On episode 24 we talk about “The Essentials of Boondocking”. We discuss the pro’s and con’s of boondocking. And what kind of gear you should always carry with you. What are some of the more “newbie” mistakes that most find out the hard way when trying boondocking for the first time. I just got back from a long boondocking stay in Quartzsite, AZ and really wanted to share this with you.
So by now everyone knows what boondocking is. Basically it’s camping in a RV or Van without any hookups such as water or electric or dump. You are on your own to supply a solution to all of those. Which why being prepared if you want to camp in alternative places and get away from the RV Park gig is so important.
Some RVers will never know boondocking. But they’ll tell you how to do it in a video. And NO, staying overnight in a Walmart or Truck stop isn’t really boondocking it’s more like dry camping for the night.
The reality of boondocking is this. You are NOT staying at a 5 start resort with room service. You are in your RV, or Van, or Skoolie and it’s no one’s job to take care of you or to supply you with ammeneties. Most full time rvers don’t boondock. They are running so many appliences and are completely reliant on Internet or water they just won’t even consider it. For them they are just living in a big house on wheels.
So first let’s talk a little about the Pro’s and Con’s.
The Pro’s of boondocking is you are creating your OWN space. You are the boss of your domain so to speak. You don’t have another neighbor right butt up next to you…hopefully and you get to spend some time in some remote area’s. Even a designated campground in a National Forest that doesn’t supply hookups would be considered boondocking.
The other advantage is that you probably will have some amazing scenery and most of the time boondocking is FREE. The only cost would be gas if you are running a generator (which might fall under the “con’s” of boondocking) This is where you are living a free life of just being present and you can soak in the place where you are without nosy neighbors and you can enjoy some recreational activities like hiking or 4 wheeling, or (if you have good internet) you are working in a peaceful manner while having an amazing view out your window.
The Con’s of boondocking are: you are responsible for water, electricity and dumping your waste. Hopefully you are practicing Leave No Trace and are not dumping on the ground or throwing your trash in the desert. You do or most likely have to run your generator at times which means you are making gas runs, and gas runs means you are driving somewhere to get gas. It’s a harder life. You are trading amazing scenery for dust, high winds, muddy conditions and possible lack of high speed internet. So you have to understand what you want to get out of boondocking. It can save you money on camping fees, but most BLM lands only let you stay 14 days, and you may incur other cost’s like a investment in solar and other gear items like a Portable RV Waste Tote Tank and Water storage Tanks.
So for new people thinking about the life in the desert boondocking we see some mistakes and myths that they make. The biggest one is not being prepared for harsh conditions. Every geographic area in the US has it’s own issues. Most people flock to the Southwest to the desert. Most like Quartzsite, Lake Havasu, Yuma. But as the days are pleasent, the nights can be brutally cold. like in the 20’s cold. So now what is a free campsite camping on BLM land is a 200 a month bill to keep your propane tanks filled to provide heat at night. In a Van, then you are also buying propane tanks for a Little Buddy Heater. This year in paticular Arizona has been colder than normal. The other rookie mistakes we’ve seen is not being prepared for the wind. It’s really Windy in the Desert and we see a lot of chairs, rugs, canopies being destroyed by Wind. The element can be somewhat brutal in the SouthWest while Boondocking. So really do your due dillegence before you go. And the last thing we see is the realization that boondocking can be hard. They are not prepared for the amount of work or being somewhat uncomfortable in the natural elements.
Boondocking gear essentials that we use all the time. This list is for RVers, Vanlifers, Skoolies and even car campers.
First and foremost is a Folding Camp Shovel for your campfire clean up. Not necessary YOUR clean up, but someone elses. I see a lot of people digging out trash or soot out of an existing campfire. Don’t use your hands, get a camp folding shovel. you will thank me later, they are only 20 bucks and you will use it all the time.
Solar Motion Detection Security Lights. It’s dark in the desert at night. You want a light to come on when you walk outside to see. Also Solar String Lights for the bottom of your rig to keep mice away. The do deter mice and since electricity is limited use solar to provide security and keep pesky mice away.
Weboost or Cell booster for better Internet is a must. We use the Wilson Electronics 4G Directional Antenna along with an IOS app called Open Signal to point us to the cell tower closest to us. Which in our case Verizon.
If you have pets. We always bring a Portable Shower which is a 100 amp hour pump that submerges in water. So you can use it in a lake or a stream to wash whatever your dog has rolled in before they jump on the bed in your rig. We use that alot also.
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