Travel Trailer Insulation Guide: How to Make Your Camper Warmer


It’s that time of year – the temperatures are fluctuating. It’s warm in the day, but it’s – very – cold at night. This is a really big problem for those of us who are planning to spend the night in our camper. Especially in places that reach extreme temperatures, we don’t want to freeze at night.

So, how do we keep our campers warm when the temperatures start to drop? Through covering up your windows, heating your water pipes, skirting your camper, and many more options, you can successfully insulate both the inside and the outside of your camper. However, it will not be the same as an insulated house.

Let’s begin by focusing on the inside of your camper…

Keeping the Inside of Your Camper Warm

Because you are going to be living in your camper for the next few days, or weeks, or months, it’s important that your living area and bedroom all stay warm once the temperature starts to drop. But how do you achieve this?

I have scoured the internet and done my research to find the best ways that people who live out of their campers properly prepare the inside for harsh and low temperatures.

How to Insulate Your Windows

One of the easiest ways that you may notice that cold air is getting into your camper is when it leaks through the windows.

Here’s what you can use to stop this from happening:

  • A pair of scissors
  • Sheets of Bubble Wrap
  • A spray bottle of water

Using the scissors, cut the bubble wrap to fit the frame of your window.

After this is done, go ahead and spray down your windows with enough water that your bubble wrap can stick to the windows.

In a sense, the water will help “freeze” the bubble wrap to your windows and keep the cold air from coming inside of your camper.

Once this is done, simply go ahead and close the shades on your window! In fact, this technique works for keeping the cool air inside during the Summer months as well.

Try keeping your blinds down over your window all year for the extra protection. You can even add extra curtains over top of these if you would like.

Insulation for Camper Vents

Another way you can keep the cold air from coming into your camper is through insulating your vents.

An easy way to do this is by either buying some insulation and cutting it into a square shape the will fit your vents. Simply place some fabric over the insulation, and then stick the insulation in your vents.

You can also achieve this effect by buying a foam insulating pad that fits the size of your vents.

However, make sure that you are removing any insulation from your vents when you are doing something (cooking, showering, etc.) that can cause large amounts of moisture to get in the air.

Taking out the insulation in these moments will prevent a large build up of condensation from forming inside of your camper. This is ideal because condensation causes mold and mold can cause sickness.

Keep out the mold!

Make sure you are using insulation that can easily be removed from vents when need be.

Simple Ideas for Heating the Living Areas of a Camper

Another simple way that you can heat the inside of your camper is by paying attention to your thermostat.

At times that you may be experiencing extreme temperatures, it will be helpful for you to use the gas setting on your thermostat. Only use this setting sparingly though, as your camper is most likely running on a propane tank.

Lastly, and probably one of the easiest ways you can get some heat into your camper is by placing a couple of small space heaters in your living area or bedroom.

This is a pretty straightforward technique that would be extremely helpful to you and your friends and family both inside and outside of your camper van.

Space heaters are a nice way to get some extra heat. Just be careful to not place anything that could catch fire in front of them. If you place any number of these next to your bed, keep your blanket away from touching them.

It is also better to ere on the side of caution and allow your battery some reprieve by not always keeping your space heaters plugged in when you are on the road. These are better used when you are stopped and ready to camp out.

It may seem hard, but you can last a few hours without the space heaters on. Trust me, the battery in your camper will thank you in the long run. And so will your wallet.

Heating the Undercarriage of Your Camper

There are actually quite a few ways for you to heat the undercarriage of your camper.

According to the camping side of the internet, here are some of the main things you want to take care of and pay attention to when ensuring the undercarriage of your camper is properly insulated.

Insulating Your Water Supply

One of the most important parts of keeping your undercarriage warm is making sure that your pipes don’t freeze. Especially your freshwater supply.

One easy way for you to keep your freshwater from freezing is by purchasing a heated water hose that you can plug in over your regular water hose.

However, be aware that this isn’t always a perfect method and you may still need to insulate this self-heating hose/pipe.

You can very easily heat your freshwater supply by wrapping the hose in insulating foam pipe covers. You may also want to unplug your water supply while you are not using it to avoid any further freezing.

Just remember, it is very important to protect the pipes!

Without your water supply, you could be in some big trouble. Especially if you are planning on living in your motor home for a large chunk of time.

If you have a small bay area on the outside of your camper, alongside using the foam pipe covers, you may also consider sticking a small space heater in the door to keep the heat circulating.

Space heaters can also be used underneath your camper to warm pipes.

Skirting the Undercarriage of a Camper

To keep the heat from space heaters in the undercarriage, you should consider skirting your camper.

