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What is Boondocking?

Power - by Joe Weber - updated on 6/7/2024

Lit up side of an RV with the door open, awning out and chair

A term fairly common in the camping and RV world, boondocking is often synonymous with "dispersed camping", and is a practice that's more popular than you think. You may even do it without knowing it.

What Is Dispersed Camping?

Boondocking is the "how" and dispersed camping is the "where".

  • Boondocking is camping or RVing with no connections to water, electricity, and sewer like you'd find in public campgrounds. Or, as some people might say, living in the boonies. Get it?
  • Dispersed camping is camping outside of a designated campground, generally on lands that are maintained for this purpose.

It's just you, your camper, and the wilderness. There is no public bathroom, no water spigot and no shore power. It's important to note that while boondocking is generally free, it does require a permit in some areas.

The National Forest Service, Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and your state's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are examples of public land management agencies that allow dispersed camping on some of the lands that they manage.

Are There Rules to Boondocking?

Yes. But they are easy ones.

1. Don't Camp Where You Shouldn't

Just because you found a great place to stop and camp doesn't mean you should. You may be camping on private land and the last thing you want is the landowner or police knocking on your door at 2 in the morning.

Pay attention to the size of the site, will it fit your rig? Will you be able to turn around?

Pay attention to the weather. Are there places to shelter if needed? Is it in an area that could easily flood?

Always remember that when boondocking, you are often truly alone. There isn't a park ranger making regular patrols. Keep your wits about you and be aware of everything going on around you in the wilderness.

2. Obey Laws, Ordinances and Posted Notices

Be aware of any local laws or ordinances in the area you are staying. Keep an eye out for and follow any posted notices.

3. Be A Good Neighbor

Even though boondocking generally gives you more open space than a campground, that doesn't mean you should act like you don't have neighbors.

  • Be aware of the time. If you are near other campers try to limit the noise and use of gas-powered generators that could disrupt other people's enjoyment.
  • With that in mind, don't park excessively near another camper. Give everyone their space, there is enough wilderness for everyone to enjoy.
  • It may be called the WILDerness but don't go wild. People tend to go boondocking to escape from the crazy, not to join it.
  • You may go boondocking and not see a soul but if you do see someone, be nice, say hi.

4. Leave No Trace

In my opinion, this should be rule number one. Leave the site in better condition than you found it.

  • Don't leave trash
  • Don't drive off the trail
  • Don't take anything with you when you leave (except memories)
  • Don't dump your tanks on the ground
  • Don't do anything to risk starting a forest fire.
  • Respect the wildlife. You are a guest in this beautiful home.

Boondocking Tips For An Enjoyable Time

Boondocking is a great way to disconnect and connect to nature. It can be a challenging experience, but it's well worth the effort.

  1. Come prepared - don't just pack what you think you'll need. If you do that, chances are you will need something that you don't have. Pack everything. A lot of these sites are in the middle of nowhere and you need to fend for yourself for the entire stay. If you're questioning whether or not you need something, bring it.
  2. Conserve water - You may not have a way to fill up your holding tanks so conserving water is very important. How you conserve water though, is up to you. Shorter showers, low-flow toilets and using less water when doing dishes are great places to start. Bring extra bottled water, just in case.
  3. Conserve power - With no shore power available while you're boondocking, you need to be cautious with your power consumption. If a gas-powered generator is not what you want, Batteries Plus carries the versatile X2Power lithium power stations to power your adventures. Charge them up with X2Power Solar Panels and always have the power you need.
  4. Keep an eye on your waste-water tanks - It's easy to bring extra drinking water but not as easy to prevent your gray and black waste tanks from filling up. You can't dump waste water when boondocking, so what do you do? There are some water conservation techniques that you can use to minimize the amount of wastewater you create, such as only filling up the sink halfway to do the dishes and taking "navy showers" (get wet, turn off the water, soap up, turn on the water to rinse) are just a couple of ways to do this.

Prepare Your RV with Help From Batteries Plus

Being prepared is the way to go if you decide you want to start boondocking. How do you prepare? Ensuring you have the best RV batteries possible is only one of the ways we can help you prepare.

Do you suspect that your existing batteries are starting to lose their "oomph", bring them by and we'll test them for you to see if they are still working as they should.

Worried about extra power while you're parked in the wilderness? We've got generators and solar power stations to keep you powered when you are away from shore power.

You have the RV, now it's time to go on an adventure. Give the battery experts at your local Batteries Plus a call to get started!