Dry camping, sometimes called boondocking, is when you’re not hooked up to anything. You’re running completely off your tanks, batteries, and maybe a generator or solar panels if you have them installed. If you’re planning this type of camping for an extended period of time, and you don’t want to have to hitch back up and head out to dump and refill tanks, then you need to find some ways to conserve water while you’re out. Here are some water saving tips for dry camping and boondocking that will help keep you in one place longer!
There are some components you can upgrade in your rig that will naturally help restrict water flow. First, start with your faucets and showerheads. Water conserving faucets and shower heads have a restricting area in them that is smaller and therefore makes the pressure of the water that’s going through them greater. Kind of like when you put your finger over the end of a hose. It’s still the same water pressure coming out of the hose, but it’s more concentrated in one area so it sprays harder. This added pressure can help you get things clean with less water, especially for those of you who have long or thick hair.
2: Doing the Dishes
Washing dishes is one task that can use a ton of water if you’re not careful. If you’re lucky enough to have a dishwasher, make sure that it’s completely full before you start it. Dishwashers actually tend to use less water than we do by hand and do a better job since it can really heat up the water and kill bacteria. If you’re washing by hand, there are still some tips for you though! Use a rag or paper towel to remove as much as you can before you wash. This will stretch your dishwater even further. Using natural soaps will yield less sudsing and therefore less rinsing. Don’t completely fill the sink! Just add what you need. If you have a double sink, instead of running water over the clean dishes to rinse, put some rinse water in the other sink and dip them to rinse.
3: Reuse Water
Maybe that sounds gross at first, but hear us out! You can reuse some of the water in your rig and you’ll probably be shocked at just how much wastewater there is once you’ve collected it for a period of time. When we’re starting the shower, running the faucet for dish water or water to boil, we tend to run the water until it gets to the correct temp. Keep a pitcher with you and run that cold water into the pitcher! You can then either put it back into the water tank, or even stick it in the fridge for drinking water.
Done with that soapy water used to wash your dishes? Don’t dump it down the drain! Keep it in a bucket and use it to flush the toilet instead of letting clean water run in there when you flush! You can also make a rule that you only flush once per day as long as it’s only liquids in the toilet. This will then stretch that dishwater a little further too. Another alternative is to turn off the water pump so that you can use the flusher to open the drain in the toilet, but it won’t activate any water in it.
One other area you can collect water to use is the run off from your a/c unit. Find where the downspout is and put a bucket under it. You will be amazed at how much water you’ll get. While you may not want to consume this water, it’s still good for things like sponge baths and washing your hair. You can also use this water to hydrate any plants you may have.
Aside from being quick, there are some things you can do to conserve water when bathing as well. If you must take a full on shower, do it the way they do in the military! Turn off the water while you get soaped up. Keeping the water cooler will also make you want to hurry so you will get in and out faster. Setting your water heater to the temp you need the water at will also help to save water when showering. Think about it, we turn on the scorching hot water and then turn on some cold to cool it down. Instead, why not just turn on one source of the correct temp and skip the need to cool it down.
Sponge baths come in very handy when you’re dry camping as you can get pretty clean with minimal water and soap. To wash your hair, you can use a little water in a pail and a cup. Wet your hair with your head over the bucket so the water runs back into it, shampoo, rinse over the bucket, condition, and rinse again. While yes you may end up with a little residue in your hair, it’s going to save a ton of water and you won’t have that grease ball on your head anymore.
One other way to save water and still shower if you’re near a decent water source, is to get one of the bag showers that hang from a tree. These bags are black so they heat the water from the sun, and you can use lake or river water in them. Try to ensure you’re using all natural soaps if you’re showering outside so as not to have a negative effect on the environment. These soaps tend to suds less too, which makes rinsing easier and you end up using less water.
Then there’s also the option of not bathing. It’s camping, get stinky!
5: Check for Leaks
Before you head out on your dry camping trip, make sure all your tanks and plumbing are in proper order. If you have a leak, you’re going to run out of water really fast! Fill the tanks and check them over. Turn on the water pump and let the pressure build up before checking the lines. Once you’ve gone over your lines, check all the faucets inside. Repair any leaks, even if it’s just a slow drip. This small amount will add up over time and can cut your stay short!
6: Bring Extra Jugs
If you have the space in the RV for jugs of water, fill them up and bring them along. This is especially handy for drinking water. This way, none of your drinking water is being pulled from the fresh water tank, conserving it for other uses. You can fill up gallon milk jugs, or get the 5-gallon bottles that are made to go in a water cooler. You can even get a pump that goes in these bottles to make it easier! There are also portable water filters and distillers out there that would allow you to use a natural water source for drinking water and cooking.
Water conservation is important no matter where you are for both the environment and your pocket. Water saving during boondocking for any length of time is a must! Follow these steps and you will be able to extend your trip for days, or if you’re really disciplined, weeks!
Are we missing anything? What are some other water saving tips you’ve used when dry camping and boondocking?