Before trekking off with your RV to go camping off the grid, there’s some must-have boondocking gear you’ll need to not only enjoy dispersed camping off the grid but survive out in the wild.
When we bought our first RV fifth wheel, never in a million years did we ever think we’d being boondocking off the grid. Actually, we never even really talked about it.
But the first time we tried it, we fell in love with the concept of waking up to quiet sunrises and closing the day with sunsets and campfires. It’s incredibly peaceful breathing in the desert or mountain air and looking out at Mother Nature’s gifts.
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Must-Have Boondocking Gear for Off Grid RV Camping
Being totally honest, boondocking did not come easy for us in the beginning. We didn’t have the right outdoor camping accessories and boondocking gear. But most importantly, we couldn’t sustain our electric power and didn’t know how to manage our water usage and black tank. It took a bit of a learning curve to learn what is necessary to boondock off the grid.
That said, though the cost of preparing our RV for boondocking may have been a little steep, it’s so worth it in the long run. It’s more than paid for itself. Once you get out there enjoying what we’ve described, you’ll totally understand why we love this lifestyle
Now that we’ve mastered everything that goes into off grid camping, I can’t tell you how much our blood pressure has gone down.
So, we want to show you how we do it and the boondocking gear and accessories we use to enhance our off grid living experience.
ELECTRIC AND ENERGY MANAGEMENT
We originally bought two 2000 watt inverter generators to recharge our batteries. We’d also run in parallel to run our air conditioner. Together, they can run one of our 15000 BTU air conditioner in our fifth wheel. If we wouldn’t need to run an air conditioner, one generators suffices on its own to recharge our fifth wheel’s battery bank.
See why we chose these portable generators:
When we started boondocking in our fifth wheel, our original coach batteries were extremely inefficient. Their state of charge barely kept our residential refrigerator running for eight hours without having to recharge them using our portable generators.
So, we replaced our two 12-volt batteries with four 6-volt golf cart batteries. They worked for what we needed; providing about 400 amp hours of battery storage. While they were affordable, we still could only could take them down to 50% state of charge. And they required monthly maintenance and constant worry since we were RVing full-time.
After two years of using our 6-volt batteries, we were introduced to lithium. We installed six 100 amp lithium batteries that could store enough energy to power our fifth wheel for three to four days depending on our electric usage without recharge.
What’s great about lithium batteries is we can take them down to ZERO state of charge without worrying about degradation or damage to the batteries. And, Dan doesn’t have to commit time to do his monthly battery maintenance.
So, if you plan on boondocking for long(er) periods of time or are serious about staying off grid, lithium is the answer.
Just one word of caution, to run your air conditioner(s), you will still need your generator(s) unless you beef up your energy management system with a larger inverter and more batteries to enable the load.
In addition to reconfiguring our RV fifth wheel’s energy management system, Dan also installed six (6) 185 watt mono-crystalline solar panels on the roof of our fifth wheel.
We would acquire a higher watt rating of 200 watts per panel with the same footprint. They’re easy to install and are very durable. They require no maintenance except for an occasional cleaning.
However, when we traded in our fifth wheel for our mini Class C motorhome, we had to start all over to design our new our solar and energy management system.
Dan installed six 100-watt solar panels and four of the six Battle Born 100ah lithium batteries we transferred from our fifth wheel. He also added some other components, we can boondock comfortably for weeks at a time if we want to.
To see what we did to our Winnebago View, check out:
If you wear a CPAP device but are concerned with how to boondock with one, read this:
WATER ACQUISITION REPLENISHMENT
When we boondock, most times we prefer not having to relocate our RV just to go replenish our water. first, we had to learn how to conserve water. Then, we invested in a couple water jugs that collapse for easy storage.
However, when we’d go out for longer periods of time, we wanted to minimize our trips to water stations so we bought a water bladder and non-submersible transfer pump kit. With all of those, we now can stay off the grid longer.
For more information on our water bladder and how we use it, check out:
SEWAGE WASTE MANAGEMENT
Portable Sewage Tank
Instead of having to pack up and pull our big fifth wheel to the dump station to dump our black tank, we use a portable sewage tote aka honey wagon.
Now, when our black or gray tank is full, we connect our sewage hose from our RV to our honey wagon and just drive it to the dump station. Trust me, you’ll need this.
