Last updated on May 2nd, 2023 at 01:01 pm
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There’s nothing more disappointing than the end of the RV season when it’s time to store your rig for winter, go back to your “home” and wait for the first signs of spring so you can hit the road again.
But what if you didn’t have to wait?
What if you could keep on trucking long into the “off-season” with a Class C RV that was winter and cold-weather-ready?
It’s not only possible but it’s also a lot of fun! There are a ton of benefits of off-season RV’ing including cheaper prices, fewer crowds, and a unique winter perspective on the beautiful landscape!
Not every rig is winter-ready, so I’m going to go through the 7 best Class C RVs for cold weather to keep you safe and warm whilst you’re out making memories in your rig.
Why Class C RV’s?
With so many motorhomes and travel trailers to choose from, why focus on Class C RVs for winter and off-season travel?
Simple, Class C rigs are my favorite! But they’re also the most common among full-timers and make a great option for winter RV’ing. They’re large enough that you can get the needed bells and whistles to make a pleasant winter, but small enough that more avid RVers have the potential to afford them.
They’re also a heck of a lot easier to drive than a giant Class A rig!
Do I Need An Artic Package?
Many manufacturers offer an artic package for folks looking for extra levels of winter protection. However, this can get a little confusing since the artic package can include a few different things depending on the specific manufacturer.
Most of the time, it includes things like extra insulation but can also include extra skirts, sealing for vents, tire changes, and more. Most of the rigs on this list include an option for artic upgrades and it’s only becoming more popular.
I’ll share what’s included in the artic upgrades for that specific manufacturer along with a whole lot of information about how to get your rig winter-ready, but first, let’s get into the list!
1. Best For Big Families: Jayco Redhawk 26XD
- 5 great floor plans with plenty of room (including a queen-size bed)
- 12V heating pads on holding tanks come standard
- 42 LB propane tank for longer excursions
- 750 lb overhead weight capacity means you can really load up with storage
- A heavy-duty roof that can handle a huge pile of snow
- May need to add aftermarket insulation for extremely cold climates
The Jayco brand is well-known in the off-season RV community and the Redhawk 26XD is a big favorite of mine, being built on a powerful and reliable Ford chassis. Life on the road in winter can be tough, and I find if I don’t prepare for cold temperatures, RV life can be pretty hard. Therefore, the 12V heating pads on the holding tanks of this rig are invaluable to me, as they help prevent any liquids from freezing, saving me the panic of only having frozen water on board!
I also love the options for floor plans and the queen-size bed, as it means Jayco can let the RVer put their own spin and style on the rig, creating a space that’s appealing and functional. While there are plenty of rigs that feature king-size beds, the queen is usually plenty for most and leaves room for extra creature comforts like a 32-inch television – my ideal setup.
The insulation is solid, especially on the roof, which is a great help for travelers like me who feel the cold. If I were to head into the deep country, however, I’d consider adding some aftermarket insulation to ensure I’d be snug and warm even if snowflakes were to start falling from the sky.
This Jayco Redhawk does come equipped with a lot of what I’d need for longer off-season runs like an auto-igniting furnace coming in at 31,000 BTU and a large water heater.
A standout feature for me is the unique roof construction; the Magnum Truss Roof System. This roofing system is durable and sturdy, thanks to Jayco using screws, large studs, and wider nail plates in their plywood instead of a simple staple often used by other RV manufacturers.
The Jayco Redhawk comes in at a length of 28.67 feet and a somewhat modest height of 11.5 feet, creating a light and airy space, ideal for entertaining and enjoying the great outdoors. With a maximum sleeping capacity of 7, I know I can invite friends and family along to join in the fun RVing can bring. You can check the entire spec list by clicking here.
2. Best For Long Journeys: Forest River Forester LE
- Offers an artic package for extra winter prep
- 42 LB propane tank for longer excursions
- Slide-outs don’t suit all RVers
- Slides can be difficult to manage in extra icy conditions
The Forest River LE is built on the Ford Chassis and offers an arctic package for those who want to take things to the next level. Even the standard features of the Forest River LE are great for getting RVers ready for colder temperatures. I find the use of fiberglass substrate instead of the more commonly used plywood is a huge benefit as fiberglass resists water, helping avoid issues like leaks and eventual mold growth.
