Hitting the road for some off-the-grid living? Don't forget to pack these 15 essentials to make your boondocking trip a success.
There is nothing like a camping trip in the wild; you get to be closer to nature and leave all the worries of day-to-day behind.
An RV adds to your camping experience by allowing you to take some luxuries (like a solid roof over your head, a proper bed) of your home with you on your wild adventure. Boondocking is a great way to get away from the crowds at RV campgrounds and enjoy nature at its best. But living off-the-grid has its challenges; no hookups for instance.
While dry camping may seem daunting to newbies, there is nothing a little prep and the right attitude cannot achieve. Here is a list of 15 essential things you should pack to make your boondocking trip a success.
Extra Batteries and Generator
One of the biggest challenges of dry camping is the availability of power. You can easily tap into shore power when parked at a campground, but out in the wild, your only source of power is one that you bring with you. So bring extra. Make sure your RV batteries are fully charged and also carry fully-charged extra batteries. Invest in good quality batteries and if you're planning a longer boondocking trip consider getting a whole bank of batteries installed.
You'll also need a way to charge the batteries since you will most definitely need to replenish them during your trip. A portable RV generator is a great way to charge your batteries and power smaller RV appliances and lights. You can also install a solar setup but we would still recommend carrying a generator for powering your RV on cloudy days.
If you're planning to boondock in winter, you will need propane to keep your RV warm. Propane will be used to power your heater, your stove, and your gas water heater (not to mention any other propane-powered appliances). It is therefore important that you keep extra propane at hand so that you don't accidentally run out of fuel in the middle of nowhere.
Portable Dump Tank and Pump
Your RV holding tanks need extra attention when you're out camping away from hookups. Use water sparingly so that your grey and blackwater tanks don't fill up too quickly. Invest in a portable dump tank installed in the truck bed and connected to your blackwater tank via a macerator pump to empty your grey and blackwater tanks. This way you won't need to move your entire rig to empty your black water tank, you can just take the portable tank in a toad to the nearest dump station.
Water Bladder and Water Filter
Speaking of RV tanks, you will need a way to fill your fresh water tank without moving your rig as well. A portable water bladder will help you carry clean water to your motorhome easily. Also, consider investing in a water filter since you might be sourcing water from anywhere you can find it. A water filter will help make sure the water is okay for consumption.
LED Lights (Outdoor and Indoor)
The lights installed in your rig can be a big power drain, and you will be using them a lot while boondocking. To counter this problem consider replacing your normal RV lights with LED ones. LEDs won't drain your batteries and you can install ones that can be dimmed or change color. You'll need outdoor lights while dry camping as well. Consider using RV LED light strips or lanterns installed on the awning or around the campsite.
Propane Space Heater
It can get really cold when you're parked under the open sky, even during the warmer months. A portable propane space heater is a good way to keep your RV warm on cold nights. Since it runs on propane, the heater won't drain your batteries. Just make sure you keep a window open or there is some sort of ventilation when using the propane heater inside the RV.
It's hard to find an even parking ground for your motorhome when dry camping. This is where leveling blocks really come in handy. You have to make sure your motorhome is level when parked both for your RV's safety and yours. leveling blocks are a good addition to your RV gear. They are also really handy when and if you have to change your motorhome's tire.
RV ACs are great but they drain your batteries faster than any other appliance in your motorhome. They are also very difficult to power through solar. So RV fans are a convenient and more energy-efficient way to keep your RV cool and comfortable during the day. Consider replacing the factory fans installed in your RV with 12-Volt RV fans. Carrying portable fans is also recommended for hotter days.
Water is a scarce commodity when boondocking so you will want to conserve as much of it as possible. Even if you're parked next to a stream, you don't want to be running back and forth dump stations to empty your tanks. A dish-washing basin is simply a washing tup that you can carry with you. Fill it up with soapy water and wash your dishes in it instead of under running water. This will help save water and a trip to a dump station, win-win!
Outdoor Camping Stove or Grill
Camping is all about soaking in as much nature as you can, an outdoor stove or grill allows you to cook under the stars. Not to mention grilling food really sets the mood for a camping trip. A propane-powered outdoor stove or grill is a must-have on boondocking trips. It doesn't drain your batteries and is safe since you're cooking out in the open. Consider adding this to the list of RV kitchen essentials.
Camping Chairs and Table
No camping trip is complete without the right gear. Carry a portable camping table and chairs so you can spend time lazying outside your RV. Add an outdoor RV rug that your kids can play on so that the whole family can spend as much time outside the camper as possible. A small foldable camping table can be used to hold your food and drinks and can also be taken along on trekking trips.
Cell-Phone Signal Booster
Getting internet in your RV is already a challenge, but staying connected while boondocking is even more so. If you're parked out in the wild, chances are you won't be getting a cell signal. A cell phone signal booster can help with that. Not all dry camping trips are about getting off-the-grid, if you want to stay on one, invest in a signal booster and park in a location where the signal is the strongest.
All camping trips need flashlights. If you're parked in the woods it only makes sense to go out and explore, this is where flashlights can come in handy. Even if you don't plan on venturing out, flashlights are a good option to keep around in case you lose all power in your rig or during the time it takes for your generator to power all the lights.
This one goes without saying. An emergency kit is essential when you're out dry camping. In addition to first-aid basics, you should also carry emergency drinking water, safety vests, foil blankets, LED road flares, extra power chords, and batteries in your emergency kit.
We rely on digital navigation apps more than we think. But what happens when you don't have a cellular network or data? Carrying a road atlas is better than getting lost in the middle of nowhere. Paper road atlases can help you canvass the area you will be camping in and also mark the nearest dumping stations, supermarkets, fuel stations, and more so you know where to go in case of emergencies.
Boondocking Packing List
The Last Word
Boondocking, when done right, can be an exciting and refreshing experience. Camping out in the woods, mountains, or next to a creak is an experience like no other. Just make sure you carry the right gear and are mentally prepared for some off-the-grid living. Also, don't forget to install keyless door locks on your rig for safety and convenience, and take an RV cover along in case you run into bad weather.