|McLean Creek Campground, Alberta, Canada, November 2019.|
When snow is a fact of winter life, you either make it part of your play, hunker down for months indoors, or head south. For Dee Murray and Chris Jordan of Alberta, Canada, they chose to take their tiny trailer out and play in the snow.
|Dee and Chris, Jan. 1, 2020|
Dee and Chris have only owned their trailer for a few months, so all their expeditions have been local, within an hour's drive of Calgary. "We've only camped at campgrounds, so far. McLean Creek has powered and non-powered sites and Paddy's Flat (Kananaskis) has only non-powered sites. We also camped at a Kinsmen Club campground, George Lane Memorial Park and Campground, in late September, when 20-30 cm (7-12 inches) of snow was forecasted. There are numerous provincial campgrounds within 1-2 hours of Calgary, but there are also several PLUZ (public land use zones, a.k.a. crown land) within the same area."
|McLean Creek, October 2019.|
They own a Bushwacker teardrop trailer, manufactured by Braxton Creek, after looking for about three months at everything "from tent trailers to 21-foot RVs, and everything in between."
"We were primarily looking for something that would get us out of a tent, up off the ground and had walls. In the end, the Bushwhacker fit our price range and along with the AC and furnace, fulfilled the few requirements that we had. The fact that it came with a galley was a huge bonus."Their tow vehicle is a 2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Altitude with a towing capacity of 6,300 pounds. Therefore, they have no towing issues since their trailer only weights 1,300 pounds dry and 2,200 fully loaded. "As far as the snowy roads are concerned, good tires make the biggest difference. The trailer is light enough that it's hardly noticeable while towing it."
Eager to camp in their new trailer, Dee and Chris started off right away, camping nearby their home, which means, because of the time of year, cold-weather and snow camping. To cope with the cold, they have utilized some creative configurations of teardrop, canopy, and side tarps to provide greater protection from the elements.
"The tarp/shelter set-up is fully dependant on the weather forecast. We have two 10' x 10' pop-up style shelters, along with numerous tarps, including a 12' x 24' insulated tarp that is big enough to cover both pop-ups, if needed. The most extreme set-up we've had, so far, has been when we set up the two 10' x 10's, fully enclosing the trailer. We then added tarp walls and the 12' x 24' insulated tarp over the entire thing. We also had one wall enclosing a picnic table, providing seating for us within the entire structure. One benefit of this was that we were able to retain the heat from the exhaust, from the trailer's furnace, due to the insulated roof. As the structure wasn't air tight, there was really no concern about carbon monoxide (the trailer does have a CO2/excess propane detector within for piece-of-mind, though). Also, we have a propane fire pit that we can fire up, under the shelters, to provide additional heat, which is also trapped under the roof/insulated tarps. Having the tarp walls, and insulated top, not only keeps the heat in but the wind out."
If the temperatures aren't too cold, Dee and Chris use a portable propane fire device for outside heating. "When the shelter/walls are in place, it works quite well to provide warmth. We actually enjoy a wood burning fire more, but this works for first thing in the morning, when feeling a bit lazy and not wanting to get a fire going right away. It's not used as a primary source of heat in the winter."
The Bushwacker does have a galley, but Dee and Chris find spreading out and using the tables and shelter more convenient. "The cooking space in the galley is limited. We really only use the galley stove for heating water. The extra propane stove is used for cooking, when not cooking over the fire. The galley maintains a small amount of heat from the furnace, when the hatch is closed, so we keep the jugs of water in there. So far we've been lucky enough that it hasn't frozen. There is a Coleman 12 volt fridge in the galley. That seems to keep the fresh foods cold, but not so cold that they freeze. All dry goods are kept either on the shelf in the galley, or in a dry goods bin."
Luckily, the Bushwacker teardrop comes with a furnace, which makes cold-weather camping much more manageable.
"The trailer has a furnace, so it keeps us snug as bugs in a rug. Yes, McLean Creek Campground is powered so portable heaters are definitely an option. Each time we've been out, there have been people in tents, so I'm sure some of them have used portable electric heaters. We do use cold-rated sleeping bags but they are probably overkill with the furnace. The trailer has a vent and slide open windows, so very minimal condensation. We are warm enough that we can leave the windows open a crack to allow for ventilation. The pit toilets--cold and frozen, but what can you do, other than use nature as your bathroom. It is what is is; after all, we are camping in the winter in Canada."
Even though they are new to camping with their teardrop, both Dee and Chris like how easy it makes getting away from the city, and cold weather camping means they get to experience "the peace and quiet of not having a full campground." Their biggest challenge when out with their rig in the snow is "making sure that we have everything we need. Camping in sub-zero temperatures is a bit tricky if you're not properly prepared."
Since winter is getting on, there are no more specific plans for camping. "It's been -30°C (-22F), or colder, for the last few days, so camping isn't really a high priority right now. We are a bit spontaneous, though, so if the temps warm up, who knows!"