Plywood can absorb and hold water, so the use of fiberglass is beneficial in winter when the weather can become both wet and cold. The fiberglass makes the RV less likely to bubble over and damage the laminate. While this might seem like a nice to have instead of a need to have during the spring and summer, when my rig is covered in a foot of snow, I think any extra water resistance is a positive thing!
But even more important for folks wanting to stay toasty is that fiberglass has a much higher R-value than plywood. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, R-value measures how well a particular material insulates. For example, a 3/4 inch piece of plywood has an R-value of 0.94 while a 3/4 inch piece of fiberglass has an R-value of 3.
I love a good fiberglass roof, as not only are they easier to maintain, but they’re also easier and safer to walk on. While I try not to make it a habit of walking around on top of my RV, I do like the option. I also like the thought that was put into the front cap. It has a wrap-around design that’s intended to provide better wind resistance, which while always a good thing, is even more important during the winter.
They also have a bit of extra insulation in the front cap which can help keep the rig warm while on the road. The Forest River LE comes in at a length of 23.83 feet and a height of 11.25 feet, with a max sleeping count of 6. It might be a bit too cozy for some with 6 individuals on board, so I think this Forest River RV is probably best for smaller groups, looking to head out for a longer amount of time.
You can check out the entire spec list here.
3. Best For Winter Climates: Forest River Sunseeker 2500TS (Class C With Arctic Package)
- Optional solar, great for spending time off-grid
- Premium suspension system to tackle the harshest of roads
- 30,000 BTU furnace
- Heated holding tanks
- Slide-outs may prove difficult during icy weather
- High price-tag
The Forest River Sunseeker is built on the dependable Ford chassis and I couldn’t help but include another Forest River rig on this winter-ready list. I’ve taken a look at the Arctic package (sometimes called the 4 seasons upgrade) for this review.
The artic package upgrade includes double-paned windows which add an additional layer of insulation, ideal for people like me who feel the cold a lot during winter! In fact, double-pane windows can reduce energy usage by 24 percent in cold climates (at least in the home) according to HomeAdvisor, creating a comfortable and warm rig.
Another feature that stands out to me is the heated mirrors. Having an excellent mirror setup is a critical part of driving any larger vehicle, and a Class C RV is no different. With heated mirrors, I don’t have to worry about the winter snow fogging up or icing up my mirrors and leaving me blind on the road!
Like the other Forest River rig on this list, you’re also getting a fiberglass substrate instead of traditional plywood. Remember, not only is this more water-resistant but it also increases the overall R-value of the RV which is exactly what I look for when it comes to winter camping.
The Sunseeker comes in at 27’1″ which is a bit longer than its counterpart on our list, and something worth considering if you don’t have a large space to store an RV. You can check out the full specs for all the models by clicking here.
4. Best Luxury Option: Jayco Greyhawk Prestige Edition
- Beautiful interior with residential quality fixtures
- Choices with interior and exterior design
- The super-strong Magnum Truss Roof System
- Heated side-view mirrors
- High price tag
Yep, Jayco is on this list twice, and that’s because there’s a lot I love about them! The Jayco Greyhawk Prestige Edition is another great Class C RV for cold winter weather and it features an absolutely huge living space in a 29-foot package.
The quality residential-grade fixtures and huge fridge really make this rig feel like a house and create a space that I want to relax in, even when it’s sub-zero outside. Like most RVers, I tend to spend more time inside during the winter when compared to summer, so I want to be in a space that can support my needs, and this luxury Greyhawk absolutely does!
Just like the Redhawk (number one on our list), the Greyhawk over the cabin bunk can hold up to 750 pounds of weight, giving me plenty of options, even for the longest of trips. The Jayco quality roof with the Magnum Truss Roof System is a game-changer in my eyes, as it has the ability to hold a considerable amount of snow without a problem.
