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RV boondocking

Boondocking Tips – the How to and Where to

Boondocking, Off the grid, Off the cord, Dispersed Camping, Dry Camping or Wild Camping are all names for camping or RV’ing without any hook ups (water, electric or sewer).  Boondocking is probably the most popular term in the RV community, Dispersed Camping is what the government agencies (BLM, National Forest, etc.) call it, but our personal favorite is Wild Camping, not just because it sounds cool but because it embodies what it’s all about…driving out into the wild and camping.

This is the ultimate way to shrink your footprint, disconnect and truly surround yourself with nature (and save a lot of money while doing it).  For us Wild Camping is our hands down favorite way to live and the ultimate reason to own an RV.  Don’t believe us?  Watch this video we made a couple of years ago when we really started getting into boondocking, then we’ll dive into all our tips and tricks to get you out in the wild!

Now, I already know what you’re thinking: Is it legal? safe? or sanitary?  How do you find boondocking sites? How can it be free? Where do you get water?

Whoaaaa Nelly…You’re brain is on question overload! Look, we totally get it, we had the same questions before we started wild camping with our motorhome. In the next several paragraphs I’m going to try and answer all of your questions and give you some pearls (as my grandmother would say).

free rv camping

Free Wild Camping in Canada

Is it safe?

Yes, if it wasn’t, they wouldn’t allow it. Most crime happens in a city, not in the wilderness. Here’s the way we see it: The chance of a creeper driving all the way out to the middle of nowhere looking for unsuspecting campers that rarely show up isn’t too likely (much less anyone even knowing exactly where you are out in the wild).  They have way bigger fish to fry in the cities where there are stores and houses loaded with valuables.  Don’t let fear of the unknown talk you out of something before you have even given it a try.  Oh, and don’t watch the news…that stuff is riddled with fear mongering stories.

I even go Wild Camping on my own: Nikki Goes Solo – RV Road Trip For One

In all our years of travel we’ve never had an issue, and we don’t personally know anyone that has. We’ve never felt unsafe and we hope to keep it that way.  In the event of anything crazy happening we have a few go to’s for protection:

  • Our house has wheels.  If we have a sketchy feeling about a place, we leave.
  • Carry a good, solid, heavy flashlight like this one we have.  Blind anything headed your way with the strobe mode and then use it as a weapon if needed in self defense.  I have a pretty solid hit and recently had the chance to practice my death blow in Alaska.
  • A Loud Fog Horn is great to keep on hand for deafening any unexpected visitors. Blast them with the Strobe Light then hit them with the horn and get the heck out!
  • Bear spray is great to keep on hand for any animal encounters or unruly humans, but you gotta practice to use it correctly in a hostile situation.
  • Keeping your keys and phone next to the bed is always helpful in an emergency situation, activate your car alarm as a distraction (and potentially alert nearby campers) and call the police.
  • If you are super concerned I’d highly recommend you take a self defense class.  Confidence, feeling safe and knowing you can handle yourself in an unexpected situation is important.

How do you find it and is it legal?

Yes, its legal, as long as you stay in designated dispersed camping areas, believe it or not its even encouraged!  We’ve explained it all in the article How to Find Free Camping (but don’t get sidetracked, you can come back and click the link once you’re done here).  It’s typically all about Free public lands like National Forests, Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and several other government run free or low cost camping resources.  We love the Public Lands app as its a quick and easy to use resource for seeing if there are public lands near you.  Plus, campground locator websites like Campendium and UltimateCampgrounds are adding more free locations every day. You can also use freecampsites.net, allstays, and other campground locators but they are sometimes inaccurate and can be frustrating to use in those instances. Typically, the best resource is directly contacting the public lands office.  Then of course there are bloggers (like ourselves) that share locations and GPS coordinates to some of our faves.  Use our map to see if we have shared on in the area you are visiting.

Is it sanitary?

Of course it is!  Do I seem like the kinda girl who would ever go unwashed, or gasp, stinky?  I wouldn’t go in a jungle without lip gloss much less go around smelling like anything short of roses.  When properly prepared, Wild Camping can be just as luxurious as any vacation.

Electricity

We have a lot of Boondocking Gadgets because our RV is not just our home, it’s our mobile office and work studio (yes we work from the road)!  Power is a must.  This is where solar power can really make a huge difference. We have a great solar set up and as long as we have sun, we live like kings!  Now, maybe you are not ready to go all in and invest in a full solar set up yet, but a portable solar panel is a super affordable way to start. Obviously if you have a generator on board you’ll be fine too…but who wants to be camping in the middle of the wilderness with that annoying hum/buzz/stink of the gene, or have to worry about the hot noxious fumes igniting the dry grass you’re parked next to?

Typically we don’t wild camp if the low is below 35 degrees (Fahrenheit), or the high temperature is much above 90 degrees (unless we’re surrounded by trees that keep it cooler inside).  We don’t want to worry about running a heater (propane or electric) or an air conditioner when we’re living off the cord.  With a decent amount of solar and a hefty battery bank you can easily run a fan or small space heater to help keep things more comfortable, you just have to do it in moderation.

