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By Bob Difley

We were the only RV in this broad expanse of public land in the desert. I'm not complaining. It's nice to have such a huge boondocking campsite all to ourselves. With the self-contained features of today's recreation vehicles, I'm surprised more RVers don't boondock. I'm not encouraging you to move in next to me, but here are a few ideas that help make boondocking comfortable, just in case you might want to try it sometime.

The key to successful RV boondocking is finding ways to extend your stay. It's a pain to have to stow all your stuff and drive a rig somewhere every few days to take care of necessities like recharging batteries, dumping waste tanks, and refilling the fresh water tank. When properly planned, you can decrease the number of times you need to fire up the 'ol horses and gallop off to the ranch.

(1) Power. Your inefficient generator-run charger-converter will take too long to charge your batteries, and running your engine gulps fuel and is not very environmentally friendly. Buy an automotive battery charger--one that will charge at 30 amps or more--and plug it in to any available AC outlet while running your generator. Better yet, buy an inverter-charger or stand-alone RV battery charger, which are more efficient, though more expensive.

Manage your power. Measure battery voltage with a multi-meter to determine when to re-charge, and don’t try to charge your batteries to 100%. You will waste too much fuel after the charger has tapered off. Instead, begin charging when your batteries drop to about 40% of capacity and stop at about 80%.

Forced air furnaces are power guzzlers. Instead, install a catalytic heater. They heat by a chemical reaction between propane and a catalyst. No fan. No electricity. They quietly heat away without a single watt taken from your batteries.

If you’re dedicated, install solar panels. They work. My Kyocera panels, when tilted and aimed at the sun, charge at the rate than the manufacturer states they will. They’re quiet, have no moving parts, don’t break down, begin working at sunrise, and labor all day until sunset without so much as a whimper.

(2) Waste water. Hook a Tote Tank up to your gray water outlet. When it's full, throw it in your toad or tow vehicle and haul it to a dump station--much easier than driving your rig. Your black water tank's capacity should last you through the end of your stay--for some reason, manufacturers make black water tanks as large or larger than gray water tanks.

(3) Fresh water. Bring along gallon jugs of drinking water as well as whatever else your party likes to drink. Use the water in your fresh water tank for washing dishes and bodies. Carry a 6-gallon plastic jerry jug and when you go to town for supplies, fill it with water and dump it into your tank.

Once you’ve got the necessities under control, dig out the bird feeder, binoculars, a water dish for night visiting critters, and your walking shoes and get down to the important things in life.

For more boondocking tips and information, check out my eBook, "BOONDOCKING: Finding the Perfect Campsite on America's Public Lands." You can download it directly to your computer.

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