Boondocking isn’t a new concept of camping, but it is one that is gaining popularity from all different levels of campers. The point of boondocking is that you feel more in-tune and more as “one” with nature. Plus, who can say no to free camping, right?
When you’re boondocking, you’re off-grid, meaning that you aren’t hooked up to anything at all.
No electricity, no water…you just find a place that you want to camp, and most importantly that you can camp at, and then you find a way to make it happen.
While anyone can technically use their RV, camper van, or travel trailer to boondock, it can be a bit easier when you have the right equipment to help in those “off-the-grid” moments.
Here are 10 items to make sure you’re comfortable when doing a little free RV camping.
1) Generator for power when boondocking in your RV
Having a good portable generator is a must for being able to boondock effectively. While you may want to spend your time off-grid and away from the outside world, you still need to be able to have some form of power or electricity to function when dry camping in an RV.
Some people prefer a gas generator, but the hangup with that is you have to carry fuel.
Others like a solar generator, which is an option that uses solar panels or AC power to recharge. Solar generators are super quiet, don’t need gasoline, and can power a variety of devices depending on the size you buy.
2) Or ditch the generator and go with a full RV solar setup
If you don’t want to deal with any sort of generator, gas or solar, you can add an entire solar setup to your motorhome. These solar panels are designed specifically for an RV, with a corrosion-resistant aluminum frame for extended outdoor use. These panels are designed to last for decades and withstand winds and snow loads.
3) Cellular phone signal booster to get service off-grid
If you like getting phone service when RV camping off-grid, you might like to add a cellular booster to your collection of boondocking gear. Amber Baldwin of Story Chasing, who travels full-time in her RV, said a cell phone signal booster is essential for her to work on the road. She often stays in remote areas where she can barely get email on her phone, but with a We Boost device, she can upload YouTube videos and stream movies.
4) Cool lighting for your RV’s campsite
You’ll be facing a lot of dark nights when boondocking in your RV, which is awesome, but you might like some lighting to put up in your campsite when cooking or hanging out.
These USB LED rope string lights are versatile, waterproof and flexible. They can be used two ways – either as a LED light strip or a hanging lantern made by wrapping a luminous strip around a USB battery pack.
Another cool thing is these lights can be used both inside and outside.
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5) Outdoor camping barbecue is essential for boondocking
You might not want to be cooking inside your RV when you’re camping in a breathtaking spot in the wilderness. An outdoor portable BBQ grill ensures you’re preparing delicious hamburgers or hot dogs in the fresh air, while enjoying the sounds and sights of nature.
This Coleman grill has a collapsible design for easy storage, and is small enough to fit into a car trunk! Also, no matches required for this portable grill, which comes with an Instastart button and two independently adjustable burners.
6) Solar Shower for taking a fresh spray off outdoors
There’s nothing better than taking a solar shower in the woods, with the warm sun on your back. A solar shower is perfect because you don’t have to worry about keeping your water tanks full in your RV or van. Just scoop up some water from a nearby stream and let it sit for a few hours in the sun. This particular solar shower has a temperature gage, and a little side pocket for your soap, which makes it a winner in my book.
You can also hang this solar shower around the campsite for help doing dishes or washing dirty outdoor hands.
7) Life straw in case of emergency when boondocking
While you may work hard to plan ahead, sometimes things can happen that are out of your control. The LifeStraw can be a lifesaver when this happens. If you happen to run out of water when boondocking, the LifeStraw is a great backup to have in case you HAVE to get some water from a source that may not be the cleanest. It’s a personal filter that you can keep and carry with you that helps to filter out over 99% of the bacteria that may be lurking.
8) Firestarter for free RV camping
It may be simple to get a fire started when camping in an area that is full of wood and other items that are easily burnable, but when boondocking? There may not be any wood or sticks around to use. Keeping a fire starter is always helpful when you are needing to cook over that warm campfire!
9) A small propane heater for your RV
An indoor safe propane heater is a great alternative to running your motorhome’s heating. These Mr. Buddy heaters are small and simple to use, and can heat spaces up to 300 square feet.
This small heater shuts off automatically if tipped over, or if it detects low oxygen levels.
You can also use this heater outside your RV if you’re sitting on camp chairs enjoying the stars.
10. Cooler for food and drinks when dry camping
Traveling and boondocking doesn’t always mean that you’ll be able to have a cold storage option for your food. The easiest way around this? Have a good cooler that you can pack and store the cold items that you plan to eat throughout the day.
Are you ready to start boondocking right now?
If you’re planning on boondocking in your RV or campervan, finding campsites is your next goal. It isn’t always easy, either, considering you have to browse apps and websites to find sites.
Another option is to pick up an RV boondocking guide, written by RVer Marianne Edwards. Marianne has been traveling in her RV and boondocking for 18 years and has personally scouted all the campsites she recommends.
In these awesome boondocking guides, Marianne even tells you where dump stations are near the campsites and gives suggested itineraries. The books give details on the elevation, view, cell phone service and how to get there. Plus, they won’t cost you more than a single night in a campsite.
So far, Marianne has written six boondocking guides, which are all updated on a regular basis. I’ve purchased the guide to Southwest Utah and California’s Sierra Nevada and can’t wait to start using them.
Here are the boondocking guides you can get:
- RV Boondocking in Arizona
- California Boondocking: The Sierra Nevada Mountains and Coast
- California Boondocking: The Desert and Eastern Sierra
- RV Boondocking in Southern Utah
- RV Boondocking in Southern Texas
- RV Boondocking in New Mexico
Marianne offers an amazing 60-day guarantee, and you’ll also get a free 23-page ebook about boondocking to go along with your purchase. I just think these guides are treasure troves of information and I can’t recommend them enough if you want to try RV boondocking.
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Kristin Hanes is a journalist and writer who lives on a sailboat and in a Chevy Astro van in San Francisco. She worked in radio news for 15 years before a massive layoff in 2016. Kristin has written articles about alternative living published in Good Housekeeping, Business Insider, Marie Claire, SF Gate and The Bold Italic, among others.