Also check out our post: Keeping Cool In Extreme Heat – Ideas From Burning Man

LED Lighting

A lot of new coaches come with LED’s now but not all of them yet.  Switching our lights from traditional bulbs to LED’s in Windy the RV was a huge help in saving power.  With the efficiency of LED’s, we could (in theory) leave our lights on day and night and never run down our batteries.  When we had all 40 traditional halogen lights on in Windy we would pull 26 AMPs and when we switched to all LED’s we only pulled 2-3 AMPs (and they don’t create heat like traditional bulbs which is extremely beneficial in warm weather).

M4 LED is run by a guy named Steve who understands the needs of RV’ers and has answered a ton of our questions about LED light upgrades. He is great at helping you choose the right color, wattage and bulb for your application.  Plus, if you use the coupon code wynns5 you get an extra 5% off. 

Don’t forget to light up the outside too! When you’re way out in nature there isn’t much ambient light at night, unless there’s a full moon, so it gets EXTREMELY dark. We like to use solar powered Christmas lights around the coach that come on automatically when it gets dark, also we saw this cool motion activated LED light that can be set on the ground and it helps to scare away critters and can alert you to any approaching people.

Water

Water conservation is very important while Wild Camping but it doesn’t mean you can’t shower or live “normally”.  With a few very affordable adjustments you can cut your water consumption in half without sacrifice!

      • Showering – Switch to a low flow shower head like an Oxygenics and install a shut off valve so you can turn off the water while lathering up. Combined these two simple and inexpensive changes will save a ton of water without losing water pressure, in fact we can take a “regular” shower and only use a couple of gallons of water. An unexpected benefit is we never run out of hot water, even with our little 6 gallon propane/electric hot water tank.
      • Faucets – Most hardware stores sell faucet aerators but it’s almost impossible to find the best ones so we ordered these 1.0 GPM faucet aerators for only a few bucks online.  Switching over to low flow aerators (1.5gpm or less) will have you feeling a lot less guilty about washing your hands and your dishes. In our opinion paper plates are a waste and no fun, we’d much rather use dishes so this easy switch reduced our water consumption by over 50%.
      • Solar Shower – We use a solar shower for doing dishes and any general clean ups outside.  It’s easy to tote into town for refills and the water stays nice and hot without using any electricity.  Also it’s super handy for beach camping when you need to rinse your feet before heading into the RV.

Drinking Water

We have an H20 Labs water distiller that allows us to take water from any source and turn it into clean, safe and yummy tasting drinking water but it does require a lot of power. So, as long as there is a water source of some sort (lake, pond, stream, etc.) having safe drinking water is never an issue.  However, with our newer RV’s larger fresh water tank and our energy efficient Firewall water purifier we are finding that we don’t use our distiller as much anymore. For on the go and hiking we love our rechargeable Camelback All Clear that can turn most any clear freshwater source (lake or stream) into safe drinking water 1 glass (0.75L) at a time.  We have had the same one for over two years now and it’s still alive and working like new. A lot of RVers swear by the Berkey Water Filters and we’ve actually used them a few times but we feel they’re bulky and take a long time to filter for our unplanned style of travel.

**If you are not quite ready for a new water set up, try these water saving tips. Wash your body using a wash cloth and a solar shower. For the super conservative, get a container and save some of the soapy water from bathing or washing dishes to flush your toilet instead of using your fresh water. Invest in a couple of collapsible five-gallon water containers that you can refill on trips into town. You can also get water at many service stations by just asking, but you’ll want to make sure you filter the water as you won’t know the quality of the source.

Gray Water

Gray water can fill up before you know it.  As long as you are using bio-degradable/all natural bath and cleaning products, you can use a watering can to sprinkle grey water around your campsite to help keep the dust down.  Do this once a day and it will help keep your grey water levels in check.  Never just open up your tank and dump at will leaving behind a giant puddle… that is illegal. If you’re planning to stay for an extended period of time check out the video below and this post – Eliminating Gray Water – Ideas From Burning Man

Black Water

We have a composting toilet that completely eliminated our black water and need for a black tank!  Hands down one of our all time unexpected and favorite mods! Not sure what a composting toilet is or how it works? We have a whole video series on it! Also, check out our post on what a composting toilet is and why you need one.  Until the day you decide to switch to a composting toilet… sanidumps is an app and website that lists dump stations around the USA and Canada, because in NO way, shape or form is it OK to dump blackwater anywhere other than a dump station.

Trash

The simplest way to avoid trash is to eat fresh foods.  Fruits and vegetables don’t usually come in packaging that has to be thrown away.  We always stock up our refrigerator before we head out into the wilderness.  If you are Wild Camping for an extended amount of time, keep your full trash bags in a closed basement bin and not just outside waiting for critters to invade.  Then as you head into town, it’s usually easy to find dumpsters at a grocery store or parking lot to dispose a small bag or two.  As for your recyclables, I love the app irecycle (more of our fave apps here), it lists all of the recycling locations near you, what’s accepted and hours of operation.

Wild Camping Locations

I think that’s about it!  If you have never tried Wild Camping before? If not what are you waiting for?  It’s our favorite way to live and usually has the best scenery!  To get you inspired and started here are a couple of videos:

Then of course then there is Harvest Hosts which is an entirely different kind of Camping!

