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Old 08-14-2012, 04:00 PM   #1
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Never boondocked, looking to start, what should we buy first?

I'm just on my way to work, so this first post is going to be short.

I've got a 2011 831RLBSS Flagstaff Classic superlite.

It's just the way it was delivered from the factory.

We're in a place that has minimal setup even at the nicest parks.

electric and water at best. Dump station somewhere in the park.

we're looking to try boon docking.

We have access to a honda 2000 generator (loaner from work).

We're aware of the need to conserve water.

It's just me and the missus and three larger dogs.

Most we will do is a weekend to 3 or 4 days at a time. Basically, a long weekend at most.

Trailer seems pretty self contained as is with the gen added.

I'm looking for a priority list I guess. Like

1. generator.
2. Second deep cycle battery
3. LED lights
4. johnny bucket
5. solar panels
6 inverters
7. Etc. etc......

Sorry for the quick and dirty post. As I mentioned, I'm on my way out the door to work but we're headed out this weekend and I would like to get an idea of priorities before we go.

No doubt, this weekend will reveal a lot of what we need first and what can wait.....


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Old 08-14-2012, 06:20 PM   #2
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I'm new to this too - my first trip out was last weekend.

My priority is peace and quiet first, then convenience. If you don't care about noise or disturbing other campers, then just get a generator and forget the rest - the honda you mentioned should provide all your needs.

But if we are like-minded, then:

First thing I'd do is LED lighting - it's a huge battery saver.
Next I'd buy a second battery.

I have a generator, and I went the weekend fine without it, except for wanting to use the coffee maker. I also have the second battery. You can do all your cooking and refrigerator on gas.

My next purchase is an inverter. I'd get that before I bought a generator. If you do get a generator, spend the extra money on a quiet one - the Honda and Yamahas are hard to beat, but they are expensive - ~$1,000 for a 2000watt. Doubt you'd need bigger than that - my Yamaha will run the AC fine.

Since you haven't spent the money on a generator yet, then you might consider solar instead - it would be a bit less to get some serious charging capability, but you have to get a good bit of knowledge to know what to buy, as there really aren't pre-packaged systems or shops to install them for you - definitely a DIY proposition.

Hope this helps you.
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Old 08-14-2012, 06:29 PM   #3
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With only 1 trip of dry camping under my belt I don't have much experience to share. I did buy a second battery and upgraded the original battery. No problem with limited battery usage on my 3 night stay. Not the best method to use as a guide but I only used up 1 red dot (out of 4) on the senors display. I don't have a generator so it all propane and battery power.

For the short list:
Ditto on second battery & LED lights. A generator would be nice but currently you have access to one which will save you some cash.
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Old 08-14-2012, 09:42 PM   #4
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We boondock a bit and dry camp more. You are very correct that this weekend trip will tell you a lot.

It's all about water, waste and power.

See if you can get a handle on your water usage per person on this trip and use that to plan future trips. Depending on your tank sizes and usage, staying three or four days should not be a problem for your gray and black tanks. I would bring bottled water and paper plates to conserve the FW. Maybe a larger water tank in your truck for the future.

You will probably not need a blue boy to empty the GW and BW into on this trip if you are water-conscious.

Make sure to match that new battery to your old as closely as possible in type, size, age and manufacturer. You want both to be equal to avoid one charging or discharging faster than the other. Depending on your usage, I suggest upgrading to the biggest 6 volt or 12 volt deep cycle batteries that you can fit (and afford). My two Trojan T-145's give us 260Ah. They're the biggest I can fit on my trailer's tongue (or I would have bought bigger).

Bring a decent multimeter with you (should be standard equipment in everyone's camper tool box) and use it to record your daily usage between chargings. This will also help you plan for the future. You can find power inventory worksheets to record the data. As mentioned, LED bulbs are a must for a boondocker.