The extra strong roof means I don’t have to panic and feel stressed if there’s a flurry of snow. Instead, I can enjoy watching the magical scenes take place and know I’m safe, secure, and warm in my RV. Honestly, I haven’t seen a Jayco rig that I haven’t liked, and this is another great Class C option for the winter, but it does come in more expensive than other similar RVs, so it’s an investment worth giving a lot of thought.
You can take a look at the full list of specs on the Jayco website here.
5. Best For Small Groups: Winnebago Minnie Winnie
- Variety of floorplans
- Ability to sleep up to 8 individuals
- Luxury Interior
- Smaller Class C
- High price tag
The Minnie Winnie is a solid rig, regardless of weather conditions, but a standout feature for me is the 20,000 BTU furnace available in certain models that promises to keep me toasty warm even when it’s snowy and cold outside. As I don’t have a big family, I don’t mind if a Class C RV is on the smaller side like this one. Measuring 24’5″ in length, however, may not be ideal for large families or big travel groups as not everyone will be able to comfortably fit inside.
Features such as traction control and defrosting mirrors make the Minnie Winnie an ideal rig even in a wintery climate, so you can have an epic adventure in the snow. Having advanced features is a huge benefit, but I also think the interior is well worth mentioning. With several different available floor plans ranging from sleeping 5 to 8 people, I can configure the Minnie Winnie layout that suits me best, making the most of the space inside.
Traveling in an RV through winter usually sees me keeping stocked up on supplies and remaining powered up in case I get stuck in the snow for a few days. The Minnie Winnie has a powerful electrical system with a second coach battery, and a 1,000W inverter so no more worrying about not being able to charge cell phones or important gear, a lifesaver for RVers like me who work and travel on the road.
You can see more of what the Minnie Winnie offers by heading over to Winnebago’s website.
6. Best For Icy Roads: Dynamax Isata 5
- Luxury interior
- 42,000 BTU furnace ideal for winter temperatures
- Issues reported with slide-outs
- AC filters need replacing often
- Considerably higher price than other competitors
Dynamax is the perfect blend of modern luxury with functionality, and the Isata 5 is no exception with 10,000 lbs towing capacity, various floorplans, and a 42,000 BTU furnace for those cold winter nights. I believe an RV having style and personality is just as important as its function, especially when living full-time on the road. I like the fact this Dynamax Isata 5 has an abundance of features to offer, whilst remaining sleek, stylish, and easy on the eye.
RVing during the winter can be beautiful and tough at the same time, but the heated holding tanks with this rig make things a whole lot easier. A few winters ago when I was traveling in a camper, temperatures dropped below zero and our water lines froze – I got completely caught out, and it’s something I would recommend every RVer try and avoid!
To make sure the biting cold doesn’t affect vision during journeys, the Isata 5 has heated exterior mirrors. This brings me great peace of mind as driving an RV can be tricky, and I don’t need anything else to make it even harder!
If you’re not a fan of slide-outs, this Class C RV may not be the one for you, and there have been reports of issues with the slides on the Dynamax Isata 5, so it’s best to take extra precautions when using the slides in this rig! Slides can be fantastic space enhances, but I wouldn’t want to deal with faulty slides when it’s sub-zero outside!
I sometimes find it hard to avoid icy roads when traveling in my RV during winter, but the 4-Wheel ABS on the Isata 5 is a fantastic addition to help increase safety when roads become treacherous. The system helps the tires on the rig get traction, a very useful addition for when black ice could catch you out.
See more of what the Dynamax 5 is capable of by checking out the Dynamax website.
7. Best For Couples: Tiffin Wayfarer 25JW
- Mercedes Benz chassis
- Hydraulic leveling system
- 5,000 lb hitch capacity
- Low cargo capacity means it’s not great for longer trips
- High price tag
Built on the Mercedes Sprinter chassis, the Tiffin Wayfarer is a great class C RV for winter camping but because of some major capacity issues, I had to put it in the last spot on this list. However, the dump station, city water hook up, and all related plumbing are completely enclosed and heated which is fantastic for winter, and something I keep an eye out for.