Do you have a favorite Wild Camping spot or some tips of your own you’d like to share?  Post them in the comment box below!  There’s always something new to learn and sharing always makes you feel good!

 

Famous for my "how-not-to" videos, and typically the man behind the camera, sometimes I’m forced to be here in the “spotlight”. When you see my face you’re probably reading something more technical than adventurous, but either way I do my best to tell it like it is and infuse my opinions into the commentary…after all this is a blog and not MSN.

Comments (133)

  • Nikki you are so brave! I wish I was more adventurous by myself. I am not scared to go alone just get overwhelmed. I am trying to branch out. Reading up on what works for others. Right now my biggest struggle is the A/c and heat. Wish these ran off solar power. Maybe they do.. just have to find the right option for a Class B Sprinter.

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    • Curious Minion

      Hi Brandi. Nikki & Jason are sailing today so I thought I’d chime in. If you’re in a Sprinter and it’s insulated, heat should be a snap. An Olympian Wave catalytic heater [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ul5a-0e36iU] could be mounted flush with a wall and plumbed into the propane supply (if you have other propane appliances). The smallest one (Wave 3) would probably do the job most of the time but if you camp a lot in sub-freezing weather then you’d probably want to move up to the 6. If you don’t have propane appliances already, then a Mr. Buddy portable would accomplish the same thing. http://www.mrheater.com/portable-buddy-heater.html The downside is that it needs to be stored when not in use. A tiny electric heater is a possibility to run off of solar but you’d need to make sure your battery bank is sized accordingly

      Air conditioning is tougher. You could run a roof-mounted AC with an appropriately sized battery bank but you’d need to also install a soft start. [ Watch this for an explanation of soft start: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/air-conditioning-sailboat%5D Evaporative coolers are an option in less humid parts of the country but they require water to work, which might be tougher to supply in a Sprinter than a big battery bank. For more on evaporative coolers and some non-powered ways to stay cool, check this one out: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/keep-cool-extreme-heat-ideas-burning-man

      Hope that helps!

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  • Jonny Quest

    I enjoy boon-docking just to get away from people and noise. Natures serenity. There’s nothing better. But for some reason, no matter how remote I go, there’s some one some where far away with a generator and barking dogs. Why? What’s wrong with people? Or, Some one shows up in the middle of the night and parks close by. Setting up camp at 2am? Kids and dogs. Come-on. Really?
    How deep in the woods do I have to go to get away from Big Foot?

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  • Richard Homan

    As first time Class A buyers, we really would like recommendations on WIFI set up.

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  • Popeye

    I find it odd that people have to ask “is it safe?”. Life is not safe. I have been mugged in Hawaii, almost mugged at a rest stop in Texas, and have seen gang fights in downtown Fort Worth. I guess safety is relative. Some places are more safe than others, but no place is 100% safe. So…the simple answer is to take charge of your safety. Carry a gun, pepper spray, a big stick, but do not rely on the police to show up in the nick of time to save your butt with their guns, pepper spray or batons.

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  • Phil Schneider

    Republicans are as we speak working to ‘privatize’ all 640 million acres of ‘Public Lands’ in the West. This kind of recreation will be gone if we don’t vote to stop these folks. My wife and I have enjoyed our ‘Public Lands’ for the past 53 years. Save our ‘Public Lands’! Want to find out more, Google “privatization of public lands” and read more.

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    • Andy

      Hate to say it but it’s inevitable. Look at history, the Indians were repeatedly promised they could keep their land. Well we all know how that turned out, tribe by tribe they were either run out or slaughtered if they tried to fight for their land. Government always wins, it’s just a matter of how long it takes. Enjoy while you can is my advice.

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    • Popeye

      Why is private bad? Just look at how government has handled the debt. And so many other examples I won’t go into. I camp on public land here in Texas, and I have been appalled at the garbage and pollution. Also, have you ever tried to get a spot at Yellowstone? Or Yosemite? Privatization would raise rates in these areas so that supply and demand would come into play, and if you really want to see these wonderful places…you could without making reservations a year in advance. I want to keep more of my money and not subsidize the entire population of America…or every social program the dems think I need.

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      • Stacy Heath

        Because private companies will charge you to stay there as opposed to being able to stay for free. You really don’t know why privatizing would be a bad thing?

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      • My real name is Phil Schneider. I have no need to hide!

        Texas has almost NO Federal Public Lands (lands managed by the Forest Service or the Bureau of Land Management). The little it owns is in Big Bend National Park Technically, Big Bend is managed by the US Park Service. This discussion is about the 240M acres of land managed by BLM and the Forest Service. Privatization would close down all of the Public Lands. It would become private and mostly owned by the ultra rich who would rape it for it’s mineral wealth. Koch Brothers and China would love to get their hands on it. You are pretty uninformed if you think it would be better. Public Lands are what sets America off from the rest of the world. We have bad government….WOW! I have lived around the world and America has the best government tin the world….bar none. You need to to take a ‘long’ trip! Do private land owners let you use their land now?

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      • SixtySomething

        Yeah. Seems our private medical system is the “best” when it comes to the highest price in the world. Unfortunately it’s far from being the best in the world. So private is no guarantee. And government is not either. Its up to the citizen or consumer to refuse sub-standard service in any industry.

