Boondocking, or dispersed camping, is a popular way to experience the great outdoors while avoiding crowded campgrounds and high fees. But it’s not just a way to get away from it all – it’s also a way to save money. In this ultimate guide, we’ll share everything you need to know about boondocking on a budget, from planning your trip to conserving resources and disposing of waste.
Planning for Boondocking
The first step in boondocking on a budget is finding a suitable location. Fortunately, there are many options for free camping in the United States, including National Forests and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. These areas allow dispersed camping, but it’s important to research local regulations and restrictions before you go. Some areas may have fire restrictions, limited camping periods, or specific rules for campfires and generators.
Once you’ve found a suitable location, it’s important to make a checklist of necessary supplies and equipment. This can include a tent or RV, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, and more. We estimate that the necessary equipment cost will be around 200-300 USD. For more information on the best free camping spots in the US, gear needed for boondocking, and permits or fees required for boondocking, check out our FAQs section.
Maximizing Energy Efficiency
Conserving energy while off-grid is an important part of boondocking, and it can help you save money on fuel and generator costs. One of the best ways to do this is by choosing a suitable power source. Solar panels are a popular option for boondockers, as they are relatively affordable and environmentally friendly. Generators are another option, but they can be noisy and require fuel.
In addition to choosing a power source, there are many ways to reduce energy consumption while boondocking. This can include using efficient lighting, insulating your RV or tent, and turning off electronics when they’re not in use. We estimate that the necessary equipment cost for energy efficiency will be around 300-500 USD. For more information on solar power for boondocking, using a portable generator while boondocking, and reducing energy consumption, check out our FAQs section.
Conserving water while boondocking is not only good for the environment, it can also help you stay out in the wilderness longer without needing to refill your water tank. One of the best ways to do this is by using low-flow faucets and showerheads, which can reduce water usage by up to 50%.
In addition to reducing water consumption, there are other ways to get water while boondocking. Rainwater harvesting is a popular option, as is collecting water from nearby streams or lakes. However, it’s important to properly filter and treat this water before drinking it. We estimate that the necessary equipment cost for water conservation will be around 100-200 USD. For more information on how long you can boondock without refilling your water tank, collecting and filtering rainwater, and drinking water from a nearby stream or lake, check out our FAQs section.
Food and Meal Planning
Food and meal planning is an important part of boondocking on a budget, as it can help you save money and avoid unnecessary trips to town. One of the best ways to save money on food is by buying in bulk and preparing meals in advance. This can include cooking in bulk and freezing meals for later.
In addition to planning your meals, it’s important to have the right equipment for cooking off-grid. Portable stoves and grills are popular options, as are Dutch ovens and fire pits. We estimate that the necessary equipment cost for food and meal planning will be around $100-200 USD. For more information on what kind of food to bring for boondocking, cooking with a campfire while boondocking, and safety precautions when cooking off-grid, check out our FAQs section.
Proper waste disposal is an important part of responsible boondocking. This includes disposing of gray water, black water, and trash in an environmentally-friendly way. Gray water, which is wastewater from sinks and showers, can be disposed of by dumping it at least 200 feet away from streams or lakes. Black water, which is wastewater from toilets, can be disposed of at a dump station or by using a portable waste tank.
In addition to disposing of waste, it’s important to be aware of regulations and restrictions on waste disposal in your area. Some areas may have specific rules for disposing of certain types of waste, or may require you to carry out all of your trash. We estimate that the necessary equipment cost for waste disposal will be around 100-200 USD. For more information on disposing of gray water while boondocking, safely disposing of black water while boondocking, and burying trash while boondocking, check out our FAQs section.
- United States Forest Service (USFS) Dispersed Camping Guidelines: The United States Forest Service (USFS) provides guidelines for dispersed camping (https://www.fs.usda.gov/visit/know-before-you-go/dispersed-camping), which is camping outside of designated campgrounds in national forests. The guidelines cover topics such as choosing a campsite, setting up camp, and practicing Leave No Trace principles to minimize impact on the environment.
- Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Camping Information: This website (https://www.blm.gov/programs/recreation/camping) provides information about camping on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the United States. It includes information on campgrounds, fees, permits, and other regulations to help visitors plan their camping trip.
- Campendium’s Comprehensive Guide to Free Camping in the US: This comprehensive guide (https://www.campendium.com/free-camping) provides information on free camping options across the United States, including national forests, Bureau of Land Management lands, and other public lands. The guide includes details on amenities, accessibility, and nearby attractions.
- Solar Power for Boondocking and RV Camping: This website (https://www.parkedinparadise.com/rv-solar/) offers information on using solar power for boondocking and RV camping, including tips on selecting solar panels, installing a solar power system, and maintaining it. It also includes information on battery systems and inverters to help campers stay powered up while off the grid.
- Waste Disposal Tips and Regulations for Boondocking: This website (https://www.thewanderingrv.com/rv-waste-disposal/) provides guidance on how to properly dispose of waste while boondocking or camping off the grid. It includes information on black water and gray water tanks, composting toilets, and other waste disposal methods. The website also highlights regulations and best practices to help campers minimize their impact on the environment.
Boondocking on a budget can be a rewarding and cost-effective way to experience the great outdoors. By following the tips and advice in this ultimate guide, you can plan your trip, conserve resources, and dispose of waste in an environmentally-friendly way. We encourage you to try boondocking for yourself, and to share your experiences with other outdoor enthusiasts.
Q: What are the best free camping spots in the US?
A: National Forests and BLM land are great options for free camping in the US.
Q: What gear do I need for boondocking?
A: Necessary gear for boondocking can include a tent or RV, sleeping bags, cooking equipment, and more. We estimate that the necessary equipment cost will be around 200-300 USD.
Q: Are there any permits or fees required for boondocking?
A: Some areas may require permits or have fees for boondocking. It’s important to research local regulations and restrictions before you go.
Q: How much solar power do I need for boondocking?
A: The amount of solar power you need for boondocking will depend on your energy usage. A 100-watt solar panel is a good starting point for most boondockers.
Q: Can I use a portable generator while boondocking?
A: Yes, you can use a portable generator while boondocking, but it’s important to be aware of noise regulations and fuel usage.