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El Monte RV
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What Do You Need for Off the Grid Camping?

When RV’ing, you may consider that you can find all the comforts of home in a well-equipped RV in a nice park. Or, you may want to break with the traditional park and go Off-Grid and get even closer to nature. In this way, you can definitely save money on campground fees while also taking getting in touch with your environment. One way of doing that is to park on BLM lands or other US Forest Service or National Park lands that are designated for campers. 

 

We have some suggestions here for what you will need to go off-grid and camp near the roads less traveled. 

 

 

What is Off-Grid camping?

 

Off-grid camping or boondocking as some people call it, consists of camping where you don’t have the hookups to the usual amenities of a developed campground.

 

The terms boondocking, dry camping, primitive camping, off-grid camping, wild camping, dispersed camping all refer to the same thing - camping with no hookups!

In other words, you won’t have electric hookups or sometimes you won’t have water to hook up to. 

You are dependent on your rig for what you need. You are completely dependent on your own rig and equipment - whether it’s an RV with huge holding tanks, a campervan, a truck bed camper, or a rocking tent setup. 

 

When wild camping away from developed campgrounds you have to be prepared to be self-sufficient! No water hookups, no electric to plug in to, no dump stations, sewer, or bathhouses to make use of!

 

The goals of off-grid camping are to be comfortable and yet isolated from society. To be deeply immersed in nature with just your family and perhaps a few close friends. It’s to go beyond the reach of cell phone towers, forcing a digital vacation, and to create lasting memories for our kids. 

 

You may have a picnic table and fire pit or a fire ring; some off-grid spots may also have other amenities like clotheslines, showing the thoughtfulness that other campers had for those who followed them.

 

What you Need to Camp Off-Grid:

 

1. Good Tires + a Spare  

 

Off-grid RV camping often means traveling outside of cell service, main roads, and basic amenities so you need to be prepared to change your own tire if disaster strikes. A flat tire could have you stuck for some time so make sure you bring a spare for your adventure vehicle. At least be sure you have road service if you do need it. Many RV rental agencies offer this service but you need to know how to reach them if you are away from cell service, etc.

 

2. Batteries 

 

Most RVs and truck campers come with batteries that store power for 12V appliances, lights, ventilation, water pumps and more. All batteries have different capacities, so getting to know these capacities first is crucial to understanding how much power you can use while off-the-grid.  

 

It is also important to have a conservation mindset when off-grid camping. Since you are not connected to an unlimited electricity source, if you over-use your power you can run out. Having a backup power supply is always a good idea. There are plenty of portable power stations on the market these days and these are very handy for off-grid camping of any sort.  

 

Make sure you maintain and replace your batteries when needed. You don’t want to find out one has died for good when you are miles out from the nearest town. Off-grid RV camping means that you need to be on top of things like this. You need power to supply your lighting, appliances and more, so ensuring the batteries are full and functioning before leaving is crucial. 

 

3. Solar Power / Generator

 

Having a backup source of power is a must for off-grid RV camping. It allows you to stay in the wild for longer and use your appliances without the fear of running into a power shortage. Again, preparation is key and having a back-up plan is always a good idea. 

 

Solar panels are a really popular option in the RV and truck camping industry, and are usually offered as an additional feature or aftermarket add-on. Not only do they require little to no work after they are installed, but they are quiet, hidden, and environmentally-friendly. Solar panels offer limitless, free power under the rays of the sun. 

 

Generators are also an option for additional power. Some adventure vehicles come with a built-in generator. They’re a good back-up option for solar power too if you plan to do a lot of extended, off-grid camping trips. Depending on how much power you plan on using, having both might be best. As mentioned in the Battery section above, there are plenty of portable power storage options out there today that act as generators. Just make sure they’re charged before you go! 

 

4. LED Lighting 

 

Conserving power is key to RV boondocking. Converting to LED lights is a wonderful way to conserve power because LED lights use 90% less power than incandescent bulbs. LED lights don’t produce heat, which is especially great if you’re wild camping in the summer. Overall, they last about 50x longer than traditional bulbs! 

