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The RVer's Guide to Boondocking: Everything You Need to Know!

Kyle Arnold-profile-image
Kyle Arnold
June 19, 2024

TL;DR Explore the essentials of boondocking: gear, seasons, and planning tips. Learn about necessary equipment, resource management, and maximizing off-grid adventures. Discover inspiring resources and practical advice for first-timers, from packing lists to tech upgrades. Find out the best times and places to boondock, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience. Embrace the freedom of boondocking with proper preparation and the right mindset.

The RVer's Guide to Boondocking: Everything You Need to Know!

Guide to Boondocking

Explore essential gear, learn about the best boondocking seasons, and discover what boondocking is all about

Welcome to our comprehensive guide to boondocking! We're here to help you navigate through every aspect of this exciting adventure. From understanding the basics, choosing the right rig, and tackling challenges, to essential considerations for electrical systems, water tanks, and gear, we have got it all covered. And, as a special bonus, we will also delve into essential upgrades like RV renovations, switching to lithium batteries, and maximizing your power. So, grab a cup of coffee, get comfortable, and let's embark on this exciting journey together!

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What is Boondocking?

What exactly is boondocking in an RV? Boondocking entails camping without access to electricity, water, or sewage hookups. If you plan on boondocking, your RV may require different equipment including solar power and batteries. If you’re looking to purchase items to upgrade your rig and make it boondocking-friendly, be sure to check out Battle Born Batteries.

Typically, when RVers discuss boondocking, they are referring to camping in national forests, on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas, or other public lands. But this style of camping can be enjoyed in various ways, such as spending a night in a business parking lot, setting up camp on public lands, or being a part of Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome.

This form of boondocking is often described as wild, primitive, or dispersed camping. It frequently rewards adventurers with more space, a one-of-a-kind closeness with nature, and awe-inspiring moments that are worthy of an Instagram post.

Probably the lowest form of “boondocking” involves what many refer to as “wally-docking” or overnighting in Walmart, Cracker Barrel, or other RV-friendly parking lots. Some businesses are better than others, but all are typically done out of convenience, desperation, or a lack of planning.

Camping in the wild is great, but if you’re interested in boondocking closer to civilization and are looking for a better alternative to wally-docking, then a Harvest Hosts Membership may be right for you. You’ll get unique RV camping options and unlimited overnight stays at wineries, distilleries, golf courses, farms, and other attractions across North America. With a Harvest Hosts Membership, you’re guaranteed to make memories through the special experiences you have at Host locations. laurine-bailly-qkMQ5N2d9aY-unsplash.jpg

Embracing the Boondocking Lifestyle

It's natural to feel a bit apprehensive about trying something new, and boondocking is no exception. The thought of being off the grid, managing your resources, and figuring out all the logistics can seem overwhelming. However, boondocking is actually quite straightforward, incredibly cool, and opens up a world of opportunities for adventure.

Redefining Boondocking

Boondocking is all about smart resource management - conserving power, not wasting water, being mindful of your holding tanks, and fostering connections with friends, family, and nature. By keeping these objectives in mind, planning your trip becomes much more manageable and sets the stage for an unforgettable experience.

Planning Your Adventure

In the following sections, we will guide you through the planning process, helping you think through, plan, and envision your future boondocking adventure. With our helpful tips and unique Memberships, you'll be well on your way to embarking on the road trip of your dreams.

Remember, boondocking is not just about surviving off the grid; it's about thriving in the great outdoors and creating lasting memories. With the right preparation and mindset, you'll find that boondocking is not only easy but incredibly rewarding. Let's get started!

Start With Inspiration

Inspiration is the cornerstone of every adventure, guiding RVers on their boondocking journeys. It ignites creativity, encourages the exploration of uncharted destinations, and instills the courage to step outside comfort zones. With inspiration as their guiding light, travelers embark on transformative experiences that create lasting memories and a profound connection with nature.

Youtube is the best way to learn about boondocking quickly, and we’ve compiled some of our favorite creators for you. For example, Creativity RV is a fantastic resource that we highly recommend. Additionally, we recommend checking out CheapRVliving, a channel dedicated to sharing tips on living in a vehicle on a budget; All About RVs, which covers a range of RV topics including boondocking; and Drivin' and Vibin', where a couple documents their RV journey and shares tips on boondocking and full-time RV living. Each of these channels offers a unique perspective and a wealth of information to help you on your boondocking adventure. Let's harness the power of inspiration, embrace the adventure, and create a tapestry of experiences that will leave a lasting imprint on our souls.

Now is the time to search for a few places to get inspiration. Check out more below.

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The Adventure Series

Dive deep into the real-world of boondocking with the Harvest Hosts Adventure Series. This isn't your typical polished travel show; it's a raw and genuine behind-the-scenes look at the boondocking lifestyle, full of valuable insights from actual boondockers living the life. You'll see the nitty-gritty of budget-friendly travel, learn crucial tips and tricks for a successful off-grid adventure, and get a taste of the enchanting life on the road. This series is chock-full of practical advice, from pinpointing the perfect camping spot to resource conservation, all shared by seasoned boondockers who've been there, done that. So, if you're ready for a no-nonsense guide to boondocking that'll help you experience the freedom, connection with nature, and breathtaking adventures that lie off the beaten path, the Adventure Series is your ticket. Get ready to embark on your own unforgettable journey with Harvest Hosts as your trusty companion.

Youtubers

Inspiration is the cornerstone of every adventure, guiding RVers on their boondocking journeys. It ignites creativity, encourages the exploration of uncharted destinations, and instills the courage to step outside comfort zones. With inspiration as their guiding light, travelers embark on transformative experiences that create lasting memories and a profound connection with nature. While we have not directly collaborated with any creators, we recognize the value in the content that others have created.

