I’m beginning to think I love sharing our gear with you guys as much as Mark loves sourcing it. What happens is, he thoughtfully researches every purchase (something he is really good at and I am not) then I get to use or benefit from said purchases. THEN…he undoubtedly finds the coolest stuff and I immediately think, you guys, our awesome readers, should know about this stuff! Because we want you to enjoy camping as much as we do.
Since our last gear guide was all about getting started RVing and the essentials you’ll want right away to get you to the campground, I thought I’d build upon that with this post that’s dedicated to all our favorite boondocking gear. All the gear that makes it possible (and fun) to camp without hookups, also known as dry camping, dispersed camping and primitive camping.
Once you’ve outfitted yourself to be completely self-sufficient, you’ll never want to go back. There are plenty of cool campgrounds out there but beyond those is a whole world of public lands begging to be explored. We’re currently spending 6 days boondocking in Arizona’s Coronado National Forest. The perfect opportunity to take note of all the must-have boondocking gear that we love:
BOONDOCKING GEAR FOR POWER
Batteries: We use 6 volt golf cart batteries which we have sourced from All American Battery in Lake Havasu City, AZ. You can find our exact batteries online here. Another good option here. We have 2 in our Casita and 2 in our Four Wheel Camper. Your battery needs may vary.
Tri-metric battery monitor: Before you invest in upgraded batteries or solar power, get one of these. It will help you determine your power needs and keep track of the health of your batteries. If you want to know more about DC power, solar panels, and the battery monitor go here: https://handybobsolar.wordpress.com/ If you read enough Handy Bob you will know all you need to about managing your RV’s power needs.
Generator: We use a Honda 2000 generator with inverter for backup power when we’re not able to generate solar power. Whether it be overcast skies or a shady campsite, it’s nice having an alternative power system.
BOONDOCKING GEAR FOR WATER
Our Casita travel trailer carries 25 gallons of fresh water. However, we still bring with us all the same water gear we used when only traveling in our Four Wheel Camper, which does not have a water tank. When boondocking, if we want to stay but are running out of water, we use our 7 gallon water jugs to replenish the fresh water tank in our trailer.
7 gallon rigid water container: We carry three of these water jugs inside the Four Wheel Camper. Trust me when I say, you don’t want to skimp on water containers. We’ve had cheap water containers leak en route and it was a big wet mess.
Shaker siphon: This siphon easily transfers water from our water jug in to our trailer’s fresh water tank.
Water filtration system: This simple, gravity-fed water filtration system means we can make clean water from any water source such as a lake or stream.
BOONDOCKING GEAR FOR LIGHT
20′ Luminoodle LED string light: Mark has permanently secured this rope light around the interior of the Casita, eliminating our need for the built-in incandescent lights. We could have simply replaced all the light fixtures with LED bulbs to reduce our lighting’s electrical use but the Luminoodle is such a more pleasant source of light. It also has 14 colors, various levels of brightness and a wireless remote. Oh, and did I mention we can easily turn the Casita in to a nightclub with strobe mode? Need I say more : )
5′ Luminoodle LED rope light: This is our primary source of outdoor light. Combined with this portable power bank, you can have a great source of light anywhere. We’ll drape it in a tree or hang it from our awning. It’s versatile and compact.
Fenix rechargeable LED headlamp: This is Mark’s go-to source of light for camping. This headlamp has 950 lumens, four brightness levels and a 18650 lithium battery that can last for over 100 hours in Eco mode. I’m blown away by the power of this headlamp as illustrated in the photo below. If you need to light up the night, this is how you do it.
LED Pen Lights: (below middle) We have several of these flashlights. They’re compact and easily fit in your pant or coat pocket. One of these lives in my puffy pocket and is used daily.
Fenix rechargeable LED flashlight: (below left) This is Mark’s everyday carry. It’s small enough to fit in his pocket and has a rechargeable lithium battery. Much brighter than the pen lights but not as bright as the headlamp.
