Boondocking: pack it in/out too much trouble?


Active Member
Oct 26, 2022
Southern New Mexico
First off...yes, it is worth it!'s not quite the ordeal that you're making it out to be. In fact, many aspects of boondocking actually make life reservations to be wondering if you're going to find a spot at a 1st come 1st, "well this spot is pretty nice, but I wish the table was over here and we could park the p'up over there".

Filling your water tank.....takes about 2 minutes at home. We use ours primarily for washing up and for dish water and we do conserve....we also bring extra water for drinking and for CYA. When we are near a stream or river (most of the time) we also utilize this water for whatever we can.

Battery....just have to be conservative. Use the interior lights only when necessary and then turn them off (it's good practice at home as well), otherwise use an old fashioned hand held flash light....or better yet, a nice LED headlamp to keep your hands free for reading at night, etc. A nice Coleman propane lantern for outside is also nice. Most p'up batteries will charge when hooked to the TV and you're traveling. When you get home, just plug her in until the battery is back to full or you can hook it up to a charger. No biggy. If you find yourself in a bind while camping, just hook up the jumpers from the TV to the p'up battery and give it awhile. need to install/reconfigure or whatever. We don't have a potti in the p'up, but we bought a Thetford Porta Potti along with an outdoor shower tent. We set up the privacy tent a bit away from the living area of our camp (takes about 2 minutes) and put the potti in're good to can also get a solar shower and put it in there as well if you do not have a shower in the p'up. For whatever reason, I actually prefer this to our outdoor shower on the p'up.

If you like such things (as I do) you will want to purchase a light wight portable picnic table. Got a pretty heavy duty but light weight plstic folding table at Wal Mart for about $40.....folds down to a 2.5X2.5 square for transport and storage and folds out to a full 5 ft long X 2.5 ft wide picnic table.


Boondocking SFNF......yeas, it is really worth it and no trouble at all. Just ask DW and DS.
For a second there, I thought that was Upper Karr canyon in Sacremento dist. One of my tent stomping grounds.


Jun 21, 2020
The time difference between preparing to boondock vs full amenities camping is about 5 minutes IMO. You need propane, water, and charged batteries, things most do even when heading to the state park. In my opinion, totally worth it, but it's all about your preferences and tolerance for having lots of neighbors close at hand.


Super Active Member
May 21, 2015
Being able to dry camp, without hookups, will give you access to a lot more campgrounds. Many federal, state and county parks have dry campsites, often with potable water available in the campground. When you go to reserve the FHU sites fill up first, then the electric and water sites, the dry sites are usually the last available. Many older, more interesting parks have a large number of dry sites. I would advise honing your skills in dry campsites before going full blown boondocking.


Aug 30, 2022
Looks like this is a pretty old thread recently resurrected... but we pretty much only boondock. I can't stand being so close to other campers (often poorly behaved), generators, slamming doors, etc.

Over the holidays this year, we rolled up to an actual campground on our way from CO to CA.. and my 6-year-old daughter (who has never been to one) got out of the truck, looked around, and said: "this isn't a campsite! Why are there all these picnic tables and driveways so close to us? How are we going to explore?!"

Otherwise, as folks have said, there's not a ton of extra stuff to do that you wouldn't already be doing. Fill propane. Make sure the batteries are charged. We fill our PUP tank if it's not going to freeze hard, and also bring jugs. We bring a RestStop toilet for the calls of nature.

The views and seclusion are priceless.

Patrick w

Super Active Member
Aug 13, 2021
Probably a stupid question: so you can't, absolutely cannot, run an ac (we're getting a window unit and building into the side) on batteries?
I wouldnt say *absolutely* not, but generally *not* with a window unit. Window units all run on 120V, even with the smallest (5000BTU) most efficient Inverter based 120V unit you will still have peak Inverter loads of 800w or more. Assuming that you average 500W for an hour of use, you'd consume 41Amps of storage at 12V. For 3 hours you'd need about 120amps of stored energy. If your using lead acid batteries and don't want to kill them, you'd need a 240ah bank to draw it to about 50% , thus your looking at at least 2 if not 3 group 27 batteries.

