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Best Size/Type of RV to Boondock in?

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We have a class A DP (new to us) and are extremely happy with it...but...I can already see some problems with using it for full time boondocking. The biggest (no pun intended) is getting back to the places we want to explore and overnight at. I know this is the type of question that depends on what someone wants and how much room you can live with or without but from those of you who boondock most of the time...if you could do it over or if you have the perfect rig...what is it or which type of rig would you choose next time??

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I feel ya. I started out with a class A and had much of the same experience. I found I was spending a lot of time in my toad and even doing overnight camps in more remote locations until it dawned on me, "If I had a smaller/lighter rig I could have just parked 'right there'!" I ended up downsizing to a 34' 5er.. then a 30'. It was much better getting into places, but still rather limiting for my tastes. That was still a lot of weight, height, low ground clearance and poor turning radius which limited what types of roads I could handle and was pretty tough on the rig itself.

 

Camping in the SW it's not as much of an issue, but summers in the NW can get you in some pretty tricky situations if you go off the beaten path.

 

For me, traveling as a single, I now run a 24' TT (around 7k fully loaded) with an F250 PSD and think I've found my perfect match. This time around I did some fairly extensive modifications to the suspension, reinforced sections of the frame, flipped the axles, increased tire size/type etc. and it's now able to go just about anywhere I can get my truck into. I don't know if it would be suitable for 2, but with a single slide it gives me plenty of room to move around in, "full size" living spaces, and along with the truck bed and crew cab has more than enough cargo space/capacity.

 

Small, light, and remote might not work for everyone. There are some distinct disadvantages. Mainly, the holding tanks, but there 'are' work arounds.

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I think it depends on where you want to boondock. We used our 40' motorhome for 8 years and did a lot of boondocking - in the West. We used BLM places and forest service places. We didn't have any problems to get where we wanted to go. Of course, we didn't drive into the deep, deep boonies - probably 10-15 miles on good gravel roads was our limit. However, once we got there we had our Jeep Liberty which took us deeper into the areas for exploring. No, you can't explore in the big rig but you can do so if you tow the right vehicle.

 

All this takes some research. We loved the Benchmark series of individual state atlas books for the western states. The roads it shows are pretty much RV-capable. It doesn't show the little two-tracks that the Delorme atlases do. Benchmark shows the BLM and other public lands along with the many public parks and campgrounds. Once we have the road picked out we'd do more research via Google. If we still weren't sure we'd go there and park the motorhome and use the Jeep to pre-test the road and find us a good spot to park. It was extremely rare to have to do this last step though after doing our research.

 

We had solar and big holding tanks so we could stay out there for 2 weeks or so before having to dump.

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If you want to learn about boondocking in a big rig I highly recommend reading the blog wheelingit.com. They tell you where, why, and how they do it including reviews of the places they go. For additional technical details I recommend technomadia.com. There's nothing I can tell you that comes close to these two resources.

 

Linda Sand

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Look at Northwoods Desert Fox Toy Haulers if you are interested in a trailer, they are tough rigs and come pretty well set up for boondocking, carrying toys is not required, just think of them as a trailer with extra space in the back to do your own thing and the big screen door helps in hot weather

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Thanks for all the info guys! Great responses just as I figured there would be...definitely going to check out the sites you mentioned Linda, thanks again!

 

Yarome, did you consider a class C?? Just seems like those would be much easier to get around in the mountainous regions that we would like to explore as well as better on gas mileage. Also seems like the electricity demand would be much less than our class A DP. (less to cool or heat)

Heck, I think I would be fine in a truck with a cab over camper if I could talk the DW into it!!! But I'm thinking that aint gonna happen!!!

 

I'm kinda limited to something drive-able...I can't afford a high dollar truck and camper too...thats why I am looking at the Class C's as a viable option. We might find out that what we have is going to work fine when we get to go full time...I am planning on buying a toad that will get me back into the fishing places that have fewer people so we might end up with a set-up like 2gypsys described...just kind of kicking around the possibilities as we watch it rain!!!