BOONDOCKING GEAR FOR CLEANING
These items aren’t necessarily specialty pieces of gear but they are absolute must-haves for us when dry camping. When water is limited and dirt is everywhere, a few key cleaning items are priceless.
12 volt Black & Decker vacuum: I don’t know that there is a better vacuum in a more compact design. Better yet, it plugs in to a 12 volt outlet making it easy to power while dry camping.
Paper towels: When water is limited I clean off a lot of stuff using paper towels, including leftover food particles from our dishes. Throw them in the fire and you’ve cut back on your fresh-water use and eliminated trash.
Travel size broom & dust pan: We use this daily in an effort to keep things somewhat clean.
Lysol disinfecting wipes: For those messes that need some disinfecting action.
Tupperware for dish-washing: Whether you have running water or not, this is a great way to save water while dry camping. I fill the container about half way with water and a little bit of soap and do the dishes in that. The one we have conveniently sits perfectly in our sink.
BOONDOCKING GEAR FOR HYGIENE
Our water stores are such that we plan on each getting one shower while boondocking. With that, we use alternative methods to remain somewhat civilized : ) Below are three of our favorites. In addition, a brush for taming my crazy hair and nail clippers for keeping fingernails clean are necessities. Clean face, hands and feet go a long way when a shower is not an option.
Wet Ones: For washing hands. We buy these in bulk and keep containers in the cab of the truck, the truck camper and the trailer.
Alba 3-in-1 clean towelettes: I absolutely love these things for keeping body odor at bay. They’re a great way to wipe down without using water.
Acure dry shampoo: Honestly, I didn’t know dry shampoo was a thing until recently. I was apprehensive but thought it was worth trying. Of the two different kinds I got, I ended up really liking the Acure powder. I’m currently on day 7 without washing my hair and have used this dry shampoo twice this week. Without it, my hair would have turned in to dreads by now. (Don’t worry though, I plan on a proper wash tomorrow : )
DIY camp shower: When traveling in our truck camper (without the Casita) we use our DIY camp shower. This is just your ordinary bug/deck sprayer (available at any Home Depot or Lowe’s) replace the nozzle with a kitchen sprayer and you’ve got yourself a shower. Fill it with water in the morning, set it in the sun and you’ll be surprised how warm that water will get sitting in that black container all day. Bonus: Mark will add some boiling water from the Kelly Kettle and now we have a hot shower.
Pahque outhouse tent: This tent provides us privacy and blocks the elements for showering at camp. The PahaQue tent is a well thought out design with places to hang your towel outside the tent, several pockets inside to store your toiletries and a net overhead to hang your solar shower or put your clothes.
BOONDOCKING GEAR FOR SAFETY
First-aid kit: We carry a plethora of first-aid items that have been acquired over time. I’ll go in to detail about all those items in another post, but for now, please be sure you have some sort of first-aid kit on hand when camping. There are a lot of ways to get hurt and boondocking often means being far from help. The first-aid kit I’ve linked to looks awesome because it contains a smaller, travel-size kit within it, which is great to keep in your pack for hiking or other activities away from camp.
ACR Personal Locator Beacon (PLB): Our PLB is simple and straightforward, with the push of a button the nearest search and rescue will be notified and sent to our location. Having this gives us peace of mind when venturing in to the back country.
Delorme InReach Satellite Tracker: With this tracker we’re able to send text messages without cell signal. If traveling to remote areas, we can use this to send our coordinates to family members so that someone knows where we are. This also gives us a tracking option if we want someone to be able to track us. Useful for a long, remote hike for example.
The reason we carry both of the above is that the PLB should only be used in extreme situations. If we needed help and we needed it now, the PLB would be the fastest way to get it. With the tracker, if we were to run in to trouble or suffer a minor injury, we would have a way to establish communication with someone and arrange for help without calling in the brigades the way the PLB does.
BOONDOCKING GEAR FOR COMFORT
A few must-haves for camp comfort are:
-Chairs and a table
-A hammock (because what’s better than napping in a hammock?)