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    • Popeye

      Also, I’m not sure your statement is correct. I have not heard one news item stating that republicans are trying to privatize 640 million acres of public land. I could be wrong, but I have doubts this is true.

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      • Stacy Heath

        You may need to watch something other than Fox news then. It is all over the other channels, especially him trying to downsize national parks, forests, etc.

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        • Jenny mader

          LOL With all due respect, This comment is laughable. We know that all the other channels ALWAYS tell the truth! LOL I am not a Fox viewer but your comment is really a joke. Please post the link showing that the Republicans (I am an Independent voter) are trying to take away the public land please. Have you been watching Caroyln’s RV life again? I think this is her line she claims.

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      • My real name is Phil Schneider. I have no need to hide!

        Do some homework.

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  • Jon Dize

    Free camping, but… the rule is, SUPPORT YOUR HOST? What does SUPPORT YOUR HOST MEAN?

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    • Curious Minion

      I think that’s in reference to Harvest Hosts. It’s a network of businesses (could be farms, wineries, orchards…) who allow Harvest Host members to stay overnight, usually in their parking lots. Since they don’t charge you to camp, it’s customary to buy some of their products to say thanks.

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  • John

    What brand is your motorhome in the video?

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  • Joanne

    I am a widow traveling solo How do I find someone who will set up my RV for boondocking that won’t take advantage of me? I boondocked a lot this summer but found issues with batteries running low. I live in Florida and went to a company. I have a 2300 watt inverter that will run the whole coach but I dont have a source of power to monitor or replensh the batteries except the generator. Help!!!!

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    • Marvin Olson

      did you ever find someone to get the improvements that you need presumably for some boondocking
      Joanne

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  • Dona Mondragon

    Thank you so much for putting together the video it was super helpful to see what your routine is first hand. It’s a lot easier than reading about. We are just beginning to get ready to leave and plan on boondocking too! We currently live in Vancouver Washington so your videos in Spokane looks like a really pretty cool place. One idea that I wanted to share with you to save fuel is the idea of making a rocket stove we did that just as a fun project when we were camping and found that you can actually cook a meal with just twigs and it’s a great fuel saver. I’ve seen people make them out of a more permanent material which I plan to do but it really is a great way to cook and you can save the electricity anyway I want to thank you again and I look forward to reading your whole website and learning more have a great day happy Boondocking.
    Dona

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  • Adam

    You guys are intrepid. Keep up the great videos. I wonder if you might have some advice for me. I’m looking to buy a nice SUV like a BMW X5 or an M-class deisel Benz SUV with a towing capacity of ~7k. With that vehicle, and a hitch, what do you think is the ideal travel trailer for the kind BLM solar boondlocking you guys do? I thought about a coachmen 17FQ but perhaps it’s too small and not enough room for solar on the roof. Any advice you have would be much appreciated.

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  • Chris P

    Public Lands App link is broken

    reply
  • Jon

    Hi, I really like what you are doing. My wife and I have a catamaran and are now planning on a motor home. I understand that your Monico Vesta has a Maxxforce engine. Some of the motor homes we have been looking at have the Maxxforce 7. These engines seem to have a lot of issues according to my internet searches. Can you tell me about your experience with your Maxxforce? Thank you

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  • Ana

    This is the ultimate way to shrink your footprint, disconnect and truly surround yourself with nature (and save a lot of money while doing it). For us Wild Camping is our hands down favorite way to live and the ultimate reason to own an RV. – Only an RVer could talk about shrinking footprints and owning an RV in the same statement! You guys are sooooo special.

    reply
  • Jenn

    Hi,
    I have been following your blogs for a while now. You helped my partner and I so much with your blog and we even outfitted our rv with solar and a composting toilet with the help of your detailed videos and articles. Last summer was our first run through with our old (but new to us!) 1993 fleet wood bounder and naturally there were some kinks to work through and things we did not know. But now we are up and at em and getting ready for this season! Thank you both for providing such a wealth of experience and reading material.
    Of course I do have a question. As far as traveling with your water system, do you ever clean your fresh water tanks so nothing grows in there(like mold)? Do you find it to be necessary? And if you do, how do you do it? Also, I would love for you to consider doing a blog on rv maintenance. Answering questions like how often you bring your rv in for maintenance, what tools you keep on hand, what you do yourself and what you leave to the professionals, how to choose the right mechanic when you are on the road and in an unfamiliar state etc. Thank you again! I’ll be tuned in to read your next blog post.

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  • Tracy

    I was watching your video on wild camping and had a question for you. What kind of shower head do you have? I have an Oxygenics shower head but I love the look of that one. I really enjoy watching all your videos.

    reply
  • Great resource for newbies! I emailed RVGeeks about led lighting and they mentioned you all were boondocking for several days. It’s our favorite way to travel when we’re out west.

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  • Randy McElroy

    Good information! Thank you. I did try a link that was provided in the wild camping section;
    “We love the Public Lands app as its a quick and easy to use resource for seeing if there are public lands near you with the direct links to the website for that public lands division.”
    It appears this app (Amazon) does not work with any IOS device (Apple). Too bad, might be nice to note that in the app description.
    Still, great information!

    reply
    • It is available from the iTunes store, just search Public Lands.

