Camping is usually associated with fair weather conditions, but the temperatures you’ll encounter at different destinations aren’t always ideal. Finding the best 4 season travel trailer will make you better prepared for boondocking in different climates.
Most families take their travel trailers out of storage a few times per year, usually during months with moderate temperatures. That’s why most campers don’t pay much attention to the travel trailer’s insulation, heat transfer properties, or heating system.
However, full-time RVing also involves camping in subzero temperatures, which is impossible if you have a 3 season travel trailer. That’s why in this article, we’re going to show you how to find a four-season travel trailer that will keep you comfortable regardless of the weather conditions at a campsite.
Top 5 Four Season Travel Trailers
|Lance 4 Season Travel Trailer
|Azdel, block foam insulation
|Block foam insulation
|Northwood Arctic Fox North Fork
|Block foam insulation
|Jayco Eagle Fifth Wheel
|Forest River Arctic Wolf
|Block foam insulation
What is a four-season travel trailer?
Brands rarely market their products as four-season travel trailers, but rather equip them with features that make them suitable for use throughout the year.
The vast majority of travel trailers are designed to be used from early spring until the late autumn, but keeping a 3 season travel trailer cool during hot summer days can be challenging even if it has an AC system.
The reason for this is the lack of insulation in the walls, floor, and roof of three-season travel trailers, which allows a heat transfer from the outside into the trailer’s interior.
Models that are well insulated and have good heat retention capabilities are known as four-season travel trailers since the hot or cold air from the outside doesn’t affect the room temperature.
These models also feature specially designed doors, windows, and hatches that prevent heat loss and keep the travel trailer’s interior warm. Check out our guide to medical insurance for snowbirds if you prefer to spend winter months in regions with mild climates.
Interesting Read: Guide to Full-Time RV Living in the Winter.
The most common types of insulation
The insulation is by far the most important feature of a four-season travel trailer, especially if you’re considering full-time RVing. Manufacturers utilize different types of insulation to regulate the temperature inside a four-season travel trailer.
Consequently, each model will have an R-value rating that indicates the thermal resistance of the insulation material. The four-season travel trailer with a high R-value rating will remain cool during summer and warm during winter.
Fiberglass, rigid foam, and spray foam are the most common types of insulation you’ll find in travel trailers, and each of them has slightly different properties. Fiberglass insulation is probably the most common, and it is almost a standard for most motorhomes.
The R-value rating of this insulation material is fairly high, but it isn’t durable, and moisture can damage it easily. So, if you’re changing climates frequently, you should consider a four-season trailer that has rigid foam insulation.
But, you should keep in mind that the rigid foam insulation material is more expensive than fiberglass or spray foam. It is also worth noting that you should avoid four-season travel trailers insulated with spray foam because the material’s R-value rating is low.
Thermal break properties
The material placed between the walls can allow or interrupt the flow of heat from the outside into the travel trailer’s interior. The term thermal break refers to the material’s ability to prevent two materials from inhibiting cold or heat onto each other.
Hence the material that is placed between the walls of a four-season travel trailer needs to have good thermal break properties in order to prevent the transmission of heat or cold from the trailer’s exterior wall onto its interior wall.
Avoid models that have wooden panels or metal stud framing between walls because these materials don’t resist the flow of thermal energy and as a result, the travel trailer can become incredibly cold or warm when exposed to high or low temperatures.
Check out this article on why full-time RVers need a home base if you’re considering making a four-season travel trailer your permanent home.
Heat retention features
Nearly all modern travel trailers are equipped with a heating system that contains a furnace capable of producing tens of thousands of BTUs.
These furnaces work as forced air heaters that push warm air every time the heating system’s thermostat detects that the room temperature has dropped below the preset temperature.
However, if a travel trailer has poor heat retention features, the heating system will fail to keep its interior warm regardless of how powerful it is. The same is true for the trailer’s AC system that will consume an enormous amount of power while trying to keep the trailer cool.
Four-season travel trailers feature shells that prevent heat loss, making their heating and cooling systems more efficient. In addition, the shell’s heat retention capabilities reduce the amount of electricity or fuel you have to use to warm up or cool down a four-season travel trailer.
Go through our guide on how to work and travel in an RV if you want to remain mobile throughout the year.
Low-temperature resistance of key systems
Sustaining yourself without some of the travel trailer’s key systems is impossible because you need access to running water or electricity to live normally.
The problem is that the systems that enable you to watch a TV or wash dishes in a travel trailer are not always resistant to freezing, as exposure to subzero temperatures can cause them to freeze and ultimately damage them.
