If camping at an RV site is a fun way to enjoy the outdoors, boondocking (camping without hookups) dials that up a notch. More privacy, more options, more beautiful scenery. However, since you can’t rely on endless electricity and water like you can at an RV campground, you have to go in prepared. Think alternative power sources, low-power appliances, and water-conserving devices.
Below, we’ve listed our top 10 boondocking essentials to make your next trip one for the books—high-fun, low-stress, and everything remote camping should be.
The larger your battery bank, the longer you can power your rig between charges. This means more time with the lights on, the fridge keeping your beer cold, and the TV streaming the latest episode of Only Murders in the Building.
And before you think, “I don’t need more batteries, I’ll just pick up some solar panels instead!” you should know that batteries are a crucial part of the equation. Solar panels keep your batteries full so that the batteries themselves can send power to your electronics.
Although your RV has limited space, we recommend adding to your battery bank if possible to get the most out of boondocking.
Yep, another entry about batteries (they really make boondocking a better experience). How much power are you actually using? How much is left? Are you discharging your batteries to their optimal level, or are you unknowingly leading them to an early death?
A battery monitor helps you keep an eye on all your power stats, letting you know how much juice you’re using and when you’ve reached the discharge “danger zone,” at which point your batteries can become irrevocably damaged. You don’t want to end up stuck in the Salt Flats with no power just because you didn’t realize how low you were. Do yourself a favor and grab a battery monitor before your next trip.
3. Generator and/or Solar Panels
There are no power pedestals in the middle of the woods, so when you’re boondocking, your external power options come down to a generator, solar power, or some combination of both.
Solar panels are great when the climate is ideal (read: mild and sunny), while generators can take over on rainy days or for high-draw appliances (hello, air conditioner).
To learn more about solar, check out our help article.
Your RV’s furnace. Most lights. The water pump. What do all of these things have in common? They all run on 12V DC power in your RV.
But your household appliances (like the microwave and air conditioner) as well as electronics (like laptops and tablets) use 120V AC power. If you want to run any of those luxurious appliances when boondocking, you’ll need an inverter. Some RVs have them built in, but if yours doesn’t (many older rigs don’t), you’ll want to purchase one.
As an alternative, you might also consider an inverter generator, which provides both 12V DC and 120V AC power. This provides everything you need in one product.
Freshwater tanks can only hold so much water, and you don’t want to run out of water halfway through your first shower in 3 days. A low-flow shower head with shutoff capability helps you get the most out of your water supply. (Boondocker, meet the short and sweet “Navy Shower.”)
6. Portable Wastewater Tank
It’s a plight many boondockers can relate to: filling up your waste tanks (particularly the gray) too quickly and having to break down camp to find a dump station. A portable tank gives you a little extra room to ensure you don’t have to cut your trip short. Just offload your extra shower water here and squeeze a little more space out of your gray tank (and a few more days at the campsite).
7. LED Lights
Just like in your sticks and bricks, switching to LED bulbs can save you a surprising amount of energy. LEDs are about 80% to 90% more efficient than their incandescent counterparts that come standard in RVs, and when you consider that’s a potential 90% energy savings on each bulb, that can add up to a lot. And when you’re trying to maximize your stay at a campsite, every bit of power counts.
Hopefully you’re camping in a beautiful spot with perfect weather and just the right amount of breeze. But if you’re not, chances are you’ll want an assist once in a while when it comes to cooling down or warming up.
10. Wifi Routers & Cell Boosters
We love nature as much as anyone, but we also love WiFi and cell service along with the many joys they bring us, like hearing from loved ones and watching cat videos. (And if you’re actually working remotely from your RV, these two are bumped up to MVP status.)
If you want to enjoy your remote nature adventure and still maintain a connection to civilization, a WiFi router or cell booster will give you the best of both worlds without requiring you to find a nearby Starbucks.
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