There is a lot that goes into RVing in the wilderness. First, preparation is key when boondocking off the grid with no water or electric. Here are 37 tips to help you have a successful boondocking experience.
- Know the Rules of the Public Land You Want to Visit
The first thing to do is, know the rules that govern the public land you plan on visiting. Know the time limit, know the areas which are permitted for boondocking, and places that might be off limits.
Also, different agencies have rules on how long you may stay in one spot, and how far you have to move if you want to stay in the are beyond that. Some areas have a 14-day stay limit, but it varies from one place to the other. It is your job to know those rules, and part of being a responsible boondocker is abiding by the rules.
- Respect the Land
A lot of these lands you boondock at are used for other activities other than boondocking. Some of these activities include hunting, hiking, ATVs. So it is highly advised that you do not trespass any range given to you. Also, desist from chopping down trees for firewood, and try as much as possible not to leave no trace. As said above, go in and leave a small impact as possible.
- Pack Out What You Pack In
Nothing is more disheartening than arriving at a campsite only to find out that the previous camper didn’t pick after themselves this ranges from a bullet casing, broken glasses and even bags of trash.
So packing out what you pack in means taking all your garbage with you, and do not leave your garbage behind. So, try to pack out what you pack in and do not leave your mess for someone else to pick up. And try to leave no trace that you were there. And if you can, then I highly recommend you leave the place cleaner than you came.
- Do not Ever Block a Dirt Road
One thing you should never do is to drive around the wilderness for miles, and haven’t seen another person or a rig for hours, and when you can’t find a place to camp, you decide to settle on blocking a tiny dirt road, that looks like it hasn’t been used for a long period of time. Inevitably, somebody is going to come along and will want to get by, and this happens every single time.
So, no matter how thin the dirt road may appear to be and how enticing it might seem as a camping spot, do not block the road. So, keep looking till you can find a place where you can pull off of the side of the road and set up so that anyone who might want to get by on that road can get by.
- Do not Dump Your Grey Water in the Woods
One question people ask is whether they can dump their grey water while boondocking, well the answer is no. It is illegal to dump grey water. Even if you do use natural soaps, and you do not use any normal detergent, shampoo, or body wash, it is still illegal to dump grey water. This is because when you dump about 30 gallons of grey water into the environment, though it may not cause sudden catastrophic harm to the environment, it is gradually changing the ecosystem. So no, you cannot dump your grey water.
- Do not Rely on a Cell Signal When Boondocking
Often times you may start out with a really strong cell signal, and it can drop to absolutely nothing. So, just know that if you’re going to be boondocking and dry camping, you could do so without a cell signal. However, if a cellular signal is a thing that is of concern for you, then you could purchase certain things like a cellular signal booster to boost your cellular service, or a personal locator to contact an emergency contact if security is a concern for you.
Also, I highly recommend you to have a paper map with you or download maps to your laptop to help you navigate whenever your cell phone signal is lost. We bought a large scale Road Atlas Books that truck drivers use, (I can’t read the fine print on normal maps).
- Leave Space Between You and Your Neighbors
Remember when you are out there boondocking in public land, you’re not on a campground. Most people boondock because they want to get as far away from others and enjoy nature. So having to park 20 feet away from someone’s rig when there is a vast space available, destroys that solitude.
There may be some parks which are intended for a large number of rigs and close proximity to one another, but otherwise, pick a site that is far away from your neighbors as possible. However, if you can’t find an area that is 100 feet away from your neighbor, then you should realize that the area is already full.
- Use Existing Only Existing Sites, and Roads.
When camping on national forest land or a BLM land, make sure to use existing roads to access your sites, and pick a site that has been used before, which is often marked by an existing fire ring. This minimizes the impact of camping on the land. Different agencies have different rules on how far you can camp from an existing road.
Most district offices of BLM lands and national forests, have maps that you can get, and the show what roads are legal for rigs to be on. Following these rules ensures that there is less impact done to the wilderness and also, preserves these areas for us to use and the future generations. So before you go into any public land for boondocking or dry camping, check the website, check the district office and make sure that you know the rules and make sure that you follow the rules.
- Remember Noise Carries
Sound can really carry long distances, especially at night. That means being conscious of your noise and respecting your neighbors. If someone is within an earshot, the limit generator used to the same quiet hours that you would find in a campground, point the exhaust away from neighbors. If your generator makes so much noise at night, then it’s time for you to upgrade to a quieter inverter generator.
Also, remember that light is another form of pollution too. And your outdoor lighting may disturb your neighbors’ appreciation of the dark starry skies above their campsite.
