Which RVs Are Truly Four Season? (Including 11 Examples)

What makes an RV suitable for all-weather camping? Is there even such a thing as a four season RV? Taking a look at the parameters that make motorhomes, travel trailers and 5th wheels true four season RV's - along with examples of brands currently available on the market.

Have you heard about four-season RVs? Wondering what they are and how to determine whether a travel trailer, 5th wheel, or motorhome truly is four-season? It can certainly be confusing with salespeople and sites throwing the term around so freely.

The short answer:

Few models can be considered to be true four-season RVs. During our research we found these to be the most suitable RVs for extreme weather conditions:

  • Outdoors RVs travel trailers and 5th wheels
  • Heartland's Bighorn 5th Wheel
  • Northwood's Arctic Fox travel trailers and 5th wheels

So, should you get one of these rigs if you want to go RV camping during wintertime? Not necessarily. You have more options to choose from because a lot depends on what winter conditions mean in your case. And in some cases, even the above RVs won't suffice.

Keep reading to see what Four Season Abilities really mean so you can make the best choice for your needs.

As for myself.

We've spent the last few days exploring the topic of four-season RVs. While we have heard the term before, we didn't give it much thought until a recent phone call with a friend. He talked about his recent purchase of a 5th wheel and we discussed our search for an RV that will fit our needs. We also mentioned our plan to travel to Alaska in our future RV.

"You know you need to get a four-season one, right?" he asked.

Which we did know. Vaguely. Sort of. Not really. It got us thinking about what the term actually means for us and which features we should be looking for.

Having read so much about it, we've come up with the answer above. Let's see why.

The meaning of Four Season RV

With manufacturers and salespeople throwing the term around so often, you'd think there would be an industry standard that clearly defines what a Four Season RV is.

There isn't.

In essence, different brands can and do create their standards. They then create categories within their fleet - with some of their rigs labeled as Four Season ones.

If that's not enough, some manufacturers now describe some of their RVs as "True Four Season".

It's important to remember that these are actually marketing terms. We hesitate to say "marketing hype" because there is some meaning in the labels, as we'll soon see. So, not "hype" per se but not an indication of any regulatory standard either.

What kind of weather can a "Four Season RV" withstand?

The term "four seasons" suggests the ability to camp in the RV through the heat of summer and the cold of winter. However, in most cases, when you talk about a "Four Season RV" you're actually looking into the kind of winter weather conditions it can withstand.

The better-equipped "true four-season" RVs are in fact capable of safe camping throughout harsh winter conditions that go as low as zero degrees Fahrenheit.


Let's take a look at both summer and winter.

Summertime weather

We've seen several debates on whether or not "winter capabilities" indicate that an RV is good for hot summer days too. On the one hand, a huge part of weatherproofing has to do with insulation. As we all know, a well-insulated home is a benefit during hot days as well. Especially if you can open the windows at night, to let in cool air, and then keep them shut during the day.

However, with an RV, insulations may not be enough. Unlike a home, some RVs have large windows, to give them an airy feel and make them less "claustrophobic." They also tend to have thin roofs compared to a house (and definitely when compared to a condo that has more floors on top of it).

Which means more radiation on a sunny day. Nice when it's a sunny winter day. Not so nice when it's over 100F outside on a hot Arizona summer day.

The thing you need to keep in mind here is that many of the RVs that are sold as being "Four Season" is really geared toward winter. They may not be well-adjusted for extreme heat conditions.

Winter Weather

These RVs often come with a guarantee for camping in cold weather. Most so-called "Four Seasons" RVs come with a guarantee of withstanding temperatures as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit. This basically means they have no guarantee for keeping the systems running when it goes below freezing point.

What they're really saying is: This rig will keep you warmer than the environment on cool days. More so than our other RV models will.

Some RVs boast the ability to get you into even colder weather extremes. These are the ones we mentioned before - sometimes called "True Four Season". Some boast the ability to let you camp safely in temperatures as low as zero degrees Fahrenheit.

How much will you need to invest in keeping the RV warm or cool?

We're not talking about the cost of the RV - which we'll discuss later - but about the costs associated with keeping your RV warm during cold weather and cool during hot weather.

As for hot weather - a lot has to do with the number and strength of your air conditioners vis. a vis. the volume of air in the RV. Yes, insulation helps but even the best insulation will have a difficult time keeping temperatures down when it's over 100F outside.

And to run your A/C you need energy which costs money. So, essentially, having a better-insulated RV can help you save on costs during summer. If you're dealing with hot weather issues, check out the Zero Breeze Portable Air Conditioner. A unique concept that can help you keep your RV cool on hot days. Here's a quick demo video -


As for wintertime, the same insulation will help you keep warm air inside but you need to keep generating heat inside to maintain a comfortable temperature.

