Are you called toward snow-capped mountains, frozen lakes, or the chill of crisp winter air? These 4 season 5th wheel campers are a great choice for RV adventures without limits – whether you are looking for an epic winter escape, or just prefer the quieter shoulder seasons when the weather can be a bit more unpredictable.
Finding a fifth wheel that is truly 4-season ready can be tricky and there is a lot of misinformation out there. We have been full-time RVing for over two years and have camped in an 8-degree winter wonderland on a couple of occasions. Let us help you avoid buyer’s remorse and be prepared for anything by selecting a fifth wheel built to meet your RV travel needs, no matter where they take you…or when!
About Fifth Wheel Campers
A fifth wheel is a type of towable RV that is attached to the bed of a pickup truck using a specialized hitch called a fifth wheel hitch. Assuming a truck has four wheels (which many will have 6+), the hitch in the bed of the truck serves as the “fifth wheel”.
Fifth-wheel trailers can also be towed with an adaptation making them a gooseneck trailer, like you might expect of horse or cattle trailers.
Unlike travel trailers that are towed using a traditional hitch and ball behind a vehicle or motorhomes or vans that you drive, fifth wheels offer unique advantages when it comes to towing (including increased stability and better weight distribution) and often have a more spacious interior due to their ability have deeper slides and higher ceilings. This makes them an excellent choice for extended travel throughout the year and full-time living.
Fifth-Wheel Floor Plans & Features
We believe out of any RV type, fifth wheels feel the most like a traditional home. They have high ceilings, spacious interiors, and ample storage space.
In our opinion, if you plan to use your RV often and want to feel most like you are living in a home, a fifth wheel is a great choice.
Fifth wheels are also a great budget-friendly option for finding a four-season package in an RV. They are the perfect middle ground between travel trailers, which are less likely to be built for year-round use, and motorhomes which can have all the bells and whistles to weather any storm or temperature you might come across, but with a price that could make your head spin.
I mean if you have a spare $750,000 lying around… the sky is the limit for you with the RVs being put out on the market today.
Whatever RV you choose, one thing is certain: There will always be trade-offs!
This is no perfect RV and finding a fifth wheel that meets every one of your needs and desires can be tough. The good news is that fifth wheels come in a variety of floor plans and with a variety of features.
Example fifth wheel floor plans include:
- Toy hauler: A fifth wheel with a “garage” at the back that can be used for hauling a small car, golf cart, or ATV. It can also be transformed into a home gym, office space, or second bedroom.
- Center Kitchen: This model has a kitchen in the center of the RV, with the living space either up in the overhang of the fifth wheel (front) or in the rear of the fifth wheel
- Rear Kitchen: A large kitchen in the rear of the fifth wheel, with the living area in the center and the bathroom and bedroom upstairs in the overhang
- Front Kitchen: A large kitchen upstairs in the overhang of the fifth wheel, typically with the living room downstairs in the center and the bedroom at the rear
- Bunkhouse: A model with a second sleeping area, that can either be bunkbeds that exist at the rear of the RV, in the center in an additional slide-out (often with a loft area), or in the front of the RV.
With their “home-like” design, a fifth-wheel RV will often have some form of a kitchen island, a living room with theater seating, a master bedroom with a queen bed or a king bed, a dining table or dinette area, and a full bathroom with a shower and sometimes even a full bath in addition to a half bath.
They can also come with optional equipment and upgrades such as solar panels, a washer and dryer, a dishwasher, and more!
But…how do you know if the fifth wheel that has the right layout will actually perform in the variable conditions you will encounter with year-round use?
What is a true “four-season” RV?
North America is home to a wide range of climates and landscapes. This means you could just as easily find yourself exploring areas with 115F summers in the southwest or winters well below freezing in the north.
How do you plan to use your fifth wheel and where do you plan to travel? This will give you an idea of what kind of functionality you need to stay comfortable and safe during your travels!
In many areas of the country, especially at higher elevations, weather can also be unpredictable. We drove up to the Grand Canyon in March expecting cooler temperatures but instead woke up to a surprise snowstorm and a whopping 8F. Brrrrr!