For example, Creativity RV is a fantastic resource that we highly recommend. Additionally, we recommend checking out CheapRVliving, a channel dedicated to sharing tips on living in a vehicle on a budget; All About RVs, which covers a range of RV topics including boondocking; and Drivin' and Vibin', where a couple documents their RV journey and shares tips on boondocking and full-time RV living. Each of these channels offers a unique perspective and a wealth of information to help you on your boondocking adventure. Let's harness the power of inspiration, embrace the adventure, and create a tapestry of experiences that will leave a lasting imprint on our souls.

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First-Time Boondocking: What To Do

Boondocking, or dry camping, is an adventure that requires careful preparation and a bit of courage.

Start Small: For your first time, consider starting small to get a feel for it. Begin by boondocking in your driveway or on your property. This way, if you find that you've forgotten something essential or encounter any difficulties, you can easily go back inside your house.

Try a Nearby Spot: Once you feel comfortable with that, try a nearby spot that’s not too far from home. This will give you the opportunity to test your setup and skills in a more real-world scenario, but still with the safety net of being able to drive home if needed.

Weekend Trip: Next, venture a little farther away for a weekend trip. This will give you a good feel for what it's like to be off-grid for an extended period.

Longer Trips: Finally, once you feel confident in your boondocking abilities, you can venture out for longer trips and even use boondocking as a way to break up long drives to your destination.

Use Resources: A great resource for finding boondocking spots on your journey is Harvest Hosts, a membership program that allows RVers to stay at a network of over 4,000+ farms, wineries, breweries, museums, and other unique attractions for free!

Remember, the key to successful boondocking is preparation, self-sufficiency, and a sense of adventure. Happy boondocking!

What Kind of Gear & Tech Do I Need for Boondocking?

Embarking on a boondocking adventure requires a unique set of gear and technology to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience off the grid. In this section, we will explore the essential items every boondocker should have, as well as innovative technologies that can enhance your off-grid capabilities. We'll also dive into some favorite products highly recommended by seasoned boondockers.

We'll even talk about power solutions that can keep your devices charged and your technology running longer. And we’ll help you find some of the best trip planning apps like Harvest Hosts and Boondockers Welcome. So, let's dive in and discover the gear and tech that will elevate your boondocking experiences to new heights of convenience and comfort.

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Basics and Essentials for Boondocking

When it comes to boondocking, being prepared with the right essentials and the technology basics can make all the difference in ensuring a comfortable and successful off-grid experience. Let's explore the must-have essentials for boondocking and the basic boondocking tech that can enhance your adventure.

Having the right essentials is crucial. These include items like fresh water containers, a reliable portable water filter, a well-stocked first aid kit, camping chairs, a sturdy camping stove, and a set of quality camping cookware. Additionally, investing in a solar shower, portable toilet, and portable waste tank can provide added convenience and comfort while boondocking. However, if your RV has large enough water and waste tanks to last you for a week or so, then you may not need to worry about that aspect.

When thinking about basic boondocking, you’ll want to consider items like a GPS device or navigation app to help you find remote boondocking locations, a reliable weather radio for staying informed about weather conditions, and a cell signal booster to improve communication in areas with weak signals. Furthermore, a portable power station or generator—along with a solar panel system—can keep your devices charged and power your RV's appliances and electronics.

Favorite Products to Make Boondocking More Enjoyable

If you're looking for unique and helpful products to really optimize your boondocking experience, check out this article about our 11 favorite boondocking products. You'll find things like water filtration systems, single-serve coffee bags—that work just like tea bags—environmentally-friendly and biodegradable cleansing wipes, a pet monitoring system to make sure your fur babies don't get too hot in your RV or van, and so much more!

Not only are these products fun and unique, but most of them will enhance your overall safety. You'll even find products in this article like RV locks, RV-specific fire extinguishers, and small hand-crank weather radios that you can depend on when you're outside of cell service range.

Great Products to Help Maximize Your Power

When it comes to boondocking, having a reliable and efficient power solution is essential. One popular brand that offers excellent power solutions for off-grid adventures is Jackery. Let's take a closer look at these brands and why it’s are highly recommended by boondockers.

Jackery is another trusted brand known for its portable power stations designed specifically for outdoor enthusiasts. Jackery power stations are compact, lightweight, and feature a range of outputs to charge various devices. These power stations can be recharged using solar panels, making them a sustainable and eco-friendly option for boondockers seeking a reliable power source off the grid.

Make the Switch to Lithium

And speaking of power, we couldn’t mention power options without talking about battery types. For a deeper dive, check out this article about upgrading your RV or van’s batteries from lead acid to lithium. One compelling reason to switch from traditional lead acid batteries to lithium batteries is their superior performance and lifespan. Lithium batteries, such as those offered by Battleborn Batteries, provide longer-lasting power, are lighter in weight, and offer faster charging times compared to lead-acid batteries. Plus, lithium batteries have a higher depth of discharge, allowing you to utilize more of their capacity without damaging the battery.

Best Trip Planning Apps

Planning an RV trip can be an exciting but challenging task. Thankfully, there are several helpful apps and websites available to simplify the process and enhance your overall travel experience. Harvest Hosts, Boondockers Welcome, and other RV trip planning resources have become invaluable tools for RVers seeking unique and welcoming overnight locations.

Harvest Hosts, known for its vast network of wineries, farms, and attractions, offers a membership program that allows RVers to stay overnight at these picturesque locations for free or at a nominal cost. This provides a fantastic opportunity to connect with local hosts and indulge in memorable experiences while on the road.

Boondockers Welcome, recently joining the Harvest Hosts family, offers a similar concept, connecting RVers with hosts who provide free overnight parking on their private property. Both of these apps now offer map overlays that will show you where you can find local dump stations, what the weather conditions are nearby, and even which areas provide which cell phone coverage.

