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How to dress for warmth on winter RV trips

A couple of winters ago, we traveled to northeastern Wisconsin and Minnesota in the midst of what the news media said was the coldest stretch of prolonged frigid temperatures to hit the continental U.S. in a century and yet, everywhere we went around there, the locals seemed to shrug it all off and continue with their winter activities of snow shoeing, cross country skiing, hockey playing, hiking, ice fishing and dog sled racing.

They seemed to actually embrace the cold in an area where the snow is three feet deep and the snow drifts are taller than automobiles. I mean, they actually enjoy it!

maikecoldThat's because they know how to dress for it.

Jennifer and I were there to take in one of the toughest dog sled marathons in North America after Alaska's famed Iditarod – the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon that starts in Duluth and runs for almost 400 miles all the way to the Canadian border and back across some of the most frigid and rugged terrain you'll find in the lower 48.

I volunteered to help at a road crossing way up north near Finland, MN starting about 1 AM  and use my amateur radio capabilities aboard the Roadtrek to provide communications and keep track of the mushers as they pass by. The temperature dipped -26 F/-32C during our stint up there. Factor in wind chill and you're talking -50F/-45C.

So I had to figure out how the locals dress to handle that kind of cold.

And to do so I went to Northwest Outlet in Superior, WI, right on the Minnesota border and one of the Lake Superior north shore's biggest outdoor and sporting goods outfitters. It just happens to be owned by Dave Miller, a regular reader of this blog, an avid truck camper and a fellow amateur radio operator. Dave read of my plans to be up here and invited me to stop by.

Dave Miller clearing our solar panels of snow and ice on our Roadtrek

And when he saw a blogs photo of how dirty and grimy our Roadtrek was after driving 700 miles to get there, he insisted that I pull into a heated garage next to his store that they use to install caps on trucks. Then Dave proceeded to hand wash the Roadtrek, even climbing a ladder and helping push off the snow and ice that had accumulated on top of our solar panels.

Up here, even the dogs wear booties

Then, with a clean and shining Roadtrek hand dried and air blown so the locks wouldn't freeze,  he escorted me to a place where we could get some #1 diesel to mix with the #2 for the predicted super cold temperatures over the next couple of nights that I'll encounter as I follow the sled dog race up in Minnesota.

Jennifer and I never before met Dave or his wife, Mary. Yet them embraced us like family, even treating us to a terrific Italian dinner at a great restaurant called Valentini's on the shore of Lake Superior.

But before we ate, I got out the video camera and went into the store had Dave and Mary help dress Jennifer and I like locals, so we'll be ready for the cold.

You can see that in the video above.

Suffice it to say, with all the super warm winter clothes Dave hooked me up with, I'm now ready to face the arctic vortex year after year. Even our dog Tai (Bo's predessor) had to dress for the cold with sld dog booties to protect his paws from the ice and snow.


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Mike Wendland

Published on 2017-01-10

Mike Wendland is an Emmy award-winning journalist, traveler, and producer of RV Podcast, the RV Lifestyle travel blog, and the RV Lifestyle Channel on YouTube. Mike, traveling with his wife Jennifer and their Norwegian Elkhound, Bo, has vast experience and a great passion for exploring North America, previously working as a long-time NBC-TV News Channel Technology Correspondent and now sharing his love for the RV lifestyle with millions. Mike is not only an adept RV life enthusiast but also a skillful storyteller, bringing to his channels stories from the road that perfectly capture the magic and hardships of this lifestyle.

25 Responses to “How to dress for warmth on winter RV trips”

January 27, 2014at11:11 am, JanetA said:

I used to live in Minnesota. Nothing stopped me and my friends. Just like Mike and Jennifer, we dressed for it and had a blast.
I am glad to hear that the RV is staying cozy warm.
I love Tai’s boots. Somehow I don’t think my cat would go for that look.
Stay warm and have a blast, enjoy winter Minnesota style.

January 27, 2014at2:04 am, Robert Brandt said:

does his heater not work?

January 27, 2014at12:05 am, Cheryl said:

Love the doggie booties!

January 26, 2014at8:33 pm, Paul Jancsek said:

More information. Or I’m moving on.

January 27, 2014at11:13 am, JanetA said:

Paul, I am wondering what kind of information you want. Usually these posts are full of info. This one shows up because we all are interested in how Jennifer and Mike and the RT are faring in the frozen cold north.
The human side is of interest too.

