Boondocking has grown in popularity in recent times and with plenty of good reasons. Whether you are new to the fun of boondocking or have enjoyed this adventurous freedom several times already, we are here to provide you with practical and useful information on how to ensure your trip goes smoothly and you remember it for all the right reasons. Here are the essentials of getting a great Boondocking experience.
- What Is Boondocking?
- Is Boondocking Legal?
- What Are 9 Essential Items Needed For Off-Grid Camping?
- The Bottom Line On Boondocking
What Is Boondocking?
You may already know what boondocking is since you have landed here and are scavenging for ideas on what to bring with you! However, just to make sure we are both on the same page; when we talk about boondocking here, we are referring to the idea of pulling off the highway to stay at a free location, often in a spot that has no facilities. We will especially focus here on people who are planning off-grid camping, whether this happens to be with a tent, a caravan, a car, or an RV.
Of course, before we start talking about the essential items to bring along with you, we do need to get one thing cleared up; are you going to run the risk of spending a night in jail for your plans? Allow us to provide a reassuring answer to your concern.
Is Boondocking Legal?
If your planned off-grid camping is on public land then more than likely the answer is, no, it is not illegal. In fact, boondocking can even be an idea that is encouraged by local agencies so that developed campgrounds do not get overcrowded, especially during the peak times when everyone wants to be enjoying a vacation outdoors in the sunshine. That being said, there are a few things you need to be aware of.
The key is to check the rules and regulations in your own state that relate to boondocking. You will likely find, for instance, that you are not allowed to drive your vehicle away from roads that are viewed as established. Dirt roads and truck trails are all fine and driving onto a clearing is usually fine as well, so long as there is already access to the clearing. However, creating your own road, including moving trees, debris, and the likes, to gain access, is not usually a permitted action and could get you into more than a spot of bother.
What Are 9 Essential Items Needed For Off-Grid Camping?
Boondocking, or “off-grid camping” is a little different than the typical drive up campgrounds where you have a power hook-up, clean water source and a place to dump refuse. So you might get the idea that all this now falls on your shoulders as a responsible camper-person. TO make it easier for you here is our list of the essentials.
1. A Generator
We have put this item at the top of the list for a very good reason; you need one! A good portable generator can ensure that you have warm, running water, that you can power various pieces of electrical equipment (like light!), and that your off-grid camping experience does not turn into a nightmare from boondocking hell!
If you plan to boondock on a regular basis it is certainly a good idea to invest in a good quality portable generator.
For campers who are used to going to existing campsites, the importance of a generator may not be as clear as the reality actually is. Facilities get taken for granted so much on a campsite. However, enter the world of being off-grid and life is very different! To enjoy even the simple comforts of outdoor life, a generator will be your new best friend.
2. Large Collapsible Water Containers
This item is a godsend when enjoying off-grid camping. We all need water to live and when you are camping in the outdoors you will be surprised at just how much freshwater you need. From water to drink, water to wash with, water to cook with, water to clean with; you get the idea! Most people require at least 2.5 liters a day just for drinking and cooking, so a part of two, camping off-grid for 4 nights would need 20 liters minimum. Bringing all that with you may not be practical.
Bringing along large collapsible water containers means that when you run out of water you simply go to the nearest water source, fill up and return to camp. No need to move your whole camp and you can fill up all the empty ones you have in one go to save unnecessary trips. It's a win-win on all levels.
3. Portable Solar Panels
Even though you are bringing a trusty generator with you, using portable solar panels will add an extra dimension to your trip and can also save you on the expenses front. After all, we all love a freebie and free power when boondocking has to be something we all want to ‘cash in' on (no pun actually intended there, by the way!)
4. UV Sleeves
This one may seem like a bit of a strange addition to our list, but UV sleeves can seriously make the difference between an amazing boondocking trip and one that you remember for all the wrong reasons.
The thing about boondocking is that you often do a fair bit of driving to get where you want to go. If your trip involves staying in various locations, then you are going to be on the open road a whole lot. UV sleeves are perfect for wearing while driving to ensure that the arms do not get too much sun for their own good. You can even get ones that have a shield to cover your hands to give an excellent level of protection from those rays that love to beat down as you drive. They are also a practical and easy solution if your boondocking is going to involve some water activities or simply being outdoors for long periods of time. Don't just pass over this tip, take a look for yourself at UV sleeves and read about what current users think of them; there is every chance we will win you over and you will be the one recommending UV sleeves to all of your off-grid loving friends!