Heavy Gear Loading Solution
So, we filled up our portable sewage tote but found it too heavy to lift up into the truck bed. But we found a viable solution. We used a pulley system that attaches to our tow vehicle or toad’s 2″ receiver. It was actually designed to lift big game animals into the bed of a truck.
Now, Dan can easily lift the our 200 pound portable sewage tote into the truck bed without breaking his back. The best thing is we don’t have to move our RV or lose our awesome boondocking site just to go empty our black tank.
This is a good solution if you have a vehicle with a 2″ receiver that could lift heavy gear into the back of your vehicle. It can also be used to lift out your fifth wheel hitch or bigger generators.
OUTDOOR BOONDOCKING GEAR
Outdoor Carpet or Campsite Mat
An outdoor mat is perfect for keep sand and dirt out of your motorhome or camper. It’s best if you get one that is made of durable, mildew resistant materials, and grommets to allow staking into the ground.
Finding the perfect camp chair is like trying to find the perfect motorcycle seat. You’ll go through a few until you find the one that is comfortable and fits perfectly.
Upon recommendation from other RVers, we finally settled on camp chairs that have lumbar support. Their spacious ergonomic seat is designed to align hips and back. They can hold a person up to 300 pounds so there’s no worry if anyone sits in them.
See what kind of camp chairs we opted for when we downsized from our fifth wheel to our mini Class C motorhome, check out:
Small Folding Table
A small folding table is ideal for boondocking, camping, and tailgating. It has folding legs, a built-in easy to carry handle and quickly packs up for transport and storage. And since it’s made of aluminum, it’s super lightweight which is perfect for RVing.
Having a backup cooking source is a good idea when you’re out boondocking. Camp stoves are great to take your cooking outside; keeping the grease and heat outside instead of in your RV.
I pan fry bacon and burgers, sauté veggies and even do low country boils on ours. Cleanup is a breeze leaving more time to take a hike or explore.
Portable Propane Fire Pit
Camping and boondocking is never complete without a nightly campfire. But due to burn bans in many geographical regions, wood fires are a no no. So, we opted for a propane fire pit that burns cleaner and we don’t smell like or inhale smoke.
When we downsized to our mini motorhome, we also downsized our fire pit to our super portable little red campfire. While we can use the small disposable green propane canisters, we opted to get a 5 pound propane tank that gives us about three campfires before recharging.
Both are perfect for camping, tailgating or even setting it on a patio.
OTHER BOONDOCKING GEAR ESSENTIALS
Portable USB Fans
After Dan installed 12-volt electric and USB outlets in our RV, we needed to find a way to stay cool without firing up our generators to use our RV air conditioner. Besides, it’s a big no-no to run generators between 11:00 pm to 8:00 am.
But I found USB powered fans that plug right into our USB outlets and charge with very little amperage. Or, we can plug them into our electronic device battery banks to either operate or recharge.
We bought a five-speed 8″ USB operated desk fan that can operate manually or on a timer.
We also have three small USB fans for indoor or outdoor use. They are great for keeping the mosquitoes and no-see-ums away while we are sitting outside. But woman speaking here, they’re awesome to go to sleep with.
This is a recent addition to our boondocking gear kit. Instead of using the hard-wired 12-volt lights in our RV, we installed wireless motion sensor cabinet LED lights. These lights are rechargeable using our USB outlet or our rechargeable battery bank. We have one in the bathroom, wardrobe closet and in a couple of our basement compartments.
Outdoor Security Lights
When we are boondocking off the grid, we appreciate that there are things go bump in the night. So we installed a couple solar-powered motion sensor outdoor LED security lights to light up our campsite and our RV when things are moving outside our door. They can be hard mounted with screws or adhered using removable Command Strip velcro to your RV.
Electronic Device Battery Banks
Another boondocking essential to have is a battery bank (or two) to charge up your electronic devices, tablets and smartphones. Since they’re portable, you can move them to wherever you want to recharge your devices. I also keep one in my hiking backpack and kayak bag.
Other RV Boondocking articles:
That’s a Wrap!
So, wrapping this up, we hope this RV boondocking gear guide gives you some great ideas on how you can enjoy camping off the grid.
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