And here's the thing.

If you have limitless resources of propane, you could use them to keep most RVs warm even if they're not "Four Seasons" by definition.

In other words, your RV will lose heat through the walls, roof, and floor, but you'll keep adding to it by burning more propane. It's possible - but it will be expensive. As long as the temperature outside remains above freezing, you should be ok. Your pipes and tanks won't freeze up and you'll be warm inside - at a significant cost.

In that sense, as long as you're not planning to RV in extreme weather conditions - i.e. freezing temperatures - a "Four Seasons" RV will basically save you money on running costs during colder days.

This brings me to the next question.

Do you even need a four-season RV?

Assuming that you travel with your RV across North America - do you even need a rig that can withstand extreme temperatures?

Many people drive up north during summertime and back south for winter. After all, an RV is all about the freedom to move so why not do that according to the seasons?

As mentioned above, as long as you're not camping in sub-freezing temperatures, you could get away with camping through a few cold nights, just by turning up the heat a little.

After all, the four seasons in the US can be extremely different between one area and another. Winter in Michigan is not like winter in Florida. And if you're talking about Alaska, then even spring and fall can be vastly different than what they are in the southern states of the Lower 48.

Assessing your winter weather needs

These are the three factors to keep in mind when assessing what kind of weather you might encounter while RVing during winter time:

  • Location
  • Elevation
  • Wind factor

Location in the US

The US Department of Energy offers this map of climate zones in the US, concerning insulation needs -

Climate zones in the US

Alaska is mostly in zone 7 although it does have areas that are in a zone all to themselves... Zone 8. Since these areas begin north of Fairbanks, most RVers aren't likely to get there, let alone brave a winter up there.

Essentially, look at where you're going to be spending time in your RV during wintertime. The lower the zone number, the less likely you are to need a Four Seasons RV. Having said that, these numbers are not the end-all and be-all of the weather conditions.


Even in zone 2 states like Texas and Arizona, you can definitely encounter very cold days with sub-freezing temperatures, especially if camping in high elevations. You probably will never experience sub-zero (in Fahrenheit) days during winter time, as is very likely to happen in zones 6 and 7.

Wind factor

Wind can really increase the chill factor outside which will affect your RV. It would do so more than in a home environment for one simple reason:

Wind can get under your RV - not just around it.

In many states, you'll see a sign before every bridge that cautions you: Bridge ices before the road.

What that means is that even in temperatures above freezing, when the roads are still not icy, a bridge may go through far lower temperatures and become covered in ice. The reason for that is that air - and often wind - goes under the bridge.

The same thing happens to RVs because they are raised above the ground.

Four Season RV Feature Checklist

So, how to keep the inside of your RV pleasant through all four seasons and, more specifically, go camping or live in an RV in very cold weather.

Here's what you need to be looking for when buying a Four Season RV -

  1. Wall and Ceiling Insulation
  2. Dual pane windows
  3. Heated enclosed underbelly (tanks)
  4. Hatch covers
  5. Pex pipes
  6. Heating ducts
  7. A good furnace

You may find only some of these elements or all of them. The more of them you'll find, the RV is better-prepared for dealing with cold temperatures, possibly down to zero Fahrenheit.

Let's go over each of these items in detail.

1. Wall and Ceiling Insulation

As you can guess, good insulation is a key requirement here. So let's take a minute to explain what it means, what it does, and what that mysterious R-value is.

How RVs lose heat

First, thermodynamics 101. Heat is a form of energy that can move around. Heat wants to move around to where it's colder. Such is the nature of physics: things cool down to the average temperature around them. This means the heat energy has moved from the warmer place to the colder place to equalize the temperature.

For our needs -

When you heat the inside of your RV on a very cold day, heat will try and move out to make the outside warmer. A futile attempt, we know. Go tell that heat that a single RV can't heat the entire snow-covered surroundings. Nevertheless, this is what heat does.

The purpose of insulation is to make it difficult for heat to leave your RV and disperse outside.

Heat can leave the RV in one of two ways: Convection or conduction (there's radiation too, but it's negligible so let's ignore that for now).

Convection in this context means airflow. So, any open windows or doors that let the heat out. Assuming there are no cracks in your RV, all you need to do is close them.

Conduction is where things get interesting. This is where heat is lost through the floor, walls, and ceiling. The materials that make up the body of your RV can and do transfer heat through them.

