How to Prep Your RV for a Ski Trip

Ryan Barrick standing outside his RV.

Preparing for a RVing ski trip is about more than just remembering your skis and boots. You’re also planning for worst-case-scenario events and weather, which means stocking up on things like food, tools and emergency supplies. With a little forethought, even unexpected circumstances won’t slow you down for long––a little bit of planning goes a long way. 

Make a plan. The first thing I do is layout all the ski gear I’m going to need before I start packing it into the RV, so I can see everything at a glance. I always bring multiple pairs of skis, so I put them in one of the outside deep storage cubbies, along with a few snow shovels. Next, outerwear, base layers and clothes go in the closet. I put goggles, hats, gloves and other accessories into the cubbies above the driver’s and captain’s chairs for quick and easy access.  I like to store my ski tool box and ski waxing iron in the cabinets above my table, centrally located to make regular maintenance simple.

Stock up on food. If you’re at a major ski resort, there are probably good options for food all around you. But it’s important to keep my kitchen stocked, especially when I’m going somewhere new. Just because the skiing is good doesn’t mean local grocery stores will be well-stocked or carry my favorite snacks and supplies. It’s also a great way to save money for future lift tickets. And skiing all day makes having a pantry full of snacks essential. 

I keep tons of fruits and vegetables in my fridge, which makes it easy to eat healthy, even when I’m wiped out from a day on the slopes. I try to cook for every evening meal, but it’s handy to make a big batch of something for dinner and keep the leftovers for the next day. Luckily, there’s plenty of room in my kitchen for cooking, even when friends stop by. And I always keep a little room in my freezer for ice cream. 

Give your lines and tanks some love. Before I leave for a ski trip, I make sure to prepare the water lines and holding tanks for possible below-zero temperatures. I have a heat cord wrapped around any exposed pipes to the outside and the pipes that are furthest from the furnace, and I plug the cord in when temperatures bottom out. That way, if it gets extremely cold, I can still use my sink and shower, and have no problems dumping the tanks later. (Nobody wants to deal with a frozen black water tank.) 

Harness solar energy. Snow serves as an insulator in the atmosphere, which means that cloudy days tend to be warmer. But when the temps get really cold, you’re almost always guaranteed a clear, sunny day. So I keep solar panels on the roof of my RV to charge my coach batteries, which supplies me with the electricity I need, most of the time. Sometimes I’ll use a broom to sweep snow off the roof to maximize the sun the solar panels soak up.

Keep a full propane tank. A full propane tank ensures I can run my furnace, stove, and water heater as much as needed. When I’m running the generator, I’ll use an electric heater when I’m inside and can keep an eye on it. I also pack a backup mini-propane heater for emergencies and extra heat. Before every trip to cold weather, I take a moment to test my generator and make sure it’s running smoothly. Without emergency heat in a cold climate, it can be easy to compromise your safety.  Best case scenario, I’ll never have to use my back-up heater. Worst case scenario, I’m ready to tackle bad weather head-on. 

Always have emergency gas. A five-gallon gas can proves useful in an emergency, both for ensuring you never run out of fuel on the road, and in case your gas level ever drops too low to run the generator. That generator can be the difference between a night spent near-freezing and a night spent sleeping soundly when unexpected weather rolls through.  I try to keep the RV gas tank above 50 percent full when I park somewhere. I also make sure to have five gallons of gas on hand, and a backup portable generator, just in case.

Overpack on tools and emergency gear. In the case of your safety in freezing-cold temperatures, it’s always better to be a little over-prepared than underprepared. I always pack winter emergency essentials: snow melt, a shovel, a heavy duty tow rope, tire chains, jumper cables, orange traffic cones and a few flares. It all fits easily in the outside storage cubbies.

Bring games. There are always going to be days that aren’t ideal for skiing. Rain, ultra-cold temps, and minor injuries can all make a day spent in the RV seem like a better idea. So I like to pack a few bonus items for entertainment. I always have Yahtzee and playing cards with me for when friends drop by. Two small TVs and a gaming system provide ultimate entertainment on the road, perfect for rainy days when the skiing is less than ideal. And of course, no ski trip would be complete without a bit of camera gear for catching footage of all my best tricks (and biggest fails), and any adventures I have along the way. 

Ryan Barrick drives a 2013 Thor Motor Coach Ace 27.1.

Interested in exploring winter activities in a RV? Check out the THOR family of brands that can support your winter activities when properly outfitted for winter weather. Inquire about cold weather and all season options with your local, authorized dealer.