In addition to these specific platforms, there are other noteworthy RV trip-planning apps and websites like CampersCard that simplify the process of finding campsites, plotting routes, and discovering points of interest. These tools provide access to campground directories, reviews, big rig-friendly travel routes, diesel discounts, and real-time availability information, ensuring a smoother and more organized journey. By utilizing these tools, you can streamline your trip planning, uncover hidden gems, and make the most of your RV adventures.

Boondocking Packing List

Boondocking requires a bit more planning and preparation to ensure you have everything you need to be self-sufficient. Here is a generalized packing list for someone going boondocking for the first time, along with a brief explanation of why each item is essential:

  • Fresh Water: Carry enough fresh water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. A portable water container or a built-in water tank in your RV will be necessary.
  • Water Filter: In case you need to replenish your water supply from a natural source, a portable water filter will help remove harmful bacteria and contaminants.
  • Food: Pack enough non-perishable food for the duration of your trip. Canned goods, pasta, rice, and dried fruits and nuts are all good options. Pre-cooking is also a great option!
  • Portable Stove or Grill: Since you won’t have electricity, a portable stove or grill will be necessary for cooking.
  • Cooler: To keep perishables and beverages cold. A high-quality cooler can keep items cold for several days.
  • Solar Panels or Portable Generator: For generating electricity. Solar panels are eco-friendly and quiet, while a generator can provide more power if needed.
  • Extra Fuel: If you are using a generator or a gas-powered stove, make sure to bring extra fuel.
  • Battery Bank: To store the energy generated by your solar panels or generator and power your devices.
  • Tool Kit: Basic tools for any minor repairs that might be needed on your RV or other equipment.
  • Maps and Compass: In case of no cell signal or GPS failure. Or download the area map on Google Maps!
  • Portable Toilet: If your RV doesn’t have a toilet or you are camping in a tent.
  • Warm Clothing and Rain Gear: Even if the weather forecast is good, it’s always best to be prepared for all weather conditions.

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Boondocking Preparation List:

Preparing for a boondocking adventure requires careful planning to ensure you have everything you need to be self-sufficient and comfortable. Here is a preparation checklist to help you get ready for your boondocking experience:

  • Fill Up Propane: Make sure your propane tanks are full, as you will be relying on propane for cooking and heating.
  • Top Off Water Tank: Fill your water tank to its maximum capacity, as you will need enough fresh water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning.
  • Empty Black and Gray Tanks: Empty your black (sewage) and gray (used water) tanks to ensure you have maximum capacity for your trip.
  • Charge Electronics: Charge all your electronic devices, such as cell phones, tablets, and laptops, before you leave.
  • Download Map Areas: Download the map areas of your destination and surrounding areas, as you may not have internet access to check maps online while boondocking.
  • Charge Battery Bank: Make sure your RV's battery bank and any portable battery packs are fully charged.
  • Check Tire Pressure: Ensure all vehicle and trailer tires are at the proper pressure.
  • Check Oil and Fluid Levels: Make sure your vehicle’s oil and other fluid levels are topped off.
  • Pack Food and Supplies: Pack enough non-perishable food and supplies for the duration of your trip.
  • Pack Tool Kit: Bring a basic tool kit for any minor repairs that might be needed.
  • Check Weather Forecast: Check the weather forecast for your destination and pack accordingly.
  • Inform Someone: Let someone know your plans, where you will be going, and when you plan to return.

Remember, the key to a successful boondocking adventure is to be prepared and self-sufficient. Make sure to go through this checklist before you head out to ensure you have everything you need for a safe and enjoyable boondocking experience.

Long-Term Boondocking Upgrades

Electrical Considerations of Boondocking

Boondocking is a great way to explore the outdoors and disconnect from everyday life. But before you hit the road, it's essential to ask yourself some key questions to ensure you and your RV are prepared to have the best boondocking experience possible.

First and foremost, ask yourself HOW you want to boondock.

Questions to Ask Yourself?

  • Are you a Weekend Warrior or Full-Timer?
  • Do you Need all the Creature Comforts of a Home?
  • What Type of RV or Van do you own?
  • What Size Electrical System do you have?

Do you want an experience that is entirely off-grid, disconnected from the creature comforts of a home? Or are you looking for a bit more amenities - things such as running water, electricity, and a shower?

Next, consider where you live and where you want to travel. Thinking about this will help you determine the best places to boondock and what kind of conditions you might encounter. Don’t forget that there are more than likely many places to explore within your own region.

Boondocking in mountainous regions will take a different prep and electrical system than boondocking on the coast or at the beach. Wherever you decide to settle, you will need to take the amount of sun that area gets and how long the sun will be hitting your solar panels. Will you post up on the coast of Baja with the near-constant sun, or will you be in the forested trees where the sun only hits your panels for a particular time throughout the day? These factors will determine the size of the battery bank and the number of solar panels you’ll need for your rig for the ultimate boondocking experience.

Electrical System | Length of Stay

The following questions you’ll want to ask yourself are:

  • How long do you want to spend off-grid? Length of stay off-grid will help you determine the size of the electrical system setup you need.
  • Are you planning a weekend getaway or adventure? It's important to consider safety precautions you may need to take for the length of your stay.

What do you want to Power?

  • Laptop
  • TV
  • Microwave
  • Fridge
  • Coffee Pot
  • Hair Dryer
  • Instapot
  • Air Conditioner

Finally, think about what you want to power. Will you need to charge your phone or laptop? Do you want to run a small or large refrigerator? And what about air conditioning?

These questions are important factors to consider when choosing your boondocking setup. Solar panels and batteries or generators are popular options for powering boondocking rigs. As the world progresses with electrification, many folks set up their rig for solar panels and lithium-iron battery storage.

Batteries are a key system component, as they allow you to store the energy you harness with your solar panels. They become significantly important in areas where the sun isn't shining all day. And even all-day sunny places get the occasional cloudy one. If you plan on working at night after a big day of adventure, you’ll want to ensure you have the stored power to charge your computer, use the lights, and cook a meal. LiFePO4 battery storage will set you up for this.