The aim of skirting your RV or camper is so that whatever material you have chosen is completely covering the undercarriage of the vehicle itself, trapping in any extra heat you have added already.

You can either have someone install this skirt for you, or you can do it yourself.

To install a skirt on your camper by yourself, you will need one of the following materials:

  • Styrofoam Boards
  • Plywood
  • Vinyl
  • Measuring Tape
  • Reflective Tape

You may also want to invest in some tools to help with your installation:

  • Shovel
  • Knife
  • Straight Edge or Box Cutter

Some people have found that after installing the skirt, you should try packing snow on top of it. This just adds further insulation and warmth to the undercarriage by trapping in any heat that the skirt can’t keep in.

Once you have accomplished this, your Camper’s skirt should keep the heat of your space heaters in the undercarriage.

Just walk around once or twice to check and see if you can feel any warm air escaping. Adjust and add to the skirt when necessary.

Quick Ideas for Insulating the Undercarriage of a Camper

Another idea for you to keep your camper from freezing is keeping a small propane tank that is easy for you to refill.

By doing this, many RV owners have claimed that you become more aware and cautious with the amount of gas that you are actually using.

Along with this idea, your camper van will be running on a propane tank that also powers your furnace.

The furnace is a great way to heat both inside and outside of the camper. However, you should be using your furnace sparingly and for small amounts of time as it will quickly eat away at your gas supply.

A good rule for turning on the furnace is only turning it on at times when the temperature reaches 20 degrees or below.

In the end, try not to take any chances – even if you think you shouldn’t be insulating it, you should go ahead anyway and insulate your camper. You never know when it may come in handy.

Heating Your Camper Without Using Electricity

Some of you out there may not have the time or the means for constantly replacing the propane in your tank or for constantly using your furnace. That’s where this topic comes in handy.

I have some quick tips for you to keep yourself and your camper warm without having to use any electricity at all.

First, invest in a hot water bottle.

Hot water bottles are super helpful for nighttime as we are getting into bed and can’t quite seem to get warm.

All you need to do is boil some water and fill the bottle with the water once it’s cooled down a tad.

Place the water bottle at your feet or anywhere else you find yourself getting cold, and you should start to warm up pretty fast!

Secondly, buy some painter’s tape! Painter’s tape is especially useful in those moments where your camper is experiencing drafts in odd spots.

Simply just find the source of the draft, whether that be your windows or cabinets, and seal it up with the painter’s tape. This is a very successful method for most people who are living in their RV full time.

Lastly, place down some rugs! Place your rugs in the areas of the camper that tend to receive the most foot traffic.

A rug can help prevent drafts from creeping up through the floorboards and help keep your feet feeling warm and cozy at all times. (And let’s face it, rugs will also just add an extra ambiance to your whole camping experience.)

Preparing Yourself for the Cold: When You Can’t Use Space Heaters in the RV

Alongside adding extra heat to the inside of your camper itself, you can easily prepare yourself for any and all extreme temperatures that could get in despite your best efforts to insulate.

Here are some quick and easy electricity free tips:

Buy quality sheets and blankets!

This should be a no-brainer, however, you never know when this is going to come in handy.

I would suggest buying some more durable, thick sheets such as a flannel sheet that will trap in more heat when you are laying down in bed.

As for a comforter, most RV Living sites tend to recommend buying a plush down comforter. Investing in something heavier like this should keep you warm all night long.

Another very simple and easy way that you may have already figured out – always wear layers! Especially double up on socks to keep your feet warm.

You’d be surprised how much of a difference putting on an extra pair of socks may help you out.

This last one might be hard for you and especially undesirable in the cold, but I promise you it will help.

Just try exercising! By going out and hiking and doing the other fun camping activities that you were already planning to do, you will be encouraging your internal body temperature to stay high – thus keeping you warm.

This actually works a lot better than piling on tons and tons of clothes. Plus, it’s all natural! Doing this can help you stay warm inside your camper all winter long.

Making Sure You Have Properly Insulated Your Camper: Visiting the Shop

Just as your body takes a beating in the winter months and you often may find yourself becoming sick and taking yourself to the doctor, so you should prepare your camper for these rough months too. A camper should be visiting the shop to be checked out when they can.

Even if you think you have covered every possible contingency, make an appointment to get your camper checked out so that everything can be up to speed for your trip.

One of the things that should be looked over when you take your RV in, should be its battery.

Remember, when you’re on the road, you are going to be using a lot of electricity to keep yourself warm. And that is going to be a huge drain on your battery when you aren’t camped out somewhere.

It would be wise for you to find out for sure if your battery can take the hit.

Find out if the shop offers any “winterizing” services for your camper. They may be able to take care some of the things that you missed or weren’t able to do on your own.