RV Insulation and R-Value

Clearly, you want the materials of which your RV is made to be resistant to conduction so that they lose less heat to the outside. That's - in a nutshell - the meaning of insulation. Choosing materials that are less conductive and having more of them in the "shell" of your RV.

R-value is simply the measurement used to indicate how conductive or resistant a material is.

A higher R-value means the material is less conductive and thus insulates better.

Manufacturers usually use several layers of different materials when building the body of an RV. They add up the R-value of the materials to give you a final number of total R-values for the walls or roof.

It's important to know that this method has its flaws. Without knowing how thick each layer is and how much air is between the layers, it's very difficult to assess the overall level of insulation that's provided.

Having said that, having a high R-value at least tells you the manufacturer has put significant effort into insulating the unit. It's likely to be better insulated than a unit that hasn't received the same treatment.

2. Dual-pane thermal windows

Windows are a prime candidate for heat loss. Even when shut, a thin layer of glass is not enough for keeping the cold out and the heat in.

That's why four-season RVs should always have thermal windows which usually means two panes of glass with some air trapped in between.

3. Heated and enclosed underbelly

The thing winter campers fear the most is for the tanks and pipes to freeze over the night. As temperatures drop below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, water starts freezing. Not only does it render your water systems unusable, but it can also actually damage pipes.

That's why one of the main elements in any true four-season RV is an enclosed and heated tank/pipe area. This setup simply prevents your freshwater, greywater, and blackwater tanks from becoming completely useless.

And yes, heating that area takes some extra energy but remember, it doesn't have to be as warm and toasty as the living area, just kept safely above freezing temperature.

4. Hatch covers

Just like windows, the hatches at the roof of your RV are major "heat losers." Many hatches have vents, meant to get the hot air out during summer. For cold-weather camping, you should replace them with a firm cover, or lid, like this one from Amazon.

Try to get a dark - preferably black - hatch lid. It will absorb more radiation heat from the sunlight and will also keep the inside of your RV darker in the morning.

5. Pex Pipes

Pex pipes are flexible rubber pipes that can actually expand if water freezes in them. Once they thaw, they're far less likely to have any ruptures or cracks in them. Other types of pipes - solid plastic or copper pipes - are far more vulnerable to freeze-ups.


Most modern RVs are using these pipes anyway because they're actually easier to install and cheaper too. However, it's definitely something to double-check in your Four Season RV. Even though your pipes are supposed to be enclosed in that heated underbelly - better safe than sorry. Just look for the blue and red flexible Pex pipes.

6. Heat ducting system

Most modern RVs have them - with either floor openings or wall ones. The better the heat ducting system, the more adapted for cold weather in your RV. Check to see how many openings there are across the RV, including in the bathroom.

7. A good furnace

Last but not least, make sure your four-season RV includes a solid furnace. An RV that only has an air conditioner with a heat pump will not be enough when the temperatures outside get under 32F.

Look for a furnace with a minimum of 30K BTUs and remember to make sure it's connected to an effective heat ducting system which will help allocate the heat evenly across your living space.

How about skirting?

Skirting is basically adding a layer of protection around the bottom of your RV.

Remember how we talked about the chill factor of the air and wind going underneath the RV floor? Skirting prevents just that.

Here's a good explanation - and plenty of examples - of skirting by Canadian experts.


Now, skirting can be accomplished in many ways. Some of them are more sturdy and permanent than others. That's why skirting is often associated with winterizing an RV for storage during the cold season.

However, if you're camping in harsh weather, a more temporary form of skirting could really help. Using a product like this one (Amazon link) -

You can install the hooks beforehand and then quickly hang the skirting when reaching your camping site. According to reviewers, this type of skirting can really help conserve heat and bring down the cost of heating your RV.

Examples of Four Season RVs

Finally, let's look at some real works examples.

It's important to note that four-season RVs come in pretty much any category or class. It all depends on how much the manufacturer invested in the systems detailed above, from good insulation to excellent heat ducting systems.

With that in mind, we chose to bring you examples of Four Season rigs by type of RV. And if you're not sure what these categories mean, check out our post about the various types of RVs here.

Four Season Motorhomes

Actually, true four-season motorhomes aren't easy to come by. As a rule, motorhomes are considered suitable for three seasons of camping. Once temperatures get close to the freezing point, owners of Class A, Class B, and Class C RVs usually head south.

A common answer to the question "How do you winter in your Class A RV?" would be "In Florida."

It's not that these rigs are inherently lending themselves less well to insulation or other winter camping elements. On the contrary. Class A RVs already have their plumbing and tanks snugly secured within enclosed compartments. Heating them is the easy part.

