Many RVers are drawn to off-grid camping or “boondocking,” as we like to call it. It offers nature in its most undisturbed state and at a much lower cost. There are little to no campground fees involved. There is quiet, solitude, and a personal challenge to camp sans conveniences like shore power, city water, hot showers and level pavement. The challenges of boondocking are what most people think of when contemplating a wish list for dispersed camping.
Here are five items on every boondocker’s wish list
More fresh water supply
Unless you are hooked up to a campground or “city water” connection such that the supply is unlimited, the boondocker never has enough fresh water supply. Some campers carry extra potable water in jerry cans designed for the purpose, and I have done that. Last year I reported on a new technology that would substantially increase the off-grid camper’s water supply through a new technology (see AcquaTap® here). However, this technology and product has seen setbacks due to supply chain issues and is not yet widely available. RVtravel.com has kept in touch with the Exaeris Water Innovations™ company, makers of AcquaTap. We will report when the company is able to make its product available on the RV market.
I’ve reported extensively here on the development of Starlink, the satellite broadband Wi-Fi by SpaceX. The Starlink system is well along in its deployment and is currently serving RVers and other mobile broadband users. It has experienced some growing pains in terms of full roaming capability, and RV customers have complained about hardware and service availability, as well as the seemingly high cost, i.e., $600 for hardware equipment and $110 per month for the basic service, plus $25 per month for the roaming option. But for the boondocker, the advantages clearly seem to outweigh the cost for high-speed broadband Wi-Fi—virtually anywhere.
It would be rare for me to use an outdoor shower while in the campground, particularly if campground fresh water and a gray water drain are available. But boondocking is just the opposite. Here, the ability to take a longer hot water shower, not use up freshwater reserves and not fill up the graywater tank are key. There are a number of solutions for outdoor showers, including, for instance, the Mr. Heater BaseCamp B.O.S.S. battery-powered portable hot water shower. My personal favorite in this product line is one I have written about before, the Joolca HOTTAP.
Outdoor kitchen functionality
Doing dishes and cooking inside your RV results in, among other things, heat, moisture, cooking odors, using up stored water from your freshwater tank, as well as a rapid filling of the gray water waste storage tank. The goal for the boondocking camper is to do as much outside as possible, perhaps using available stream, pond, or lake water, and being able to discard the dishwater responsibly outdoors. The Joolca outdoor kitchen sink with its water uptake pump can help with that, as can simply putting together a low-cost solution of your own, using pails and or tubs readily available from your local hardware store. Any purpose-designed plastic or galvanized washtub, or one repurposed from a plastic bucket, will do the job.
Safety and security enhancements
I would be the first to admit that dispersed, or remote camping, raises safety and security concerns, as opposed to campgrounds where there are other people and park personnel around. Boondocking nights can be pitch dark and extraordinarily quiet—punctuated by mysterious sounds of wild animals and—who knows? Additional security precautions provide additional peace of mind.
I installed a small security camera on my travel trailer setup, with a motion sensor that would activate the porch light. I may add an additional motion-activated light for the other side of the camper. Should an animal or person approach, the area around the patio awning is brightly lit. All but the most aggressive intruder will be dissuaded from approaching under bright light.
As for the truly aggressive intruder, there are three options: 1. Bear spray for very large, dangerous nocturnal animals in search of food. I wouldn’t use it unless the bear became focused on entering the camper. Most nocturnal camp visitors are raccoons and skunks, whom I would never harm. 2. Mossberg 500 short 12 ga. shotgun. Again, only for a large wild or human-animal (more likely the latter) demonstrating intent to gain entry to the camper. In addition, I have the Smith & Wesson .50-caliber Alaskan, for those rare but truly desperate situations where high stopping power is needed.
There is a sixth personal item on my boondocking wish list, and that is a fairly compact astronomical telescope. That will be the subject of another RVtravel.com article down the road.