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Smaller the better. Most over the Overlanders we met in Yucatan heading for or back from Argentina/Chile were using small 4 wheel drive VW campers, 4 wheel-drive camper shells (very expensive European) and some using very large MAN and Mercedes 911 and larger frames (4-wheel drive, 1.5" thick plexiglass windshields for really bad roads with flying rocks/ We have boondocked fairly well with a 34' 5th wheel pulled by a dualie 4x4 Chevie 3500. This has required driving over planned boondock routes with the Chevie first since you might get in but you might not get out (backing up several miles in sand comes to mind). We are now looking a Roadtrek 200 to complement our travels to Mexico and Alaska. The Yucatan has many cenotes where you can camp in a small vehicle and many of the archaeological sites will permit overnight camping (Caluklmal is where we want to spend a few days). We want to spend time on Queen Charlotte (Haida now) next year and a 34' 5th wheel would be a bit much. We are full timers and the 34' 5th wheel is home and where we would spend weeks at favorite spots in the Mountain West.

 

Plan for summer is to do the Trans-Labrador to Goose Bay - then to Blanc Sablon and take ferry to Newfoundland for 3 to 4 weeks and then back to New Brunswick. Depends on having a few procedures done. Turning 76 does mean that maintenance down time does occur.

 

The 5th wheel is solar autonomous with 1420 W of panels and about 9 kW-hours of LFP.

 

Our son plans to look at Roadtrek when/if we get it and design fabricate solar and LFP for it as well. Probably about 300 to 500 W and maybe 4 to 5 kW-hrs of LFP.

 

Reed and Ealine

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Here is a great website: to help find National Forest campsites which are big enough to 34' to 40' class A RV's. They give directions with details on road conditions going to the CG, and info about how big the campsites are.

 

For some reason the link to the website didn't stick to the posting. Here is the website link: http://www.forestcamping.com/

 

 

We did a lot of boondocking in our 40' diesel pusher when we fulltimed. It took a little extra work to find the sites. Like parking and taking our toad to drive to check out potential sites. We didn't find that a problem, because we were not in a rush. We planned on staying 3 days to a week or so in the boondock sites.

 

If your requirement is to drive directly to boondock sites in a large class A, for an overnight stay, then you really limit yourself to only places with very easy access.

Edited by Al Florida

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Yarome, did you consider a class C?? Just seems like those would be much easier to get around in the mountainous regions that we would like to explore as well as better on gas mileage.

 

Not especially. A TT and truck combo provides more storage and cargo capacity, class C's generally have very low ground clearance, and towing with a diesel @ less then 50% capacity mileage is actually more reasonable than a class C. More torque on backroads and having 4x4 on tap is also a big plus.

 

A slide-in camper would certainly be convenient getting into deep backcountry, but on-board resources would be extremely limited. Everything from holding/LP tanks to roof top real estate for solar.

Edited by Yarome

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We tend to boondock closer to civilization and then roam with our truck (toad) doing day trips and our RZR for going in deep. This method requires that we come home every day although an overnight in a hotel could be doable.

 

While staying at an RV park this winter a single guy pulled in beside us with a 40 foot DP pulling a Westvalia. He called the MH the mothership and stated that he would take off for up to 2 weeks with the VW and explore. I thought that was a great idea. He has a kayak and a mountain bike on the Westvalia.

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Crumbs - were all set to fly to look at a Roadtrek mentioned above. Told the seller we wanted it checked by a mechanic and he said he would not permit that, we had to trust him. Maybe I should have trusted my lost uncle in Nigeria and sent him our bank information and collected the promised $5M. We are in no hurry so it is the 5th wheel to Trans-Labrador and Newfoundland this summer. But do want a Roadtrek or Spring for trip for return to Yucatan/Belize/Guatemala and Queen Charlottes next summer.

 

We have met a number of folks similar to those Jimalberta mentions but it more like a Bigfoot cabin on a 3500 4x4 with a Tracker or similar small vehicle behind.