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  • Naomi & Will

    Thanks for all that info, but we are still in the market to purchase our first RV we are debating between gas which I like the Challenger 37kt or go diesel. We are planning to go full time in 5 years. What your recommendation will be.

    Thanks,

    reply
  • Merlin Zimmet

    I’ve been living my wanderlust through your FB posts and several others. In January 2016 I’m heading to Quartzsite for the first time just to check it out. Yay me!!! I turn cargo trailers into very liveable stealth campers.

    reply
  • Sandra & the 2 Spaniels

    Ah, you guys live The Life! I loved this “episode” (!) because, I think there are quite a few things that I can adapt to my full time home-a doublewide. Having always lived in a stick built house, this has been quite a change. A lot of stick built home solutions don’t neccessarily work in a trailer.
    Bathroom redo is coming up, and so many shower ideas would definitely upgrade my space. I learn so much from your videos and love this website!
    And for those who think, “Oh good grief! Trailer trash!”. I have a friend who buys in mobile home parks, upgrades the unit, and then flips them. She does quite well financially. I just got tired of managing 5 acres in the Sierras!

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  • Bret & Zeny Pemberton

    We are impressed with what you are doing. We live in the wine region of Southern California (Temecula) If you two are ever in the area pls let us know and we will take you out wine tasting at the local wineries. In fact Faulkner wineries is here and they are part of Harvest Hosts

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  • Great post! Jason and Nikki hit this topic right out of the park. We run the gamut of options, staying everywhere from commercial campgrounds to State & National Parks, to BLM to Wal-Mart lots to casinos to parking in front of friends’ houses to secret remote spots and everything in between. But we do know some RVers who rush from pedestal to pedestal and never use their rig as a free-standing unit, as though it can’t handle it. It’s almost like they think their freezer will thaw if they don’t hurry up to the next campground and get plugged back in as quickly as possible!

    They’ve expressed uncertainty of managing their water and/or power systems, or a fear of being in a remote, unknown area. We always encourage people to give Wild Camping (we like that moniker too!) a try, since just like Nikki & Jason, we think it’s the absolute most bestest way ever to use an RV. 😉

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  • John Karlson

    Ahhhh, that flashlight cost $225 at Amazon! Might wanna try the big Maglight instead – lot cheaper and heavier for banging heads.

    reply
    • Ha ha, it is pricey but it serves a lot of functions and the waterproof one is a big one for us.

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  • T C

    The newsletter states “arrive in the Morro Bay CA area before Thanksgiving.”
    Then you could visit Death Valley National Park which has RV campgrounds.
    What about comparing a RV with tow car and a 5th wheel trailer with pickup?

    reply
  • Another great post! I really love seeing how wild camping would actually look for the day. We have always talked about doing it but never have. I think this post makes it a little easier to imagine how it would work. Thanks!!

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  • William (Bill) Weaver

    We are not true boondockers, but we do prefer to camp in primitive sites. We keep a can of spray attached above the motorhome door. I feel more secure if there are other campers nearby, from Walmart to BLM. A fellow camper came over to apologize for needing to run his generator for a short time (nice touch). I have adopted this practice and try to run my generator when my neighbors are away sightseeing. I learned to conserve water on a 5 week trip with my wife and 3 kids. When we got home and I flushed that 6gal toilet, I panicked watching all of that water go down the drain. Learning to be more conservative on the road, will make you be more conservative when you get back home. Thanks for sharing.

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  • Bob Lantinga

    I love your videos. The one about boo docking. I have been living in a 36 foot Americaian Dream motorhome for 8 years. I am equipped with 6 deep cycle batteries and 6 140 amp solar panels. With two 30 amp controllers. Due to the fact that my panels where installed three at a time and I can see which panels are producing. I am interested in knowing where and how you dump your (pee)? Do you treat it as grey water? Also like to know more about the distiller you use. I do like the off grid life style. I live in BC Canada. I spend the summers in Prince George. And the winters in 5 months in Quartsite or Slab City two weeks and take my time driving back. This last two winters I have been in Vancouver,BC. Parking on the streets or parking in my buddies driving way. I am single and live with my 8 year old dog which I name Anchor. He’s a Shitzu and Maltese very quite guy. I tow a GMC Jimmy 4×4 with a 2012 150 cc Vespa on the bumper of my Jimmy. My dog Anchor rides on the floor. The only thing I am missing is a mate. Someone to share the adventure with. I also have a two person inflatable Kayak which my dog Anchor loves and is easy to handle. Love you guys! Take care. Many happy adventures ahead.

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  • Patrick

    Thanks for all of this information, we are doing 4 months out west next year and this is very valuable to us. Refrigerator? Do you have the household Samsung? If so, does the solar keep the batteries charged enough to run the refrigerator constantly or do you run in intervals?

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  • Jim

    Super series of videos on composting toilets. Answered all of my questions.

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  • Guy Owen

    Another question: When are you going to expand on your “Buying an RV” series? I’m looking mostly at Class B or B+. Any chance you’ll be covering those? Thanks!

