and… Testing out my NEW “No Freeze Water Hose”…
I’m entering my 9th winter in the mountains – and this time I’ve selected a location higher than any prior campsite! I’m going to be near Pinedale, Wyoming, at 7200 ft. in a region I’m told that -40F is NOT unusual for a time during the winter.
Living at 7200 ft. in any kind of weather can be interesting as there’s much less oxygen here than at lower elevations. To add to the fun, the ski area I plan to teach at has a base elevation of 8500 ft. I know one thing for certain… when I return to a lower elevation, I won’t know what to do with all the air!
Interestingly, this November (and now as I write this in early December) has been the mildest autumn I have experienced in the mountains. Today was in the 50’s and a couple of days ago, I was biking (on my new recumbent trike) in SHORTS during the afternoon!
Mornings are chilly – with temperatures often below 10F already – which allows me to make some statements about my new winter water hose (more on that shortly.) As I often write these posts over a period of a few (several?) days, its now Dec. 6th and 3 days ago on the 3rd, I actually went kayaking in Boulder Lake (elevation 7300 ft.) The water felt warmer than I had expected, but I got a wake-up call when I went around a curve and saw that the lake was freezing over! Nevertheless, kayaking at this time of year was surreal as the sun was SO low in the sky!
Winter returns to western Wyoming…
The weather has now returned to normal, its below freezing outside and this means to me, all we need is a few feet of snow to open the ski area to get winter truly rolling. I will be skiing (and ski instructing) at White Pine Ski Resort. Its about a 90 minute drive from Jackson, and is actually higher than much of Jackson Hole! To date, we’re still waiting on snow, but once it comes, it will be a blast (actually an AFFORDABLE blast!) Oh, and… they have a RV park AT the ski area and MAY turn on the electric for the winter to make overnight stays more comfortable for any RV’ers who wish to visit during ski season. (Stay tuned for details on this.)
Prepping for winter in my RV Camper – or Living in my RV with EXTREME COLD all winter…
As this is my 9th winter in extreme cold (I define this as a prolonged period of weeks or more with sub-zero nighttime temperatures, and days remaining below (often well below) freezing, I already have a skirt for my RV and a “routine” to follow (which started with my choice of camper in the first place.)
That said, this winter, I’ve made some changes…
First and foremost… A NEW “no freeze water hose”
When I realized I wasn’t going to need my 50 ft. Camco heated hose (its just too long for where I am), I opted to buy a shorter hose from a company that bills themselves as making the best winter water hose, period. They call themselves the No Freeze Water Hose, and frankly, as I studied their product and spoke with one of the owners, I opted to ask them for a discount for my readers – especially worthwhile as these hoses are not cheap!
You can learn more about the no freeze water hose and it can be purchased at a discount by using THIS LINK and the code “rvacrossamerica” – again, its not cheap, but so far with temperatures dropping to near zero, and NO leakage/dripping, etc… I see it as an investment in peace-of-mind.
Seeing the sights from your windows
I live where mountains reaching to 12,500 ft. are readily visible from my office/living room windows. Why would I want to obstruct that?! So… this year, I opted to apply 3m “film” to those windows (which are already dual-pane, in walls that are 2″ thick foam board) in an effort to retain the view and yet provide some protection from the cold. In prior years, I used bubble wrap, which allows for light to enter, but the view is gone. My results? So far, so good!
This is the product I’m talking about… 3M Indoor Insulator Kit. Note: if you opt to buy from Amazon, you may wish to select a different vendor than their primary vendor as (as of Dec 2021), reviewers are commenting that their (current) primary vendor is shipping old product and the tape is worn out. I did not have that issue with the box that I purchased. My box ended up working well for 3 large bay windows and 1 large bedroom window – and there’s still more product leftover!