If you do plan to camp or live in your fifth wheel in the winter months, you will want to make sure your RV is ready for more extreme temperatures. The larger the RV and the more slideouts it has (which fifth wheels tend to be larger and have more slideouts) the harder it can be to find units that are truly 4-season ready. Not impossible! Just tougher.
The last thing you want is to find yourself sitting in a cold box, unable to keep your RV warm or be left dealing with frozen pipes or water lines.
If you plan to purchase your RV so that you can put it to use, rather than winterize it and use it only a few times a year…
Just like the term “luxury” can be thrown around lightly by the RV industry, “4-season” can tend to be overused or used incorrectly as well.
There is no industry standard or certification of what truly is a 4-season RV.
So that means it is important to arm yourself with knowledge and research – like you are now by reading this! – to help you understand what features and construction keys to look out for when purchasing a fifth wheel that you intend to use in a variety of seasons and temperatures.
A true 4 season RV is one that can function optimally and keep you safe and comfortable throughout any time of year; winter, spring, fall, or summer.
While this term is typically used to market RVs that can keep you warm in the cold winter months, some of the features can also help you stay cool in the warm summer months, making real 4-season RVs true all-weather, all-season campers.
Special Features to look for
These are some of the most important things to look for in a fifth wheel that you hope to use year-round and in more extreme temperatures than you might traditionally expect to RV in.
Thermal/Dual Pane Windows
Dual pane (also called double pane) windows are a key component to a true four-season fifth wheel.
You may have heard some people talk about condensation on their RV windows during more extreme weather conditions and this is in part a result of single-pane windows.
We have camped in our fifth wheel in temperatures ranging from 0F to 100F and have never experienced any condensation, thanks to our double pane windows!
With an extra layer of glass between you and the elements your RV will stay warmer (or cooler) as well as drier!
Thicker walls and increased insulation
When it comes to insulation, the higher the R-value the better. R-value represents thermal resistance, meaning how well an insulation material can resist the flow of heat.
A higher R-value will both keep your fifth wheel cooler in the warm summer months and warmer in the cold winter months.
Just keep in mind that many of the R-values you might see stated by RV manufacturers can be misleading, so take them with a grain of salt.
Most fifth wheels will come with fiberglass insulation which is versatile, cost-effective, and easy to install. Many will also offer rigid foam insulation in some places which often has a higher R-value, but is not as easy to pack into the gaps and spaces required in RV builds
You could also reinforce the insulation in your fifth wheel by adding more, which creates a cumulative effect.
You will want to take note of how the fifth wheel you are considering is insulated not only in the walls but also in the floor and roof, including slide-out floors!
- Our DRV Mobile Suites fifth wheel is labeled a “4-season” fifth wheel and has 3 1/4 inch thick walls with R-16 insulation around all slides and walls. Another perk of all of that insulation is that this also serves as great soundproofing!
Heated and/or insulated tanks
A few words you never want to hear as an RV owner: crack, frozen, freezing
Heated and insulated tanks (by way of heat pads or a fully enclosed and heated underbelly), serve the vital function of keeping your fresh water tank and your holding tanks from freezing, as well as your fifth wheel’s water lines.
Frozen water lines, pipes, or tanks can lead to cracks, bursts, leaks… a myriad of costly repairs and damage.
Check if the RV you are looking at was built using PEX tubing. These are more versatile and able to withstand higher fluctuations in temperature without damage.
- Something to think about: You may also want to consider a fifth wheel with larger tanks as they will be less likely to freeze and require less dumping or refilling during those colder periods if you do not have access to hookups (remember, many parks will turn off water during the colder months!)
Adequate furnace and heat pump options
To lead with a bit of transparency…
Propane can be expensive and hard to find (depending on where you are). And the RV furnace is a propane hog.
BTUs, or British Thermal Units, is the measurement used to quantify heat energy. This is what you will find as a rating for RV furnaces (a propane heat source) and heat pumps (an electric heat source), as well as RV air conditioners (based on how many BTUs of heat they can remove per hour)!
Specifically, they measure the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit at a constant pressure.
When it comes to BTUs the larger the fifth wheel the higher BTUs you will want your furnace or heat pump to have so that your heating appliances can keep up with heating the space.
