Ultimate Packing Checklist for Boondocking | LydiaScapes

Ultimate Packing Checklist for Boondocking

Camping in established parks and campgrounds is awesome, but nothing beats exploring the outdoors freely in your RV.

And no, we’ve got nothing against camping in campgrounds. In fact, campgrounds are great for beginners who want to test the waters. But if you’re looking for solitude and perhaps get detached from civilization, nothing beats boondocking.

working remotely while in an rv campervan digital nomad

Also known as dry camping or dispersed camping, boondocking allows you to get closer to nature than you would in campgrounds. It’s a great way to stay off-grid and enjoy the outdoors for an immersive camping experience. 

Preparation is key, and the gear you bring with you can make or break your boondocking trip. So what do you need for a successful trip?

We’ve taken several dry camping trips and know exactly what you’ll need. Below, you can use our ultimate packing checklist for boondocking to make sure you remember it all. 

parked motorhome on desert spot with bicycles

The Ultimate Boondocking Packing Checklist

Camping Must-Haves

These are camping basics that 90% of the time, you should absolutely have with you. Go through this list carefully to make sure you don’t forget any essentials for sleeping or lighting. 

  • Bedding
    • Pillow
    • Sheets
    • Blankets
  • Camping Furniture
    • Camping chairs
    • Folding table
    • Hammock
    • Cot
    • Mat or rug
  • Lighting
    • Flashlight
    • Lantern
    • Headlamp
    • Fuel
    • Hanging lights for awning
    • Batteries
  • Firewood and kindling
  • Water bottle
sink and amenities inside rv campervan

RV Automobile Supplies

You never know when your RV will need some maintenance! Here are some items you may want to keep in your RV in case you need to make any repairs on the road.

  • Tire inflator
  • Vehicle Repair Kit
    • Socket set
    • Pliers
    • Wire cutters
    • Screwdrivers
    • Wrench set
    • Breaker bar
    • Ramps
    • Floor jack
    • Jack stands
    • Oil drain pan and funnel
    • Grease remover
    • Latex gloves
    • Multimeter
    • Lubricants
  • Jumper cables
  • RV battery charger
  • Vehicle Owner’s Manual

Camping Tools

There are several different tools you’ll need for success when camping. From repair tools to maintenance needs, here are the top camping tools you should pack in your RV. 

  • Portable generator
  • Portable water heater
  • Binoculars
  • Axe or saw (for firewood)
  • Broom and dustpan
  • Shovel
  • Rake
  • Pliers
  • Clothesline and clips
  • Pocket knife
  • Multi-tool
  • Duct tape
  • Rope or cord
  • Solar panel
  • Compass
  • Water containers
  • Bungee cords
  • S hooks

Kitchen and Cooking

You won’t be having a good trip if you don’t pack much food! Keep in mind that you need much more than just food itself in your RV – you also need utensils to cook and eat it with, and tools to store it and keep it fresh. Here are the top items you need in your RV’s kitchen. 

  • Eating utensils
    • Forks
    • Spoons
    • Knives
  • Cooking utensils
    • Spatula
    • Serving spoon
    • Whisk
    • Tongs
    • Skewers
    • Measuring cups
    • Basting brush
    • Kitchen scissors
  • Plates
  • Bowls
  • Mugs and cups
  • Can opener
  • Water dispenser
  • Cooler and ice
  • Tablecloth and clips
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Dish towels
  • Tin foil
  • Ziploc bags
  • Cutting board
  • Portable stove and fuel
  • Portable coffee maker
  • Charcoal
  • Lighter 
  • Pots
  • Pans
  • Grill kit
  • Lighter or matches
  • Bottle opener
  • Sponges
  • Oven mitts
  • Foot thermometer
  • Garbage bags
  • Paper towels
  • Coffee filters
  • Water filtration system
  • Jugs of clean water
  • Nonperishable foods and beverages
  • Seasonings
  • Cooking oil
  • Condiments
campervan rv packed food
Having food on the campervan during winter time
Having food on the campervan during winter time

Clothes and Shoes

Of course, you’ll need to bring clothes with you. However, you should consider the time of year, the temperature, and the weather conditions before packing anything. Here are some clothing items to consider bringing with you depending on your personal needs.

  • Shirts
    • Long-sleeve
    • Short-sleeve
  • Pants
  • Shorts
  • Belt
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Bras
  • Pyjamas
  • Sweater
  • Jacket
  • Raincoat or poncho
  • Winter coat
  • Swimsuit
  • Sunhat
  • Knit hat
  • Rainboots
  • Sneakers/Tennis shoes
  • Hiking boots
  • Flip-flops
  • Shower shoes
  • Sunglasses
  • Gloves
  • Watch
  • Bandana

Hygiene and Toiletries

Staying clean and safe is important on any camping trip. Make sure you have several of these toiletry items to stay clean, healthy, and comfortable. 

