Boondocking - The Lily Pad gets ready

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I've mentioned boondocking in some previous blogs and forgot that some folks might not understand the term. So first, in the most basic terms, boondocking is camping without hookups. That said, some consider any overnight stay without hookups as boondocking. Others insist that it's only boondocking when you are in the middle of the "boonies". Regardless, it's a way to save on campground fees. For some further information try "Boondocking—Making It Work" by Paul Bernhagen and "What is Boondocking?" by Bob Wells as well as

For me it will be the ability to park in the boonies as well as other dry camping spots, thus saving me considerable money on campground fees. But this doesn't come cheap....not if done right. I've been fortunate to be able to spend a week with a wide variety of folks who boondock, sometimes weeks on end. I've learned much more about what I can and can't accomplish with the solar setup I am getting. I already knew that my microwave & A/C were off limits but I've also learned about replacing my reading lamp (40watt Halogen bulb) with a small fluorescent light. I've learned that having a small but bright LED light at the front & back of my rig will help me locate it in the dark.

I've learned the difference between a converter and an inverter. I learned about controllers aka regulators. I've learned about different size inverters and what they will run. I've learned that I need to keep my refrigerator on propane rather than auto so it doesn't pull down my batteries. I've learned that a catalytic heater won't use any electricity like my big furnace (and my space heater) and uses less propane than my big furnace.

At the big tent I found a great price on a Olympian Wave 6 catalytic heater as well as the legs that you attach to make it a portable unit (allowing me to move it from the living area during the day to the bedroom/bathroom area at night/morning). Here is a photo I found on the internet...mine looks just like this except I don't store it in the shower, I store it in the cockpit area (mine is a step-down) and keep it covered with an old pillow case to keep the dust out (much cheaper than the $25 color they sell for it....LOL!)

Next step was finding someone to install a propane shut-off valve & quick disconnect as well as the hose to allow me to move it around. Yesterday I had an appointment to get that done as well as get a 12 volt outlet (cigarette lighter) installed close to the door where my desk will eventually go. That will allow me to run a 400 watt inverter for my laptop during the day, rather than firing up the large inverter. Here is a photo of the shut-off valve with the quick disconnect and one of the 12 volt outlet mounted at the top of the stairwell.

Tomorrow is my solar installation which will take pretty much all day. I will write about my setup once it's done just in case there are any last minute changes. I'm getting excited!

Till next time - keep on rollin',


  1. heehee....did you steal Tioga George's Wave heater? Glad you are still having fun and learning how to boondock......that's our favorite way of camping!

  2. You could leave your frig on auto IF the outlet it is plugged into is NOT included as one that the big inverter feeds. If the inverter is connected to the main power line such that it is auto-switching and feeds all the circuits then you don't want it on auto.

    I can hardly wait to see your solar setup.

    Too bad you couldn't find an acceptable power outlet instead of that cigarette lighter. I've found that for some reason some plugs don't make good contact in a lighter socket where they do in a power socket. Another option that would have worked, and something to consider for any future outlets, is to use a 1/4" mono headphone plug and then get (or make) an adaptor/extension cord.

  3. I don't know where I'd put a heater, so I guess I'm stuck with the furnace! But I already have solar, so as long as the sun shines and it doesn't stay TOO cold, I should be okay. I'll be boondocking all of next week, the longest I've been without any hookups. Hope it goes well!

  4. Finally got a chance to catch up on your wanderings and whatnot's. Sounds like your still our there and doing it. What a blast. Someday for me too. I have a little Aliner Cabin A3 and my pickup to go and play in. Plan on enclosing the back of the truck to be able to carry more stuff.
    Will email you offline later to ask some question's if you don't mind. Take care and keep on RVing.

  5. Being able to boondock offers so much more flexibility in the RV lifestyle. And being able to camp in the "boonies" sometimes is what RVing is all about, IMHO. Campgrounds are nice at times but getting out in the desert or forest away from others is a whole different experience - slower paced, relaxing and beautiful. I much prefer looking at nature than at someone else's slideout or awning! :-) Jaimie


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