gander Mountain but didn't find anything I liked there, and decided to pass on Bass Pro Shop. Well, maybe I should have stopped there because we ended up in terrible Chicago traffic.

At this point I was driving, we were getting 17.7 mpg, which, by the time we were done with the traffic had dropped to below 16.5.

BTW, the RT drives beautifully, we are very pleased with that aspect of it. It's got some rattles to be sorted, but so far so good.

OK, I know this is getting long, but we find a Cabela's in Hammond, IN. We find an Adam and Eve double sleeping bag, the warm weather version for which I can also buy sheets that are specially made for it. I can use the fleece liners to make the warm weather bag more appropriate for the colder weather, but the sheets can only be ordered online. Both the sleeping bag and sheets are on sale.

So we get something to eat at the little grill upstairs, actually not bad for what it is, and discussed our plan.

Do we have the sleeping bag shipped along with the sheets to our house so as not to clutter up our RT and make do with the fleece? Do we buy the sleeping bag just in case the fleece isn't enough? We do a little more Christmas shopping while we ponder our decision and ultimately decide that we'll order the sleeping bag later.

Off we go, back on the highway, it's getting late so I found a Walmart online and navigated there. Yes, we went in and spent some money, winterizing fluid, water, hangers, paper items, window cleaner, microfiber cleaning cloth, pillows, pillowcases and sticky buns for the morning.

I wiped out the wardrobe before putting any clothing in there as there was lots of manufacturing dust. We closed up the curtains, hubby prepared our fleece sleeping bags by zipping them together as a double and we prepared for bed.

We turned on the furnace, terrible new furnace smell, next thing you know the smoke detector is going off! Turn the furnace off and try again. Again the smoke detector goes off! I suggested turning it really low, say 50 degrees to see what happens. Meanwhile it's in the 20's outside and we can feel the cold air from below the bed. We're trying to get warm, are so tired that we're falling asleep in spite of the cold when the smoke detector goes off again! This time we just shut off the furnace, fell asleep for a little bit until it was so cold that we woke up and turned on the furnace again! At this point we wished we'd purchased that darn sleeping bag.

And of course the smoke detector goes off again. My sweet husband once more gets up to turn it off. We think it's just the smell, it seems to be taking longer for it to go off, so he slightly raises the temp for the furnace. I'm thinking there is no way I can sleep, we might as well just get up and drive. I was freezing cold, the smoke alarm was making me crazy, the smell was giving me a headache and I was wondering if it was going to kill us! LOL Thankfully I fell asleep again, only to be woken by the cold, then the furnace kicking in, then the smoke alarm, my husband bumping up the thermostat, the whole cycle to be repeated a couple of more times until finally the smoke detector stopped activating.

I guess we finally got some reasonable sleep as we didn't wake until about 8:30 am. Back into Wally World for a snow brush and some rubber mats to protect our nice carpet ones from the wet and the salt.

So goes our first night cold-weather boondocking!!
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Old 12-25-2010, 02:47 PM   #15
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Default Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

Sounds like the start of many great adventures.
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Old 12-25-2010, 04:54 PM   #16
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Default Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

Hi all,

I have been following this and it is really interesting; Steve, I put the Forum you mentioned in My Favorites to read latter on. The ideas you folks put out are really informative. Don't think I'll be doing any cold weather stays, but it is nice to be able to contribute to a conversation regarding it downstream.

Want to wish everyone a Merry Xmas and happiness to all. We are in FL, weather is a respectible 67 and they are talking of a "cold spell" coming - they should listen to the news about places outside Florida. Safe travels.
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Old 01-07-2011, 09:32 PM   #17
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Default Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

The adventure did continue, on Sunday when we drove home we encountered snow. We had 3 stops planned and after the 1st stop decided to just continue home.

Though there were only a few inches of snow to deal with, it was dark and windy and no snow plows or salt trucks to be seen. The Roadtrek had good traction being so heavy and all, but we kept a slow pace.

We had stopped to change drivers (gotta love changing drivers without even having to exit the vehicle) and upon re-entering the highway saw a car go sliding off the highway into the deep ditch dividing the two directions. No one would've been able to see him from the road, we stopped and called 911 and went to check on him. Young guy spinning his wheels thinking he'd be able to get himself out of the mess. Even if he'd gotten himself unstuck he would not have made it back up the hill. We went back to the RT and waited for rescue to show up.

When I get a chance I will post my impressions of our model.
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Old 01-07-2011, 10:14 PM   #18
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Default Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

If you encountered salt on the road, be sure to find a place to hose off the underside of the Roadtrek. There are lots of things under there that aren't particularly well protected, or rustproof, and road salt is very evil.
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Old 01-08-2011, 12:00 AM   #19
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Default Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

The first time we used the furnace in our new Roadtrek 190V, the smoke alarm went off too. There was no smoke, so I pulled the battery out, and continued running the furnace. We had a couple hours before bedtime, to make sure everything was working safely. Ours had a bad smell too, and we had the windows & vent cracked for an hour or so.

A few weeks later, I talked with Roadtrek about our smoke alarm going off, when using the furnace. They said the new furnace burns off some manufacturing oils & paint, and that sets off the smoke alarm.

We plugged the battery back into the smoke detector, and ran the furnace. No more bells & whistles. Just heat. Nice.
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Old 01-08-2011, 01:44 AM   #20
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Default Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

After a long summer layoff and lack of use, I can always smell just a bit
of a burnt dusty smell the first time we use ours. I try to crack the roof
vent just enough to let it disperse. Usually lasts for a few minutes, then
it goes away. Hasn't set off the detector (yet). Unless there's a reason to
close it, I try to leave the roof hatch open very slightly when we run the
furnace. I don't think it would help that much if there ever was a problem,
but you never know.
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