The 2000 watt generator you are borrowing might start your a/c and it might not. You'll learn that this weekend. It will definitely do a good job charging your batteries, however. Probably not to 100% but enough so that you wont over-discharge your battery bank. If you buy one of your own in the future, I second the previous suggestion to stick with a super-quiet Yamaha or Honda (The noise from my own construction gennie bothers me, even if there are no others around to be bothered by it). As for size, it depends on your usage and A/C ( 13.5 or 15kw). If 13.5kw, I would recommend that you consider two 2000-watt units in parallel for the output, ease of carrying and versatility. But then, I don't have much storage space either for the bigger units YMMV. Take a good look at some of the generator threads on FRF. They cover watts, decibels, etc in more detail.

Before you install an inverter, see if you can get by without one using 12v appliances. If you think you want an inverter, there are more threads on that topic, too. Solar is complicated. Consider where you plan to camp (under tree cover or in the open) and a bunch more before you invest in solar. Good topic for another time.

Last, I suggest a book for you... Managing 12 Volts: How to Upgrade, Operate, and Troubleshoot 12 Volt Electrical Systems by Harold Barre. Fantastic read for any RVr.

Boondocking is great fun and I wish you all the best this weekend!
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Old 08-14-2012, 09:56 PM   #5
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1) Blue "tote tank" - for waste disposal
2) Fresh Water bladder tank - for hauling in fresh water
3) Flo-jet Macerator - for pumping waste into blue tank, while sitting in truck bed, so that you can haul distances.
4) Small 12v water pump for pumping from bladder to fresh water fill.
5) All LED's interior.
6) Replace 12v battery with a pair of 6v golf cart batteries.
7) 2000w to 2400w QUIET generator
8) Solar panels - I have 300w, and they do a great job.
9) 2000w PSW inverter.
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Old 08-14-2012, 11:00 PM   #6
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Boondocking is about needs. if you need it, bring it or be able to get it or in the case of wast - be able to get rid of it.

We rarely boondock more than 3 or 4 nights at any given time so solar is an extravagance - given the fact that we own two generators.

Water or ability to transport water to the camper when dry camping is important.

We have not run into issues over-running the black H2O tank, but grey water seems to fill up faster - so the blue tote is a good idea.

One of our camping friends says his grey water tank 'has a small hole in it' so he'll let loose of some water. We own a blue tote so this makes water disposal possible in most cases.

Enjoy the boondocking!
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Old 08-14-2012, 11:28 PM   #7
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The big water wasters are the toilet and washing dishes.

For the toilet, not having the water pump on saves a bunch. We use wipes (unscented) and put those in the garbage, using one if needed to wipe out the bowl. So no paper products in the toilet at all. When I do dump I back fill and rinse the black tank several times. Get one of those connectors that is see through and has a hose connection (they sell them at some walmarts). Also use a different hose from the one you use for fresh water. This hose doesn't need to be terribly long. Also when it's time to travel I add 5 - 10 gallons in the black tank until we get to the next stop for that swishing action.

Dishwashing wastes a huge amount of water - so minimize the need. Consider disposable plates, cups etc. If not disposable consider each person having their own water bottle, mug. Use a paper towel/ napkin to wipe the mess from the dsihes expecially if it's greasy. You mentioned 3 cannine dishwashers (err dogs). Generally washing things immediately uses less water than if it's dried on.

I have several dishpans. One is set out with soapy water before the meal - everyone uses it for handwashing before eating. After dishes are scraped and wiped with the napkin/paper towel, this becomes the prewash water. Depending on how many dishes and how dirty there may be just one dishpan for rinsing or two. I generally do this outside. As the wash water gets really soiled, that gets dumped and rinse #1 gets a squirt of dish detergent and becomes the new wash water.

When preparing meals consider how you can re-use the water. For example the water from pasta can also cook veggies. Veggie/pasta water can become the water used to make soup/stew.

Don't plan on showers! Don't let the water run while you brush your teeth.
I have 3 children and we have a bucket or a buspan near the door so they can wash sand and dirt before entering.

I have a clip on LED light for late night reading which I have been using since last fall, so those 3 triple a batteries have lasted a long time.

