Hot chocolate by the glow of a campfire …ah, classic cool weather camping bliss. But to enjoy it fully you’ll need to prepare to fend off the chill. Here are our top tips for cosy, cool season camping in your camper trailer, motorhome or caravan.
PICKING A SITE
When it comes to site layout, caravan park designers go to great lengths to ensure they’re comfortable, function well and are safe but if you’re picking yours on a campground, examine the lay of the land. If it’s wet where will the water go? Outside your door? And the shrubbery—will it block out the sun or shelter you from a breeze? Orientate your setup so your window faces east for memorable mornings, if you can.
Many camper trailers and soft-walled caravans have extra all-seasons canvas for warmth and insulation. If yours comes with a fly or separate tropical tent familiarise yourself with the setup, ensuring it’s all there. In windy conditions, sand bags and extra guy ropes can help. And if you’re without washroom facilities, consider an ensuite site.
INSULATING YOUR CAMP
Protect caravans and motorhomes on grassy sites with a synthetic mat out the front that allows dirt to fall through. You’ll need to peg it down.
Mats underneath your camper trailer can help insulate your setup and keep your canvas surfaces clean. But tuck it in under the setup so water won’t pool at your front door.
Layers are a traveller’s best friend. And add beanies, mittens and scarves for any needlessly-exposed skin. Pack a lined, lightweight jacket with a breathable waterproof shell such as gore tex. A lightweight windbreaker cuts the chill in windy but otherwise pleasant wintery weather. Natural fibres are great, but cotton’s a nuisance when wet.
Moisture-wicking thermals keep you dry and comfy but be sure to pack a set for night and day. Some high performance synthetics wick extremely well but wool (if you can afford it) handles odour significantly better saving you time at the laundromat. Pack plenty of socks, extra close-toed shoes and gumbies.
TRAVELLING WITH KIDS
Familiarising the tin lids with cool-weather gear before you go will minimise tag tugging at camp. Think about how you’ll rug them up after as temperatures tend to be milder when they go to bed. Younger ones can strip down unexpectedly, so keep a close eye on them as the cool sets in. They’ll go through more clothes, too.
BAGS AND RAGS
Grubby clothing are a given at winter camp. Plastic bags save it spreading while rags can help with the extra cleaning and keep condensation at bay. Fast drying towels are compact, low cost, dry quickly and will survive wringing and tumble drying.
And, as always, a broom or a hand broom and shovel never goes astray.
ARE CAMPFIRES ALLOWED?
Campfires are synonymous with all-weather travel but provisions aren’t always guaranteed. Many caravan parks allow them, but sometimes only at designated area/s away from your campsite. Before booking your site, ascertain rules relating to fires, including communal fires, which vary.
All the fire-pits in the world matter little if you’re without wood to fan the flame. Even if you can collect quality specimens at camp you’re limited if conditions have been wet. You can bring in your own but if you’re pushed for space see if you can purchase at the holiday park. Think about quality tinder, too, so that cooler kindling sufficiently ignites.
No matter how rosy the projections, rain and wind remain a risk at shoulder and off-peak touring seasons. So, check out your wet-weather options in town and at camp.
Cards, travel games and books help indoors.
If temperatures are set to drop turn on your caravan or camper trailer’s heating on early and set it to 21°C or above before the cool air sets in. Particularly if ambient temperatures are to drop to low single figures. It might sound counter-intuitive but some systems perform better set at higher temperatures in chillier conditions.
WATERPROOF BEFORE YOU
If your new setup involves canvas check with your dealer whether it requires seasoning. Camper trailer tents are often made from cotton-blends. And seams on cotton-blend canvas require a soaking, so water can expand the thread to fill in the needle holes. A few days to dry but once it’s done you’ll do well in the comfort stakes.