Winter camping in an aluminum can

See? As promised, I’m writing about Airstream camping again.

While my trailer has technically seen the Arctic Circle (albeit in summer), it’s more likely to be sweating out summers in Florida or the Western USA. I carefully fit Reflectix® in all the windows, but its white roof and 13,500 BTU air conditioner do most of the cooling heavy lifting. And just barely at that.

At the other extreme, my trailer rarely sees snow-camping. The last time was in June of 2020 at Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park.

Airstream’s PR machine touts their “EcoBatt” insulation, but it’s still sandwiched between two sheets of aluminum. With aluminum ribs. Didn’t we all learn in middle-school science class how great aluminum was at transferring heat & cold?

Most folks see an Airstream as a 3-season camper. And for good reason.

Anyone who’s accidentally rolled up against the meat-locker-cold aluminum interior walls while in bed knows what I’m talking about.

Do not try this with your Airstream in sub-freezing temps, inside or out:

I like to stretch the camping season to its extremes, before I absolutely need to winterize. Here are some some modifications made to allow for that:
– Tank heaters for fresh, grey, and black tanks (added when my fresh water tank was replaced due to a crack)
– Hard-wired heat wrap and insulation for exposed black and grey dump valves (DIY)
– Insulation around front under-trailer spare tire holder (between the tire and trailer), closet, and interior wheel well liners (DIY)

And I bring along heat sources to supplement the Airstream’s built-in heat pumps and furnace, depending on the situation:
– small electric ceramic heater
– oil-filled electric heater
– LP gas-fueled catalytic heater (for boondocking)

In deep snow, there’s not much R-value difference between my Airstream and a delicious can of Hansen’s Cherry Vanilla soda.

Currently, my trailer is winterized (no water in the lines or tanks), so winter storm Kenan seemed like a great opportunity to camp at northern Delaware’s Lums Pond State Park.

It was.

I’m not alone in thinking that. In addition to the usual RVs, there are even some tent campers!

I guess I can’t really complain about trailer insulation, can I?

This is a great park for winter camping. Open year-round. Full hook-ups. Clean heated bathrooms with showers. Easy to get a spot in winter. Quiet. Off-season Passport America discount.

Great campsite views.

Water access.

No kayaking today, I guess.

Nice trails.

This kind of winter storm is fairly rare for Delaware. Very cold temps (10 degrees tonight) makes for a lot of dry, fluffy snow. The kind that a squeaks underfoot.

Winter camping in an Airstream is not without its challenges. No running water in the trailer means cold trips to the bathhouse and meals that are self-contained. Paper plates/bowls and plastic tableware.

On the plus side, the absorption fridge loves the sub-freezing temps.

By morning, my door froze shut. The handle wouldn’t budge without a lot of effort. It was fine the rest of the trip.

To not overload the 30-amp circuit, I only run two heaters on low (~500 watts per). I love sleeping in the cold, so the 53-degree temp my bedside thermometer read late last night was perfect.

Is all this preparation and hassle worth it?

Yes.

4 thoughts on “Winter camping in an aluminum can

  1. 1/29/2022 Saturday 5:15 p.m. PST

    Brrrr….I wouldn’t be able to do this cold camping – enjoy! Good for you – Love, Mom

    Sent from Mail for Windows

  2. Gosh, I would look to do that. We heat a rather larch house with wood burning stove, so I am very use to sleeping could and roughing it. I do not go out n Winter as I am in Communion Season in the shop . Hickory Run state park is also open in the winter with electric hook ups, basically you a a much more comfortable tent on wheels.

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