The good news is that things like a furnace and a heat pump or a space heater or electric fireplace can supplement each other. Keep in mind as well that other factors like quality of insulation also play a role in how well these appliances will do at heating your fifth wheel in colder temperatures.
Generally, bigger upgraded furnaces (along with bigger propane tanks) with be able to run longer and keep your fifth wheel warmer during extended periods of cold or even freezing temperatures.
As a general rule of thumb:
- Small RVs or trailers (under 25 feet) may require furnaces in the range of 20,000 to 30,000 BTUs.
- Medium-sized RVs (25 to 35 feet) might benefit from furnaces in the 30,000 to 40,000 BTU range.
- Larger RVs (35 feet and above) may need furnaces with BTU ratings exceeding 40,000
- Our DRV has dual 40 lb propane tanks and a 40,000 BTU propane furnace, as well as a 15,000 BTU heat pump and a 10,000 BTU electric fireplace
Pro Tip: Always check with the place filling your propane if they charge by the tank size or by how much propane you actually need in your tank. Many places do charge by the tank size, regardless of how much your tank actually takes in so you will want to make sure it is nice and empty before getting it filled if that is the case! This shocked us once, so we’re sharing so hopefully you can learn from our naivety!
Ducted vents can also improve a fifth wheel’s ability to distribute warm (or cool) air efficiently.
Compared to some fifth wheels that will vent cooled or heated air directly out of the installed units, ducted fifth wheels carry the air away from the roof-mounted air conditioner/heat pump combo or furnace, dispersing it across multiple vents.
This is not only a more efficient way to heat and cool the RV, but it also offers zoning capabilities, quieter operation, and is more aesthetically appealing.
In our DRV, our ducted furnace in the floor helps to keep our main floor warm in colder temperatures, while also further moving warm air around the heated and enclosed underbelly to further support our holding tanks in cold weather.
Arctic packages, polar packages, whatever they might be called – you should be weary and approach with caution.
Typically marketed as upgrades, these packages will take most fifth wheels from a 2 or 3-season RV to a 3.5-season camper at best.
These types of “4-season” packages are typically designed with the intention of keeping pipes and tanks from freezing and will include things like an enclosed underbelly, tank heaters, and foam insulation/heat tape around the RV plumbing.
For most RV users, these small adjustments may make your fifth wheel comfortable enough for how you plan to use it, such as if you happen to find yourself with some chillier nights or maybe even a dusting of snow.
But could you live in it comfortably through a Canadian winter? Probably not…
To truly take your fifth wheel’s capabilities up a notch for extreme temperatures, this will require additional thickness with insulation. Remember, the higher the R-value, the better!
Just like when it comes to the luxury label, not all Artic packages are created equal.
For example, we know some people with DRVs that have the Canadian Arctic package that includes major upgrades including dual propane furnaces (30,000 BTUs and 35,000 BTUs). This keeps the fifth wheel warm through the snowy, cold, and windy Atlantic Canada winter – but not without going through a whopping 420 pounds of propane every 1-1.5 months!!
Why is getting a true 4-season RV important if you want to camp in colder climates?
Taking your fifth wheel into extreme temperatures if it is not well equipped could be dangerous and costly.
When it comes to RVing and travel that takes you out into nature and dealing with the elements, being prepared is always key.
Just like you would want a sturdier, heavier RV if you were expecting high winds, you will want a well-insulated RV armed with plenty of BTU heating or cooling power for RVing in extreme cold or warm temperatures.
Common places for heat loss in an RV:
- slide outs
- front cap
- rear wall
Problems with RVs and cold temperatures:
- frozen pipes
- heat loss and lack of ability to stay warm (furnace or heat pumps can’t keep up)
- susceptibility to condensation, water intrusion, and lack of reinforcement for any snow
- cold floors
Smaller RVs like fiberglass trailers will be easier to heat due to their small size. They also do not have slide-outs, which can be notoriously drafty.
You can find 4-season capable fifth wheels that are larger and more spacious, but just be prepared that they also come with a higher price tag!
Let’s see exactly what brands make the cut…
The Most Comprehensive 4-Season Fifth Wheels
These are the best fifth-wheels for camping and RV travel in the colder winter months, with extra features and packages (either standard or upgrades) that make them better suited for true four-season camping. These four-season fifth wheels come with maximum insulation and a more heavy-duty design and features to keep you warm and cozy when temperatures drop.
