Today, I am excited to share over 45 of our favorite RV boondocking essentials with you! Over the last four years since we’ve been full-time, we’ve been boondocking in our Montana High Country fifth-wheel RV as often as possible.
In case you’re new around here and don’t already know, we love free boondocking, or dry camping, as some people call it. We much prefer it over staying in RV parks.
Alright, let’s get right into our list of essential boondocking must-haves!
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Leveling-related boondocking essentials
First up, if you don’t have SnapPads on your RV, you are missing out! We have had them on both of our 5th wheels and will never own an RV without them.
They are permanent rubber leveling pads that snap onto the feet of your leveling jacks. Putting them on your jacks is really easy. Simply line them up and lower the jacks onto them, and they’ll snap in place!
One of the best things about them is that they are permanent. Sure, you can take them off if you need/want to, but ours have been on our current rig for over a year now! No more lugging around extra blocks of wood!
SnapPads are made of rubber from 100% recycled tires; because of that, they don’t leave rust marks as your jacks might! They also conform better to any situation and make it easier for you to get your rig level.
Wheel chocks are an RV essential in general, but they give us extra peace of mind when boondocking. The places we stay aren’t always super level and these give you more stability and keep your tires from shifting.
We like to use the X-Chocks, and sometimes we use 4″x4″ blocks of wood in front of our tires for extra stability as well.
We like to call these “lego blocks” because they snap together like Legos and are buildable. We don’t use these all the time, but we’ve found ourselves in several situations where they came in handy.
Most often, we use them when the angle of the ground makes one side of our RV higher than the other. We position them just right and drive the tires of the lower side up onto them.
This evens things out and makes it easier to get our RV level. These are definitely essential items for boondocking! We have a 10-pack that comes in a handy carrying case and makes it easy to store in the “basement” of our rig.
Water-related essential items for boondocking
If you’ve never heard of a water bladder then that may sound a little crazy to you haha! A water bladder is a lightweight, portable water tank that inflates like a pillow when you fill it with water.
We use one to transport water to our rig when we’re running low, so we don’t have to move from our setup. It’s so much easier and is one of our best tips for saving water while boondocking!
We have a 30-gallon water bladder and use it all. the. time! I’m not kidding…literally all the time!
I would say that our water bladder is the main thing that allows us to stay boondocking for longer periods of time as we are more likely to run out of water before anything else.
Another alternative to a water bladder would be portable water jugs but we find the water bladder much easier to store and use than other water containers.
You can also use your water bladder for water storage. We typically fill our fresh water tank and then use our water bladder as a backup reserve for if we need it.
5. Water pump
Having a water pump is necessary to move the water from your water bladder into your RV. We use a SEAFLO industrial water pump which pumps about 3.3 gallons per minute.
We bought some connectors to be able to connect it to our water hose and added quick connects to everything as well.
Our setup is a water bladder to pump, pump to the city water hose, city water hose to clear source, clear source to a fresh-water hose, and into the trailer.
Including setup time this process takes up roughly 10-15 minutes. It is much faster than taking our rig somewhere to fill it up!
6. Water bandit
A water bandit connects to the end of your hose and allows you to get water from spigots that your hose wouldn’t normally.
A lot of state parks and national parks have odd water spigots or straight pipe spigots that make it difficult to get water.
We keep a water bandit in our truck and use it with our water bladder when needed. This eliminates us having to stand and hold the water hose and is a handy little tool to keep around.
Download our FREE boondocking checklist below!
A Clearsource water filtration system is a must for us! We have tried multiple different systems and Clearsource is our favorite water filter by far.
We actually have two different systems for use in different situations.
The Clearsource Ultra is a triple-canister water filtration system and is what we use the majority of the time. It uses three-stage filtering and makes questionable water safe for drinking and using.
We use this system no matter where we are…boondocking, city hookups, RV parks, etc. We replace our filters every 3-6 months, and we highly recommend this system to anyone with an RV.
The Clearsource Nomad system was designed with boondockers in mind! It allows you to pull safe and clean water from any outdoor water system including lakes, rivers, streams, etc.
You simply drop the hose into the river or whatever water source you’re pulling from and the built-in pump brings the water up into the filter and your RV or water bladder if needed.
It’s a genius design and perfect for avid boondockers! It’s heavy-duty and built to last for sure.
Now, you might be thinking it’s weird to call a shower head a boondocking essential, but this one is. What’s so special about it? It increases water pressure while using less water at the same time!
Using the least amount of water possible is always the goal when you’re boondocking and this shower head makes that possible. And bonus, with the added pressure it’s easier to get your hair rinsed out and faster!