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  • Guy Owen

    Great articles, you two! I read most every one. I haven’t taken the plunge, yet, but I’m leaning heavily toward the Roadtrek or Unity when I retire next year. As a single person, my question is this: How much solar-generating capability is enough? Especially if I want to boondock in some of those out-of-the-way places you describe? Roadtrek has great potential by way of their solar options, but a horrible wet bath (and two chairs a single person may never use). The Unity has a fantastic bath, but is a bit larger of a vehicle. I suppose I could always buy a scooter to get around, or two Smartcars (one for each foot!). But no articles seem to tell me “You can easily stay secluded and off the grid with X-Number of watts created by this size solar array.” Can you take a guess?

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  • Jeffrey DeRoche

    How about some cooking recipes. The food you made looked terrific.

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  • You guys are awesome, thanks for the link love! 🙂

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  • bill

    After you outfitted your Bounder with solar, lithium batteries and such, you have not filled us in on how well it worked on your trip to Alaska. Especially interested in how long you were able to go on just solar.

    reply
    • We’re trying to catch up on everything and are slowly posting all the bounder updates. Hang in there with us a bit longer.

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  • Mako B

    Are you still using the w/d combo in the Bounder?

    We are debating transferring ours over to our new 33C – closet space vs convenience…

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  • Have you looked at propane tank less hot water heaters?

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    • Mako B

      We have a tankless in our 5th wheel and wouldn’t recommend it. It is designed to raise ground water a set amount of degrees. Problem is that ground water temps wildly fluctuate on a location and seasonal basis. You end up too hot or too cold all the time. Plus, as Jason stated, its solving a problem where none exists. Hope that was helpful.

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  • Hilary

    Howdy! I just started living in a motorhome which came with solar that charges a battery, but my outlets need the generator on or else plugged into outside a/c to work. I would like to find an inverter that plugs into the d/c cigarette lighter outlets inside so I can use the solar charged battery to run appliances like a toaster and blender with a/c plugs. Seems like 1500w would be the way to go. Do you have any recommendations of brands/products like this?
    I’m doing dry camping in urban areas where I DO NOT want to use my noisy generator, but I’d love to make a smoothie.
    Love your site! Thanks for all the great info!

    reply
    • Hey Hilary! You have solar but no inverter? That seems strange. You could try a d/c inverter but to be honest, the better option (especially for running high draw appliances like a blender and toaster) would be to have an inverter installed on the RV and have a couple of outlets wired to run off of that. Such as this one: http://amzn.to/1LdnF4k And here is a link to all of our solar info that might help too as we have an entire video/post about inverters: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/solar

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  • Rachel M

    How long do you stay put in an area? I am interested in living this way but I need a place to stay near my job and I don’t want to be in an RV park… Any ideas would be great! Love your site 😀

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    • There are some restrictions and they vary. Some public lands only allow 14 days per calendar year while others offer permits for much longer. Best bet is to find where you are wanting to stay and then call the regional office to find out what the stay limit is.

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  • Ambika

    Get article…I’m wondering about your water distiller….I had one but couldn’t use it with solar power. I don’t have a lot of solar power 600 watt inverter. I tried doing distilled but not enough. So tell me more about your distiller. I can see you have more solar than me…but I’m still hoping

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  • Gisele and Troy

    We’re in the process of gearing up for a Class A adventure! Your website, information and presentations are valuable!

    We’ve decided to go with the composting toilet and will eventually go solar. After watching your videos, we have one question? In the video where you mention the distiller, you’re scooping water from what looks like a pond — can grey water be used in the H20 water distiller?

    Thanks,
    Gisele and Troy

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  • Andria Sigler

    Thanks for your videos and all the helpful information! Can you share how you handle laundry? Thanks!!

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  • Jenn

    Hey, my boyfriend and I want to install solar. We have a wood stove and won’t use a/c so we would only be usin electricity for our stove, lights, water pump and refrigerator as well as running a wifi router and smoke detector and chargin up our cellphones/laptops when needed. TV only to watch the occasional movie. Very minimal usage. We are havin a hell of a time trying to figure out what the cost of the solar panels will be. So our question is, in your experience if we already have the batteries and inverter and are are ready for a hookup, how much might the solar panels cost us and how many will we need based on our usage above? And if you don’t know could you point us to a good resource?

    reply
    • You are not finding a simple answer sadly because its not a simple question (so frustrating I know). What you are considering minimal usage is really a pretty decent amount. Refrigerators alone draw a lot of power. I would suggest watching our day in the life video if you have not along with some of our other solar posts: https://www.gonewiththewynns.com/solar We used a kill-a-watt meter to track our usage to see how much power each item pulls. Batteries are the power, solar is how you recharge batteries. So the suggested amount is 1 to 1. If you have 460AH of batteries, get around 460 watts of solar. If anything you would want slightly more battery power than solar. You can have a ton of solar up on the roof but if you don’t have batteries to hold that power, it has no where to go and is un usable. As for prices on panels those are going to vary greatly on which company and where you buy them. On our solar posts we have amazon links so you can see what our panels go for. Hope that helps.

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      • Jenn

        Yes thank you!! I’ve been overloading myself on your blog posts, they are so helpful and thorough! I was wondering if y’all ever fill up your 30/40 gallon water tank manually. I definitely want to get water for free and I am not sure if I want to always count on service stations. I ask because I don’t plan to hook up to RV sites at all!
        Much thanks!! 🙂

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  • Kate

    Hi Wynns,

    We are beginning our journey to sell our home and prepare for life on the road…Very excited and just a tad nervous too.lol
    You have made it so easy to move forward with a solar array and a composting toilet. Major will do’s in our book.

