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"Four Season" or "Arctic Package" RV reasonable?
Old 08-11-2008, 02:36 PM   #1
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"Four Season" or "Arctic Package" RV reasonable?

My wife and I have essentially zero RV experience. We can not even decide if a Class-A or a 5th Wheel would be a better choice. Despite that, and despite the current gas prices, and despite what the market has been doing recently, we are again daydreaming about the idea of selling the house, dumping the jobs, and diving head first into full-timing for a few years to see the US.

We both love snow skiing, and have most of our family in the northern parts of the US, so the ability to spend extended periods in snow country is almost essential.

On the one hand, we read at places like Class A Motorhome. that:
"Snowbirding and fulltiming with class A's should generally be limited to temperatures from approximately 30 degrees to 90 degrees Fahrenheit."

On the other hand, we read at vendors like Teton Homes Construction
"In Dometic's comprehensive test chamber, Teton's furnace kept cycling, ensuring continuous and comfortable temperatures - even in below zero outside temperatures. Tetons are liveable 365 days a year. No wonder they are America's first choice in full-time RVs."

There are certainly some northern campgrounds that stay open 365 days a year. Has anyone on the forum spent time in an RV in freezing weather? How about sub-zero weather?

Part of the motivation for going the RV route is my wife's non-negotiable desire to bring our two indoor cats along. Anyone with experience combining felines with RVs, your input would also be very welcome!

thanks,
Bill

P.S.
I know that "testing the waters" seems to make more sense than diving in head-first. However, the reality is that I expect it to take multiple weeks for the two cats to adjust to the new lifestyle, and don't think even burning all our vacation time would provide us with a meaningful test. Instead, I'm thinking we will buy a used vehicle or fifth-wheel to minimize our risk, and plan to replace it if we decide we want to keep at it for more than a year or two.
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Old 08-11-2008, 02:55 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bamsphd View Post
P.S.
I know that "testing the waters" seems to make more sense than diving in head-first. However, the reality is that I expect it to take multiple weeks for the two cats to adjust to the new lifestyle, and don't think even burning all our vacation time would provide us with a meaningful test. Instead, I'm thinking we will buy a used vehicle or fifth-wheel to minimize our risk, and plan to replace it if we decide we want to keep at it for more than a year or two.
Hello! I can only attest to this final part of your post--that of buying a used one and seeing if you really like it before you invest the big bucks in your "dream RV". I think this is a very wise idea, one we've used in buying a older sailboat that we cruised in short-term and an RV we use sporadically now (until we retire).

Our cats like being in our RV in the yard with us, but we've never taken them anywhere. I think it is really going to be fairly easy to acclimate them to the idea. We've known plenty of folks that take cats on boats and in RVs, they just need some routine and their litter boxes and you should be good. Remember to get them used to it a little at a time and talk to your vet about specific suggestions for your situation. Microchips and collars with cell numbers are a must as well!

I've got nothing to offer on cold weather RVing--we've used the furnace on ours maybe twice, and it was hot as a match in there! I'm sure some of these midwestern types will help there.
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Old 08-11-2008, 03:05 PM   #3
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I'd recommend you ask your questions on the Escapees Discussion Forum . There are many folks there who live the full time RV lifestyle and are always willing to help newbies out with information about the realities of life on the road.
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Old 08-11-2008, 03:15 PM   #4
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Bill, before you sell the house you might also want to read this thread on the Escapees forum...
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Old 08-11-2008, 05:27 PM   #5
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Bill, before you sell the house you might also want to read this thread on the Escapees forum...
Gosh, it makes me want to deploy to the Western Pacific all over again... NOT.
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Old 08-11-2008, 06:47 PM   #6
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I'd be worried about freezing pipes. Not to mention fresh, gray, and black water tanks...
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Old 08-11-2008, 06:49 PM   #7
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Bill,
please don't let the two flippant posts above discourage you if you desire to RV. HFWR has some nice advice, and seems to know his stuff. RV'ing is a great adventure enabilizer. Gas prices are high at the moment but true Rv'ing is best appreciated when you meet great people and join the RV frat,and enjoy the company of "positive" people.

A few more dollars to get out and enjoy the RV community will be well worth it.

