Last Updated on 11/17/2023 by Glynn Willard
You’re picturing yourself dry camping in some beautiful remote areas on public land in the perfect travel trailer (or any RV).
This sent you down the rabbit hole of researching all the different brands of travel trailers.
Next thing you know, you’re overwhelmed by the amount of information. Finally, you give up and start looking at RV living space and different floor plans.
But those are not the important considerations for a boondocking RV.
Let me help you narrow down what’s best for YOU.
My family of four spent 2 years boondocking full time all over the West. That kind of experience as well as interaction with other owners taught me a lot!
As I write this, we’re shopping for our next RV for boondocking based on our experience. So, let’s do this together!
In this article, I’ll cover:
- What experience tells me is the best boondocking RV.
- Criteria to consider when deciding which boondocking RV is best for you.
- My “must have” aspects of a boondocking travel trailer.
- My top four picks for the best boondocking RV’s to consider.
Which RV For Boondocking?
You have a choice between a travel trailer, fifth wheel, truck camper, camper van or a motorhome.
Of course each different RV can be narrowed down to a specific type, length and specialty.
The best RV for boondocking really depends on your situation and the type of boondocking you visualize.
Will you be boondocking alone? Maybe there are only two of you. Or perhaps you’re a family of four plus.
I’ll discuss the criteria to consider in the next section (right below this one).
If a small space is not an issue and there’s just one or two of you, I feel strongly that a truck camper is a superior choice.
A small travel trailer (especially an overland) is great for 1-2 people.
If there’s more than two of you or you need more space, I believe a bumper pull travel trailer is the best solution. If you have kids, bunk beds are helpful.
Some of the best boondocking (off-grid camping) is down some gnarly dirt roads where larger motorhomes and fifth wheel should NOT go.
If you don’t want to limit yourself with space, then begin your search with travel trailers and (maybe) large truck campers.
Okay, if there’s only two of you, a campervan might be something to consider. But, you’ll spend a lot!
What Criteria Should You Consider For The Right Boondocking RV?
There’s more than one good travel trailer or RV for boondocking on the market.
So before you start reviewing every manufacturing website, consider the following factors:
- How many people will be sleeping in the RV while you’re boondocking?
When you’re spending this much money, make sure everyone is comfortable.
Also, it will factor in how many gallons of fresh water you’ll need, how big the grey water and black water tanks are and your average power consumption.
- How long do you plan to boondock in each location?
On occasion, great boondocking spots are scarce in popular areas.
The last thing you want to do is leave your spot early because your fresh water capacity is too low or your grey water tank is full.
- What type of terrain will you spend most of your time dry camping?
We’ve pulled our ORV through some pretty gnarly terrain.
If it had not had the high ground clearance it had or was as well put together, it would not have survived.
Some of the greatest remote areas on public land are over some rough dirt roads. That Rockwood Geo Pro may look the part, but it’s going to serve you well on difficult terrain.
- How far off grid do you plan to go?
The more remote you are, the more supplies you will need to carry. You’ll need a lot of storage space.
This means we have to consider the cargo carrying capacity over and above the dry weight.
Factor in full fresh water tanks, full LP tanks and that additional solar and battery bank.
Higher-end brands and some of the better overland trailers have high cargo carrying capacity, especially if it’s a toy hauler.
- What are your financial resources?
Sure a half million dollar Earthcruiser would be awesome! But it’s overkill if you ask me.
The goal is to find something (preferably used) for between $90k and $120k for both the trailer and pickup truck or a campervan/motorhome.
These are all important considerations before deciding what the most suitable brand and type of boondocking RV are right for you.
Let’s review what should be on your “must have” list when you’re shopping for a boondocking RV.
What Are The Must Haves In A Boondocking RV (Important Features)
Oddly, the first thing people seem to consider when shopping for a boondocking RV is solar panels.
Your power source is important, but not the most important consideration. Nor are all terrain tires. Don’t get me started.
So when you’re shopping for the right boondocking RV for you, think of these standard features first:
- The largest freshwater tank you can find.
Potable water is the most limiting factor.
For example, since there are four of us, the smallest freshwater tank I’ll consider is 90-100 gallons.
Four of us conservatively use approximately 10 gallons of water a day.
This should be a good example for you to calculate what you might use. Also, don’t forget to factor in the tank size of the hot water heater.
- The largest waste water tanks you can find.
Waste water needs to be stored somewhere. The larger the tanks, the longer your stay.
- High ground clearance.
I don’t care what the tire tread looks like. Those tires don’t propel the vehicle, so it doesn’t matter.
