Can Airstreams Be Used for Winter Camping?

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Everyone knows you can camp in an airstream in the spring, summer, and fall months. But, Can Airstreams Be Used for Winter Camping?

The answer is yes! Airstreams come from the factory with some of the features needed for winter camping in cold weather. For example, the plumbing pipes and tanks are all enclosed in a heated compartment so if the heat is on your plumbing components will not freeze.

But they are not exactly considered 4 season campers. So, while you can use them for winter camping you need to know how to keep them warm in extreme cold weather.

When you make the decision to purchase an Airstream, you are making quite an investment. As a result, there is a lot you need to consider when you make your purchase? How big an RV do you need? How often are you going to use the vehicle? What time of year will you be taking the RV out on the road? Do you want an Airstream RV that is functional for winter camping? If you do not answer these questions, you will not be adequately prepared to make an informed purchase.

If you are interested in taking your Airstream RV out during the winter, you cannot go out and purchase the first RV you see. Instead, you need to make sure you purchase an RV that has adequate insulation and is prepared for the winter. Not all RVs are built to be used during the winter. Some are smaller and have thinner walls, which means that they should only be used during the summer.

Without the proper insulation and heating, you will not have a good time in your Airstream RV during the winter. Not only will you be cold during the day, but the nights will be very unforgiving. To avoid this, it is better to take the time to find an RV that fits your needs. If that means spending a little extra money on the RV, then it is worth it. Not having insulation during the winter would be awful, so it is better to splurge a little bit on the RV rather than suffer.

Is an Airstream Considered a 4 Season Camper?

Airstream RVs and travel trailers are not exactly 4 season trailers, so they are not equipped to handle the winter weather. They are good performers during the summer, and they are adequate during the spring and fall, but they do not excel during the winter. But with the proper planning, you can camp in your Airstream all year round.

Are Airstreams Well Insulated?

The insulation for Airstream RVs is installed in a factory and they are insulated well enough to withstand moderate winter temperatures. In extremely cold weather, you will burn quite a bit of propane to keep warm.

airstream interior wall insulation

4 Steps to Keep Your Airstream Warm in Cold Weather

Although the insulation that comes with Airstream RVs is not ideal, that does not mean you cannot use an Airstream during the winter. What it does mean is that you will need to do some things yourself to ensure that you are prepared for the winter weather. By taking your time to properly insulate the trailer yourself, you can use an Airstream during the winter just as well as you could a regular 4 season RV.

1. Add Extra Insulation to Airstream RV Windows

As we mentioned above, the insulation that comes with most Airstream RVs is not up to par for winter camping. As a result, you will need to do things to improve the insulation of your RV yourself.

One of the first things you will want to do is insulate your windows. Windows are one of the weak points for insulation in any vehicle. Air can escape or enter your vehicle through the cracks near the edges of the window. As a result, it is incredibly important to make sure that you insulate these areas correctly.

There are several methods you can use to insulate your windows. You can cover your windows with Reflectix. Unfortunately, this material significantly reduces the amount of light that can get into your RV through the windows. So, unless you are a vampire you might want to go with a different option.

Alternatively, you can use shrink plastic to help with your insulation. To install the plastic you put double-sided tape all the way around the window frame. You then cover the window with plastic stuck to the tape. Once this is done you can use a hair dryer to blow on the plastic and it will shrink. This will also remove all of the wrinkles and smooth everything out. Plastic window insulation is one of the more effective tools for homemade insulation.

You can also use bubble wrap to insulate your windows. All you need to do is cover your windows in bubble wrap. However, before you place it on the windows you should dampen the glass so that the bubble wrap sticks with the bubble side facing the glass. Typically, you will not need to do anything else to ensure that the bubble wrap stays in place for the winter.


RELATED READING

To learn more about insulating your windows in winter and summer check out our article called RV Window Insulation Tips for Summer and Winter.

2. Add Skirting to the Exterior Perimeter

It is also a good idea to add skirting to the exterior perimeter of your Airstream RV. The metal you use can be steel or tin as both are effective and affordable products. Skirting will help ensure that the more vulnerable portions of your RV near the bottom will not be the weak spot of your insulation. Lots of the time the underside of the RV can be a huge weak spot for insulation. As a result, ensuring that this area is well insulated is essential before you head out on your next trip.

3. Add Extra Heat

Once you have taken the time to improve the insulation of your RV you will drastically have improved your winter camping experience. However, insulation you do at home will never be as good as the insulation installed by professionals for 4 season RVs. So, there are still things you can do to improve your experience after installing insulation.

One of the things you should consider doing after installing your insulation is add extra heating. You can add things like propane heaters, catalytic heaters, and electric space heaters to your RV to help keep you warm while it is freezing outside.