More preps for winter…
A standard for me is applying now for the 4th winter, my RV skirting. You can learn more about my rv skirting here. RV skirting provides a barrier to the wind and allows (some) heat to build up under the camper. This lowers the risk of a freeze-up AND reduces propane usage. One change for this winter is securing my skirting with sand bags. I purchased empty bags from a local hardware store, found public lands with soft gravel/sand and put about 10-20 pounds in each (of about 30 bags) and so far, even with 40+ mph wind gusts, they’re doing the job!
Oh, and the vent covers – click HERE for what it is I’m using.
As you can see from my video in this post, I have a 120 gallon propane tank mounted next to my camper. When you buy propane in larger quantities, you save money (you pay less per gallon than running to a provider with your 30 pound (7 gallon) bottle.) You also have a “reserve” of propane for a cold snap.
The reality is, with a couple of sub-zero nights, you could burn through two 30 pound bottles! With a 120 gallon tank, and scheduled refills every two weeks, I have some level of confidence that the propane will be there when I need it.
The most important value of propane to an RV’er is to heat the underbelly and keep the plumbing functioning no matter how cold it gets!
A winter question I often get from travelers and part-timers…
I’m often asked by travelers and part-timers if they can run their camper “wet” (with water in the fresh water tank, and water running through the plumbing) in the winter. My answer? In most cases, unless you have a skirt and plenty of propane on-hand, its not a good idea – even with a true 4 season camper like those made by Outdoors RV and Arctic Fox (NOT arctic wolf!)
Remember, as I noted above, the skirt creates a “heat core” under the camper, and the propane feeds the furnace which is vital to heating the underbelly (where your plumbing is.) So… even with a great 4 season camper, the last thing you want to see happen is a freezeup in the plumbing OR the hot water heater (MUST remain on when filled with water in sub-freezing temperatures!)
So… if you have a good true 4 season camper, travel AND have a good rv skirt, IF you want to keep it wet in the winter, all you need is some extra propane (perhaps a spare 40 pound bottle?) Remember – keep the underbelly warm!!
Last preps for winter in an RV camper…
Gas absorption fridges do NOT like cold weather (they’re not real great about hot weather either! see my article HERE about that – and my frustration with this fridge design in general.) For as long as I still own one of these beasts, when it gets cold, and I mean subzero cold – I will do two things. First, I switch from electric to propane operation. For some reason, its more efficient on propane so it extends the life of the fridge to about -10F (perhaps -15F) – and this is WITH the Norcold winter kit (heat tape) running on the coils on the back of the fridge.
Second – and this is HIGHLY NOT RECOMMENDED due to FIRE risk – I put duct tape on the top two (of the three) vent openings on the LOWER (ONLY) vent cover on the backside of the fridge. Why the top two? To limit the inflow of super cold air – but – since propane is heavier than air, I leave the bottom vent opening clear to allow any leaking propane gas (and there should be none!!) to escape and NOT build up.
While this strategy is definitely not approved by Norcold, it does seem to help keep the fridge working at temperatures below -15F… the big question however is – if it gets cold enough, will anything keep it running. Yes, I do have a light bulb ready to install in the rear fridge cavity as a ‘final’ effort to avoid an ammonia mixture freeze-up. Ideally, this will be the LAST winter I have a gas absorption fridge – there ARE alternatives as I discuss in the article I referenced earlier.
Final thoughts about Winter RV’ing AND upcoming articles…
Winter RV life is not for the unprepared! Have extra food, water, energy, and replacement parts (for the furnace particularly!!) on hand. Have a backup plan for refrigeration (an electric cooler is what I have.) A 40 quart Coleman Electric Cooler has saved my rear SEVERAL times and they’re dirt cheap AND they last 3-4 years (or better.)
As to what’s next – I’m stationary for now. If it ever snows, I’ll start my ski instructing gig again – let me know if you’re traveling as the ski area *may* turn on the electric at their ON SITE rv park for weekend visitors! Until then, I swim and walk daily and I’m going to work on more articles for RV Across America.
Topics on my mind include – a review of a cell signal booster system I recently purchased; staying healthy while on the road (particularly important these days!); additional details on some great places I’ve visited over the past 2-3 years and perhaps what’s coming for the future!
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