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Winter RV skirting can make a huge difference in how enjoyable winter RV camping can be. When I was a small child, my grandparents owned a massive Airstream trailer and were out on the road more often than they were home. They were big adventurers, always driving up north for gold panning opportunities, and my grandfather always had a vial with a dollop of gold powder in his pocket.
Anytime they came home, I would want to sleep over in their RV, and in the winter months, I often felt a stiffening cold coming up through the floor. Back then I didn’t know why. But today, I know that RVs are not built like homes. Their under-carriages are almost always poorly insulated or not insulated at all.
Those who appreciate the freedom and power of recreational vehicles will know that RVs can suffer from poor insulation on the under-carriage. This is not true with all makes and models, but it is certainly something you will have to deal with if your RV lacks insulation in the flooring. As we move into the colder months of the year, you can bet this issue will become more and more pressing.
Today, the recreational vehicle industry has come up with an answer to this problem: RV skirting. If you own an RV, none of this should come as a shock to you. The good news is, there is an answer. Here, we will explain what RV skirting is and discuss your options. With any luck, you won’t have to abandon your beloved freedom machine when the winter turns bitter cold this year.
What is Winter RV Skirting?
RV skirting is essential for camping in the cold of winter. If you’ve ever visited an RV park, you probably noticed that many of the vehicles are skirted. In communities where RV’s serve as permanent, or semi-permanent residences, these skirts are ubiquitous. All trailer homes have them since they are planted in a permanent position. Should they ever be moved, the skirts will come off and be replaced at their destination. But for an RV, these skirts need to be able to be attached and removed readily, allowing the vehicle to remain in place for a while and then detach, allowing the vehicle to return home, or continue its journey.
Most winter RV skirts are made from Styrofoam or vinyl. They prevent cold wind from blowing along the belly of the vehicle, carrying away valuable heat. Incidentally, this effect is very similar to how an air conditioner works; heat is absorbed and concentrated into coils to be whisked away, creating a temperature differential. In an RV, you will be on the wrong side of that temperature differential without skirting.
Because there are many kinds of RV, there are multiple types of skirt panels you can use. Now, let’s talk about some of the deciding factors that will determine what type is best for you.
Factors to Consider When Shopping for winter RV Skirting
Knowing your RV and camping/travel habits is important to picking the right skirting.
Ease of Setup & Breakdown of RV Skirting
If you’re parking your RV for a year, relatively permanent skirting is a good choice. But if you plan to camp, pack up and move, and camp again, your skirts need to come off and go on fairly easily. You will need to have the required tools, and space on-board to store panels and equipment.
Portability of RV skirting
Storage space will be at a premium, especially for more mobile users. Generally, the more portable the skirting, the less insulation value you’ll get out of them. That’s not always the case. But portability usually comes at the cost of insulation.
Insulation Factor of RV Skirting
More insulation usually means bigger, thicker panels. There is a variety of skirting that is inflatable. These offer very robust insulation, and they are very portable and easy to set up and break down. I’ve been using the Airskirts version for my Airstream and have been very happy with how they have held up through the end of last winter.
Durability, Strength, & Appearance
If the wind is strong, will it hold up? Temporary skirting will tend to wear down with use, especially with repeated setup and removal. If high winds are expected, skimping on the strength of your winter RV skirting may result in damage to the skirts, and possibly to your RV. In some cases, using stones to anchor and help stabilize your skirting can help less durable products to go the distance. But, of course, this might be more work than you bargained for. If you want your skirting to look nice, then more permanent options are usually necessary.
Is Winter RV Skirting Necessary?
If you’re unable to keep the cold out of your RV without running a heater non-stop, skirting can help. But there are other solutions. Insulated carpet and flooring might be a better all-around solution. RV skirting can be a lot of work and can damage your RV exterior if installed or used improperly. However, it is usually much less expensive than insulating carpeting and flooring.
One of the most important reasons for skirting is to insulate the plumbing. If your RV is not a “four-season model,” and you plan to use it during the winter, RV skirting will be important. Four-season RVs have insulated plumbing. Therefore, unless you feel cold in the vehicle, four-season models don’t necessarily need skirting. However, skirting can help keep wind, snow, and furry critters from underneath your RV.
The Best Skirting for Winter RV Camping
With so many RV makes and models on the market, it’s pretty difficult to come up with a one-size-fits-all solution. What’s more, RV users tend to have a wide range of use cases and travel habits. So choosing a skirting option that suits you will take some planning.
Custom RV Skirting
Likely the most reliable way to obtain quality skirts that fit your vehicle to a T, custom skirting is among the most popular options for dedicated RV enthusiasts. There are many companies to choose from. They will come to your location or you can drive to their fitting facility. They will measure your vehicle and craft customized skirting that will fit as tightly and work as well or better than any skirting on the market. Custom skirting can be a bit pricey, coming in between $1,500 and $2,500.
EZ Snap RV Skirting
A more affordable option, EZ skirting sells a snap-on system designed to allow the user to install a self-customized skirting set. It uses screw-in boat snaps, adhesive snaps, (or a combination of the two), and pipe clamps (recommended). They look decent and are much cheaper than custom skirts, usually running between $200 and $500. The seal will not be quite as tight as with custom skirts or as professional-looking. However, in my opinion, this is likely the best value on the market. The one downside with snap-on skirting for Airstream owners is the need to punch the metal snaps thru the Airstream aluminum shell and does affect the cosmetic look of the Airstream.
RV Wind Pros
This company, based in the Midwestern US, will travel to your location. They use a unique awning track to affix the skirting. They offer very sleek-looking vinyl skirts and insulated skirting. Their products are durable and fairly nice looking. It’s less expensive than most custom solutions, and you can save even more by driving to their location in Akron, Indiana.
Easily the most portable and easy to install, Airskirts are an excellent option for cold-weather Airstream owners fans who have no intention of staying in one spot for long. It’s a great choice for Christmastime visits to family, and they practically install themselves taking about 10 to 15 minutes to set up and takedown.
I started using Airskirts last winter for camping near Lake Tahoe and found they really helped keep my Airstream warmer in the cold February and March nights where the nightly lows dropped well under freezing. No frozen pipes or other cold-weather issues that are sometimes an issue with winter RV camping.
Airskirts come in different lengths and the company’s website is very helpful in determining which lengths of Airskirts are needed based on your Airstream length and model. I even called Airskirts and got the owner answering the phone and he spent about 15 to 20 minutes answering all the questions I had as well as giving a lot of general helpful tips for winter RV camping since last winter was my first time using my Airstream during the cold weather.
Better yet, Airskirts are durable enough to be used as winter RV skirting for longer-term cold and winter camping. A good set of Airskirts will cost approximately $1,800 to $2,000. They roll up very compactly and store easily in a duffel bag provided by the Airskirts company.
If you do a lot of traveling, these Airskirts winter skirting for Airstream trailers are unbeatable for ease of use as well as keeping your Airstream warm.
If you’re up to the task and want to save a few hundred dollars, DIY skirting can be as good as any. You’ll be responsible for any damage to your RV, and the quality is up to you. But, if you have the know-how and the elbow grease, this is easily the most affordable way to go. Some DIY RV owners use plywood or hard foam insulation boards cut to fit underneath their RVs. I met one RV owner that used two inflatable kiddie pools and a trickle heater under his RV as another DIY winter RV skirting solution. It wasn’t a perfect fit under the RV but did keep the RV warm enough at night so that the water pipes never froze throughout a cold Lake Tahoe winter.