Can tent trailers be used in winter? (15 tips)

In this blog post, we will answer the following question: Can tent trailers be used in winter? We will give you a few tips for the best trip in a tent trailer even in the cold season. We will talk about measures that you must take before and during the trip in order to keep warm and cosy. 

Can tent trailers be used in winter?

Yes, tent trailers can be used in winter, although – you are warned – they can be quite cold!  Proper insulation is the most important factor in keeping the trailer warm. Before lighting a heater be sure to insulate your trailer’s walls, floors, and windows. The more insulation there is, the less energy you need to keep warm. Spray foam and silicone caulking are your friends.

If you don’t have the money or wherewithal to do complete insulation, a quick and cost-effective solution is to buy insulation panels for your windows. Insulation panels are typically made of reflective sheets that can be glued to the glass.

A slight increase in the temperature of your van will be noticed with this simple step. Not to mention, isolation panels are great for privacy. 

Some tips and tricks to travel with a tent trailer in winter

Below we share with you what we believe are the most essential 10 tips for safe travels and warm nights in a tent trailer during your winter trip. We have divided them into two categories: Before leaving and During the trip! 

BEFORE LEAVING

1. Check your gas reserves: In winter, we use more gas, so plan to go with 2 gas cylinders instead of one. If you have gas heating, it’s even more important to think about it so that you don’t end up without heating.

2. Clean your heating system: For efficient heating, you need clean heating. Remember to clean the grilles and the ventilation system. Dust that gets stuck there can drastically reduce airflow!

3. Adapt the equipment of your winter tent trailer:  Snow tires, chains, remember to equip yourself to deal with snow and ice. Remember, your vehicle weighs almost 3.5 tonnes (or more)! Snow tires provide better grip on cold, wet or snowy ground and therefore reduce the risks.

4. Prepare for the worst! Even though it can be adventurous and you’re not heading to Alaska, gear up! Take a snow shovel, sinking plates, recharging cables for the battery, a broom (to clear snow from the roof if necessary), a windshield squeegee, gloves, a headlamp etc. Awaken the Mike Horn that lies dormant in you!

5. Reflexes against freezing: Going in winter means dealing with low or even negative temperatures, so you expose yourself to a risk of frost. Consider using an anti-freeze windshield washer cleaner. The right reflex is also to lubricate the door seals and locks, this protects the seals and in very cold weather, it prevents the door from sticking to the seal.

DURING THE TRIP

6. The classic case of the handbrake: Do not apply the handbrake but engage a gear. The drums can jam and the pads come off. It can avoid unpleasant surprises and get stuck!

7. Beware of frost in the tanks: Water reserves are also subject to freezing. Regularly drain the wastewater from your trailer to prevent water from freezing inside. If this is the case, a few doses of coarse salt can liquefy the water and be able to drain it again. There are products that reduce the risk of freezing, they must be poured into the water reserves directly.

8. Insulate your tent trailer as much as possible: Try to insulate your trailer as much as possible against the cold! Tarpaulins that apply to the front cover the windshield (or even the driver and passenger windows in addition to the hood). This decreases the entry of cold and helps retain heat in the passenger compartment.

9. Raise the windshield wipers: Make sure that the wipers are not stuck to the windshield so that they do not freeze. You have to take them off the windshield: the trick is to slip bottle caps (plastic or cork) between the wipers and the windshield!

10. Look for the sun! Even if it may seem trivial as advice: find a place in the sun. If the sun is out during your stay, you’ll be happy to take advantage of it! It will bring you a little warmth, a little light and that is still much more pleasant …

What to do if it snows during your camping trip

Mastery of driving on snow in a trailer is first of all based on elementary principles which may seem obvious but which it is necessary to remember:

  • Reduce your speed to traffic conditions and increase safety distances.
  • Always stay focused and vigilant, a patch of ice can appear quite quickly and without warning.
  • In heavy snow, do not wait until the last minute to put on your chains. Install your chains on the side of the road or ideally in a dedicated area to avoid doing it in the middle of the road and increasing the risk of being hit by another vehicle.
  • Never overtake someone slower than you if the safety conditions do not allow it. Many collisions, skids and accidents occur when passing vehicles! Only pass this type of vehicle if conditions permit (ideally when the road is neither icy or snowy).
  • Abrupt acceleration, sudden steering wheels and the emergency braking are to be avoided! Everything should be done gently as if you were in slow motion! When going uphill, the ideal is to drive slightly under revs, while keeping enough torque so as not to stall.
  • The loss of grip is greatest on hard snow and on climbs where the weight transfer to the rear axle takes the load off the drive train. A very specific case of traction (the vast majority of trailers).
  • If the front no longer guides, the trailer understeers and pulls straight. You have to regain grip by taking your foot off the accelerator. Conversely, if the rear is chasing (it oversteps), you should not touch the brakes at the risk of accentuating the imbalance. 

Whatever the situation, always look far ahead, in the direction you want to go. Indeed, in a critical situation, if your gaze follows the trajectory, regaining control of your trailer will be more complicated.

  • On descents, to avoid gaining too much speed, favour the engine braking rather than your conventional brakes. Here again, and more than ever, the safety distances must be observed scrupulously.
  • Keep in mind that on a snowy or icy road, even with winter tires, the vehicle needs a much greater distance to stop (for example, the braking distance is multiplied by 2 on wet roads!).
  • Seeing and being seen is very important in snowy or foggy weather. At a minimum, you should turn on your low beam headlights. In the event of snowfall, front and rear fog lights are permitted. Seeing well in the snow also means having working windshield wipers and windshield washer fluid especially adapted for winter conditions.
  • When starting up, acceleration should be very gradual, especially on hills. The right solution is to engage 1st gear and very gradually release the clutch pedal. The wheels must stay on the axis of the trailer to limit slippage.
  • In the event of heavy snowfall, give priority to salting equipment. By following in their footsteps you will have less risk of slipping or getting lost on the side. If visibility is too low, pull over to the shoulder with your hazard lights on. The comfort of the trailer will allow you to eat, even to spend the night!

To keep warm in a tent trailer during winter travels

Besides the obvious insulation and bring a heater with you tips, here are some other things that may help you keep warm in a tent trailer during winter travels:

  1. A thermos A classic but always useful, a thermos filled with a hot drink can brighten up any cold day in the trailer. Another interesting option is the dual model, which allows you to store both drinks and hot food, ideal for small trailers.
  1. A hand warmer – Despite being small, USB hand warmers are a great invention. They usually have various intensity levels, can be stored in pockets and can be used as external batteries.
  • A 12V electric blanketA good option to warm up when we get into bed is a 12V electric blanket: you can simply leave it on for a while before getting into bed so that the night begins in a more comfortable way.
  1. A hot water bottle – It is a lifelong home method but it does not stop working. A hot water bottle, in bed and to sleep warm!
  1. Thermal clothing – In winter it is recommended to wear a set of thermal clothing every time you go out with the Teardrop trailer, especially to sleep in the tent trailers, where the cold is usually more noticeable. 

Conclusions

FAQ on Can tent trailers be used in winter?

How long does it take to set up a tent trailer?

On average, it should take you half an hour to set up a tent trailer, depending on how much experience you have and how large the RV is. 

How do you store a pop-up camper for the winter?

Storing a pop-up camper for the winter is no different than storing a caravan, fifth wheel or travel trailer. Summer is already drawing to a close and it’s time to get your pop-up camper ready for winter.

How do I prepare my camper for wintering?

Here are a few tips to prepare your camper for wintering:

  1. Empty the water heater. 
  2. Empty and clean the toilet tanks. 
  3. Remove the gas cylinder (s). 
  4. Put the windows in the ventilation position. 
  5. Open the bathroom door. 
  6. Do not unscrew the feet. 
  7. Do not put plastic sheeting on the caravan. 
  8. Put the clean trailer in the garage.

References