5. A Really, Really, Really Good Flashlight
Of course, you are likely going to make use of headlights for when the sun goes down, however, having a powerful flashlight to hand can make life boondocking so much more easy and enjoyable.
This is one item that you are not going to compromise on quality, we would have to say that it would be a very close toss-up between the generator and the flashlight. Thankfully, great flashlights do not need to break the bank so if possible do your best to purchase high quality for both of these essential items.
You want it to be completely waterproof, and have an LED bulb as they last the longest, and the ability to focus the beam out to varying distances. Some also come with a Red lamp or red filter – which makes seeing things at night easier on the eyes. You may be off-grid somewhere that wild animals also call home, however, even when this is not the case, we all like to know that the strange noise we heard outside is nothing to worry about! If it is likley that you will be camping near water consider a waterproof version. Everyone in your party should have their own to keep bickering down.
6. Battery Operated Fans
Of course, if you plan to go boondocking in the dead of winter you may not be interested in ways to keep cool, however, for most of us, the joy of the outdoors, especially overnight stays, is something we relish more during the good weather.
With that in mind, we have decided that battery-operated fans definitely deserve a place on our top list of essential items for your boondocking adventures,
One of the challenging times when enjoying outdoor adventures is being able to get to sleep at night. Of course, there are folks among us who could sleep standing up however if you don't fit into this camp (I can assure you that I don't) you know all about watching those hours go by and wondering when a little precious sleep will ever descend on your tired soul! The secret could be in something as simple as a battery-operated fan.
Small fans like this keep the air moving around and can make all the difference in getting you in a comfortable state, just what you may need to be able to drift off for the night. They are a little piece of magic when boondocking so be sure to pack them before you go.
As a cool little side point, you can use your humble battery-operated fan to create your very own air conditioning should you feel that you need it. Here is what you need to do to create a bit of magic;
– Take a shallow container and fill it with ice or ice packs, whichever you have handy.
– Place the container in front of your battery-operated fan.
– Enjoy the makeshift air conditioner and let your body cool down for the day; pure bliss!
7. A Trusty Composting Toilet
If you are staying in an RV then, of course, you will have your flush toilet to use. However, being off-grid is a whole lot different from staying at a convenient campsite. You will soon learn that you need to make the best use of your fresh water and flushing it down the toilet may not be included in that! That is where a composting toilet will really come into its own. The idea may initially make you cringe just a little, but once you see the benefits there is every chance that you will recommend that this essential item be put at the top of the list.
8. A Folding Camping Table
Sometimes we are so busy thinking about all of the big important things that we need to bring, that we forget about something so simple as a folding table. However, if you have ever been camping off-grid without a table before you likely made sure that it was the last time you ever made such a mistake! Folding camping tables are worth their weight in gold. they provide a place to prepare food outdoors, store items, sit and play a game and the list goes on. You don't need to buy a fancy, expensive table, just a cheap, simple folding table is more than enough for your needs. Of course, we don't mean to buy something that will blow away at the first inkling of a breeze, but don't spend silly money on something that has bells and whistles you don't need; a table is a table!
9. A Means of Cooking Food Quickly
Depending on your set up you choice here may vary, however, one thing is constant; you need to be able to quickly boil water for coffee or be able to throw together a quick warm meal without too much hassle. Of course, there are days when you will love foraging for food, lighting a fire, and taking hours to prepare a culinary feast, however, these nights are not every night!
A good outdoor camping stove is a fantastic option for boondocking. Try to purchase one that has a simmer control so that you don't have to stand over the pot as it cooks. As well as this, look for models that are able to withstand wind well. When you are off-grid the weather can be different from what you expected and you really don't want to have the worry of a camping stove toppling over.
The Bottom Line On Boondocking
Indeed there are plenty of reasons why boondocking is a popular adventure for many people. Regardless of age and background, it provides a wonderful way to enjoy the great outdoors without the usual environment of a ready-made campsite.
Being “in the wild” so to speak, and seeing nature as it really is, can be both a humbling and exhilarating experience. It somehow evokes the mind to reflect on what is really important in life and allows time for relationships to flourish, souls to rekindle, and to return home feeling a lighter spring to your step.
The secret to a great experience when boondocking is not necessarily about going to the most incredible spot or engaging in adrenaline filled activities, but rather is in ensuring that you have the essential items with you for your trip. In that way, whatever adventure awaits you, you feel comfortable, calm, and content in the fact that you have a happy place to call ‘home’