Boondocking has been gaining popularity and, while there will always be a demand for full-hookup campgrounds, the desire to unhook and unwind in nature is at the heart of the increase in dry camping and boondocking. Any successful boondocking experience starts with the proper preparation. Whether you are planning a night or two of dry camping in a parking lot on your way to your final destination, or your ultimate destination is boondocking and spending a significant amount of time at a remote location in the wilderness, you need to be prepared. This RV dry camping checklist will help get you ready for your trip and have the best experience possible.
RV Dry Camping Equipment Checklist
The most important thing to ensure a successful dry camping or boondocking experience is to make sure you have the right equipment for an extended stay without power. So, your dry camping checklist needs to include the most essential things at the very top.
Preserving and rationing your battery power is key to boondocking, so batteries are at the top of the dry camping checklist. Deep-cycle batteries store electricity and release a steady current over time. They are designed to be regularly discharged and recharged, so they are a great way to get the most out of your stored power. You can increase your stored power by creating a battery bank and wiring batteries together to increase your available amp hours.
The hours of use you will get out of your battery is measured in amp hours or AH. For example, a 12-volt battery may have a 100 AH rating. This means that it will deliver 5 amps of power for 20 hours, or 100 amp hours. There are a few types of batteries out there, so there is a choice to fit the needs and budget of everyone.
The most common and least expensive battery is the lead acid battery. A couple of things to remember about lead acid batteries: they require maintenance, they can spill, and they don’t do well if they are exposed to freezing temperatures when fully discharged.
The AGM, or Absorbed Glass Mat battery, is more expensive but is a maintenance-free, spill-proof option. It also stands up well to low temperatures and charges faster than lead acid batteries. One disadvantage is that the performance and life of the battery can be negatively impacted if it is over or under charged.
Lithium batteries are the most expensive option of the three. Like the AGM battery, the lithium batteries are maintenance-free, spill-proof, and require no venting. The biggest advantage is that they charge much faster – up to 4 times faster than lead acid batteries. Another plus: they weigh much less than the other types of batteries which can be a significant factor when preparing for dry camping for long periods of time. Lighter batteries will allow more weight to be used for food and water without affecting your tow capacity.
Upgrading your power supply to include solar is not necessary for boondocking, but it is a popular way to get a little extra power. Solar upgrades will not replace all of your power sources, but the obvious benefit to adding solar panels is why our dry camping checklist includes it.
Especially useful for extended dry camping or boondocking trips, solar is a great way to supplement and recharge your battery supply when you are not in a campsite with hook ups. On a sunny day, your batteries can be charging while you’re out for a hike!
Also on our dry camping checklist is another alternate power supply: the generator. A generator may be the right choice for you if reliability is most important. They can provide a steady stream of power no matter the time of day, cloud cover or weather. It’s important to properly maintain your generator since it can provide the power you need when you need it. One drawback to generators is the noise they create, so look for the quietest model you can find and limit your usage to be considerate to others who may be nearby.
Fresh Water Containers
Water is essential for survival no matter where you are camping. Even though the water tanks in your RV have the capacity to store a generous amount of water, when you plan an extended trip, packing extra is always a good idea. Reusable water containers, such as the collapsible type, are an important item on your dry camping checklist. They don’t take up as much space as bottled water and are easily stored once they’re used. They are also kinder to the environment since they’ll be used again and again.
No dry camping checklist would be complete without propane. It is the cornerstone of many RV appliances when it comes to dry camping. Propane powers your stove or oven and can be used for your hot water heater or fridge as well. Additionally, there are generators that can use propane instead of gasoline. So if you’re looking for a general purpose fuel to stock up on, look no further than your propane tank. Packing an extra tank or two will alleviate any concerns about running out and after a few trips, you’ll have a better idea of how much you’ll need for your RV when boondocking.
You don’t want camping away from traditional campsites to be a chore. But if you don’t have leveling blocks when you are camping in remote areas, you’ll soon learn that nature doesn’t maintain parking places like traditional campgrounds! Leveling blocks may already be a staple item on the checklist for your usual RV trips, but when it comes to the dry camping checklist they are exceptionally important.
