With a bit of a focus on cold or inclement weather camping. Most fortuitously for this post my family spent last week camping at the Grand Canyon. It was cold and windy but we still had a great week, mostly because we were prepared for cold and windy weather.
We camped at Mather campground in the park. No hookups but nice sized sites with fire pits and picnic tables. There is also Trailer Village in the park with hookups but the sites aren’t as large or as private and no fire pits. Another noteworthy point about Mather is limited generator hours. You can only run your generator from 7:00 to 9:00 am and 6:00 to 8:00 pm. Our neighbor ran theirs during the day and the Park Ranger chastised them and made them shut it off.
We own a 2011 23′ Jayco Jayflight Swift trailer. I would like to point out that some people say camping in a trailer is not “real camping”. However 50 to 75% of the tenters did not make it to their scheduled departure date but left early. So who was “really camping”? Those of us in the campground or those who were at home or in a hotel? Just sayin’.
I love our trailer. We have owned it almost five years now and I have yet to find a floorplan I like better. (Which is really good as our trailer is now paid for.) This is our second trailer and we thought a lot about our needs when we purchased it. We typically go camping five or six times a year. We do as much winter camping as school breaks and our schedule allows and maybe a summer trip high up (above 8000′) into the mountains. Much of our camping is done in cold weather, at least at night.
We opted for a hard sided trailer (instead of a pop up) for both better protection from the elements and from bears. No worries about canvas popouts leaking or bears ripping their way in.
Size wise we wanted the smallest trailer we could all sleep in comfortably as well as spend two or three hours in during a monsoonal wind driven rain or a heavy snow shower. And don’t forget about the pets! My husband and I joke about how you can tell the size of a person’s camper by the size of their dog. We have a medium sized dog, hence a medium sized trailer 🙂 .
The smaller the trailer the more campsites and even campgrounds are available to you. Mather has a 30′ limit. I do have to agree that if you have an RV that has three tvs, a dishwasher and a gourmet kitchen that doesn’t seem much like camping. Also, larger campers tend to need hookups which limits where you can go. We typically use our generator if we want to run the furnace and don’t have electric hook up. We don’t like to run the battery down as the fridge needs some juice even if running on propane. We use battery operated lanterns for light and save the trailer battery for the water pump and fridge. If the weather is mild we can easily go 3 or 4 days on just the battery.
What each family needs will vary but I suggest figuring out what your minimum comfort level is. That is, what do your really need to have a good camping experience? For me a safe place to sleep (hard sided trailer means I feel safe from bears), and “hot shower, flush toilet”. When it is thirty degrees I do not want to have to trek to an outhouse in my pj’s at 3:00 am. And I have to have a quick shower in the morning. I do a “Navy” shower: wet down, shut off the water, soap and shampoo and then rinse quickly. I use a surprisingly small amount of water. But without that quick shower I would feel miserable all day.
My best cold weather camping tip? Even in a trailer sleep in sleeping bags, so much warmer than blankets. We woke up to a 33° trailer one morning and 30° another but I slept just fine. (It helps that I can sleep with my head totally buried in the bag keeping my nose warm.)
Another random tip? Think about what you are cooking in the trailer. In cold/wet weather the trailer is closed up and smells linger. We have a camp stove we use for things like frying bacon.
Don’t let cold weather keep you from being a happy camper!