This list includes luxury options with a higher price tag and more residential features intended for full-time use, as well as a couple of rugged options that are at a more budget-friendly price point.
DRV Mobile Suites
DRV has been manufacturing high-quality fifth wheels since 2003. Their mission is to build units that feel like a true “home on the road” and they aim to incorporate customer feedback into the changes and improvements they make to their models year to year.
We chose DRV as our fifth wheel for full-time living and full-time travel, as we found their units to be the perfect compromise of luxury quality and price that would be ready for any adventure we might take. They are built as four-season models, while also offering additional upgrades for more extremes if you need it!
DRV 4-Season Features
- R-29 insulated frame floor system with three weather barriers. Keeps out condensation and helps keep floors warm in all seasons.
- 3.25″ aluminum framed walls with R-16 insulated rating. Exclusive foam core vapor barrier. Lightweight walls lower heating and cooling costs, reduce noise, and eliminate condensation.
- Radiused aluminum roof rafters on 16″ centers. This creates more space, better insulation, improved water run-off and offers a higher maximum load capacity per square foot.
- R-25 wool insulated roof system with plywood and rubber or fiberglass covering.
The roof provides an improved weather barrier, reduces noise, offers lower heating and cooling costs and is low maintenance.
- Upgraded options include the Canadian Arctic package that includes major upgrades including dual propane furnaces (30,000 BTUs and 35,000 BTUs)
Learn more about DRV’s upgraded heating and air conditioning systems:
Learn more about DRV’s 4-season side-wall construction:
Estimated Cost: $150,000 – $225,000+
Website: DRV Luxury Suites
Luxe Fifth Wheels
Luxe also manufactures four-season luxury fifth wheels specifically with full-time living and use in mind.
They offer 3 varieties of fifth wheels: Luxe Elite, Luxe Gold (smaller units), and Luxe Toy Haulers
Luxe is a Factory Direct company, which means you will not find any new units sitting at dealers waiting to be purchased. This allows units to be made at a slower pace with a focus on quality rather than quantity and the ability to add specialized touches and customizations each step along the way.
Luxe 4-Season Features:
- Dual pane insulated frameless windows
- 15,000 BTU heat pump combo in all air conditioners
- 3″ vacuum bonded walls with ducted venting
- Insulated walkable roof
- Unique construction and top-of-the-line insulation to protect water lines and tanks from freezing
- A fully insulated floor is stuffed with high-density fiberglass insulation then a layer of bubble-style insulation reflective sheathing
- Offer a beefier Arctic Package which includes: 2-30,000 BTU furnaces, 2 heat pads on the freshwater tanks, and foam-insulated Pex waterlines.
- Front and rear caps are fully insulated with radiant barrier insulation, 2 layers of glued-in high-density fiberglass insulation, and a Darco waterproof moisture barrier.
Learn more about Luxe’s fully insulated floor construction:
Estimated Cost: New units start at $212,000 for the smaller 38-foot models and go up to $270,000 for the larger 47-foot toy hauler models
Website: Luxe Fifth Wheels
New Horizons offers fully customizable units in their Majestic line-up, as well as toy haulers.
New Horizons states… “Our RVs are known for their true four-season comfort that allows you to enjoy your RV in temperatures ranging from below zero to 100 degrees and above. They are built to withstand the rigors of full-time living for decades. In fact, we have earned the only FIVE STAR RATING by the RV Consumer Group for over a decade.”
New Horizons 4-Season Features:
- They use 1 ½” closed-cell rigid foam that is often used in the construction of walk-in freezers and coolers. This material has an R-rating of eight, and when combined with the materials to build the walls, New Horizons has conservatively estimated the R-factor is 11, with the roof and floors even higher at a 24-25.
- Insulation in the roof is doubled which allows a full layer of foam above the ductwork
- The floors also have foam laminated into the core. They even have full foam insulation in the slide room floors!
Estimated Cost: Base price for a 33-foot starts at $258,118 and goes up to $317,250 for their biggest model, a 47′ toy hauler
Website: New Horizons
SpaceCraft has been designing and building fully custom fifth wheels for over 60 years.
