Written by 9:27 pm Common Questions

What Is Dry Camping? A Dry Camping Guide for Beginners [Pros, Cons, Essentials, Tips, and Areas to Camp!]

Dry camping is great for people who want to upgrade their camping style! Why settle for having a tent when you can afford to get an RV or camper van? It’ll feel like you never left home in the first place!

But there are so many things you need to learn before dry camping. It can get well…err…overwhelming!

No worries! We have you covered. Read on to find out more about dry camping.

What Is Dry Camping?

Unlike tent camping, dry camping involves camping in an RV, van, or motorhome with no hookups. Hook-ups give you access to electricity or water.

Dry campers set up camp on public lands or sometimes private places, with the permission of the owner.

The camping location can be state parks, city parks, county parks, private resorts, you name it. Many are also free campsites.

It is closely associated with camping on private lands, like setting up camp in the parking lots of big stores or at truck stops.

Should I Be Dry Camping? Advantages and Disadvantages

A dry camping trip is not for everyone. It can be really fun, but it can also be really challenging. Here are the reasons why you should or shouldn’t be dry camping.


It’s Cheap

All you need are your supplies. The campgrounds you will be using are usually FREE.

It’s Less Restricted

You aren’t limited to designated campsites. You can basically park ANYWHERE you can get the best access to water or the best view.

It’s Off-Grid

You won’t be surrounded by other campers. So if you dream of camping off-grid in a pristine natural landscape, practically alone, this would be the way to go.

No Need to Set Up a Tent

It’s easy. You just have to park and enjoy the view.


Legal Limitations

You can’t just park anywhere you want. So you need to do your research before picking a spot.

More Work

With no electricity or running water, you need to be prepared for extra work.

More Cargo

Everything you have to bring can weigh you down.

What Is Boondocking?

Boondocking is a type of camping. It has two components: how and where.

How: Dry Camping

Dry camping and wild camping are under the “how” of camping.

In boondocking, you will be doing dry camping. There won’t be full hookups with connection to water, electricity, or the sewer, like you would find in developed campgrounds.

This is generally free, although a permit is sometimes required.

Where: Dispersed Camping

Boondocking is basically dispersed camping on public land. Dispersed camping is camping outside of a designated camping ground.

With increased interest in dispersed camping, there are now designated spots to do this. They usually have occupancy limits in addition to stay limits. Camping outside these areas is usually not permitted.

Most free camping limits are usually 14 days, but we’ve seen them be as short as one night. So make sure you double-check your area.

Dry Camping Basics: What You Will Need

So by now, you’ve probably decided that you want to give it a try. GREAT! A dry camping trip can be very fun! If you don’t know what you need to get started, here it is!


This is basically EVERYTHING. It will be both your transportation and shelter. So make sure you have an RV suitable for camping and that it is in good working order.


Food is obvious. You definitely don’t want to STARVE. Unless…you’re also up for some Bear Grylls adventure?

All you need to keep your food cool is a good hard cooler. This should keep the food cool for up to 10 days. Just learn how to pack and use it well.

Also make sure you keep a supply of dry food as well, in case something goes wrong with the cooler, or if you run out of supplies.


Without hookups for water, you have to be prepared to bring your own.

You need to have many sources for water because you NEED this to SURVIVE!

Keep fresh water in a jug in addition to your water tank.

You should also keep water purification tablets or a water filtration pump or straw. This is just in case you run out.


You will need a way to get power. Remember, there are no electrical hookups.

From solar power phone chargers, solar panels, to full-scale on board generators, there are different ways you can get your power and keep your batteries charged.

With a GENERATOR, you can also charge your RV batteries, phones, and run anything you need for a time.

If your RV can make use of shore power, that would be very helpful.

Use LED Lights

They last longer than normal light bulbs and draw less power. So your RV battery should last longer.

Emergency Supplies

ALWAYS have emergency supplies in your RV! Things like a durable flashlight, backup batteries, matches, fire starter, emergency radio and a first aid kit are a MUST.

Dry Camping Tips

Here are some tips before you go on your RV trip!

Assess and Adjust

Make sure you assess your RV. You need to learn the LIMITATIONS and ADVANTAGES of your own RV.

The SIZE of your RV is an important factor. If you have a small RV, you’re less limited by where you can park. But with a large RV, you get more storage capacity for resources, black water, gray water, and batteries.

Once you’re aware and comfortable with what your RV can do, you need to assess your comfort level.

For the most part, you will have to change some habits and readjust what is needed in order to stay self-contained.

Water and Tanks

Water is one of the most important things to think about. It is an essential part of owning an RV. Be aware of what tanks your RV has and how they are used.

If you want to stay out for a longer time, you have to be conservative with your fresh water. It will also slow down the rate at which your gray tank fills up.

You can also extend your fresh water capacity by bringing collapsible bladders and jerry jugs that you can empty into your fresh water tank when it gets low.

The Gray Water Tank

Water from your fresh tank will eventually end up in your grey tank. This means if you refill your fresh water tank, more water will end up in the gray tank .

Here are some ways to limit your gray water.

  • Use your grey water for watering the plants around. Just make sure the soap you use is biodegradable and that there are no food bits in the water.
  • Consider getting a SOLAR SHOWER instead. It will allow you to shower outdoors, helping to leave the tanks alone. It can also serve as an extra water supply. You can fill it up from a lake, river, or stream.

The Black Water Tank

This water tank holds your toilet waste.

While it doesn’t fill up as quickly as the gray tank, when it does fill up, you CANNOT dump it ANYWHERE. You have to find the closest DUMP STATION to dispose of it properly.

NEVER dispose of the contents of the black tank on the ground. To be prepared for this, make sure you search up the nearest dump stations to your campsite beforehand.

If you plan to dry camp for a long time, a large black tank is an advantage.

Is Dry Camping Legal?

It is perfectly legal in most circumstances! You just have to make sure you have permission from whoever owns or manages the land.

For private property, this means contacting the owner. For public spaces, that means you will have to get permission from the state or national parks service.

Campground Locations

So now that you’re ready, it’s a matter of which campground. Here are some common dry camping locations.

National Parks

National parks rarely let dry campers drive-in. Make sure you watch out for signs prohibiting overnight stays.

The Bureau of Land Management areas allow for some dispersed camping. Just make sure you double-check for your area.

If you do get to camp here, they make for an excellent campground.

National Forests

Thousands of acres of land are open to dry campers. It’s not hard to find a BEAUTIFUL scenic place to park and set up camp in a national forest. So this is a great place to consider.

Private Property

This is a great option. Just make sure you have permission from the owner of the land.

How Long Can You Dry Camp?

Seasoned campers should be able to last 10-14 days without refilling water or needing to dump their tank. This is kind of long though.

And chances are, you are a new camper if you’re reading an article on how to dry camp.

Most people could last a good 3 to 4 nights.

However, there is the matter of how long you’ll be ALLOWED to stay on the campground, which completely depends! You will have to check the area where you’re planning to camp and figure out how long the MAXIMUM stay is.

Final Thoughts

Dry camping can be a great way to experience the outdoors if you’re not fond of the idea of sleeping in a tent.

It can be fun, but also challenging. And that’s what we LOVE about it!

The campgrounds can have the most breathtaking views. So enjoy every minute of it!

Hopefully, this article helped, and good luck on your trip!

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