If you don’t already have a collapsible sink/bucket, I highly recommend getting one! If you’re trying to save room in your kitchen grey tank, you can use one of these to do your dishes outside.
When they’re collapsed, they don’t take up much room in your RV…I like to keep mine under the kitchen sink.
If you want an alternative to using your camper shower, you could consider an outdoor portable solar shower instead. The neat thing about these is that you can heat your shower water with solar power!
They come with a black bag or container that absorbs sunlight, turning it into heat. Just fill the bag with water, leave it under direct sunlight, and you’re good to go within a few hours!
Plus, the environmental footprint is minimal, as you’re utilizing nature’s own energy.
11. Water straw
A water straw is an essential tool for any serious adventurer or boondocker. It’s a compact, lightweight filtration device that allows you to safely drink directly from streams, rivers, or other natural water sources.
By filtering out harmful bacteria and parasites, it ensures that the water you’re consuming is clean and safe. This nifty gadget is perfect for those unplanned moments when you’re running low on safe or bottled water.
Large shower wipes are a necessity for RV boondockers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. They offer a quick and effective way to freshen up without the need for water or a full shower setup.
These wipes ensure you remain clean and refreshed after a long day of adventures. They’re also super convenient, and we like to use them in-between full showers. There are also smaller shower wipes, but we prefer the large ones.
13. Dry shampoo
So, here’s a game-changer for all my fellow RV boondockers – dry shampoo! Trust me, it’s been a lifesaver on those days when I want to look presentable but don’t have the luxury of taking a full shower.
Just a quick spray, and my hair feels refreshed and looks so much better. If you’re like us, trying to save water, this is a must-have to keep in your RV bathroom cabinet. My personal favorite is Not Your Mother’s dry shampoo.
Power-related essential boondocking items
14. A generator
A good generator is probably one of the most important essentials for boondocking in RV off-grid campgrounds. We have had multiple generators over the last four years but have settled on a favorite.
We started with two Honda EU2200i generators in parallel. This was before we got our solar setup and would run our refrigerator and sometimes one air conditioner as well.
We now have a Honda EU3000IS generator that we use most often whenever we need extra power. Because of our solar setup, we don’t need it too often, but using it with our solar allows us to run both air conditioners and power the refrigerator and anything else we need.
We also have a Cummins Onan RV QG 5500 LP generator installed from the factory in the front of our rig that we rarely use but it’s nice to have the backup option in case we ever need it.
We prefer not to use it since it runs off of a propane tank which is more expensive to fill and harder to come by.
15. A good solar setup
A good solar setup moved to the top of our wishlist after we realized how much we loved boondocking. We took our rig to Chris from Rocky Mountain Off-Grid in Denver, CO, and he installed all of our solar panels as well as four Battle Born lithium batteries.
Read our detailed blog posts about our solar setup here. Now, we can be off-grid for as long as we want to without worrying about our RV batteries dying!
Solar is definitely an investment, but it’s worth every penny if you boondock enough, and it has become our main power source.
16. Extra fuel
Next up on our list is carrying extra fuel with you. Now, if you’re exploring off-the-beaten-path like we do, you know how unpredictable fuel stations can be.
We’ve learned the hard way that having a spare fuel canister on hand is an absolute lifesaver. Seriously, it’s like having extra peace of mind, tucked right in the storage of our RV, always ready for those “just in case” moments.
Keeping all of your gadgets powered while you’re off the grid can be a challenge! Enter the Jackery portable power station – a game-changer for us boondockers.
Having a Jackery power station at your boondocking site is like having a mini power grid right in your RV. It’s perfect for charging phones and laptops or even running some small appliances.
If you’re serious about boondocking, definitely consider adding a Jackery to your gear list!
Tank-related boondocking must-haves
Now that we’ve gone over water and power, let’s cover another important component of off-grid camping: the black tank.
Alright, the first on our list is the portable dump tank. Believe me when I say that this little gem will save you from numerous trips to the dump station. It’s like having an extra storage tank on wheels!
If you’ve ever been in a pristine spot and didn’t want to pack up to dump, then you know why this is a total game-changer for full-time RVers like us.
Packing everything up and leaving is unnecessary when you can empty your black tank into a honey wagon instead.
19. Composting toilet
And next up in tank-related boondocking essentials is the composting toilet. While we haven’t used one ourselves, it’s gained quite a reputation in the RV community.
This eco-friendly toilet offers a sustainable way to manage waste without the hassle of filling up black tanks.
For those wanting to spend more extended periods off-grid or simply aiming to reduce their environmental footprint, it’s worth looking into as a potential upgrade for your RV.