  • Portable or composting toilet
  • Portable wastewater disposal tank
  • Portable camp shower
  • Toilet paper
  • Towels
  • Biodegradable shampoo/conditioner
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Lotion
  • Moisturizer
  • Washcloth/loofa
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Mouthwash
  • Deodorant
  • Nail clippers
  • Contacts
    • Case
    • Solution 
  • Razor
  • Shower cap
  • Menstrual products
  • Shower shoes
  • Mirror
  • Baby wipes
  • Lip balm
outdoor camping and shaving using rv campervan mirror

Safety and First Aid

You never want to be caught in the wilderness without any safety or first aid items. In case you accidentally injure yourself or find yourself in a pinch, make sure you have all of these items in your safety kit. 

  • First aid kit
    • Adhesive bandages
    • Antiseptic wipes
    • Adhesive cloth tape
    • Antibiotic ointment
    • Hydrocortisone ointment
    • Aspirin
    • Cold compress/ice pack
    • Nonlatex gloves
    • Gauze bandages
    • Gauze pads
    • Oral thermometer
    • Tweezers 
    • Emergency blanket
    • Breathing barrier
    • Eye drops
  • Mosquito repellant (spray/candles)
  • Waterproof matches
  • Bear mace
  • Sunscreen
  • Whistle
  • Printed directions to the closest hospital
  • Hand sanitiser

Recreational Gear

Boondocking isn’t just sitting in the camper all day! There are lots of things you can bring with you to enjoy your time both in and out of the RV. Here are some ideas of recreational gear to pack with you. 

  • Card games
  • Cornhole
  • Art supplies
  • Camera and lenses
  • Field guides
  • Star chart
  • Television
  • DVD player
  • CD player

Miscellaneous Items

Each of the items in this section is specific to certain needs, such as going fishing or bringing a pet with you. Take a look to see if you’re forgetting anything important. 

  • Writing utensils
    • Pens
    • Pencils
    • Markers
  • Journal
  • Book
  • Pet supplies
    • Leash
    • Bowls
    • Pet food
  • Baby supplies
    • Food
    • Diapers
    • Toys
  • Binoculars
  • Umbrella
  • Fishing gear
  • Hunting gear

Personal Items

You should never leave your home without the items on this list. Always make sure you have them before leaving in your RV. 

  • ID card
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Medication
  • Cash
  • Credit cards
  • Keys

Top Tips for Boondocking Newbies

If this is your first time going boondocking, we know how overwhelming it can get. Here are our top tips for boondocking newbies. 

Keep Track of Your Fresh Water

It’s really easy to lose track of your fresh water supply, so keep an eye on it. While some RVs have tank sensors, others do not. You may have to buy a water flow tracker to attach to your hose (or water tank if you feel skilled enough) to track how much water you’re using. 

Always start off your trip with a full tank of fresh water. Then, use portable plastic jugs to bring more fresh water back to your RV if you need it, so you don’t have to move your RV to do so. 

You can also practice preserving your fresh water ahead of time. Try to preserve your fresh water while camping at a normal campground by using less water during showers, washing, or flushing. That way, you have access to more water if you accidentally use too much. This is a great opportunity to figure out how much water you can use before your tank runs out, before you’re in the woods. 

sink and amenities inside rv campervan

Consider a Portable Waste Water Disposal Tank

Many boondockers prefer to use a compostable or portable toilet, since you won’t have access to an RV dump station. 

Those who want to keep using the toilet in their RV can opt to use a portable wastewater disposal tank to get more use. These tanks are used to empty your RV wastewater tank when you don’t have access to a dump station while boondocking, so you can dump your waste out of the portable tank later on. 

With one of these, you won’t have to leave camp immediately to go find a dump station. The tank attaches to the back of your RV for easy pulling when you’re ready to go to the station. 

Bring Extra Fuel

Even if you think you won’t need to use any fuel for your generator, it’s always good to have some as a backup, especially boondocking during winter time. Winter RV essentials are always necessary! 

Many boondockers prefer to hook up solar panels to their RV as they’re quieter and more environmentally friendly than generators. But if it’s cloudy or your solar panels stop working, your generator can be used as a backup. 

You should also have spare gasoline in case you need it to fuel the RV itself – you don’t want to be trapped in the woods with an empty tank! To try and avoid this situation, be sure to fill up entirely before heading out on your trip as well. 

Simplify Your Meals

Camping Fire Cooking Bulgaria
We made quite the showing with our camping cookout, in the Balkan wilderness.

Cooking while camping is great fun, but you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Find some simple meals like hamburgers or hotdogs to cook over the fire or on your grill kit. 

If you want to make things even simpler, you can pre-cook and freeze some meals for during your trip. As long as you have a cooler or a freezer connected to power, you should have no issues storing your meals. Then, simply heat up and eat!

Start Small and Work Your Way Up

It can be tempting to jump into a big boondocking extravaganza at first. If you’re new to it, we recommend starting with a short trip and then working your way into longer ones. 

There are lots of things to consider when it comes to boondocking that are easy to overlook. Though this checklist will help with some of them, it’s different when put into practice. Give it a test run, then plan that dream trip of yours. 

Final Thoughts

Boondocking in different places is an exciting and fulfilling experience when done correctly. You always need to make sure you have all the essential gear you need for a successful trip. Don’t forget to bring the important stuff like spare batteries, extra food, automobile repair supplies and first aid supplies before hitting the road. 

If you’re looking to learn some more about boondocking before you hit the road, check out our Beginner Guide to Boondocking and Freedom Camping Checklist

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