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Old 12-21-2015, 09:16 PM   #1
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Top 5 for newbie

We've had our AS for several years now and it is awesome as you all know. We're "graduating"to boondocking since we've discovered there are so many great outdoor places without hookups.

So, what are your "top 5" things that a boondocking newbie should know (or do to their AS in prep).

Thanks in advance!!
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Old 12-21-2015, 10:01 PM   #2
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A Shovel is a Restroom Appliance when Boondocking

Boondocking Tips and Things:

(1) to (5): 2016 Wyoming Adventure
(6) to (10): 2016 Black Hills and Western Nebraska Adventure
(11) to (15): 2016 Quartzite, Arizona Off the Grid (OtG)
(16): Winter OtG will be the last time your family will travel with you forever.
(17): Ignore #16, and if you have dogs, they will never travel with you forever.

There are ONLY two important ways to learn to Boondock:

(1) Prepare like you are on a camping trip withOUT a tent...
OR
(2) Travel with someone or group who are Boondocking or camping Off the Grid.

I have to limit my response due to complaints in the past of being:
(1): Full of hot air, Too wordy, Too "tawdry" while Boondocking
(2): It is not Boondocking unless you have a shovel as a restroom appliance.

Of course I am trying to avoid answering this question head on. The Airforums have had many excellent discussions on Boondocking.

Everyone has their own comfort zone and Boondocking to one, is living with my in-laws in Kalispell, Montana. Well, some of my relatives. I like your spirit with a 28 foot 2015 Airstream! Come and eat some dust in Wyoming next year. Bring my relatives living on Sunset Villa Cir. 63366. They are newbies who are afraid of the dark and have no tent.

Being a "newbie" is the best way to break in your Airstream as a classroom for yourself and family. No matter how you begin, you will learn... and learn.... and learn. Then get hooked up with some Rocky Mountain Airstream owners to discover that your Midwest Boondocking is like vacationing at a Resort parking lot in Hawaii. Off Season... of course.
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Old 12-21-2015, 10:42 PM   #3
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1.) Know how long your batteries will last and have an additional power source
2.) Know how long your water lasts, and have a min of 20 extra gallons
3.) Know how long you can go before you need to dump your tanks

That's about it for me.

We're 80% self-sufficient in our Airstream. When we get the composting toilet we can be off grid indefinitely since we have portable water tanks.

I don't think there is anything difficult or magical about boondocking. We didn't go with a group. We just went and did it.
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Old 12-22-2015, 06:10 AM   #4
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I do think there is a bit of a learning curve to off grid camping for more than a couple of days, which you can lean into by taking short trips into the wilds, first.

Practicing water conservation is a must.

Lots of beautiful country out there.


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Old 12-22-2015, 06:20 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray Eklund View Post
Boondocking Tips and Things:

(1) to (5): 2016 Wyoming Adventure
(6) to (10): 2016 Black Hills and Western Nebraska Adventure
(11) to (15): 2016 Quartzite, Arizona Off the Grid (OtG)
(16): Winter OtG will be the last time your family will travel with you forever.
(17): Ignore #16, and if you have dogs, they will never travel with you forever.

There are ONLY two important ways to learn to Boondock:

(1) Prepare like you are on a camping trip withOUT a tent...
OR
(2) Travel with someone or group who are Boondocking or camping Off the Grid.

I have to limit my response due to complaints in the past of being:
(1): Full of hot air, Too wordy, Too "tawdry" while Boondocking
(2): It is not Boondocking unless you have a shovel as a restroom appliance.

Of course I am trying to avoid answering this question head on. The Airforums have had many excellent discussions on Boondocking.

Everyone has their own comfort zone and Boondocking to one, is living with my in-laws in Kalispell, Montana. Well, some of my relatives. I like your spirit with a 28 foot 2015 Airstream! Come and eat some dust in Wyoming next year. Bring my relatives living on Sunset Villa Cir. 63366. They are newbies who are afraid of the dark and have no tent.