- Keep Your Eyes on Your Dogs
Being away from others allows some time for your dog to spend off leash. However, if you’ve got neighbors, then your dog should stay on the leash. Remember, not everyone likes your dog or appreciates being accosted by your affectionate retriever. If you’re close to neighbors, then your dog may wander off to their campsite, or greet walkers on the road, or even harass wildlife in the area, so, it is advisable that you keep them on the leash. It also protects your dog from unexpected creatures.
- Slow Down When Driving
Forest roads and BLM lands, can be very dry and dusty. For that reason, whether you’re driving your rig, or buzzing around on your ATV, be sure to slow down when approaching someone’s campsite, and take it easy until you’re past it.
- Cutting Wood
Some lands have restrictions on gathering firewood. If it’s permitted, only retrieve deadfall to fuel your campfire, and never ever a standing tree, even if it looks diseased or dead. Ensure to purchase some firewood you might need should you want to set up a campfire.
- Leave No Trace Behind
Anyone who spends time in the Western U.S. knows the dangers posed by an out-of-control wildfire. Many wildfires are caused by improperly attended camp fire. When leaving your campfire, make sure that it’s out, completely out. Saturate it with water until it’s cold to touch. When appropriate, bury the cold embers, ash, and coals to eliminate all evidence of your campfire.
- Ensure You Have Personal Security
Security is a number one concern when boondocking in remote areas. When boondocking in remote areas, look around to see if there are signs of activity like recent campfires, trash etc… if yes, maybe consider another spot. Just get a feel for your surroundings. If you leave your camp to explore for the day, ensure to lock up a few valuables including your generator, and solar panels.
Also, ensure to lock the door to your rig, other than that, you have nothing to worry about. Your patio furniture and other less valuable items can sit outside while you’re gone.
- Always Have a Generator
You need to have electricity to power your computer, television, microwave and all none 12-volt appliances. One thing about generators is that it relies on gasoline. So, I highly recommend you have gasoline with you when you plan to go boondocking.
- Have Solar
Sometimes, it is ridiculous to run your generator, when you have to do little things like making coffee. So, if you have solar, you wouldn’t have to worry about little activities like that, since your batteries are already powered up and all you have to do is to plug in your coffee grinder or coffee maker and make yourself some coffee.
For solar, you will need solar panels, battery banks to store power, and an inverter to convert the energy to something your RV can use.
- Fill Your Water Tanks
Before going out there in the wilderness, make sure that your water tank is full. If you haven’t done that already, and you’re planning to do that already, you want to make sure that that tank has been sanitized. Sanitizing your tank should be done more often if you haven’t used your tank in a long time. However, if you use your tank frequently, then you do not need to worry about sanitation.
Well, if you do not drink out of your freshwater tank, ensure to bring a lot of drinking water with you. A great way to do this is to fill your water into collapsible jugs, these are easy to handle, store, and they are lightweight.
- You Might Need a Portable Disposable Tank
Since dumping grey water is illegal, if for some reasons your grey water tank becomes full and you do not have a place to dump off the grey water, one way you can dispose of it is by using a portable wastewater disposable tank. You can empty some of your grey tanks into and you can later dispose of it at an appropriate location.
- Consider Your Propane Usage
One thing you will have to consider is propane. This is because, for some rigs, propane runs your fridge, your stove and ovens, and also your water heater, and your furnace. So, it is critical you have your propane tanks topped off before you go out. However, if you’re in cold weather, you’re going to burn a lot of propane.
Some rigs may use diesel, or electricity for these activities but a lot of rigs use propane.
- Your AC
If you find yourself in a warm climate, one thing you might want to consider is how you’re going to use your AC unit. If you intend to use an AC unit, make sure to consider the type of generator you use. This is because some generators do not work well in warmer climates.
Also, before choosing an AC unit, make sure to know if you need two AC units or just one, depending on your rig, you might not need two. We have an article which explains whether you need two or just one AC.
21. Prepare Foodwise
Make sure that all your needs are stocked, and also that you have plenty of food. We highly recommend you get a lot of can foods if possible since they do not perish. Also, pre-wash all your fruits and vegetables before you go out boondocking, so that you wouldn’t have to use your existing water supplies to do that.
- Know Where You’re Going
It is great that you use satellite images on Google maps, to know where you’re going, and figure out what the area around you looks like. This might be helpful since it could inform you about the kind of obstacles you might encounter while there. Some of these obstacles may be the absences of a store, a gas station or even a dump station. When you know where you’re going, you have an idea of what to expect and how to prepare.
- Have a Faucet Aerator
You can screw this into a water faucet and what this does is to throttle down the amount of water that’s coming out of your water faucets. It can throttle it down to 0.5 gallons/minute. Well, a lot of RVs come with faucets that aren’t water efficient, so attaching this to any threaded water faucets can be really helpful.