RV campsite boondocking essentials
While there are tons of items we could add to this section, we are going to cover just a few of the top items that can make your RV boondocking campsite even better.
20. Camp stove
Alright, diving into RV boondocking campsite essentials – first up, the portable camp stove. Now, even if our RV has its own little kitchen, there’s just something about cooking right out in nature.
Whether you’re sizzling up some bacon in the morning or simmering a pot of chili under the stars, a camp stove makes the experience feel… well, more “campy”.
And, trust me, there’s no better way to truly embrace that boondocking lifestyle than a meal outdoors. Don’t skip out on this one!
Can we talk about the magic of hanging lights under a canopy of stars? Not only do these lights set the perfect camp ambiance, but they’re eco-friendly, harnessing the power of the sun during the day and providing us with a soft glow by night.
There is no need for constant battery changes or hunting for an outlet. Solar camping lights are simple, sustainable, and essential for those unforgettable boondocking nights!
22. Camping chairs
No boondocking setup is complete without a good pair of camping chairs. Trust me, there’s nothing like reclining under the open sky, sipping on your favorite drink, and just soaking in the great outdoors.
These foldable camping chairs have become our favorite! They become super compact so they don’t take up too much storage space, and they are much more comfortable than other camping chairs that we have tried.
Don’t skimp on these; your future self, enjoying a sunset, will thank you.
Now, right next to those chairs, you’re going to need a trusty camping table. Where else are you going to put those s’mores ingredients or your morning coffee?
We use and love this foldable camping table. It’s not just about convenience; it’s about creating a little outdoor living room, right there in the wilderness.
Setting up a great campsite is all about the little details. That’s where a good camping rug comes in. Put one down, and suddenly, it feels like your RV and the outdoors are one big space.
It adds a cozy touch, making everything feel homey. Plus, it’s a real bonus for keeping dirt out – so we’re not constantly tracking bits of the trail back into the RV. It’s one of those simple things that makes boondocking life way better.
Another way to make your boondocking site cozy is to add a portable propane fire pit, like the Solo Stove. We recommend this bad boy for those who want that campfire vibe without the traditional campfire hassles.
It’s cleaner, efficient, and, let’s face it, there’s something mesmerizing about those dancing flames. It does take up a small amount of room, but you’ll be glad you got one!
26. Yeti cooler
If you want a good cooler to keep your drinks and snacks cold, even on the hottest of days, we highly recommend getting a Yeti cooler.
We have camped with ours all over the US, and it’s been perfect. We store it in the bed of our truck when we’re not using it, so space isn’t much of an issue, either.
We covered our Yeti cooler in all of the RV stickers we’ve collected. If you’re not part of the RV sticker club yet, check out our post about how you can join the RV sticker club here!
27. Dutch oven
A Dutch oven is one of those camping gems you didn’t know you needed until you’ve tried it. This versatile pot is a boondocking dream, perfect for whipping up everything from stews to bread.
We love how it retains heat and evenly cooks our meals, giving everything that authentic, rustic flavor. If you’re into campsite cooking, a Dutch oven is a must-add to your gear list!
28. Pop-Up Gazebo
A pop-up gazebo is a game-changer when it comes to outdoor boondocking comfort. Set it up, and instantly, you’re shielded from those pesky bugs that can turn a great evening into a swatting spree.
It’s like having a protective bubble that lets us enjoy the boondocking beauty around without all of the unwanted flying pests. For anyone who loves the outdoors but not the bugs, this is a must-have for your campsite!
29. Bug spray
Another essential that helps in buggy places is obviously bug spray. We always have a bottle on hand, especially for when we leave our boondocking spot to go hiking.
So, if you’re planning to boondock, make sure to pack some bug spray – your skin will thank you!
When it comes to campsite safety, we’re all in for those little upgrades. That’s where motion-sensor security lights come in. These handy gadgets light up whenever something’s moving around, giving us peace of mind during nighttime hours.
It’s not just about safety, though; they’re also great for those late-night returns to the RV after a stargazing session or a late hike!
Don’t forget to download our FREE RV boondocking essentials checklist below!
31. Firewood and fire starters
Campfires are the heart of every RV boondocking experience, aren’t they? That’s why we always keep a stash of firewood and some trusty fire starters on hand.
There’s nothing quite like the crackle of wood and the warm glow to set the perfect evening mood. And let’s be real, fumbling with damp wood or newspaper isn’t anyone’s idea of fun. With the right supplies, we’re always ready to roast some s’mores sessions or have a cozy fireside chat.