Winterizing is something all on its own, and many shops will cover the services that fall under this process.

The shop should have a whole checklist to go through when you take your camper in to be looked at. So don’t worry too much if there was something you have overlooked.

I would make this my last stop before I took my camper out on the road, just to double check that you have everything properly prepared.

What Kind of Insulation is Right for You?

The answer to this question really depends on the one who will be living in the camper during the colder months. Since this is the case, it would be wise to understand the different types of insulation out there and how they work.

Recommendations for the Insulation Process

For your convenience, I will go ahead and include some links to some of the items that I mentioned previously that you may need throughout the insulating process along with the cost of each item.

Almost any, if not all of these items can be easily located or found on Amazon for relatively cheap prices.

Insulating Foam Covers – $16.35

These insulating foam covers were recommended by a well-known RV living family online. They recommend using these covers on your water pipes so that you won’t be stuck in the bathroom trying to get your water to unthaw.

“Just got done putting these on all of my hot water pipes. Go on smoothly with the added bonus of adhesive surfaces to make for clean seals. The only tool you need is a good pair of scissors and you are set”

Amazon Review

Heated Water Hose – $99.17

This product is a little bit more on the pricey side compared to some of the other items on this list. However, I think paying for this would be worth it so that you have unfrozen water all year round.

“We use our motorhome all year around, so it is important to have a good drinking water hose for winter use. We have just completed a stint of using this hose where we had extended periods of lows in the mid to low 20’s every night, and we never had a bit of problem with the water in the hose freezing or even becoming restricted in the flow. In that regard, we are quite happy with this hose…”

Amazon Review

Mini Space Heater -$19.99

I have seen this space heater recommended over and over again by many RV living sites. This Space Heater is most likely best placed inside of your bay area (if your camper has one) or inside of you bedroom or living space.

“At this price, this is a great deal, and if this lasts for years with regular use like one reviewer wrote, this might be one of the best things I’ve bought in years…If you’re looking for a smallish heater without a ton of heat throw…this will do the trick.”

Amazon Review

Reflectix -$21.74

This product can be used in the same manner as bubble wrap on your windows to keep the heat inside. Reflectix can also be left up year-round to help cool down your RV in the summertime.

“Installed on several of my RV windows. A simple pair of scissors is all you need. Reflects sun/heat better than expected. Seems to provide a decent amount of insulation…”

Amazon Review

Hot Water Bottle – $12.99

This is just one type of hot water bottle that you can buy. I have also recently become aware of rechargeable electric water bottles that you can plug in at night, similar to a heated blanket or heating pad. No matter which you buy, you should find yourself staying warmer at night.

“…Up until now, I’ve used it overnight only a couple times to help keep me warm while sleeping. I’ve had no issue with leaks and seems to stay warm for at least 4 to 5 hrs… “

Amazon Review

Flannel Sheets -$39.97

Flannel Sheets are nice to have when the temperature drops as they work well to trap in the heat when you need it. They tend to stay on your bed and don’t slip off or get tangled up in your sleep as much as silk or microfiber sheets would. If you move around a lot in your sleep like I do, this is a huge plus.

“I use flannel all year around because of the softness. Have tried some of the lighter synthetic flannels but they don’t breath. These are cutely patterned sheets with deep corners. Comfortable, wash well, and breath like cotton was made to do. Great price too. Going to buy more of these soon.”

Amazon Review

Down Comforter – $27.99

The only downside to down comforters is that they tend to stay a little more on the pricey side of things. I was able to track down a slightly cheaper comforter for you that should actually retain its shape even after being washed.

“I didn’t want to break my bank when I got a new bed set but I was worried that buying the cheaper product would result in less comfort. I was wrong! this cloud-like duvet is sooo comfortable and soft. It is light and heavy at the same time in that you feel that sense of security that a blanket gives you, but it doesn’t make you wish you were dead in the summertime”

Amazon Review

Here’s hoping some of these items help you on your way to warming your camper and keeping you warm in those low temperatures that no one seems to enjoy!

Related Questions:

At what temperature do pipes start to freeze? Generally, because most pipes are slightly insulated and do not immediately feel the effects of low temperatures, they will not start to freeze until the temperature outside drops to about 20 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Do campers have electric heat? Most RVs run on heat provided by a propane tank, not electric heat. This is why you should always use the furnace in your camper sparingly. You could start to run out of fuel quickly if you leave the furnace on for too long. Likewise, keeping things like space heaters plugged in when you are driving can run down your battery.

At what temperature should I winterize my camper? I would recommend winterizing your camper once you know that the temperature outside is going to hit freezing, or 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Try preparing your camper several days in advance to avoid any unexpected complications and problems that may arise due to low temperatures.

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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