We do not always use the generator. Often just to run the microwave. I now have a french press coffee maker - left the Keurig at home and so we just heat the water on the stove.
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Old 08-20-2012, 06:51 PM   #8
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LED's as mentioned are very important to save power. Pull the second bulb in two fixture lamps and use lesser watt bulbs where they aren't replaced by LED's. Also get an accumulator tank for the water system. They store energy for your water pressure. The pump runs steady to pump in pressure and shuts off. Without one the stop/start action on the pump uses max amperage every time it starts so minimizing starts saves power. To cool the unit down on hot nights consider a high capacity vent fan or the Fan-Tastic Endless Breeze 12v portable box fan. I've used as many as 4 batteries for power lasting a week with some power to spare. You could need a few hours a day running a genny to top off two battteries.
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Old 08-31-2012, 09:09 AM   #9
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I'm a bit new to this as well. Don't know the size of your tanks but my 2013 2501SS has 36 fresh, 35 grey, and 35 black. We need to take a shower after the day is done to get the sunscreen and sweat off for the evening. The best thing I bought so far is the Oxygenics shower head. DW and I did our first true boondock this year for a standard weekend. We use all disposable stuff and take out all we bring in. We use bottled water for drinking and cooking. Both my grey and black were just at the 1/4 light when we left. Fresh was 1/2 so I drained a bunch of water on the ground. Second best could be the single cup drip coffee maker. Thing sits on top of a coffee cup and uses a cone filter and you fill the cone with water heated in a tea kettle on your stove.

As far as electricity goes I've replaced all my lights with LED's and have a CPE Category 5 2000w inverter generator ($650.00) to charge my single battery in the afternoons. We spend all our time outside so no need for A/C but do turn on the fantastic fan in the evening to help cool down the interior before bed. I will be going the dual 6 volt golf kart batteries from Sams Club or Costco and solar next summer.

Oh ya, one more thing, the wife loves the patio mat. Runs around barefoot on it.

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Old 09-01-2012, 11:32 AM   #10
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With the generator you won't have issue with power for the lights, furnace (if needed) and such.

We bring a 7 gal jug of water for the dogs (4 large akitas) and just bought a 5 gal jug for our own drinking water. We have been bringing gallon jugs (from the store) of drinking water, but that just takes up space in the camper. With the 5 gal jug we are able to fill it from our own tap (if you choose) and/or dump a bag of ice in it and fill with the rest with drinking water. I keep the jug on a table outside the camper (next to the grill) and 1 liter refillable bottles in the fridge for drinking. 5 gals will last us a long weekend (at least).

If you are boondocking within a reasonable distance to a store, or other place where you can restock if needed, water won't be such an issue. But where we go, there's no such resource, so plenty of water is a must. The 36 gals in our FW tank will usually last about 3 days (showers and toilet).

We bring a separate 7 gal jug of water for dishes and FW tank supplement (if needed). Washing dishes is a HUGE waste of water. We learned early-on that disposable plates and silverware are a must. I have a small plastic sink that I use for the few pots/pans that need to be washed.

Our total water is as follows;
36 gals (FW tank with hot water heater)
7 gals (water for dogs)
5 gals (drinking water for us - 2 adults)
7 gals (supplemental water)

I realize that is a lot of extra added weight, but we usually don't go anywhere that water is readily available if needed.
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Old 09-12-2012, 10:01 PM   #11
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Can someone describe for me what "boondocking" actually means? My impression is that it refers to going backwoods where there are no resources except for what you bring with you. Who's property is being camped on? The logistics of this type of camping is fairly obvious... There is a song by Buddy Wasisname & the other fellers...

