What is “Dry Camping” in an RV?
If you’re looking to take your RV to its limits, you may want to look into “dry camping.” When dry camping, you don’t have access to electricity, a sewer, or water connections. This could be in a rustic campground or friends rural property.
Typically, most people go dry camping outside of a campground, in another camping term also known as Boondocking.
Dry camping can prove to be a unique experience that drastically changes the memories you’ll have in your RV. We don’t recommend that you start dry camping unless you are thoroughly prepared. Below, we’ve provided a few tips that beginners could find useful. We also address some frequently asked questions and misconceptions about dry camping.
We believe that after reading this article, you’ll find yourself much more prepared to go give dry camping a spin.
Dry Camping Tips
First and foremost, you’ll want to inspect your RV. When dry camping, you may face rougher terrain and elements that your camper does not see frequently. Those with luxury motorhomes, like Class A Vehicles, may find it much more challenging to go dry camping because they’ll be limited in the areas in which they can travel.
When planning a dry camping trip, make sure that your recreational vehicle has off-road capabilities. This includes things like off-road tires, a suspension system, and other similar attributes.
If you have any doubts about whether your motor vehicle can handle dry camping, we suggest that you consult with your manufacturer. You don’t want to find yourself stuck in the middle of nowhere!
Once you confirm that you have a travel trailer or RV suitable for dry camping, you should begin planning your trip. There are numerous websites online where you can find dry camping locations. If you’re taking your first dry camping trip, we recommend going to a semi-populated site, as opposed to discovering a place on your own.
You’ll also need to plan how to carry enough food and water for your trip. You’ll probably find yourself using less and less fresh water if you know what you have to make it last for a few days. However, you can also consider alternative ways to bring water abroad.
If your freshwater tank begins to run low, you can dump the extra water into the container. Options include:
- Jerry jugs
- Cases of water
- Collapsible bladders
Lastly, you can consider bringing along an alternative power source like batteries or solar. You’ll likely need at least a little bit of power for things such as lights and necessary appliances. However, when the battery drains, you won’t have access to more power. Make sure that you’re using energy only when you need it most. Turn off the appliances when you’re not using them and only use one light at a time.
FAQ on Dry Camping and Boondocking
One of the concepts commonly associated with dry camping is boondocking. As we’ll explain in more detail below, boondocking is a form of dry camping. Regardless, there are numerous questions often associated with both. Below, you’ll find some of the most commonly asked questions about dry camping and boondocking.
Why Would Anyone Want to do it?
Many people purchase their RVs for the luxuries and amenities that they provide. They use their recreational vehicles to explore the country but like the convenience of being able to hook up to power at the end of the night so that they can treat their motorhome like a house.
Dry camping is advantageous because it provides people the chance to explore the outdoors in remote locations.
How Do You Shower while Dry-Camping?
If you usually shower in your recreational vehicle, you’ll want to change your expectations when dry camping. Because you are not on the grid, you have a limited water supply that you won’t want to waste by taking a shower.
However, there are a few things that you could do to cut down on water waste while in the shower.
You could look for low-flow nozzles or shower systems designed to save water. You could also place a plastic dishpan in your shower and use extra water as toilet water. You could also purchase products like the Solar Shower.
Fill a black bag with water and lay it into the sun for a couple of hours for an instant hot shower. This could help you cut back on battery usage while dry camping.
What Do You Do with Your Black Water Tank?
The black water tank holds septic waste. Although it does not fill up as quickly as the gray tank, if you plan to dry camp for an extended time or with a large group of people, it could be a concern. RV owners cannot dump their black tank anywhere that they’d like, and they can’t dispose of it on the ground.
Owners will need to find a dump station to empty the black tank properly.
However, you could look into alternative products if you know that you are going to take your RV dry camping or boondocking. For instance, you could consider installing a cassette/composting toilet into your RV. These toilets have an outside compartment door that allows you to empty them into any other type of toilet.
This increases the locations where you can dump waste. You won’t need to visit a dump station to do so.
What Modifications Can I Make to My RV Before Dry Camping?
If you’re interested in equipping for RV for dry camping usage, one of the best ways to do so is by adding solar panels. You could either affix these panels to the roof of your RV, or you could purchase portable panels that you must load and unload each time you set up camp.
Regardless, solar panels are a worthwhile investment because they provide you with a viable, sustainable power source.
Solar panels will allow you to recharge your batteries. Although you won’t have the same capabilities that you would if you were hooked up to a camp station, you’ll have enough power to use lights and run the stove. A sustainable power source could also keep your refrigerator running, which would allow you to take more food on your trip and go dry camping for more extended periods.
What’s the Difference?
There is a critical distinction between dry camping and boondocking, even though many tend to use the terms interchangeably. Dry camping refers to staying in a recreational vehicle without hookups.
Boondocking refers to staying in a motorhome without hookups outside of a developed campground. So, boondocking falls under the broad umbrella of dry camping.
Boondocking typically is more difficult, primarily because it often occurs on federal or BLM land. Federal agencies refer to boondocking as dispersed camping. Most important, RV owners need to make sure that they can legally park their vehicle in a designated location and stay there. Many cities, for example, make it illegal to park an RV on the street and sleep in it.
Furthermore, the government protects most federal lands. Many areas have limits, which typically are either two weeks or one month. Dry camping is a bit more accessible because you’ll still find yourself at established campgrounds.
The only real difference is that you’ll explore more remote locations of the campsites but can hook up to a power source whenever necessary.
Best Deep Cycle Batteries for Dry Camping
If you’re going to go off the grid for a few days in your recreational vehicle, you’ll want to make sure that you bring along a quality deep cycle battery. This is a worthwhile investment because it will not only benefit you while dry camping, but could also be useful as a backup during more traditional trips. Deep cycle batteries can last for days.
One of the best deep cycle batteries available on the market today is the Optima BlueTop Battery. This 12-volt battery features 750 cold-cranking amps. It measures 10” x 6 7/8” x 7 13/16”. It weighs 43.5 pounds. Optima says that this battery can work in any position and that it will also work in subpar weather. The battery is incredibly durable and is 15-times more resistant to vibrations than other cells. When the battery is low, it will tap into its reserve capacity, which can provide you with up to an additional two hours of power.
Another deep cycle battery to consider is the Odyssey PC680, which is much more affordable. Odyssey offers a two-year full replacement warranty on this and is a great alternative. The company provides up to a decade of service life. Odyssey also claims that this product has a significantly longer life cycle than other deep cycle batteries, lasting up to 70 percent longer. It can also be recharged very quickly, as they can reach a full charge within six hours and is also resistant to vibrations and high-impact shocks.
I hope you get out there and experience all the life-changing benefits even a short trip has to offer out in the wild!