What Is Dry Camping? Ultimate Guide

What Is Dry Camping

Dry camping has exploded in popularity over the last few years, which has people wondering, what is dry camping? Dry camping provides the ultimate experience of true freedom.

Also known as “boondocking” or independent parking, dry camping refers to staying in an area with no electrical hookups or water.

Dry campers must bring whatever they need, which is why dry camping requires knowing these 10 things you need to plan on.

RV enthusiasts usually dry camp in remote, beautiful places. Technically, dry camping can be done anywhere, but boondocking refers to dry camping far from civilization.

What Is Dry Camping? 10 Things To Plan On

Dry camping means parking an RV where there are no electrical hookups or water. It requires planning and preparation because the dry camper must conserve resources.

Those able to meet this challenge enjoy harmony with nature in some of the earth’s most majestic spots. When people ask themselves, what is dry camping, they soon learn they can think of it as off the grid living in an RV.

How do you create a great dry camping experience? For starters, think carefully about the location and capabilities of your RV.

After all, what is dry camping without it? Remember, a 40-foot RV may be fantastic in some places, but its size makes maneuvering to less accessible locations more difficult. If renting an RV, make sure to understand the RV’s capabilities and its compatibility with the environment where you intend to dry camp.

Once you’ve chosen your RV and destination, it’s time to prepare your vehicle for an extended stay where there’s no option to resupply.

Water Management

Water management should top every preparation list. Without proper water management, the dry camper is forced to return to civilization too early. It’s important to know how much water your RV stores.

Water is easier to manage in larger RVs because they can store enough water for an extended stay. Small campers are subject to severe limitations.

It’s wise to find out if there is a water source, such as a freshwater lake, nearby your intended campsite. Water can be retrieved from the lake and, if you bring a water filter, be cleansed and used for drinking, bathing, and cooking.

If no water source is available, consider taking your RV into town periodically to load more water.

Dry campers must manage freshwater, gray water, and black water. As the name implies, black water is the waste matter from the toilet tank. Gray water consists of dirty water not contained in the black-water tank, including water that has been used for cooking, cleaning, and bathing.

Freshwater is fit for drinking. Gray- and fresh-water conservation are the most important factors in water management. Here are some water conservation tips that will extend your dry camping adventure

  • Attach a garden hose to a dump cap and use it to spray bushes and plants with your gray water
  • Collect rinse- and dishwater and use it to water plants
  • Bring a solar shower, which can be filled from a lake or river and provides a hot shower without depleting onboard supplies
  • Catch excess water in a plastic dishpan while showering and reuse (not for drinking)

What is Dry Camping without Conserving Resources and Being Green?

Dry Camping without Conserving Resources

Black-Water Tank Management

Blackwater must be disposed of at a garbage dump and can never be emptied outside. To extend your stay, you’ll need a large black-water tank. Consider a cassette toilet.

These toilets have an external compartment that contains a larger tank. Permanent and portable cassette toilets are available.

Electricity Management

Most campgrounds provide 120-volt electricity access, which allows RV campers to enjoy air conditioning, microwaves, and all the comforts of home.

Dry campers must make do with the 12- volt system provided through their RV’s batteries. The 12-volt systems power lights, the water pump, and the refrigerator, but microwaves and air conditioning are out of the question, so dry camping in the desert during summer may be a bad idea.

Once the batteries run out, so does your electricity. Consider these electricity-saving tips:

  • Turn off all lights and appliances when not in use
  • Use one light at a time
  • Use a battery-operated book light to conserve energy
  • Bring a 120-volt generator to help conserve your battery power

Get Solar

If you really want to dry camp for extended periods, then you need a renewable source of energy. No power source is more renewable than the sun. A solar-power system allows you to recharge your batteries and extend your stay.

Solar-power systems are also low maintenance, have no moving parts and make no noise. The initial costs can be a little steep, but once in place, solar-power systems provide endless electricity at no further cost.

Don’t Forget the Propane

Many RVs have built-in propane systems. These systems operate fridges, heat water, and power your cooktop. Propane is clean and long-lasting. If you bring two tanks and conserve your propane, it can last for months.

Park Intelligently When Dry Camping in Civilization

Park Intelligently When Dry Camping in Civilization

On your way to and from your wilderness retreat, you may need to dry camp at a rest area, parking lot, or neighborhood where the locals could take you for a nuisance.

The best way to avoid being harassed is to make your RV look like it’s parked. Keep the sunshade down and don’t leave chairs or other items outside. Some people may think you intend to camp there long term and want you to leave.

Trash Management

Trash management while dry camping near a town may not differ greatly from at a campground; however, when boondocking, trash management becomes a challenge.

It pays to consider trash management before leaving home. By packing foodstuffs that have less packaging, you’ll have far less waste to contend with. Consider bringing some food items in Tupperware or other plastic containers.

This way you never bring the packaging with you in the first place. This method works great for items like pasta and cereal. In addition to reducing waste, you’ll also lock in freshness.

It’s a good idea to bring a special, sealable container for garbage. This keeps rodents and other creatures away from your camp. One boondocking enthusiast brings a large plastic container he compresses the trash into and stores in the bed of his pickup truck.

Be sure to find out what wildlife is in the area that might take an interest in your garbage. For example, if bears live in the area, extra precautions are a must when managing trash and foodstuffs. Consider bringing bear boxes and storing food and garbage in them.

How to Stay Online Even When in a Very Remote Place?

How to Stay Online Even When in a Very Remote Place

If you want to boondock, be sure to bring a cell signal booster. These devices make the Internet usable in areas where access is spotty and very slow. It’s important to be able to communicate with the outside world from your cellphone. It’s impossible to know when an emergency might strike. A cell signal booster can literally be a lifesaver.

Consider Installing a Low Power Ceiling Fan

Ceiling fans cool rooms by ten degrees. When air conditioning isn’t an option, a ceiling fan can make all the difference. Low power fans run on 12-volt electricity, make little noise, and are a far more economical way to stay cool than air conditioning.

Get A DC To AC Inverter

When boondocking, bring a DC to AC inverter, which converts 12-volt DC battery power to 120-volt AC power. The inverter allows you to charge AC powered devices without running a generator.

The inverter charges laptops and phones and allows you to use a desktop computer and watch T.V. Unfortunately, running the air conditioning or microwave is still out of the question.

Batteries Are Your Lifeline

Dry camping means being off the grid, so regardless of the power source you use, batteries are the essential component of having electricity. One 12-volt battery won’t cut it. These batteries often don’t last through a cold winter’s night when the furnace runs frequently.

You’ll need several batteries. Some RV boondocking enthusiasts bring two 6-volt golf cart batteries and wire them in a series to drastically increase the time between recharges.

Check For Fire Warnings

Use the Internet connection you enjoy because of a cell signal booster to check on warnings during fire season.

Boondocking is a peaceful endeavor, but it can leave you isolated from important communications. Check in periodically and see if there are any fire dangers in the region.

Many campers want to spend an extended time in the deep wilderness far from cities and campgrounds. When people ask them, “What is dry camping?”, they respond that it’s an off-the-grid wilderness adventure.

They also want the safety and comfort of an RV instead of roughing it in a tent. Boondocking is the best way to enjoy nature while remaining secure from the elements and wildlife. It also provides a comfortable place to rest if illness strikes.


Creating a successful dry camping experience requires advanced planning that prepares for water, electricity, and waste management. Proper resource management and a few helpful devices, such as a cell signal enhancer and generator, make it possible to overcome the difficulties of being off the grid.

With all the right supplies packed in your RV, you’re ready to enjoy the remote corners of the world in comfort and safety.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here