Components | What Do I Need?

  • Inverter charger
    • Converting DC (direct current) power to AC (alternating current) power is the primary function of a standard inverter. A battery charger (converter) transforms 120 V AC power into DC power to charge batteries or other devices.
  • Converter Charge
    • A converter is distinct from an inverter, as it converts AC voltage to DC voltage, whereas an inverter transforms DC voltage to AC voltage. For an RV, electrical components usually run on DC power, and household appliances on AC power. A converter charger enables charging from an AC power source like shore power or generator and distributing the DC power to the onboard electrical components.
  • Battery Isolation Manager (BIM)
    • A BIM is only essential for alternator charging in 12 V systems. At Battle Born Batteries, we recommend BIM be used in systems comprising three or more batteries. The BIM is designed to provide a maximum current of 225 amps from the alternator to the batteries during the charge cycle.
  • Battery Guardian
    • A battery guardian is reserved for 12 V power systems. The component allows you to remotely disconnect the vehicle from the battery by sensing the voltages of the coach or auxiliary batteries.
  • Solar Panels
    • Setting up a solar system can be a perplexing task since solar panels are available in various shapes, sizes, wattages, voltages, and types. We dive a bit deeper into this in more detail later in this guide.
  • Solar Charge Controller
    • A device known as a solar charge controller regulates the transfer of power from your solar array to your battery bank, acting as a current or voltage controller.

It ensures that the power from the solar array is adequately directed towards charging the battery bank and acts as a one-way gate to prevent reverse power flow that could otherwise drain the batteries. The two main types of solar charge controllers are Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) and Pulse Width Modulation (PWM).

  • Battery Monitor
    • Battery monitors are helpful tools for keeping tabs on your battery system. They provide valuable information such as remaining power and total ampere-hours consumed.
  • DC to DC Charger
    • DC to DC chargers are convenient for charging your lithium-ion batteries via your vehicle's alternator and starting battery. These chargers provide a swift and intelligent charge and the advantage of isolating the chassis and coach batteries when not in operation.

It’s vital to consider your electrical needs to ensure a comfortable experience. Conducting an electrical audit of your RV or camper is a great first step. Conducting an audit will help you identify how much power you'll need and where you can save energy to extend your time off the grid.

One key consideration when conducting an electrical audit for boondocking is determining the size of your electrical system. Knowing whether you have a 30 or 50-amp service will verify the maximum power your electrical system can handle. With this information at your fingertips, you can accurately determine what types of appliances and devices you can use while off-grid.

Based on your findings, you should prioritize what you need to power based on your available power supply. Identifying where you can save energy is another key aspect of an electrical audit. While doing this, consider replacing inefficient appliances with energy-efficient models, using LED lights instead of incandescent bulbs, and minimizing unnecessary power usage.

Doing so will extend the life of your battery's stored energy and prevent your electrical system from being drained too quickly. Overall, you can make the most of your time off the grid by identifying your electrical needs, determining your maximum power supply, and identifying ways to save energy.

In layperson’s terms, when it comes to conducting an energy audit, two methods are typically used. The first approach involves manually calculating the energy usage of each appliance and then adding those numbers up. The second method uses a battery monitor to keep track of the average power consumption throughout the day. This latter method is a straightforward and uncomplicated way to perform an energy audit.

Batteries 101

When conducting your audit, the first step is to learn what type of batteries your rig already has. Lead acid batteries are a popular choice for boondocking due to their affordability, but they can also cause many problems. Lead acid batteries are heavy, have a shorter lifespan, and require regular maintenance to ensure they work properly. With batteries stored in hard-to-reach places, this becomes even more hassle.

Upgrading to lithium batteries can be a game-changer when boondocking. Lithium batteries are lightweight, have a longer lifespan, and require little to no maintenance. When upgrading to lithium, it is important to ensure that the components in the electrical system are compatible. This includes the charging system and any inverters or converters in use. The upfront cost is steeper, but the long-term performance, reliability, safety, and durability are worth the upgrade.

Another huge benefit of switching to lithium is using the battery's full capacity. With lead acid, the discharge rate for batteries is about 50%, meaning you are not using the battery to its full capacity. With lithium-ion batteries, the rate of discharge is 100%.

When sizing a power system, it is imperative to calculate the amount of power that will be used daily. This includes any appliances or devices that will be used and any charging needs for devices like cell phones or laptops. It is also very beneficial to consider any potential power surges or spikes that may occur. A calculation example for sizing a power system is determining the average daily usage, then adding a buffer to account for any unexpected needs. You’ll need to consider the capacity of the batteries being used, the charging system, and any solar panels that may be in use.

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Use BattleBorn's Battery Bank Calculator

How do I install a boondocking power system?

When installing a battery system and solar setup, there are generally two ways to go about it: Do It Yourself (DIY) or hire an installer. DIY installation can be a more cost-effective option, as it takes out paying someone else for the cost of labor. However, DIY installation requires tools, technical knowledge, and expertise, which could be a barrier.

Fortunately, companies like Battle Born Batteries offer resources and support for DIY installation. Their website provides helpful information on sizing a battery system and selecting components. In addition, Battle Born Batteries has an extensive technical support line for customers. You can call and speak with specialists offering advice and assistance with a DIY install.

For those who prefer to hire a professional, Battle Born Batteries also offers a list of certified installers in areas across the United States. This list includes installers vetted by the company and who have experience installing lithium-ion battery systems and solar setups. Additionally, a verified installer can provide peace of mind, knowing that the installation is done correctly and professionally.

Whether you choose to go the DIY route or hire an installer, having the support and resources of a company like Battle Born Batteries can be invaluable. With their experience and assistance, homeowners can feel confident in their system and enjoy the benefits of boondocking all year round.

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Water Tank Considerations For Boondocking

Having enough of the essentials, like water, has always been a challenge when boondocking. The good news is that some all-new solutions are available which can dramatically improve the quality of any boondocking experience.