They focus on residential units specifically with full-time living in mind and carefully work with each owner to craft a fifth wheel, semi-trailer, or even travel trailer that meets their vision and needs.
SpaceCraft touts that they still have several units on the road after 20-30 years of full-time use, which speaks volumes about their quality and craftsmanship.
Spacecraft 4-Season Features:
- Completely insulated 4-season basement
- 1 1/2 inch polystyrene insulated side walls (R10)
- Heated possum belly basement
- Dual pane frameless windows
- 31,000 Forced-Air BTU LP Furnace + 15,000 BTU air conditioner with heat pump
- Insulated Resin 3/4inch plywood main floor (R25)
- Insulated molded fiberglass ceiling (R21)
Estimated Cost: Upwards of $10,000 per linear foot for a new custom built fifth wheel RV
Website: SpaceCraft MFG
Interested in fifth wheels with true luxury features? READ MORE: Best Luxury Fifth Wheels
Making rugged, off-grid-ready trailers and fifth wheels since 2009, Outdoors RV offers four season ready fifth wheels and campers with greater attention to detail and upgraded features compared to other Indiana RV manufacturers offering basic “Arctic packages.”
This is a great brand to consider if you are not looking for a large luxury fifth wheel, but instead want something smaller and lighter that will be sturdy enough for four-season use.
With their line of “Glacier Peak” fifth wheels, Outdoors RV has created their fifth wheels, travel trailers, and toy haulers with 4-season use in mind.
Outdoors RV 4-Season Features:
- Mountain Extreme Thermal Pane Windows
- Triple Layered Four Seasons Roof Insulation
- 1” Thick Exterior Shower/Luggage Doors
- Thermal Insulated Skylights & Bedroom Vent
- XL Furnace (Extreme Camping Heat System)
- Unique Heated, Insulated Holding Tank Design
They also offer a range of impressive off-grid capabilities and design features making them perfect for more rugged adventures and boondocking.
Estimated cost: $70,000
Website: Outdoors RV Mfg
Northwood Manufacturing Arctic Fox
Founded in 1993 and operated in the Blue Mountains of Oregon, Northwood Manufacturing produces travel trailers, fifth wheels, and truck campers focused on quality lighter-weight RVs that can withstand the elements. They even build their own chassis!
4-Season Features of the Arctic Fox:
- High-quality insulation including rigid foam and batten and reflective foil insulation
- Four Seasons Insulation With R-18 Ceiling
- R-15 Reflective Foil Insulation in Roof / Slides
- Heated Holding Tanks and enclosed dump valves
- Frameless Thermal Pane Windows
- Option: Holding Tank Heat Pads (All Tanks)
Estimated Cost: $85,000 +
Website: Northwood Manufacturing
Other 5th Wheels To Consider
If you are not looking to do hard-core winter camping, but expect to take trips in late fall and perhaps find yourself in colder temperatures occasionally, there are plenty of fifth-wheel options that will come with some additional features to keep you comfortable in those shoulder seasons.
Many of these will be more budget-friendly options (similar to the prices for Outdoors RV or the Arctic Fox) that while maybe not built for full-time use in Canadian winters, will offer various levels of “Arctic” or “Polar” packages to help you keep your tanks and pipes in working order and keep you nice and warm!
Grand Design Solitude
Grand Design builds fifth wheels, toy haulers, and travel trailers and is one of the favorite brands among RVers.
If you are looking for a fifth wheel from Grand Design with more features for extended use in more extreme weather, you will want to look at the Solitude line-up.
Features of the Grand Design Solitude:
- Thermal roof construction with fiberglass insulation and a layer of radiant foil insulation that covers the roof
- Vented attic to allow condensation to escape
- Laminated rigid foam insulation in fully laminated walls
- Triple-insulated main floor: underbelly is lined with a radiant foil insulation barrier (Layer 1) and then covered with fiberglass insulation (Layer 2). The main floor enhances the R-Value with yet another layer of fiberglass insulation (Layer 3).
