Taking the off-beat path is liberating – no contacts with other humans; no intrusive gadgets; and certainly none of those niceties of civilization. This feeling of being disconnected from the grind of modern life and nearer to nature is priceless. If you like to be disconnected from the modern nature then you should definitely consider dry camping.
So if you’re planning to take your first trip or perhaps you are an outdoor veteran in search of new tips to add to your bag of boondocking trick.
No matter why you’re here; this is the right place to get the information you seek; in this guide, we’ll take you by the hand and walk you through everything you need to know about planning a dry camp trip.
First, What is Dry Camping?
Unlike glamping which means luxury camping, dry camping is a loose word that describes a type of camping with no hookups. No potable water, no internet connection, no electrical connections, and no sewage disposal system – it’s a complete out of grid experience.
Hence campers intending to embark on the trip usually carry their own water, cater to their waste disposal needs, and make adequate provisions for their energy needs.
Most dry campers are RVers or motorhome owners, and could range from camping at an RV campsite with other campers; staying out at a Wal-Mart parking lot; interstate road stop; to an out-of-the-way campground.
The defining factor for any of these activities is the absence of hookups.
So while starting out on your journey, it’s essential to understand your limits and stick to them.
Start by testing out camping out for a night or two; graduate to maybe couple of weeks say, one or two weeks in campsites with other RVers, the basic stuff like a solid camping chair; then maybe go a notch higher by going full boondocking for few days or weeks. If it’s your thing, you could decide to go in fulltime.
However, the trick is in finding that sweet spot between your limits and the thrills you seek.
Why Go Dry Camping?
Two of the main reasons people go on dry camping is, well to go boondocking. Apparently, the only way to go on a boondocking is to go on dry camping. The second reason is to save money. Well, it turned out that most camping sites are free for dry camping.
Now, you are ready for your first trip and would want to learn the basics.
Dry Camping Basics: Essential things to know about this adventure
Truth be told, you need some essential amenities to spend your camping time comfortably. Planning out the ‘stuff’ you’ll need, require sparing a lot of thought in figuring out what you would be needing and in what quantity.
So, to make it easier for you, here are some of the necessary items to consider:
The more water you have, the longer you can stay out. Hence, it’s essential to understand ahead of time the amount of water you’d need for the number of days you planned staying out.
The minimum water requirement we’ve seen so far is a 60-gallon water container with additional jerry jugs of freshwater. Being mindful of your water consumption will generally enable you to conserve water and stretch it for days.
For instance, you might have to take the sponge and rinse bath instead of soaking in a long hot full bath. Also throwing in using wet body wipes for some days. Then; think of wiping down dishes before washing, even at that, endeavor to use as little water as you can.
Basically, explore different ways of saving water without necessarily sacrificing comforts.
Stock up on foods with long shelf life and doesn’t require too much water to prepare. As much as you can, select meals that can be made using one pan, to cut down on pan washing. Grilling would be great here.
For a bite of yummy meals, a casserole chili kind of meal will suffice; however, it might require running a generator (if you have one) for microwaving.
Before you even head out to the great outdoors, be sure to have done an energy audit to understand just how much energy you’d need.
Here’s how to go about auditing your energy needs: On a spreadsheet create four columns.
List out all devices that utilize electricity in one column; so you’d have something like this:
Column 1: TV, microwave, Laptop, Light bulbs, etc.
Column 2: List the amps each appliance draws. An excellent way to do this would be checking the rating on the device.
Column3: List many hours you’d be using each appliance in a day.
Column 4: Multiply column 2 (amps) by column 3 (hour) to get the amps hour for each appliance. Add up to get an idea of how much energy needed to get by in a day.
Armed with this data, it becomes easier to decide on the capacity of the battery and charging systems to get.
However, bear in mind the fact that to prolong the battery life, it shouldn’t drain more than 50 percent of its capacity before recharging. Hence, make sure to go for battery banks that give at least 2x the amount of energy you need in a day.
Pack yourself with a solid red LED flashlight for the nights. It might come in quite handy.
When boondocking most RVers use either white gas or propane for their stove, heat water, refrigerator, and heating system; while running a gasoline-powered generator for charging their battery.
If you’re planning for an extended boondocking, then consider getting a solar panel and inverter installed on your gig to utilize the solar energy.
You will need both the black water and gray water tanks to hold your trash which includes toilet waste and bathing and dishwashing water respectively.
Understand how long both can go, especially the black water tank before needing a dump; this way you’d be able to plan how long to camp before heading to a dump station to get rid of the waste.
So those are practically the basic stuff to consider. In a nutshell, assess your RV to understand its capacity, its limitation, and what needs to be in place for a comfortable boondocking.
If you’ve noticed, we’ve been using dry camping and boondocking interchangeably. Do these terms refer to the same thing?
Well, to some yes, it means the same thing, but to the hardcore boondocker hell no, they’re entirely different things.
Dry camping is camping out in places like a Wal-Mart parking lot for a day or two, spending the night at a campsite with no hookups. While boondocking is basically the same thing, however, in this case, there’s the added element of heading out into the wild.
Boondocking can last anything from one night to living full-time off-grid.
How to prepare for dry camping
The decision has been made; you’re going boondocking. So how do you prepare? What do you take with you? Where do you stay?
All these are questions that need to be answered. They’re stuff you must figure-out before ever rolling the RV off the garage.
Let’ help you answer those question:
How do you prepare?
It’s essential you maintain your usual pre-trip routine – ensure all systems are working; check the tires have the right air pressure; ensure the batteries are charged, and there’s no short anywhere. Fill your refresh water tank, refill your propane, and ensure your signal system and light bulb are working.
The goal here is just to checkup everything is working fine and that everything you would need is onboard.
What do you take?
Food, ensure you have a long shelf life and quick to cook meals. If you can, leave behind those perishables at home. Take extra batteries for your lamps, a flashlight, and sleeping bags for those nights when the temperature drops really low.
If you are near a stream, you might consider bringing along a water treatment kit for drinking water.
Where do you stay?
Another thing you need have figured out before going on dry camping is determining where exactly you’d be parking.
Campsites managed by states, municipalities and the national forest have locations without hookups – which technically is still dry camping.
Once you’ve decided on the location, it’s time to get on and have some fun.
Dry camping or boondocking offers an incredibly liberating way of exploring nature and the backcountry. With an adequately equipped Recreation Vehicle, you can spend some quality time away from it all for a moment.