Winter camping - Bigfoot - Fiberglass RV

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Old 03-22-2013, 08:48 AM   #1
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Name: Chuck
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Winter camping - Bigfoot

Not sure where this belongs, but the moderator can have is way with it, if it is in the wrong place.

Few words about me, I ski most of the winter, both downhill and cross country. I stay in cold locations, i.e. minus 20 degrees F and windy. I have owned a New Horizons fifth wheel, and other trailers - airstream being one of the worst for insulation.

My eyes are crossed from reading posts here, on the Scamp site, Escape site, Bigfoot site, about the Oliver etc.

A lot of fiberglas trailers are insulated with some type of foil insulation - and I have a bias that that product is way oversold, and does little good, even when used with air gaps. Without air gaps it has a R value of 1.0. It is great on window coverings, but not very useful otherwise. What does work is foam, and it lasts, I have taken apart a mid 70s GMC and the foam is intact, so it does not crumble or fall apart when done properly. Same is true of vintage Avions, FMCs etc

What does the wall and roof section of a 2000s era Bigfoot look like, how much real foam? Is there any other fiberglass RV with foam?

The airstream forum, a person with the handle zeppelinium did a fairly rigorous serieds of tests with different types of insulation, it is a bit instructive to read. Others used the reflectix properly i.e. air gaps, and it is a laborious process, without much benefit. malconium is the person who did the best job. I havee-mailed escape RV and the Minnesota trailers made in Backus and the both use reflectix etc. I tried telling the Minnesota mfg. that I had serious doubts about the use of reflectix for insulation, but obviously I was not listened to. I understand, probably wouldn't listen to me either The work that zep did shows that foam is by far the best insulator, but difficult to use on an airstream.

Information on real world tests of how well various types of insulation works woud be wonderful, but cannot find any.

So I need a trailer in the 17 to 21 foot range, that I don't freeze in. I know how to winter camp, heat tape is my friend.

Thanks for any and all info, and for reading a way to long first post - or any post for that matter.

Stillwater Mn

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Old 03-22-2013, 12:32 PM   #2
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I can only speak for the 1500 series Bigfoot. My 1980 17' has one inch of styrofoam in the ceiling, walls, and floor. Even the wheel wells are insulated. Mine does not have the "winter package" with dual pane windows. For our camping we're more interested in keeping the cold inside. When its 96 degrees F. at 11PM in July, the air conditioner needs all the help it can get.

1980 Bigfoot 17' & former owner of 1973 Compact Jr
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Old 03-22-2013, 01:47 PM   #3
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Welcome to the forum.............

This is a picture I took of a window cutout of the Lil Snoozy travel trailer.

It's foam sandwiched between two layers of fiberglass with some I think is metal fibers for extra strength. I was told the R factor is around R6.

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Old 03-22-2013, 02:09 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by chuckd View Post

So I need a trailer in the 17 to 21 foot range, that I don't freeze in. I know how to winter camp, heat tape is my friend.
That statement says it all for me.

If as your mention of heat tape implies your winter camping will be with electric hookups, any make/model will do just fine. Spaceheaters plus heat tape equals success!

Insulative properties really only matter if no-hookups winter camping is contemplated.

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Old 03-22-2013, 02:25 PM   #5
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Northwood and Nash are SOB's and are made for winter living with high r-values. In the fiberglass world, only Bigfoot and Escape offer additional insulation packages such as thermapane windows and spray foam insulation, heated tanks under the trailer. The rest of the fiberglass trailers rely solely on propane and electric heaters to keep warm inside.
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Old 03-22-2013, 02:48 PM   #6
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British Columbia
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I looked at a Nash. Don't have to worry about rivets. It's held together with staples.

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Old 03-22-2013, 03:08 PM   #7
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Name: Chuck
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Thanks folks for the replies. Before I got my New Horizons, I went to the Nash factory and was not impressed, great people, but not enough attention to detail. My New Horizons was a real 4 season rig, with foam insulation, heated tanks, dual pane windows. Just want to get smaller.

Escape does a great job of foaming the floor, but I think they use reflectix or similar bubble wrap as their insulation package, along with dual pane windows. Escape seems to be an outstanding supplier, and the owners love them.

Even though I do not boon dock, good insulation is a plus, and a tight RV with minimal seams etc is good.

Stillwater Mn
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Old 03-22-2013, 07:25 PM   #8
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Name: Donna D
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Two of the biggest heat losses in a trailer (of any brand) happen through the single pane windows and the floor. If you look at manufacturers that controls those two areas, you'll be money ahead.

If I was camping in the snow/cold... I'd look to make a skirt and snap it to the bottom of the trailer. I've read where folks that winter camp, take bails of straw to push up along the edges of the trailer to keep wind, etc. from the bottom. That doesn't sound practical to me. But then again, I deal with rain more than cold.
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Old 03-22-2013, 08:13 PM   #9
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Chuckd - I think the only true 4-season trailer out of those already mentioned is the Bigfoot. The insulation is 1 1/2" EPS. You might want to contact the owner of the 25' Bigfoot that is for sale in Waco, TX. Apparently it was used for winter camping at ski resorts. Good luck!
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Old 04-05-2013, 09:28 PM   #10
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Name: Jaybird
Trailer: Bigfoot
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Winter camping

Wow -- I have owned 2 Bigfoot campers, 1- 29G motorhome, and 2- 25RQ trailers. I have never had any problems with any of them in cold. I teach skiing and spend 2 to 4 nights a week at the local ski area with my trusty 2000 Watt Honda generator. I use group 29 batteries (2) I have them under the seat with 2 outside air vents. This helps keep them a little warmer so I don't have so much power loss. We have camped out in -5 degree weather and have had no major problems. We had a 25Y Arctic Fox for awhile and it was terrible and we went back to a Bigfoot 25RQ.
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Old 04-06-2013, 05:38 AM   #11
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Name: Don
Trailer: Bigfoot 25RQ
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Being a previous owner of a Scamp and Airstream and now a 2005 Bigfoot 25RQ, I agree that my present unit trumps the previous ones for cold weather camping, no comparison.

Aside from R value, I strongly believe that Donna has hit the nail on the head with her suggestion of skirting. In addition to this advice, even though I have the winter package, I also put two inch foam cutouts in all the roof vents, storage areas, shower skylight, and fill every hole that I can get to with same. I also made a Lexan "storm door" and this addition helps a bit, too.

I posted earlier about SteveL's suggestion of heated floor mats, which I think is worth a look. From my experience, it's the floor to knee area that stays the coldest. Maybe some small fans to circulate the air?

Good luck in your search, but be careful about length. Shorter trailers have their strengths, unless you haul layers of extra cold weather gear or clothes that need to hang, dry out, etc. At least that's what I've determined, but maybe I'm carrying too much. Have fun.

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