When it comes to storing your pop-up camper outside, you’re facing a unique set of challenges.
Without the luxury of a garage or storage unit, you must protect your camper from the elements while it’s parked outside the house.
It’s essential to ensure your camper remains secure and in good condition, ready for your next adventure.
Covering your camper with a breathable cover is one of the best steps you can take to safeguard it against the weather.
A quality cover shields your camper from UV rays, rain, and dirt while preventing moisture buildup, which could lead to mold and mildew.
It’s important to note that the type of cover you choose needs to allow air circulation to keep the camper dry.
Aside from protective covering, cleaning the RV thoroughly before storage can significantly extend its lifespan and maintain its appearance.
Washing both the exterior and the interior removes potential contaminants that can cause damage over time.
Paying attention to the roof and undercarriage of your van is just as crucial, as these areas are most vulnerable to accumulations of dirt and debris that could cause deterioration if left unattended.
Fundamentals of Exterior Pop Up Camper Storage
Storing your pop-up camper outdoors requires attention to detail to ensure it remains in good condition.
You’ll need to consider the type of cover you use, how to level and protect the tires, ways to prevent moisture and mildew, and methods to secure awnings and openings.
Choosing the Right Cover
When it comes to protecting your camper from the elements, choosing the right cover is paramount.
Use a breathable cover to shield your camper from UV rays and other environmental factors.
A breathable cover, preferably made of a material like canvas, is ideal as it prevents moisture build-up, which can lead to mildew.
Leveling and Tire Protection
Your camper needs to be on level ground to prevent structural stress.
Use blocks or specially designed leveling tools to properly balance your vehicle.
Protect the tires from long-term exposure by placing them on wood or rubber supports to prevent direct contact with the ground, which helps to protect them from freezing and cracking in the winter.
Preventing Moisture and Mildew
Moisture is the enemy of any vehicle in long-term storage, and your camper is no exception.
Alongside a breathable cover, moisture absorbers inside can keep the interior dry.
Ventilation is also crucial, so consider crack opening windows or using vent covers that still keep the elements out but allow for air circulation.
Securing Awnings and Openings
It’s vital to secure all awnings and openings on your camper.
Ensure awnings are fully retracted and that all doors, windows, and other openings are closed and sealed to prevent animals or water from getting in.
If your camper has any exterior features such as pop-out sections, make sure they’re retracted and locked.
Proper Interior Maintenance Before Storage
Before storing your pop-up camper outside, it’s crucial to maintain the interior properly to prevent damage from elements such as mold, mildew, and extreme temperatures.
Cleaning and Prepping the Interior
Your camper’s cleanliness is paramount before storage. Begin by removing all food items to avoid attracting pests.
Next, clean every surface, including floors, counters, and upholstery.
- Floors & Surfaces: Vacuum and wipe down with a mild cleaner.
- Upholstery: Use appropriate cleaners to remove any stains or spots.
- Clothing and Bedding: Remove, wash, and store them separately.
If you notice that there is mold on the camper surface, then you need to clean that as well.
Ensure all storage compartments are left open to promote air circulation, including doors and windows if possible, to prevent stale air and associated smells.
Protecting Electrical Components
Electrical components need your attention too.
- Batteries: Remove, clean, and charge them before storage to ensure longevity.
- Refrigerator: Defrost, clean, and leave the door open to prevent mold.
It’s vital to protect against extreme temperatures, so consider using battery maintainers or storing batteries in a controlled environment to avoid damage.
Preventing Interior Mold and Mildew
In the fight against mold and mildew, moisture control is your ally.
- Use moisture absorbers to keep the air dry.
- Ensure all plumbing systems are drained and treated with non-toxic antifreeze as a precaution against freezing and to keep seals in good condition.
Inspect all seals around windows and doors for gaps that could let in moisture and seal them as necessary.
By following these steps, you’ll help keep the interior of your pop-up camper in prime condition for the next adventure.
Winterization Techniques for Pop Up Campers
When storing your pop-up camper outside during colder months, it’s essential to focus on specific winterization measures to avert any damage from freezing temperatures.
Draining and Adding Antifreeze
First things first, you’ll need to get all the water out of your camper’s plumbing lines.
This goes for both the fresh water and the black water systems.
Once drained, pour non-toxic RV antifreeze through the plumbing to ensure residual water won’t freeze and cause pipes to burst.
Here’s a quick guide:
- Drain Fresh Water System: Open all faucets, flush the toilet, and let the water heater and tanks drain completely.
- Add RV Antifreeze: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to add antifreeze to the system. Usually, you’ll need about two to three gallons.
Securing Heating and Plumbing
Securing your camper’s heating and plumbing systems is next on the list.
Make sure your heater isn’t at risk of becoming rusted and unusuable:
- Heater: Check for any debris or rust and clean out as necessary. Make sure it’s completely dry before storing.
- Insulate: Consider insulation for pipes and the water heater which can keep any residual moisture from freezing.
Generator and Battery Maintenance
Your generator and battery need attention too before they’re put up for a long winter’s nap.
Here’s what you should do:
- Generator: Run it to warm up the oil, replace the filter, and fill the tank to prevent rust. Turn off the fuel valve and let it run dry.