The real problem appears to be with driving. Moving these large Class A coaches across icy roads is something experienced RVers prefer to avoid if possible. It's done - but not often.

The "toad" or towed vehicle often used by Class A owners to get around the campground is usually a small car, not really suitable for winter driving either. Compare that to towing vehicles of travel trailers and 5th wheels and you'll see why camping in winter conditions becomes less appealing with a Class A.

We did find these motorhomes suggested as good Four Seasons rigs -

Jayco Redhawk

The Redhawk is a popular Jayco Class C model. It boasts good insulation with bead foam creating an R-15 roof, R-9 floor, and R-5 walls. The holding tanks are enclosed and heated too.

What separates the Redhawk from other Jayco Class C's is the  31,000-BTU furnace. The Jayco Greyhawk, for example, doesn't have a furnace - only an air conditioning system with a heat pump.

All in all, if you're looking for a motorhome that offers reasonable Four Season abilities, this would be a great choice.


The Jayco Redhawk comes in three floorplans, in length from 22ft to 27ft. They sleep up to six people and have quite a lot of cargo storage space.

Price: Starting at $87,893

Tiffin Wayfarer

While we could not find any statement saying that Tiffin's luxury Class C rig is indeed four-season compatible, it does have a few features which would put it in the category.

The Wayfarer's 30 k BTU propane ducted furnace, heated mirrors, and 12V pad heaters on black, fresh, & grey tanks, all make this RV a good candidate for those looking for an all-season Class C RV for cold - but not extremely cold - weather.

Available in four luxurious floor plans, this RV offers extra luxurious interior decor -

Recommended Manufacturer's Price: $141,510

Winnebago Revel

Just over 19 ft long, the Revel is Winnebago's first 4WD and All-Season Class B RV. Keep in mind that this is a class B, so only fresh water and greywater tanks - but both are insulated for winter camping. There is a black water cassette that is warm and snug inside the vehicle (with an external door to get it in and out).

Camper van with off-road capabilities

Winnebago is a trusted and loved the brand name, so having a Four Season Class B to choose from them is making fans happy.

No matter the weather!

Price: starting at  $142,049

Four Season 5th Wheel & Travel Trailers

Moving on to the towable options.

In case you're not sure what the difference between a travel trailer and a 5th wheel is here's the (very) short version -

A travel trailer aka camper is the basic trailer that you tow behind your towing vehicle, either a pickup truck or an SUV like so -

Travel trailer towed by a pick up truck

A Fifth Wheel is a special kind of travel trailer. It's hitched directly to the bed of a pickup truck, providing a more stable towing experience. This is what it looks like -

5th wheel trailer towed by a pick up truck

The reason why we're using them as a group in this post is that many RV manufacturers offer both travel trailers and 5th wheels, sometimes in the same line of products. Therefore the descriptions below will often refer to both types of towable RVs.

Let's begin.

Northwood Arctic Fox

The name "Arctic Fox" keeps coming up in any online discussion of true four-season RVs. And for good reason.

Their gorgeous Arctic Fox 5th wheels and Arctic Fox Travel Trailers offer the following winter camping features:

  • Heated holding tanks
  • Auto-ignition furnace with 1,000 BTUs!
  • Multi-layered substrate walls with high-density block foam insulation
  • Thermal Pane Windows
  • Air ducting system

What more can you ask for?


The Arctic Fox 5th wheel is in six-floor plans, with lengths of 29’5″ to 38’11”. Their travel trailer comes in two models: Arctic Fox Classic with four-floor plans and Silver Fox or Arctic Fox Silver edition with three-floor plans available.

Both the Classic and Silver editions appear to have the same all-weather upgrades. The differences vary by specific floor plan and possibly by year as well, so if you're considering getting an Arctic Fox RV, make sure you check your specific model.

Price: we couldn't find an official price on their site but it looks like these units are at least $60K when bought new.

Heartland 5th Wheels and Travel Trailers

Heartland is a leading brand in the RV industry. They have several great 5th wheels which are really four seasons - even though their website seems to avoid the associated marketing hype (not a bad thing!).

Heartland's 5th Wheels and travel trailers come with an enclosed underbelly, furnaces, and heat ducting systems.

Let's review the Heartland Bighorn 5th wheel to see how well-adapted it is for cold weather.

We really liked to see that they proudly state their R values on all sides of the RV's body. In the case of the Bighorn, we're talking about some impressive R Values:

  • Main floor - R45
  • Upper deck floor - R14
  • Roof – R40
  • Walls - R11

Those are some of the highest numbers around for R values.