With efficiency comes cost. Ecoflow makes a portable air conditioner It pairs with its own batteries or its own larger batteries. It uses more like 300W per hour on full blast. It is 1500 for the AC alone, + whatever battery option you desire to use, which is another 500-1500 dollars.

Then you need to worry about charging it. For the 3 hours of full continuous use they recommend 5 hours of full sun at 200W to charge the battery.

So.. you *absolutely* can.. you have to decide if its worth the cost.

Patrick w

Super Active Member
Aug 13, 2021
We never heard the term boondock until we joined this group. We just call it camping because it’s all we do. I guess my advice is to keep things extremely simple and need less. A nice quiet spot , good food and company and a fishing hole is all you need. Everything else is unnecessary IMO View attachment 89448
I was staying at a state campground site in upstate NY (tent camping). I was late on the booking so I didn't get a great site. I went exploring around and found another campground (run by the federal BLM system I guess) Site were pretty small, but didn't see another person using any of the 12 sites. An outhouse (dry) was the only amenities available.

I can deal with minimal water use (bucket and towel and Im good), but the DW...


Active Member
Feb 5, 2020
Raleigh, NC
it can be scary trying to figure out if you can boondock or if you are prepared enough to do so. I worried and worried and worried about it before i ever did it my self. i spent a year studying options and working on my pup to be able to go totally off grid. I ended up setting up battery, solar panel, 12v/usb/car adapter connectors, and 12v water pump. learned a lot. I was still scared. i finally just booked a site with power and didn't hook up. i was thrilled to see that my power consumption was way below my capacity and that i was having a blast and didn't need my hook ups at all :)
i have a large water tank on board and carry bottled water for consumption just in case.

the next site i booked was totally dry and i had no issues. it's liberating actually. So that's my recommendation - book a close campground site with Shore Power even, if you are absolutely worried. and don't hook up. I think you'll find that not only are you going to be just fine, but you'll get a better understanding of your consumption needs.

so far my biggest limiter has been my 5.3-Gallon Camco Premium Travel Toilet - my single best pup purchase. and I haven't maxed that out yet ;) . i figure i am good for a week out in the middle of nowhere with my rig.

good luck and enjoy it!!


Active Member
Aug 31, 2016
North Carolina
Being able to dry camp, without hookups, will give you access to a lot more campgrounds. Many federal, state and county parks have dry campsites, often with potable water available in the campground.
+1 for dry campgrounds as a test run.

Usually water and toilets available, so you can have those as extra resources if what you are testing needs adjustments :)

Anthony Hitchings

Super Active Member
Gold Supporting Member
Mar 2, 2019
Oakland, California
Once the camper (our Aliner) was set up - its not trouble to go boondocking. Its often preferred for nicer camping - away from the knuckleheads, or in a special place (see below).


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Super Active Member
Nov 21, 2015
Fort Worth, TX
i am in texas. it gets humid and stays hot at nite.
i do not have air conditioning in my Skamper.

ive learned to insulate the bunks, use reflective tarps & run a fan at nite.
microfiber sheets help wick away moisture.

try drycamp before boondocking!

fill onboard water tank.
we take 5 gallons water per person per day (in hot weather) to drink/wash. add another 5 gallons if you shower!

i added a deep cycle battery & interior ports to charge phones & run fans.
get O2Cool brand fan. takes 8 d cells, or 12v plug or 110 electric!

i got a ZAMP suitcase size solar panel & extra long powercord.
during day, charge phones, run fans an charge battery for all nite power.

i have cassette toilet in front cabinet. holds more if tp is put in trash, not tank.


Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
Albuquerque, NM
Like so much, boondocking, dry camping in established campgrounds, or going FHU is a matter of personal preference and needs. Like long discussions on FB about which hand sewing needle is best for a task, there is no one correct answer. Educating oneself to the wide range of opportunities is key for so much, which is why many of us are here on the Portal.
Our choice is, and has been, to not boondock, for a lot of reasons. Works for us, which is what counts. We go to some pretty remote CGs; those that are busier are usually so we can explore someplace we consider interesting - Grand Canyon every year, sections of CO that my husband is still doing new trails or further exploring ones he's hiked before, this year, a new section of AZ.
That, of course, is separate from backpacking, which is sort of ultimate boondocking. (Although, to be fair, getting to Bright Angel CG at the bottom of Grand Canyon to find flush toilets was interesting.) I can't backpack anymore, but my husband does.
However, the majority of our camping, at least most years, is dry camping. This year, we'll be in one CG for 9 nights. Vault toilets and water spigots located around the loops, and they do have garbage dumpsters, which is handy. At least, we think there will be water this year, they've been replacing the water system the last couple of years, we will arrive with a full fresh tank and have extra jugs of water, just in case. 8 nights is common for us, but that's really the limit of our waste tanks, so we'll be using the CG toilets more, and using their gray water disposal for some dishwater.
Dry camping isn't really more trouble, at least for us, than camping with FHU. We can make use of our microwave, small a/c, etc. if we have power, but we know how to camp without. I'm tempted, on some trips when we have power, to take the solar panel anyway, just in case, because we and our friends have had power outages in campgrounds. On the rare occasion when we use a campground without garbage service, we're prepared to collect our trash for later disposal. We have the ability to camp for a week or so wihtout access to campground water. We managed 6 nights last year with no campground water, even though we'd planned on having it. (We'd camped there in the past, the system was not yet in service for the season, for whatever reason.) Lesson learned, take even more extra water, just in case. We always have 1 or 2 jugs in the truck, plus filled water bottles, camper tank, etc., but I think we'll do an extra jug from now on.
I always get envious of folks in other parts of the country especially those out in the Midwest regarding boon docking, here in the northeast we have very little of that available. In fact here in New Hampshire the only place for dispersed camping is in the White Mountain National Forest on Tripoli Rd, but I've been on that road and you cannot camp there with a camper, it's just park your car roadside and walk in. But a recent search show me there are several places for dispersed camping in VT where I think it can be done with the popup, and I'm hoping to look further into this. One place I think is an old airfield so I'm sure we can bring the popup there. Last weekend we camped in a National Forest campground and it was a totally different atmosphere from more developed private campgrounds we had a great time. My goal for next year is to avoid private campgrounds all together and try to camp only on federal and perhaps some state lands.
We’re located in NH as well and also wish there was more opportunities for boondock camping. Dry camping* is what we do 98% of the time. State parks and National Forrest campgrounds. We can easily go 4 days with our water and electric setup. Longer if we can collect enough solar through the tree canopy.
* updated post - replaced ‘boondocking’ with ‘dry camping’.
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Jun 21, 2020
I haven't gone backcountry camping since I was in the girl scouts and we thought peeing behind a rock was funny. In my 20's I would tent camp in a heartbeat, but then it was front country camping with access to showers, etc. Last couple of years we went tent camping in the hot VA summers and ran out to walmart to get a fan and a blow up bed just to be comfortable.

So now, in my 30's, I've upgraded to a PUP. I've got a DH who can't sleep on rocks and a dog who hates it when the weather is over 80 degrees. So we're fixing up an old PUP, putting in AC, and looking forward to getting out every month to enjoy nature in comfort. I figured I was relegated campsites so close together we could all hold hands and still be on our own sites.

My question is, is boondocking really worth the trouble? I'd love to not have neighbors, and to be able to walk out my front door to a river, but that would mean renovations to install all the tanks and electrical systems and plumbing to be self-containted. Plus, I have to fill up the tanks, charge the batteries, clean the tanks, and empty them on the way out.

