Lots of people have asked us what we’ve taken on our motorhome ski adventure – our natural instinct for over planning meant that we researched this extensively before we left, tried to get the best deals on everything we needed, and this is what we now live with on a daily basis.
It’s worth noting, we have a finite amount of space… as do you if you’re going on a motorhome or campervan skiing holiday. Our list is based on the fact that we don’t have an external garage and we don’t want to carry a single thing that we don’t consider essential – life in a motorhome is cosy enough without too many ‘in case of emergency’ items.
Some of the lists we’ve read seem bonkers – unless you’re travelling in a 7.5t RV, we have no idea where you keep all this stuff, let alone why you need it. Add to that the monumental expense and suddenly your adventure becomes comparable in cost to a 10 day all-in catered chalet experience for 20! We will no doubt eat our words when we desperately need everything we opted not to take!
What we have learned is that the winter motorhome community specifically, is generous and helpful beyond measure! If you don’t have something crucial to your survival and wellbeing, someone nearby will have it and will willingly lend it to you!
(thank you Frank for the spare 20amp fuse, Colin for super glue and the loan of water containers when our original one broke (our suggestion is his actually), Digs for the plastic folding box/ waxing table!)
So here we go:
This list assumes you have all the usual motorhome kit – cables, ramps, pots and pans etc…
Don’t get us started on this. Take our word for it. Please do not go on a motorhome ski trip, at any time of year, to anywhere where you expect there to be snow without them. Here’s a blog from our early days and our thoughts on the matter haven’t changed.
Ours: Falken Tyres
Legal requirement in many places. Essential safety kit elsewhere. We have had the Gendarme in France check we have ours on board so don’t get caught out.
Ours: Pewag from Brindley
You need one of these. We have a Van Comfort one. It’s ace. If your budget stretches, make sure you get one that covers the engine, bonnet and whole front end if you can. A tarp will do if not but you will be surprised how much heat you loose (or cold gets in) through the cab.
Ours: Van Comfort
Digging is one of our favourite hobbies. Making more room for the van in tight parking spots; clearing paths; hacking out your frozen-to-the-ground ramps. We have a grain shovel which is much more durable and is much more useful when it comes to ice management! We even used ours to dig out a crashed 4×4 outside of Les Gets before we’d even reached our first location!
Rubber floor mat
Our van is low enough not to require a step. It’s advised not to use electric steps because they can freeze in the extended position. The reason we don’t have a crate is because it serves no additional purpose and takes up a huge amount of space we simply don’t have. If you do get one, make sure it’s sturdy enough… we tried one and to be frank, me and ski boots we’re going to fall through it at some point, particularly in the cold when the plastic can get a little brittle!
Ours: Floor Mat
If you’re on a site you probably don’t need one of these but we’re having an adventure and we very rarely stay on sites. With that, you need a jerry can (with funnel obviously) but be careful with carrying fuel. In some countries you’re not allowed to carry it on board – it must be empty (not very helpful we know!). We have a Honda Eu20i inverter generator. Mint. Borrowed it from a friend and it’s one of the best things we have. If you can afford to invest, we suggest you do so.
We found watering cans are a bit crap in winter. If you have to carry them any distance, they slosh freezing water on your hands and it’s a rubbish job to fill a tank manually as it is, without having your hands seize up. We recommend 2 x 10L with screw on spout (longer the better). This way pretty much anyone can carry them and not just the muscles on board! We had a collapsable once that did us proud for 7 weeks before kicking the bucket. Don’t get those – the weather gets them in the end.
Ours: Bricorama special offer but
Grey water catch – bought or custom made
First thing you should do is unhook your waste pipe. The best motorhome waste pipes will freeze and this is what everyone does to make life easier. Make sure your grey water catch will fit under your vehicle in snow – ours has been ‘modified’ a number of times now depending how deep the snow pack is!
Ours: re-purposed barrel
If you get caught out in unprecedented conditions or you have any pipe freezing, however unlikely you believe this to be, a hair drier will get you out of a load of fixes. The climate is changing and we can be in +9 one day and -15 the next. It happens. Best get a travel one because then you can vary the voltage if you need to.
