Dry Camping or boondocking as it is sometimes referred to is RV camping without a Full Hook up (no electricity, water or sewer). Over the years we have had the opportunity to boondock in many locations. BLM lands, Walmart parking lots, National Forests and just about anywhere along the Alaskan Highway. Getting off the beaten path and driving for miles into a remote part of the desert or just stopping overnight in the Walmart are all part of the boondocking adventure. Dry Camping is a great way to shrink your footprint, disconnect from the busy cities and surround yourself in some pretty amazing places. You might even save money doing it.
Is it Safe, legal and free?
Is it safe? Absolutely, and RVers have been doing it for many years. In all our years of travel, we have never encountered any safety issues when boondocking other than the stray elk rummaging outside our door one night in British Columbia. We have never felt unsafe and hope to stay that way. In case of any problems, we have a few easy solutions to keep us protected. Here are just some of the ways to be safe:
- If the area we have chosen feels wrong or sketchy, we move.
- Keeping your keys and phone next to the bed is always helpful in an emergency situation, activate your car alarm as a distraction (and potentially alert nearby campers) and call the police.
- Bear spray is great to keep on hand for any animal encounters or unruly humans, but you have to practice to use it correctly in a hostile situation.
- Carry a good, solid, heavy flashlight. Blind anything headed your way with the strobe mode and then use it as a weapon if needed in self defense.
Is it Legal? Yes, its legal, as long as you stay in designated dispersed camping areas, believe it or not its even encouraged! It’s typically all about Free public lands like National Forests, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and several other government run free or low cost camping resources. We love the Public Lands app as its a quick and easy to use resource for seeing if there are public lands near you. Plus, campground locator websites like Campendium and UltimateCampgrounds are adding more free locations every day. You can also use freecampsites.net, allstays, and other campground locators but they are sometimes inaccurate and can be frustrating to use in those instances. Typically, the best resource is directly contacting the public lands office. Then of course there are bloggers that share locations and GPS coordinates to some of their favorite spots.
Since our RV is our home we tend to have a lot more electrical items than the average weekend warrior. Even though we might be off-grid, power is still a comfort. This is where solar power can really make a huge difference. We currently have a simple 100 Watt Portable Foldable Solar Panel Suitcase with Charge Controller and as long as we have sun, we can keep our basic necessities running! It was a super affordable way to start and hopefully we can upgrade and invest in a full solar set up soon. When we require that additional power our 4000k watt portable generator can run and recharge our batteries. Downside of the generator is the noise.
Typically we don’t boondock if the low is below 35 degrees (Fahrenheit), or the high temperature is much above 90 degrees (unless we’re surrounded by trees that keep it cooler inside). We don’t want to worry about running a heater (propane or electric) or an air conditioner when we’re living off the cord. With a decent amount of solar and a hefty battery bank you can easily run a fan or small space heater to help keep things more comfortable, you just have to do it in moderation.