Swapping out your water faucet aerator can save you up to half the water you would use if they aren’t swapped up.
- A Low Flow Oxygenated Shower Head
What this does is to basically a water aerator for your shower. And what this does it to force in the air with the water to give you better water pressure, and also, you use less water. Click here for current price.
If you have a water-efficient showerhead, then maybe you do not need the oxygenated shower head however if you have the water head they put in from factories, then it’s not going to be as efficient.
- Wipes and a Dry Shampoo
Using wipes are a great way to get yourself clean without actually taking a bath. If you’re looking to save up water whiles boondocking, you could use baby wipes to clean the necessary areas and you should be good for the day.
Another way to conserve water is by using a dry shampoo, what this does it to absorb excess oil in your scalp. So, basically, it extends the life of your latest shampoo efforts.
- Have a Power Inverter and a Power Bank
Keeping your electronics charged up it is really important when you’re in the middle of nowhere and absolutely no city lights.
Having a power inverter and a power bank becomes handy when you want to save some power. With these two, you can charge electronics such as laptops, phones, tablets, and camera batteries.
- A Bialetti Moka Pot
If you’re a coffee lover looking to save some energy, then I highly recommend a Bialetti Moka Coffee Maker. You can prepare your espresso with this by heating the cup on a stove and using propane. So, you do not have to worry about getting up early in the morning and putting on the generator to make some coffee.
- Use LED Lights at Night
LED lights are about 70% more efficient than halogen lights. Not only that but they are cooler to touch. This makes them much better when camping in warmer weather. Now with the prices of LED lights been so low, it’s kind of a great alternative when looking for an upgrade.
- Use an Auto Vent
Using a max fan is a two for one. It has a built-in cover that prevents bugs and water from entering into the RV and works perfectly when your AC is not in use.
When you set your temperature to like 70 degrees, and your rigs start to get warmer than that, the auto vent opens up and then circulates air inside the RV. However, when the temperature in the rig is cooler than the set temperature, the vent closes and then shuts the fan off. This is great when you want to keep the temperature inside your rig regulated.
- Have a Composting Toilet
This is awesome because it completely eliminates the need of you using a black tank. This makes it possible for you to use your black tank for additional grey water storage. Another bonus of this device is that it uses no water. This frees up water for drinking and showering and for your personal usage.
- Using a Solar Oven
If you love cooking and you’re scared of finishing up your propane, then maybe the solar oven could be an alternative for you. You can cook with the solar oven outside so you do not create any heat inside the rig. Another great feature of this is that it doesn’t use any form of electricity. it uses the sun’s rays to heat up the temperature inside and gets the heat up to 300-450 degrees. So you do not have a problem baking your favorite recipes whiles boondocking.
- This is How You Deal With Trash
Well, a lot of these boondocking sites have no trash cans around, so, one way you can deal with trash is to use your grocery bags. You can keep any form of trash in these bags, and once they become full you can gather them and go and dispose of them at a disposable site, or a nearby trash can.
- Bring Along Some Cash and Quarters
These become useful for those who do not have a washer or a drier, if you have to go to the laundry-mart, you could use these pennies and quarters for any necessary payments. Also, when you have to go to a water refill station you might need cash.
- Do Not Forget to Entertain Yourself
Bringing along some form of entertainment that does not require much electricity be it a chair, or a radio or even playing cards, a book or anything could really help you get out of a boredom situation.
- Use Disposables or a Foil
Using disposable plates and cups are a great way to save water since you do not need to wash them.
However, one thing to consider when using a foil is the trash, ensure to put them in your grocery bags if you do not have any trash can available.
Also, you could use an aluminum foil or a plastic foil to cover the plate you’re eating with before serving the food on the plate. Once you’re done eating, you could gently remove the foil of the plate, and you have a clean plate ready for reuse and you do not have to worry about washing.
- Do not Use the Hose in a Dump Station to Fill Your Water Tank
If you have the opportunity to have a dump station around, then try as much as possible to not use the water hose at the dump station to fill up your water tank, this is because you know where the hose has been and this makes it unhygienic to use. Technically, the water from the station is clean but the nozzle might be infected.
- Always Leave a Review
Make sure you leave a review about the place you visited on a website to help RVers like you know what the place is like. This makes it easy for someone else when he or she wants to boondock.
From these tips given above you can realize that when boondocking, you will need to conserve water, electricity, and propane. Nevertheless, researching and having enough information about the place you want to visit is essential too. With these tips, I hope you have a great boondocking experience.
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