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Question Of The Week

Camper Covers For Winter

Seventeen readers responded to our Question of the Week about covering their camper in the winter.  Some readers have built garages or barns.  Some use ADCO covers, RV covers, camper covers, and tarps.  A few lucky readers just go truck camping in warmer climates all winter.

“I keep a CalMark camper cover on my camper.  Here in San Diego the sun is more of a problem than precipitation.  The camper also gets used more in the winter than in the summer.  Local deserts are too hot until October or so.” – John Walker

“Living in the Pacific Northwest, we believe we should cover our toys from the elements above.  For years we used tarps and string and then we would get a wind storm that would move the tarp to the neighbors.  My wife said, “We need to protect our investment.  Let’s build a rain cover.”  You can’t go wrong with that thinking.  I built a 33″ x 36″ tree sided pole building with a roof only.  I used composite roofing and wood siding at the gable ends.” – Gary Birenkott

“We purchased an ADCO truck camper cover the day we picked up our Lance 1030.  It fits fairly well and has definitely helped to keep the camper in great condition.  We keep the cover on whenever the camper is stored on our driveway.  It keeps the dirt off and the ultra violet rays as well.  The cover has a door so we can enter the camper whenever we like.” – Barry and Carol Schoenwetter, Wells, Vermont

“We use an RV cover for the winter storage season.  The previous owners of our camper had a nice outbuilding that the camper was stored in.  While we don’t have that luxury, and I wish we did, we have opted to cover it with an ADCO camper cover each winter.

Since the camper is stored in the driveway, we also put an oil-filled radiant heater in it on low to help control the dampness that is prevalent in the Pacific Northwest.  Because our camper is plugged into electric, we also disconnect our Atwood electric jacks.

We came out one morning a couple of winters ago to see the camper tilted at a precarious angle.  The windstorm during the night shifted the cover and it came into contact with our jack control buttons and one of the legs was fully extended.  We were lucky that no damage was incurred, but we make it a point to disconnect the jacks when sitting for any length of time.” – Sally Stomberg, Stanwood, Washington

“Yes, we cover our Lance 1191 in the winter or during prolonged periods when its parked during other seasons.  We purchased a camper cover from the factory when we bought it, but it didn’t fit very well.

We contacted our local marine canvas guy and had him build a custom cover made from Sunbrella fabric.  The zippers are in the rear corners, which makes it easy to slip over the nose, pull to the rear, and then zip closed.  Works like a charm.  The cost of the custom over was about $800, versus about $400 for the factory cover, made of lighter material.

I have one suggestion with Sunbrella.  The fabric is good for 15 years.  However, most canvas shops use standard thread to sew it together.  This thread has a life of about five years due to UV decomposition.  We use Gortex thread, which will outlast the Sunbrella.  It’s about 10% more expensive, but worth it in the long run.” – Jim Goodrich, Groveland, California

“My camper is kept in the garage when I am not using it.” – Neil

“We don’t cover our camper at this time.  We had a cover for our Six-Pac and used it about sixty percent of the time.  The Host, on the other hand, has been exposed to the elements since we brought it home.  I’ve been debating about getting a Covercraft cover for the Host, but wondered how often I’d take the time to put it on.

The whole “to cover or not to cover” thing has been on my mind a lot because I’m going through the tedious and painful process of re-caulking the camper.  I’m eager to hear what other camper owners are doing in making it easier to cover their campers.  Getting the cover to the roof is the hardest part, in my experience.” – Kathy Lordier

“We do not cover our camper.  We live in a dry climate with some snow and sub-zero temps, and it does not seem to be an issue.  The key things are to keep the caulking in good condition, ventilate well, keep a trickle charge on the batteries, blow out the water lines, don’t use that horrid antifreeze except in the P-traps, and you are good to go.  The exception was when we lived on the west coast of British Columbia.  The damp there is very hard on things.” – Bob Ritchie

“Funny you should ask.  I just went to a local RV dealer to get the gaskit tape that goes in-between my truck topper and truck.  We just put the topper on the truck for winter.  While I was there I told the dealer I would be back to purchase a truck camper cover for our camper.  They told me not to bother because in Wyoming it wouldn’t even last one winter and it would be torn to shreds by the high winds we get.  Has anyone else had this problem with camper covers?  I sealed all the roof seams on our camper at the beginning of summer.” – JT, Sheridan, Wyoming

“I’ll cover the truck camper in December and then open it in March.  I have an ADCO cover that, I feel, does a pretty good job of protecting the camper.  My intention this year is to catch the tail end of ski season.  Mid-winter is brutal in New England.  It can easily be -25 degrees Farenheit in ski country.  That is the time of year for warm hotels and hot tubs!” – Bill Tex

“We put our camper to bed for the winter under a cover.  The camper is in the interior region of Alaska, in Healy, near Denali National Park.  The snowfall is relatively low, but the area is subject to high winds.  We count on the cover to help keep the fine, dry, driving snow that we get here from infiltrating windows and other compartments.  If it can’t get in, it can’t melt later and cause water problems.  We also wash and wax the shell before putting it away for the season, and it makes the start-up in spring that much easier.” – Doug and Linda Smith, Healy, Alaska

“If you plan to cover your camper, it’s best to put it in cold storage, or under some type of outdoor camper cover.  This greatly reduces the temperatures changes the camper goes through each day.  It’s never a good idea to store a camper inside a heated building during the winter months.

During the winter months, cold air rushes into the building each time any building door is opened.  These extreme temperature differences can cause moisture to condensate on the metal.  This moisture then forms droplets, which then run down the metal and puddle on the floor, or beneath the subfloor.  We’ve all seen this happen with a glass of ice water sitting on the end table.  Over a period of years this trapped moisture will cause all sorts of hidden damage, eventually resulting in very costly repairs.  If not detected in time, this trapped moisture can eventually destroy a camper.

It would be far better to leave the camper outdoors and uncovered then to store it inside any heated building. If you leave your camper outdoors during the winter, find a shady spot to park it.  Daytime heating, combined with night cooling, can cause the same condensation problems.  I prefer to park my camper on the north side of the barn, out of direct sunlight.  This prevents the sun from warming the interior of the camper during the daylight hours.” – Joel Campbell, Cando, North Dakota

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