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Old 12-14-2012, 03:59 PM   #1
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Question Cold Weather Camping

My wife and I like to ski. We hope to use our Escape 5.0 in the winter, at elevation, in mountain passes, with NO hook-ups. It would be nice to be able to use the sinks and toilet on these trips even though the overnight temperatures may get well below freezing. My two questions are:
  • What are the lower limits of winter camping in an Escape 5.0 with the insulation package (walls, windows and sprayed foam under) and the solar package?
  • What else can be done to prepare and protect the trailer (like keeping the doors open on cabinets that contain plumbing)?
Please reply with your advice, and annecdotes of your experience. Hearing of both pleasant and unpleasant results would be educational. (Remember to specify degrees F or C when including temperatures.)

Thanks,
Rich
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Old 12-14-2012, 06:54 PM   #2
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Hi Rich,

Many of us have camped in freezing weather. There are alot of preparations and considerations you must take to prevent damage and loss of life. You must know what the weather forecast is. You will need to winterize your trailer by draining all tanks, lines, hot water tank, and grey & black water lines and add antifreeze. Leave a travel agenda with a family member. Have full propane tanks, plenty of food & vehicle fuel, water in jugs, and good lasting 12volt trailer power. Put nothing down the drain, bring a good cell phone with charger, weather radio, and use a portapotty or outhouse in campground. Escape's freshwater tank and grey tank are mounted on the underside of the trailer. You can order a trailer with foam insulation and heat pads to help but your going to need 120v power. And you will still freeze up stuff if it stays cold long enough.
I am sure others have good advice but unless your experienced...stay in a lodge.

David
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Old 12-14-2012, 07:10 PM   #3
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I have an Escape 19 with the thermal widows, extra interior insulation, foam insulation on the bottom and tanks and 12v thermostatically controlled tank heaters. The heater will keep you warm and the tank heaters will keep the water flowing. That said you definitely need electric hookups as the tank heaters will pull a lot over 2 days at most. Also recommend heated water hose, I have camped down to 20's without any issues. Without hookups, I'm limited to 2 days due to the tank heaters, with electric, unlimited duration. I think I would be comfortable down to -0-(F) anything below that I'd want electric for safety sake.
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Old 12-15-2012, 09:33 AM   #4
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Rich we camp alot in cold weather takin the trillium to jasper skiing for a week at christmas lol we only have solar and will not be plugging in , when out hunting 2 weeks ago we burned through 4lbs of propane a night at -15c to -20c the trillium only has 1/4 inch insulation we have dual 6 volts with 125 watt panel , forget about cooking in it or using the water and ammenities the condensation will upset you crack the roof vent and get a porta-potti and have fun , cheers mike
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Old 12-16-2012, 02:32 AM   #5
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Thanks to all who have replied so far. I am encouraged to read that cold weather camping is possible if one is willing to take precautions and make adjustments to their camping routine. More examples like the above would be welcome.

Is anyone brave enough to describe a cold weather mishap from which forum readers may take a lesson?
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Old 12-16-2012, 10:28 AM   #6
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Hi Rich,
If I read you right, this is not cold "city" camping you are asking about.
My good friends, Susan & Sandy over on the Casita Forum have many nights @ high altitude winter camping trips in the Colorado Rockies under their belt. That is 12'000ft@ near minus 0 F temps. They are "polar bears" and you might want to consult them. It is a great experience & challange. I enjoy the peaceful, quiet absence of people, life's destractions, and the love of snow shoeing. Escape is not a four season trailer so again you will need to adjust and forget the normal comforts of your travel trailer. That is the reason most Canadian Escapes are put away for the winter.
Don't start your own story list of cold weather camping mishaps. Try it, enjoy it, but be careful!
David
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Old 12-16-2012, 10:33 AM   #7
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Condensation is the main issue I have found in cold weather, especially once it drops to -10°C, and lower. You need to do what you can to reduce it, like mentioned above, no cooking or even using the stove inside, and keeping the heated to warm, while ventilating with the fan.

The higher the heat, the less condensation you will get, as warm air holds moisture better, and it can be better evacuated. This becomes a bigger issue, the colder it gets outside. I start to notice the condensation issue more once it gets a few degrees below freezing.

Though you will get a bit less insulation, it is best to keep the blinds open to allow better circulation of warmer air on the windows, keeping the condensation down. If you have dual glazed windows, the biggest heat loss is through the aluminum frame, and that is where the first condensation will form.

Oh, and keep some wiping rags handy.

In colder weather I still prefer a super warm sleeping bag, sleeping in a tent or a tepee. Or, if someone has a hot tent set up, that is the ideal comfort for winter camping. The Escape is not really ideal for real cold weather.
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Old 12-16-2012, 07:33 PM   #8
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Great post reply Jim.
Rich you might add to your list... a snow shovel and heavy sleeping bags. This type of high altitude winter camping is basically like staying in a hard tent with lights, some heat & 12v power, a table, a frig, and soft beds.

David
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Old 12-18-2012, 12:14 AM   #9
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We take our Escape spring skiing in Jasper (mountains) every year, with temperatures down to -10C at night, and no electricity except for our solar panel, and we are completely comfortable. We also have friends who take their motorhomes skiing all winter, with temperatures easily -20C at night. It is a lot simpler to dry camp under these conditions. We take a jug of water, and dump gray water outside. Other than making coffee, we cook outside. It is surprising how quickly you adapt to the cold, and dressed warmly, feel comfortable outside. I have not done this, but our friends use their toilet for peeing all winter (no water), and just let it freeze in the holding tanks. Here in Alberta, it stays frozen all winter and they dump in the spring! They have done this for years with no damage to their tanks. I prefer to use the campground washroom or a pee bottle. Another gruesome trick is, if you are desperate, to put a bag stretched over the toilet bowl, and use it for #2, discarding in the garbage cans (my wife detests this!). Again, in our climate things freeze up pretty quick, so it is not as gross as sounds! Sorry to be so descriptive, but these are true winter camping secrets!
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Old 12-19-2012, 03:27 PM   #10
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Rich,

During the ordering stage for our 19' I was told by Tammy that with just the spray foam insulation (no tank heaters) the tanks would be protected down to -8C/18F. That is as long as the daytime temperature rises to above freezing. If it's going to be below freezing for an extended period of time I think you would want the tank heaters. We had them installed just to be on the safe side.

We've taken the trailer out several times this winter with no problems, but it wasn't very cold during the day (upper 30's F) so we have yet to fire up the tank heaters. Others have correctly pointed out the condensation issue when camping in the cold. If we run the Maxx Fan on low/medium and crack a window the condensation is minimal.

We plan on doing a few XC ski trips this winter with the trailer so maybe I'll have some good mishaps to share afterwards. I hope not.

Jeff
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