    My question is about grey water… We have read that you have to use chemicals for keeping the smell of gray water down….Since I am an all organic orchardists’ and raise most of my own food
    \there is no way I want to do that.What if anything do you use for the smell of grey water?
    Kate

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  • Hi there – starting to accumulate items so that I will be ready when the time comes – love the water distiller – first time I have see one of those. My question is about snakes – have you ever had snakes in your pipes or storage areas on in the RV when you are boondocking? Any tips to prevent them coming in?

    reply
    • We have never had a snake so I couldn’t say (and don’t know anyone that has). Mice are more likely (and still rare) and if you don’t keep food in your bays, it’s not really much of a problem either.

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  • Just telling my neighbor about the Oxygenics shower head. It’s a must have! Use less water and have better pressure. How can you beat that?

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    • I know right! Affordable and easy modification that makes a big difference!

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  • Amy

    Hi Nikki,

    Are there any brands you recommend for hair care and skin care (cleanser, exfoliant, etc) that would be considered environmentally safe but don’t dry out your skin or hair? We are hoping to take advantage of draining our gray water while boondocking back onto the land. Want to make sure everything is safe.

    Thanks

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  • Linda

    Hi Nikki & Jason,
    Your site is amazing and we are so grateful for what you are teaching us! We will be on the road with our two young children “road schooling” beginning next year. Boondocking is high on our list for places to stay.

    I am curious if you have used or considered a composting bucket for you kitchen scraps. The reviews indicate no smell is detected and I thought it might help keep the critters away while Boondocking. Thoughts?

    Also you indicated you fill up your dishes water bag while in town. Can you share more specifically where you might fill this bag on average. I’m continuing to picture you walking out of a restaurant bathroom carrying that 5 gallon bag and that does not seem logical. Almost makes me laugh everytime I think about it.

    Thank you tons and tons and tons for your website!
    Happy Travels!

    reply
    • Hey Linda! Glad to hear you will be joining us on the road and thanks so much for the kind words. We fill the solar shower up at gas stations usually. Some towns have water stations for filling water bottles and such for hikers and that works well too. Honestly, most of the time we don’t need it but if you are concerned about running out of water or needing to rinse off feet and such outside, it’s perfect!

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  • Tim

    It may sound gross to some people but have you ever run greywater through your distiller to recycle it?
    If you are using environmentally safe products and “hold it” until you are out of the shower, I don’t see a problem with this and it could extend your time in areas that have no water source.

    reply
    • You could distill your grey water, we just have never needed to as we always show up prepared with enough drinking water for our stay.

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  • Hi Nikki and Jason –
    Just watched the video, very cool. My wife and I are just over 3 months in as full-time NuRvers in S Fla so seeing the level you 2 have have achieved is so interesting. Thanks for sharing and great video and editing!

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  • Ryan

    Hi, thanks for all the great resources on this site! My wife and I are looking into going full-time in the RV. Question: Does your mobile hotspot solution for internet work when boondocking? Or do you find your lose your connection when you’re away from a city / in a more remote area?

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  • Hey guys,

    My boyfriend and I are about to go full time. We looked at a Monaco today just like yours and my only concern was the water tank is only 50 gallons. We love to go boon docking as well. How do you guys handle 50 gallons? Any regrets in your purchase? Please help. Would love to hear your feedback. Thank you!

    reply
    • Jared Phillips

      I’m not a Wynn, but I can help with this question. 50 gallons is a good-size tank for an RV. With proper water conservation, you could easily boondock for several days. I typically have a supply of bottled drinking water, and the RV tank water is for washing/cleaning/flushing. With a water-saving shower head, quick on/off showers, and only flushing “when necessary” it’s quite simple to make the 50 gallons last. Also, wash dishes in a basin within the sink. Use that basin to flush the toilet. Fill a water bottle, and use it to brush your teeth in a small bowl. You’ll have to put aside normal habits of letting the water run for normal routines.

      Just a few ideas that I use. Hope this helps.

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  • Brian Carter

    Hello Jason

    Good Morning

    I have been doing a lot of research about full time RV ing in St Louis, Mo. It seems, per my research and the article in this link, that this is a big money losing depreciating mistake. RV’s depreciate fast. All the RV parks in St. Louis, where I have to be for my job, are plus $35 per day. Most of the RV parks are not nice and you would not want to stay at in the city.

    I will rethink to spend much less on the RV and see if it still makes sense. I was previously thinking of getting a used 2007 Newmar Essex class A motorhome for around $200k. If I did that I would lose $100k in 5 yrs depreciation.

    I know you can save money by boondocking but i cannot find any long term boondocking available within 30 minute of St. Louis.

    livingstingy.blogspot.com/2011/03/full-time-rving

    Thanks

    Brian

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  • Heather

    This was so helpful. Can’t wait until my husband and I buy an rv and just hit the open road. We are starting out like you did, but with a lot smaller budget, no experience and starting out as full-timers. I plan on doing a lot of wild camping to both help save money and just get away from the hustle and bustle of technology.

