How to Dry Camp

Recently, we downsized our RV rig from a one-ton pickup pulling a 27′ fifth wheel to a 20′ camper-van. Why? Many reasons but the major one was simplicity. We now can take roads and campsites that we couldn’t consider before.  Our new (to us) rig fits in the same parking spot that our pickup once used, yet it has all the features of our trailer — albeit smaller. We can now dry camp.

Dry camping is finding a nice spot away from the paved campgrounds where we can set up camp and stay a few days. Fortunately, our new rig has a generator, so the limitation is the size of tanks. Fresh water is just 24 gallons, gray water is 16 gallons, and black water is 12 gallons. Even so, the dry camp limit is about four days — unless we get creative. With advice from experienced dry campers in our RV group, we came up with the following tips for extending our stays. Here they are:

  • As available, select campgrounds offering showers and toilets so you can minimize the amount of your water you need.
  • If showers aren’t available, or to clean up between showers, use facial wipes and/or baby wipes, available in quantity at discount stores.
  • When cooking with pots and pans, wipe them out with paper towels rather than wash them.
  • Use paper plates and cups to serve meals.
  • To reduce black water content, place used toilet tissue in sealable bags (such as pet waste bags) for later disposal.
  • In primitive campgrounds and remote areas, you may be able to dump gray water using a garden hose (not your fresh water hose) run into nearby bushes as long as the water has no detergents. Also make sure there are no food particles in the water that would attract animals.
  • Consider casino camping as an opportunity to adjust your campground budget — and have some fun.
  • Make sure you have good maps for finding you way to a dry camp site — and back home.
  • Bury compostable food waste away from camp sites.
  • If streams have potable water, consider using them as a water source if you have filtration equipment or purification tablets.
  • Use a solar shower bag to heat up water for showers, washing up or for hot beverages.
  • Consider a simple 100-watt solar power system for recharging the RV battery.

I will add more tips as I discover them. Meantime, remember that these tips depend on what you are doing and where. “Dry camping” is often defined as camping in or out of a campground without using any services you didn’t bring with you. To “boondock” usually refers to dry camping outside of a designated campground or paved location. Either way, you can enjoy camping more if you plan ahead.

>>Dan Ramsey, FrugalRV.com
Travel more – spend less!