There are several reasons we love RV boondocking, but there are a few challenges to overcome when living off the grid – like electricity, water and tank space to just name a few. These challenges provide a great opportunity to be creative and conserve resources. As we enjoy “living” in nature, we want to do our best to preserve it. Plus, the more we can conserve, the longer we can stay in one place before having to dump the tanks and refill water!
Here are a few ways to save water, energy and waste while RV Boondocking and make boondocking more enjoyable:
How we conserve water while RVing
Water is probably our greatest limitation when boondocking. We can typically go 7-8 days before we need to refill our water tank. We do our best to conserve water because it’s kinda annoying having to pack up the RV just to refill water (and dump the tanks).
Showering definitely uses the most water, so we may skip a shower or two while dry camping – water and tank space are at a premium. But that doesn’t mean we can’t stay clean and fresh. To “shower” without using any water, we use a Shower Pouch. These cloths are amazing and work so well. You can actually see the dirt that comes off your body, which after a day of hiking can be a lot.
The Shower Pouch is a 2’ x 1’ pre-moistened full body wipe, so they are much bigger than your typical baby wipe. Plus, they have scents like bamboo and cumber, so you get clean and smell fresh.
Since we’re trying to be good to the earth while dry camping, we love that the Shower Pouch is vegan, hypoallergenic, and doesn’t contain parabens or sulfates.
Want to try the Shower Pouch for yourself? We love it so much that our friends at Shower Pouch are giving you 30% off your entire order. Use code: SIMPLEVENTURE at theshowerpouch.com.
High-Efficiency Shower Head
Thanks to the Shower Pouch, we don’t have to shower as frequently when boondocking – but we still take real showers! To reduce the amount of water we use, we installed a new high-efficiency showerhead made specifically for RVs. The one that came stock in our 1994 RV just wasn’t going to cut it.
This Oxygenics Shower Head increases oxygen content in your water and self-pressurizes to reduce the amount of water used. It also has a shut-off valve that keeps the water at the set temperature, so you can turn off the water while lathering. With our old showerhead, you had to turn off the water completely and then waste time finding the best temperature when you were ready to rinse off. No RV shower will be like a “real” shower, but this showerhead is a must if you are going to be boondocking!
Save water & tank space: win-win!
Extra Water Jugs
If we are planning to be at one boondocking spot for more than a week, we will fill up extra water jugs. This typically gives us a few more days before we have to refill the RV water tank.
We’ll use the extra jugs for the dogs’ water (three dogs = lots of drinking water). We’ll also use the water jugs to refill our water bottles and cook if we’re really trying to stretch the water in the tanks.
How we get power while boondocking
When boondocking, we try to avoid using our generator. However, we still need to charge our electronics and occasionally use the microwave, so we need power of some sort. Before our trip, we decided to install solar panels so we could dry camp for weeks at a time and save money on campsites.
We are so glad we decided to install solar panels on the RV. The solar panels give us the power we need to boondock, while still being able to charge our laptops and get work done.
Luke spent months researching the best panels, inverters, solar charge controllers, batteries and the best way to install everything.
Here is what we ended up purchasing:
- 4 x 100w Renogy Solar Panels
- 4 x 6v Interstate batteries from Costco
- 1 x 2000w Renogy Pure Sine Wave Inverter
- 1 x 40 amp Renogy Rover MPPT Charge controller
- All the necessary inline fuses and cabling
This system cost us around $1,400, and it is worth every penny. We can run the microwave, charge multiple laptops, phone, cameras, run the lights at night, and watch TV, which doesn’t happen too often.
Of course, there are cloudy days and some boondocking spots are rather shaded, but for the most part, we get all the power we need from our solar panels. On days that we don’t get a great charge, we eat dinner by lantern light to conserve battery.
When you take the price of RV parks, let’s say $30 per night at 25 nights per month, that equals $750 a month! Two months worth of boondocking and this system pays for itself.
While we typically get all the power we need from our solar panels, we did purchase an inverter for our car. We try to always charge our phones while driving around during the day, so we don’t have to use the solar to charge them at night. If we have a cloudy day or use a lot of energy, we can always charge our laptops and camera batteries with the inverter.
I highly recommend getting a Power Inverter. It simply plugs into the cigarette lighter, so you can charge or run multiple electronic devices at once.
How we reduce trash while camping
When you are boondocking, there are no trash cans or dumpsters, so you have to take your trash somewhere to throw it away. This isn’t a huge deal, but the less trash we produce the less time we have to spend finding a place to throw it away. Plus our trash can is tiny, and there are simple ways to reduce trash.
One way we reduce the amount of trash we produce is by using Norwex Cloths. We use the All Purpose Kitchen Cloth to wipe down the counter and table rather than using paper towels. It’s also great at the cleaning grease off the stove with just the cloth and water. Since you don’t have to use cleaning spray, it’s chemical free and reusable.
I also have the Window Polishing Cloth that is great for cleaning dog nose prints off the windows, again, without using cleaning spray – just water and the cloth.
Using the Norwex cloths, we’ve reduced the amount of trash we produce and save money by not buying nearly as many paper towels and cleaning sprays.
Reusable Dishes, Cups & Utensils
As tempting as it is to use disposable plates, cups, and utensils (handwashing dishes isn’t my favorite), we stick to the standard, reusable dishes and silverware. Besides the fact we don’t have room in our trashcan for disposable plates and cups, we don’t want to contribute to the landfill if we don’t have to. Besides, I need a real coffee mug in the morning.
Of course, washing dishes for three meals a day, every day does require using water. We just have to be aware of our dishwashing methods. For example, rinse, scrub and rinse again all while using as little water possible. On that second rinse (the clean but still soapy water), pour it onto the next dish to rinse it for the first time. #RVlifeskills
There are so many other things we do to conserve water, electricity and reduce trash. Boondocking is a great way to get out into nature. With these tips you can enjoy nature longer while dry camping by conserving energy, saving water and reducing trash.
3 Tips to Finding Amazing Boondocking Spots (plus 5 of our favorite spots)
How to Save Money While Full-time RVing
How Much Does it Cost to Full-time RV: Our Full-time RV Budget (with budgeting worksheet)
I want to know! What is your best way to save water and electricity or reduce trash boondocking?
I’ve forwarded this article to a good number of my Overlanding buddies. RV life and Overlanding has the same challenges. Great read!
Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.
We use large coffee mugs for coffee in the morning, then cereal, swish some water in it and drink it to clean it, rinse toothbrushes in it, heat lunch in it, drink wine out of it, and leave it in the refrigerator when not using it. Saves time and water. We have boondocked 30 days to see if we could , but prefer to use a full hookup place evey 2 weeks or so to dump,refill, shop and refresh and see something different.
Thank you very much for the insiteful content. I have shared it on my facebook page.