PLEASE tell me about your experiences so I can judge if the extra renovations are worth it and (honestly) does the added trouble of tanks & batteries mean you go out less often?
We are pretty avid boondockers.

With boondocking in mind, we installed a 2nd battery for the extra charge. I don't find keeping the camper attached to a battery tender a problem when we're not using it. For extra long boondocking trips, we bring a small generator, which after about a week of winter camping using the heater a lot we need to run for a couple hours to charge back up. Solar panels may be more effective where you live - for us, we live in the land of gray skies and rain and don't wish to rely upon solar. In the summer when the only thing we're using the battery for is to run a couple low power led lights, we could probably go a month or more without needing to recharge.

Living in the northwest, ac is rarely something we need/want. When we bought our Aliner, one of the first things I did was remove the ac from its permanent side wall fixture, build a side door where it sat with a drop support platform that i can move it back onto when we wish to use ac and move the unit to the garage, only to be brought out and carried in the back of the tv on extra hot trips. We have found that small misters with battery powered mini fans go a long ways in a pinch.

We do not use our aliner privvy. We use a shovel, a $30 privacy tent, and a toilet seat over a 5g bucket with the bottom cut off as our commode.

We do fill our freshwater tank, but mostly just for face/hand washing and the occasional rinse off with the outside hose. Our primary water source is jerry cans, which we carry in the back of the truck. We cook outside, eat outside, and wash (dishes and ourselves) outside.

In my opinion, the peace, quiet and solitude of boondocking far outweighs the small amount of additional work that may be required to boondock comfortably.

Arlyn Aronson

Super Active Member
Jun 11, 2014
Houghton, MI
I merely skimmed the other replies so I apologise if I am repeating...We have never camped in a place with hook-ups. We do go to National Forest campgrounds where there is water to drink available that you may use to refill your tank via "toting" from the spigot to the PUP in the blue water jug. But even so I use a folding luggage cart to get the full jug back to the campsite, and a cordless drill to drive a small pump to get the water into the tank with little effort. I use a small, very quiet generator and take 1 gallon of gas to recharge the battery every night. I use the propane for heat and the stove only but usually don't cook in the PUP but rather outside on a Coleman stove. We have gone for 10 days without having to venture into civilization, save getting ice for the ice chests - those PUP refridges are too small for a long stay! And most ranger offices offer ice and firewood - what more could you want? [CP]
We've not camped in years where there is hook-ups. I thought that was what everyone did! :) We don't even bring a generator.


Super Active Member
Feb 26, 2020
Our state parks vary on pack in pack out but usually in mid october it is in effect and bathrooms and pit toilets close and are locked weather depending.
The trash cans dumpsters are removed.
packing out trash is no be deal and we use porta potty if bathrooms and showers are closed up.
the power stays on year around.
Other than trash and porta potty nothing changes for us and campgrounds are never crowded in late Oct and early Nov so its our fav time of year to camp.
We freshin up with showerless wipes and usually always have a good spot all to ourselves.
I guess it is not 100% boondocking we do but its as close to it as we wish to be.


Super Active Member
Gold Supporting Member
Oct 20, 2014
Knee deep in kudzu
Since getting a trailer, I’ve only camped a couple of park in/pack out places. It’s neither a big deal nor much trouble. We’re already packing out any recyclables, most places, so adding a bag of trash isn’t a problem.


Mar 20, 2021
Boondocking is the best. Even in my RV. But with my pup it’s so fun I can get out into the back country on fire roads and camp. I use a portapotty and carry water in aquatiners. I have a new 100amp battery, upgraded charger/converter and a couple solar panels. Also carry one of those battery power things I keep charged up. I’ve upgraded to LED lights and use propane heater if it’s cold at night or morning. The best thing is waking up to a heard of deer walking about your campsite while I’m making my morning coffee. Getting out away from others is the only camping I’ll do. Hate being parked on concrete next to someone else.