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Open discussion on how to set up a Casita for Winter Camping.


HOW-TO

"Winter, Cold Weather Camping"



Winter, Cold Weather Camping

Hi, I'm hoping the group can give me some insights (check list) on what I need to know about "Winter, Cold Weather Camping" with the Casita. I have a 17' and was born and raised in Southern California. Cold to me is anything below 40*.

Some concerns:

1) What about freezing pipes?

2) What do you do about propane?

3) What about holding tanks and emptying them, do they freeze?

4) Towing in ice and snow?

What else should I be asking?

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We're in Illinois ... and camp year round, rain, sleet or snow. But there are some precautions you need to take.

1. If it's just going to dip into the low 30's or high 20's during the night, you probably don't have much to worry about. The white and black tanks are located inside the Casita. The gray hangs below, but is under no pressure, etc. Hate to be scatological here, but since you're constantly adding 98 degree body fluids to the black, and running room temp water into the gray, you don't have much to worry about.

2. If you're headed into an extended below freezing period, then you'd be better served to winterize your Casita with RV (Not Auto) antifreeze. I know, I know, the water lines, white and black tanks are still inside with you, but what happens if you lose power or run out of propane?

3. We regularly camp in 10 to 20 degree temperatures, with snow flying sideways, loving every minute of it. But our Casita's winterized, protecting the white tank/water pump/water lines with antifreeze. We then pour a half gallon or so of RV antifreeze into both the gray and black tanks at the start of a weekend. We then use jug water for drinking, cooking or "flushing" the toilet. Occasionally, when it's really cold, the dump valves will freeze up, particularly during the night. If you have electricity, you can thaw with a hair dryer. As a matter of fact, if it's snowing or sleeting, then turns cold, you'll occasionally find yourself "trapped" in your trailer, cause the water freezes the door gasket to its frame. Use a hair dryer to thaw from the inside.

4. State Parks in Illinois have electricty, so we don't use the propane, which at extremely low temps, doesn't burn correctly as you know. We use an electric 6-inch ceramic cube heater to heat the trailer (and the heat will chase you out, it does such a good job.) We also have an electric hot plate, on which we cook, heat water for a military shower or tea, so we can avoid using the propane. The refrigerator is on electric also.

5. Problem where I'm from with winter camping is the return trip. Things are all warm and toasty inside the trailer when camping, but if you have a 4 or 5 hour trip home, it gets pretty cold inside the trailer. That's why we winterize along about the middle of October and follow our winter camping procedures till we head for Florida at Easter.

Hope this helps.

Years ago, we bought a little 6-inch cube ceramic heater.

Charles

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This may be a dumb question for you folks that do it all the time, but..

"RV antifreeze" sounds like bad stuff. Do you flush the tanks before ever using it for drinking water again?

Michael

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RV Antifreeze is not bad stuff ... obviously safe for human consumption.

Steps:

1. Turn water heater to bypass mode. Drain Water Heater.

2. Drain white (fresh) water tank until almost empty.

3. Connect blow-out plug to city water inlet. Blow out water lines with air compressor (doesn't have to be industrial strength air compressor ... a little electric air compressor will work ... even a "strong" 12-volt air compressor is enough to put pressure into the lines to blow out the water.

3. Pour 3 gallons of RV antifreeze into the white (fresh) tank. Use water pump to pump antifreeze (RV not Auto) through water lines by systematically turning on hot/cold water faucets. Remember to run antifreeze through the hand-held shower and line. Make sure you flush toilet until pretty pink antifreeze runs into toilet. Make sure you fill all traps (including shower drain trap) with antifreeze.

4. You're good to go.

As I said, we often winter camp, using jug water to cook and "flush" the toilet, leaving the water lines, faucets, toilet, etc protected with antifreeze.

In the spring, I just flush the system with clean water. If the spirit moves me, I'll put some a little bleach in the fresh water tank to sanitize it. And then next tank, put a little baking powder into the tank which neutralizes the bleach taste.

There are people who say the RV antifreeze leaves a taste. I even took a taste right from the antifreeze jug (it's safe for humn consumption) without ill affects. People who say it leaves a taste use compressed air to blow out lines, but trouble with just compressed air is water is left in line between fresh tank and water pump ... and water is leave in pump, so you have to disconnect and drain these prior to the onset of winter.

But, I have to tell you, we love to winter camp! We usually have most campgrounds to ourselves. It's so neat to set around a campfire or inside the Casita and watch everything get covered with snow and turn white.

Even the Casita turns white. Hmmm, guess it's already white.

Charles

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RV antifreeze is non-toxic, it's usually based on "food grade" propylene glycol with added lubricants and mild rust inhibitors. I imagine it doesn't taste very good, though, and you do have to flush it out.

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