When you own an RV, there are many different ways to take it out on the road. Some will choose to park at an RV campground and enjoy the essentials it may provide. Another option and one that has gained serious traction over the last several years is boondocking. We get asked about it constantly, "what is boondocking?" Not only do RV owners want to know what it is, but they also want to understand why and, more importantly, how to boondock successfully.
Let's take a deeper dive into boondocking and discuss what it is, its benefits, and why you should consider it for your future RV trips.
What is Boondocking?
Boondocking is camping off-the-grid, far from the comforts and amenities available at crowded campgrounds or RV parks. Also referred to as free camping or dry camping, boondocking gets RVers out amongst nature in national parks, away from more frequented camping locations. While this sounds like a real plus to many, it comes with its share of challenges, including no hookups for water, electricity, or sewer. It is a form of camping that allows you to connect with nature more intimately and lead you to more scenic or beautiful destinations.
Types of Boondocking
There are three main types of boondocking: Stealth, Dispersed, and BLM.
Stealth camping is when you park your RV in an area not meant for camping, such as a parking lot, rest stop, or near an attraction like an amusement park or music festival. The main reason for stealth boondocking is finding a free place overnight but without being noticed. Stealth dry camping can be illegal and frowned upon in many public areas. Free overnight RV parking is also allowed in some areas, and the added risk isn't necessary in most cases.
Dispersed camping is when you park your RV in a designated spot outside an RV park or campground. This is often done on public grounds, such as national forests or BLM land. Dispersed camping provides a more natural experience and gives you access to more remote locations.
Lastly, there is BLM, which is wild camping on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) grounds. This type of boondocking is popular because it offers a variety of landscapes and terrain to choose from, as well as great camping spots.
No matter the type of boondocking, it is often categorized as being without power hookups.
Where Can you Take a Boondocking Trip?
There are many places where you can boondock. Boondocking spots can be found in national forests, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, and Wildlife Refuges. You can also find them at state or national parks, military bases, and near some reservoirs and lakes. While there are many different places to boondock, it's essential to do your research ahead of time to make sure that the spot you're considering is legal and safe for overnight camping.
The length of time you can boondock is dependent on the availability of resources at your chosen campsite. Typically, you can dry camp for a few days or up to a week, but this may vary depending on the location. Always be sure to check with local authorities before camping in any unauthorized boondocking locations.
What are the Benefits of RV Boondocking?
Boondocking can be both a challenging and rewarding experience.
The reasons for boondocking are as varied as the people who do it. For some, it's all about getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and enjoying a more peaceful camping experience. For others, it's the challenge of "roughing it." Despite the difficulties associated with free camping, many choose it over stays in a designated campground. Here are some of the many benefits of boondocking.
Boondocking Increased Intimacy with Nature
Boondocking can be a great way to get up close and personal with nature. When off-grid, you're not near any other campers or RVers; you're able to take in your surroundings and hear all the sounds that come with being in the great outdoors. National forests, for example, provide a truly unique camping experience compared to overnight parking at an RV park.
In addition to getting a better view and hearing more of nature, RVers who boondock can also experience it in a more tactile way. This can be done by exploring the surroundings on foot, running or biking on the nearest trails, swimming in nearby lakes or rivers, and climbing the local hills for those all-encompassing views.
Boondocking Involves Fewer People and Less Noise
Since boondocking takes you away from the RV parks and developed campgrounds, there are typically fewer people around. This can be a great way to get some peace and quiet, especially if you're used to camping in more crowded areas.
Sometimes the serenity of being in nature is simply better without the hussle and bussle of a developed campground. You'll also find far less noise at many boondocking sites than at traditional campgrounds. This can be a real plus for those who want to get away from it all and enjoy a more tranquil experience.
Boondocking Provides More Freedom and Flexibility
When you're boondocking, you're not limited to the amenities that are available at a developed campground. You're able to camp pretty much anywhere you want, as long as it's legal and safe. You also have more freedom when it comes to the length of your stay.
This increased flexibility can be a real advantage for those who like to take things slow and enjoy their camping experiences without worrying about time constraints. It also allows
Boondocking Gives Opportunity to Explore More Remote and Scenic Areas
Boondocking trips usually take you away from the beaten path and into more remote areas. This can be an excellent opportunity to explore parts of the country that you might not otherwise get to see.
Boondocking will lead you to more scenic locations because developed campgrounds are often located in areas that are easy to find and less scenic. They're often situated in crowded areas with little to no views. On the other hand, Boondocking allows you to find those hidden gems that offer stunning scenery and incredible sights.
Boondocking is a Cheaper Way to Camp
RVing can be an expensive hobby, but boondocking can help you save money. When free camping, you're not paying for the amenities often included with stays at developed campgrounds, such as power hookups, showers, and laundry facilities.
Many of the best boondocking locations are free to use, and it can be a great way to stretch your camping budget. The savings allows you to spend more money on other things, like supplies or equipment for prolonged stays off the grid.
RV Boondocking Challenges
With all the benefits we listed, it's no wonder many campers take the boondocking route. We do need also to discuss the various challenges of free camping.
The main challenge of boondocking is the lack of power connection. Without shore power, you're not able to use things like electronics, lighting, appliances, air conditioning, and more. This can make it difficult to stay comfortable and well-equipped while camping off the grid.
You can mitigate the lack of power with an RV power system that can fully support needs while boondocking.
Many boondocking spots are far from developed areas, which can mean long drives for supplies or a lack of readily available resources. The lack of established surroundings can also present safety challenges, including nearby hospitals or law enforcement.
What you Need for a Successful Boondocking Trip
If you're interested in giving boondocking a try, there are a few things you need to do to ensure a successful trip.
First, you need to make sure your RV is equipped for boondocking. This means having an off the grid RV power system that is well planned and reliable.
Many RVs have 12-volt powered refrigerators that are more engineered for off grid use. Many boondocking power systems utilize solar panels to recharge 12-volt batteries that run many of the necessities within an RV. Aside from solar panels, a trustworthy power system will have a backup generator to help power your RVs during inclement weather or cloudy days.
Other boondocking tips to remember include packing enough drinking water, non-perishable food, and a list of nearby boondocking sites in case you end up off track from your intended RV sites or designated campgrounds.
Final Thoughts on RV Boondocking
Boondocking can be an exciting new experience for many RV owners. Although it can be rewarding, it will also present a unique set of challenges that will require solid planning and preparation before heading out on a boondocking trip. Outfitting your RV for boondocking, including investing in an off grid power system is essential for success.
Do you want help bringing your RV's boondocking capabilities to life? At Way, we have the solutions you need for time off the grid. Contact us for more information about 12-volt appliances engineered for boondocking and the power solutions to keep them running no matter where your adventures take you.