Essentials for RV Boondocking
If you’re tired of camping in crowded campgrounds, you might want to consider boondocking. This unique style of camping provides a tremendous amount of freedom that typical campgrounds can’t offer. However, there are some boondocking must haves that we think you should consider getting before heading out for your first trip. Let’s get started so you can pack your bags.
What Is Boondocking?
The first place you think to park your RV may be a campground or RV park. However, boondocking is neither of these. Boondocking is when you’re camping on public lands, which typically means that amenities are lacking. You’ll typically need to be self-sufficient when it comes to water and electricity. Depending on where you’re camping, you may not have access to restrooms, and the nearest person could be many miles away.
While boondocking lacks many of the amenities you might typically expect to find in a campground, it offers a tremendous amount of freedom. There are thousands of boondocking spots across the country that are either free or have very minimal fees. Some of these sites can even provide massive amounts of space, which is hard to come by in any campground.
Just because you’re boondocking on public lands doesn’t mean there aren’t rules. These locations typically have stay requirements, and you’ll still have to follow local laws and regulations. However, many RVers feel the pros outweigh the cons, and boondocking is their preferred camping style.
10 Boondocking Must Haves for Beginner Campers
Having the proper gear and equipment is essential for any boondocking adventure. Let’s look at some of the items we think you should acquire before your first boondocking trip.
1. A Generator
When you’re boondocking, you’re going to need to be as self-sufficient as possible, including when it comes to electricity. While your RV may have come with a battery, it’s likely not going to do much for you for any length of time. You may get enough power from your batteries to use lights and keep your refrigerator cold for 24 hours or so, but that’s about it.
A generator is one of the best investments you can make to have the best experience while boondocking. A generator can charge not only your RV battery but also run high-powered electronics like an air conditioner, microwave, or instant pot.
Generators capable of running an RV’s air conditioner can weigh 100 lbs or more and be loud. These generators also can be rather expensive and frustrating to store or move around while boondocking. So make sure you’re buying a generator that works for you and enhances your boondocking adventures.
2. Gas Canister
If you’re running a generator, it’s going to require fuel. Some of the best boondocking spots can be a considerable distance from the nearest gas station. Limit the number of trips to and from the gas station by having a gas canister among your boondocking must haves. They can also help fill up ATVs and other toys that you might bring with you while boondocking. It’ll take time to learn how much fuel you’ll need to keep your generator and toys running, but it’s always better to err on the safe side than to run out of gas.
3. Portable Water Jugs/Bags
Water is another amenity that you’re likely not going to have access to while boondocking. You’ll need to arrive at your boondocking site with a full freshwater tank. With minimal water conservation practices, you can probably make your water supply go for a few days. This will largely depend on how large your tanks are and how many people are camping with you. If your trip lasts longer than your water tanks, you’ll need some portable water jugs or water bags.
By using water jugs or bags, you’ll be able to bring water to your RV and avoid packing up camp to refill your tanks. Some water bags can hold 50 gallons of water or more, which can be a tremendous help while boondocking. With most sites being first-come, first-served, you could risk someone occupying your site while you’re away filling up your water supply.
4. A Blue Boy
Not only do you have to worry about keeping water in your tanks, but you also have to have a plan for getting wastewater out of your tanks. This is typically only an issue for longer stays or if you didn’t completely dump your tanks before your trip. Instead of packing up and hauling your entire RV to the dump station, you can empty your wastewater into a Blue Boy, a portable waste tote, and pull that to the dump station.
This not only helps avoid the risk of someone snagging your site while you’re away but also makes life easier at campgrounds without full hookups. The convenience of having one of these tanks goes beyond just boondocking.
5. A Good Flashlight
Because boondocking locations can lie in very remote locations, there’s not likely to be lighting. Being several miles from the nearest light source can be a fantastic experience. On a clear night, the stars will be bright and more numerous than you could imagine. However, the darkness can also be a bit terrifying and dangerous.
Have a good flashlight on hand when you’re investigating those bumps in the night. Whether it’s your imagination playing tricks on you or a wild animal wandering through your site, make sure you can see. You don’t want to run into the kingpin or pin box while walking in the dark.
6. Shower Wipes
No matter how hard you try, a few activities will use a large amount of water. Showering is an activity that always requires so much water. Your fellow campers will appreciate it if you don’t skip too many showers, but shower wipes are a great way to extend the time between showering. Among our boondocking must haves, this one serves multiple purposes. You stay clean and save water all at once.
These wipes are like massive baby wipes, but for your entire body. They’re large enough to wipe down your arms, legs, and sensitive spots. While they’re not a 100% replacement for a shower, they can do a tremendous job of keeping you and your fellow campers stench-free.
7. A First Aid Kit
Accidents happen. Prepare for them by having a first aid kit on hand. If you require professional medical assistance, a first aid kit can help until the professionals arrive or until you can get to them. Ensure your first aid kit is stocked and ready for each trip. You don’t want to discover you have no supplies in the middle of an emergency.
8. Extra Batteries
This should be high up on your list of boondocking must haves. Flashlights or other electronics that require batteries are useless without them. So make sure you look through your equipment and account for any items that require batteries. Having a ton of AAA batteries will do you no good if all of your items require AA batteries. Keep a supply of batteries in a drawer or other easy-to-access location. This is another item where it’s better to have too many batteries than not enough. It’s also important to go through your batteries each year and replace them. Having a large supply of very old batteries will do you no good when you need to use them.
9. Cell Phone Booster
Depending on where you’re boondocking, cell phone reception may not be great. Even if you don’t need to stay connected for work or school, it’s a good idea to have a solid signal for emergencies. Being able to reach help should an emergency occur is never a bad thing.
Cell phone boosters can amplify signals, but even the best and most expensive boosters can’t create a signal where there isn’t one. So it may be worth scouting out your campsite in advance and checking the cell phone signal, so you know how to plan.
10. Emergency Weather Radio
If RVing will teach you anything, it’s that the weather can be unpredictable. Storms can roll in with little notice or in the middle of the night and catch you by surprise. Staying informed when severe weather is in the area is essential. Having an emergency weather radio or a NOAA radio is one of the more important boondocking must haves on our list.
Being alert of the weather can give you a heads up to pick up any loose items or bring in awnings. These items can easily blow away or experience damage from heavy winds. If you don’t have a weather radio, you’ll at least want to make sure you have a cell phone signal and weather alerts on your phone. Keep your eyes on the weather and always know when it’s best to pack it up and head home.
Do You Really Need All These Things to Boondock?
It might feel a bit overwhelming as you’re adding these items to your shopping cart. We get that it can be expensive, but many of these items aren’t luxuries. They’re necessities for anyone looking to boondock.
It only takes one bad boondocking trip where you’re not prepared to teach you a lesson. We want to save you that one boondocking trip and set you up for success. How long you’re planning to boondock will largely determine whether some of these items are immediate needs or items that can wait until you’re extending your trips.
Boondocking can be intimidating to try at first. However, after a couple of good boondocking experiences, you might just get hooked. The more you can boondock, the easier it will be, and the fewer things will cause you stress. What are some of your favorite boondocking must haves for beginners?
Leave a Reply