A 4 season travel trailer is a great option for those who will use their RV often, in a variety of climates, or even as their primary accommodation. However, true 4 season travel trailers can be hard to find and come at a cost. This guide lists the main components of a 4 season trailer, as well as when to purchase/use one, and some of the best brands available.
What makes a 4 season travel trailer rated for 4 seasons?
There actually aren’t specific criteria for a “4 season” recreational vehicle. Each brand or manufacturer that makes 4 season RVs have their own specifications for this term. Because of this, it’s extremely important to do research and know the features that will give your trailer 4 season capability. There are also options to modify your existing trailer to make it suitable for all weather purposes. See our article on How to keep warm in a travel trailer for more information and tips.
What features should be on a 4 season travel trailer?
Here is a list of features that you should look for in a 4 season travel trailer. Not all features will be available in every trailer that claims to be all-weather. However, there are usually upgrades available, and you can make modifications based on your needs in order to create the perfect RV!
Wall, Attic, & Floor Insulation
A 4 seasons travel trailer should be able to withstand extreme hot and cold temperatures. Wall, attic, and floor insulation is key to keeping your RV temperature controlled and cozy! Insulation is available in foam or fiberglass (this is true in general, not only RVs!), and fiberglass is the most popular. Insulation is measured in R-value, with higher number equating to better performance. We have added some foam board insulation to areas in our RV that lacked insulation from the factory to provide a more comfortable experience.
Fiberglass is high performing but doesn’t last as long as foam, and it molds more easily. Therefore, foam is better for those who will take their trailers to different climates. There are two types of foam options- rigid and spray; rigid is best for extreme and frequently changing climates.
Tip: Keep in mind that insulation can add weight to your trailer! Also, good heat and insulation are useless unless you make sure that your seals (including windows, doors, etc.) are tight and effective. Otherwise, heat/ air conditioning will escape!
12v Tank Heaters
A tank heater is important for cold weather camping, in order to prevent the freezing of your water system. A 12-volt stick on tank heater is a great option to keep your water flowing. Most 4 season travel trailers should come with a tank heater, but if you’re upgrading you can also purchase a tank heater separately. Here is one option for Amazon.
Insulated In Floor Water Lines & Enclosed Dump Valves
Just like in your home, water lines in travel trailers can freeze if the weather is cold enough. Having your water lines insulated is extremely important if you plan to camp in sub-freezing temperatures. Wrapping your pipes in insulation will help keep them from freezing. A heated hose is also valuable in getting water from the faucet to your RV without your hose freezing.
Having enclosed dump valves will also prevent freezing of your water system, which otherwise could cause major clogs and issues. Many manufacturers will heat and enclose the underbelly (see next section) and add heaters to the water system in order to ensure winterization.
Tip: Frozen pipes are not only inconvenient, it can also cause expensive and lasting damage to your RV!
Heated and Enclosed Underbelly
Choosing a travel trailer with a heated and enclosed underbelly will help keep you warm in extreme cold, by creating a layer of warmth below the floor and the outside air. In addition, it will also prevent the freezing of your water system. Even if you don’t typically camp in freezing temperatures, a heated and enclosed underbelly can still be nice for cooler nights.
Tip: Usually your RV’s furnace is what heats the underbelly, so it will only stay warm as long as your furnace is on.
High BTU Furnace
A high functioning furnace is the most essential component of a 4 season travel trailer, especially if you plan to spend extended periods of time in cold climates. Furnace heat is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units), and is typically powered with propane. The higher the BTU, the more space that your furnace will heat. For a large RV, a furnace with 30,000 BTUs is a good choice. If you need some more heat, try this electric heater for supplemental heat in other areas.
Tip: A good furnace will not be useful unless your RV has decent ductwork. Make sure to check out how many vents/ducts are in a trailer, and read reviews before purchasing! If you need an additional duct, read our how to article here.
Thermal Dual Pane Windows
Similarly to thermal or dual pane windows in a home, thermal RV windows have two (or more) panes of glass or acrylic, with air or gas in between. For more information about thermal windows check out our article on dual pane windows. For most RV owners, the drawbacks of dual pane windows outweigh the benefits. However, in the case of a 4 seasons travel trailer, they are a very important component.
If you find the perfect trailer for you but it does not have dual pane windows, you are not completely out of options. You can tint your windows, and/or buy thermal shades that will help to regulate the temperature in your RV.
A heated mattress is a great option for any RV, but it’s especially helpful in a 4 season travel trailer. Many 4 season options include heated mattresses to keep you warm in freezing temperatures. If you’re upgrading your trailer, a heated mattress pad is also a possibility. You can also check out our guide to improving your RV sleeping experience.
