Wednesday, August 15, 2018
If you’ve spent time with other RVers or visited social media RV sites, you’ve probably discovered that “Boondocking”—also called “dry camping” or “off the grid” camping—is exploding in popularity.
Boondocking is camping without outside electrical or water hook-ups using the self-contained features of your RV to live comfortably. Why do it? Maybe you’re sick of expensive campgrounds with RVs packed together like sardines. Or maybe you want to get back to nature with just you, the birds and a majestic forest or breathtaking vista. Sure, you’ll sacrifice wifi, unlimited water and sewer, restaurants and supermarkets, but for many of today’s RV campers the rewards are worth it. Here are 7 tips to make your boondocking experience incredibly easy and enjoyable:
1. Don’t let the size of your RV keep you from boondocking. Whether your RV is a 20 foot long Keystone Bullet or Passport or a 40 foot Montana or Alpine, you can still enjoy dry camping. While shorter RVs are more maneuverable, larger RVs offer more living space and typically have bigger water and holding tanks. Each can live well in the wild.
2. Do your homework. All told there is more than 800 million acres of public land in the United States, much available for boondocking at no or nominal fee. This includes National and State forests as well as public lands operated by the Bureau of Land Management. There is an abundance of online resources to help you plan your boondocking adventure. Try the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and individual State forest agencies. Here's one source we have found valuable for all around boondocking information. No matter where you plan to stay and what size RV you own, you are going to want to scout out your potential boondocking site using only your tow vehicle. Check for possible camp sites, potential obstacles in and above you, and ease of access. Backing out of a three mile long lane is no fun!
3. Be aware of your electrical power needs and capabilities. You’ll rely on your RV’s house battery to supply your power needs when dry camping. Typically this includes power for your lights, water pump, slide room operation, power awning, and RV refrigerator control panel (assuming you have an RV refrigerator). Keystone RVs equipped with a residential refrigerator use an inverter that converts the 12-volt battery power to AC power to operate the refrigerator. Simply put, the more electricity you use the more often you will need to recharge your house battery. Solar panels or generator can supply additional power and keep your house battery charged. Many Keystone models offer solar prep, which makes it easy to add solar to help keep your 12-volt system topped off. The Montana line offers an upgraded solar system that includes a grid style 265 watt solar panel which operates at a higher voltage and provides more power than smaller, less advanced RV solar panels. This system is able to prolong dry camping unlike any other solar system in the industry. To learn more about your RV’s electrical systems go HERE.
4. Did you know that the average person at home uses 80-100 gallons of water per day? While Keystone RVs are known for offering larger fresh water tanks and larger holding tanks, managing your water usage is a prized boondocking skill. Showers, washing dishes, and flushing the toilet not only use a great deal of water but also fill your holding tanks. Some ways to extend your stay are to wash dishes outdoors using a portable water source like a 5 gallon jug. “Navy” showers can drastically cut your water usage.
5. Live outdoors. Boondocking enables you to get back to nature. Many chronic boondockers think of it as tent camping without the hardships of sleeping on the ground, living with the bugs, and packing in all your gear on your back. Boondocking is one of the best ways to experience unforgettable outdoor activities like riding mountain bikes, ATVs, hiking, fishing, and kayaking. Oftentimes, the best trail you’ve ever hiked or lake you fished is literally right outside your front door.
6. Pay attention to your surroundings. A family of hungry raccoons can make a total mess of your campsite so don’t leave food or trash where the smell might attract a visitor. Larger animals like bear, moose and even deer can hurt you when they become agitated, so exercise caution when wild animals approach. As far as unwelcomed human visitors, most experienced boondockers will tell you that they don’t feel any less safe out in the wild than they do back in civilization. However, it makes sense not to leave expensive items lying out in the open to tempt a thief. If you want to consider some form of personal protection, be sure to follow the proper regulations.
7. Take only pictures; leave only footprints. We are truly blessed to live in one of the most beautiful lands in the world with the freedom to camp outdoors as we wish. Along with this freedom comes responsibility. Please pack out your trash. Don’t deface your surrounds. And leave the land on which you camped as good as or better than when you found it.