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  1. #1

    Default RV for winter in Alaska

    Having spent the past two summer traveling around Alaska, we are considering heading north in the winter. I'd appreciate recommendations regarding the best type of 5th wheel for winter and year-round living in Alaska. (We do not currently have a 5th wheel.) I know that insulation and double-pane windows are major considerations. We appreciate the advice of those with experience in this area.
    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula
    Posts
    3,319

    Default Retrofit or buy new?

    I don't have a lot of experience with this and can't give you a specific recommendation. But I do know that some RVs are built with extreme cold weather in mind. It's usually something that is either a special model or something that you would special-order when you purchase it. I'm not sure how much you can retro-fit an RV for these things because you can't really add insulation and it would be pretty touch to reach some of the lines and other things that might need to be wrapped. I know that the cold-weather packages will also have things like double-walled, insulated tanks. Not only don't you want freezing water to use, you sure don't want your waste tanks to freeze so you can't dump them!

    Gosh, I think your best bet is to do a web search of brands that you know and like and see what kind of cold-weather options they offer.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,262

    Default Not really the best option

    Quote Originally Posted by HeadingNorth View Post
    Having spent the past two summer traveling around Alaska, we are considering heading north in the winter. I'd appreciate recommendations regarding the best type of 5th wheel for winter and year-round living in Alaska.
    Living on the road for 6.5 years, we experienced just about every type of weather one can see in North America. Extremes of temperature (in either direction) are not ideal for any kind of mass-produced RV. For most of the basement areas of a 5th wheel, insulation and double paned windows are not enough -- you will probably want active heating elements to offset the massive heat loss from these units. In the vehicle we lived in we ran heating elements around all of the holding tanks 24 hours per day and used special "hot" insulation around all of the water pumps and we still had lines freeze (and break).

    What I would suggest is speaking with one or both of our RV columnists -- Alice Zyetz and Jaimie Hall-Bruzenak, (Jaimie and her husband have traveled extensively in Alaska --in a fifth wheel) as well.

    If I were outfitting a vehicle for Alaskan winter travel -- I would think seriously about this class C from our friends at Earthroamer. Some other cool rides built on UniMog chassis can be found here.

    But in any case, it sounds like a grand adventure.

    Mark

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
    378

    Default Ask the people who sell them.

    Hi,

    My first question would be to ask how many campgrounds/RV parks are open in Alaska in winter? I would guess that most would be in the Kenai area, not further inland, and maybe in Southeast. In other words, there wouldn't be many opportunities for winter travel. Weekly or monthly cabin w/kitchenette rates at that time of year might be cheap enough to make that option more attractive.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the Canadian RV companies make trailers that are more cold weather capable. I know that Bigfoot makes well insulated motorhomes and travel trailers, but not 5th wheels. Some of the higher quality US companies like Teton might put enough insulation and adequate heating units in them to make them viable, too, but most are not designed for cold weather occupation.

    A query to some of the RV dealers in Anchorage might be the quickest way to get an authoritative answer.

    Craig Sheumaker
    co-author of the travel guide: America's Living History-The Early Years

  5. #5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by HeadingNorth View Post
    I'd appreciate recommendations regarding the best type of 5th wheel for winter and year-round living in Alaska. (We do not currently have a 5th wheel.) I know that insulation and double-pane windows are major considerations. We appreciate the advice of those with experience in this area.
    Thanks in advance!
    I am in a similar condition where I need refuge from the extreme hot or cold. I only need a very small one tho. Big enough for a yorkie and me. lol That will be pulled by a 2002 Mazda Tribute 4 wheel drive with a regular ball hitch.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Melbourne, Australia
    Posts
    3,647

    Default

    Please excuse my ignorance, but what is a 5th wheel?

    Lifey who has never heard the term

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    1,534

    Default Big camper trailer

    Quote Originally Posted by Lifemagician View Post
    Please excuse my ignorance, but what is a 5th wheel?

    Lifey who has never heard the term
    Lifey,
    The term "5th wheel" refers to a disc-shaped hitch apparatus mounted in the bed of a pickup truck. The camper trailer is a goose-neck configuration which arches over the rear end of the pickup and is hitched at a point more or less directly over the rear axle, but in the bed of the truck.

    The term 5th wheel goes way back. My grandfather's trucking company first exposed me to the term back in the 1950s. Among campers nowadays, the term is applied to a camper towed via that type of hitch, too.

    Foy

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