Boondocking Water Sources


Active Member
Feb 13, 2021
(apologies if this has been covered ... didn't see anything in search)

It seems in my limited experience that more and more campsites (especially government) have signs on their water spigots saying "don't fill your trailer", or words to that effect. Either that, or the spigot requires a certain square wrench, etc.

I'm curious when you're in the middle of a dry camp trip of some convenient sources of water. I know I can fill up at home, but a) I'd prefer not to carry the extra 150lbs., and b) after the first stop, that is obviously no longer feasible. :)


Staff member
Gold Supporting Member
Dec 22, 2002
Southeastern PA
Most use (if they have one) the onboard water tank for washing dishes and such, not for drinking. For that, bottled water is your best bet.

For the onboard water tank, depending on the size, it's similar in weight to an additional person. And the camper was built to handle the weight. I've been up and down mountains in Montana & Wyoming with a full tank without any issues (see signature for my setup). You'll be amazed where potable water can be found. I also carry a 7gal water jug so I can fill that and then fill the camper's tank. So technically, I'm not breaking the rule you're pointing out and I can fill the camper without moving or waiting until leaving the campground.

As for bottled water, you can get that just about anywhere.

Also, when filling the tank or jug, always use an Inline Water Filter. And these are a good example of why you should always have a Sharpie Pen in your camper kit. Label them with the date of first use.


2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah
Oct 10, 2013
Northern Virginia
Just throwing this out there but perhaps you may ask to fill your tanks at a campground enroute to your final destination. You may need to pay a little something though since your not staying there. I dry camp at regular campgrounds myself that only have a single spigot that doesn't allow you to hook a hose. I keep a 5 gallon bucket in the camper so I'm able fill my tank that way.


Waterford Ct.
Oct 3, 2007
Waterford, Ct
We went camping for a long weekend and the line at the ranger station was very very long. So I told my wife I would come back later. But we did have a 24 pack of bottled water from home and it was more than enough to last us. We washed dishes, bathed, cooked and use our on board toilet and didn’t use it all. We were surprised. So how much do you really need. Just saying


Super Active Member
Apr 13, 2015
LaLa land (SoCal)
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Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
Albuquerque, NM
We mostly camp in public campgrounds, with water spigots at intervals throughout the campground. In some, the explanation for the prohibition of filling on-board tanks from the spigot h as to do with the possibility, however slight, of contaminating the water system from the hose, back flow from a contaminated tank, or whatever.
In some places, such as Dead Horse SP in Utah, water is trucked in, so the request is for RVs to fill their water tanks before arrival.

We have a 20 gallon on-board fresh tank, of which we can realistically use 16-18 gallon before the pump begins pulling in air, due to the location of the intake from the tank.
We carry 2-1/2 gallon Reliance water jugs, having down-sized from 4-7 gallon jugs when we replaced the jugs a couple of years back. (The shattering of one dropped Nalgene jug led us to look and realize all our jugs were from the last century, with plenty of mileage on them. We opted to begin anew.) We carry 2-5 of them, depending on whether the campground(s) will have water available.
We use a rattle siphon to fill the fresh tank from the jugs. It is easy for me, I simply have to lift the jug onto one of our camp tables, dip the siphon a few times and away the water goes, into the fresh tank. So much easier than pouring into a funnel as I've seen, or even messing with a battery-driven pump. We refill the jugs from the campground spigots, an repeat as necessary during the stay. (I have a wagon that I can take if I'll need to do this by myself and tote the jugs very far. Even 2-1/2 gallons is a stress on my cranky joints and back if I'm not careful.)

We only had 2 or 3 jugs last year, when we arrived at a campground to find that the water system had not yet been cleared for use. With what we had, including the tank, jugs, filled water bottles, etc., we eked out our stay - we were pulling air the last morning. If we had needed water, we wold have looked for a spigot at a visitor center in the ares, they do sometimes have one for such uses, or some other public spigot. Our other option would have been just to buy water.If we know, or suspect that we may not have water, we fill all the jugs we have, as well as make sure hiking bladders, water bottles, and the like are filled. We did that year before last, when we stayed 5 or 6 nights at a campground where they were rehabbing the water system. We planned to go buy drinking water if it looked like we couldn't manage with what we had, but we did fine.

Note: we do have a flush toilet, but use a minimum of water, and also carry gel bags, just in case. We don't use our shower, for a number of reasons. We can still conserve well, as we learned to do through years of tent camping. If we get really desperate, and there is a water source (this is the SW, that's not always a given), we h ave the backpacking filter.
We've done a couple of trips in the travel trailer without using the water system. October of '21 we ended up draining the fresh system because an early season, wintery, storm was forecast, so we reverted to just using the water from jugs, although we could refill them in the campground.


Active Member
Jun 18, 2013
central Oregon
Many Forest Service campgrounds in our area no longer provide water or sign the hand pump as 'not potable water', because they don't have the staff to do the regular water testing. We sanitize our onboard water tank regularly and always head out with a full tank. Our trailer actually tows better with a full tank.

We carry one or more water jugs and a 5 liter bag-style water filter to refill the tank.

On the road, we never leave a good water supply without filling our tank, and maybe the water jugs too, depending on where we are heading. Gas stations and city parks often will have places you can fill your tank. RV parks may let you fill for a fee, even if you aren't staying there.


Super Active Member
Mar 8, 2017
Not having water can definitely kill you so we always bring extra. We travel with a full tank (20-40 gallons depending on which camper we take) and fill up a few Aquatainers to toss in the TV. Like Zephyr, we've found that even campgrounds can't be counted on for water anymore (and really, the types of campgrounds we'd be at aren't the types to support filling anyway).

Extended road trips require staying places with dump and fill stations every so often. (For us, extended road trips usually involve a National Park or relatives and they always have something.)


Aug 30, 2022
It's a 2021 Rockwood 2318g
Gotcha. I would definitely fill the water tank to the brim before heading out! Not sure what your TV is… but we typically bring 30-40 gallons in jugs, in addition to the 17 or so gallons we can carry in the PUP (hot water tank too). If you end up carrying jugs in the PUP just be carful about weights and balances! Over the axle and centered is usually preferred… though you may adjust depending on where the main tank is, other heavy cargo/fixtures.

Good luck!

Patrick w

Super Active Member
Aug 13, 2021
Years ago, (about 20) I was in NC, where one of the rangers went around to the spigots with a file and was filing off the threads.

It wasnt that the water was bad (at least at that location) but there were people who would hook up their RV to the spigot, and also the chance of back flow contaminating the ground water supply.

I treat my water with a mixed oxidant anyhow. Completely useless for ground water contaminants, but it does make it biologically safe.