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Below freezing camping. Tips Tricks and Advice

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  • Below freezing camping. Tips Tricks and Advice

    We're headed to Livingston Montana today and then down to a ranch in Paradise Valley for five days tomorrow. The temps are supposed to get down to 20 while we are there. This will be our first outing with the temps below freezing. Where we are parking in Paradise Valley we will have no power so I will be limited to solar, but the forecast is for clouds and rain for most of the week. I do have one of my Hondas along with me so I can run the generator if needed. We will be in Yellowstone most days and Fiona will be on her own.

    I plan to have the furnace on full-time I have two full bottles of propane
    I will run all the tank heaters at night
    I'm not sure if I should leave the water heater on all the time or not
    if I do leave the water heater on should I always have the water pump on as well?

    Does anyone have any thoughts or ideas on other things I should do or haven't thought of?
    Steve and Shelley. Minnesota
    2017 RAM 3500 LLH CC 4x4 LB DRW 6.7ctd Aisin 4.10 Air Level aka Shrek
    2018 AF 27-5L, HW50C ems, Maxxis Tires, TST 507, dual AC, tank heaters, Rear Camera, Toppers, 640w Solar, Victron MP 3000 Inverter, MPPT 150/85 solar charge controller, CCGX Color Monitor,BMV702 Battery Monitor
    , 440AH Lifeline AGM, aka Fiona

  • #2
    I'm sure it will cause generalized panic among some but I'd be taking along something like a Portable Buddy Heater to ease the strain on my 12v consumption.
    2014 Arctic Fox 25R
    2006 Ram 3500 SRW auto

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    • #3
      The lowest temps we have camped it is mid 20's and for three nights. Had plenty of propane and was on Shore power. I would leave the water heater operating on propane, reduce the thermostat temp on the furnace to low to mid 50s and toss on another blanket. From what friends who elk hunt in temps below 20 tell me, their challenge is as much the furnace draining the battery than using too much propane.
      Rolland & Judie, 2 Shelties, Cozmo & Brinkley

      2016 AF 27-5L, 4 pt Leveling, Dual Pane Windows, 10 Cu Ft Fridge, 15K AC, Central Vac, Progressive Dynamics hard wired EMS, Slide Toppers, 2 Fantastic Vents & Covers, TST507s, 480 Watts Solar Charger, 440AH AGM Battery Bank

      2005 Chevy Silverado 3500, Duramax/Allison, Crew Cab LB 4x4 B&W Companion

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      • #4
        We camp in those temps (in Montana) with out 2003, 27-5L. A Buddy heater keeps furnace running at a minimum (not used at night) two canisters a day. Stat set at about 60-65 over night and lots of blankets. Never used even one tank of propane in a week. We have storm windows which are a big plus. But your double pane (I presume) will be fine. We also use thermal bubble wrap on the skylights. Too, I have cut fiberglass insulation to fit the outside storage openings and encased it in black trash bags. This sits just inside the storage doors to add to their thin foam insulation. We don't have tank heaters and have never needed them. But all crevices into storage areas have been hit with foam insulation. Water tank stays on as does pump. Don't waste power on tank heaters unless you have a land line (on rereading I see you don't)s. In which case, use a small electrical heater rather than Buddy. If it is very cold, we leave under sink cabinets open. You will run the Honda a lot if you are using the batteries for the furnace. Have plenty of gas for refueling. You will be fine in that weather.
        Shane and Patty
        and Maddy the Labradoodle
        2003, 27-5L AF
        Chevy 2007, 3500 Dooley 4X4 LT3, Crew Cab, Duramax/Allison
        Two Honda Eu 2000

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        • #5
          I would probably leave the propane water heater on all night. It makes little difference whether water pump is on or off. It won't use dc power unless water is used (or leaking).

          Your main concern should be preventing the batteries from being discharged if clouds limit solar charging.

