What You Need to Know Before Boondocking

Boondocking is the practice of camping in an RV that is not hooked up to utilities like water and electricity. One of the great things about owning an RV is the ability to take modern amenities with you on a camping trip, but that is not so much the case with boondocking – in many ways, this type of travel is like staying in a much larger, much more comfortable tent. You won’t have many of the luxuries that you have gotten used to in the RV, but you will still have a nice place to sleep each night.

What You Need to Know Before BoondockingIf you are considering boondocking for an upcoming trip, be sure to consult the tips below before you leave.

Pack Carefully

Camping off the grid means that you are going to have to have everything you need with you when you go. It will likely not be feasible to just run to the store for a few things once you have settled in, so make detailed packing lists and check things off as they are purchased and loaded up to the RV. Specifically, make sure you have enough food, enough water, warm clothes, first aid, and other basics. Even when staying in the comfort of an RV, you still need to respect the wilderness and make sure that you are prepared for as many circumstances as possible.

Using Solar

If you want to have electricity available to you while boondocking for a long period of time, solar power is the way to go. Solar panels make it possible to draw power straight from the sky, and there are plenty of solar options for RV purposes. If, however, you are only going to be staying for a short period of time, you might just be able to get by with a generator.

6736d6a6e4e4ad0e58aa4d6f5a886bb2Information is Your Friend

Before you head off to set up camp for a week or more, do some research to figure out where you can travel safely. You don’t want to get your large RV down a small road only to find that you can’t turn around, so take a smaller car or truck ahead on a scouting mission. It is always attractive to park your RV as far out in the wild as possible, but that isn’t always the practical choice.

Think Conservation

Your resources are naturally limited when you are boondocking, so don’t blow through them quickly within the first couple days. Be conservative with your use of food and water, especially early in the trip. If you run out of essential supplies you are going to have to cut your trip short (or at least interrupt it), so be smart and think ahead.

Observe the Law

You can’t just park your RV anywhere you please, even if it looks like there is no one around for miles. Be sure to check into camping regulations before you go, and respect the nature around you when you get there. The idea of ‘leave no trace’ applies to RV travel just like hiking and any other form of outdoor adventure.

Wildlife Rules

When camping deep out in the woods, remember that the animals are in their native territory – you are their guests. With that in mind, keep an eye out and steer clear of any wildlife that is wandering by. The best interaction with wildlife is the one you don’t have, so respect their space and understand that you are the guest in this situation.

Boondocking can be great fun, but it doesn’t come without its challenges and limitations. As always when traveling, preparation and planning can go a long way. Know what you are doing before you head out, and have fun!

4 COMMENTS

  1. For several years my wife and I have enjoyed boondocking with my 35-foot motorhome. It is equipped with a V-10 Triton gasoline engine, 5KW Onan generator, 3-burner propane range with oven, propane/electric RV refrigerator/freezer and LED lighting. I have found that our biggest limitation has not been lack of an electric hook-up but, instead, our supply of potable water and the proper disposal of the contents of our waste tanks. We can run our coach on 12-volts from its AGM batteries for at least 24 hours after charging them from our generator for just an hour or so. However, three or four days is about as long as we can comfortably camp without replenishing our water supply and dumping our waste tanks.

    A professional solar installation that is capable of sustaining a motorhome without running its generator can cost $12,000 or more and, of course, doesn’t work if the coach is parked in the shade. Unless we’re camping in cool weather, finding a shady campsite usually enables us to stay comfortable without running air conditioning. We love the freedom and economy of being able to boondock at national seashores, national parks and in state parks but we do not try to camp in wilderness areas that are not designated as campgrounds believing that it’s safer to be in supervised areas near other campers.

  2. I pretty much agree with you Lewis. I’m looking to buy a 5th wheel toyhauler, and if I ever boondock with it, I’ll just run the generator. No way I’d own an RV without one. I’ve seen some campgrounds, that the electricity wouldn’t work right, or blow breakers. Fire up the generator. I think that would be the drawback to having a residential fridge in the RV instead of a RV fridge. It has to have electricity from either a generator or AC. You could at least run an RV fridge on propane or battery or a generator. I probably will be doing some boondocking here and there. Looking to go fulltime this spring/summer.

  3. Our limiting factor when boondocking is fresh water. We can stay out about one week at a time. We love our solar, but it doesn’t extend our water issue.

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