Space heaters are especially easy and effective options for heating up your Airstream RV. Space heaters are easy to install as all you need is an electrical outlet for you to plug it in. Once it is plugged in you can turn it on and it will emit a significant amount of heat. However, if you do not want the heat maxed out you can adjust it. Since the emit so much heat, space heaters will heat up your RV incredibly fast. So, you will not need to wait around for your RV to heat up after being outside all day. You can turn it on, and you will be nice and warm in a few minutes.  

4. Protect Your Pipes

One thing people often forget about when they head out in their Airstream RV during the winter is to protect your pipes. Your plumbing is incredibly important because it effects your ability to get clean water. You use this water for drinking, showering, and washing your dishes. However, if your pipes or holding tanks freeze, you will not have access to any of it.

To protect your pipes there are a few things you can do to reduce your odds of a freeze. You can install heat tape to your pipes to help keep them insulated. It is also a good idea to open up your cabinets so that your pipes are exposed. This way your heating can directly warm up your pipes.

Additionally, you can add antifreeze to your holding tanks. However, it is important that you do not use too much antifreeze. Using too much antifreeze can cause damage to the tanks which will be very expensive to fix. So, only use a small amount and you should be fine.

Finally, you should only dump your tanks when they are full to reduce the risk of freezing. This way you will keep your waste valves closed as much as possible, and therefore you will reduce your risk of freezing.

Be Prepared for Winter Camping in Your Airstream RV

Now that you have installed insulation, protected your pipes, and added extra heating, you might think you are ready to get started on your next winter camping trip. Unfortunately, there are still a few things you need to do to prepare yourself. You need to get yourself ready for the winter camping experience.

First things first, you need to make sure you pack lots of thick winter clothing. Even if it is warm inside your Airstream RV, you will be spending lots of time outside. So, you need lots of winter clothing for when your clothes get wet. The last thing you want to do is reuse wet winter clothes because you did not pack enough.

You should also make sure you have lots of blankets because no matter how well you insulate your RV, it will not be as warm as sleeping at home in your bed. It is better to bring too many blankets than too few. You can always take a blanket off if you get hot, but if you are cold because you do not have enough, there is nothing you can do.

Finally, it is a good idea to pack a headlamp when you are camping in the winter. During the winter, days are a lot shorter and if you are exploring for away from your RV, you might find yourself outside in the dark. You do not want to get lost wandering the forest during the night. So, pack a headlamp and you will be able to find your way home a lot easier even when it is dark outside.

Bring Chains, Snow Shovel, Jumper Cables, a Generator, and Extra Propane

airstream in winter towed by a snow cat

When you head out for a winter camping trip in your Airstream RV, it is important to be prepared for anything that could happen. You do not want to be caught in a situation where you do not have what you need, and you cannot call for help. So, pack for emergencies just in case they happen.

Firstly, when you head out during the winter you are bound to run into some weather that is not great. You might be in a blizzard and stuck in your campsite waiting out the storm. However, if you bring cable chains, you can add them to your tires so that you can get extra traction on your tires. This way you will have less of a risk of getting stuck in deep snow or mud.

You should also bring a snow shovel with you so that you can clear an area or dig away snow that is around your tires. There are several things you can use a snow shovel for during the winter, so bring one just in case.

You will also want to bring a set of jumper cables just in case your Airstream RV breaks down. This is the nightmare scenario for RV users. You are out during the winter and your RV breaks down and no one is around. If you bring a pair of jumper cables, you will be able to jump start your RV and get back on the road in no time. This is an absolute essential for winter campers because there might not be anyone around to help you during the winter.

You should also bring an extra generator and propane on your trip. You never know when you are going to run out of propane or need a backup generator, so be prepared.


RELATED READING

To learn more about driving your RV or camper in snow and ice check out our article called How to Drive Your RV in the Snow.

Get Ready for Winter Camping in Your Airstream RV

After reading, we hope you have all the information you need to go camping in the winter in your Airstream RV. We know that there is a lot of information to absorb, but it should all be helpful for you in your preparation for your next trip. Camping in the winter is no joke, and it is very important to be prepared. If you are not prepared it can be incredibly dangerous. So, take your time, do your research, and make sure you have everything you need.

Unfortunately, Airstream RVs are not the best for camping in the winter. They are not as well insulated as other RVs, so if you do not do anything you will be very cold during your trip. However, if you take the time to install extra insulation, protect your pipes, and add extra heating, you can have a great time in your Airstream RV during the winter.

With all that said, you should be able to prepare yourself for your next winter camping trip in your Airstream RV. As long as you read through this article thoroughly and get information from a few more sources, you should be prepared. Once you are prepared you will have a fantastic time out in the snow next winter!

Are you a new or experienced RV owner? Have you ever taken an RV out during the winter? Do you already own an Airstream RV, or are you considering purchasing one? Let us know in the comments!


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