Boondocking and Bears are a lot of people’s fear. One woman told me that if she went boondocking, bears would eat her, and no one would ever find her again. Crazy fears!
Boondocking is actually an interesting term. It seems to be taking on a number of different meanings. Some people consider themselves to be boondocking when they camp at a Walmart or Cabellas.
The term Boondocking is coined during WWII. American troops in the Philipines would travel out to the bundock…or mountains. Through the evolution of language, army slang, and regular use, those mountains are eventually just called the boonies. There is nothing out there. No power, no water, no conveniences whatsoever. It is just a wilderness.
Boondock means that one goes “dock” themselves in the wilderness. In doing so, they are undocked from modern conveniences.
Boondocking today is a bit different as it usually infers the use of a camping vehicle. Nearly any vehicle is used. ATVs, Large motorhomes, Jeeps, Teardrop Trailers, Motorcycles, and many more. The common denominator that they all share is that it is off-grid. Whatever supplies are needed must be packed into the boondocking site.
Where to Boondock?
Of course, the internet is filled with suggestions but I’ve found a simpler way of finding sites that aren’t published for everyone to visit; Google maps. In google maps, it is easy to find large areas of green. These are usually National parks, State Parks, Forest Service, Army Corp of Engineers, or Bureau of Land Management areas.
National Parks don’t allow boondocking so those areas can be crossed off the list straight away. Some state parks allow boondocking but you’d need to research it.
National Forest Services, Army Corp of Engineers, and Bureau of Land Management do allow boondocking. A quick look at the park requirements typically finds some sort of park pass that is required for a small amount of money, camping rules (staying on the beaten path), fire restrictions, and maximum length of stay (typically 14 days). Of course, the goal is to find that hidden gem of a campsite that is just yours.
Another tactic that I employ with Google is to zoom in on the territory and look at all of the dirt roads. They can give an idea of the terrain. This is important when choosing my vehicle. If there is a lot of steep narrow roads that are really rocky, I may opt for a Jeep and trailer over a traditional motorhome.
Off Grid Gear
Camping off-grid isn’t really more complicated than a campground with hookups if one is properly prepared. A properly fitted set up can make camping off grid more comfortable than in a campground.
Water – Of course a jug of water or two is advised. But I also always take a water filter with me when boondocking. Then any lake or stream can be a source of water that I don’t need to haul. This filter is my favorite: https://amzn.to/2xoBT4X
Fire – Depending on fire restrictions in the place I’m camping, an outdoor fire may be possible. I always bring a few ways to start a fire: matches, a fluid lighter, and then flint and steel (https://amzn.to/2QIkwVA). Collecting firewood could be allowed by the park and that is the best option but if I need to haul my own wood, I always make sure it is kiln dried to prevent the spread of disease in the wilderness in which I’m traveling.
Fuel – Fuel is needed not just for cooking but also for the vehicle. I did camp once with my Jeep and nearly ran out of fuel. In that situation, one would need to walk out to get fuel or support. Not an ideal situation. Making sure there is ample fuel for cooking and travel can put one’s mind at ease.
Toilet – This makes people nervous but it really isn’t a big deal. Some boondocking sites allow forest use (take a shovel and bury your waste). Those are becoming rarer. A good option is the bucket system like the luggable lou (https://amzn.to/2QDwAaA). Another is a composting or chemical toilet. Of course, if your RV has its own then that is a great option too. Just be aware of your tank capacity.
The Best Boondocking Story
I have two friends who decided to go Elk hunting in Alaska. They took a small camp trailer behind their truck and ventured out into the wilderness. They were successful in their hunting and eventually hit their limits. With each Elk, they’d clean it and bring the meat back to their trailer to be stored in the iceboxes.
On the second to last day of their trip, they decided to go for a hike. They were gone 4 – 5 hours and had a great time. Upon their return, they found the side of their trailer ripped out and the contents strewn all over the ground. A grizzly bear had found their trailer.
To this day there is a fight between the two of them as to which person left a door open. However, their week of hunting was done and they lost all of the meat they had worked so hard to get.
I find this story hilarious as it is such a ridiculous series of events. I also enjoy the irony of two hunters being swindled by nature. Almost a bit of nature’s revenge. After a few months, they found it funny too. At the time though…not the best times!
Get out there and do some rough camping! Boondock and don’t tell anyone where your favorite places are.
Until Next Time,
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