January 26, 2014at2:57 pm, Judi Darin said:

I’m sure you’ve heard this myth… but it’s still good to wear a hat in the cold!

Do We Really Lose Most of Our Heat Through Our Heads?
Only if we’re wearing clothes on the rest of our body, says this expert in wilderness medicine.
By Susan Davis
WebMD Magazine – Feature Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD
In every issue of WebMD the Magazine, we ask experts to answer readers’ questions about a wide range of topics, including some of the oldest — and most beloved — medical myths out there. In our January-February 2011 issue, we asked Richard Ingebretsen, MD, PhD, a wilderness medicine expert at the University of Utah School of Medicine, about the oft-spouted idea that we lose most of our heat through our heads.

Q: Mom always said to wear a hat in the cold because we lose 80% of our body heat through our head. Is that true?

A: Lots of people believe that but this pearl of motherly wisdom is FALSE. Here’s why.

The head only represents about 10% of the body’s total surface area. So if the head were to lose even 75% of the body’s heat, it would have to lose about 40 times as much heat per square inch as every other part of your body. That’s unlikely — which has been borne out by tests of college students who lost the same amount of heat whatever the exposed area.

“The real reason we lose heat through our head is because most of the time when we’re outside in the cold, we’re clothed,” says Richard Ingebretsen, MD, PhD, an adjunct instructor in the department of internal medicine at the University of Utah School of Medicine. “If you don’t have a hat on, you lose heat through your head, just as you would lose heat through your legs if you were wearing shorts.”

“There’s really no such thing as ‘cold,’ when you’re talking about the body,” Ingebretsen says. “There’s always heat — it’s just a matter of keeping it in.”

January 26, 2014at1:47 pm, Dave Miller said:

Last night when we stopped at the Roadtrek to say Hi to Tai it was 77F inside and Tai was panting! It snowed last night and it is looking perfect for a sled dog race. Before we go up to our road crossing today I think I’m going to change into long pants and probably put a pair of socks on with my sandals. Tonight could be the night the dog froze to the hydrant Hi Hi! Mike and Jennifer are doing great and will do great tonight. Trek on! Bigfoot Dave

January 26, 2014at1:41 pm, John Bruce said:

There is a flaw in your system. Its frickin’ cold and snowy and yet you stay there when you have that fine vehicle with which you may drive south to warmer cimes. There is something wrong with that scenario.

January 26, 2014at1:22 pm, Kevin Wier said:

Better stay outta convenience stores in that out fit, probley get shot

January 26, 2014at1:09 pm, Bev Laing said:


January 26, 2014at12:47 pm, Harry Randy Buford said:

…too cold for me. One more Arctic blast coming this week and I hope it returns to a mild winter again. I always enjoy reading your posts and blog…keep the excellent info coming and thank-you!

January 26, 2014at12:19 pm, Ron Sears said:

Fantastic chance to witness the cold side of things in a Sprinter. Please give us even more details on heating, batteries/charging, fuel issues etc.. Loving the chance to see this extreme of the Roadtrek. (From my warm recliner. HaHa)

January 26, 2014at12:07 pm, Jim Taylor said:

nope, not for me

January 26, 2014at12:06 pm, Daljit Nagpal said:

I like it too!!

January 26, 2014at11:53 am, David M. Bennett said:

no way jose

January 26, 2014at11:35 am, John O'Connell said:

Anybody would think you lived in MI!!

January 26, 2014at11:35 am, Dawn Smith-Sprague said:

U need soup and a map south

January 26, 2014at11:33 am, Mel Deveau said:

Just goes to show ,your not a Canadian…….

January 26, 2014at11:27 am, Ruth Lewis Perrault said:

Crazy. Wait for warm weather

January 26, 2014at11:17 am, Paul Konowalchuk Pogorzelski said:

Dressed for Success! Tell Mr Bumble, the Abominable Snowman we said Hello

January 26, 2014at11:13 am, Margie McKellar Holman said:

If I was Roadtreking, I would be down south somewhere!

January 26, 2014at11:12 am, Manny Terra said:

I love rving but for this I think not maybe go somewhere nice and warm lol

January 26, 2014at11:10 am, Dallas Stone said:

I’ll take the SW part of the country in the winter. Lots and lots to see out here.

January 26, 2014at11:08 am, Ted Ladd said:

And you call this fun ?????

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