Last but not least on the equipment portion of our RV dry camping checklist is a tool kit. It’s important to have a kit of basic tools for any camping trip, but when you are camping remotely a tool kit may become more than just a handy item to have around your campsite. For anyone who’s not necessarily handy, you can find videos on almost any basic repair that you may need to perform as long as you have a signal on your computer or mobile device.
Packing Checklist for Extended Boondocking
Once you’ve checked all the necessary equipment off your RV dry camping checklist, it’s time to look at the additional items you’ll need to pack when planning a long-term boondocking vacation.
Next to water, you know you’ll need food. We’ve prioritized some common staple items on our dry camping checklist to help you prioritize for your trip:
Energy-Dense Foods – When you are planning an extended dry camping trip and your storage space is limited, any type of food designed to replace a meal – such as protein bars and similar foods that provide energy in a compact form – is beneficial. Additionally, these types of items are great to take along when you are out hiking trails or exploring the nature around you when you’re boondocking.
Rice and pasta – Are versatile foods that travel well and are simple to cook. They can be eaten alone or combined with other foods to make a meal.
Canned Foods – Since the refrigerator can really drain your power, canned foods can go a long way in preserving your batteries. Many RVers simply avoid using their fridge when boondocking. With canned food you won’t need to worry about expiration dates and most canned foods can simply be eaten right out of the can or warmed up over a campfire which cuts down on energy needed for the stove or oven.
The old saying goes, “Clothes make the man.” When it comes to packing for an extended dry camping trip, “Clothes make the difference,” (between a wonderful and miserable experience that is). This is why packing the proper clothing is an essential line item on any dry camping checklist.
Be sure you know the climate and extended forecast so you can pack clothing that will fit your destination. Whether hot or cold, sunny or rainy, you’ll want to have the right footwear and clothes to protect yourself from the elements. Extra pairs of socks are on the dry camping checklist as well. They don’t take up much room but if you end up in a camping situation with no dry socks, you’ll wish you’d packed another pair – or two!
Planning for the worst is always best. Your personal comfort can make a huge difference in your camping experience, so packing durable clothing made of quick-drying material is another plus. The weather could turn or you may need to wash clothes by hand. The faster they can drip-dry or dry out near the campfire, the better.
Remote areas are a favorite of many boondockers. The further off the beaten path the happier some campers are. Even if that doesn’t describe you, it’s always a good idea to have a first aid kid on hand. Dry camping checklists need to include a first aid kit because you can’t plan an accident, you can only plan on what to do if you have one.
The standard first aid kit items include: pain-relief medicine, bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers, antibacterial ointment and a first aid guide. It’s always better to pack more than you need and many pre-packaged first aid kits come with additional items such as medical scissors, sterile pads, rubbing alcohol, and topical anesthetics. You’ll never wish you’d packed less in a first aid kit, but be sure to replace items that expire such as pain medications.
It’s also a good idea to pack an antihistamine in case of bee stings or other allergic reactions. And don’t forget to pack your own personal medications if you take any.
Last but not least, your dry camping checklist should include a pre-trip checklist. It is essential that you check these things before you begin your journey:
- Be sure your supplies are fresh, sealed properly in containers to avoid spills or attracting unwanted guests, and secured in the fridge or cooler if necessary.
- Conduct a pre-trip inspection on your RV. Check your tire pressure and look for signs of damage or other risks. You don’t want to run into unexpected trouble on the way to your destination.
- Check your batteries and be sure to charge any electronic devices. Safely secure items to avoid damage. Depending on how remote your destination is, the paths you may be taking to get there could be quite bumpy.
By following an RV dry camping checklist you can adequately prepare for a pleasant, long-term boondocking experience and avoid the inconveniences that come with being ill equipped.
The professionals at RV Wholesale Superstore are ready to help you find the perfect RV for you and your family. Visit us in-person at 5080 W. Alexis Road, in Sylvania, OH or call us at (866) 640-9871
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