Reed and Elaine

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Linda

 

Thanks for the heads up on the black tank. A much smaller black tank will require adaptations to life style.

 

After 5 winters in Mexico where you cannot put TP in the black water due to the fact that all RV parks use septic tanks and say not to use TP, we just put TP in a plastic bag. This greatly reduces the volume of stuff in the black water tank. We have 40 gallon black and grey tanks on our 5th wheel. The "outside" shower has hot and cold water and since we primarily dispersed camp on BLM, Might frighten the moose though.

 

Forest Service, and Bureau of Reclaimation lands, we do not fill the grey tank very fast (and the protocol in many of these places is that dishwater (with biodegrable soap) can be dumped. We have lasted three to four weeks with no problem. Have to drive off to find additional fresh water with 6 x 6 gasllon Jerry cans.

 

Reed and Elaine

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We have 40 gallon black and grey tanks on our 5th wheel.

Many Class Bs have 9 gallon black tanks. Even putting the TP in a plastic bag doesn't make those tanks last long.

 

Linda Sand

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Our first trip to Mexico was in a TT with a small black water tank. Some of the RV parks did not have sumps so you had to carry the effluvia to the bathroom in buckets. Do not fill the buckets very full!!

Reed and Elaine

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We don't have a toad to get that extra mile and have been somewhat limited by that. However, our 26-foot Class A has got us to some remote destinations early into our travels. The bigger problem we've had is finding boondocking locations that still get Verizon reception as we have to work during the week. You may find that to be a bigger obstacle, depending on your circumstances.

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The DW, myself, and our small dog boondock and explore some (we're rockhounds) in our 24 foot Itasca Class C. It's small enough to have been built on the Ford E350 chassis (a "ton" chassis) but we shopped for and bought it, instead, on the optional Ford E450 chassis for extra ruggedness in overall chassis frame strength and brake swept areas, as well as getting better slow speed crawling with it's 4.56:1 rear differential ratio. It does not have a slide as we did not want the added weight, unreliability, and coach wall reduced shear strength that one gets from a slide.

 

The fuel tank is 55 gallons, the black tank is 39 gallons, the grey tank is 29 gallons, the propane tank is 18 gallons, and the fresh water tank plus hot water heater carry 45 gallons of water. It has great ground clearance - about the same as any non-lifted pickup truck. The coach structure behind the rear axle sweeps up to provide an improved departure angle on off-road dips and humps. It's coach side walls, it's coach entrance steps in their retracted position, it's propane tank, it's under-coach tank drain plumbing, it's fuel tank, and it's spare tire are all mounted up high at, or near, frame height. I installed larger than stock diameter tires on it for even more ground clearance.

 

We intentionally don't have solar but the roof is large enough for plenty of it. We like the independence from weather conditions we get by being able to charge our batteries anywhere anytime by using the main V10 engine's 130 amp alternator, or the built-in 4000 water gasoline generator, or the small Honda portable generator we carry along. It's easy to keep cool or heat because of it's relatively small coach interior volume.

 

We feel pretty much at home in it at shopping malls or out in the middle of nowhere. We have boondock camped with it off a 4X4 road in Death Valley and explored with it as far out in the Utah wilderness as Dubinky Well.

 

Some Class C rigs similar to ours can be found with an after market 4X4 front end under their Ford chassis, for even more off-road independence. Just the right short, non-slide Class C can make a pretty good boondocking rig. You just have to travel slow and careful off-road - especially in mud or soft sand.

 

For example - a Phoenix Cruiser 2100 motorhome ordered with four wheel drive, ordered without a slide, and with non-stock taller tires installed should be an outstanding off-road boondocking rig that also provides plenty of comfort when you get there.

Edited by Phil N

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Thanks for all the info guys! Great responses just as I figured there would be...definitely going to check out the sites you mentioned Linda, thanks again!