- Battery: Remove the battery, clean the terminals, and store it in a cool, dry place. If you have solar panels connected, disconnect those as well to prevent unnecessary drainage.
Addressing Mechanical and Structural Integrity
To ensure your pop up camper withstands the elements and remains operative, you need to pay careful attention to its mechanical and structural aspects.
Regular maintenance of moving parts, seals, and the overall structure is crucial.
Lubricating Moving Parts
You’ll want to lubricate all moving parts to prevent rust and ensure smooth operation.
Hinges, locks, and slide mechanisms should be your focus.
Use a silicone-based lubricant for metal components and a dry lubricant for locks to avoid attracting dirt.
- Jacks: Apply grease to keep them operating smoothly.
- Door hinges: Use silicone spray to maintain ease of movement.
Inspecting Seals and Joints
Check seals around doors, windows, and joints for any signs of wear or damage.
Any cracks or gaps can lead to leaks and water damage, which is disastrous when stored outside.
- Roof seams: Inspect for cracks and apply sealant as needed.
- Window seals: Ensure they’re intact to keep out moisture and prevent internal weather damage.
Checking the Roof and Foundation
The roof should be free of debris, as accumulation can cause damage and leaks.
Sweep or blow leaves off and consider a cover for added protection.
Inspect the foundation of your camper for rust or deterioration.
- Roof: Look for any punctures or wear that may cause leakage.
- Foundation: Examine for rust and ensure it’s leveled properly when stored.
Safeguarding Against Pests and Insects
When storing your pop-up camper outside, it’s vital to protect it from rodents and insects.
These pests can cause damage and make your next camping trip less enjoyable.
Using Physical Barriers
Ground Mat Usage:
- Purpose: A ground mat can help prevent insects from entering through the floor.
- Placement: Lay the mat underneath the pop-up section of your camper.
- Inspection: Check for holes and gaps where pests might enter.
- Action: Seal these points with appropriate materials such as steel wool, caulking, or mesh screens which rodents cannot chew through.
- Peppermint Oil: Soak cotton balls in peppermint oil and distribute them around. Insects and rodents detest the smell.
- Mothballs: These can deter pests, but should be used cautiously due to their toxic nature.
- Selection: Choose a cover that’s breathable to prevent mold and mildew, yet effective at keeping pests out.
- Importance: A non-breathable cover can create a welcoming environment for pests due to moisture buildup.
Organizational Strategies for Internal Storage Space
To keep your pop-up camper tidy and your items easily accessible, let’s focus on making the best use of overhead compartments and hidden storage areas, as well as categorizing and containing your belongings efficiently.
Maximizing Overhead and Hidden Spaces
Your pop-up camper’s overhead storage can be a game-changer for keeping necessities out of the way but within reach.
Install hooks or tension rods in these spaces to hang items such as camping supplies or lightweight cooking utensils.
For clothing, use plastic bins or hanging organizers to sort items by type—shirts in one bin, pants in another. This will streamline finding what you need when you need it.
- Seating Area: Lift bench seats to reveal storage opportunities beneath. Utilize this space for items that aren’t needed daily.
- Camper Kitchen: Make full use of vertical space with stackable shelves or racks. Store food storage containers here to free up counter space.
Categorizing and Containing Items
When you’re dealing with a compact space like a camper, every inch counts, so categorize your belongings and contain them to maintain order.
- Categorize: Sort your items by use—group all cooking supplies together, all clothes together, and so on. This saves you time and frustration.
- Clothing: Assign drawers or bins for different types of clothing. Use labels for clarity.
- Camping Supplies: Stow away in designated containers. Keep frequently accessed items in the most accessible spots.
Maintenance Schedule and Regular Checks
Keeping your pop-up camper in top condition requires regular maintenance and inspections.
Below, you’ll find guidelines for routine inspections and post-weather evaluations to protect against mildew, dust, mud, and damage to your camper’s components.
Routine Inspection Frequency
- Weekly Checks: Even when not in use, it’s wise to conduct brief weekly checks on your pop-up camper. Look for signs of damage such as tears or mildew growth on the canvas, and check for any dust or mud accumulation which can cause abrasion or rust.
- Before Each Use: Before hitting the road, perform a more thorough inspection. Ensure all mechanical parts are well-lubricated, the tires are in good condition, and that the canvas is clean and dry. A wet canvas stored away can lead to mildew or mold.
- Seasonal Inspections: At the end of each season, conduct a comprehensive check. This is the time to fix minor issues before they become major, especially if you’re preparing the camper for long-term storage.
Post-Weather Event Evaluations
After any significant weather events, such as storms or heavy rainfall, assess your pop-up camper for any weather-related damage.
- Check for:
- Water Ingress: Make sure the interior is dry and that no water has breached the canvas.
- Canvas Condition: Inspect for any new tears or spots where water might collect and cause mildew growth.
- Structural Integrity: Ensure the framework has not been compromised, and that there are no signs of bending or breakage from high winds.
Remember, the goal is to address any potential issues immediately, preserving your camper’s condition and extending its life.