RV Podcast #319: Are RV Covers Really Necessary?

 RV Podcast #319: Are RV Covers Really Necessary?

This week on the RV Podcast, we talk about RV Covers: Are they worth it? Should you have one? What to look for?

Our guests are two product managers from Camping World, located in different parts of the country, and they will help us understand what to look for in an RV cover, what kind of RVs need them and what kind don’t.

Plus we have lots of RV News this week, along with your RV Lifestyle Questions and another great Of the Beaten Path Report from the wandering Burketts.

Show Notes for Episode #319  of The RV Podcast

You can listen to the podcast in the player below. And scroll down this page for shownotes and a transcript of the interview, plus links and resources about all the things we talk about.

This part of the RV Podcast is brought to you by Camping World – America’s #1 RV Dealer Check out the RV products and accessories we like and use for your next road trip or outdoor adventure…For a 10% discount on purchases over $99, use the discount code RVLIFESTYE10.

RV PODCAST NEWS OF THE WEEK

Fewer snowbirds coming to Florida, and when they arrive, may find new COVID protocols await at the larger RV parks
Florida is seeing fewer snowbirds this fall because of COVID-19. Some places estimate the number of snowbirds will be down as much as 20-25 percent, with many would-be deciding to just stay home. Canadian snowbirds can not drive across the U.S. border, causing additional challenges for our RV friends to the north. Snowbirds who do travel south may find that some RV parks and condo associations are asking them to quarantine, or avoid using the facilities for a period of time. And some of the luxurious RV parks are keeping their community room, gyms, and other such sites closed because of COVID according to the story. To see some of our favorite places to camp in Florida, click here.
 

Campgrounds hit by Hurricane Zeta cleaning up, staying open for business
Campground owners in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama are mostly open after Hurricane Zeta, reporting minimal damage. Hurricane Zeta was a category 2 storm that took at least six lives and caused millions to lose power. At the campgrounds in its path, most were removing downed trees, repairing fencing and buildings, and conducting other clean up efforts. But most did not appear to suffer long-term damage and most were still open to campers. This has been a historic hurricane season for the gulf coast (see story here) with eight named storms hitting in 2020, and the season is still not over.

Veterans and Gold Star families will be able to enter national parks for free under new rule
Veterans and gold star family members will soon have free access to all national parks. Current active-duty troops and their families can enter the national parks for free. The change, which goes into effect Nov. 11 – Veterans Day – will grant veterans and gold star families this same benefit. Gold Star families are immediate family members of soldiers who died in the line of duty. For veterans, if they are driving into a national park with an admission fee, their vehicle will be free. But if the national park has a per person admission fee, the veteran will be free, but the family members will have to pay.

Catch a brown trout, get paid $25 in pilot program in Arizona
If you love fishing and are anywhere near Arizona, you may want to head over to the Glen Canyon National Recreational Area later this month and get paid to catch brown trout. The National Park Service and Arizona Game and Fish Department are paying anglers $25 per non-native brown trout they catch in the Colorado River below the Glen Canyon Dam. The pilot program is trying to reduce the number of non-native brown trout in the river, and there is no limit on how many fish an angler may turn in for payment. There are, however, some rules tied to Arizona licensing. For more details click here.

Yellowstone to test self-driving shuttle service next summer
If you are planning to visit Yellowstone National Park next year, you may be able to hop on an automatic self-driving shuttle. The iconic national park announced last week that it will be piloting a low speed automated shuttle next year to help reduce vehicle traffic on its roads. The shuttle service is expected to run May-August and will potentially serve the campgrounds, visitor centers, and lodges. To see our favorite hike in Yellowstone, click here.
 

This part of the podcast is brought to you by RadPower Bikes, America's #1 e-bike brand, offering direct to consumer pricing on powerful premium electric bikes. Now with free shipping  

RV PODCAST QUESTION OF THE WEEK

This question came in via our RV Podcast Voicemail number 586-372-6990:

Hi, good morning. This is Lee Gutierez calling from Phoenix Arizona. I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your podcast and your information that you give on your podcast.

