Hi! We’re the Longnecker’s, and we’ve been traveling full-time since May 2015. While our journey began in a huge 5th wheel, we quickly fell in love with boondocking and knew we wanted something different. We sold the apartment- on-wheels and renovated our 31’ 1972 Airstream Sovereign Land Yacht for our family of 6. Jonathan is a brand designer + web developer, and can work anywhere we have internet, which is perfect! We renovated the Airstream to be an off-grid machine – complete with a composting toilet, extra water storage, 700 watts of solar, and a 400 amp hour lithium battery bank. We are primarily off-grid and very much prefer boondocking over crowded campgrounds.
After spending 6 months off-grid in 2018, and getting asked so many questions about boondocking, we decided to create an in-depth video course for camping off-grid. We cover important topics like water, power, waste, internet, food storage, and safety. It includes workbooks, resource links, and more. We know many Campendium users are already pros at this, but if you’re new to boondocking and don’t want to waste hours piecing together info on YouTube, this is a great way to learn everything quickly.
After being on the road for 5 years, we’ve pretty much dialed in our needs for camping off-grid. Here are the top 10 items we can’t be without:
You have to have fresh water when camping off-grid. And once you find that magical spot, you don’t want to have to hook up your trailer to go fill up your tank again. We’ve found that having an AquaTank2 30 gallon water bladder makes transporting large amounts of water simple. And it folds up tiny when not in use. Tip: Use a wireless drill and Drill pump to make the transfer from the bladder to you tank faster. Bonus Tip: Keep a few Rhino water jugs in the back of your tow vehicle for easy transport smaller amounts of water, and always try to have at least one full in case of an emergency.
Drinking water is super important, and having a good water filter is a must. We definitely don’t want to create extra waste by buying cases of water bottles to drink. The Berkey is a simple gravity fed water filter that utilizes both charcoal and fluoride/arsenic filters. It will give you clean, safe drinking water and the filters can easily be replaced and purchased on Amazon. There are several sizes to choose from, but we’ve found that the Big Berkey is the perfect size for a travel trailer. Yes, we need to refill it more often, but the bigger Berkeys are tall and often won’t fit on RV countertops. Tip: If you can find a way to strap it to a wall while traveling it saves you from having to empty it and move it off the counter!
A stainless steel water flask combined with a Berkey water filter is the perfect one-two punch for keeping waste down and always having high quality drinking water with you. We don’t go anywhere without them. While there are tons of options to choose from, we prefer Hydro Flasks – they keep our water cold, and have lots of fun color options for the kids.
We LOVE our Green Mountain Grill. They have several sizes, but the Davy Crockett size is perfect for traveling because of how it folds up to fit in the bed of our truck. It works by using wood pellets and a small amount of 12v energy to smoke everything to perfection. Try it with pork shoulders, macaroni and cheese, bacon chocolate chip cookies, frozen pizzas, and even breads and pies! Plus, having a good grill will keep your trailer cooler by not cooking inside during the summer months. Win/Win.
Even in this day and age where technology is used for everything, we still need to write things down. Having a good planner for keeping track of our schedule and travel routes has been vital to this journey. We love these notebooks. There are so many different styles of inserts to choose from, but having the weekly and monthly planner inserts, as well as a good grid insert is all we need to keep organized. Plus you can keep all the used inserts as travel journals!
We learned the hard way this year that packrats can easily cause thousands of dollars of damage. While parked at Lost Dutchman State Park they got us. Those little boogers chewed through some very important wires in our truck and we were stuck for a solid week while it was in the shop. Since then, we’ve installed two devices that should help keep them away. They mount in the hood of your car and emit a high pitched ultrasonic frequency that rodents hate. It also flashes lights in different patters, intervals, and colors.
You can take it a step further and use a solar powered rope light to illuminate the engine area as well.
We knew from our 5th wheel days that having a traditional RV toilet and black tank would keep us from staying off-grid for long periods. So during our renovation we made sure to install a composting toilet and replace + convert our black tank to an extra gray tank. While we do wish we would have plumbed the urine divider to go straight to the gray tank, we’re otherwise very happy to not deal with a black tank ever again. It definitely allows us to stay off-grid for much longer periods of time.
Boondocking usually requires less showering to conserve water. For those times when water is low but the smell is strong, we highly recommend Epic Wipes. They’re made with essential oils and no harmful chemicals – plus they’re biodegradable and pack small. What’s not to love?
We run on the power of the sun. Pretty amazing to think that’s even possible. We crammed 5 100 watt panels on our roof, but as our power usage has grown, we added this 200w ground deploy. It’s been vital to keeping our batteries full in the winter months. We love that it comes with a carrying case, and can easily lay flat in the bed of the truck on travel days.
You never know when you’ll need a ladder while traveling full-time. During the winter months we need one to tilt our solar panels on the roof. And it helps having a ladder when washing our trailer, too. This retractable, telescoping ladder collapses down very small so we can fit it in the bed of our truck!
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