7 Essential Items That Will Make Your Boondocking Life The BOMB

Living and boondocking in a travel trailer… it’s totally rad! But tiny living doesn’t allow for you to own many things.

The few things you own should be VERY useful.

Some things are must-have’s when you live off the grid as I do. Why? Partly because some places aren’t so hospitable as far as wind, sun, rain, and, er, dust.

 

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In my first year ‘booning’, I learned what can’t be lived without in that time. Wanna know my secrets? Let’s get started…

7 Of The Best Boondocking Things…

Here are some of my top must-have items for boondocking… off the grid… dry camping life… whatever you prefer to call it.

I’ll make this as entertaining as I can. 😛

1. A Big Buddy Heater

My Buddy… (My buddy) My Buddy…(My buddy) Wherever I go, heeeeee goes…  There’s some brilliant marketing, that song has stayed in my head for about 35 years!

 

This little pack of power can be a lifesaver. It already has for me!

One fateful night just recently, my furnace was on the fritz and the temps were getting down to about 28 degrees. 😬

The Buddy Heater saved the day (night).  I left it on on low all night and it kept my 24′ travel trailer at around 68 degrees. It was almost too warm but I’ll take that over freezing.

The Buddy Heater is great to use when it’s cold and you don’t want to run down your batteries for your furnace.  It’s also pretty great if you don’t HAVE a furnace.

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Me ‘n my three heat methods: Furnace, Buddy Heater and Warm Clothes! Always have more than one source for backup. 

On cold mornings, if I want to make it warm fast, I turn it on if my RV batteries are low.

Most of the time, me and The Girls are perfectly happy under my down comforter with the furnace set to somewhere around 49 degrees.

In the morning, I’ll get up and pop the Buddy Heater on to warm it up quick, sparing my battery bank.

Here’s how Gizmo stays warm. She gets INTO the duvet. Then, sometimes has a hard time finding her way back out.

 

Anyway, my favorite thing is to bring my Buddy Heater into the bathroom with me for a shower.

(Sorry, no video of that. 😅)

JEEZ!! CALM DOWN!!! Alright, alright!!!    …but just a quickie.

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Now, back to business:

With the Buddy Heater, I do wish you could set a temperature and it would maintain that temp. But you can’t- that’s not how it works. It’s either on low, medium, high, or it’s off.

Warning: Be SURE to crack a window when using any propane heater! You could kill yourself if not. Propane releases carbon monoxide. The heater has a low oxygen sensor that automatically turns it off in such a case, but you don’t want to go that far.

They come in about three different sizes. I think the Big Buddy (the largest) is perfect for my size living space.

The Big Buddy Heater takes two small green “Coleman” canisters of camping propane. Or, you can get a hose to attach it to a bigger refillable propane tank, like this one:

If you’re a full-timer, or you just don’t care to throw money away, don’t constantly buy the green Coleman propane bottles.They retail for around $3-$4 each!!! That’s crazy expensive!

There are two much cheaper solutions.

  1. Refill your green bottles
  2. Get the above hose and use a small propane tank.

How To Refill Your Green Coleman Propane Tanks

To refill the Coleman propane tanks, you only need an adapter, some CURVED forceps, and a small enough portable propane tank that you can turn upside down when full. (You have to turn it upside down when filling)

Below are the three items you need to refill your green Coleman tanks. Sure, you can click on them to get them, or any of the stock photos in this post. 😘

                          

Here’s my little setup, sans the propane tank. I have pliers but I can see how forceps would be better. At times my curved pliers are a little too thick and I have a hard time gripping the valve inside.

Hey- Want to see what cheapskate hell looks like? Look at THIS price tag:
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Yaaaaaaah…. that was in Banff National Park. Before I knew to have a stash of tanks with me. Before I knew about refilling. #WhenIWasANewbie

I could do a video showing you how, but someone else already has, and I can’t beat it.

So here it is… an awesome video showing you how to refill your green bottles.

(In a hurry? Jump to the 3:50 mark to skip the economics of filling the bottles yourself.)

2. Five Gallon Collapsible Water Containers

These are awesome! I have 6 of them. You can get these so that when you run out of water, you don’t have to move your entire house to get water. Instead, you bring the water to your house.

Usually, when I am refilling my fresh water tank in between spots, I fill these at the same time, saving another trip into town with my truck.  I also use a couple to hold down my solar panels.

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Weighing down my RV’s Juice maker. Nifty.

The 5-gallon bags weigh about 40 lbs each when they are full. Of course, you can fill them as much or as little as you would like so they aren’t too heavy.

