Winter Camping Made Easy

Unless you live in warmer climates, this is the time of year when most RVers turn to that somber task of unloading a season’s worth of camping gear, winterizing their RV, and storing it for the winter.

However, for those of you who can stand a little chill, the arrival of the autumnal equinox doesn’t mean an end to the fun camping can bring. In fact, if old man winter is reasonable, camping can be a year round activity. My first winter camping escapade was back in January 2010. The Tear Jerkers chapter of Indiana has an annual camping weekend every January at an Indiana state park and call the event “Shiveree”. This is a brave group of campers who pull their tear drops and other tiny trailers in the Indiana winter regardless of temps. Although they’ve had the event in sub-zero weather, the weekend in 2010 was moderate with temps in the 30’s. DSC_0032a   DSC_0028a It was this weekend that started my love for winter camping. For some like me and my wife, it has many advantages to camping during the summer, including cooler….much cooler….temperatures for hiking, cheaper camping rates, and, in most cases, a campground all to yourself. 563 Now you’re probably asking how to make this all work if your camper is already winterized. We’ve come up with a really good routine that lets us survive the weekend unscathed. To start, we’re not really big fans of running the furnace in our Scotty. I do fire it up once a year just to make sure it works, but generally we’re not fans of running the furnace, especially at night when we’re asleep. First it’s rather loud, and when you’re in a 15′ camper, a loud furnace is a lot noiser than in a 30′ camper. But the biggest reason is running a furnace powered by propane leaves us a little unsettled. So we use a simple electric space heater. Yes, we need electric! But we always camp where there is electric, so it’s never an issue. Since we’re in a space that’s only about 100 square feet, we don’t need a big space heater, so we purchased this Honeywell 1500 watt mini tower  for about $30.00. It keeps us nice & toasty throughout the night with no issues. k2-_c6204eb9-c785-44d2-bfc1-2e04fb62f5c9.v1 Next question: What about water? That’s pretty simple. When it comes to not being able to use the sink, we use paper plates and plasticware, so there’s little to clean up, in case it’s a crock pot or spatula we periodically may use. We generally use the microwave when winter camping to decrease the amount of pots & pans to clean up, which some may not consider “camping”, but it works for us. A roaring campfire and a couple of hot dog sticks or pie irons also work well. We’ll bring along a couple of jugs of water for coffee and drinking. We recently purchased a Keurig Mini K-Cup coffeemaker for our coffee and hot cider for this time of year. k2-_7082e8d5-5953-42f0-b366-84961c291750.v1 Now for the big one: the bathroom. As someone who’s used a pit toilet when it’s in the 20’s outside, I can tell you it’s no fun. We took advantage of a suggestion from a camping friend of ours. You may have seen some camping toilets that are nothing more than a seat and four legs that uses a bag to line the seat. Those bags are called “Double Doodie” bags, made by Reliance Products.

819wBdzYmBL._SL1500_Using the Double Doodie bag is pretty simple. It consists of a black, garbage bag type bag that is housed within a thicker, silver zip-lock style bag. We line one in our toilet in our Scotty and dispose as needed. It eliminates the need for water to flush the toilet and does pretty well. Due to the cost of them, they’re not a single-use bag for us. Use your own judgement when it’s time to change one out, but generally a couple can get through a weekend of camping with using only one or two.

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So there you have it. These are a few tips you too can use to escape those winter blues and get out there to camp. Even if it’s too cold to hike, we like to just get out and just hang out in our Scotty for a weekend. It’s cozy, quiet and it’s still camping.

Do you have some other ideas of your own for winter camping? Let’s hear them! Leave your comments below…we’d love to hear from you.

7 Comments

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7 Responses to Winter Camping Made Easy

  1. Ella Brown

    We also like winter camping — under the right conditions. We have always carried gallon bottles of water to use to flush the toilet. That does not put water through the pipes that have been winterized, and all you have to do is dump the trailer on the way out of camp. But, your idea with the bags is much simpler — Double Duty bags are on the list!

  2. Kay

    Not hooked up to water in the winter….My comment is about the use of the plastic bags in the toilet… perhaps it would help to put some kitty litter in the bottom to help with odors. Your thoughts???

    • Pat

      Kay – That’s certainly an option. What we do us just use one of our toss in packets that we use for our holding tank. They dissolve once moisture hits them, and might save a little room for “deposits”. 🙂

  3. Carol Schilling

    Many years ago in California during severe water rationing there was a product you could buy in a spray can that you would spray into the toilet after using it and it would effectively cover your “deposits” and reduce the accompanying odors so you could use the loo several times before having to pour in a bucket of water to flush. I always suspected it was just repackaged shaving foam but I don’t know if it’s still made. I suppose you could use a cheap can of shaving foam to do the same thing. Also, there is super-lightweight kitty litter made now that won’t make your disposable bag impossible to pick up – kitty litter can be really heavy if you use too much and Heaven only knows you don’t want that bag to break when you’re trying to dispose of it – LOL!

  4. Diane

    Great Ideas. I’ve been using the bags for years.

  5. Arnie Wiese

    Very good ideas presented here. Would offer an alternative for the toilet. During winter camping last winter with some nights down to 10 degrees, I used the toilet, flushed with a container of water, leaving the water supply system “dry”, and added RV antifreeze to the holding tank (thru the toilet) to keep the holding tank from freezing up. I didn’t have a scientific formula, but estimated when the holding tank “mixture” was 50/50. Had no problems with freeze-ups, and emptied the holding tank on warm days.

  6. To winterize our 177se > we pulled all the plugs (hot, cold, fresh water tank & water heater) and empted the gray & black tanks, then ran the pump to help clear the lines of excess water and then using compressed air – blew out the water lines thru the outside water intake with the shower and sink faucets open.

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