A couple of the Moderators on this site RV, so expect some great advice.
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Old 08-12-2008, 10:33 AM   #8
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Having some fulltime experience, in a 70 something Winnebago MH, some 25 yrs ago. And having that Motorhome's wheels encased in solid ice nearly to the axle, while camping somewhere outside of Eugene Oregon, in January, I can offer some first hand info.

Outside temp was around 25 for several days after some nasty freezing rain.

That was a well used MH by the time I got it. The propane heater worked full blast for 2 days, nearly non stop. For sevearal days it was around 80 % on. The inside temp was maintained around 55 to 60 degrees F. If I ran an electric 1500W heater also, could get to maybe 65.

Given the dismal insulation and the many air leaks of the MH that was pretty good. Not pleasant but OK. Sufficiently so that a couple who drove in from Bend, OR, mostly frozen in their conversion van, I managed to thaw out after a few hours next to the heater outlet. All the while filling them up with hot cocoa.

By the way, had no frozen pipes, not even the grey/black tanks froze.

Northern camping in a MH or Trailer is not easy but doable.
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Old 08-12-2008, 04:41 PM   #9
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There are several threads in the Forum covering the pros and cons of RVing. My simple take is it is a lifestyle choice--some will love and others will never figure it out why. We are on our second rig, having "downsized" from a 29' A to Roadtrek 23'. We recognized we are travelers, not "sitters" so have found the smaller rig great for our purposes. Others on the site are fulltiming and the larger rigs become much more critical to a sense comfort.
Just read the recent thread on Hotel vs Motel to capture a great sense why many choose the Rving options. No surprises under your bed or for that matter in it.
Much has been made about the cost. Here is a recent link on a couple extended road journey that puts the RVing choice in perspective. Utah couple proves notion that RV vacations cost less. Short version, a significantly lower cost than moteling (and no surprises from the last occupants).
Best way to know is rent and try before buying. Rentals are not a perfect picture you will gain a whole of insight to what you like and don't like.
Good luck in your choice
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For someone considering the RV option, the above site offers a lot of resources and a steady stream of real time insights to the lifestyle.
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Old 08-17-2008, 10:39 PM   #10
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There is a site that has information on fulltiming including a monthly posting on all expenses they have incured for the last 3 years. They tell how they decided to fulltime, heck they cover EVERYTHING. Search rv-dreams.

A site I check all the time is a used (consignment) RV place in Houston, TX. They carry all sizes and have a great site that has big pictures and floorplans of everything they sell. Their prices are great and they have sales where the prices are cut even more. Search pplmotorhomes.
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Old 08-18-2008, 07:41 AM   #11
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We live in the NorthEast and have done some winter camping in our travel trailers (Airstreams 2004 and 2005) and now our fifth wheel. The Airstreams were not designed for winter camping (tanks not heated) but we drycamped with them. With the drycamping we kept our waterlines winterized and used a portapotty in the trailer and used the campgrounds bathhouse for showers. Our new fifth wheel has heated tanks and pipes so we should be able to use water if we wish. There are several campgrounds which offer winter camping with full hookups so once you have your camper taken care of the only other issue is the line coming into the unit. I have seen some rigs with the hose in insulation and others with heat tape to keep it from freezing. I defer to others who may have done this in that I have not done it yet.

But ... One thing I do have to say about winter camping is it is great ! I find it a lot of fun to sit by the campfire fire on a winter evening with snow around. If your RV is well insulated and your heating system is sufficient for the size unit you have you will find it as warm and comfortable as a house. We have camped in temps as low as -8F and not had any problems. If you enjoy winter sports and can deal with the cold winter camping is really nice. The campgrounds are very quiet and beautiful when it snows and there are no bugs in the winter ! We also travel with pets so the RV makes the travel quite easy.
I personally prefer to be in a warmer climate but while I am still working and my job is here we make the best of it.
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Old 08-18-2008, 01:33 PM   #12
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This sums up fulltiming for some.