Keeping fluids from freezing is one of the most important parts of any winter trip, and from personal experience, I can confirm frozen plumbing isn’t fun! The Wayfarer also features a solid fiberglass roof which not only has a high R-value but is also easier to maintain so I can spend less time cleaning, and more time making some winter memories.
I love the 3.2 Onan generator but I really wish it was on the other side of the RV since it’s currently placed exactly where I’d be hanging out at the campsite. In all honesty, I think the biggest problem with the Tiffin Wayfarer (and why I had to put it at the bottom of this list) is the occupancy and cargo carrying capacity (OCC), as it’s a shocking 686 pounds!
If you’re unfamiliar with the OCC, it’s the weight of your passengers and all your cargo including water. With a 38-gallon tank, RVers immediately lose 315 pounds which only leaves 371 pounds to play with. Even if like me, you live minimally, this is not much weight at all. If you travel with multiple people on board, the majority of the weight is likely to come from the passengers.
Let’s say you and your passenger are about 150 lbs each, that leaves you 71 pounds of cargo left. That’s before clothing, dishes, food, chairs, knick-knacks, and accessories! Honestly, I’m not sure that’s even possible for anything more than a day trip, and after researching online it sounds like a lot of Tiffin owners just treat this as a suggestion and continue to load up the rig anyways. I can’t possibly recommend you do that and the risks just aren’t worth it.
With all these problems…why is it on the list at all?
Because the Tiffin Wayfarer still checks a lot of boxes when it comes to being a winter-ready Class C RV, and while it may not be as strong a contender as the others on this list, it’s worth considering if you can find an excellent deal.
While there’s a variation in years, most Tiffin Wayfarers run 25.58 feet in length and 11.33 feet tall, plenty big enough for comfortable living, even in winter. You can see all the specs for the Tiffin Wayfarer line on the Tiffin website.
How To Drive A Class C RV In The Winter?
Okay, so you’ve picked out your rig but now it’s time to actually hit the road. But driving any vehicle in the winter is more dangerous. let alone your entire home on wheels! I wanted to share some tips for driving your Class C RV during the winter months in icy conditions, so you can have a safe and enjoyable vacation.
1. Brake Early, Brake Slowly
You’re going to need plenty of room to brake in icy conditions. Sure, your RV is heavy but in most cases, the weight is anything but balanced. While I talked about how great the Jayco over-the-cabin storage is, if you’re driving with a passenger upfront along with cargo you’re going to be front-heavy.
That’s going to change the way your rig handles and of course, there’s the fact that you’re driving an RV! So always give yourself plenty of space between you and the next vehicle so you never have to brake suddenly.
2. Check Your Tires…And Your Chains
While you can absolutely put winter tires on Class C, make sure you check your existing tire quality first. Many Class C motorhomes already come equipped with snow-friendly tires and if you’ve opted for a 4 season set up there’s an even better chance you already have what you need.
However, you will need tire chains and in many states, they’re required.
3. Don’t Be Afraid To Wait
Part of the beauty of RV’ing is going with the flow. But too many folks get caught up in the itinerary that they planned. While you can get away with that in the summer winter changes a lot and you need to be ready to hunker down until the roads are safe.
When you have the option to enjoy your RV, why rush and take the risk of hitting the road too early?
If at all possible, avoid ice on the road. Of course, this isn’t always an option when you’re RV’ing in the winter but if you’ve got a flexible schedule there’s a chance you can time your drives to avoid too much ice.
4. Avoid Driving At Night
Driving during the winter is already hard enough and there’s no need to add another variable into the mix! Driving at night removes all chance of ice melting in the mid-day sun and actually increases the chances of ice as temperatures drop for the night.
There’s also the big problem of visibility. Snowy conditions already make it difficult to see what’s in front of you on the road, and darkness only makes things worse. The other big problem at night is headlights. The white snow reflects lights and too many inexperienced drivers use their high beams which end up blinding everyone.
5. It’s All About Space
Sure, driving a 10,000-pound-plus motorhome has some advantages in the snow but it also has some major disadvantages. Namely a much slower reaction time.