The Big Problem

Within the RV chassis, tank space is at a premium. Competing for space with everything from spare tires to generators to stabilizer jacks. There are weight distribution considerations that leave manufacturers stretching their limits with tank sizes. Black tanks always seem to get the fair share. This makes sense when considering the disasters that could occur without optimal space.

Therefore fresh and grey water tanks end up quickly reaching maximum size and frequently come in odd-sized combinations. This leaves plenty of freshwater in the tank and limited room in the grey water storage tank.

In the end, the user typically resorts to conservation efforts that can hinder their experience and bring amenities to a halt. This limits shower time, kitchen sink usage, and even use of the precious toilet. Daily showers, washing dishes, and brushing teeth all become an exercise in minimization. The good news is that there are now solutions available that improve the experience people can have off the grid.

Boondockers have resorted to a wide variety of homemade solutions to have the freshwater and grey holding tank capacity needed for a comfortable stay. Probably the most rudimentary, and original solutions have included packing the car with jugs of water. Before environmental concerns were what they are today, dumping the greywater on the ground as far away from the RV as the hose would reach was a solution.

Some may remember when RV’s came with a foot-pumped sink with a drain, which was considered a big luxury at the time. To have enough to get through a stay, fresh water was sometimes poured into a funnel mid-trip to refill the tank. Consumer demand eventually led to RV manufacturers installing larger holding tanks, and eventually 12V pumps. But that is still not enough. RV’ers, and especially boondockers continue to want more capacity, and still to this day are seen pouring water from jugs into the tank to get through the weekend.

Different Options

Over the years, the accessory market has provided a few options to supplement fresh supply limitations. There are large, water-bed-like bags available that can be filled with fresh water, and the traditional 7-gallon blue plastic containers are still available.

As for the greywater, other than moving the RV to a dump station in the middle of the stay, there have been even fewer accessory options available. The most common method is a tote-style capture tank that can be gravity filled and pulled by hand or by vehicle to a dump station. If that dump station is nearby and does not require use of public roads. Totes have their place in paved, dedicated camping areas with a centralized dump station. However, they are not truly designed for more remote destinations far off the beaten path.

Unfortunately, the worst outcome of limited greywater holding space is the dumping of wastewater on the ground. This practice is illegal in almost all situations, including areas maintained by The U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management and Army Corps of Engineers. These areas all have regulations making it illegal to dump wastewater on the Federal lands that they maintain. The RV community continues to stress the importance of the responsible dumping of all RV related waste to help preserve access to desirable areas and prevent environmental concerns from outweighing the recreational use of public lands.

The Big Solution

Now that RV’s come with all the amenities of home, like multiple sinks and faucets, residential-style showers, porcelain toilets, and stainless plumbing fixtures the problem of having enough water and holding tank capacity has become even bigger. Unfortunately using all the water system features of a modern RV can be limited by the size of the tanks, which can put to waste all those fancy amenities. Luckily, a new solution is available.

Auxiliary Fresh & Grey Water Systems give boondockers and accessory enthusiasts a valuable option to increase tank capacity without RV or vehicle modifications, and drastically improve quality of life during their stay.

Boondockers are consistently raising their expectations for having all the amenities that they are used to at home. Many of these amenities rely on fresh & grey water supply and storage. These can quickly deplete when staying in a location without full hook-ups. RV owners ultimately want to be able to use their amenities at full potential regardless of their location. The new auxiliary fresh and grey water systems available allow them just that.

Top quality grey and freshwater auxiliary systems include high-density polyethylene, UV stabilized tanks, a 12- volt transfer pump and all the connections needed to operate the system.

The Pump

The pump is conveniently connected to the vehicle’s power source via the 7-pin trailer connector. This allows users to effortlessly transfer fresh water into their RV unit. This also allows users to extract grey water for removal at an approved dump station. The big idea behind the new powered-type auxiliary systems is to provide the user an experience free of having to lift any heavy tanks or containers and allowing the transfer to take place even if the auxiliary tank is above the RV tank.

Auxiliary RV water system tanks can easily fit into RV compartments and into truck beds, including around 5th wheel hitches. When not in use, all components are easily removable and stored. There are no modifications or permanent attachments to the RV or vehicle. It’s an easy set up and easy break down.

Freshwater auxiliary systems allow the user to bring a reserve supply of fresh water to the RV location and transfer the water effortlessly using a powered transfer pump system. A well-engineered freshwater auxiliary system keeps water sanitary, is easy to use and store, and is built to last a lifetime.

A grey water auxiliary system offers the opposite of the freshwater system. It extracts greywater from the RV into the auxiliary tank so it can be transported to an approved dump station. When compared to traditional methods, a grey water auxiliary system transfers the water using a pump. It also doesn’t not rely on gravity to empty the RV grey tank. This can be a great benefit for those who do not want to lift or pull around a wheeled tank. This can be impossible in remote destinations.

When and Where to Boondock

Now that you’ve prepared your electrical and water, you’re ready to start planning your first boondocking trip. Read on to learn the information you need to consider when deciding when to boondock.

What Is the Best Season for Boondocking?

The best season for boondocking in your RV largely depends on your preferred climate and location. Generally, spring and fall offer pleasant temperatures, making them ideal seasons for boondocking in various regions. Springtime brings blooming landscapes, vibrant colors, and comfortable weather before the scorching heat of summer arrives. Fall showcases stunning foliage, cooler temperatures, and fewer crowds, creating a serene boondocking experience.

However, it's important to research specific destinations and their weather patterns to make an informed decision. Keep in mind that extreme temperatures in summer and winter may limit boondocking opportunities unless you have the appropriate equipment and are prepared for the conditions.

With all of that being said, tons of RVers travel during the summer and can handle the heat with some strategic planning. Plus, winter is amazing for the quiet moments throughout the year, connecting with nature, and the quietness of the season. Here are some great tips for the different seasons.