          I would run the Honda genset to keep the batteries up.
          Harvey Barlow
          USN Retired
          Glade Springs, WV
          2008 Dodge Ram Quad Cab & Chassis, Cummins ISB6.7 Aisin CM Flatbed BrakeSmart Transfer Flow 223k miles
          2011 Arctic Fox 26X LT245/75R16LRE tires (SOLD)
          2012 Unnamed 10' Slide-In Truck Camper

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          • #6
            If you try and keep the temps at night at 70 degrees and your tank heaters are running you might not make it through the night on the batteries! Like Shane said, add blankets and we take long johns to sleep in. Your Honda is going to be doing some heavy duty work to keep batteries charged for keeping the trailer warm 24 yours a day. We have a Buddy heater for daytime use. Like Shane, we have an older trailer with less insulation and no thermal windows or storm windows and we've never had problems. We use the pillow vent covers for cold or hot weather camping. If you have an outside shower it should be shut off and drained.

            I'd be interested to know how your Ram starts in 20 degree weather with no electric cord plugged in! We just got the heater installed--an option on our model truck. The Honda might have to come to the rescue.
            Linda & Dave (retired US Army) and Magic, the Yellow Lab Duck Dog
            2002 Arctic Fox 25R, Yamaha 2400i, Les Schwab 105 6-volt batteries, Maxxis Tires, Torque Lift Steps
            2017 RAM 2500 Bighorn Crew Cab 4x4, CTD, 8' Bed, Granite Crystal, new 7/1/17
            2003 DODGE 3500 SLT Quad Cab 244K mi. SOLD 7/20/17

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            • #7
              BTW, the factory furnace ducting also feeds warm air to the holding tanks. We have never had a problem with tanks freezing. I am guessing that dedicated tank heaters draw a lot of battery. Also, add some fiberglass insulation inside the shore line access cover and inside the outdoor shower cover. As Linda notes, drain the outdoor shower head. Linda, our Duramax starts nicely in the cold (thoughI run 5-40 Mobil Delvac synthetic to help it). Have never needed to hook its heater cord to the Honda. I think your CTD will be fine for most cold weather outings. Without double pane windows, our storms only go on the non escape windows. On the escape windows, we merely set in place a sized piece of aluminized bubble wrap insulation. Using our Charger Wizard as an indicator (rapid flash), we bring the batteries up fully for every night. The Honda will run quite a bit to do this. Finally, dressing for the occasion helps keep furnace use to a minimum. All in all, cold weather camping is a lot of fun and there are fewer people and no bugs.
              Shane and Patty
              and Maddy the Labradoodle
              2003, 27-5L AF
              Chevy 2007, 3500 Dooley 4X4 LT3, Crew Cab, Duramax/Allison
              Two Honda Eu 2000

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              • #8
                Steve

                Do you have 12V tank heaters or will you power your 110V heaters with your generator?
                *Ron & Deb Nielson
                2008 Silverado 2500HD CCLB SRW Duramax/Allison, B&W Companion, MaxLoader Springs, Bilstein 5100, Kennedy Custom Tuned ECM
                2009 Silver Fox AF29-5T SteadyFast Stabilizer System

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                • #9
                  Sorry, misread recipient.
                  Shane and Patty
                  and Maddy the Labradoodle
                  2003, 27-5L AF
                  Chevy 2007, 3500 Dooley 4X4 LT3, Crew Cab, Duramax/Allison
                  Two Honda Eu 2000

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Shane View Post
                    Finally, dressing for the occasion helps keep furnace use to a minimum.
                    Fully agree.

                    Keeping the rear flap up, on my pajamas, keeps out the cold drafts and keeps the campground neighbors happy .
                    Travel Blog: www.rocklinroamers.wordpress.com

                    2015 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD: SRW, Duramax / Allison 6.6L Turbo-Diesel, Extended Cab, Long Bed, 4x4, Reese 16K Hitch, 50gal In-Bed Fuel Tank (85 gals total)

                    2016 Arctic Fox 29-5T: Six-Point Leveling System, Fireplace, Two A/C's, Two Honda EU2000i Generators, TST "507" Tire Monitoring System, King-Size Bed, Progressive 'Hard-Wired' 50amp Surge Protector, 16gal Water Heater, Dual-Pane Glass, Slide-Toppers, 50amp Power-Reel, 'G Rated' Sailun Tires.