Heat Pump in Addition to Furnace
A heat pump works like a reverse air conditioner and heats your trailer using electricity instead of propane. The advantage of this is efficiency and savings on propane costs. However, heat pumps work in cool temperatures, but they do not work as well is extreme cold (below freezing). A heat pump will not help to keep your pipes from freezing, so you must use your furnace if this is a concern.
Another factor to consider is where you’re camping, and what you’re paying for and utilizing. For example, if you’re hooked up to campground electric (and how you pay for this electricity). Having a heat pump in addition to a furnace allows you to be flexible and choose the option that works best for your weather and hook up conditions. It also allows you to switch heating based on temperature and needs.
How you would use a 4 season trailer?
Traveling through Alaska? Enjoy camping late into the season? Winter camping is the primary reason for purchasing a 4 season RV. 4 season trailers are meant to stay warm and functional, by keeping the heat inside and your pipes flowing. If you’re taking your trailer into temperatures below 32 F, then you need to consider a 4 season RV, or at least winterization of your existing trailer.
Tip: Even if you don’t camp in the winter, a 4 season trailer can be useful in climates where nighttime temperatures dip significantly!
Early Spring/Late Fall
A 4 season travel trailer will extend your camping season into early spring and late fall. Because they can handle below freezing temperatures, your trailer will stay warm and functional. This is one of the reasons that a 4 season trailer is a good investment- you’ll get more use out of it!
While the focus of many 4 season travel trailer features is staying warm in extreme cold temperatures, they can also withstand extreme heat. 4 season travel trailers not only have A/Cs, but they also have superior insulation, which will keep the cool air in. Not only does this make your experience more enjoyable, it also will save on energy costs.
If your travel trailer is going to be your main residence, then it is worth investing in an RV that can feel like home. A 4 season travel trailer will keep you more comfortable and safe during temperature swings. Features such as heat pumps, a furnace, A/C, and optional upgrades will allow you to easily switch and adjust based on weather and location changes.
Should I Buy a 4 Season Travel Trailer?
When deciding if you should buy a 4 season travel trailer, consider the following questions. Will you be using your travel trailer in extreme (particularly below freezing) temperatures? Are you living in your RV full time? Is comfort extremely important to you and are you willing to splurge on it? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then consider a 4 season travel trailer. The downside to these types of trailers is that they are expensive and often larger (and heavier) than other types of trailers. Keep this in mind when weighing the pros and cons of purchasing.
Arctic Fox is one of the best and most popular lines that have 4 season options. In addition to their hearty design and superb insulation, Arctic Foxes are also very luxurious. They don’t come cheap, expect to pay around $35,000 to $60,000 depending on the model.
The Keystone Montana (a fifth wheel) is another great option, with a tank heater, a high BTU furnace, and insulation pretty much everywhere. There are also many additional features that make this RV a true 4 seasons trailer. This model averages in the $60,000 to $70,000 range although some are much more expensive.
Camplite Livin Livin’ Lite has good insulation but still remains lightweight, and an effective furnace. There’s also many options and configurations to choose from, as well as upgrades. Depending on features, you can purchase one of these for as “little” as $20,000-$30,000.
Alpina is a European RV that can be taken into arctic environments. Unfortunately, there are no dealers in the U.S. This brand is worth mentioning, however, because it is one of the few truly winter trailers. It’s also a great option for the international camper!
Nash provides a compartment for a built-in generator which can help keep you heated and powered when camping off grid in the winter. Nash also has R14 in the ceiling with an additional R15 reflective foil in the roof and slide areas. The tanks are heated and enclosed along with a large 25k btu furnace.
Outdoors RV has many great features that make it one of the better 4 season trailers on the market including thermal pane windows, 1″ thick insulated luggage doors, an extra large furnace, cold weather kit on the refrigerator, as well as a 1″ insulated door protecting the outdoor shower instead of just the plastic cover on most models.
Rockwood includes a heated enclosed underbelly, a ducted furnace to give you heat all over the camper, a heated mattress, R 7 int he wall, R12 in the floor, and R14 isulation in the ceiling. They also have heated holding tanks as a factory option. This makes the Rockwood stand out as far as a off the shelf RV for winter use.
Tip: Many 4 season RVs are heavier and longer than the average travel trailer. Make sure to take this into consideration (as well as the capacity of your towing vehicle) before purchasing.
A 4 season travel trailer is a great investment for campers who use their RV often and in extreme temperatures. Most 4 season trailers are comfortable and durable, although size and weight can be a drawback.
If you already have a travel trailer, there are many upgrades available that can make it capable of withstanding harsher climates. Whether you buy a new travel trailer, find a used model, or updating your existing rig, creating a 4 season environment will guarantee a cozy camping experience!
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