This is a must-have so you can stay at your site for even longer without moving your house.

But wait… how do you get the water out of the and container into your rig?

Yeah, I know, one could use a pump. But remember, a pump is an electronic device. Therefore a  pump = $$ purchase expense + repair costs. No thanks.

To keep it simple, all you really need is an adapter like this one:

CAUTION: Not all bag openings are the same size. I only know 100% that the bag I linked to here DOES fit this adapter. You can choose another type of bag, but just know this particular adapter may or may not fit.

An essential part of my water system.

 

No, it’s not the EASIEST setup in the world, but it is simple and cheap.

Now, if you have a huge water tank (I do not, mine is only around 25 gallons) then this could get too tedious without a pump. It depends on how much work you want to endure and how simple you want your life to be. I’m choosing simplicity.

How To Put Water In Your RV Tank

  1. Take the cap off of your water holding tank:
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Cap off my fresh water tank. Heeeey- don’t judge… I live on dirt roads!! And yes, I need to re-seal or do some repair patching. 

2. Attach the nozzle to your water bag.

3. Insert the nozzle into your tank and push or lean into the bag.

Leaning into it does two things:

  1. Pushes the water in
  2. Keeps you from really having to hold it up. Instead, your body does the work.

 

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Just pretend the water bag is attached. I don’t have any water in a bag to spare right now for the photo.  #LameBlogger

3. Portable Solar Panels

THESE THINGS ARE AMAZING! There is nothing more freeing than being able to wake up with low batteries only to have them magically charge back up during the day!!! It’s free power.

To me, it’s like a daily miracle…

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Even better, you don’t have to stay in campgrounds. If you have fairly low power needs, a portable solar panel you buy will be paid off in maybe 3-6 nights of free camping. (A miracle!)

I have two 100 watt panels now that I connect directly to my two 12 volt batteries. One of the panels is wired to the other and it’s disconnectable. When I unpack, I simply get them out, set them up, connect the panels together then hook the line up to my batteries.

Let’s take a look at my setup:

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My beautiful free power source(s)!

Here are my two panels. On the right, a 100 panel GIVEN to me as a gift by my badass friends Denny and Veronica of RvOutlawz.com. What an awesome gift! I was needing another 100 watts and lo and behold, they provided. 😀

On the left, my Renogy suitcase 100-watt panel that I got as soon as I started boondocking full-time. The Renogy has a controller, the other one does not. (You need to have a controller so you can make sure you’re getting juice, see how many amps you are pulling in and if your batteries are full/almost full.)

Thanks to my friend and travel partner FindingMarshall, they are now wired together and work in sync so I have 200 watts of solar.

Here’s half of the reason Marshall did it and not me. I’d be this guy:

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Originally, both panels came with the type of clamps you use for jumper cables. I hoped I could simply attach both sets of clamps to my battery terminals.

No can do… the panels have to be wired to each other first. Then only one set of ‘jumper cables’ should go to the batteries themselves.

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My charge controller. The red and white wires are from the panel given to me. I can disconnect them at the black connector.

Why get two panels when you can have one? Sure, I would like one 200 watt panel, but I am not made of money so these will have to do for now.

Also, never listen to me regarding any electrician work. Remember, I’m the one above testing the electric current with my tongue.

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It’s very easy to connect the solar panel’s ‘jumper cables’ to my batteries, as seen here.

I have had trouble with the connectors on the Renogy. As the panel gets moved, the wires bend. This causes the protective coating to wear off and the wires get exposed and start to break off. This is my only beef with the Renogy solar panel. It may be a universal issue with portable solar panels.

For strength, I wrapped the wires for extra support with this ‘Wrap-Fix” tape to help strengthen those areas. Seems to be helping some.

I’m very handy. I can repair hose leaks.

Also, that’s why in the solar controller photo above, the wires have been zip-tied by Marshall to try to keep them from being able to move so much.      …So he doesn’t have to keep fixing my shit. 😂

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Wrap-Fix entwined around the connectors and wires for added strength.

Here is the Renogy solar panel WITH a control panel, that I purchased from Amazon and still love to this day:

It takes the sun and gives me light and power to my electronics. I. Am. Amazed. It’s FREE POWER after the initial purchase, people!

Getting Solar installed is MUCH more complicated. Just ask my friends Brandon and Kerensa of DriveDiveDevour.com.  If you’re interested in getting rooftop solar, here’s a link to their solar installation on their Class A. It paid for itself quickly and afforded them the freedom of boondocking for free in the most beautiful places the USA has to offer.