 

Since there won’t be any city lights off-the-grid, investing in some external lighting for your RV or truck camper is a smart idea. LED solar string lights are a great option and they create a cozy atmosphere outdoors. You can find them almost anywhere, even on Amazon. Some adventure vehicles come with external lighting installed and these are highly advantageous when you’re off-grid. 

 

5. Extra Water Storage 

 

Ensuring you have an adequate amount of water for your off-grid journey is a non-negotiable. While the water capacity in adventure vehicles varies greatly, it’s good to have some back-up especially if you are heading somewhere with no freshwater access. Always bring more water than you think you need when off-grid RV camping.

 

If you are heading somewhere with fresh water, consider investing in a high-quality water filter. Some portable water storage even come with it built in. If you’re heading somewhere like the desert that has little to no access to fresh, potable water, make sure you bring additional water with you. Clean drinking water is a necessity and you don’t want to have to run back to town because you didn’t bring enough water. 

 

6. Heating 

 

If you’re camping in the mountains or the desert, this is especially important. Even in the summer, temperatures can suddenly drop once night falls. A propane heater can make a huge difference in your off-grid camping experience. 

 

Some RVs, trailers and truck campers have furnaces built-in, but if not, you can always purchase a portable propane heater. Keep in mind that furnaces are energy demanding, so if you’re off-the-grid, it’s wiser not to use it unless absolutely necessary. A portable propane heater has no energy demand so it’s a better option when wild camping. 

 

Remember if you use a propane heater, you need to have proper ventilation. Read the instructions of your heater carefully and take the right precautions. 

 

7. Toilet 

 

If your adventure vehicle does not have a toilet, you’ll have to buy a portable one since you’ll be miles from the closest bathroom. There are lots of great options out there that require no power like the Domestic 2.6 gal. Even though you are wild camping, you must respect the regulations of the land you are in and commit to leaving no trace of your stay behind. 

 

8. Safety First 

 

Make sure all your safety equipment, like your smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors, are functioning before leaving. Bring a first aid kit and extra medicine you might need. Bring a map and tell somebody where you are going. Pack some tools just in case.   

 

Prepare yourself for anything that might go wrong since you will be far from help. It’s always better to be over prepared when off-grid RV camping.

 

9. Research & GPS 

 

The next step is the really fun part. Pick a place on a map and decide where you are going! There are a lot of resources out there that share remote camping locations and off-the-grid slices of heaven. Remember to do your research thoroughly and buy a map since you most likely won’t have service where you are going.  

 

Investing in a GPS or Satellite phone is highly recommended.  Garmin has an all-terrain GPS device called the Overlander which is specifically built for off-road navigation. Satellite technology like their Inreach is also a great choice because it gives you a way to stay in touch when camping off-the-grid. An Inreach can track and share your journey, navigate your route, and send an SOS signal if you’re in an emergency to a 24/7 global monitoring system. It’s a worthwhile investment that will offer you support and safety on your off-road journeys.  

 

10. A Good Mindset

 

Off-grid RV campers become custodians of the environments they visit. There are no camp hosts in the wild to clean up and manage the site. The responsibility rests on you. Make sure you leave no trace and take all your garbage home with you. Remember that there will be no garbage or dump stations nearby so ensure you have room to take your waste back out.  

 

As mentioned, off-grid camping requires shifting your mindset towards conservation. Without water, sewage, or power hook-ups, you are self-reliant out there and have limited resources. Be mindful with how you are using your water and power, and check their levels as much as possible. If you are running low, it’s best to start packing up and go back to town or home to stock up.  

 

The more you go off-grid RV camping, the better you get, so start small and learn as you go. A trial run is never a bad idea. Make lists and be prepared.  Don’t take unnecessary risks and do location research before leaving to prevent getting lost somewhere new.

 

Some of the best off-grid camping can be on BLM lands. 

 

At many locations the BLM does provide developed facilities for camping. However, many of their campgrounds do not have many amenities and may only have a picnic table and fire ring. Make sure to check the campground’s website or call the appropriate field office when planning your trip.


 

As a reminder, when you are getting ready to hit the road and camp off-grid, on BLM lands or elsewhere, first check with your nearest El Monte RV dealer, who can help you with any questions you may have. Please also check our one-way special offers at El Monte RV.

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