There are an infinite number of spectacular places you can go for an adventurous camping getaway in your motorhome. Many folks prefer to stay in RV parks or campsites, while others prefer to be away from civilization and go “boondocking,” “dry camping” or “wild camping.” For these campers, this article lists ten boondocking gadgets to have with you while camping off the grid. If you own your RV, there are things you can add to it. If you are renting your RV, there are a few things that may come in handy to have with you anyways:
Composting Toilet – This type of toilet converts “humanure” (human waste) to a rich compost that can be used for plants and gardens, or can be sanitarily discarded in the trash. The toilet uses no water and no chemicals. It can be installed in an RV, or used independently. Oh, and when used properly, there is no bad smell!
Solar Oven – While this accessory isn’t completely necessary, it sure makes things easy to cook outside using the sun’s rays. While not scientifically documented, things really do seem to taste better when they are cooked with the sunshine. The solar oven captures the sun’s rays and directs them towards the cooking area. It is great for keeping the heat out of the kitchen. You can purchase one of these ovens or make one yourself.
UV Water Purifying Bottle – Should you get into a pinch and need drinking water, this product can be a godsend. You simply scoop up water from any clear water source, push a button and shake it up, and in one minute you have water that is safe to drink. It doesn’t filter the taste, so be sure to include the pre-filter and drink it through a carbon filter straw. This will improve the taste in case you draw the water from a bad-tasting source.
Automatic Generator Start – With the fridge and air conditioning at full blast, there are times when you will benefit from an AGS (Automatic Generator Start). If the batteries drain below a designated voltage, the “genny” kicks in automatically. If you have installed solar panels and the skies get cloudy, you can relax, knowing that the generator will engage if the power is called for. In addition, if it is hot, the settings can be adjusted so that the generator kicks on when the temperature reaches a certain point. Even if you’re not in your mobile home, the AC and generator will still kick on so that Fido doesn’t get overheated.
Solar, Inverter and Batteries – One way to reduce the frequency with which you run your generator is to invest in a solar panel. It can be one of the fancy giant rooftop solar kits, or it may just be a portable solar panel that you can set out when you want. You will also need a battery bank. Lithium is great, but if you can’t afford that, AGM batteries work very well. As you know, dead batteries can be devastating in your motorhome, and with a solar panel to keep the batteries charged, it’s very unlikely to occur. You will also want to get a good sine wave inverter to power your other gadgets.
Automatic Vent Fan – When the temperatures start to rise, the temperature-sensitive automatic vent fan will open and pull air through the unit. The cover rises automatically and the fan engages, providing fresh air and cooler temps without having to use the air conditioner. This is the perfect device for that time of year when it’s warm, but not warm enough to use the A/C. The fan speed will vary, depending on the temperature you set it on.
Water Saving High Pressure Shower Head and Aerators If you’re set up with solar power and a generator, you needn’t worry about running out of power while camping off the grid. However, you do need to be aware of your fresh water supply, and conserve where possible. To help reduce your fresh water consumption by approximately 50%, you can install low-flow aerators for the sinks and a low-flow showerhead for showering.
LED Lights – You may have to fork out some cash to switch from halogen to LED lighting in your motorhome, but the prices have gone down considerably and the availability of lighting for motorhomes is vast. The benefit is that you can save up to 90% of your energy consumption by making the change. In addition, the LED lights don’t produce heat like their ancestors, the halogen bulbs, do. The important thing when you make the change is to choose the proper color temperature and purchase all the lights at the same time in order to assure consistency of the proper hues.
Flashlight and Solar Lights – When you camp in the middle of the wilderness with no other humans or structures nearby, there is no lighting anywhere at night, save the moon. If the moon isn’t out and shining brightly, it gets really dark! As obvious as the need for this simple piece of equipment may be, many don’t ever pack a good flashlight. Make sure to always have at least one or two good lights to guide you in the dark of the night. There are some great models available, such as the ZeroHour flashlight that can also work as a security device, a weapon, a phone charger, an SOS beacon and a night scope. In addition to a good flashlight, it never hurts to string up solar nightlights on the outside of your rig so that you can find it more easily in the dark of the night. You can adjust them to kick on when the sun goes down so that if you’re returning from a long hike and it has grown dark, you’ll have no problem finding your RV.
Cell Phone Booster – When you boondock, you will find yourself in areas that have very little cell phone coverage. As a matter of fact, if you absolutely have to have phone service 100% of the time, then boondocking may not be your best bet. However, you can use a 4G cell phone booster to enhance the cell coverage that does exist. Campers report that these extenders have proven to be effective about 98% of the time. One of these boosters could mean the difference between no service and just a couple of bars showing on your phone. This could make a huge impact in the event of an emergency.
Obviously, there are more conveniences to staying in an RV park with water, sewer and electricity hookups, but when you’re off the grid, it’s always a good idea to be well prepared!