Keeping enough water on board your RV while boondocking can be a bit of a challenge. First, you are limited to the amount of water your RV holds. If you are a Class A motorhome, it won’t be as much of an issue as if you are in a pod-style travel trailer or a van. Throw additional people into the mix who might not understand the realities of water conservation while boondocking, and keeping enough water becomes a real issue.
Some climates require more water – if you are in the desert without shade, you will probably use more water for drinking and cooling down than someone who is staying in a lush national park in the shade.
And sometimes it is out of your control – say you break down, and water conservation will become even more important.
While many boondockers hate the idea of paying for a campground, sometimes staying for a night can be multipurpose – you can fill up your tanks, dump your holding tanks, and even take advantage of laundry facilities – or just a constant water source to do laundry in your own RV.
All gas stations have water available, but it is always best to ask first. If you are filling up with gas, most gas stations are fine with you filling up water, but if they ask how much, this is one time where being descriptive isn’t always good – saying “not too much” or “just to top up” is better than saying “Well, our tanks are empty…”
Also, be courteous… if there are others waiting to use the hose, don’t take too much time – or let the others go ahead and then you can take your time. If you keep others waiting 20 minutes, this will affect RV’ers after you if the station decides no RV water because you kept four people waiting half an hour.
So many beginner RV’ers make the mistake of not bringing enough hoses. Water won’t always be within 25′ away, and sometimes you will need 100′ to make it work. Having loaned out many a hose to unprepared RV’ers, this is a common problem – and there won’t always be someone around who has a hose to spare for you.
If you are towing a vehicle or have a tow vehicle, you can take water jugs to fill up water and bring it back to camp. Some day use camps have water taps you can use to fill up your water. Some grocery stores will also fill up for you, but there are often restrictions on what type of containers they will fill and it will cost money to do so.
While I have regular water jugs, I also keep a stash of foldable water jugs for just this reason. If you go the collapsible route, I go for the largest size I can easily carry WITH water and I also chose ones with a nice handle for carrying, because water is heavy.
These are the ones I use…
- Portable, sturdy, collapsible 5-gallon plastic water container is...
Always be sure to test yours out before using it for water transport. Some water jugs are lower quality than others and tend to spring leaks.
For rigid water jugs, I use these ones.
A special note about the Reliance 7-gallon jug containers – if you have ones from years gone by, keep using them. But the ones they have made in the past few years are NOT the thick plastic you are used to, they are MUCH thinner. It is worth checking local stores to see if they still have stock of the older thicker version on hand, the older ones were virtually indestructible. It is a shame they cut costs by doing this.
Drinking Bottled Water
Depending on your RV setup and water quality of the water in your tanks, you might decide to forgo using your RV for drinking water and drink bottled water instead. Rather than using lots of smaller bottles, I recommend using the refillable 5 gallon jugs. You can fill them at many grocery stores and you can buy this awesome stand and cap to add a valve for pouring water.
- FineDine’s water stand and valve is perfect for consistently having...
You never really could appreciate water conservation until boondocking!
Take advantage of making one pot meals means reducing the number of dishes needing to be washed.
When you shower, get wet, turn off the water and wash hair. Turn on the water to rinse, then turn it off while you condition your hair or use body wash. Then back on for the last rinse. So much water is wasted by leaving the shower in between when you are busy not using the water.
The same goes for brushing teeth, don’t leave the water running while brushing.
It is so easy to forget simple things like turning off the tap, especially if you are only part-time RVers and water conservation isn’t a way of life. Sometimes it is as simple as a note on the mirror in the bathroom to remind you to turn off water while brushing your teeth. Put a note on your dish drying rack. So much is muscle memory and while you are training yourself, it can be so easy to forget.
Local Water Sources
Don’t forget if there are nearby rivers or streams, you can use them for washing dishes, bathing and laundry. The only thing you MUST have is biodegradable supplies, you don’t want to add dishwashing soap chemicals into the local water supply. You can buy them at local backpacking and camping stores.
Campsuds is probably the most popular because it is multipurpose for washing and works in hot water, cold water and even salt water.
While you can shampoo your hair with it, some will probably prefer something a little nicer for hair, especially if you have long hair. Unfortunately there aren’t made biodegradable options for conditioning, but this one is at least a conditioning shampoo.
Campsuds also carries a body wash and shampoo line with essential oils.
Switching your toilet that requires water for flushing is a definite move to cut water use, but it will cost money to do so. But composting toilets also have other advantages, such as not needing to dump black water anymore. It will cost about $1000 to make the switch out the toilets though.
Keep Your Water Clean
Also, always remember a standard garden hose is NOT what you want to use to fill up your water tanks! They can cause chemicals to leech into your water supply.
Lastly, don’t forget to sanitize your hose connections when connecting or disconnecting your water supply. This will help prevent bacteria from entering your water supply from a previous camper who may not have been as fastidious about keeping their water supply sanitary as your are.