Ours: Gift from a friend – Thanks Matt! (comes with mini hair straighteners too!)
Autoglym do a -45 antifreeze for your washers. The salt and grit make your windscreen very smeary, particularly in the valley’s where the fumes get caught at road level and stick everything to everything. -20 or -30 is ok but has let us down -45 is better.
Tool kit: Non-negotiable
(Everything on here has been used)
- Gaffa tape
- 2 x adjustable spanners
- Socket set
- Set of screwdrivers
- Stanley knife
- Plyers – bull and needle nose
- Cable ties
- Electrical tape
- Junior hacksaw
If you can get hold of one (ask in a rental shop) – ours is now a sledge/mechanics slider and is used for everything from getting under the van to check things to dragging water containers about.
Ours: Snaffled from Ski Extreme in Les Deux Alps
Our hands are knackered already but these have really helped with outdoor maintenance things and you don’t want to get your fancy ski mitts covered in anything unpleasant!
Getting snow off the roof.
Just in case. Only used ours once to test prior to leaving.
What we don’t have and you don’t need (or can live without):
Obviously – you’re an adult(!) and some people probably have a really good argument for carrying the following… like when we need them and don’t have them (!) but… like we said, finite space and budget meant this stuff didn’t make the cut.
We presume people say this because they are getting on their roof to clear snow. We have used an extendable brush and twinkle toes for this job. Ladders are dangerous things at the best of times, let alone in ice and snow so we decided that they were more likely to cause an incident than prevent one so that’s off the list. We would also have to sleep with it or move it every 5 minutes. Even a collapsible one.
You’ll find out if you’re on the wonk. Tip: stand back and get your eye in. That works as well and you get a Moho-pro badge for competence too.
Spare toilet cassette
Just empty your cassette on a regular basis. The whole of Europe is well furnished with places you can do this. Who wants to have rotting poo sat in an extra cassette somewhere in your van whilst you chirpily fill up another one? If you’re off grid for so long you have filled your toilet, you’ve probably got bigger problems than that in deep winter!
We have a pimp heating system – blown air, super efficient, gas and electric. However, if you need these, you need them.
We have snow tyres and chains. If those can’t move you you’re likely to be in more of a spot than a tow rope can solve! In which case you need to call professional recovery. Some people take grip mats but we kind of think that if you have good M&S tyres and chains, there’s not really a need for them.
People have them for sitting out for 5 minutes on sunny days. We prefer to find a bar or cafe and save the space but if you have a decent sized garage it’s a lovely addition!
Not really sure why you’d need one (unless it’s to blow up your mattress – see below!) because you should carry a small compressor as standard in your van.
These are extremely expensive and very heavy. You don’t need one to change an wheel in an emergency – in fact, no idea why people think you need one at all.
So many things on motorhomes are plastic – if you can guarentee you’re not going to melt something, by all means, fire 1000’sC at it. If not, use a hair drier.
Glue gun – the plot thickens…
What? Why do you need a glue gun? If you need to stick things together, learn how to plastic weald. Cable ties and a lighter work fine. Also – superglue. In my entire life, I can think of maybe one or two occasions where I’ve thought,
“blimey, I wish I had a glue gun”
…and none of them have been in the last two months.
Cab and side skirts
Now this would be nice but no space (or weight capacity) to store metres of heavy duty vinyl (which is what they need to be) or the inclination to make moving any more of a chore than it already is!
and the pièce de résistance…
Inflatable mattress for under the van?????
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The argument given is that it stops the wind chill effecting the tanks and pipes and prevents them from freezing. It doesn’t. Wind chill doesn’t work like that. There’s no science behind it that adds up but we’re going to test the theory in a cold chamber when we get back… if nothing else but to save people from carrying inflatable mattresses around the mountains and having to inflate and deflate them continuously.
Caveat: If by some weird twist of fate there is a measurable and significant thermal benefit to putting an inflatable mattress under your motorhome, that prevents any kind of detrimental effects of the cold on the van… I will write a comprehensive report and issue an apology!
Anyway – we thought this is something we’d have loved when we were planning so we have made a checklist for you! If you subscribe to our blog, you’ll get a copy in your inbox in the coming days.