Of course, it doesn't end there. The Bighorn also features these great "Four Season" features -

  • 42,000 BTU furnace
  • Seamless one-piece below-floor heat duct
  • Heated and enclosed underbelly & gate valves
  • PEX water pipes
  • Block foam insulation

Really, not a whole lot missing there!

The Bighorn comes in seven-floor plans in lengths of 38 to 42 feet providing room for anything from three to seven people (depending on the specific floor plan).

Price: None indicated on Heartland's website but according to RVTrader, we're talking about around $50,000.

Outdoors RV

This manufacturer specializes in rugged true Four Season 5th wheels and travel trailers that are meant to be lived year-round and off the grid.

Their impressive cold-weather features include:

  • Thermal Pane Windows
  • Triple Layered Four Seasons Roof Insulation
  • Enclosed Heated Insulated Underbelly
  • Insulation Wrapped Holding Tanks
  • Thermal Insulated Bedroom Ceiling Vent
  • XL Furnace for Extreme Camping Heat System


These trailers and 5th wheels are rugged and built to face the elements. Definitely, a brand to look for if your needs include true four-season abilities.

Lance Campers Four Seasons Certified Option

Lance is a leading RV manufacturer that specializes in truck campers and travel trailers. They used to manufacture 5th wheels as well but none are on display on their current website. You can buy their RV with an upgrade Four Seasons Package which includes many of the features described above:

  • Dual Pane Windows
  • Ducted Heating System
  • Insulated walls and roof (using Azdel)
  • Insulated Hatch Covers

Lance doesn't mention any specific temperature range but their icon and website design show snow so presumably, they're talking about sub-freezing temperatures too.

Lance Four Seasons website page

Forest River's Arctic Wolf and Alpha Wolf

Last but not least, Forest River has a range of RVs of all types, from motorhomes through travel trailers and 5th wheels to toy haulers and truck campers. They specify R values in all of their models and many of them seem to be great for mild winter camping.

One model stands out when it comes to true Four Season abilities: the Arctic Wolf 5th Wheel.

The Arctic Wolf is a roomy 5th Wheel, accommodating four to eight people depending on the specific floor plan.

All Arctic Wolf designs include:

  • Upgraded Arctic Insulation including an insulated Upper Deck
  • 35,000 BTU Furnace
  • Enhanced Fiberglass High Gloss Sidewalls
  • Heated & Enclosed Underbelly

So, which Four Season RV is right for you?

The purpose of this review of some of the more popular four-season RVs wasn't to try and convince you to choose one brand or model over the other. It was meant as a general overview of some of the models and what kind of features are available on the market these days.
But here's the thing.
In the end, it's all down to your specific needs.
Winter camping means different things to different people.
Here are three different scenarios that all fall under "winter camping" in North America in the sense that they happen between November and February.
#1 Traveling along Interstate 10 from Miami to Los Angeles during January.
#2 Spending the holidays camping in the beach town of Newport, Oregon,  during December.
#3 Camping in Breckenridge, CO during early April to enjoy some late-season skiing.
#4 Crossing the Alaskan Highway during February

Traveling along i-10 in January

In the first case, odds are you will never encounter temperatures under 32F. Granted, some years Texas, New Mexico and Arizona experience cold fronts where temperatures drop under the freezing point. Which means it's good to be prepared. However, the odds of getting "stuck" in the middle of a cold front are diminished by keeping an eye on the forecast and moving out of harm's way in time.
You could make the trip with pretty much any RV although sticking to a well-insulated one will help you keep the cost of propane down along the journey.

Camping along the Oregon Beach in December

Couple relaxing near water

The west coast is an interesting place, weather-wise. It can be very chilly all year round and if you're camping near the ocean, there's always the issue of wind. Again, a well-insulated RV will help you keep heating costs down and you may also consider skirting if you're sticking around for more than a day or two - or just finding a site that's relatively protected from the wind.
Temperatures rarely get below the freezing point so close to the coast so even without proper weather-proofing, a modern solid RV should be ok. You may appreciate a strong furnace - and will pay for heating costs accordingly.

A ski holiday in Colorado during early April

Early April may not sound very "wintery" to some but in fact, it's still extremely cold up in the mountains that time of year. If you're camping in a town like Breckinridge, you can count on nighttime temperatures that go down well under the freezing point - with an average low temperature in the mid-twenties Fahrenheit.
This is the kind of winter camping that requires a true four-season RV. Without adequate protection for your tanks and pipes in an enclosed heated underbelly, you'll find yourself without basic utilities and your rig is likely to experience substantial damage. You also need sufficient insulation and an excellent heating system to keep you comfortable inside your RV day and night.