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  • jim

    no, we don’t worry about that. We do worry about nascar fans who have had a lil too much to drink (a good percentage of our boondocking is infield camping at races) but the wild critters tend to have better places to be.

    Unless of course, you leave food out. don’t do that!

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  • Would you please describe your water distiller? Price? Quality? Easy install?

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  • Would love to see more videos of you two boondocking!

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  • Sure would like to see some more videos like that.

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  • Jon Woodward

    Your latest video is awesome. Wonderful material and tips.

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  • Barb

    Now that you have the composting toilet, do you put grey water into your black tank? And before the composting toilet, did you ever try the adapter to get grey water into your black tank? With four of us, the grey tank fills us pretty quickly, so we wondered about the adapter.

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  • Great information! My concern would be leaving the RV unattended while taking the tow vehicle out to explore or hike. Do you do that or are you talking about staying with the RV the whole time you are boondocking?

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    • Patricia, we do we leave the RV and go explore and do so without any worries. We have felt far more sketchy and uneasy about leaving the RV in city parking lots than we ever have about leaving the RV on BLM or national forest.

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  • We met you in Placerville, CA this summer. As we get closer to FTing, we came upon a question about generators. We are looking to get a 5er. How much gas/propane do you go through say in a week boondocking? I know that’s hard to answer. Husband wants to go Onin 5500. We’d like to be able to do 2 weeks at a time if possible. He’ll be working from “home”. We’re also looking into solar, but he’s hung up on the generator. We found that some 5ers had areas that were too small to put a gen that size and/or weren’t “roughed in” for generators. Does that make sense? What’s your opinion?

    reply
      • Thanks Jason. So can you run 1 A/C with solar? We love your solar set-up and will defiantely be going that direction. But I thought solar couldn’t run A/C or furnace? Would the solar be enough so that you could work 8 hours on a computer? Steve will still be working full time from the trailer.

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          • jim

            the furnaces in our monaco use a TON of battery power to run the blowers and such, they run our battery bank down to nothing well b 4 morning.

            Many quality fivers are setup to install a genny in a section of the front storage area. the problem becomes fuel storage and such. best bet is a pair of honda 2000’s or 3000’s, with extra gas stored in the pickup bed.

  • David

    What I’ve learned more than anything from primitive camping is: You can never have enough buckets. If you’ve done it, you know.

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  • doris

    Question really: Don’t you worry about bears or mountain lions? I mean you’re out there all alone hiking biking etc…

    What are your feelings on that subject?

    reply
    • Two years ago I went from Toronto Canada to Fairbanks Alaska with my 99 Silverado truck and 86 Terry 5ver. During my 7 week trip I often ventured into the bush while exploring. I found a jumbo size can of bears pray ,a very sharp hatchet , a large hunting knife and a stout walking stick made my trips feel more secure. I aw much wild life on my sojourns into the bush but never had any serious proplem( I did get sprayed by an nary junk) . Once in the 5ver I felt safe and secure for the night.

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  • Loyda

    Thanks for your email about this campground – happens we stayed one night in the same campsite you did! It was a lovely spot, we especially loved the lake at the end of the road! We’d have rather stayed there for the entire week we were in the area, however the friends we were meeting had made reservations in Tahoe as they ‘need’ a/c at all times! We’re more the free.99 type ourselves, but we parked in the campground (parking lot)to be with them. We plan to get back to Hope Valley again and spend a week at least! Thanks again for the info – love keeping up with your exciting travels!

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  • Derek Wilkins

    from what I’ve read, there are several ‘off the cord’ campgrounds along the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you’re in the area of Western North Carolina and Virginia along the Blue Ridge mountains, this would definitely be a great place to camp ‘off the cord’ this summer. Expect some chili nights, but gorgeous views!

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  • Wow…I am glad to see that this is from September! Hopefully it isn’t still shorts weather in Tahoe! You could use a little Climber Pouch Chardonnay- just chill it in the river!

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  • Kitty Kat

    Maybe I will get to go soon!

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  • Duane Richards

    Nice to have the go green information for off the cord.

    Visit Asheville NC and surrounding areas. Biltmore Winery and the Biltmire House. Also the Grove Park Inn. Lots of off the cord camping in area. Go to Brevard, land of waterfalls.

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  • The McNavigators - Dan & JoAnne

    Ah…that makes me FEEL like I want to be there! Thanks for sharing! You keep us inspired! hugs!

    reply
  • cindy moseley

    I love Lake Tahoe! I remember being stuck on a bridge trying to get out of there before the snow storm hit! Looks liken a great time!

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  • mary van

    Free .99, yep, that is really a great deal! Looks beautiful, wish we were there riding the trails with you!

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  • Sunny Lutz

    So Glad you found Hope Valley. This has been a special place for my family for many years. Both my brother’s and father’s ashes were scattered there in a place only known to our family. But my folks, my siblings and us have enjoyed many happy camping and picnicking adventures in Hope Valley. That place takes me back to simpler times. Cheers, Jason and Nikki! ~ Sunny

    reply
    • Thanks, we did find it and it is such a hidden gem! Sounds like you have had some amazing times there.

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