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Boondocking in Winter

Boondocking in winter can be a magical experience for adventurous RV travelers. While the colder temperatures may deter some campers, for those willing to brave the frigid temperatures it offers a unique opportunity to explore snow-covered landscapes and enjoy a serene, winter wonderland. Imagine waking up to snow-capped mountains, frozen lakes, and peaceful forests.

Top Winter Activities

When boondocking in winter, RVers can engage in a variety of exciting activities. Embrace the snowy wonderland by exploring cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails, immersing yourself in the serene winter landscapes. Set up ice fishing gear on frozen lakes for a unique angling experience.

Take advantage of nearby slopes for thrilling skiing and snowboarding adventures. Build snow forts, have epic snowball fights, and create charming snowmen with your loved ones. Capture the beauty of winter through photography or painting. Afterward, warm up inside your cozy RV with hot cocoa, board games, or a good book. Embrace the joys of winter while enjoying the freedom and flexibility of boondocking.

Winter boondocking is one of the best times for those looking to disconnect from busyness, reconnect with family and friends, and enjoy nature differently.

Top Winter Destinations

Winter boondocking destinations offer RVers a unique and adventurous experience. Head to the snow-covered mountains of Colorado, where you can find picturesque spots for camping amidst stunning alpine scenery. Discover the beauty of national parks like Yellowstone or Yosemite, where you can enjoy peaceful surroundings and possible wildlife sightings.

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The desert southwest landscapes of Arizona and New Mexico also provide excellent boondocking opportunities during the winter months, with mild temperatures and breathtaking sunsets. Additionally, consider exploring the coastal regions of Florida or California, where you can park your RV near the beach and soak up the tranquil atmosphere. In addition to the southern United States, you could look into heading south of the border to Baja California. Winter boondocking destinations offer a diverse range of landscapes and experiences for RVers seeking an off-grid winter getaway.

For more winter wonderland destinations check out this article on the Harvest Hosts blog.

If you want to avoid the cold altogether, you can do that during the winter months too. There are plenty of great places that open their arms to RVers. To chase the good weather, head to one of the hot spots this winter. Here is a list of some of the best places to go for the snowbirds to avoid cold temperatures come January.

How To Be Prepared For Winter Boondocking

There are things to push through during winter boondocking and we hope we’ve helped encourage you to believe it is worth it. Although driving through the winter weather can be tricky, you can be a full-time RVer during the winter too


Cold Weather Boondocking Necessities

Boondocking in cold weather requires additional planning and preparation to ensure a safe and comfortable experience. Proper insulation is critical to keeping your RV or camper warm, especially at night when temperatures drop significantly. This includes adding extra insulation to the walls and floors and insulating any exposed pipes or tanks. Insulation helps prevent heat loss and warm your living space, essential for a comfortable boondocking experience.

A reliable heating system is another essential component of a cold-weather boondocking setup. A portable electric heater or wood-burning stove can warm your living space. Solo stoves are great options outside of the rig. Who doesn’t love sitting around a campfire, roasting marshmallows, and watching the snow fall?

** Pro-tip! Make sure your heating system is working properly before hitting the road. A backup heating system is also a good idea in case of a malfunction or unexpected fuel shortage.

Investing in warm bedding is crucial for a good night's sleep in cold weather. Consider a down comforter or a sleeping bag rated for colder temperatures. Using thermal curtains or blankets to block out any drafts can help keep your living space warm and cozy. If you are boondocking in an area that receives snowfall, having snow removal equipment, something as simple as a shovel, is crucial. This will help prevent accidents and make it easier to access your living space.

Your New Best Friend | Heated LiFePO4 Batteries

Battle Born Batteries offers a unique solution for those who enjoy camping in cold weather. Their heated lithium battery models are equipped with built–in heaters, which ensure that the battery stays at optimal charging temperatures, even in extremely cold weather conditions. Boondock mission to the Arctic anyone? Maybe not, but hey, with heated LiFePO4 Batteries, you have the option.

It is a common misconception that lithium batteries do not work well in cold weather. However, this cannot be further from the truth. LiFePO4 Batteries excel in extreme cold weather conditions and extreme heat. Battle Born Batteries has done extensive research on discharge rates, in different temperatures, for lithium-ion batteries. They have published a white paper on their findings.

Lithium batteries can discharge from temperatures as low as -4F to as high as 135F. However, charging lithium batteries in the cold can be tricky, as temps below 25F can damage the battery (Fortunately, the Built-in Battery Management System will prevent this from happening! And will stop accepting a charge into the battery). This is where the built-in heater comes in, as it automatically kicks in to maintain optimal charging temperatures for the battery.

Heated lithium batteries are an excellent solution for boondockers that like to brave the cold weather. It ensures a reliable power source that withstands chilly conditions, making it easier to enjoy the great outdoors without worrying about draining batteries or a cold rig. With built-in heaters, Battle Born Batteries can maintain optimal charging temperatures, ensuring campers can enjoy their entire outdoor stay.

Proper electrical system power is essential for heat during cold weather boondocking. Insulation, a reliable heating system, warm bedding, a protected water system, snow removal equipment, and emergency supplies are all indispensable components of a cold-weather boondocking setup. These steps can help ensure a safe and comfortable boondocking experience in even the coldest temperatures.

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Boondocking in Spring

Springtime is a delightful season for boondocking enthusiasts. As nature awakens from its winter slumber, the world bursts into a full spectrum of colors and scents. The blooming wildflowers, budding trees, and chirping birds create a picturesque backdrop for your outdoor adventures. Mild temperatures make it comfortable for hiking, exploring nature trails, enjoying various recreational activities, and getting good sleep at night.

Spring boondocking allows you to witness the transformation of the natural landscape, from the awakening of plants and animals to the soothing sounds of flowing streams and waterfalls. It's a time of rejuvenation and renewal, where you can immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of nature, away from the hustle and bustle of crowded campgrounds.This is one of the best times to enjoy the outdoors.