I have one question though. I'm an over-the-road driver and I'm getting ready to retire next year. I'm looking at The Wonder versus the Unity.

Are there any chances of the Unity having the Ford body style or chassis in the future that you're aware of?

I'm absolutely in love with the Wonder. I like the fact of the no slide out and the room that it has. I'm very much interested in corner bed and the front living area.

And I just want to say thank you so much for making my Sunday so much better last night. I listened to your podcast as I was coming back in California. As I said, I drive over the road and I really enjoy your sessions.

 That was all I really wanted to say and just to find out if the chassis from the Ford would be something that they would do in the future for the Unity.

Thank you. Have a wonderful day and blessed day. Looking forward to seeing you out here on the road someday.

ANSWER: We don't see Leisure Travel Vans ever making the Unity on the Ford Transit Chassis. The Unity is made on the Mercedes Benz Sprinter cutaway chassis and comes in different floor plans, some without a slideout.

That said, there are several different floor plans for the Wonder, which is made on the Ford Transit cutaway chassis. It, too, has several different floor plans none of which have floor plans.

You can see the details for both models at https://leisuretravelvans.com

Do you have a question you’d like us to answer or a comment on the things we’re discussing? If so, we invite you to leave us that question or comment on the special voicemail number we have for the podcast – it’s 586-372-6990.  If you are driving and can’t write it down right now, just go to the RV Lifestyle travel blog at rvlifestyle.com and scroll down the page. You’ll see that number prominently posted on the blog.

This part of the RV Podcast is brought to you by Battle Born Batteries, maker of quality, safe, and reliable lithium batteries that can be installed in just about every RV. Get in touch with Battle Born to find out what lithium batteries and an upgraded energy management system can add to your RV Lifestyle. Check them out at https://rvlifestyle.com/lithium

RV PODCAST INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK – RV Covers

This week on the RV Podcast, we talk about RV Covers: Are they worth it? Should you have one? What to look for?

Our guests are two product managers from Camping World, located in different parts of the country, and they will help us understand what to look for in an RV cover, what kind of RVs need them and what kind don’t.

We have a video version of the interview:

Here’s the official transcript of the interview about RV Covers:

Mike Wendland:           Well, we're joined right now by two product specialists from Camping World to help us sort through this whole issue about RV covers. Do we need them? What do you look for? Why we should have one? And lots of questions, and we've been getting them from people for the last month or so, so you can tell it's getting cold.

                                    Now joining us from the Camping World, Grand Rapids, Michigan store, Ian Baker. Thank you Ian for being here.

Ian Baker:                     How you doing? Yeah, thanks for having me.

Mike Wendland:           And from down in North Carolina, Chris Young. Both are product specialists and these guys know what they're talking about. So let's start off. Whichever one wants to go first, but why an RV cover and who should be thinking about one?

Ian Baker:                     Sure. Chris, can I jump on this one real quick?

Chris Young:                 Yeah by all means.

Who needs an RV Cover?

Ian Baker:                     So as far as who needs it, Mike, I mean, anyone that's, in my opinion, anyone that's not going to store it inside really should consider a cover. For me a cover, when you're looking at different covers, it does one major thing. It does a lot of things, but one major thing is that it's going to help with preventative maintenance. Anytime you have an RV outside, you have to worry about UV. You have to think about things falling on top of your roof, whether that's pine sap, branches, leaves, bird poop, it can cause more damage than people think if it stays on there. And when you're not storing it and it's sitting outside, all these things that are going to deteriorate your roof, which a lot of people know that your roof tends to be the number one place for leaks. So anything you can do to help protect the roof, protect the sidewalls, the exterior, make sure that the RV stays looking nice for years to come, is definitely going to be an added benefit. Especially when you're looking at trade-in values, that's a huge piece of that.

