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

“I cover up my camper.  I look forward to other readers emails about how they do it.  Like leaving some windows open to let fresh air in, I am having a cover made for me because I will be able to charge the battery system by solar charger as I don’t have any electricity at the storage.” – Rob Landman

“We store our camper under cover whenever we are not using it.  I had a large extension built on the end of the shop that, although it doesn’t have sidewalls, has a large roof area so the camper is well protected from the elements.  It remains very accessible and can be easily loaded.  I’ve added an electrical outlet in the area so I can keep the batteries charged and the camper ready for use at a moment’s notice.

I stored my previous camper this way and the result was that when it came time to sell it, the twelve year old camper looked like new inside and out.  The elements, especially the sun, can cause damage to the inside as well as outside.  In my experience, protecting the camper with whatever camper cover is available, is a definitely worth the expense.  And, when we went looking for a replacement camper, one of the questions asked was, if the camper that was for sale had been stored under cover.” – Dave and Wendy Riddle

“I store mine under a canopy all year long when I am not using it.” – Bill Hanson

“We had a Lance Squire 4000 for eighteen years.  We parked it in a covered fairgrounds site for the winters.  I’m sure this helped the seals, rubber, and vinyl.  Keeping the water out when you live in Oregon is second nature and making sure the water system is emptied out is also vital.  One freeze-ruined toilet valve taught me that!” – Chris and Charlotte Lee, Corvallis, Oregon

“I do what I can to take care of my camper during the winter months since I live up in Canada and winters can be quite harsh.  I feel so sorry for my camper being out in the elements that I drive it down to Southern California for the winter.  It seems to work well for both of us.  Just one of the perks of old age.” – Joei Carlton Hossack

“I am fortunate enough to have a pole barn with twelve feet of clearance.  My Lance 981 is eleven feet, eleven inches high, so I store it in there.  It is heated to forty-two degrees so winterization is not required.” – David Dye

“I had a thirty-four foot fifth wheel that I built a forty foot long, fourteen foot high, fourteen foot wide shed to store it under.  I sold the fifth wheel and purchased an Arctic Fox 1150 from Conibear in Lakeland Florida.  I store it under the shed built for the fifth wheel.  It gives shade from the hot South Carolina summer sun and the rain.

We have just returned home from a ten day trip to Rosine, Kentucky, Portage, Pennsylvania, Cass, and West Virginia in our truck camper.  In June and July, we drove 6,200 miles and visited the National Parks in Colorado, Utah, and Yellowstone and spent 4th of July in Cody for the parades and the rodeo.  We are really enjoying our truck camper.” – Charles Buddy Avin

“Winter coverage?  No way!  Here in the desert we finally cool off and it’s peak time for getting out and playing.  Now, summerizing, that’s another topic.  We have to protect our tires from the sun and vent our campers to prevent excess heat buildup.” – Bonnie Belza, Scottsdale, Arizona



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