Top Spring Activities

Spring is the time to de-winterize your RV, do some spring cleaning, and then start your first boondocking experience of the year. When boondocking in spring, RVers can engage in a variety of exciting activities that celebrate the arrival of the new season. Embrace the rejuvenating outdoors by hiking through blooming trails, gushing waterfalls, and spend time capturing the vibrant colors of spring with your camera.

You can also set up your fishing gear by peaceful lakes or step into the river for some fly-fishing for a serene angling experience. Also, take advantage of mild temperatures for outdoor picnics, nature walks, and birdwatching. Connect with your loved ones by flying kites, playing frisbee, or having a leisurely outdoor barbecue. Embrace the joys of spring while enjoying the freedom and flexibility of boondocking.

Top Spring Destinations

Spring boondocking destinations offer RVers a chance to witness nature's rebirth and enjoy pleasant weather. Explore the scenic beauty of national parks like Joshua Tree, the Badlands, or Great Smoky Mountains in eastern Tennessee, where you can witness the blooming wildflowers and experience the wonders of springtime wildlife.

Discover the charm of coastal regions such as the Outer Banks in North Carolina, the Pacific Northwest—where you can park your RV near the shore and savor the gentle ocean breeze—or even the Midwest’s small-town charm. You can venture into the picturesque landscapes of the Appalachian Mountains, the Great Plains of the “flyover states,” or the Texas Hill Country, where you can hike among blossoming trees and enjoy breathtaking vistas.

Spring boondocking destinations offer a diverse range of landscapes and experiences for RVers seeking an off-grid getaway during this lively season. You can head into Northern Arizona or southern New Mexico to enjoy the high desert or visit any of these amazing spring destinations.

How To Be Prepared for Spring Boondocking

Boondocking in the spring brings its own set of considerations, and with proper preparation, you can make the most of this vibrant season. Here are some essential tips to help you get ready for your springtime adventures: adapt to the changing conditions, be aware of snow melt and flooding, understand the changing season slowly happens in different regions of the country, and know the differences at different elevations. For a spring boondocking guide, turn to Harvest Hosts for everything.

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Boondocking in Summer

Summer boondocking is a favorite season for many RV enthusiasts. With longer days, warmer weather, and kids out of school summer is the most popular season for boondocking. It offers ample opportunities for outdoor exploration and relaxation. You can enjoy swimming in crystal-clear lakes, hiking through lush forests, and basking in the golden sunshine. The summer months also provide a chance to indulge in various water activities like kayaking, fishing, or simply lounging by the riverside.

While some of the most popular camping spots are sold out, with proper planning, boondocking allows you to escape the masses and find secluded spots where you can fully immerse yourself in nature's beauty. Whether you prefer mountain vistas, coastal retreats, or picturesque meadows, summer boondocking offers endless possibilities for adventure and creating lasting memories.

Top Summer Activities

Boondocking is most popular during the summer months because families can enjoy this experience together. When boondocking in summer, RVers can engage in a variety of exciting activities that celebrate the longer days. Embrace the sun-soaked outdoors by hiking through lush trails, exploring sparkling lakes, and capturing the beauty of summer with your camera.

Take advantage of the warm temperatures for swimming, kayaking, or paddleboarding in quiet waters. Connect with nature by going on a backpacking trip, having a picnic amidst blooming meadows, going on a wildlife spotting excursion, or just enjoying a leisurely experience sitting in the great outdoors with your loved ones. Embrace the joys of summer while reveling in the freedom and flexibility of boondocking.

Top Summer Destinations

Summer boondocking destinations offer RVers a chance to enjoy the bountiful wonders of the northern parts of this beautiful continent. Explore iconic national parks like Yosemite, Glacier, Banff, or Jasper, where you can witness majestic landscapes, hike to breathtaking viewpoints, and experience active glaciers during these warm summer months.

Discover coastal havens such as the rocky coasts of Maine or the picturesque beaches of California, where you can park your RV near the ocean and indulge in beachside relaxation and the sound of crashing waves.

Venture into the enchanting forests of the Pacific Northwest or the mountainous regions of Colorado, where you can immerse yourself in cool alpine retreats and enjoy refreshing hikes amidst towering trees, groves of Quaking Aspen trees, and pristine lakes. Remember elevation is a friend for cooler temperatures.

Summer boondocking destinations offer a diverse range of natural beauty and memorable experiences for RVers seeking an off-grid escape during this lively season.

How To Be Prepared for Summer Boondocking

Summer boondocking requires proper preparation to fully enjoy the season. Being prepared for the summer heat is something to be taken seriously. Harmful UV rays can leave you cranky after multiple nights of bad sleep. To help prepare for those more extreme situations, Harvest Hosts has created guides to help you make it through. You can stay cool even during these hot months by planning ahead.

In addition to dealing with the heat, there are other items you might want to consider when boondocking during the summer months. Here are some essential tips to help you get ready for your summer adventures: pack sunscreen, hats, and lightweight, breathable clothing to protect yourself from the sun and stay comfortable in warm temperatures. Stay hydrated by carrying an ample supply of water and utilize proper food storage to prevent spoilage.

Be mindful of fire safety regulations and precautions, as summer brings an increased risk of wildfires. Plan your activities and excursions in accordance with local guidelines and respect the natural environment. By being prepared, you can make the most of your summer boondocking experience while savoring the beauty of the season.

To help you think through everything you need to know about boondocking during this time of year, Harvest Hosts has developed a Summer Guide to Boondocking.

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Boondocking in Fall

According to many, boondocking in the fall is the best time of year to have an amazing experience. It creates captivating moments for nature enthusiasts. As the summer heat wanes, the landscape transforms into a breathtaking symphony of vibrant hues. The changing foliage paints the surroundings with shades of red, orange, and gold, creating a picturesque backdrop for your outdoor adventures.

