Guide to Prepping for Your First Dry Camping Trip

Planning your first dry camping trip can seem like an insurmountable task. However, going completely off-grid on a dry camping trip in your RV is a fantastic way to reconnect with nature. 

The key is knowing how to do so in a way that’s fun, comfortable, and safe.

If you’ve never spent a night in your RV away from reliable hookups, worry not, we’re here to help. Up next, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of prepping for your first dry camping trip so you can make the most of your adventure.

What Is Dry Camping?

Simply put, dry camping is any type of adventure where you camp away from any hookups. This could be at a campground without hookups, in a dispersed camping location, or anywhere you might find yourself spending the night in the great outdoors.

By its very nature, boondocking is a type of dry camping. Since most places where you’d boondock don’t have reliable running water, bathrooms, or any other amenities, we can classify most of them as dry campsites.

Why Go Dry Camping?

Purposefully seeking out campsites where you don’t have access to amenities like running water might seem a bit odd. But, there are a whole host of benefits that come with dry camping in your RV, such as:

  • Affordability – Campsites with full hook-ups tend to be pricey, with some sites charging upwards of $100 a night! When dry camping you can save a bunch of money each year, all while still getting a chance to live life on the open road.
  • Increased Solitude – Going dry camping means you’re getting off the beaten path. As a result, you can often experience some of the world’s most amazing places, all without the crowds that you find at most campgrounds.
  • Sense of Self-Sufficiency – Being able to live off the grid is an art that takes a whole lot of skill. So, going dry camping and becoming self-sufficient in your outdoor living skills is something that you ought to be proud of.

4 Tips For Dry Camping In Your RV

While dry camping can be an awesome way to get outside, it’s not without its challenges. So, here are some of our top tips for dry camping and boondocking in your RV:

1. Plan Ahead and Be Prepared

As with any outdoor activity, a successful dry camping trip requires a whole lot of preparation to ensure that everything goes off without a hitch.

From ensuring you pack everything on your camping checklist to looking up directions to your campsite for the night, preparedness goes a long way when dry camping. For boondocking without water, you’ll also want to think long and hard about how much water you actually need for your trip. 

Most folks will find that they need anywhere from 1 to 5 gallons of water per person per day. Of course, that’s quite a large range because your personal water needs will vary based on your unique daily habits.

So, we recommend being very conservative with your water estimates on your first few dry camping trips. As you gain more experience with dry camping, you’ll be able to scale your water needs based on your actual water consumption.

2. Learn The Art Of Conservation

Dry camping is all about being conservative with your water and electric use. While you may not think twice about leaving the tap running while you scrub dishes at home, doing the same thing while boondocking could lead to trouble down the line.

Therefore, before you head out on your first dry camping trip, think of some things you can do to cut down on your daily water use. This could mean taking 2-minute showers, using a wash bucket for doing the dishes, and doing laundry by hand instead of in a machine (if your RV is lucky enough to have one).

Essentially, anything you can do to minimize your water use will pay dividends as you start to head out on longer dry camping trips.

3. Consider Your Gray Tank

When planning a dry camping trip, most folks focus a lot on how much water they need to bring. However, it’s important to consider not only how much water you’ll use but what you’ll do with all your gray water when you’re away from hookups for an extended period of time.

In reality, your RV’s gray water capacity is limited. As a result, finding ways to reduce the amount of gray water that you produce is important. 

Being conservative with your water use, like we’ve already mentioned, will help you cut down on the amount of gray water you produce. But, doing other things, like washing your dishes outside with biodegradable soap or taking a solar shower, can also keep your gray tank from filling up during your trip.

4. Have A Back-Up Plan

Finally, don’t forget to have a back-up plan whenever you go dry camping. 

While dry camping is fun, we should always remember that water is essential for life. So finding yourself in a situation where you don’t have access to water can be uncomfortable, if not downright dangerous.

Therefore, you should always consider what would happen if you run out of water on your trip. 

Do a bit of research before you leave home about where you might get water and other supplies if you run out. If you’re in a remote place, you may have to rely on natural water sources, like lakes and streams. In these situations, knowing how to boil water while camping or having a hand-pump water filter on hand to kill off pathogens could make a huge difference.

Best of luck on your next dry camping adventure!

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  1. JazerNorth
    6th April, 2021

    I would strongly suggest as tip #5, and as the first tip, to Boondock with friends who are experienced boondockers on the first outing. You can test boondock at home, in an RV park, at boondocker’s welcome, but you’ll miss out on learning experiences that can be answered by experienced boondockers. We have helped many people on their first outing and having our tools to help them through the first experience makes it so much more enjoyable. You learn and you don’t have to get stressed as there is someone there to help you through it. The next outing, you can have confidence that you’ll make it through all the while taking care of any issues that arise.

    1. Anna
      6th April, 2021

      A fantastic suggestion JazerNorth! And if you don’t have skilled boondocking friends yet, being a Boondockers Welcome host is a great way to meet some!

    2. FlyboyTR
      9th April, 2021

      Agree. Dry camping…or full hookup camping for a 1st-timer can be daunting. Sharing the experience with a knowledgeable friend is a great way to ease the worries and concerns!

  2. FlyboyTR
    9th April, 2021

    We have dry camped, off and on, for decades. When we’re out long enough that water may get in short supply, we use a capture method for shower and kitchen sink when hot water is needed. We have two 1 gallon rectangle shaped containers that have 3″ screw on lids. Think milk jug that is more flat (rectangle) than square. Just like the milk jug it has a built in handle. One hangs in the shower on a hook and the other stays in the kitchen. How we use them….

    When it’s cool weather, It takes a little over 1/2 gallon of water to run before the hot water arrives (a little less than 1/4 gallon for the kitchen sink. So, We allow the cold water to spray into the jug until the hot arrives. Turn off the spigot, secure the jug/lid and get on with the quick-shower or sink duty. We then pour the captured water into our Britta filter, use it to refill the doggie bowl or dump it back into the fresh water tank.

    We have found that by doing this, we are NOT “wasting” good water. It’s just another way to use what you got!