Extend your dry-camp stay

Photo by Bob Difley

One great thing about RVs is the freedom to spend time in special places while still enjoying our creature comforts. Frequently, however, national forest camps, national, state and local parks and other areas may provide limited hookups or none at all. Dry camping (camping without hookups) allows us to enjoy these places in style.

The downside is that our onboard resources can limit our stay. In this article, we’ll cover tips and techniques for extending your dry camping by managing fresh water usage and wastewater storage and disposal.

We’ll start with conservation. When you dry camp, you need to shift gears mentally; start by thinking about your fresh water and your gray and black tanks as limited resources. Eliminate waste. Water should never go down the drain unused. Collect water from sink or shower when waiting for it to get hot. Catch it in a pitcher, then use it to brush your teeth, make coffee, cook or even to flush the commode.

Adopt Navy showers: get wet, turn off the water while soaping, rinse, turn off again to shampoo, rinse again. Use only as much water as you need. If your shower doesn’t have a quick shut off, you can find one at your home improvement store.

Capture the rinse water from dishwashing in a plastic tub. Dishwater should not be dumped on the ground, but rinse water is fine. Many campgrounds provide sumps for disposing of dishwater; if there is one nearby, use it.

Replenishing fresh water
If you stay long enough, eventually you will need to refill your water tank. One option is to break camp and take your RV to where water is available. However, if you RV with a tow vehicle or a toad, you can bring water to your RV. Options here include:

You’ll need a funnel or a hose to transfer the water into your fresh water tank. A small pump for use with a cordless drill may also come in handy if you’re not able to use gravity to siphon the water.

Again, with the right toad or tow vehicle, you may be able to use a portable sewage tote to carry black or gray water to a dump site. Wheeled totes can be towed at slow speed to a dump point within a campground, but for hauling longer distances, you really need a pickup. In that case, remember that water is heavy. Only drain as much into the tote as you can load into your truck without strain. Some RVers use macerator pumps to move wastewater directly to a tote in their truck bed. Try searching online for more information on this approach.

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