- Fiberglass insulation under the gooseneck (or kingpin area)
- 1.5″ insulated baggage doors
Estimated Cost: MSRP $119,000 +
Website: Grand Design
Features of the Keystone Montana Four Seasons Package:
- Frameless dual pane windows
- Tested & approved to withstand 0° for a minimum of 48 hours
- 30,000 BTU Q-Series™ (quiet) A/C system, Coleman Mach® 15 PowerSaver™ units
- 35,000 BTU furnace; 16,500 BTU heat pump in main A/C
- 5,100 BTU electric fireplace
- The double-insulated, laminated rear wall
- Insulated and heated holding tanks & dump valves
- Enclosed and heated low-point drains
- 12v tank heaters
Estimated Cost: $93,000 +
Website: Keystone Montana
Forest River Riverstone
Forest River’s upscale fifth-wheel brand, focused on making common upgrades for some of the popular fifth-wheel brands a standard option.
They have some upgraded features that come standard, as well as additional options for further extreme weather readiness.
Features of the Riverstone:
- 12V Heated holding tanks
- Insulated roof and flooring
- Residential Insulation: R-16 Insulation Value in Side Walls, including slide-outs
- Dual Pane Frameless Windows
- Option for 15,000 BTU heat pump in one of the A/Cs
Estimated Cost: $140,000 +
Beyond the structure and materials of the fifth wheel you choose, there are also products you can purchase and steps you can take to increase your RV’s ability to handle more extreme weather:
Best Products For 4-Season Fifth Wheel Camping
You can’t just rely on your RV or fifth wheel to have everything you need for a successful winter or cold-weather camping experience. These tools will help you brave the elements with ease and give you peace of mind!
Heated Water Hose
Insulated Vent Covers
Prevent precious heat or cool air from escaping through your RV vent fans or skylights!
You can also use Reflectix reflective insulating material to create more insulating barriers for windows or other drafty areas in your RV!
RV Tank Heating Pads
Quality Space Heater
This won’t keep your tanks or water lines from freezing, but it will help keep you warmer in the body of your fifth wheel!
RV skirting can make a big difference in the amount of energy loss in your fifth wheel when it is placed in more extreme conditions.
EZ Snap is a highly rated, #1 selling option that comes with a (-40F) cold weather rating and can be installed easily, without professional help. No drilling required!
On those really chilly nights, we love to get out our heated blanket to make sure our bed is nice and cozy before crawling in for the night!
Degrees of Comfort Electric Blanket
- UL-certified heated blankets are specifically engineered to release the lowest possible EMF emissions while heating up to warm comfort with guaranteed peace of mind.
- Adjustable Heat Settings – Find your perfect warmth with 20 different heating levels using our LCD display control
We hope this article helps you find the fifth wheel that can make all of your winter travel dreams come true. Wading through the jargon and sales tactics can be overwhelming and you are certainly not alone if researching the RV that will be the best use of your money feels like quite the headache sometimes.
When it comes down to purchasing a fifth wheel that will work for your needs, the important things to keep in mind are how you are going to use it and how the design and foundation structure of the fifth wheel will hold up in more extreme conditions.
Look beyond the R values. How thick are the walls? Is the heat ducted? What is the design of the floors, side walls, and roof like? How big is the furnace and how much propane storage does it have? What is the underbelly like?
Fifth wheels may not be your best bet if you want to camp in the harshest of winter conditions. In that case, you may want to consider something that is built for true winter camping without the added areas with drafts, like slide-outs and large windows.
You may also want to think of other factors as well, like the structural ability to deal with heavy, wet snow.
There are certainly great fifth wheels on the market that are a nice balance of a more luxurious RVing experience with all of the comforts of home and upgraded features to help you stay comfortable in more extreme weather year-round.
Take your time, ask lots of questions (of the salespeople and owners of the brands you are considering), try renting one if you are able, and take the time to look around at all of the features.
Check out these other Fifth Wheels articles you might be interested in:
- Best Fifth Wheel Accessories
- Best Luxury Fifth Wheels For Full-Time Living
- Guide To Fifth Wheel Hitches
- Best Truck Tires For Towing Fifth Wheels
- Do Fifth Wheels Have To Stop At Weigh Stations?
Ready to hit the road full-time? Check out the ultimate full-time RV checklist!