"It's the 24th of May & we likes to get away
Up in the woods or goin' out the bay
There's all kindsa places but the place we like to get
Is up behind the highway in the gravel pit"

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Old 09-12-2012, 10:07 PM   #12
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You'll get a lot of varying answers on that one - to some it is camping in a Walmart parking lot - to others it is the state park with no hookups - some will say it's only raw, open wilderness.
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Old 09-12-2012, 10:32 PM   #13
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My vote is boondocking is out in wilderness, on your own, no services. I'm not sure about the East coast but in the West most federal land can be camped on without fee, so that is where we do our boondocking.
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Old 09-12-2012, 11:06 PM   #14
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If you do a search for your mountain area, key words "dispersed camping" , you should be able to find where you can camp for free.
For California : Stanislaus National Forest - Camping & Cabinsispersed Camping

I also like this guy's blog, it's all about boondocking: Goin' RV boondocking

You get the idea.
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Old 09-12-2012, 11:07 PM   #15
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I boondock camped on 99% of my trips this summer. And I was not in a campground and near nobody. Out in the middle of nowhere I guess you could say. I have a 106 gallons of fresh water and a generator built in my toy hauler so it's easy camping for me and the wife. This is the only kind of camping we prefer. I am not a fan of campgrounds at all. To noisy and to many people and cost money to stay in them. Not our style of camping. We will always prefer to boon dock. The only thing that kinda sucked boon docking this year is we couldn't have a camp fire. Camp fires were only aloud in camp grounds here in Wyoming.
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Old 09-13-2012, 01:01 AM   #16
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there are two terms that sometimes get interchanged.

first is dry camping. generally this means camping in developed campgrounds with no hookups.
this is how most Calif. State Park campgrounds are. developed sites with a picnic table, fire ring, paved pad and a number for the site.

second is boondocking. generally this means camping in non-developed areas. also can be called dispersed camping.
this usually in areas like National or State Forests, Wilderness or Recreation Areas.
just pick a spot you like and set up camp. many times the camping is free.
no toilets, no showers, no campsite numbers.
camping in deserts are usually boondocking.
personally, i don't consider spending the night in a Walmart parking lot as boondocking. i call it sleeping overnite in a Walmart parking lot.
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Old 09-13-2012, 05:43 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by bikendan View Post
personally, i don't consider spending the night in a Walmart parking lot as boondocking. i call it sleeping overnite in a Walmart parking lot.
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Old 09-17-2012, 01:59 PM   #18
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Switch to 6 volt batteries hooked up to make 12 volts.
paper plates and cups.
to refill the fresh water, I use either a 20 gallon blue food grade barrel or a 64 qt ice chest. I fill either a gallon at a time from a spring about 4 miles from our Elk Camp. then I use a bilge pump to pump it into the fresh water tank.
We use a outdoor toilet that we dug ourselves, with a little hut we built so minimal use of the black water tank. The grey water we run out into the forest, into a 4x4x4 gravel sump that we also dug ourselves.
This is in a camp that we used for the last 5 years, and we stay at least 4 weeks during archery season. If need be, we pull out after two weeks to drain the black tank, but that is rare. We can usually go a full month and still only be 3/4 full.
We use solar panels, and a generator depending on demand. If we are up late cleaning up game, we also run two quartz shop lights on a portable stand, for plenty of light. The generator runs that and charges the batteries.
A thought about charging up: I usually hook up the battery charger directly from the gen set to the battery. It takes a fast and heavy charge that way, rather than trickling it in through the converter.
As to TV, microwave, etc, we don't use them in the field.
Propane usually lasts fine, but we have an extra 5 gal tank for the barbecue so I cook most main entrees outside.
A friend with a toy hauler also has plumbed in a gas line to the side of his trailer that he can hook up his triple burner cooker to for outdoor cooking.
Changing to LED's is downright expensive. Unless someone knows where to get them for the same price as an incandescent bulb? 30+ dollars per light is going to run into money. Shoulda heard my wife squawk when I brought home two LED lights for the bedroom reading lights.
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Old 09-17-2012, 02:15 PM   #19
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I bought 12 of these 921-30-3528-BW+ and there great.

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Old 09-17-2012, 03:27 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by unyalli View Post

I bought 12 of these 921-30-3528-BW+ and there great.


Good info and pricing.


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