32. Portable grill
One of our favorite boondocking essentials is our Traeger Ranger portable grill. We use it almost daily to grill everything from burgers and steaks to fajitas and kabobs. We love the convenience of being able to smoke, grill, and even bake on our Traeger if we want to.
Plus, the wood-fired flavor is unbeatable. It’s like having a portable outdoor kitchen with us wherever we go on our RV adventures. I know a lot of RVers prefer a griddle like the Blackstone, but we are Traeger people and can’t imagine camping without our grill!
Emergency preparedness boondocking essentials
Diving into another crucial aspect of boondocking: always being ready for the unexpected. Here are our top picks for emergency preparedness essentials to have on hand.
33. Flashlights & headlamps
Headlamps are especially great for keeping your hands free, whether setting up camp or looking for that thing you dropped. Trust me, a good flashlight or headlamp is something you’ll thank yourself for packing every time you need it.
34. Emergency kit
When you’re boondocking, you need to be ready for anything, and that’s where our trusty emergency kit comes into play. It’s one of those things we hope we never have to use, but are so grateful to have, just in case.
From first-aid essentials to tools for a surprise RV hiccup, this kit’s got our back. Every RVer should have one stashed away; it’s the peace of mind we wouldn’t go without.
35. Solar lantern
Solar lanterns are a smart pick for boondocking adventures. They harness the sun’s power during the day and provide a reliable light source by evening.
No batteries, no cords, just eco-friendly illumination. It’s a simple yet effective way to brighten up those camp nights, and they can really come in handy during emergency situations.
36. First aid kit
Sometimes, when you’re boondocking, you are pretty far away from towns, which makes a good first aid kit absolutely essential. You never know when a simple slip or minor cut can happen, and it’s best to be prepared. It’s like having a little peace of mind in a box, ready to patch you up.
Trust me, it’s better to have it and not need it than the other way around. Plus, they don’t take up much space, making them an easy addition to any RV boondocking essentials list.
37. Tool kit
When we’re out boondocking, things can occasionally get a little unpredictable, which is why we never go camping without an RV tool kit. It’s saved us more than once when unexpected hiccups have popped up.
From tightening a loose screw to making minor repairs, this kit ensures we’re never left in a bind. Whether you’re a DIY pro or just want to handle the basics, every RVer should have one stashed away.
Other RV dry camping essentials
There are a few other RV boondocking essentials worth mentioning that didn’t make our main RV boondocking essentials list:
- 38. A Buddy Heater – A small propane heater great for keeping a room toasty in the winter while boondocking
- 39. A cell phone signal booster – Boondocking spots aren’t usually known for their fantastic cell phone signal. If you need reliable service, you may consider checking into a booster. We don’t currently have one but we’ve heard good things about the King cell service boosters.
- 40. A box fan – This can be nice for bringing in outside air and getting air movement on warmer days without using the air conditioners.
- 41. Non-perishable food – When boondocking, we always load up on non-perishable foods. It’s a simple trick to ensure we’ve got meals covered, even far from a grocery store.
- 42. Instant Pot – An Instant Pot is a boondocker’s best buddy in the kitchen. It whips up tasty meals with minimal energy – perfect for off-grid cooking!
- 43. Starlink – This is what we use and is, in our opinion, the best wifi for boondocking in an RV.
Essential boondocking apps
While there is a whole list of awesome boondocking apps that can be very helpful, here are a few of the essential ones for us:
- 44. Campendium – Assists RVers in discovering top-rated boondocking locations.
- 45. AllStays – Provides a comprehensive directory of campsites and amenities.
- 46. StormShield – Offers real-time weather alerts for safe camping
- 47. OpenSignal – Helps users pinpoint the best cell signal spots in their vicinity.
- 48. USFS & BLM Campgrounds – A great way to find national forests and public lands for boondocking.
Learn more about RV Boondocking:
Closing thoughts about RV boondocking essentials
Boondocking, or dry camping, can be one of the most authentic and freeing ways to experience the open road in your RV. But as you’ve seen, there’s a good bit of prep that goes into making those trips smooth and enjoyable.
With this comprehensive list of essentials, you’re setting yourself up for some amazing off-grid adventures. Remember, it’s not just about having the right gear but also about the peace of mind it brings.
Knowing you’re prepared lets you relax and truly enjoy the beauty and serenity of your surroundings. So, gear up, hit the road, and find that perfect spot where it’s just you, your RV, and the great outdoors.
I hope this list is helpful to you. Are there any off-grid camping must-haves that we missed? What are your boondocking must haves? Let us know in the comments below!
Safe travels and happy camping!