article: RV Boondocking and Dry Camping

my thoughts on this article. from a vandweller’s point of view.  Some of my objections are technical, some are financial.

> With many campgrounds closed, full-time RVers that aren’t prepared to dry camp or boondock might find themselves in a pickle.

Agreed.  Luckily for me, I never had the budget to become dependent on rv campgrounds.

> Generator – You don’t NEED solar. A generator will get the job done!

Depends on “the job”.

What could one do with $1000 of generator (Honda eu1000i, 1000w ) or $1000 of solar (800w)?

  • Generator
    • large (IMO unnecessary) loads like microwaves and electric coffee makers
    • charging lithium, or Bulk-charging lead
  • Solar 
    • medium loads
    • fully charging lead (Pb)  batteries to avoid battery murder
  • optimal mix for Pb
    • generator in the morning while you make coffee
    • shut off generator when Vabs is reached, allow solar finish the full charge

> Batteries – Where can you put additional batteries? You might lose a storage bin to these.

Adding solar does not require adding batteries, since additional loads during the day can be run off the panels.   I would recommend onlookers keep the existing battery bank until it proves insufficient for needs.

> Some people might be perfectly comfortable running a generator for an hour or so each night to top up their batteries.

Great solution for lithium.  Recipe for battery murder with lead. Absorption takes hours.

> There has been a tendency for RV manufacturers to move towards all-electric rigs. Some people are afraid to have propane on board. It probably also simplifies the build for them. An all-electric coach is not a deal-breaker for boondocking

To quote Sternwake:  “fear of propane will be expensive”.

Other issues with all-electric:

  • they are typically designed for pedestal power, and have no incentive to be efficient
  • they tend to run appliances on 110v, requiring additional inverter losses off-grid


> We both work and have our internet router and computers going all day long. We like to be able to get up in the morning and make a pot of coffee without being concerned about running out of power. With 1360 watts of solar panels on the roof and 600 amp hours of lithium batteries

Problem:  need coffee in the morning

Proposed solutions:

  • spend (I’m guessing here) $8000 on panel and a ton of lithium to run Mr. Coffee machine; or
  • use a $20 propane burner and a percolator, pour-over, or press.  My Melitta pour-over was 50 cents on clearance at a supermarket, and I bought many bodum presses for $2 at thrift stores over the years.

Admittedly the first option is more fun, especially if it can be written off as a biz expense, etc.

> we have only had to run the generator a few times when we’ve had rain for multiple days in a row or poor sun exposure.

Sounds like a successful setup.  I’d encourage onlookers with that much solar to reduce power consumption in poor insolation rather than spending another $1000+ on a generator.

At first glance, you might think that an Instant Pot would be too power hungry for boondocking. But once it gets to pressure, it only uses a bit of power to keep it at pressure for the cook time. And because it cooks faster than most other methods and doesn’t heat up the house, we consider it a boondocking essential.

A stovetop pressure cooker is $40 new ($5 at thrift stores) and uses 0 watts on propane.

> If you have an electric only fridge, it will figure heavily into your power usage calculations.

My 12v compressor fridge uses 12A/day.


while I agree with much of the content, it leans heavily on the most expensive solutions for each problem.

backchannel: generator holy wars

grouchy response to this comment.

> Sometimes I feel that [running a generator]  upsets people a little too much.

Sometimes I feel that generator folk feel entitled to make racket wherever and whenever they want. No different from partiers or music-blasters.

> before solar, everyone ran their generators

People have been camping in nature for 1000s of years without generators.

> I feel shunned in the community

I do not stay near people making racket regardless of the source. My intent is to get away from the noise, not to shun anyone.

> or like I’m a bad person for needing my A/C.

People who need A/C are not bad people.

People who falsely present their preferences as needs in order to justify transgressive behavior are bad people.  Fake service animal shenanigans, etc.

I trust you are in the group that actually needs A/C.

> since I need it a lot

People who have health-related needs for A/C would do well to use campsites with hookups and/or get their snowbirding skills up to speed. What will they do if the genny breaks down when they require A/C?

I have met many veterans boondocking who do it to get away from noise and other triggering stimuli for PTSD or other reasons. That’s precisely why I camp away from others.

Success story: At the 2018 RTR a fellow (sasnak on YT) was camping in a semi and walked around to his neighbors to ask if they minded him running his engine for a couple hours to bulk charge his batteries. He had bought solar but couldn’t install it until the next day. Everyone, including me, gave our blessing. I thanked him for asking. I visited other areas of the camp for a couple hours.

july, and a long weekend

Google says I was here in July:

Screenshot_2019-08-09 Timeline

Looks right to me.  I like the Ruidoso area as well Cloudcroft (near Alamagordo) but Ruidoso is a longer drive.

Right now I am outside Cloudcroft in a prime spot on the tip-top of a ridge.  I’ve been trying to get into it since I’ve been coming up here, but it’s popular and is usually occupied.  Last time I drove through there was a car “holding the place” and the campers didn’t arrive until the next day.   🙁

long weekend

Oops, prematurely hit the Publish button.

I mentioned my office’s transition to a 4×10 schedule earlier.  We have on average 3 days off a week, but sometimes 2 or 4.   I’m on one of those 4-day weekends right now.

I really needed it.






Today at work we started 4×10 shifts (4 days x 10hrs/day), and added Saturdays.   The change is really good for me personally.

10 hour days

10hr days mean I will be in a climate controlled environment two more Continue reading “4×10”

short weekend

I work a rotating shift.  This shift change is the worst because I work until 10pm on Friday then open again at 4am Monday.   Makes for a short weekend.  :-/

Pic is from by go-to, Organ Mountains / Desert Needles national monument outside Las Cruces NM.

Bucket list: Big Bend

Big Bend has been #1 on my bucket list for a long time.  How can I have lived my whole life in Tx and never been here?

There are actually two parks in the Area:

  1. Big Bend national park, which is what most people are thinking about; and
  2. Big Bend Ranch state park, through which the Presidio – Lajitas drive runs (no charge to drive through).  It may be the most beautiful stretch of road in Texas.

I drove through the park and overnighted in Big Bend.  Camping there is problematic for boondocker, although better than state parks.    There are two ways to camp in the park: Continue reading “Bucket list: Big Bend”

kangaroo rat

When I was at the Organ Mountain[s] national monument I had the sliding door open after dark.   The interior light was throwing a bit of illumination on the ground.

One of these guys went scampering by.  Looked like a gerbil with a longer tail curved up and ending in a black tuft.  If they hop like a ‘roo this one was slacking.  He walked like a normal mouse.

By Bcexp [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons


I bought some shadecloth before going FT and finally deployed it this weekend.

It’s commonly available in 90% and 80% shade, with 90% being more popular.  80% might be happier in very windy situations, although even 90% is much easier to deal with in wind than a normal tarp.

I wanted shadecloth because I work on the galley end at the side sliding door.  If sun comes through at all it burns people and overheats equipment quickly.  I smoked an inverter that way, and nothing was plugged into it.  I had it laying in the sun and turned it on…. pop!  Unfortunately the fuse was soldered to the board instead of being easily replaceable.  Note to self….

The brutal sun, I suspect, is due to the reduced attenuation of sunlight through air at these 4000’+ altitudes.  It’s really noticeable.

If I’m parking for a couple of areas I’ll arrange it so the slider is on the shaded side.  But if I am emplaced somewhere (or want to be parked in a given direction for some reason) the shadecloth really reduces the sun.  After putting up the  shadecloth my black laptop does not get warm at all.

The cloth stretched a good bit in the first few hours, requiring guy cord adjustment every so often.