Being a "newbie" is the best way to break in your Airstream as a classroom for yourself and family. No matter how you begin, you will learn... and learn.... and learn. Then get hooked up with some Rocky Mountain Airstream owners to discover that your Midwest Boondocking is like vacationing at a Resort parking lot in Hawaii. Off Season... of course.
Type more, good info, keep it up! Can't be too long.
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Old 12-22-2015, 09:13 AM   #6
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Similar to what Bold said:

1. Have an efficient method(s) for recharging your batteries (solar and/or generator). If using a generator, think through the type of fuel and how much will be needed based on the length of stay. Also, if using a generator, read up on converters and battery chargers to be sure the one in your trailer will charge the battery quickly, without overcharging.

2. Have a method to accurately monitoring the battery charge level to keep them above 50%.

3. Have a method for filling the fresh water tank from portable containers, if necessary (try it ahead of time).

4. Think through how you will heat or cool the trailer, depending on where you will be camping, and what type of energy that will require.

5. Monitor the holding tanks and plan ahead how/where you will empty them (before they back up into the shower...).

In my early boondocking days, I had the most problems with #1, keeping the batteries charged, especially in cold weather.
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Old 12-22-2015, 01:30 PM   #7
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1. Practice water conservation: use paper plates, no showers-wash with a cup or two of water and dump the water outside, keep lights off-use candles or battery powered lanterns, etc. lots of good conservation tips elsewhere on this forum.

2. Generator to recharge batteries. Solar is great too if not under shade or clouds.

3. Layer your clothing to stay comfortable in hot or cool weather. Avoid running your furnace if possible unless you have plenty of propane and a good means of recharging your batteries.

4. Read and play board games for entertainment rather than power using TV or music.

5. Learn to enjoy solitude, peace, quiet, and being self sufficient. Once you do, you may never camp any other way.
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Old 12-22-2015, 01:39 PM   #8
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Get some good chocks, not those little plastic ones. Use them every time before you unhitch.
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Old 12-22-2015, 11:54 PM   #9
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Some really good advice here.

But we should ask, what is your idea of boondocking? Is it (A) going solo in the Back of Beyond where you will be many miles from the nearest [other campers, town, sani-dump, water source, or ..... fill in the blanks]? Or is your idea of boondocking (B) being in a lightly developed campground, where you have neighbours, access to a communal water tap, a sani-dump, plus a site with a parking pad, picnic table, and fire ring, but no hookups? Where there is a nearby store, gas station, &c?

There are some differences in the two systems depending upon where you go.

In addition to what the others have recommended, if you're (A) going solo into a wild place such as the southern Utah canyon country:

1. Tell someone exactly where you are going, when you expect to be back (or in civilization) and then follow through with a phone call when you return. Bring a decent first aid kit.

2. Full water tank, jerry can/s with water (that have a spout) plus a funnel. If you camp where there is a natural water source like a creek, think how you will treat it, as giardia is in most places today.

3. Unless you have better electronics than we have, you may be in a place without cell phone service, let alone Wi-Fi. There are dead spots in western mountains, deserts, and national parks. You might use a GPS to navigate back roads, but we rely on those detailed state road atlases. If you're planning on heading out on a dirt road, you want to make sure it is actually passable towing a trailer.

4. Learn the specific locations of the facilities you will need: closest drinking water sources, sani-dump, gas station, &c. If you will be really distant from a gas station, take a jerry can of gasoline along, also. (Such as in the San Rafael Swell in Utah, or Death Valley and environs.)

5. If it's something you truly rely on, think about taking a spare. If your [flashlight, meds, toilet paper, food, shoes, jacket, or ..... fill in the blanks] malfunctions, gets lost, soaking wet, used up sooner than you planned, &c. you won't be camping where you can replace it.