Crossing the Alaskan Highway in February

There's a reason why you don't see RVs on the Alcan during that time of year. In many areas along your route - especially in the Yukon and Alaska itself - you'll encounter temperatures under zero. It's not unusual for a cold front to bring nighttime lows to -30F (that's about the same in Celsius by the way - these are the ranges where even the temperatures don't care about anything much.
Traveling in an RV in this weather is very unsafe. If you must transfer one to Alaska during wintertime, the thing to do would be to winterize the rig entirely and make sure you can stay in roadside motels along your route. Or just avoid the whole thing - driving the Alcan during wintertime is possible but not recommended for the inexperienced.
And just to counter that image of the Yukon in wintertime, here's a photo -
People spending time at a tropical beach
We hope you found this post helpful. We just couldn't find a good summary of all the aspects needed for extreme weather RVing and decided to create one. If you can please share this with others, that would be great. Here's a Pinterest image you can use -
RV parked on the road while raining, Which RVs Are Truly Four Season? (Including 11 Examples)
We'd love to hear your thoughts about that. Let us know what kind of RV you have and what were the most extreme weather conditions you got to use it.

Suggested Reading

Thinking of buying a rig? You may find these posts on our blog helpful too -

19 Top Tips For Buying an RV for the First Time

Buying A Used RV Guide (Including Helpful Tips And A Full Checklist)

What’s The Best RV For A Family Of Four? (With 13 Examples)

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  1. I know you didn’t necessary intend to have an all-inclusive list but the Highland Ridge Open Range series are true four season trailers and similar to the Montana, Bighorn and other four-season Heartland lines have true four season features and have been “zero tested”. They also have travel trailers and fifth wheels with similar floorplans. Some people say that Highland Ridge has better build quality than Heartland. We simply like the Open Range floorplans better – they have better bunkhouse options for kids.

  2. Hi thank you for your thorough explanation on heat transfer. What are your suggestions on the the best 4 season truck campers, other than the popular arctic fox. Also My concern is for extreme heat, are your picks different in that case?

    • Hi Tracy,
      For extreme heat, I think the basics are the same, i.e. good insulation combined with a way to adjust the temperature inside (in this case, air-conditioning). I have asked RV’ers about this and the bottom line seems to be to either choose places that aren’t too hot, or get full-hookups and run your a/c as necessary. Again, in addition to having good insulation.
      Great question about the truck campers. We’d have to properly research the topic before giving any recommendations. Probably a good topic for another post!

  3. You’re absolutely wrong about the Jayco Greyhawk not having a furnace. Where did you get that info? The Jayco Redhawk does not have enclosed tanks, they are simply heat pads on them. The Redhawk is an entry level Also The Big Horn R values and most stated RV R Values are purely marketing. Unrealistic. Jayco at least takes their fifth wheels to Dometic for cold and heat chamber testing. Most brands don’t.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Brian! I’ll ask the writer to take a look and either correct this or add a link to the source on Jayco’s site.

  4. One thing I disagree with is cold weather camping in a class A MotorCoach. Driving in cold weather conditions can be hazardous for ALL RVs, not just Class A’s. Also, many mid-upper price point Class A diesel pushers (DPs), have traction control systems AND hydronic heating systems of 60,000 btu’s and above. These systems burn diesel fuel sparingly for hot water and moist heat. Add to that three 15,000 btu a/c-heat pumps with good air distribution systems and reasonable, but not extreme levels of insulation and you have a workable/livable RV.
    We use our 45′ DP year round from our current UT base, (no snowbirding!) and at temps down to the low teens. We have experienced 50 degree changes in both winter and summer travels. Yes, it can be very challenging, but some, not all, DPs can take it, esp. those with good a/c’s and hydronic systems.

  5. The wind Chill factor (windchill) is the lowering of body temperature due to the flow of lower temperature air. The wind will not lower the temperature of inanimate objects like a rock, fence, vehicle, bridge or RV, below the temperature of the air. Bridges and RVs loose heat faster because they are not in contact with the ground which provides heat and the exposed bottom allows for faster heat loss.

  6. Okay, I read your information on 4 season Rv’s, but I still don’t have a direction for my needs. I am looking to purchase a Class B, preferably on a Mercedes Sprinter chassis. I will barely use the unit in the warm months, as we have a seasonal boardwalk business. From about October 1 through April 30 is when we will use the unit. During this time we currently travel to visit family in Wyoming, Wisconsin and upstate New Your; hence the need for a “true four season”. Any suggestions of what will effectively work for these parameters?
    Thanks in advance for any assistance.