4. UV sleeves

I LOVE UV sleeves! I have two sets. When driving, especially in the strong western sky, I can’t stand to have my arms getting so much sun.

I have had bouts of skin cancer (thanks, Florida) and prefer not to have any more, hence the sleeves. The ones that cover your hand for extra sun shading are the best.

I wear them A LOT in the summer:

Also, premature aging. It sucks. I don’t want it. So, UV sleeves to the rescue. 😀

Definitely flex your biceps when wearing.

5. “Sun Day Afternoon” Hat

I got this hat in 2015 and I wear it ALL THE TIME. It would be in probably every photo I have, but I take it off. Otherwise, my face would be totally shaded and all you would ever see is my hat on top of “who is that?”

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Caught! Here I didn’t take it off… because I didn’t even know a photo was being taken. But I love this pic… thanks, Marshall!

Both the sleeves and the hat are two things that make up a good part of my daily wardrobe and I would be worse for wear without them.

BONUS:

The hat is also great when my workstation (a camp chair) is outside. If I want to sit in the sun, I can work with the sun behind me, and my hat puts just enough of a shade on my screen so I can see what I am doing.

See?

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No worries… the sun warms my back and I can still see my screen. This might not work for everyone. Cool beans.

Maybe it’s not couture, but at least I’m walking the runway of my life.

The back has a velcro tab where you can ‘fold’ up the back and get it off of your neck if you need less coverage.

The chin strap keeps it from flying away in big winds. I use the strap at least half the time I am wearing it out here because some days are like this:

 

There’s a way you can tighten or loosen the band just above the brim and it’s super simple.

It’s light, collapsible and small enough to stuff in a backpack if necessary. Perfect!

6. Rayovac Flashlight/Boogeyman Exterminator

When you are all alone in the middle of the wilderness and you need to let your dogs out after dark… THIS powerhouse saves your life! Headlamps are a necessity too, but this thing is so powerful, it is a good buy for the money.

It keeps important things away, such as:

The boogeyman…

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Freaky monsters…

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And dolls.

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At night, I set it on high, peek out my door and do a scan around for any lurking monsters, dolls or boogeymen. When none are found, I let the girls out and keep the flashlight on them.

This light shines FAR.

Sure, there might be other/better flashlights out there, but I grabbed this one from Lowes before I launched and it has worked flawlessly ever since. It has saved me from god knows what out there.

It deserves a spot here.

Boogeyman killer. 

7. 12 Volt Fan

Now, when you boondock and you are thrifty, you don’t have the capability to run your air conditioning because you don’t have a hefty enough generator. (You have a quiet one)

I can run my ceiling Fantastic Fan from my RV’s batteries, but some days that is not enough.

Here’s some great detailed information on portable camping generators.

I have the Yamaha EF2000is generator, and I love it, but it won’t run my A/C.

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I try to stay where the climate is mild, but there are times when it’s plain HOT. When that happens, I am VERY happy to have my 12-volt fan. I can’t just leave my rig and go somewhere where there’s air conditioning because I have two dogs.

Therefore, I have to stay with them and the rig and keep it opened up.

On the hottest days, though, you would give just about anything for a few seconds of this, despite the cat’s opinion of it:

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(Poor kitty!)

You can use it anywhere you have a 12v plug- the cigarette lighter type. It doesn’t use many watts, so it’s a great little appliance to have all around!

That’s A Wrap!

There you have it- those are some of the things I am happiest to have and MUST have to live this life full-time boondocking RV life comfortably.

You can click on any of the ‘stock’ photos above to see the item for sale online. If you do, thank you VERY MUCH for clicking through, it will help me stay on the road, blogging about full-time RV life!

Sure, I want to educate a little about this lifestyle. But mostly, I hope to make you laugh!

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I’m currently exploring southern Utah, heading to Oregon for the Summer.

See ya next story!


31 thoughts on “7 Essential Items That Will Make Your Boondocking Life The BOMB

  1. I didn’t know there were such things as UV sleeves. They look a little like compression stockings/sleeves. And all those things need to come in bad-ass full-length tattoo designs instead of “therapeutic white.” Hell, even paisley and floral patters would be better.

