The Boondocking Experiment

On this week’s show I am talking about dry camping and I also welcome a VERY special guest, my own husband and patron of my hobbies, Rick Pettit. Regular followers of the show know he’s “not a camper!” He is however a great husband and a couple times a year indulges me in some couple camping. I talked him into joining me for an 8 day camp out at Rocky Mountain National Park and “forgot” to tell him that our site had no hook-ups. There was a nearby spigot for water but no running water, electric (no AC) or sewer. In this episode we break down what we learned boondocking or dry camping, two phrases that are often used interchangeably.

First he had to ask, “and why are we doing this?” Good question. The answer for me was simple.  In short it’s prettier, closer to nature, quieter and cheaper.

  • Location. Location. Location. You cannot beat the beauty of the sites in remote areas and National Parks and the vistas they offer. It seems the more remote, the less likely to have amenities but there is something better than on demand electric usage and that’s a site with a view.
  • There’s also often more access to wildlife in its natural habitat. Each night we enjoyed sitting and watching the elk graze in the valley below. You don’t get that at large franchised campgrounds.
  • The quietness that boondocking offers campers is another big draw. It’s not the kind of camping drawing racous crowds of revelers keeping you up half the night.
  • Lastly, there’s the cost. We paid $13 a night for our site at Rocky Mountain National Park, about 1/5 of what we pay to camp in a campground on the east coast.

Much of boondocking boils down to conservation of some kind. The number one thing to conserve is water. We had a full 30 gallon fresh water tank, a 20 gallon grey water tank and a 9 gallon black tank.

Saving Water

  • Switch to paper plates
  • Wash dishes outside in old school camp kitchen
  • Use basin in sink to catch water and then dump outside
  • Have a good supply of refillable water jugs

Change Shower Habits

  • Military Showers – pits and sits
  • Don’t use water from fresh water tank.  Heat water from reserve supply on stove and use old school wash basin to “bathe”
  • Get a shower bag and fill it from campground tap in the morning and leave it on picnic table to heat up in the sun. Bring it in and use it in your trailer shower.
  • Use Epic Wipes and dry shampoo


I used my Camco cooler bag for so many things, including a “bath!” After several days of wet wipe clean ups and solar show this felt like pure luxury!

Minimize Water Going Into Your Grey Tank

  • Do your dishes outside
  • Flush quickly
  • If you are in a campground use the camp bathroom
  • Get a shower tent and shower bag
  • Use biodegradable soaps and dump water outside when possible

Conserving Propane

  • Cook outside when possible
  • Turn on heat to take the chill off but then use wool blankets to stay warm at night
  • Make more than one meal at a time. Cook the chicken breast for lunch while you are making bacon and eggs for breakfast
  • Refrain from opening the fridge too often. Put drinks and things you want to get at often in a cooler with ice
  • Keep back up propane tank in the bed of tow vehicle

Plan Ahead

  • Bring extra water and empty water containers with you
  • Plan meals to avoid going into town
  • Make sure you fill the fresh water and dump the grey and black water before you get to your site
  • Know where the spigot is at the campground and get a site close to it
  • Have extra water and propane in case you run out
  • Have a funnel to put water in your fresh water tank by hand if necessary