Mike Wendland:           Well, Chris, let's go to you about what to look for in a cover. And we have towables and fifth wheels and motor homes and B vans and class As. Any distinctions among all of those?

Chris Young:                 Well, it's funny you mentioned that Mike, there are so many options out there as far as coverage go, which we always kind of default to, bring your vehicle in if you can so you can speak to one of the specialists, either Camping World or Gander, let them guide you through what's going to be best for you. But Ian and I both happen to be fans of the Camcos. They have a pro-shield and an ultra-shield. And you want to make sure because they're broken out by linked sections. So you might have a 26 to a 29 foot, a 30 to a 33, so forth and so on. For travel trailers, for fifth wheels, for class As Bs and Cs, you want to make sure that… Let's say if you got a travel trailer that's 30 feet long and that cover stops at 30, go ahead and get the bigger one, just to be safe.

                                    And you want to make sure you look for one that has strong bonds, UV protection, and is breathable. Because water-resistant and waterproof are two completely different things, and that can really mess you up. Breathable and water-resistant are great because waterproof means it's not going to let that moisture out and you're going to get mold inside the camper or inside the cover on the camper. So, make sure you look for the right size, the right one for your vehicle, and talk to a specialist and let them help guide you through if you have questions.

Different sized RV Covers

Mike Wendland:           So let's say I have a 31-foot travel trailer. And I don't know what size they come in, but I might have one or even two air conditioners up there on the roof. There might be an antenna or two up there on the roof. That is going to take up some of that length. So are there some hints about making allowances for that? You said by a little bigger than you need, but do you take the antennas off for example? What do you do about the roof?

Ian Baker:                     Mike, a lot of that does depend on the cover manufacturer. And one of the other reasons that Chris and I talk about Camco a lot is they actually build in for that so that's one of the big things. Most of your units that you're going to be covering up will have the roof-mounted AC. So when they say you're going to measure it from the very front to the very back, and that includes if you have a rear ladder or a spare tire on the back, you want to make sure you include that in the length. But if that's 31 foot and the cover goes from 30 to 32, that is already going to account for that roof-mounted AC unit. You will still if you do have a rear ladder, you want to make sure you put some guards on there. That's one of the big things people don't do, is on the gutters and on the ladder, they forget to put guards on. So you want to make sure you do that so you don't tear the cover. But as far as accounting for that space, again, some of the manufacturers do already account for that.

Chris Young:                 I'm a big fan of how with the Camco covers, they'll actually include the gutter guards and the handle covers in there. But if you do have other things on top, antennas, absolutely take them down. But a pool noodle is also a really handy thing to have around and it can really be a good friend for you. Because you can take those pool noodles and cut them and mold them around a lot of stuff, either on the back or the top to make sure stuff doesn't tear, and more importantly, the cover doesn't tear.

RV Covers: Waterproof or breathable?

Mike Wendland:           Now you mentioned the difference between waterproofing and breathable and water-resistant, and that was a big plus. What about snow, snow that weighs down and holds that cover very tightly? Is that something that people need to be concerned about when they have a cover on their RV?

Chris Young:                 Absolutely. I'm a big fan of Tyvek top covers with breathable side panels and vent panels and stuff like that. Tyvek is a lot more durable. I don't know if you've ever gotten a FedEx package, that's the little envelope, that paperish-type envelope that you really can only open where the seal is, that's Tyvek. It's extremely, extremely durable. It's very strong, but it's also a reasonable material. So if you have something like a Tyvek top on your cover, rain or snow won't really affect it because that top's a lot more durable than some of the straight poly-tops that you'll see on some of the lesser covers out there.

Mike Wendland:           What are some rough price ranges that people should expect to pay for a quality cover? Ian, give us a rough estimate. And I know they're all varying because of what you want, but you want something that's going to be reliable.

Ian Baker:                     Right. Varying in size.

Chris Young:                 Yeah.

