Boondocking Planning Guide 101
Posted On May 4, 2021
Back in 2019 I did a short blog post on Why We Boondock (read here) There are specific things to consider when one decides to Boondock as opposed to going to “Serviced RV Sites“. In the 25 odd years of Boondock Camping we have experienced “the Good and the Bad – yep and a bit of the Ugly“. Our experiences are both in tents, a “small” T@B trailer and now our 2004 Airstream International 25 CCD (Blue Streak). There is more to Boondocking than to simply get away from it all. There is preparation, planning and Stuff (things you will need). I readily admit each “camping (glamping) person” will see their requirements differently than we do. However, our experiences may provide you with some mistake avoidance insights. Let me say that for us, Boondocking comes in two flavours.
Flavour #1: This is when Boondocking while travelling throughout British Columbia and beyond through Canada and USA, mostly one or two day stops (could even include a Walmart parking lot!). Often we don’t even unhitch as we are not “settling in“. ?
Flavour #2: This is destination specific for a lengthy stay, usually on Vancouver Island, in Provincial or Forestry Campsites. The focus in this blog post will be on Flavour #2 because Flavour #1 Boondocking is different. Flavour #1 requires different planning, different preparation and we carry less “stuff”.
Here is what we have learned and how we prepare and the “stuff” we take with us for Flavour #2 Boondocking.
While Flavour #1 – Travel Boondocking can be “spontaneous” as to where you stop (this looks like a good spot! ), Flavour #2 – is “Destination Specific” Boondocking and requires planning.
Reservations are required several months in advance to stay at Provincial “no services” Campgrounds. Advantage here is that they do have potable well water (usually about a kilometre from our favourite campsites). This does save us from carrying “extra” water. If we decided on heading to Forestry Campsites, this is always a “first come first served” basis. Forestry Campsites may have a “picnic table” but nothing else. This means that if you’re are staying for an extended period of time (14 day or more), you must be completely self-sufficient. So the only difference between the Provincial and Forestry is the availability of potable water (even if it is a hike to get it). In any event, Destination Specific Boondocking has important requirements to ensure the location is safe and secure before we back-in, unhitch and settle in. (Read our Post: The Art Of Being Level)
Our usual Boondock is 14 days at a time (we have gone 20 days). To do this we equip ourselves with the following “Stuff“. By the way, the assumption here is that you are carrying all the “normal” trailer equipment such as, chocks and block, power cables and hoses etc. – just saying!
I begin with the trailer because the trailer’s limitations equates to the limitation of your Boondock ability to stay, that is, “The Trailer Tanks“. Blue Streak carries 39 Gal (148L) of Fresh Water, 39 Gal (148L) Grey Water holding and 18 Gal (68L) Black Water holding. In some ways our ability to stay at a specific location longer than 14 days hinges on how we manage the “fluid situation“. Obviously, if we camp by a fresh water lake we have no need to shower, our fresh and grey water tanks capacity lasts longer. Also, if we are planning a longer stay, over 20 days, we will carry our portable Camco 27 gallon holding tank ?+?= no worries ?.
We also carry 60# of Propane which runs our Refrigeration, Hot Water, Furnace and Stove (more about cooking below). The largest usage of propane is the furnace. So we use the furnace sparingly, mostly to take the chill off when Spring or Fall Camping. On average we use about 20# total over 14 days.
We updated Blue Streak’s 12v system with 200Ahs of Lithium Batteries + 300w inverter (to grind morning coffee) because the 2x6v@105Ah lead acid batteries was always a worry even though we carry 360w of Solar to keep them charged. We manage our solar system with 200w fix on the roof of Blue Streak and 160w portable to follow the sun (British Columbia has trees). The portable panels are very important where we Forest Boondock.
Needless to say, make sure your trailer suspension system and tires are well maintained. When we first obtained Blue Streak we upgraded the tires from the Blow-a-thons to E Rated Goodyear Endurance. We have yet had the need to add a 3″ lift – not yet anyway. Most trailers are not as low-slung as an Airstream, so dragging your butt-end may not be any concern for you.
We discovered the hard way how important it is to secure all the cupboards, loose items, Refrigerator door – basically everything! The inside of a trailer experiences a minor earthquake on the Hwy but on logging roads it’s like a bomb goes off. So batten down everything, drive slowly.
Our Boondocking Stuff:
We do 90% of our cooking outdoors on our “camp stove” and “BBQ” (Read our Post: Outdoor Cooking). This means we carry an additional 20# tank of propane to run that system. Since we setup for extended stay, we put up a canopy shelter over our outdoor kitchen (remember that four letter word? “rain” = British Columbia)
We also carry a 3400w Champion Inverter Generator which we run on propane, primarily as backup (remember self-sufficient). I don’t suggest you need a generator THIS BIG. However, at a minimum you should have a back-up capability to charge your batteries if the sun don’t shine. You do have solar capabilities – right? If not, good luck beyond 2 days.
This year we added the ability to connect to Wi-Fi and cell service by adding a complete 12v powered communication system. We did this for safety reasons, not so much for work as we are well into retirement. We also carry two Motorola walkie-talkies. We use these when arriving at a campsite to communicate while backing in and when we are off site, separated to keep in touch. Again, this is for safety. One of the things we discovered is that Cell Phones don’t always work in the Canadian Wilderness (so be aware – Canada is NOT like the USA).
We like our comfort, so we bring our anti-gravity lounges as well as our camp chairs, also 8’x12′ ground mat and sun shade we can attach to the awning (Summer Sun in BC can be a bit “warm”).
We also carry a complete set of tools (Read our Post: Tools For The Road). I firmly believe in carrying the tools you “might” need. It’s also important to bring a selection of “nuts, bolts and screws” and in our case we include rivets!
We also carry a 6 gal (30L) portable water container + plus a collapsible wagon (water weights 8.5lb per gallon). If you forget the wagon good luck carrying 60lbs of water. Also a bucket is nice … we carry it just in case we need it – rather than need it and not have it!
A very important item is a well stocked emergency kit while Boondocking. This should contain a “Prepper Type” First Aid Kit, a weather radio and extra required medications.
We also carry clothing for all weather situation we may encounter. In Canada we may see snow in early spring and late fall – and it rains a lot. So we carry Wellington’s (they’re Rubber Boots) and they sever a great secondary usage for storing our wine bottles in while travelling (you did remember the wine?).
I ‘m not going to talk about food here per sa … in saying that food does require planning. We plan for 20 days x 3 meals per-day + snacks for a 14 day excursion simply because we might extend our stay
with good weather or we might end up feeding a drop-in friend ? one never knows….
Our Tow Vehicle:
This section is not about “Brand” (to each their own) this is about vehicle “Capability“. Our Tow Vehicle is a 2013 F-150HD which is equipped with 4 wheel H/L drive, locking differential, down-hill assist, traction control and is Off Road equipped. I have also installed BFG KO2 E rated tires and SumoSprings. Since Boondocking for us means: travelling BC wilderness logging roads which are mostly gravel, washboard, ruts and potholes – as illustrated in the short video clip on the right. It is vitally important that your tow vehicle is capable of taking your trailer anywhere (Read our Post: How To Determine If Your Tow Vehicle Is Right). The last thing you want to do is pull your trailer into the wilderness and get stuck … Remember, self-sufficient. (PS: We also carry a shovel and axe – just saying.) ?