Here’s a question from a reader of RVtravel.com about boondocking.
We enjoy boondocking (both dispersed and in no-hookup forest service campgrounds), but it seems that every time we go, we run out of water first, and then we have to pack up and put away everything and head for the nearest waterhole, which puts a crimp into our long weekends. There must be some simple remedies that we can do to make our water last longer. Do you have any suggestions? —Curtis and Amy
Hi Curtis and Amy,
This is a question that gets asked often. The simplest way to save water, you might conclude, is to stop showering and washing hands and dishes. But that would likely make your boondocking trip worse than packing up and heading for the waterhole. But there are other ways you can stretch your water supply that do not mean avoiding showers and using all throwaway plates and utensils. Therefore, when available, try these simply water extenders:
• Use campground showers and restroom facilities instead of your onboard facilities whenever available.
• Wash dishes in a dish tub and discard the dishwater into a campground gray water receptacle or (if dispersed camping) onto a thirsty plant.
• Fill dishwashing tub from outside water supply, like a forest service hand-operated pump (photo left).
• Drain gray water into a Tote Tank which can be rolled away and dumped into dump station or toilet.
• Carry an extra hose(s). Maybe you can connect and run them long enough to reach the campground water supply.
• Carry a five-gallon water can (or two or three – photo right)) and/or a couple of collapsible water containers (they stow easily when empty) that you can dump into your water tank when you run low. Fill all those empty half-gallon or gallon plastic milk jugs with water and stow wherever you can find room as emergency supplies also.
• If you go exploring in your toad take your empty jugs with you to refill at any available water supply.
• When using RV-supplied water for washing or showering, turn the water on to wet down, then turn off. Soap up, then turn water on to rinse off. You will save a lot of water – and pump running time – by not letting the water run. And don’t leave the water running when brushing teeth.
The need to move temporarily from your campsite to dump and fill holds to “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” axiom. If you still have half a tank of fresh water but your holding tanks are full, that puts a definite crimp in how long you can extend your stay, and the farther away you camp from facilities, the more practical it becomes to practice water stinginess.
You should NEVER stretch out your stay, however, by dumping your holding tanks – not even your gray water tank – on the ground. Always use an approved dump station. But here’s the caveat: If you have filled your gray water tank and it is sloshing up into your bathtub, dig a hole as far away from your campsite as your dump hose will reach and dump only as much gray water as you have to so you can drive without a tsunami in your bathroom. Then let the water seep into the ground and refill the hole. But you should plan better so you can avoid having to take this emergency measure.
Do you have a question for Bob? Email him at bob.rvtravel (at) gmail.com .