Ian Baker:                     You're probably looking at a couple of hundred bucks, realistically for a decent cover. We've run sales. If you're looking for a cover this is actually a really good time of year to buy one because at Camping World generally in the fall, at least for every year I've worked for the company, we do a big cover sale in the fall. And so it is an excellent time to pick one up. But generally, if you're looking for something that's going to last you five to seven years, you're probably going to expect to pay a couple of hundred dollars.

Mike Wendland:           One point, the recommended one that we like on… We have a special page on Camping World where many of the products that we talk about and use, where they're shown and our listeners always get a discount too if they buy over 99 bucks or so. We'll put a link to it there.

Ian Baker:                     Perfect.

Solar Panels and RV Covers

Mike Wendland:           What about solar panels? Just go right on top of it. It doesn't hurt them at all?

Ian Baker:                     Solar panels are a tricky one. As Chris said, pool noodles can be very beneficial there. I have had people that have actually cut holes in the cover for the solar panel, but the issue there is you're going to void the warranty.

Mike Wendland:           That's the frame, the frame of the solar panel.

Ian Baker:                     Correct. That is something that you can do but I don't personally recommend it. Like Chris said, I would throw some pool noodles on the frame, especially on the corners so you don't have to worry about it grabbing on the cover, and then just put it right over top.

Mike Wendland:           And of course the flex, a lot of people have the flex solar panels on their roof and those are flat with the roof. They don't need anything special over them.

Ian Baker:                     Correct.

Mike Wendland:           Yeah.

Chris Young:                 Right, yeah.

Mike Wendland:           So you recommended for anybody who's going to keep it stored, but some people keep it stored for a month, some people for a whole season. There are still a lot of snowbirds who maybe have winterized their RVs about now as it gets cold and they're planning a trip in January. Is it recommended the cover should be put on even for just a month or two like that?

Chris Young:                 Absolutely. Yeah.

Ian Baker:                     It depends on the person, Mike. I would recommend it but it is, I mean, covers do take some work. They take some time. Anyone that's put one on can attest to that. It's a two-person job. So I guess it's really about the person and what you're looking to protect with your investment. It absolutely will help, as I mentioned against the UV and as well as against anything that's going to fall on top of there. But if you're picking up and moving, and it's one month-

Chris Young:                 Yeah, it really is a personal call. But if you've ever had to reseal a seal, because on a beautiful day a tree lamb just happened to get blown off by a breeze and get stuck right there in the seal on the roof, or it's under the vent or it's under the air conditioner or something like that. Or a furry little creature decides to get up on there and starts rumbling around, one little thing that can go wrong that's not treated right away can really cause some issues further on down the road. So is it worth taking the 45 minutes to an hour to put a cover on that may take, and especially if you have two people? I always say yeah, mainly because you just never know what might fall on it. You can be in the middle of a pasture with no trees, and all of a sudden you look up there and how'd I get a branch up on my roof? Where did this come from? RV roofs just tend to attract those things for some weird reason.

Mike Wendland:           All right. So, a good investment is a cover. Maybe the next thing we're going to talk about when we hook up with you guys again is rodent repellent. Because that is an issue that comes from the other end underneath the RV and there are lots of solutions there. We'll talk about them.

                                    Ian Baker, from Camping World in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Chris Young in North Carolina, you guys have helped us. We will put a link to the covers that we're talking about on our RV lifestyle/Camping World page. Thank you guys for being with us. It was great to get some expert advice.

Ian Baker:                     Thanks, Mike. I appreciate it.

Chris Young:                 Thanks, Mike.

To check the different kinds of RV Covers available, go to https://rvlifestyle.com/campingworld. If you use the coupon code RVLifestyle, you will get 10% off the cost of any purchases over $99.

The interview of the week is brought to you by SunshinestateRVs.com, where every new  motorhome is delivered to the customer free, anywhere in the country

RV PODCAST OFF THE BEATEN PATH REPORT  – Underground grottos in Fresno, CA

BY TOM & PATTI BURKETT

Tom & Patti Burkett of the Rv Podcast
The RV Podcast off the beaten path reporters Tom & Patti Burkett

Just outside the city of Palermo, in Sicily, on the toe of the Italian boot, is Mount Pellegrino.  The sides of the mountain are dotted with caves, grottos they’re called over there.  