That’s why a four-season trailer you choose needs to have a conditioned basement, a compartment located beneath the floor that houses the water tanks, valves, electrical installations, and all other systems that are vital for the trailer’s normal functioning.
The heating system is usually based in the conditioned basement, and once you switch it on, it draws the hot air from the trailer’s main compartment into the basement, which ensures that all other systems are kept at operating temperatures.
Read our guide on how to maintain an RV to learn more about keeping your four-season travel trailer in good condition.
The advantages of the best four-season travel trailers
Suitable for all weather conditions
Opting for a four-season travel trailer will enable you to go camping whenever you want and enable you to stay on the road throughout the year. Besides, you’ll be able to park your travel trailer high in the mountains without risking being too cold.
Four season travel trailers solve the snowbird issues
Most full-time RVers deal with cold weather conditions by temporarily moving to a warmer climate region. Getting a four-season travel trailer will enable you to camp during cold months, which can be very important if you need to spend a winter in one place because of work.
Offers full-time RVers a high level of comfort
Four-season travel trailers can provide full-time RVers with a comfortable home because they feature a broad spectrum of features they might need while on the road, besides excellent insulation and heat retention capabilities.
The disadvantages of four season travel trailers
Four season travel trailers are more expensive than regular travel trailers
You will have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get a travel trailer that is equally functional during all parts of the year. In addition to considerable upfront investment, you will have to spend significant funds on the trailer’s upkeep.
Key factors to consider while choosing a four-season travel trailer
One of the most important differences between a four-season trailer and any other trailer is the insulation material that interrupts the flow of thermal energy. Consequently, keeping a four-season trailer cool or warm requires less energy than heating or cooling any other type of travel trailer.
Although the trailer’s insulation and R-value rating are some of the key factors you need to consider while choosing a four-season travel trailer they’re far from being the only ones. So, let’s take a look at the factors that can help you pick a four-season trailer that meets all your needs.
Check out our RV budgeting guide if you need help calculating your expenses.
The comfort level of a four-season travel trailer goes well beyond the model’s heating and cooling features. Go through the list of all amenities that come with the trailer, check how many sleepers it can accommodate, or find out if it has an interior bathroom, before deciding to opt for a particular model.
Warm and cold weather performance
The color of the trailer’s shell or how powerful its AC system is can affect its warm weather performance, while the heater’s BTU or insulation type can help you estimate its performance in subzero temperatures.
Also, you shouldn’t choose a model that will enable you to merely survive in extreme weather conditions, but a four-season travel trailer that will make you feel comfortable even at extremely low or high temperatures.
Parts of a trailer where installing insulation is difficult such as windows or hatch compartments can allow the outside temperature to affect the trailer’s room temperature. That’s why, you should choose a model that has windows, doors, and hatches that prevent heat loss.
The frame design
The so-called trailer envelope or the shell is the component that is most susceptible to heat loss. Checking from which material the travel trailer’s frame, walls, and roof are made might help you understand better how the trailer is going to behave under challenging weather conditions.
Off-grid and on-grid performance
Boondocking in style can drain your energy supply in a hurry. Estimate how much power the four-season travel trailer’s heating system needs to keep the interior warm, to figure out how much propane you need to take with you or how many solar batteries you need to charge.
Also, you can measure how much electricity you’re going to need to keep the trailer’s heating or AC systems running and calculate the additional costs you will have to cover.
The 5 best four season travel trailers
Lance 4 Season Travel Trailer – The most customizable four season travel trailer
The extensive list of features makes the Lance 4 Season Travel Trailer a tempting option for all full-time RVers. All brand’s 4 Season travel trailers feature an aluminum frame and block foam and Azdel interior wall insulation.
Both the roof and the floor of all Lance 4 Season Travel Trailers are insulated which improves their performance in low temperatures even further. The manufacturer lets you customize your trailer and choose the model’s color or the number of appliances that will come with the trailer.
Some of Lance’s 4 Season models come with a built-in solar panel that enables you to gather the energy you can use to power its AC and heating systems.
- Excellent wall insulation
- Floors are insulated and laminated
- All models have a durable aluminum frame
- Fully customizable
- High price tag
- The furnace has a relatively low BTU output
Heartland Bighorn – The most spacious four season travel trailer
With 4480lbs of cargo capacity, the Heartland Bighorn four-season travel trailer provides you with enough storage space for all supplies and equipment you may need while camping.
There are three-floor plans available within this series and their length, dry weight, and hitch weight are different. However, all versions of this fifth-wheel travel trailer can accommodate a maximum of 4 sleepers.