What does matter, is that there’s enough of a ground clearance to go over large bumps and through deep ruts.
Independent suspension is nice but not necessary. Thanks to the explosion in overlanding, more and more campers are being assembled with independent suspension.
- Good insulation.
When you have to spend your resources heating and cooling your travel trailer, good insulation can make a real difference.
So keep an eye out for the rigs that are designed for 4 season.
- A minimum of 300 volts of solar power, a charge controller and a minimum of 200 amp hours of batteries.
This is usually enough to run your DC systems in a sunny environment without issue.
If you decide to incorporate an inverter to power your outlets with DC power, you’ll definitely need more solar and batteries. Lithium batteries are nice, but not necessary.
We use two portable Yamaha generators that we run for about two hours a day. It’s the most efficient way to maintain a normal lifestyle while boondocking full time.
- A DC run refrigerator.
You’ll use a lot less propane or battery power if your refrigerator is un on DC power.
- At least one spare tire.
Boondocking in remote areas require spare tires and spare parts. Things break over rough terrain. Be prepared!
- An outdoor shower.
In a remote location, showering with an outdoor shower is a great option to save space in the gray water tank.
I have a longer wish list in my article: Best Features For Off-Grid Camper (Trailers): Boondocking if you would like to dive deeper.
Best Travel Trailers For Boondocking
This is not about the least or most expensive boondocking RV, it’s about the best bang for the buck.
That’s why you won’t find the “mainline” manufacturers in this list.
Rather than list specific models, I’m listing manufacturers. You’ll have to review each and then find a suitable model for your situation.
So what are my top choices for the best boondocking RV?
ATC travel trailers offer a large fresh water tank, high cargo carrying capacity and no wood used in their construction.
Why is no wood great? It’s lighter, stronger and mold resistant. These are things one doesn’t worry about until you live in a travel trailer for awhile.
Add the All Weather package and you have the best option for a boondocking trailer!
Maybe I’m biased, but ORV checks the most boxes. The ORV Backcountry Series is very well equipped to boondock for long periods of time.
Large fresh water tanks, built solid, moderately high cargo carrying capacity and higher ground clearance make ORV a great choice!
We put tens of thousands of miles on our ORV (a lot of rough roads) and beat it up. It just kept asking for more!
I can personally attribute that our ORV was built like a tank.
A few of the Black Series models have higher capacity fresh water tanks. They’re also built on an aluminum frame like ATC, making them lighter.
Another perk is their high ground clearance with independent suspension. Black Series also uses spray foam all around as insulation, helping to eliminate gaps.
Arctic Fox Truck Campers
If you start exploring overland truck campers, you’ll find some fantastic manufacturers that really fit the bill. The only two problems:
- They’re expensive.
- They’re hard to find.
This is why Arctic Fox (despite being heavy) can be a great choice. They offer great insulation and semi-large freshwater tanks. It’s not the best truck camper, but still a good bang for the buck.
Manufactures that come close, but lack the high volume fresh and waster water storage tanks:
- MDC USA Campers
- Opus Campers
Both of the companies above are fairly priced and seem to be well built for overlanding. If there are only two of you, they too could be a great option.
I may have overlooked a few manufacturers, but keep in mind, my “must have” list is strict.
And after boondocking full time for so long, I’m only willing to consider what I believe to be the best solutions.
I’m not going to sit here and spoon-feed you a “keyword” roundup of all the campers that are sold as “boondocking trailers.”
That’s a disservice to you and there are enough bloggers out there doing just that. I digress.
An Important Note About Your Tow Vehicle
None of the trailers I listed can be towed with a half ton truck.
At a minimum, a 3/4 ton truck is necessary. If you want to save yourself the heartache and have an over-engineered tow vehicle, go with a 1-ton truck.
At least if you decide to buy a bigger rig, you will not have to replace the tow vehicle.
Also, if you’re looking at a truck camper as an option, do yourself a favor and start with a 1 ton. Your gear and the campers weigh a lot!
Wrapping Up The Best Boondocking Travel Trailer
There are several factors that go into finding the right boondocking RV for you and your family.
Do yourself a favor and really research the list I provided keeping your needs in mind.
It’s better to pay a little more once than make the expensive mistake of buying the wrong boondocking travel trailer/camper.
Oh, and we’re not affiliated with any of these brands, but we have experienced most of them first hand.
Remember, the right gear is important, but just getting out there is the most important!
If you’re ready to learn more about boondocking, you can go through the boondcocking section of this website.
It’s chocked full of great inforation to get you started boondocking on public lands.
Meet the author.
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