Baldassare Forestiere grew up on the mountainside and spent his childhood roaming these grottos, which are home to a rich palette of Mesolithic rock art and even the skeleton of a dwarf elephant.  

His father, a fruit grower, was a disagreeable sort, and in his early twenties, Baldassare emigrated to the USA.  For several years he worked as a miner, helping to build the Croton Aqueduct and the Holland Tunnel.  In 1904, hoping to become a citrus farmer, he settled in the central valley of California near the booming frontier town of Fresno.

Now if you’ve ever been to Fresno, you’ll likely remember the agriculture of the area.  Maybe you visited the Fresno State Farm Store, where they make their own ice cream and sell a dozen varieties of raisins.  

Maybe you ate some memorable Tex-Mex food. Maybe you stopped along one of the regional highways for a bag of almonds or dried mangoes.  You might even have eaten the famous split pea soup at Anderson’s restaurant or stopped by the garlic festival.  

But what’s most likely to stick in your mind is the heat.  The summer months in the Valley average daily highs in the high nineties and the average rainfall for four consecutive months is zero.

Baldessare had enough money saved up to buy seventy acres of land, and little more than that.  He camped out and began planting trees.  The trees did not grow well.  Digging down, he discovered the reason.  

A few feet below the surface was hardpan, rocky and dense enough to block water and the flow of nutrients to his crop.  Digging farther, though, he discovered a rich layer of soil beneath the hardpan.  

He began digging pits and planting his trees and vines below the ground.  Here they grew more slowly, but were healthier and eventually more productive.  Protected as they were, some of them are still producing today, more than a hundred years later.

RV Podcast #319: Are RV Covers Really Necessary? 1
Forestiere Garden -the Off the Beaten Path destination featured in this week's RV Podcast

Using the skills he learned in New York, he began to build himself a home in the ground.  What better way, he thought, to avoid the beastly heat?  With nothing more than a shovel, a pick, and a wheelbarrow, he started with a single room to live in.  

Over the next forty years, with the help of his brother, he carved out sixty-five rooms, connected by patios, walkways, and gardens.  The rooms are laid out to encourage steady airflow.  He built a shallow winter bedroom, to take advantage of the winter sun, and a deeper summer bedroom to avoid it.  

He chose plants that would thrive in the shallow soil layer above ground to provide shade and insulation.

The underground complex eventually extended to almost ten acres, and the innovation was not limited to construction.  In order to extend both the harvest season and the variety of crops that could be grown, he planted fruit trees and vines at different levels below the ground, which made them ripen at different times.  

He also grafted several varieties of fruit to a single tree, making the tree productive over a longer season.  Chutes and catch basins built into the structure collected the infrequent and seasonal rainfall, providing stored water for dry seasons and moderating the humidity to the benefit of both plants and people.

We wondered, after seeing this amazing oasis, why more people haven’t taken advantage of the ideas Forestiere developed here.  It’s truly amazing, and beautiful.  He once said to Silvio Manno, who made a stunning pictorial history of the Gardens, “To make something with a lot of money, that is easy, but to make something out of nothing—now that is really something.”  

Hot bedrooms, cool bedrooms, a fish pond, a garage, and fruit at your fingertips, all right here if you’re willing to take a detour, down under the beaten path.

RV PODCAST CALENDAR OF EVENTS

 

 

Mike Wendland

Mike Wendland is a veteran journalist who, with his wife, Jennifer, travels North America in a small motorhome, blogging about the people, places, joys and adventure of RV life on the road at RVLifestyle.com. He and Jennifer also host the weekly RV Podcast and do twice-weekly videos on the YouTube RV Lifestyle Channel. They have written 10 books on RV travel.

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