The walls of all Bighorn models are insulated with block foam and all vital systems are stored in a heated underfloor compartment.
The sidewalls are made of fiberglass that prevents heat loss and the aluminum frame structure ensures that the outside temperature doesn’t affect the trailer’s room temperature.
- Huge cargo capacity
- High-quality insulation materials
- Powerful AC and heating systems
- Includes a large number of appliances
- A limited number of sleeping spaces
- Not compatible with all types of vehicles
Northwood Arctic Fox North Fork – The best four-season travel trailer for low temperatures
You can choose between seven Northwood Arctic Fox North Fork floor plans that all have different sizes. Each model from the North Fork series has a foam block insulation that isn’t susceptible to damages caused by humidity.
Also, these four-season travel trailers have a thick-wall aluminum construction that efficiently reflects the heat and keeps the interior cool. The frameless thermal pane windows protect the potential weak spots from letting in the cold or heat, while the powerful AC and heating systems enable you to regulate the room temperature effortlessly.
All Northwood Arctic Fox North Fork models feature a built-in 45-watt solar panel, but you can opt to add a 100W or a 170W solar panel while customizing your version of this travel trailer.
- Excellent off-grid and on-grid performance
- Thermally protected windows
- Some models feature a fireplace
- State of the art heating and AC systems
- Not a budget-friendly option
- The roof features foil insulation
Jayco Eagle Fifth Wheel – The most luxurious four season travel trailer
Stylish and functional, the Jayco Eagle Fifth Wheel four-season trailer has everything you need to spend months on the road. You can choose between seven configurable floor plans that come with different sets of built-in features.
However, all models have fiberglass wall insulation that is enhanced by the reflective Flexfoil insulation that helps reflect heat. The manufacturer has developed the ClimateShiled technology that ensures the interior temperatures won’t rise above 71F even if the outside temperature is 100F.
On the other hand, the room temperature inside any of the models from the Eagle Fifth Wheel series isn’t going to drop below 68F if the outside temperature is 0F.
Check out the following guide to learn how Jayco compares to the Winnebago brand.
- Stylish exterior and comfortable interior
- The windows have reflective G20 dark tint
- Heated underbelly prevents freezing of vital systems
- Water lines can withstand temperatures up to -40F
- Water tank freezes at 0F
- The trailer’s warranty doesn’t cover damages caused by freezing
Forest River Arctic Wolf – The most stylish four season travel trailer
All versions of the Forest River Arctic Wolf four-season travel trailer come with the elemental protection package, but different floor plans contain different features from this package. Even so, each Arctic Wolf model has 2-inch laminated walls that contain block foam insulation.
The roof and floor superstructure is built from non-conductive wood, while the roofing membrane has heat reflection features that reduce the interior temperature during hot summer days.
A 35000 BTU furnace makes it easy to heat this four-season travel trailer and an armored underbelly tank closure prevents water from freezing.
- The central air cooling system has 15000 BTU capacity
- The electric fireplace has several fan and heat settings
- All floorplans come with a 35000 BTU furnace
- 2-inch thick insulated walls
- Heat regulation features depend on the floor plan
- The lightest Arctic Wolf model weighs over a 1000lbs
Frequently asked questions about four-season travel trailers
Question: Do I need additional power sources for a four-season travel trailer?
Answer: Although some models may feature a solar panel its power output isn’t high enough to meet all your power consumption needs. Getting a generator or installing a solar power system will enable you to stay off the grid for days if not weeks.
Question: Should I empty the water tank during winter nights?
Answer: Most manufacturers don’t issue warranties for damages caused by freezing, so emptying the water tank when you expect the temperatures to drop below 0F will prevent the potential damage.
Question: Can I sleep in a four-season travel trailer even at subzero temperatures?
Answer: Whether or not you’ll feel comfortable in your four-season travel trailer while the exterior temperatures are below 0F depends on the trailer model, its heating system, and insulation type.
Question: Do four-season travel trailers lose their heat retention capabilities in time?
Answer: All insulation materials gradually lose their heat retention capabilities, so the interior of a four-season trailer is going to become colder over time.
Our verdict: Which 4 season travel trailer performs best in freezing temperatures?
Spending the entire year on the road, regardless of the weather conditions can bring you some incredible experiences.
But, regular travel trailers are simply too cold for camping during winter, and you must get a four-season travel trailer if you don’t want to move to a region with a warmer climate during the cold months.
Besides, four-season travel trailers are an excellent option for all full-time RVers, because they bring a high degree of comfort.
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