Boondocking is one of the best ways to live van life to the fullest. Nothing beats the feeling of being free and self-sufficient, plus you can get away from the campground crowds and closer to nature.
As long as you’re well-prepared, camping off-grid without hookups is easy, and best of all it’s completely free!
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, finding a boondocking spot is more convenient than ever. Below, you’ll find our list of the best boondocking apps.
Later in this article we’ll discuss ways to find a good boondocking spot and the equipment you might want to consider before embarking on your off-grid adventures!
The Best Boondocking Apps And Websites
Boondocking has surged in popularity in recent years, as more and more people hit the road in search of adventure.
Whether you’re looking for a remote spot to spend a few days or just need an easy and convenient place to spend the night, you’ll be sure to find the information you need with one of these boondocking apps or websites.
1. Freecampsites.net Best Boondocking Website
Freecampsites.net is a fantastic community-driven boondocking website that’s completely free to use.
Although the map function can be a little clumsy when your’e using the site on a phone, Freecampsites.net has often been our go-to resource for finding awesome free camping.
Using this website couldn’t be easier. Simply enter a location in the search bar, and the map will display options nearby.
Click on an option, and all the information is displayed, including the address, weather, and user reviews that often include photographs. What we really love is that user reviews include a cell coverage report, which can be really helpful if you know you’re going to need service.
Freecampsites.net focuses mainly on public lands, although there are plenty of options for quick stays like Walmart parking lots and rest areas that allow overnight camping.
There’s often quite a lot of conflicting or out-of-date information in the reviews, so if you end up using this resource, be sure to add a review with as much detail as you can!
- Totally free to use
- Accurate cell coverage information
- Map can be a bit “sticky” and difficult to navigate
- Some information can be out of date
2. iOverlander Best Boondocking App
This best boondocking app has an elegant design that’s free of clutter, and it’s completely free!
One of the coolest features of this boondocking app is the ability to search for nearby amenities like showers, gas stations, and recycling centers. This comes in really handy when you need to stock up before heading for the hills!
iOverlander has a wide range of filters that you can use to tailor your search for a great campsite.
For boondocking sites, enter “wild camping” as a filter, and all nearby options will show up on the map.
You can get a quick overview of each place, or click on it for more information.
There’s loads of user-generated content for each spot, including GPS location, altitude, and road conditions, and it’s easy to add more information.
This awesome boondocking app is available for iOS and Android devices.
It’s a little more geared toward car campers and 4×4 vehicles, so make sure find road reports in the reviews before committing to a site.
- Can be used to find all kinds of amenities
- Well-designed and easy to use
- Details are sometimes lacking
- Doesn’t allow you to save places for future use
Need to shower on the road? Check out 9 Van Life Shower Ideas for Staying Clean On the Road
3. The Dyrt Pro Membership Best Boondocking App
The Dyrt was the #1 camping app in 2020, and this user-friendly resource might just be the best boondocking app around! As you can see in the below screenshot, you can use map layers to find free camping based on the Bureau of Land Management, National Forest Service and National Parks.
Folks in the RV and van life community have been using the free version of this app for years, and there are tons of detailed reviews for each campsite.
The Dyrt Pro Membership version costs $35.99/year, but you can click here to try it for free for 90-days, which is a great deal!
The Dyrt app is available for iOS and Android devices, and features an intuitive map-based interface. There are plenty of great filters that allow you to tailor your search.
Once you find a campsite, there’s plenty of useful information like weather and elevation, as well as detailed user reviews and photographs.
The pro version of this best app for boondocking allows you to download maps for offline use, which can be essential if you plan on going way off-grid.
There’s also an awesome list function, which allows you to compile your favorite spots in one place, as well as gear discounts and camping discounts at hundreds of U.S. campgrounds.
- Huge amount of user reviews
- Downloadable maps for offline use
- Annual fee might not be worth it
- More geared toward paid campsites
4. Allstays Best Boondocking App
Allstays has a variety of iOS apps, ranging in price from $1.99 to $9.99. There are apps for boondocking, RV camping, and finding dump stations, as well as a website that anyone can use.
You can search for boondocking spots on Allstays by selecting a U.S. state, then applying filters. Clicking on sites allows you to see detailed information as well as user reviews.
One of the coolest features of this best boondocking app is the map filter function, which is available in the pro version.
You’re able to apply filters to things like clearance and road grades, and the app will suggest alternative routes if you’re worried about low bridges or mountain roads.
The pro version of Allstays is available for an annual fee of around $35. This version is faster, there aren’t any pesky ads, and you’ll have access to offline maps.
- Super-easy to use
- Great map filters
- App not available for Android devices
- Not as many photos as other boondocking apps
5. Free Roam Best Boondocking App
The Free Roam app was designed with boondockers in mind, and the developers are committed to respecting and protecting the natural environment.
This might just be the best boondocking app for both iOS and Android devices.
A great feature of Free Roam is the ability to plan your trip. Although this feature is a little tricky to use, once you get the hang of it you can set how far you want to travel in a day and visualize the boondocking options on the map.
There are tons of filter options, including cell signal, amenities, and site length, and once you’ve found a site you can read all the user reviews.
One of our favorite things about this boondocking app is the social component.
Not only are the user reviews super-comprehensive – with loads of photos, videos, and important information – you can also connect with fellow travelers and get news about upcoming meetings and events.
- Geared toward boondocking
- Great for meeting fellow travelers
- Trip planning function is hard to use
6. Campendium Best Boondocking App
Campendium is a website and an app, and its user-friendly interface makes searching for free campsites on this best app for boondocking a breeze.