    • Hi Steven,
      Wyoming/Wisconsin winter conditions is a real challenge. Have you looked into the Winnebago Class B units? They’re high-end and may be good for your needs. Maybe something like this one. Though for the harsh conditions you’re talking about, I would at the very least call them to discuss their suitability. You should also try RV forums to hear from people who have lived through such winter conditions in a Class B. Good luck!

  7. Thanks for the analysis. I do drive the Alcan in November every year and have some experience with cold weather travel. The best unit we’ve had was a General Coach Citation with a polar package, a Canadian brand that has since gone out of business. Had a wooden structure, an attic air space and great insulation that added up to super R factors. Our last unit was the Outdoors RV and it has good features, but misses the mark with it’s aluminum frame that conducts cold. Although the walls and ceiling have “good R values” that does not include areas where the frame structure is. It becomes especially troublesome in closets where there are more corners thus more aluminum and condensation and ice build-up become a problem. The Citation trailer I mentioned had Hehr thermopane windows which are far superior to the ones used in the Outdoors RV. Also, they have placed the floor vents so that they are under the slides when pulled in. That means while traveling or when the slides are pulled in to save the awnings in wind storms you can’t keep the place warm. We winterize the water system when it gets below Zero consistently – no RV will keep the water flowing unless it is skirted at those temps. The coldest we’ve experienced was -43 below and the biggest problem there was the propane. It liquifies at those temps and the furnace won’t operate properly. A blanket and a hair dryer can provide tempory help but at those temps it’s time to get home and park the trailer..

  8. Jerry, you’re right that the wind can’t lower temperatures below the ambient temperature of the air (neglecting evaporative heat loss) but it has nothing to do with whether an object is animate or inanimate. Once you’re at the same temperature as the cold outside air, you can’t get any colder than that, BUT, wind will make you reach equilibrium temp with your cold surroundings much much faster. It doesn’t matter if you’re a human trying to generate body heat from the calories you eat, or an RV using a furnace to generate heat from propane, as long as you’re just a little bit warmer than your surroundings, the wind is going to speed up your rate of heat loss. You can add insulation to try to reduce the impact, but it’s a thermodynamic fact that cold wind will always cool you off quicker than no wind at the same temp.

  9. My RV is a traveling for business investment and is used in all climates and seasons. I’ve been the Jayco Class C and Roadtrek ClassB routes without much satisfaction. After much looking I have now have ordered an Embassy ClassB. Gasoline aircraft type heater – no propane. All plumbing inside with cartridge or compost toilet – no black tank. Fresh and grey water tanks inside. R values in the 40 range all around. Hot water heated from engine when driving and gasoline when stopped. Off grid system with lithium batteries inside cabin, solar optional. 12-volt airconditioning runs off batteries – no need for outside power unless parked for extended times. Superior floor plans. Choice of Ford, Mercedes, or Dodge chassis. My advice: Stay away from Mercedes.

  10. Re: cold weather camping. We were camping in 26 degrees F conditions in a new fifth wheel. We could not get the living room/ kitchen area over 55 degrees. Later the dealer checked furnace, ductwork and said everything was ok. The dealer also informed us that RV industry standards require that manufacturers only build to keep rvs 10 degrees warmer inside than the outside temperature. This seems quite unreasonable to us. During a recent trip at 30 degrees we supplemented with an electric heater that helped. We would appreciate your comments. Bob

    • Hi Bob,
      Sorry to hear about your experience. I’ve never heard of such an industry-standard myself. Maybe this specific RV model isn’t a 4-season RV? It if was sold to you as such, I would contact the manufacturer directly, rather than the dealership. You could also try looking for owners of the same model in RV forums, maybe they can provide some insight. Good luck!

  11. Just came back from 4 days of skiing in Idaho with temps ranging between 18°F and 32°F in our 2000 Bigfoot 24′ motorhome. We keep the cab closed off with blankets since it is uninsulated. The furnace had no problem keeping us toasty. The tanks and plumbing are all within the insulated sub-floor where the furnace piping runs so we always use the furnace and not an electric heater even when we are plugged in. The windows are double-paned. We ate our meals in the motorhome using the propane for cooking. Including 2 days of driving and the 4 days of skiing, and keeping the motorhome warm while skiing so our dog was comfy, we used about a half tank of propane over the 6 days. I believe the tank is a 90lbs (of propane) tank. Significantly colder temperatures would definitely use up the propane much more quickly. Sadly, Bigfoot no longer makes motorhomes but they do make trailers and campers. We are wanting to replace the old Bigfoot with a newer class B or C but it seems that nobody makes anything quite as cold-temperature focused. We may just try to find the newest Bigfoot motorhome available (2008).

