RV Buying Advice

Hi all,

I've found this website and have read through some posts and feel there are many experienced rver's here on this website. I would like to ask some advice on purchasing an rv.

First, a little about me and my husband. We're in our mid 40's and have decided to take to the road for a couple of years and have decided to see the country via RV. We have narrowed down that a 5th wheel would best suit our needs, primary because we will be staying in places for nearly a month or more at a time and that this will be our only residence for the next 2 years.

Now to the advice that I'm seeking. We will be traveling to extreme cold climates (primarily because we love snow skiing), so we need to find a rv that will handle the cold climates, say the average low being 10 - 30 degrees. We have visited several dealerships in the Tampa, FL area and narrowed down one of the best brands to Carriage (Cameo LXI). We have asked the sales person about certain things, but really haven't gotten specific answers to our questions. Here are some of the things we're trying to determine in order to place our order of the rv.

First, is Carriage a good all season RV? Carriage and Lazy Days says so and the quality of the coach (the ones that I've seen) is better than Everest, Cambridge and Titatium some of the others that were slated as all season rvs.

Second, how important are dual pane windows for cold temps? I've been told that they are extremely heavy (which means our carrying capcity will decrease by the extra weight) and that just adding foam insulation on the windows for cold days will be just as good as dual pane. The foam insulation (which the sales person can be cut down to fit the windows) is susposed to be a good option instead of dual pane windows.

Third, anyone have use the fireplace as heating and how good is it? It's a pricy option, around $1,000 and I want to determine if it's worth it for heating or just something pretty to look at. I want something functional, not just for decoration.

Lastly, any advice you can add for winter camping, I would greatly appreciate it. I know people do it because I've visited RV parks in Utah during ski season and found rv's there for the winter. I would appreciate advice and tips on how to survive the cold temps.

Again, I appreciate everyone reading my posts and giving your opinions and advice to help us make a good, educated decision.



Senior Member
RV Buying Advice

I don't have any experiance with cold climates, but here are a couple of things to keep in mind. 1) Many fifth wheels have the tanks and plumbing exposed to the elements; this would be a bad thing in prolonged cold temperatures. Make sure that whatever you get, the tanks and pipes are in a heated compartment or at least have heater pads/tapes installed to protect them. The latter will likely suck power, so may not be good for staying in the cold without electric hookup or generator.

2) No matter what you get, you may have problems with your water hookup. Perhaps some combination of insulated hose and heat tape can overcome that, or just hooking up to fill your tank then running off that.

3) Even if the tanks and plumbing are in a heated compartment, I might also look into a skirting you could fasten around the bottom of the trailer to keep the wind from whistling through (ice seems to form first on bridges, after all).

As to dual pane windows, there are 2 problems with single pane windows. Heat transfer, which foam panels can help with, and condensation, which I don't know how foam would affect. If dual panes are better than single pane with foam, I don't know how much extra they could weigh. 20-30 pounds? Might be worth it; if you are that close to your GVW, you probably have the wrong trailer anyway.

Fireplaces are absolutely lousy sources of heat. They are also fairly heavy, since they have to be fireproof. That generally means some form of Metal or Stone. Sealed stoves or other units which control the amount of air into the fire and how the heat is directed can be quite effective. So unless the option is a sealed unit (with a glass front so you can enjoy the fire), I would stay far away from it. Even if it was the worlds most efficient unit, I suspect it would take at least a 100 pounds of carrying capacity away plus a nice amount of storage space. Besides, wood is bulky and heavy, so transportating a good supply would be troublesome, and what would you do if you ran out somewhere where you couldn't get more?


Senior Member
RV Buying Advice

We have been fulltime now for nearly six years, and have some experience in cold weather, but not to the extent that you are looking at. The first thing I would point out is that while there are many happy in fifth wheels, that is just as true for motorhomes so do not use that as your only criteria. Of course, if you are sure, the stick with the choice, but do make sure.