    Some of us are still young enough to have fashion standards, Sleeve Manufacturing People!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey girl! They DO come in crazy colors! Probably even tattoo designs. Go check them out, more than one seller on Amazon. And they aren’t tight like compression sleeves, thank goodness!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s been a lifesaver for me! Yeah, I want to soon get the hose and use it with my tiny 1lb tank. Maybe. Not sure I want to add a propane tank to the inside, on my floor to take up more space. Hmmm. #Indecisive

      Like

  3. Thanks for making me spit on my iPad screen three times as I read this post. The Jesus GIF started it. OMFG I’m having another fit just thinking about Jesus and the fish as I type 🤣

    I also had no clue there was such a thing as UV sleeves. I HATE the feeling of sunscreen on my skin. Added the white ones to my shopping list (along with the hat, which I thought *just yesterday* I should look for…thanks for reading my mind) but will look later for more sleeve designs because I agree we need to look like badass chicks while avoiding skin cancer and salami-patterned arms.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s hilarious! Dang it, I had a bunch more GIF’s in the post at first, but it was loading so slow you couldn’t even see them move. Dang it Dang it Dang it! Yes, the sleeves breeze. I just love them! Yeah, my arms are already starting to get connect-the-dots freaking sunspots on them and I don’t want any more.

      You will love those and the hat. It’s light, it breathes, and I never have any issues when I’m wearing it. We’re gonna be bad ass old ladies that’s for sure! (But not for a long time of course.) 😊👊🏼

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Do you use the Photon plugin that’s part of Jetpack? Might help images load faster. I was reading in the WordPress app and it seemed like it had a hard time loading the images. Browser was better.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Strange that I cannot reply directly to your last question about the plugin. I hope you still get notified of this- I use wordpress.com. I don’t think there’s a plugin I can use to help, but let me know if I am wrong!! I’d love to be able to have things load faster for sure.

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      1. Oh, OK. I can’t easily look under the hood to tell when I’m on my iPad or phone, but I knew you had your domain mapped to your site so I just assumed.

        I’m pretty sure that WordPress.com has Photon/Jetpack built in. I will check this afternoon and let you know, when I log in to work on my next post. I get to do that now that I’ve finished my f*#$!ng taxes.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I checked before I thought to come back to this thread so yeah…Photon must be active by default.

        For technical/nerdy reasons that no one wants to hear, animated GIFs are often terrible on file size and therefore download times. But some are totally worth it. Like Jesus and the magic fish. Oh, lort…I’m gettin’ the giggles again…

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I know, right???? My favorite is the guy getting shocked on his tounge. He shocks himself all the time apparently, and there’s a video of all his mess-ups out there somewhere. TOO funny! Loved the Jesus one as well. LOL!!! Some are definitely worth it! I took most of them out. *sigh*

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  4. Oh, one question – do the sleeves breathe? Sometimes snug synthetic clothing makes me get unbearably hot, even though I tend to be the coldest one in the room most times.

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    1. That’s the best support of all! You have a lot on your plate at the moment. I’m behind you, too- you will get there. : ) Fear, shmear. Don’t let that fear get the best of you. Brandon was right. : ) Enjoy the ride!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. We’re not much into boondocking. Total babies and like our AC and such, but most of these items are good for us on the grid campers, too. Especially like the hat and boogeyman flashlight. Will look into those. Keep up the fun posts!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. LOL! We all have our levels of comfort, don’t we? They hat is great, so is the boogeyman blaster. I use them both almost every single day. The girls have to go out after dark, after all. 😬 : ) Thanks for reading, especially since you are NOT a boondocker! : D

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  6. Awesome Blog Chickadee! entertaining to say the least but I would say much more. Very useful info as well. What parts of Oregon are you planing on visiting. We are from NE Oregon and it is gorgeous there……Wallowa lake area…..www.Josephoregon.com

    Brett ans Danelle

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    1. Holy cow… just the front page of that website makes me want to see Joseph!No idea where yet really, just where the roads will take me… to the prettiest parts?? 😀 Going to see the eclipse there for sure. It’s not like I have to see all of Oregon this summer… hopefully, I have plenty more summers to explore the western United States. Thanks for reading and thanks for the sweet compliment, Brett and Danelle!

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    1. Turns out I thought I would be in Oregon but instead, I will be at a meet up in Idaho. Still, will be in Oregon for the summer if all goes well. 😊 Joseph? Maybe!

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  7. I wear a sun hat, sun sleeves and fingerless sun gloves while fly fishing. My sun sleeves are leopard print. You can find all these sun protection items at online fly fishing shops as well as brick and mortar. If you get the gloves, then you don’t need the sleeves with gloves. Love your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True about the gloves! If I had separate gloves, they would just be one more item for me to lose, lol! Thanks for the tips and for reading. My stories are nothing without readers like you. 😊

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