If you know anything about us, or have looked at our campground reviews you’ll know we are a little spoiled. We are glampers (RV Resort regulars), not campers. Actually we like to say we are LIVING in our RV, not camping. So what were we to do when we found ourselves in a no hook-up boondocking situation for 2 (long, very long) weeks?
Boondocking aka Dry Camping
If you haven’t heard the term before, boondocking refers to camping without hookups (power, water, sewer), and is also called dry camping. It is very popular in rural areas, thus the name boondocking.
We have started using a program called Harvest Hosts where you can stay for free at farms, wineries, breweries, and golf courses.
Our RV Equipment
First off since we don’t boondock, or even stay at partial (gasp!) hookup sites, we had to work with what we had. Folks who do this regularly have installed things like solar panels and composting toilets or other water conservation methods. We have an Onan gas generator and fairly large water tanks. In preparation we bought a portable poop wagon (more on that later).
Lesson #1: Don’t Do It In Texas in Late May
While it may not officially be summer for another month, we had highs over 100 degrees on several days. It was HOT! While we can run two air conditioners in our Fifth Wheel on the generator, it burns a lot of gas! We thought we were going to get away with just using a battery operated fan, but not in that heat. Friends tell me that boondocking in temperate climates is much more enjoyable.
Lesson #2: Lead Acid Batteries Aren’t The Best Choice For Boondocking
Your lead acid batteries may have a 100% charge, but you can’t use it all. In fact, it is not recommended to deplete them beyond 50%. If you have a residential refrigerator like we do, you might want to upgrade. We upgraded to Lithium BattleBorn batteries and couldn’t be happier! Secondary to this, we learned that our inverter can only power the refrigerator. This meant we had no other power source while sleeping and no means to charge the batteries. So we also upgraded the inverter and converter. Below is the first of a 4-part series of videos on our power upgrade.
Lesson #3: We Use A Lot Of Water
One of the most inconvenient parts of boondocking or dry camping is the lack of a water source. You can get an additional water bladder or just get an RV with larger tanks (like we recently did). Luckily our first foray into boondocking was at a county fairground, so we were able to fill our fresh water tank when needed.
We were warned that daily showering uses a lot of water. In fact, I’ve read several articles from regular boondockers that forgoing the daily shower is helpful. Not for us. We like our daily showers. In fact, I sometimes take more than one a day. For example, I shower after my workout/walk every morning. One day we went to the lake in the afternoon, so I showered again before bed. I did employ one technique for my showers that I don’t normally do. Some folks call it a “navy shower” where you get wet, turn off the water, lather up, turn back on the water to rinse. I didn’t love it, but it seemed to help a little.
I also filled up a bucket with the excess cold water while I was waiting for the water to warm up. Then we used that water to flush the toilet. i
Lesson #4: The Water Has To Go Somewhere
Access to fresh water is not the only reason to conserve. The other reason is that all the water you use has to go somewhere. We purchased a Thetford SmartTote2 Portable Waste Tank for this particular camping adventure. We used it once and didn’t love the process. Dumping from the RV into the portable system was simple, but going from it to the dump station sewer drain was not so easy. When you lift the hose show in the image below hose, there is no valve holding back the flow until you get it in the drain.
We should have watched this video from Exploring the Local Life first. Robert explains how to overcome that particular challenge.
Will We Do It Again?
It really wasn’t so bad, and I think if we did it for a shorter period of time in a more temperate climate, we might even enjoy it. We’re going to take baby steps and check out some Corps of Engineer campgrounds with partial hookups.
UPDATE: WE DID IT AGAIN (AND AGAIN). CLICK HERE TO SEE MORE LESSONS LEARNED AND TIPS.
Recommended Products To Improve Your Boondocking Experience
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