On your second question, I would never consider any RV for fulltime living if it did not have dual pane windows. They are very important to both heating and cooling as well as to the problem of condensation inside of the RV. I have owned RVs with single pane in the past, but now that I have one with dual pane, I will never buy another without.

And last, a fire place is not an efficient means to heat any space and an RV, you must be kidding? There are electric ones that look real and actually do supply some heat, but a real one is probably going to be a major disappointment.

C Nash

Senior Member
RV Buying Advice

Julia, I think the fireplace option you are talking about is electric. If so it is not that heavy but is also mostly for looks IMO. It will give of heat for not so cold weather. A small portable electric heater will be just as good and not take up as much space. Think you might should check into some more 4 season rvs before making a decision. Ck the insulation value in the floor, ceiling and walls. Be sure it has an artic package. Yes on the dual pane windows. What size are you looking at? What will you tow with? Do your homework and ask :question: Ck weights that the rv can handle. Good luck
RV Buying Advice

Julia, I usually don't "sell" here, but allow me a little pleasure. I have on my lot right now a Gulf Stream Prairie Schooner 34FBW that is rated to -10 degrees. It has an Artic Package which gives you a 42,000 btu furnace, extra insulation under the roof and flooring, Dual Pane windows and lots more. (the windows are worth it) The enclosed underbelly on this trailer is standard with the tanks heated. It does have a fireplace, an electric one. That is all you can get in a trailer, per RVIA. Gas is too hot and wood is not even an option. The weight of the fireplace would not be over 40-50lb. It does put out heat. I would not say it is the best source, but better than nothing as long as you have the elec. The real cost is $695.00. If someone pays a thousand, I cannot say here what I think of that because they don't allow that language. Check this trailer out by going to the RVUSA Home page and clicking New RV dealers. Click on Virginia and you will see my listings with this trailer in detail. I will sell for less if straight sale. We can also order anything they make.

OK, I will quit now, thanks.
RV Buying Advice

Thanks all for the information and advice. I truely appreciate it.

A couple of you mentioned I better do some more research on all season rvs. I've been trying to do that, but living in Florida, it's hard to find dealers that sell all season rvs. I've also read 3 books and several websites, but not too many people want to give out names of rvs that they recommend. I've seen the names Newmar, Travel Supreme, Artic Fox, but only have seen Newmars in the Tampa area and they are out of my price range; i.e. over $100K. I'm looking for a 35 - 36 ft 5th wheel for under $75K. I haven't seen Travel Supreme or Artic Fox in my area. Again, I've been told that Carriage's underbelly is well insulated and has an actual heating duct routed to the holding tank area. Newmar only had heated tanks with well insulated underbelly, but again $100 - $125K is out of my price range.

A couple people mentioned the insulation. The insulation rating is R-8 in the walls, R-24 in the floor and R-14 in the ceiling. Again, I was told this was good insulation. Any thoughts?

I will definitely go with the dual pane window option. It only adds about $1,400 to the price and will be well worth it. Again, I've been talking to Florida sales people who have admitted that they don't know much about rving in the cold climates and they are the ones that suggested the foam window insulation. I'm from Florida, only vacation in the extreme cold temps, but I even have dual pane windows in my home in Tampa. Thanks for the advice on condensation being a problem. That is something none of the books wrote about and I've read on a couple of posts that condensation was a real issue.

As for the fireplace, again a FL sales person told me that this may be a good source of heat for us, but I was figuring buying a good space heater would do the trick and only cost me $100 or so. Thanks again for steering me away from that.

I appreciate the skirting tip. It only makes since to block out the cold from passing under your rv. Again, I probably would have figured that out visiting RV parks and just by experience, but it saved me a cold winter's night by making plans ahead of time to have the skirting up before it gets too cold.

Thanks again everyone.



Senior Member
RV Buying Advice

On the insulation issue, to give you something to compare to, most standard houses come with R19 in the walls and R30 in the ceilings. Floors in a house are very often not rated since they may well be over a heated basement. But they are important in an RV since wind can readily blow under it. But those ratings sound pretty low to me, although I really don't remember what our motorhome has any longer.

