Your Ultimate Guide to Boondocking
You can experience magical moments when you submerge yourself in nature and one great way get started is to just get into your camper or RV and go. You can stop anywhere your heart desires to just enjoy the surroundings and disconnect from the chaos of the modern world.
This experience, known as boondocking, can improve your connection with the universe and even possibly change your life.
Below is our effort to provide you with a guide to Boondocking - and the first thing to do is to make sure we're all on the same page as to what "boondocking" means.
What is Boondocking?
Boondocking, or designated dispersed camping, means spending time in nature, outside of a traditional campsite, without the luxury of modern conveniences like cell phones and power hookups.
This is "dry" camping, which means:
- no electricity
- no running water
- and no plumbing
Many people associate boondocking with an RV or camper, and sometimes it's also referred to as "free camping."
What Boondocking is Not
To better understand what boondocking is, it can be useful to talk about what it is not. Here are some examples of things that are NOT boondocking:
Camping at developed campsites
Developed campsites tend to provide many amenities that take away from what makes boondocking so pure. Because of things like community bathrooms, picnic tables, and electrical outlets, camping at a developed campsite is not boondocking.
Mooch-docking refers to camping in a person's driveway (enter Cousin Eddie). The heart and soul of boondocking is connecting with nature, so camping in a driveway on residential property doesn't quite provide the same effect.
Parking Lot Camping
Similar to mooch-docking, camping in a parking lot takes away from the purpose of connecting with nature. Plus, there are many cases where parking lot camping can lead to fines or arrest.
Why Go Boondocking?
There are people out there who don't totally understand why boondocking is such a great way to experience nature. Here are some reasons why everyone should go boondocking.
Find Remote Hideaways
Boondocking gives you the opportunity to go off the beaten path to explore areas of the world inaccessible to most. When you go past the campsite to a nearby meadow, you can experience nature in a whole new way than camping can provide.
Develop a Closer Bond With Nature
Campsites can get crowded. They can also be polluted with noise, lights, campfire smoke, and smells. This keeps many animals away. Plus, you don't get to see deep into the woods while at the campsite. Boondocking will give you the chance to literally blaze trails into more natural areas and uncharted territories.
Boondocking aims to find enjoyment with the bare minimum. Luckily, letting go of modern luxuries means that you do not have to pay for them. While the initial cost of an overlanding vehicle is sometimes a hefty investment, and there are some additional costs for equipment, the actual adventures will not cost much at all.
Some of the typical expenses can include:
Julie Bennet provides a useful, detailed description of all of her and her husband's boondocking expenses on a nine-day adventure.
Get Off the Grid
Some people feel their in-laws, neighbors are even the government is a bit too invasive, and prefer to get away from it all - disconnect and live off of the grid. And by "off the grid" we mean being self-sufficient and living off what Mother Nature has to offer. No one to control the water you drink or the electricity you use. They won't have any tabs on you, either.
Boondocking gives you the unique opportunity to go wherever you want to go. You can drive to any destination that strikes your fancy. You also get to choose how long you stay and where you sleep at night. Everything is up to you, giving you the freedom to have the trip best suited for you and your loved ones. This also allows for flexibility in the case you need to tend to personal or professional obligations.
In our "Beginner's Guide to Boondocking" we wrote about how to best equip yourself for true, dispersed camping in the great outdoors. Below are a few of those same recommendations along with additional way in which you can make your boondocking experience as enjoyable as possible.
Preparation TipsPick the Right Generator
The whole point of boondocking is to live without modern conveniences. However, sometimes you really need or want electricity. If you are in an area far from any electrical outlets, you're going to need a generator.
The Nature's Generator ELITE GOLD is a solar-powered generator that can be used for everyday use or in the case of an emergency.
Make Yourself Comfortable
Nature gets a little uncomfortable at times. You may want to have a nice place to enjoy your surroundings outside (or on top) of your RV, and you may want to keep yourself cool on particularly hot and humid days.
One of our rooftop tents will help you enjoy and gaze at the stars with your favorite person from the top of your overlanding vehicle. You'll be able to sleep above ground and eliminate chance encounters with bugs and animals. Plus, the tents are super easy to set up.
If you want to stay cool, especially when boondocking in warmer months, you'll want to look into portable AC. A Zero Breeze portable air conditioner can keep you comfortable even when you're away from your vehicle or tent. It can be ran from a battery and can keep you cool for up to 5 hours.
Safety TipsMonitor the Weather
While nature is beautiful and alluring, it can also be quite dangerous. You need to be aware of any hazardous weather conditions that might make you want to rethink your excursion until the weather gets better. Check the weather every day to give you the foresight to go home before you get caught in dangerous rain, snow, or win.First Aid
Accidents happen when out in the wilderness. Unfortunately, when you are secluded, it may not be easy to get professional medical attention in a timely manner.
If you get hurt in some way, you need to have a first-aid kit on hand to tend to any injuries until you can get to a doctor. A first aid kit should include bandages, antiseptic, medication, and safety equipment. You want to look for a waterproof option in case you end up getting wet on your adventures.Learn the Area
The wilderness can get, well, wild. There are numerous things that bite and attack. If you know the area you will be boondocking at; it will help you prepare for what may come your way. For example, if the area is known for housing bears and cougars, you may need to take certain precautions to keep yourself safe.Fire Safety
Fires happen when people aren't careful. Since you may be camping in areas without designated fire pits, you will be creating your own fire pit. Be careful to use the right materials to build your fire pit and fire.
You should also not leave it unattended. Never go to sleep until you fully distinguish the fire. Furthermore, you should be careful when smoking. Put cigarettes out completely (and don't forget to collect the butts until you can throw them away) so that they don't light something on fire and create a larger problem.
Green TipsShow Respect for Mother Nature
While boondocking, you need to show respect for the nature you are enjoying. The right attitude toward wildlife and the environment will help guide you to make environmentally-friendly decisions. Always leave things better than you found them!Don't Litter
As humans, we produce too much trash already. It's our responsibility to dispose of this trash responsibly. There's a saying that says: when you go into nature, you should leave nothing but footprints behind you (aka: TREDLESS). Take all your garbage with you and dispose of it once you leave your boondocking site and properly dispose of it.
Finding the right location
Similar to real estate, boondocking is all about location, location, location. You need to pick the right spot. What makes a great spot? Well, you want to pick somewhere legal, beautiful, and safe. To see your options, you can try one of the following useful tools:iOverlander
iOverlander is an app that populates campsites based on your search results.Campendium
Campendium offers a large number of options with numerous ways to filter the results. Download the app or visit the website.USFS Website
The US Forest Website provides numerous options. Narrow your search to "wild" or "dispersed" camping.
If none of these options are available to you, you can always ask a park ranger or fellow traveler for advice. Otherwise, you're going to have to trust your instinct.
Boondocking is the experience of a lifetime, as long as you plan properly. That doesn't mean you need to have an itinerary for every day of the adventure.
Instead, be flexible and embrace where the journey takes you.
As always, live your life #tredless and leave things better than you found them.