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                    • #11
                      We are currently just outside Moran, WY at 7,000' and had snow yesterday with a high in the 30's and mid 20's last night. We are dry camping so no external power. We have tank heaters but did not use them. Furnace at 68 daytime 58 nighttime turn water heater off at night still warm in morning and leave on all day. Yesterday very little solar action and started the evening at 12.3 V went to bed at 12.1 V got up at 6:30 with 11.7V and now 3:30pm with sun low in the sky at 12.5 and we are not parked with the best direction for solar efficiency. Have not run the gen. at all. you should be fine without the extra insulation mentioned above. Last winter I had water bottles in the basement with the furnace set at 48 because we were getting ready to leave on a trip and it got down to -4 and the bottles did not have any ice at all in the morning when I checked. As long as it warms up in the day to above freezing you should be fine.
                      Pete & Pam
                      2015 GMC 3500 SRW Duramax, Long Bed CC.
                      2017 AF 27-5L, 10 CF Frig., 4 Point Leveling, 2 Fantastic Fans, 15K AC, Tank Heat Pads, 2 100 watt solar panels with 2000 watt inverter, 4 6VB-440 amp, B & W Companion Slider.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by foxyrvlady View Post
                        If you try and keep the temps at night at 70 degrees and your tank heaters are running you might not make it through the night on the batteries! Like Shane said, add blankets and we take long johns to sleep in. Your Honda is going to be doing some heavy duty work to keep batteries charged for keeping the trailer warm 24 yours a day. We have a Buddy heater for daytime use. Like Shane, we have an older trailer with less insulation and no thermal windows or storm windows and we've never had problems. We use the pillow vent covers for cold or hot weather camping. If you have an outside shower it should be shut off and drained.

                        I'd be interested to know how your Ram starts in 20 degree weather with no electric cord plugged in! We just got the heater installed--an option on our model truck. The Honda might have to come to the rescue.
                        It should start without he block heater but the block heater definitely makes it easier.

                        I had to start my old '01 one winter night along I-80 in western NE. It was 20 below zero when I awoke in a Motel 6 and although I had run an extension cord and plugged in the block heater the motel owners had disabled the utility outlet on my wall near the door to prevent that.

                        I cycled the grid heater twice then twisted the key. The old high-mileage Cummins with ordinary 15/40 motor oil grunted, rolled over slowly, and fired. It ran on two cylinders shaking and smoking for about two or three minutes then slowly the other four slowly began firing normally.

                        I saw at least a dozen 18 wheelers stranded on the shoulders along I-80 that morning as my old Dodge hummed along westbound with a triailer in tow.

                        The Cummins will start if you cycle the grid heater.
                        Harvey Barlow
                        USN Retired
                        Glade Springs, WV
                        2008 Dodge Ram Quad Cab & Chassis, Cummins ISB6.7 Aisin CM Flatbed BrakeSmart Transfer Flow 223k miles
                        2011 Arctic Fox 26X LT245/75R16LRE tires (SOLD)
                        2012 Unnamed 10' Slide-In Truck Camper

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                        • #13
                          Don't forget a dose of Power Service in your fuel tank to prevent fuel gelling if the temp is going to be near 15 or below.
                          Harvey Barlow
                          USN Retired
                          Glade Springs, WV
                          2008 Dodge Ram Quad Cab & Chassis, Cummins ISB6.7 Aisin CM Flatbed BrakeSmart Transfer Flow 223k miles
                          2011 Arctic Fox 26X LT245/75R16LRE tires (SOLD)
                          2012 Unnamed 10' Slide-In Truck Camper

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I remember cycling the 1997 Dodge CTD we had--and Dave probably has used that trick many times on the '03 when hunting.
                            Linda & Dave (retired US Army) and Magic, the Yellow Lab Duck Dog
                            2002 Arctic Fox 25R, Yamaha 2400i, Les Schwab 105 6-volt batteries, Maxxis Tires, Torque Lift Steps
                            2017 RAM 2500 Bighorn Crew Cab 4x4, CTD, 8' Bed, Granite Crystal, new 7/1/17
                            2003 DODGE 3500 SLT Quad Cab 244K mi. SOLD 7/20/17

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              High ceilings in the 5th wheel goes thru lots of propane! We elk hunt every year for 10 days in MT, Run generator in the morning to charge batteries, and a hour or so before bed and good to go.

                              Jeanann
                              2016 Artic Fox 29 5K
                              2014 Dodge 3500 Diesel

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