Sorry to sound like such a Boy Scout, but being prepared actually is a good motto.

p. s. This is us, boondocking in the north San Rafael Swell last fall.
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Old 12-23-2015, 03:44 PM   #10
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type more, good info, keep it up! Can't be too long.
x 2!
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Old 12-27-2015, 12:23 PM   #11
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Previous posters have it well covered.
The only thing I would add is to be prepared to spend as much time as possible outdoors. I carry a portable grill, lantern, comfortable chairs and some small tables. I also like to have a fire where legal so I carry some wood and a fire starting method.
It helps to have several outdoor pastimes like hunting, fishing, bird watching, hiking and mountain biking.
We try to go to town as little as possible and entertain ourselves in the woods.
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Old 12-27-2015, 01:33 PM   #12
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We have camped off the grid in tents, several generations of VW Campers, and our Airstreams. I liked the VW Campers best by far for that purpose; it was simple but comfortable in any weather while having everything we needed to enjoy the outdoors, while providing easy access to remote campsites.

1. Extra water
2. Enough food
3. Enough blankets for sleeping with no heat (just in case)
4. Don't drive in if you can't walk out
5. Reasons for being there. Fishing, hunting, birdwatching, hiking, getaway . . .
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Old 12-27-2015, 03:58 PM   #13
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Gain experience. Take a few short expeditions not too far from civilization, and discover your personal needs. You won't be crossing an ocean. A trip to town for water or food isn't a disaster. Learn to conserve power and water. Discover what you really need for enjoying off-grid camping. Begin minimal and add gear thoughtfully. It really is about the journey, and the learning curve is an essential and memorable part of the journey.
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Old 12-27-2015, 11:57 PM   #14
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mpsgolf, I don't know where/how you were thinking of boondocking. To some people this just means a nice state park with no hook-ups. For the western and northern contingent, this can mean getting into some really rugged, remote country.

Everyone has given super advice. But just to recap and extend it slightly. In the nice state park scenario: (1) monitor fresh water, waste water, and battery levels carefully. For any length of stay beyond a weekend, this will mean conserving them as much as possible. (2) Auxiliary power source like a generator and gas to run it. (3) Jerry can w/ spout and a large funnel to top up fresh water tank from the nearest tap. (4) Using the park's restroom facilities to cut down on water consumption & waste water; or otherwise figuring out a sanitary way to dispose of gray & waste water. (5) Checking propane levels in advance and filling up if necessary. We seldom run our AC, but can't run it with our Honda 2000 generator, so if you camp in super hot weather, make sure you have a sufficient power source.

For more remote areas, like the western deserts, in addition to my post of 12-22-15, I'd second the last couple of posts, as well. (1) What all will you need for outdoor living? There won't be a standard picnic table, so we bring an aluminum folding table and/or folding side tables, plastic dish pans for dumping dish water & bath water (discretely) outside, and a portable fire grill, as well as the usual folding chairs.

(2) A portable grill is kind of a must for outdoor cooking in western & northern areas. There are often bans on open fires, like this last summer when a lot of the western states and BC were burning up. Gas grills are generally OK. Charcoal, usually; but not an open wood fire when a ban is on.

(3) In bear country, don't leave any food outside, including in picnic coolers or a trash container. If you grill outside, clean up the grill so it doesn't have grease clinging to it. A bear would have little problem opening a picnic cooler or smelling any kind of food residue left outside, and waltzing into your campsite. Black bears can often be frightened away by making a lot of noise. A grizzly, not so much.

(4) You might never see a flash flood in the desert, but they can be deadly. Don't camp in a dry wash or close to flowing water. That nice dirt road you took driving in might have a raging creek flowing across it when you try to drive back, so given a choice, we'd camp on the civilization side of any washes crossing the road. It can be bone dry in the desert, but if a canyon or wash has its headwaters in the mountains, it can rain in the headwaters and boom down the desert channels. (Yes, we got stranded once by a flash flood in Utah.) That nice dirt road can turn into gumbo mud if it rains. If you can access a weather forecast, that's good.

(5) If any given important item or system fails, what is your back up? Short of bailing out. (Boondockers are resourceful!) As dkottum noted, extra food, bedding, water, some spare parts, way to cook a meal, extra meds, and so on. Especially have some flex with extra time, so that if you want to stay longer you can; and if there's a problem in getting out on schedule, you haven't cut things too close. (Think Boy Scout motto.)

Boondocking is such a great way to camp! Have a safe and memorable trip.
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