Most any RV is capable of operating for a night or two dry camping in the boondocks, but if you want to stay off grid camping longer, you will need to be a bit more prepared.
Ready for Off Grid Camping? Know What to Carry
Not sure what extra items to carry when you go into the outback? Create a boondocking checklist that works for you. Blogger Amanda Watson shares her faves on DoItYourself RV,
“Boondocking requires a sense of adventure, a willingness to conserve resources, and a desire to enjoy nature. It also requires a few extra items that you might not already have in your RV.”
Here are some of the extra items you might consider for off grid camping and why.
Power for off grid camping
Maintaining sufficient 12-volt power is key to extended boondocking stays. This can be done through conservation, storage, and generation.
- Use LED lights to replace the conventional incandescent lights your RV likely came with.
- Purchase solar yard lights to place around your campsite rather than using your porch light.
- Use an alternative heat source like a catalytic safety heater that doesn’t require 12-volt power.
- Upgrade to lithium batteries that provide more usable power than lead-acid batteries and charge faster. You may also consider upgrading your charging system to meet the requirements of a lithium battery too.
- Increase the size of the battery compartment and install additional batteries for more reserve capacity.
Replenishing your batteries
- Purchase a generator that meets your needs. For basic boondocking, you just need something large enough to power your RV’s charger. Many boondockers carry a 2,200-watt Honda generator.
- Solar power is on every dry camper’s boondocking checklist. Keep in mind there are both pros and downsides to solar power.
- Some boondockers are using wind turbines to keep their batteries charged.
Just like measuring fuel levels and fuel consumption (MPG) for your RV’s engine and fuel tank, you need to know how much reserve power you have in your batteries and the rate of consumption.
Here are two devices you might consider adding to your boondocking checklist.
- Something basic like this battery monitor with an amp meter.
- More serious boondockers might like this Bluetooth-enabled battery monitor which also keeps track of amp hours consumed.
- Ultimately, you will probably want to include an inverter to run 120-volt appliances as part of your boondocking checklist. The size and type will vary depending on your needs, so spend some time researching to find the one that is right for you.
Conserving water while boondocking
Once you have mastered maintaining a ready supply of 12-volt power, the next most important step is conserving and storing a supply of precious potable (fresh) water.
- Purchase an aerating RV showerhead that uses less water and practice taking sailor showers to conserve water.
- Obtain a spray bottle and fill it with a mixture of dish soap that is good at dispersing grease (like Dawn), water, and a little vinegar. Spray the mixture on dirty dishes and wipe before washing which will greatly reduce the amount of water required to finish washing them.
- Increase your supply of potable water by carrying fresh water approved jugs that can be refilled on your trips to town and gravity-fed or pumped into your RV’s potable water tank as needed.
Finally, conserving gray tank capacity will be the next item to be mastered. Click here to view our recent post on the subject and items to include on your boondocking checklist.
My wife and I do not boondock for long periods of time in one location or full-time in our RV. If you are looking at doing one or both, check out this video from The Freedom Theory:
By adding the above items to your checklist of regular camping items you will create the ultimate boondocking checklist allowing you to get started tackling days or weeks of off grid camping. For more boondocking tips, make sure you have all these Must-Haves For Boondocking In The Summer.
Dave Helgeson’s many roles in the RV industry started before he even had a driver’s license. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership before the term “RV” had been coined, and Dave played a pivotal role in nearly every position of an RV dealership. He and his wife Cheri launched their own RV dealership in the Pacific Northwest. The duo also spent 29 years overseeing regional RV shows. Dave has also served as President of a local chapter of the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), worked on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college, and served as a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. Dave’s reputation earned him the title of “The foremost expert on boondocking,” bestowed by RV industry icon, the late Gary Bunzer (The RV Doctor). When he’s not out boondocking, you’ll find Dave in the spotlight at RV shows across the country, giving seminars about all things RVing. He and Cheri currently roam in their fifth travel trailer, with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications to his own unit.
Ronald Hiemann says
Regarding “Purchase solar yard lights to place around your campsite rather than using your porch light” – I do totally not agree with that. When I am out boondocking or even in a large RV campground, at night, I do want to see the stars and not have my night-vision destroyed by artificial lighting.
Yay!!! I totally agree!
Stop light pollution
Honda generators are great, though very expensive by comparison, and what you state at 2200 watts is the the peak watts, they are about 1800 watt generators. I use a Hyundai that peaks at 2400 watts and steady at 2000 watts at half the price of the Honda. The Honda has a 90 cc engine and the Hyundai a 125 cc engine.
If you are buying Lithiun batteries at the start, is a good plan, but kicking over from lead acid (which also work very well) to lithium is not worth it, as you have to replace your charger which also costs a lot. I believe and been using deep cell 6 volt batteries for years, so do not be blown away by lithium’s that cost three times more, and offer the same performance at the end of the day, lead acid’s are robust batteries that can be abused, though a bit heavier in weight.
Ronald, it is just a suggestion for those that would otherwise use a porchlight. For myself, if I can see my neighbor when I am camping in the boonies they are too close.
For those of us who don’t have generators or solar battery power, a Home Depot portable work fan that uses rechargeable lithium batteries is awesome.
We can get 2 nights out of the fan running all night before needing to charge. It’s crazy powerful. Perfect for boondocking in between paying for RV camp spots overnight while traveling. We stop and pay for a spot every 3rd night to shower and charge things up.
rocky billiter says
recently retired, avid tent camper, reconfigured a small used pop-up for the wife and I and two 4-legged kids with solar power, AGM batteries, a 1500 watt inverter, and gray water and fresh water tanks. surprising increase to tow weight when both tanks full and loaded with boondocking gear. looking forward to seeing the country on something other than business trips.
Google “HANDYBOBsolar” he has been living “off grid” for twenty years and has shared his experience and hard learned knowledge.