  12. Hi, I am strongly thinking of living full time (single) in a four seasons type of travel trailer as opposed to an apartment. Can’t find one under 5000 lbs for my 2006 Silverado 1500 5.3 to tow (max 6900 lbs). Caretaking 91 year-old dad after mom passed in 2018 and need a used trailer (maybe have to get bigger truck first?). Max cash to my name = $18000 plus maybe $4000 for my truck. Will sleep in bunk and convert Queen bedroom into music studio and recording soundproof vocal/instrument booth (or convert the bunk area to music studio). Any 26 foot bunkhouse is over 5000 lbs dry weight. Is there a “true” four-seasons which would have a bunk and a bedroom under 5000 lbs dry weight? Mostly Georgia and Tennessee travel with possible trips to Las Vegas area visiting musician friends. Please advise…I may end up soon without a roof over my head and want to be prepared.

    • We appreciate the comment. If none of the examples we provided in the post will meet your needs, we suggest taking a look at some different models from reputable RV manufacturers. If you’re on a tight budget, try looking around at some used models. Make note of the qualities mentioned in the post that make an RV “four-season,” and evaluate the RVs you find to determine which would be suitable for your needs. Hope this helps, and good luck!

  13. We drive a couple of times between Fl and Co during the winter. Sometimes we experience temp at 20 F day and night for several days in a row. Our class A was an entry level 34 ft Diesel pusher. Even with the two (noisy) furnaces on we were miserable and could feel the arctic blast come in. Single pane windows left and right from the bed had to be covered with pillows. Fresh water tank froze despite heated underbelly. One day we were surprised by a freezing rain, the whole rig and toad started to move sideways. When the windshield froze on, one of us had to hold a hair dryer to keep an open spot for the driver to look through. Finally got rid of it and bought an Arctic fox fifth wheel 27-5 and Ford 4×4 pick up. Now we enjoy life again even with temps in the mid-teens! More driving comfort, windshield stays clean, cozy in the RV with better insulation, heated recliners, double pane windows. So much more comfort!! A no brainer should have done it way sooner.

  14. There is lots of good advice in this article!

    One to NOT consider: Dutchmen Kodiak Cub

    “All Season” “Heated and Enclosed Underbelly”
    A pipe through the belly froze in about 2 hours when outside temperature dropped from 38 F to 28 F. 40 gal water tank took about 3 days to freeze in 40 F to 24 F.

    It has a plastic cover on the belly. It is not sealed to the frame bottom, It is also not sealed between frame and cabin floor. It has a 2 inch duct from furnace to floor. A whiff of heat passes through.
    The cabin is warm enough in 18 F, but you will have no plumbing available.

    After the sale and after complaining about frozen plumbing, the service hot line pointed out one paragraph in the owner’s manual that specified winterizing for temperatures below 32 F.

    Read the manual carefully before you commit. Don’t even consider accepting marketing literature without independent verification.

    I wish you good luck and happy trails ahead!

  15. Yes, many times they say it’s 4 seasons just to ask for more money but when you really need it you realize it it isn’t. It’s hard to keep an RV warm, but there is a big difference between Arizona winter and Oregon winter. I always pick Arizona winter when I RV. 🙂

  16. I have had several “certified 4-season” rigs over the years, 5th wheel and travel trailers. All need additional modifications and habits like a willingness to leave lower cabinet doors open in the cold season, and even then we’re talking “true” 4-season as the southern half of the US and not in the mountains. If you think you’re going to take a ski trip to Canada and your rig is going to be fine at -15F or lower sitting in the parking lot, think again. The highest high-end, custom rigs—sure. You could equip them for that. But brands like Arctic Fox? Forget it. They have uninsulated aluminum frames! The inside wall and outside wall are laminated directly to a tube of aluminum without a stitch of any thermal barrier between them. Your inside wall can be striped with frost in the pattern of the frame! Other nominal manufacturers use the same kinds of very poor thermal construction. There is an interview with a building-envelope engineer about this at a blog called Ask the RV Engineer. The RV industry has a lot of problems, including making a lot of false claims. In the north, “true 4-season” means 3-season most of the time, and not always in the mountains. Nothing more.

  17. 2014 Dynamax DX3 Super C. Camped with full hookups in April and May at Bryce Canyon Natl Park. Froze water line first night at 3 degrees F because I didn’t properly close my heated hatch and the CG water pipe froze. Fixed wet bay issue and put heat trace around CG water pipe. No freezing after that, with similar temps through April. It’s 8000 ft elevation. DX3 has heated tanks, ducted AC and propane heat. With my mods, I’ve made it a 4 season rig.

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