Winter camping tips
Winter camping tips
Although some of us are still suffering with blisteringly hot and humid days, winter is slowly creeping up on us and in South Africa, it can come at you at a rate of knots. Before you know it We will be wishing for the awesome summer days that we get to experience in our wonderful country. We all know (or should know) that planning a caravan or camping trip takes quite a while to plan and book. So now would be a great time to start looking at our list of winter camping tips.
It goes without saying that the biggest issue that you will face is the cold. Although South Africa has some some very pleasant and mild winters, there are a ton pf places that can get quite bone chilling. The insulating properties of your caravan or camping trailer are not as good as your house so it is vital that you take some steps to keep warm while on your winter wonderland tour.
Whilst not all of the best winter camping spots are guaranteed to have ice and snow, these tips are meant to prepare you for just that.
Low temperature gas
If you are planning to go to areas that are sub zero, the experts suggest that you switch to propane gas as opposed to butane gas. Butane is considered ineffective in the very low temperatures. It is also important to check that all of your appliances are ready to use propane and convert these if need be. Propane will become gas in temperatures of up to -40 while butane stops becoming gas at -1.
Water storage and systems
If your caravan has an external water tank you may want to consider changing that to an internal type. It goes without saying that an external tank may freeze leaving you high and dry. If moving the water storage inside is not an option, then there are some products available that can keep your water liquid. These include winter conversion kits and gentle water pipe heaters. Your local caravan dealer should have these types of products in stock so check with them in advance to your trip. You can also add anti freeze to your waste water system (NEVER TO YOUR DRINKING WATER) To keep it from freezing over. Never use salt as an anti freezing method as this can corrode the metal parts in the water systems.
Getting your heating system serviced and checked can save you from a very unpleasant holiday. And if you do not have a built in heating system, a very good option is a stand alone heater or radiator type heater. Stay away from gas options as we all know about the dangers that come along with them. An oil or water closed heater are the best options. If you are using a water based system, be sure to drain it properly after your trip.
Caravans are not as well insulated as your home and you will need a lot more protection from the elements . That is very important to note if this will be your winter trip. Older model caravans in particular get a lot colder because of the lack of insulation. Getting rubber strips from your local hardware store to seal up window and door gaps is a good idea. Also consider double lamination your windows with clear perspex to keep the inside of your caravan a bit warmer.
Add a room rather than an awning
It is advisable to use an add a room tent rather than just a plain awning. This helps by giving you a place to take off and keep your wet and cold boots and clothes if you have been outdoors. Keeping them inside the caravan also creates more cold and damp air inside. The add a room also keeps the air a bit warmer when you open the caravan door.
Tents and awnings
If you are going to be pitching either, make sure that you have extra strong tent pegs. Some parts of South African can get so cold that you will need them to hit into frozen ground. And if you are in an area that does get snow or a lot of rain. Be sure to clear off the top of your tents often as some of models are just not geared for taking that extra weight.
Snow and rain
Snow and rain can get into places you would not imagine. So you will need to do regular checks on your mains cable, air vents and any other places that may bee exposed. NEVER block off any of the vents as this can be very dangerous.
Always try and position your caravan so that most of the vents, ducts and other similar fixtures are facing away from the oncoming weather, keeping them away from most of the snow and rain.
The cold and moist air can turn your dream trip into a nightmare. Consider investing in a small dehumidifier to remove the cold moisture from the air. There are also crystals and gels available from most supermarkets that can remove moisture from the air.
Bedding and clothing
Packing in the winter woolies is, of coarse, essential. You might want to pack in some extra thick duvets and blankets to snuggle into at night. Long johns and onesies, while not so fashionable, can be great cold weather companions. Raincoats, gumboots and umbrellas could also prove to be great additions to your clothing pile on this trip.