Fall boondocking allows you to witness nature's masterpiece as you hike through colorful forests, explore scenic trails, and capture stunning landscapes with your camera. Planning a fall boondocking trip is a great decision you shouldn’t put off.

Autumn’s cooler temperatures make spending extended periods of time outdoors far more pleasant. Use this opportunity to partake in fall activities, whether it's enjoying a campfire in the coolness of night, savoring the crisp air, or relishing in the simple joys of autumn. Even if you only have a weekend, Harvest Hosts has great locations for short trips too.

Additionally, the quieter atmosphere during the fall season provides a sense of tranquility and solitude, allowing you to connect with nature on a deeper level and appreciate different stages of life. Fall boondocking is a true feast for the senses, offering a symphony of colors, a soothing ambiance, and a chance to embrace the beauty of the changing seasons.

Top Autumn Activities

Autumn boondocking brings a unique charm as nature adorns itself with vibrant colors and crisp air. RVers can engage in a variety of exciting activities that celebrate the season's arrival. With warm sunny days, travelers can still get out on the water to kayak, paddleboard, fish, or even swim. You can enjoy cycling through the autumn colors or watch as animals get their last nibbles of green grass.

Hiking in the fall is an absolutely amazing experience. Instead of standing back in view of the colors, you find yourself immersed in the vibrant colors as you traverse the trails. While hiking through the Colorado mountains you might find the Quaking Aspen groves surrounding you in yellow, the bright reds and oranges in the New England states, or other regions of the country.

While you can have campfires over the summer months, it is often more of a nuisance because of the extra heat and the seasonal fire bans. In the crisp, cool autumn evenings, it might make more sense for you to have a fire. The warmth creates an enjoyable centerpiece to help break the ice on conversations and is a great way to cook your dinner.

Top Autumn Destinations

Autumn boondocking destinations offer RVers a chance to witness the breathtaking transformation of nature and enjoy the enchanting ambiance of the season. Explore renowned national parks like Acadia or Great Smoky Mountains, where you can experience the stunning fall foliage, hike through colorful forests, and witness the wildlife preparing for winter.

Discover the charm of scenic byways such as the Blue Ridge Parkway or the Pacific Coast Highway, where you can drive through picturesque landscapes adorned with vibrant autumn hues. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains or the New England region, where you can hike along trails flanked by fiery orange and golden leaves. Autumn boondocking destinations offer a diverse range of natural beauty and memorable experiences for RVers seeking an off-grid escape during this magical season.

How To Be Prepared for Autumn Boondocking

Autumn boondocking requires proper preparation to fully embrace the season's splendor. Some essential tips to help you get ready for your autumn adventures are: dress in layers to stay comfortable in fluctuating temperatures, pack warm blankets and cozy clothing for chilly evenings, and make sure your RV's heating system is in good working condition.

Stay updated on weather forecasts and be prepared for potential rain showers. Carry appropriate gear for leaf-peeping excursions, such as sturdy hiking boots, waterproof jackets, and binoculars for spotting wildlife. Respect wildlife habitats during their mating and migration season, and be mindful of campfire safety guidelines. By being prepared, you can make the most of your autumn boondocking experience while immersing yourself in the captivating beauty of the season.

Additional Tips For Boondocking Success

Start Small and Work Your Way Up

Another crucial step is to learn the limits of your resources. A great game plan would be to start with shorter trips and work up to longer ones. Shorter trips enable one to familiarize themselves with the necessary techniques and acclimate to the experience. As comfort and confidence increase, longer boondocking trips become more feasible and enjoyable. Free Roam App and Overlander App are great resources for finding boondocking spots throughout the United States. Both are available for iPhone and Android in the app store or desktop.

Conserve

As most boondocking is done in remote places, access to amenities like electricity, water, or sewer systems is typically lacking. It's important to remember that these resources are neither unlimited nor easy to access. Always practice conservation. Install water heads in the kitchen and bathroom specific to conserving water on a rig. Don’t run the water while washing dishes. Consider warm, comforting showers a prize you look forward to at the end of the trip, not while traveling. Turn off devices and lights when you are not using them. The more prudent you are, the longer your adventure will last.

**Pro-tip! Practice water conservation before you leave!

Find the Sun

Looking to get out there and stay out there for a long period of time? The best advice you can follow is to find the sun. If you are camping in the forest, post up in a spot that gets ultimate sun exposure. The more sun you can expose your panels to, the longer you can extend your boondocking adventure. It was time to work on your tan anyway.

Be Spontaneous

One of the best aspects of boondocking is FREEDOM! Waking up to the smell of the ocean or a misty morning in the forest is one of the best feelings out there – one that pro boondockers know well. As you become more comfortable with your rig and setup, remember to be spontaneous! Drive the dirt road longer, and spend time in more remote places. You won’t regret the adventure.

Join Harvest Hosts Today!

Boondocking offers RVers an opportunity to blend their love of travel with the beauty of nature in perfect harmony. Whether you choose to camp in national forests, on public lands, or at one of the 8,000+ Harvest Hosts locations across North America—that comes with the All Access Plan—you won’t regret your journey. Be sure to take the steps to be prepared, embrace the freedom, and get started on your boondocking journey with Harvest Hosts today.

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About Harvest Hosts
Harvest Hosts is a unique RV camping membership that offers self-contained RVers unlimited overnight stays at over 5,652 small businesses across North America with no camping fees. Boondock at farms, wineries, breweries, attractions, and other one-of-a-kind destinations throughout North America, and you’ll get peace of mind knowing that a safe place to stay is always nearby!
Kyle Arnold-profile-image
Kyle Arnold
I'm a freelance adventure travel copywriter. My wife, 2 dogs and I have been on many adventures together in either a big, blue bus or our camper van. While touring the country, we take advantage of checking out new towns, hikes and waterways. We are often found hiking, paddling or drinking coffee and love meeting new people.