So whether it’s the vehicle in front of you, the unexpected snowbank, or a turn that’s sharper than you expected, you need to make sure you’re giving yourself time to react to all of it. And in an RV you need more time!
Does that mean you might be driving a little slower than the hummer behind you wants?
But it’s all about safety.
How To Get A Class C RV Winter-Ready?
If you go for the artic package, the manufacturer should cover most of what you need to get winter-ready. But keep in mind, the artic package or 4-season upgrade doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, and there’s most certainly some marketing involved.
It’s therefore important to have some idea of what kind of upgrades a Class C RV would need to be winter-ready. It’s also worth noting that you need to be extra careful in the winter and always give your motorhome a test run before you go out into the deep country.
But let’s break down a few things you need to look for or do before you can consider your RV to be winter-ready.
Insulation Lays The Foundation
Insulation is going to be one of the most important parts of getting your motorhome winter-ready. Ideally, this is done as part of the arctic package as this is a lot more difficult to do aftermarket.
Still, you do smaller things like making sure the caulking around all your doors and windows is intact. Across your entire RV, small gaps in your insulation and sealing can add up to a lot of heat loss.
You also need to make sure that you’re adding insulation in often overlooked areas like the cabin and front cap. As I’ve already covered, there’s a big difference in the insulating power of fiberglass vs plywood so you’ll also need to consider what type of material your manufacturer uses.
That’s part of the reason why I love the Forest River Class C’s for winter camping.
Skirt Your RV
One of the most often overlooked areas of insulation is the underbelly of the RV. While you can add insulation to the undercarriage another good option is using an RV skirt.
An RV skirt runs along the bottom of your motorhome and protects the underbelly of your rig from colder temperatures. If you’re going to be winter camping in any specific area for any length of time, it’s well worth it to invest in a solid skirt.
Try Double Pane Windows
Double-pane windows add an extra layer of insulation to help prevent heat loss and they can make a big difference. After all, windows are often an area of major heat loss, and when you consider how thin some RV windows are it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that they’re often a weak point in the winter.
If you’re dealership or salesperson is trying to sell you an artic package without double pane windows then you should keep moving. It’s that important.
Protect Your Tanks and Fluid Lines
You can have a nice and warm bed with plenty of insulation inside your rig but if all your fluids freeze, you’re in big trouble. While frozen water might seem like the most obvious concern, diesel fuel can begin to gel at around 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit at which point you have BIG problems.
For a Class C rig to be considered winter-ready, it absolutely has to have heated tanks. Our number one pick, the Jayco Redhawk comes with standard 12V tank heaters but depending on where you’re camping you might need even more.
It’s also important to remember that there’s more to protect than just the tanks. The actual pipes and plumbing that move fluids are just as important and often represent a weak point that can easily freeze.
So if you’re looking at an arctic package or just trying to get your rig winter-ready on your own make sure you have no weak points in your fluid system. I highly recommend that you test this well before you go on your first winter camping trip.
Get Additional Heat Sources
Even if you don’t end up using them, you always want to have multiple options for heating your RV. The last thing you want is for one source of heat to break or malfunction and then be left with nothing. If you’re using your Class C rig for boondocking not only could that be uncomfortable but also downright dangerous.
My favorite additional heat source is the RV-specific propane heater from Mr. Heater. You can click here to see the latest price on Amazon. What I like about this heater is that it can be wall-mounted which can sometimes not only be safer but pretty much always more convenient. Even though a Class C rig can be pretty spacious it’s not spacious enough to have to walk over heaters on the floor!
It’s also worth picking up a carbon monoxide detector if you’re using any kind of fuel-based heat source inside. Always better to play it safe and I recommend this simple battery-powdered one that you can find on Amazon.
With a winter-ready Class C RV, the fun never has to stop! While you can take your rig in colder weather, it’s still a good idea to avoid areas like Canada during the winter. Instead, check out places like Colorado that have both snow but also plenty of sun to help clear out roads.
Our best Class C RVs for winter are well worth a close look if you’re considering purchasing a rig you want to be able to use, no matter the weather! Let me know what you think of my picks and whether or not you’ll be hitting the road this winter.