RV-Dreams Journal: Writing Your Full-timing Book
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Old 08-25-2008, 03:35 PM   #13
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http://www.rv.net/forum/
Is probably the best RV related forum on the net,it has a whole section on fulltiming it.
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Old 03-19-2010, 12:18 PM   #14
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Hi,
could you tell me what model of rv you use for winter weather?
Thanks
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Winter rv'ing
Old 03-19-2010, 12:22 PM   #15
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Winter rv'ing

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Originally Posted by xyz View Post
we live in the northeast and have done some winter camping in our travel trailers (airstreams 2004 and 2005) and now our fifth wheel. The airstreams were not designed for winter camping (tanks not heated) but we drycamped with them. With the drycamping we kept our waterlines winterized and used a portapotty in the trailer and used the campgrounds bathhouse for showers. Our new fifth wheel has heated tanks and pipes so we should be able to use water if we wish. There are several campgrounds which offer winter camping with full hookups so once you have your camper taken care of the only other issue is the line coming into the unit. I have seen some rigs with the hose in insulation and others with heat tape to keep it from freezing. I defer to others who may have done this in that i have not done it yet.

But ... One thing i do have to say about winter camping is it is great ! I find it a lot of fun to sit by the campfire fire on a winter evening with snow around. If your rv is well insulated and your heating system is sufficient for the size unit you have you will find it as warm and comfortable as a house. We have camped in temps as low as -8f and not had any problems. If you enjoy winter sports and can deal with the cold winter camping is really nice. The campgrounds are very quiet and beautiful when it snows and there are no bugs in the winter ! We also travel with pets so the rv makes the travel quite easy.
I personally prefer to be in a warmer climate but while i am still working and my job is here we make the best of it.
may i ask what model rv you use for winter weather?
Thanks
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Old 03-19-2010, 07:53 PM   #16
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At the time we had a Carriage Cameo. We since upgraded to a Class A motorhome (Newmar) We spent a week in January at the manufacturers in 5 degree weather all week used water and all appliances without any problems. I winterize when we are not camping in January / February / March but can quickly dewinterize if we decide to use it.
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Old 03-19-2010, 08:03 PM   #17
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We have a Class A motorhome (Alpine Coach by Western RV), and we have several times camped down to the low teens (11 degrees once) with no problems. We did make sure that we got the Aqua-hot diesel furnace upgrade (instead of propane), because this is better equipped for colder weather plus it helps keep the basement warmed.

Audrey
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Old 03-19-2010, 09:19 PM   #18
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We are just completing a 3 week roadtrip in our Class B Roadtrek. Spent much of it in lower Utah, Col, NM where the nights were routinely down to mid 20's. Other than having to disconnect water service at night, no real problem staying toasty. We use a ceramic heater instead of the gas furnance since it runs much quieter. Of course, the Roadtrek has less cubes to heat but it worked well in our small Class A we had previously.
Even the water disconnects at night could be avoided if you wanted to fool with heat tape. Every RV park we have been in has had a 20 amp socket to attach a heat tape source.
If you are doing dry camping in below 20, probably a different issue but cold weather camping has been pretty managable.
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Old 03-23-2010, 07:15 AM   #19
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We are just completing a 3 week roadtrip in our Class B Roadtrek. Spent much of it in lower Utah, Col, NM where the nights were routinely down to mid 20's.
During that period, we were in the upper west part of Wyoming for a couple weeks in our Roadtrek. It got down to 5° one night and most nights were in the 15°'s to 20°'s. We, also, use a Ceramic heater. (On the 5° night we had two going at 750W.) The temperature inside stayed around 70°.

Water. Now that is another story. I don't even mess with it. Because we spend so much time, in unexpected (to us) places, I put in antifreeze in September and go back to fresh water in May. Staying in campgrounds make it easy to do without water. (We do use the toilet, however, -- when necessary -- and simply "flush" with antifreeze and then dump when the holding tank is full.)

We are in Annapolis MD today after spendin over a week getting here from Denver. The overnight temperatures have ranged from 20° to 50°.

Wouldn't want to give up winter travel -- no traffic (read crowds) and the sights are spectacular.
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Old 03-23-2010, 08:14 AM   #20
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I lived in a 35 foot fifth wheel for a year in the Utah high desert (+6000 ft). Lowest temp was near 40 below. It can be done. If you're planning on moving much it would be a major pain though unless some of the problems have been worked out. My trailer was well insulated (Coachmen Quinstar Deluxe) but I skirted it, had 2- 100lb LP tanks, heat traced and insulated the water line, added a heater to the gray water and septic tank, added a heater to the refrigerator (if not it will be in defrost constantly), and kept an infrared heater in the bathroom. I was young and tough then. I don't think that it would be too easy being mobile as low temps require a lot of heating fuel and probably more than my experience without skirting.
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