Thursday, March 17, 2016

Our Winter Logistics - Living in an RV in the Winter

We recently met a guy in Colorado who is living out of the bed of his truck, ski bumming for the winter - no heat and no insulation in single digit temperatures. In Jackson, Wyoming we see many single dudes similarly living out of their pickup trucks. It makes what we're doing seem downright plush.

Our morning commute in Teton National Park, Wyoming

So, with that in mind, it was hard to even fathom writing a blog post about our first experience living in El Tigre for the winter. What's the big deal, right? Below are some of our issues and some solutions that we discovered over the past couple of months.

Despite all of our upgrades this past summer, including insulation, the Tiger has a couple of winter-living challenges. First, the windows are single pane with aluminum frames. Clearly, this Tiger was not designed for winter-living (later models have been designed better). The aluminum gets as cold as the air outside, collecting condensation and then freezing overnight. I put 3M Window Plastic across the 4 windows/frames above the bed, which helps the condensation and icing tremendously. On top of the plastic, I put rigid 1/2" insulation against the bedroom windows at night - toasty.

Sorry for the horrible picture...
Rigid insulation in place on the left.  Also trying to capture the plastic over our "foot" window.

We place Reflectix on the kitchen and living room windows at night, but the frames and sometimes the windows still inevitably ice up.

Reflectix works alright. It's better than nothing, but not nearly as good as the rigid insulation.

The plumbing isn't isolated enough from the cold outside for us to feel comfortable keeping water running through it (next big project?) - our fancy winter water solution is pictured below:

Our winter plumbing - 5 gallon jugs

Water bottle showers

In the end, condensation\moisture is really our biggest problem. Besides settling on our windows, we also found that it collects under our mattress. Every morning, I prop up the mattress, and things dry out pretty well throughout the day. Pictured below:

Putting those 8 lb weights to use this winter

We keep most of our sporting goods in the box overnight, so things like our snowboard boots can get pretty cold. Here's the best way to warm up our boots every morning after driving the truck for a bit.

Closing the hood makes a pizza oven for our boots (not while driving)

On cold evenings after my shower, I discovered a great method for drying my hair - our fan propelled propane heater!

Makeshift hair dryer - more water vapor in the truck (!)

And now, my favorite winter-living hack that we haven't even used yet. During our time in Leadville, CO where the temps routinely dropped into the single digits and sometimes below 0 F° overnight, we realized we needed a cold-weather, off-grid solution for starting our stubborn diesel engine. Aside from lugging around a generator or finding somewhere to plug the engine heater into, Scott found a simpler option (if you know Scott, you know he spent countless hours researching this). He settled on a small radiant propane heater that fits IN the engine bay. The idea is to focus the heat on the intake manifold for a while to warm it up... without starting a fire. If we ever get a chance to you use it, you may be reading about us in the next edition of the Darwin Awards.

Radiant propane heater that fits under the hood for super cold mornings


Unknown said...

We have only spent a few winter nights in our 2015 Tiger and we did notice the cold has a way of creeping in. We also use reflectex over the windows and frames and that helps a lot. We also added this spring system under the mattress ( It is very comfortable and boaters claim it helps with moisture issues.

Thanks for the information you shared.

Knapp and Ella Hudson

Heather and Scott said...

Hi Knapp, Thanks for the link to the spring system. That seems like a great solution. We just need to pull the plug and buy something like that. Even in the summer, condensation under the mattress can be a problem in high humidity places.