When I conducted my dry camping (aka Boondocking) tips seminar at the recent Enumclaw RV Show, I was asked by several people what is the best RV for dry camping. While some types of RVs are more suitable for dry camping than others, the question really should be, “What features should I look for in an RV if I want to use it for dry camping?”.

Assuming you are looking to buy an RV with a gas / electrical refrigerator along with a propane furnace and stove; the following (in my experience) are the most important features to look for or modify in an RV that will be used for extended periods of dry camping:

  1. Freshwater capacity

We need water to drink, cook, flush the toilet and bathe. When you run out of freshwater in the boondocks, it’s typically time to break camp to resupply.

Therefore, large capacity freshwater tanks are critical. I would consider anything less than 60 gallons too small for an RVing couple. While extra water can be carried in spare containers to compensate for a smaller potable water tank, it is much more convenient to buy an RV with a large tank. Consider it a bonus if the side of the water tank is visible allowing you to see the actual water level within the tank. This way you know how close the tank is to being depleted once the water level no longer registers on the RV's monitor panel.

No Potable Water for Miles - Better Bring Plenty of Your Own

Note: Some manufacturers include the water heater capacity in the total freshwater capacity listing, so make sure you’re getting the true freshwater tank capacity.

  1. Gray tank capacity

The next capacity to be concerned about is the gray water holding tank. While there are ways to minimize wastewater and legal ways to dispose of it, a large capacity gray tank is ideal, handy, and an important feature to consider when choosing an RV for dry camping.

  1. Space for multiple batteries

Conserving battery power is vital when dry camping. While you can survive with just one battery, you will enjoy dry camping more comfortably with a larger battery bank. I recommend a minimum of two quality deep-cycle batteries. Therefore, make sure the RV you are looking at has a rack designed to hold at least two batteries or another location on the RV that can safely be used to carry additional batteries.  Note: Never install a vented lead acid battery in a RV storage compartment unless the battery is in a sealed battery box vented to the outside of the RV.

Dry Camping Along the Columbia River

  1. Generator storage

Those new to dry camping will want a place to carry a generator or purchase an RV with an onboard generator. While solar power is definitely part of the dry camping experience, beginners will want to have access to a generator until they learn to determine their rate of power consumption.

On Board Generator

Some RVs have options for built-in generators, many do not. Remember, you don’t want to operate or store a generator in a compartment that is not airtight from the living space of the RV.

That leaves you with storing the generator in the bed of your pickup truck (for owner’s of towables), on the bumper of the RV or on the tongue of your RV if you have a travel trailer. Click here for one of several methods that allow you to carry a generator on the tongue of a travel trailer.

  1. Ground clearance

I left this for last as many remote locations are accessible by most any vehicle. However, the more ground clearance you have, the more options you have in selecting a true boondocking location. Quite often, good ground clearance gets you to the more isolated, scenic spots.

Good Ground Clearance is Needed to Get Into a Site Like This

On a final note, I am sure many of you are asking what about the black tank capacity and LP capacity? Running out of freshwater or filling your gray tank to capacity will happen long before your black tank needs dumping and longer yet before you exhaust your supply of propane. For more tips on what you need for dry camping, see this previous article.

Dave Helgeson
Author: Dave HelgesonEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Dave Helgeson is the MHRV Show Director. He and his wife love to travel across the west in their RV. Dave writes about all things RVing but loves to share destinations and boondocking advice.


0 #1 Edward R Cole 2019-08-31 15:32
We have a 30-ft 5th wheel towed by F250 4x4 diesel pickup. It has no gen so we opted to buy the twin Honda 2000ui portable gen for 4000w. One can be run if a/c is not needed. carry them in large storage under floor. I installed alum angle to act as restraints to "walking" across the deck. Fuel is carried in bed of the truck. We found 3-days typical period for resupply of water/dumping tanks.

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