One thing that has not been mentioned in this thread is what you expect to tow the trailer with. Have you looked at the weight issues at all? Weight ratings are very important when it comes to the reliability of the tow vehicle and the safety of everyone when an emergency happens. Many fifth wheel trailers are towed by trucks that are not rated to tow them and if the owners are lucky, the seem to do OK. But consider the issue of control of the trailer when in mountains, or in a high wind. Then add in the effect of some type of emergency stop or a blown tire and you can see what the point is. Studies have shown that about 70% or more of all RVs on the road have at least one wheel over loaded.

High quality RVs that are insulated for very cold weather are also very heavy. You say that you will be traveling in "extreme cold climates" and that also means that you will experience slick roads at times as well as the issues of keeping the RV warm. Very few RVs are designed for what you seem to have in mind. Notice that the one suggested by Grandview is rated to 10 degrees. I would hardly call that extreme cold. The kind of trailer that is needed to spend much time in comfort with temperatures that stay well below freezing for long periods will be very expensive and also very heavy. The trailers that actually have that kind of rating come from people like Teton, Mobile Suites, and perhaps Travel Supreme. They use wood frames because any metal will conduct heat out of the RV. Because they use wood, they are much more heavy. That means a very high purchase price and an expensive tow truck. If you buy a trailer that does not have the design for the kind of weather you winter in, you can expect to use very large amounts of propane to stay warm and to have drafts, cold spots and perhaps frozen plumbing. Most of the major ski areas consider 10 degrees to be a warm night. It could well be the high temperature for the day much of the time.
RV Buying Advice

Kirk, please read carefully before you speak. I said MINUS 10, sorry but I do not think a ski are would consider that warm. They might like it for business, but not warm. The insulation factors in my trailer are: Roof R-26, Floor R-32, Walls R-10. In the RV industry that is pretty good. The weight is 11,600. A friend of mine bought a 2005 Teton. That thing weighs almost 22,000lb. and he could have bought 2.5 Prairie Schooners for what he paid. He has had so many problems with it, he is pretty disgusted. Very nice trailer, but his R values are not that much better, if any.

Went to Tetons website. Their R values are 25 for roof and 10 for walls. They don't tell you the floor.
In my opinion, Prairie Schooner is well insulated, not too heavy for a 3/4 ton truck and fairly priced.
RV Buying Advice

Grandview, I believe most NORMAl people would consider 10 degrees an extremely cold climate, unless they live in Alaska. But minus 10 is most definently frigid! Sounds like the trailer you have would MORE than do the job of keeping someone cozy on that MINUS 10 degree night. ;)
RV Buying Advice

He needs to double check his facts too. He is right that Teton uses wood framing, but Mobile Suites and Travel Supreme use ALUMINUM. In fact, Mobile Suites wall is 3.25" thick and has an R value of 13. Their floor is R-27.
There is a big debate which is better. I have used both, but I like aluminum better. My friends 1995 Teton had a leaking window in his large slideout. In 2003 his trailer spent 3 months at his dealership rebuilding the slideout. The floor was getting ready to fall out. Because the sofa was there, he did not notice it until it was too late. Funny part is he bought another one, but he likes Fords too.
RV Buying Advice

quote:Funny part is he bought another one, but he likes Fords too.

LMAO! I was thinking about the Mobile Suite 5th wheel myself, but my husband and I aren't in any hurry. We'll probably drive up to Elkhart, IND and see all our choices before we commit to a particular model and make. But we do know we want at least two slides and a well insulated one.

Grandview, have you ever heard of Americana?

I would really prefer a floorplan where the livingroom is up front and the bedroom in the back, but they aren't too common I guess. I haven't had much luck in finding a floorplan like that, that I like.

Oh well, like I said, we're taking our time this time. We really rushed into the trailer purchase and even though we like it okay and it has served it's purpose very well, we'd really like more space and ammenities.