Campendium users can fill out a form to review a site, so there’s constantly updated content. User reviews tend to be really high quality, and there are always lots of photographs, which can make a big difference when you’re trying to decide on the best spot.
Campendium allows you to search by city, state, zip code, state park, or campground name, and once you’ve entered a search term, the map shows all nearby options.
There are plenty of handy filters, including a “free” filter for Boondocking sites.
Once you’ve selected a site that looks good, you’ll see all sorts of valuable information, including site length, whether pets are welcome, cell coverage, and much more.
Although Campendium is free, you have the option to become a supporter by paying $20. This enables you to use the boondocking app without annoying ads, and you’ll also be able to access some extra filters.
- Loads of user photos
- User-friendly interface
- Ads can get pretty annoying
7. US Public Lands Best Boondocking App
The United States federal government owns around 650 million acres of public land, which means there’s a lot of opportunity for boondocking!
The US Public Lands app costs $2.99, and, once you have it installed on your iOS or Android device, downloads all of its map data to your phone.
This means you’ll always be able to access the maps, no matter how deep into the woods you go!
The US Public Lands app has an intuitive design, making it really easy to use.
There’s a search function for specific locations, and you can switch between standard and satellite maps. Best of all, there’s color-coded layering that allows you to see which agency is responsible for running the land.
Although this isn’t the best boondocking app when used alone, it’s well worth spending the money to be able to use this as an extra resource.
- Can access maps offline
- Awesome color-coded map layering
- No dedicated trail/camping location info
If you need a simple solution for finding free camping, then this might just be the best boondocking app for you.
The Boondocking app only costs $0.99, and is ideal for the occasional camper who likes to find free and interesting places to stay.
This is another community-driven resource, and there are over 1,300 identified locations, with more being added all the time.
The Boondocking app allows you to choose from multiple map types, and offers weather information, driving times, and a host of filters, including water access, elevation, and nearby amenities.
Our favorite feature of this best app for boondocking is the ability to use it offline.
Cell coverage can be pretty spotty the further into nature you go, and being able to find a campsite without internet access is a big plus.
- Simple and easy to use
- Can be used offline
- Limited in comparison to other boondocking apps
- Not available for Android devices
Other Tools For Finding A Good Boondocking Spot
The best boondocking apps are fantastic resources for locating free camping spots, but there will be times when you’ll need a few other tools in your arsenal.
You may find yourself in an area that doesn’t have any reviews, or your internet connection isn’t good enough, but don’t worry! There are still plenty of ways to find free camping.
Remember the pre-internet days, when we had to rely on actual paper maps?
Well they’re still available and they still work! We find that using Delorme road atlases is a great way to find boondocking spots, and they’re great to have when there’s no cell coverage.
Public land is color-coded and easy to find on a Delorme map, and most forest roads are marked.
Use Google Satellite View
When the boondocking app or website you’re using doesn’t have enough information to make you feel confident, you can use Google Maps to get a better idea of what the area looks like.
We’ve found that by zooming into the general area and scouting around we’ve often discovered boondocking spots that haven’t been documented.
With a bit of experience, you’ll soon be able to identify potential sites, and you’ll often be able to see parked vans and RVs on Satellite View.
Ask A Ranger
It might seem like a no-brainer, but asking a forest or park ranger will often lead you to some of the best boondocking spots.
These folks know the area better than most, and will have detailed information about which areas allow free camping, road conditions, wildfire danger, and much more.
Again, this might seem obvious, but it’s worth mentioning.
Making friends while on the road is one of the best parts of van living for so many reasons, and you’ll soon learn about the latest special boondocking spots.
Some of the best free camping experiences we’ve had are thanks to recommendations from folks we’ve met out on the road. Plus, it’s always a pleasure to spend time with new people and hear their van life stories!
Equipment You Might Need For Boondocking
If you’re going to be spending time off-grid, you’ll need to be prepared. Depending on how far “out” you’ll be going, you’ll need to consider safety factors, as well as comfort.
Here are a few of the boondocking essentials for a worry-free off-grid adventure.
Emergency kit. This is a van life essential anyway, but even more so if you’ll be camping far from civilization. Make sure you have everything you might end up needing, as well as a First Aid manual.
Extra water containers. No matter how big your onboard water tank is, it’s always a good idea to bring extra. We use a collapsible water jug, as well as a 6-gallon container.
Power. If you want to be able to charge your devices and power lights, fans, and whatever else you might need, you’ll need a way to get power. This could be a generator, roof-mounted solar panels with an inverter and battery, or a portable solar generator.
Signal booster. A signal booster like the Weboost Drive will be essential if you’re going to be spending a lot of time in areas with poor cell coverage.
Portable heater. Even in the middle of summer, temperatures can dip at night, especially at higher elevations. If your van doesn’t have a diesel or propane heater, you might consider picking up a portable propane heater.
Compostable toilet. Unless you’re really committed to taking your shovel and communing with nature, a compostable toilet is a great addition to your boondocking setup.
You may also be interested in: Stealth Camping: The Ultimate Guide to Sleeping in a City
Conclusion On The Best Boondocking Apps
There are so many ways to find free camping spots, and we hope that this article helps you find the best boondocking app for you.
Remember to leave no trace when camping out in nature, and to share your experiences with others!
Feel free to leave any questions in the comments section below!
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Nicholas Marshall is a writer, photographer, and musician who currently lives in a ‘97 VW Eurovan with his wife and six-year-old daughter. Since selling their house and hitting the road, Nicholas and his family have meandered through the Western States. Van life has been everything they hoped it would be: challenging, rewarding, relaxing, and exciting.