 

Yarome, did you consider a class C?? Just seems like those would be much easier to get around in the mountainous regions that we would like to explore as well as better on gas mileage. Also seems like the electricity demand would be much less than our class A DP. (less to cool or heat)

Heck, I think I would be fine in a truck with a cab over camper if I could talk the DW into it!!! But I'm thinking that aint gonna happen!!!

 

I'm kinda limited to something drive-able...I can't afford a high dollar truck and camper too...thats why I am looking at the Class C's as a viable option. We might find out that what we have is going to work fine when we get to go full time...I am planning on buying a toad that will get me back into the fishing places that have fewer people so we might end up with a set-up like 2gypsys described...just kind of kicking around the possibilities as we watch it rain!!!

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Older Class B Camper Van

Chevy G30 Horizon

High top van that you can stand in and has everything you need. Just like the new roadtrek only more affordable and a few years older. I just spent 3 months on the road and you can park anywhere. Drives like a van because it is only talker.

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Our first trip to Mexico was in a TT with a small black water tank. Some of the RV parks did not have sumps so you had to carry the effluvia to the bathroom in buckets. Do not fill the buckets very full!!

Reed and Elaine

 

An alternative to the bucket brigade is a macerator and 100' of hose. You still have to move the truck, but you can pump into toilets, sewers, etc. We find it really useful for driveway camping as well, since most houses have a sewer cleanout somewhere that you can dump to (avoiding a National Lampoon Christmas Vacation scene re-enactment)

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My 27ft (+3ft with store box) 5'er is just about perfect for getting anywhere I want to. I did a sub-frame addition and added larger wheels/rims to get me a little more clearance. It's pretty solid and handled the ranch driveway pretty well (something like a 2WD high-clearance road). I wouldn't take any camper/RV on something rough or worse than that unless it was designed for back-road hauling due to the twist and torque on the frame (don't ask me about the rough roads I've taken my horse trailer down). Except for jeep/ATV trails I wouldn't hesitate to take my rig anywhere; 5'ers have a tighter turning circle and are easier to back-up than a TT in those awkward boondocking sites, which is about all I plan on doing.

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...if you could do it over or if you have the perfect rig...what is it or which type of rig would you choose next time??

 

A Tardis truck camper . . . it's bigger on the inside than its outside . . .

 

43c64e5c388d648a54ef1fef76c1533a.jpg

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When I first started thinking about camping and going off the grid, I realized I also wanted to be able to stealthy maneuver in urban areas as well. That's why I decided to buy a van. From the outside my van (Maxine) looks just like a typical cargo van a person would use for business. However, it is almost fully containable. I have pulled over and "camped" in downtown L.A. and in most of the cities in O.C. and the great metropolitan L.A. area. I've never been bothered by anyone. At night, I throw up my black out curtains, which makes the back of the van light tight. I can turn on all my LED lights and not worry that someone can see inside. For all intensive purposes, if somebody happens to walk by, they are clueless that there is someone sleeping in the back. If a police officer happens to come by and knock, I don't answer. I would just stay in my van. Unless the officer has probable cause, he can't do anything. Unless I'm parked in a tow away zone, he/she can't do anything like call a tow truck. There would be too much liability involved.

 

After a while, it becomes second nature where and how your park. The first couple of times was a little scary, but after doing this so many times. I don't even think about it. I crawl in the back, pull my duvet over me and go to sleep. In the morning, I get up and start my day.

 

Although I may not have the room people with large rigs have, I have the ability to pretty much drive and camp anywhere I want in our out of the city and no one is the wiser. It's empowering knowing that with the exception of red zones and other areas that are off limits, or do not allow overnight parking, the whole country is basically one giant campground. lol. I can't begin to articulate how what an adventure it is to just pull over and crash out and not have to pay a dime to do so. It takes camping to a whole different level.

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A Tardis truck camper . . . it's bigger on the inside than its outside . . .

 

43c64e5c388d648a54ef1fef76c1533a.jpg

Interesting photo. I wonder which license plate it the valid one, the Washington plate on the camper or the Arizona plate on the truck bumper?

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