I do like this floorplan pretty well on your website for the Praire Schooner. I like the way the bathroom is accesible from both the main living area and the bedroom so guests won't have to go through your bedroom to go to the bathroom.

RV Buying Advice

Hi all.

Thanks again for all the responses. I've done some more research and I'm made a primarily decision to buy a Travel Supreme with the SubZero package option. The R ratings in Travel Supreme that I'm looking at are R-19 in the ceiling, adding the SubZero package would be more like R-30, R-10 in the walls again with the SubZero would be like R-17 and R-19 in the floor and with the SubZero would be R-31. Also, the rep told me that the R-19, R-10 & R-19 was not a composite rating like some others, but a true rating and that I can add a little more R rating for the materials used in building the Fifth Wheel. So adding the materials, I would be like well over R-30 in the roof & floor and almost R-19 in the walls.

Kirk, thanks for mentioning the tow vehicle, because I thought I could get away with a F-250 diesel dually, but the Travel Supreme is going to be around 14,000 unloaded. I'm thinking I'll be around 15,0000 to 15,500 loaded and a F-250 is rated no higher than 15,000 tow capacity. I'm going up the F-350 and playing it safe. One of the reasons I went with Travel Supreme is the fact that 3 3/8" brakes come standard, where I was looking at 2 1/2" brakes as a option on the Carriage. Also you made a good point on the safety of towing, Kirk. I was a truck driver in my former life and I am all aware of the having the proper vehicle, proper weight limits on my axels and the importance of good, strong breaks in the mountains. I spent 2 years driving cross country and in various climates. I've seen many accidents and scary situations to make me very cautious.

Thanks all and I certainly appreciate everyones remarks. You've all been very helpful. Happy camping.

RV Buying Advice

I have that LC rear kitchen on my lot. Gulf Stream makes it in a Sedona. The floorplans are identical except it does not have a king bed.

HOW DO YOU ADD PICTURES? I can't figure it out.
RV Buying Advice

Hey Grandview, I'd like to see that floorplan. Actually hubby and I are thinking about driving up to New England this summer and come back through Virgia. Maybe we'll stop in and take a look at what you have on your lot at the time.

As far as putting pictures up:

1. Go to http://www.photobucket.com

2. Sign up for your own Free Album (for instance you can name it GVTS)

3. If you have a picture on your computer you want to display you will upload the picture to Photobucket from your computer by selecting the BROWSE button and finding the picture on your computer, then select SUBMIT.

4. Then under the picture you have uploaded you will see a line that says IMG - highlight the box and copy the url. Then paste it in your message here.

5. If you have a picture you have found from some other source on the internet you will need to right click on that image, go to properties, highlight the url, copy, then on Photobucket click the [Add pictures from URL] and then paste the url into the box and submit. Then follow the same steps to put picture on your message.

I hope I didn't lose you with all that, lol. However, you know if you start adding pictures too, we're both going to be in the doghouse with 'you-know-who', lol.
RV Buying Advice

I will try the picture thing, but go to this home page and search new rv dealers on the left side of the page. You will see the country map. Click VA and you will see the dealers listed. Click on mine and then look for the Sedona 33RKFW. There are several pictures plus the floorplan.
RE: RV Buying Advice

It's been awhile since you posted your inquiry but I HAVE to respond to your question about Carriage. We own a Carri-Lite and it is considered a "snowbird" rig. The Carriage and Royals are their true fulltimer rigs. So depending on where you plan to stay in the winters, some Carriage products are not designed for fulltiming. Also, we are noticing that our rig is falling apart because it is not designed for continuous road travel. Again, the Carriage and Royals are built "stronger" for heavy duty travelo. All in all, we are NOT impressed with Carriage and are seriously considering trading for a Teton or a New Horizon.

Regarding the fireplace ----- we have one and LOVE it!!!! It's like having an electrical heater with ambiance!