Some types of RVs are more designed for boondocking than others. But there certain features that should be considered when looking for an RV, if your goal is to boondock. A 4×4 truck camper will have a higher clearance, and better off-road ability. In contrast, Class A, Class C or 5th Wheel will have larger fresh, grey and black tanks, as well as a larger refrigerator, allowing for a longer stay. What you finally decide upon is up to you, but below are five things to keep in mind for a boondocking RV.
While many camping areas are accessible for almost any RV, the more ground clearance you have, the more options you will have in off-grid locations. Good ground clearance can get you to the more isolated areas, and down rutted dirt roads. If going far off the main road is your goal, then a 4×4 truck camper or a light weight pop-up camper, with high clearance is the best choice.
The general rule is, we each need approximately 3 gallons a day to drink, cook and bathe. When you run out of fresh water, it will be time to break camp. Thus, a large capacity fresh water tank is essential. Anything less than 60 gallons will be too small for a couple. Note: Some RV manufacturers include the water heater in the total fresh water capacity. Make sure you know the real fresh water tank capacity of your RV.
You also need to be concerned with the gray water holding tank. While there are ways to minimize wastewater, and legal ways to dispose of it, a large capacity gray tank is desirable, and something important to consider when choosing your RV for boondocking.
You may be asking, what about the black tank? Running out of freshwater or filling your gray tank to capacity will happen before your black tank needs dumping. Note: You can also extend the capacity of your gray tank, by bailing dishwater to flush the toilet.
Many RVs, especially Class A, B and C motorhomes, have built-in generators. But many don’t, such as travel trailers and 5th Wheels. If you want a trailer or 5th wheel, think about how you could transport and store a heavy generator. You can store and transport the generator in the bed of your pickup. If you buy a motorhome or truck camper that doesn’t have a built-in generator, you can store it on a bumper rack. Also remember, don’t store or operate a generator in a compartment that’s not airtight from the living area of the RV.
Many newer RVs will come pre-wired for solar panels, making it easier to install the panels. If you are shopping for a used RV, one that already has solar installed would be preferable.
Those who are fulltime boondockers like 300-400W of solar, so take a look on the roof, to see if there is room for the panels. Portable suitcase-style solar panels are an option, but you’ll need room to store them. Also, under certain circumstances, you may not want to leave them out where they can be stolen.
Room for Extra Batteries
Conserving your battery power is essential when boondocking. While you can survive with just one battery, you will last longer with a larger battery bank. A minimum of two quality deep-cycle batteries is recommended. Make sure the RV you’re looking at has a rack designed to hold two batteries, and possibly a solid storage compartment to add more (batteries can weigh 70-80 lbs, each).