Is there any such thing as a 4 season RV? We’re writing this as September winds down and the temperatures are dropping steadily in many places. Some people are looking back at our post on RV winterizing tips and getting ready for the inevitable task. But is there a 4 season motorhome (or other class of camper) for those among us who want to RV in all camping seasons?
Today we’re looking at the prospect of 4 season RVs — rigs that allow for comfortable camping in most all weather conditions. We’re talking about RVs that can accommodate freezing temperatures without causing damage to holding tanks, solar panels, windows, etc., and heating systems that make cold weather camping comfortable for RV living.
Do they exist? Let’s find out!
- 1) Can’t Any Camper Be a 4-Season RV?
- 2) What Is a 4 Season RV?
- 3) Are There Any 4-Season RVs?
- 4) Are You a 4-Season RVer?
Can’t Any Camper Be a 4-Season RV?
Well…sort of. Many of us who are full-timers or diehard RVers have developed ways of RVing in all seasons.
By “sort of” what we mean is that we’ve come to terms with occasionally camping in somewhat harsh weather conditions (especially the cold) by making accommodations within the scope of the 3-season RVs we actually have.
For example, you may have seen our tips for winter RV living or our post entitled “Winter RVing in Freezing Weather — Cold Climate RV Survival Tips“.
We’ve talked about RV skirting for winter, RV tank heating pads, and heated RV water hoses. We even went through the trouble of creating and documenting a DIY plan to keep our RV water hose from freezing by using heat tape for RV water hoses. (Of course, you can also buy a No Freeze Water Hose at a special discount rather than make your own.)
Heck – we even installed a dedicated power outlet for winter camping. So you can see that winter RVing is a big topic with lots to cover.
Some RVs may have dual pane windows and fairly decent insulation which can help with chilly weather and even short-term winter camping. But for extreme weather or longer-term winter camping, special accommodations would need to be made.
And yeah – we’ve done our share of winter camping and we’ve got the receipts to prove it:
The truth is that many of us are snowbirds for the most part with an occasional winter camping trip. But there are those hardy winter souls who love to ski and snowboard and go to considerable extremes to be able to camp in cold weather.
We’re not saying we’ve never been caught in extreme winter conditions. We have. We were prepared so we didn’t die of hypothermia, but we do suggest that maybe owning a 4 season motorhome would have been simpler.
What Is a 4 Season RV?
To be clear from the start, the RV industry has no specific standards that apply to “4-season RV” specifications. At most, the term “4-season RV” is a marketing term.
That said, a true 4-season RV would, in practice, need to be able to withstand all seasonal climates including some fairly extreme heat (above 100°F) and cold (below freezing) for extended periods.
This may sound simple, but it would require a number of features beyond strong AC and heating systems.
A 4-season RV would need to be constructed with a high R-value for maximum insulation from both the heat and the cold.
Again for maximum heat and cold resistance, double-pane windows would be necessary throughout a 4 season travel trailer or 4 season motorhome.
Dual-pane windows also help to keep condensation at bay to the greatest extent possible. Keeping moisture down is very important in an RV environment to prevent the formation of mold and mildew.
Heated Basement Compartments
A true 4-season rig would require heated basement compartments not only to protect whatever is stored down there, but also to contribute to the warmth and insulation of the RV’s living area. And of course, the basement often contains an RV’s fresh water and waste holding tanks, so keeping them above freezing is crucial.
Batteries would need to be protected because cold weather impacts the lives of both lithium and lead-acid batteries. Some batteries (AGM and lithium) may be safely installed in a heated living area. Others (some lithium models) are self-heating. Either way, batteries should not be allowed to freeze.
High BTU AC and Furnace
The output of the air conditioner and furnace of a 4-season RV would need to be as highly rated as possible for use in extreme temperatures.
(Pro Tip: A high-BTU diesel heater might be an option for cold weather as they tend to heat quickly.)
Plumbing and Holding Tanks
When designing a true 4-season motorhome or travel trailer, careful thought would need to be given to the placement of the plumbing and holding tanks to keep them from freezing.
In addition, heated holding tanks or RV tank heating pads can be used. The RV’s plumbing system also needs to be routesd through the interior of the RV for the least exposure to cold.
Heated Water Hose
Things like heated RV water hoses would be necessary for 4-season RVs as well. As mentioned earlier, you can buy a No Freeze Water Hose at a special discount if you’d prefer to have the highest-rated freeze protection available.
Floor plans are best designed with temperature extremes in mind. This might be more challenging in a small Class B RV or in truck campers with limited space and more limited design and layout options. Slide-outs can also equal more surfaces being exposed to cold temperatures.
Are There Any 4-Season RVs?
There are RVs that are marketed as 4-season RVs. Remember – the term “4-season” is really a marketing term.
If you see a rig marketed as a 4-season motorhome, travel trailer, 5th wheel, or truck camper, you’ll want to check the specs to see exactly what the manufacturer has done to prepare the rig for 4-season camping. Check R-values in walls, floor, and ceiling, the availability of tank heaters, plumbing insulation, etc.
Among the most popular rigs billed as 4-season RVs are the Arctic Fox campers. These are travel trailers, fifth wheels, and truck campers made by Northwood Manufacturing.
Arctic Fox rigs use rigid foam, batten, and reflective foil insulation for protection from heat and cold. With heated holding tanks in fully insulated enclosures and enclosed knife valves, these RVs are marketed to be fully capable of comfortable 4-season living.
But are these truly 4-season RVs?
Well, that really depends on where and how you camp which is the real bottom line when determining the true value of the “4-season” marketing term.
Are You a 4-Season RVer?
We’re always interested in hearing how other RVers manage their 4-season camping and RV living experiences. Drop us a comment below. We’d love to know how you camp in all four seasons!
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