Last Updated on 05/17/2023 by Glynn Willard
What were we looking for when we started shopping for an RV to live in full time? Many start with floor plans or a brand they’ve heard of before. We had a different agenda.
We needed to save money, so planned on boondocking the majority of the time. Therefore, we needed something suited for all of the aspects of boondocking.
We needed the best boondocking travel trailer!
There will be opinions, so this meant the best boondocking travel trailer for us and that was affordable.
I had a check list when shopping:
- Built like a tank.
- Well insulated.
- High ground clearance.
- A high capacity fresh water tank.
- The ability to carry a lot of weight (high GVWR).
- Enough solar and batteries to boondock.
- We were hoping to find all of the above attributes in a bunk house model
First and foremost: A quality RV
There are an awful lot of RV assemblers on the market. And they’re not built very well.
But if you think about it, why should they build well? Most RV’s are taken out two to four times a year for the average owner.
And they’re usually used in temperate climates. You’re all to familiar with the “chasing 70 degrees” concept.
So if I’m building an RV, I need to hit a price point that meets the economic demand for most consumers. Outdoors RV does not fall into that category.
They’re built for and marketed to a different kind of consumer.
So, what’s the difference? Let’s look at our experience with each of the criteria below.
As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter what climate you’re camping in with your camper. The better the insulation, the less resources used to heat and cool your rig. Period.
We spend a lot of time both in the desert and the mountains and it’s easy to keep the rig comfortable. We tend to stay in hotter and colder environments anyway.
Outdoors RV super insulates (for a camper) all aspects of their rigs. The doors, walls, roof and underbelly. This makes an enormous difference for full time living (in an ORV)!
We also have very little condensation build up inside under all circumstances.
Third: Ground clearance
Ground clearance for a travel trailer… who would have thought to consider this? But it really makes a difference. And that includes a good suspension system.
Boondocking can take you on some really bumpy roads. And without a good suspension system and ground clearance, your rig will get beaten up.
Outdoors RV uses the MORryde CRE 3000 system. I can attribute that it works great and does what it should.
We pushed it beyond its limits and replaced it when it was due. You can read about the whole process in our article, Uneven Tire Wear On Your Travel Trailer? It’s Not What We Expected.
Fourth: Large fresh water tank
Water is the primary limiting factor when boondocking. Not power. So, the larger the fresh water capacity, the better.
Boondocking with a travel trailer makes it easy to come and go without losing your spot. Which also means you can bring water back to your trailer as needed.
But it’s a lot easier if you just start out with a large capacity. Our ORV holds 80 gallons of fresh water, plus 10 in the hot water heater.
I keep an additional 15 gallons in the truck bed.
That buys us almost ten days without refilling. I would like to have 100 gallons in the trailer. Newer ORV models have this option as well as some of the other high end travel trailers.
Fifth: A relatively high GVWR
Loading your rig with everything you need to live can add a lot of weight. This is not applicable if you’re not full timing in your trailer.
A trailer’s GVWR is often overlooked when shopping for the perfect trailer to live in fulltime. That can be a serious mistake. Tire blowouts are generally due to overweighting a tire.
Yes, junk tires and under inflated tires also contribute to tire blowouts. But too much weight in your rig is a real problem.
You can achieve a much higher GVWR with a toy hauler. Especially an all aluminum trailer like ATC.
That said, Outdoors RV has an impressive cargo carrying capacity!
A way to have self-sufficient power
I wanted a rig with at least enough battery power for two days when used efficiently. I didn’t have any fantasies about running the AC off the batteries (that would be amazing though).
I knew we would rely on generators for things like the AC and microwave. But enough solar (we have 340 watts) and batteries to run the water pump, LED lights and assist with the propane refrigerator.
We have two 109 amp hour deep cycle wet batteries. That gives us a hair over 100 amp hours to use. Nothing to brag about! But it works well and costs very little.
In our experience, we run the generators twice a day while boondocking for the microwave. If we need AC or heat, we’re running the generators.
Can we get by without a microwave or AC? For sure, but I default to Rose’s comfort. My life is better that way!
Lastly: A bunk house model
Since we have two kids, a bunkhouse suited us. The last thing we wanted to do was break down a dinette every evening at bedtime. Besides, from the perspective of a child, having your own space is important.
What kid wouldn’t want a cool cave to call their own anyway!
So, when we looked at all of the “needs and wants,” Outdoors RV satisfied all of them perfectly. So, that’s what we hunted for and finally found 400 miles away. It was worth the effort!
Our expectations when we bought the ORV
Honestly, I expected a solid built tank. And that’s just what I got! I had heard horror stories online about constant repairs for different manufacturers from online fulltime families.
So, my expectations were slightly lower than they should have been.
But fortunately, we didn’t experience anything like we’d heard. Our 23BKS has held up like a champ!
How the ORV held up to full time living
Honestly, we beat up on our rig and it simply asked for more. And then said, “Is that all you got?”
Week after week, we pulled it over some nasty terrain and it didn’t flinch! So far as the writing of this article, sixteen thousand miles and it’s still in great condition after rough terrain.
It’s in such great shape that we decided to push it another time around the country after some standard maintenance. I have a feeling it won’t flinch.
Update: It didn’t flinch. After over 30k miles, it still help up like a champ!
I can’t speak for newer models, but the 2017 23BKS Black Rock is better than we expected.
What do we wish our ORV had
The only three things I wish our Black Rock ORV came with are:
- A larger fresh water tank (100 gallons)
- An onboard generator instead of two portable Yamaha’s
- More solar panels with better batteries
Regardless, more solar is easy to add and newer models come with the first two.
Final thoughts on ORV for boondocking and fulltime living
Our Outdoors RV has performed so well, that we had a very hard time letting it go in March of 2023. Yes, there were tears, but it’s time to travel differently. I digress…
If you think about it, ORV has included all the aspects we wanted in their newer models.
So, if you plan on boondocking most of the time, keep all of these thoughts in mind.
Compromise will land you back in an RV park to the tune of $600-1200/month.
There’s a lot to be said for boondocking in the right rig!
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