-A tarp and para cord for shelter in the rain
-Reflectix for extra insulation in your camper
We don’t have any specialty items in this department but wanted to include these items in our list to make sure it was complete!
BOONDOCKING GEAR FOR WASTE DISPOSAL
How you dispose of waste depends on where you’re camped and what sort of services your rig offers. When camping in just our Four Wheel Camper we use a shovel in areas that it’s appropriate and private enough to dig a hole. Otherwise, we use our cassette toilet. With our travel trailer, we have a bathroom and a black tank that we can fill.
Happy Campers toilet chemical: We use this toilet chemical for both our cassette toilet and travel trailer toilet.
BOONDOCKING GEAR FOR COOKING
Portable tabletop grill: This grill was a gift from some friends who’d heard us complain about our cheap camp grill. This one works great but we do wish for something a little smaller now that space is at a premium with full-time travel. I will say, if we were in the market for a new grill, I’d be looking at this Weber one. I feel like we see these at people’s campsites all the time.
Collapsible single cup coffee drip: There’s no room for a coffee maker in our less than 200 sq ft. This is by far the simplest way to make coffee at camp. It’s compact and easy to clean.
Cast iron cookware: Photographed below are two of our three go-to cast iron pieces. With cast iron, it’s easy to make a durable non-stick coating with proper seasoning. They work great over a fire as well as a stove or grill. The two pieces below fit together to make a nice dutch oven.
Kelly Kettle: This is one of our most-used pieces of gear when camping in just our truck camper. We use our Kelly Kettle daily to boil water for cooking, hot showers, coffee & tea, etc. The Kelly Kettle is a double-walled stainless steel container that uses sticks, bark, grass, etc. for fuel. No propane needed. buy on kellykettle.com
Harmony House Foods: You can only carry so much fresh food with you on a camping trip before it goes bad. Dehydrated and freeze-dried fruits and vegetables are an awesome alternative. Harmony House Foods was an awesome find for sourcing this kind of food and we have a ton of it. We use these to makes soups, pasta dishes, quesadillas, etc. Having certain staples on hand like dehydrated garlic and onion are incredibly versatile. We use these in a number of different dishes. The freeze-dried fruits are a delicious topping for oatmeal and cereal.
BOONDOCKING GEAR FOR CONNECTIVITY
Verizon hotspot: We’ve had excellent results with this hotspot. The most technologically advanced LTE hotspot on Verizon. Comes with two antenna ports which is important for trying to get the best signal in remote locations.
Yagi antenna & painters pole: The Yagi directional antenna lets you point in the direction of a cell tower to acquire a better signal from long distances. Mark attaches the antenna to a painters pole and secures it to the side of the truck with bungee cords. We’ve been able to pick up usable signal from almost nothing with this antenna.
BOONDOCKING GEAR FOR VARIOUS USES
Morakniv: Having a sharp knife on hand has a wide variety of uses while camping. These inexpensive knives take and hold a really sharp edge.
Fiskers splitting axe: This is Mark’s go-to axe that he uses to reduce the size of commercially-purchased wood.
Silky hand saw: Easy to use pull saw that makes collecting wood (where allowed) easier. It’s also been used on a few occasions to clear downed trees from forest service roads.
I have no doubt I’ll come up with 10 more items after publishing this post. However, these are the stand out must-have items that we love to have when dispersed camping in remote areas without amenities of any kind. Your needs and wants will probably differ as everyone’s setup and desires require different things. We do hope some of our favorites listed here will help you get out and enjoy all the best that boondocking has to offer!
And don’t forget, camping is as simple or complex, as plush or bare bones as you want it to be. Whether you have a tent and sleeping bag or Class A outfitted to the hilt, there are a million different ways to enjoy the great outdoors for everyone and every budget!
Wondering what the heck boondocking is and why you would want any of this gear?
Check out our post “What is dispersed camping, dry camping and boondocking?”
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