Boondocking in Cold Weather

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Boondocking in Cold Weather

Postby tontobird » Thu Dec 09, 2010 10:22 pm

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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Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

Postby g1g » Fri Dec 10, 2010 7:16 am

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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Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

Postby Mike » Fri Dec 10, 2010 2:58 pm

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.
It's not a sprint(er) (unless you make it one), it's (hopefully) a marathon.
RV - 2002 Roadtrek 190 Popular (Chevy)
TV - 2009 F150 XLT SuperCrew / Toad - 2003 Chevy Cavalier
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Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

Postby Steve_Guelph » Fri Dec 10, 2010 3:58 pm

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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Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

Postby tontobird » Fri Dec 10, 2010 5:07 pm

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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Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

Postby Steve_Guelph » Fri Dec 10, 2010 5:29 pm

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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Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

Postby tontobird » Fri Dec 10, 2010 8:41 pm

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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Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

Postby Steve_Guelph » Fri Dec 10, 2010 8:48 pm

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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Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

Postby Mike » Fri Dec 10, 2010 11:18 pm

Steve_Guelph wrote: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? :wave:
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
It's not a sprint(er) (unless you make it one), it's (hopefully) a marathon.
RV - 2002 Roadtrek 190 Popular (Chevy)
TV - 2009 F150 XLT SuperCrew / Toad - 2003 Chevy Cavalier
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Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

Postby tontobird » Wed Dec 22, 2010 1:25 pm

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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Re: Boondocking in Cold Weather

Postby Mike » Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:58 pm

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.
It's not a sprint(er) (unless you make it one), it's (hopefully) a marathon.
RV - 2002 Roadtrek 190 Popular (Chevy)
TV - 2009 F150 XLT SuperCrew / Toad - 2003 Chevy Cavalier
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