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Old 10-20-2020, 05:52 PM   #1
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Boondocking in a diesel pusher

Hello,

I have a 36í diesel pusher. I am interested in doing some boondocking. So far all I have done is overnight at Walmart. I donít plan on going way of the beaten path but would like to do some BLM and forest service land. I know my rig is not ideal for this kind of camping. I would like to here from others that may have a larger DP and boondock.

What issues or precautions do you have to take with your larger rigs? How deep into the outback are you comfortable going? Is there anything you donít have on your RV that would make boondocking easier?

I have 400-amp hours of 6-volt batteries but they donít seem to last very long before needing a charge. It may be due to the fact that I have a residential refrigerator. It may be that they are getting old. They are about 5 years old. I have a on board generator and a 3000-amp inverter. It will power everything in the RV but I only have the Ref. tv and a couple of outlets on it.

I appreciate the feedback. I am trying to decide if I can do this with my current rig or if I should downsize to a smaller class A or maybe a class C.

Thanks
Phil
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Old 10-20-2020, 05:57 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Lurker60 View Post
Hello,

I have a 36í diesel pusher. I am interested in doing some boondocking. So far all I have done is overnight at Walmart. I donít plan on going way of the beaten path but would like to do some BLM and forest service land. I know my rig is not ideal for this kind of camping. I would like to here from others that may have a larger DP and boondock.

What issues or precautions do you have to take with your larger rigs? How deep into the outback are you comfortable going? Is there anything you donít have on your RV that would make boondocking easier?

I have 400-amp hours of 6-volt batteries but they donít seem to last very long before needing a charge. It may be due to the fact that I have a residential refrigerator. It may be that they are getting old. They are about 5 years old. I have a on board generator and a 3000-amp inverter. It will power everything in the RV but I only have the Ref. tv and a couple of outlets on it.

I appreciate the feedback. I am trying to decide if I can do this with my current rig or if I should downsize to a smaller class A or maybe a class C.

Thanks
Phil
The road would have to be VERY smooth before i would go very deep with my Class A. These are not off road Machines and shouldn't be treated as such. Even trailers take a Beating off road. If people ever road in there trailer while they were on a bad road 99% of them would Never do it again. Use you better judgement .. Its your money.
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Old 10-20-2020, 06:06 PM   #3
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I'm 40' DP and boondock mostly. Having a HydroHot I am careful not to drag bottom and damage the HH. How far off the main road depends on the length of stay. If I'm going to stay a week or two I'll drive several miles, but I check the road out with my toad first. A res fridge could be a challenge, but solar can help. I removed my start batteries which made room for 6-6v batteries which give me 672ah, for starting or running the appliances. I do have solar. Thus I park in the sun and use window awnings. We too thought about downsizing but did not want to give up the comfort.


Regarding rough roads, I've been to Alaska and Newfoundland and would not hesitate to go again. Both have extremely rough roads. Many gravel for 20-50 miles.
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Old 10-20-2020, 06:13 PM   #4
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I've done few weeks at Quartzsite with my 45' quad slide all electric Country Coach with no problem. I have 4 - 8D 12 volt Lifeline AGM batteries, 400 watts solar and 12.5 kw diesel gen. Weather was cool so I only needed air con one day. Had to run the gen 4 hrs a day, 2 hrs morning and 2 evening. Used about 30 gallons for heating/cooling and battery charging.
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Old 10-20-2020, 06:22 PM   #5
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We boondocked about 90% of our 8 yr. of full-timing with the 40' diesel motorhome along with another 8 yr. in a 5th wheel. Absolutely no problem.

You need to research the road but we've driven up to 20 mi. on good gravel roads and many of them are good. The only thing is you don't want a washed out road with deep dips. If you're not confident when you arrive unhook the toad and drive it to explore and pick your parking place. Regardless, when you decide to drive down the road disconnect anyway and you follow it or your toad will get very dirty.

We RV'd by elevation thereby no need for AC. We had 300w of solar which was plenty for us because we're not energy hogs. Being in the sun it brings the batteries up fast. We even dry camped in Glacier Nat'l Park for a week in rain. The solar was in a clearing of trees and they got enough cloudy light to keep the batteries up. If not, you'd always have the generator. We did have a propane refrigerator but I know there are boondockers with a residential. Since we had minimal solar we brewed delicious coffee on the stove and made our toast in a fry pan. No need for electric. We also had a side radiator which helped to keep the dust out. With our tanks we could stay out there for up to 2 weeks. By that time we were usually ready to move on anyway so we'd find a dump station on our way. Going into the spot have full water and empty grey and black. Learn to conserve water. We used our fresh tank for everything including drinking and cooking. Saved the dish water for flushing the toilet. No long showers with the water running constantly.

We loved using the Benchmark series of individual state atlases. They are super easy to read and have public lands well-marked along with roads off the pavement.

Don't downsize for boondocking. You can easily do it. Those that say you can't probably have never tried it.

If you see photos of southern Arizona and California public lands in the winter season you'll see many big rigs parked out there. The photos would mainly be of large groups riding their sand toys or at Quartzsite in January but you can get an idea of who boondocks. At other times you can be sure that they'll have no issue finding quieter spots in the forests or BLM lands.

We also boondocked all summer in Alaska in gorgeous spots.
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Old 10-20-2020, 09:16 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Lurker60 View Post
Hello,

I have a 36í diesel pusher. I am interested in doing some boondocking. So far all I have done is overnight at Walmart. I donít plan on going way of the beaten path but would like to do some BLM and forest service land. I know my rig is not ideal for this kind of camping. I would like to here from others that may have a larger DP and boondock.

What issues or precautions do you have to take with your larger rigs? How deep into the outback are you comfortable going? Is there anything you donít have on your RV that would make boondocking easier?

I have 400-amp hours of 6-volt batteries but they donít seem to last very long before needing a charge. It may be due to the fact that I have a residential refrigerator. It may be that they are getting old. They are about 5 years old. I have a on board generator and a 3000-amp inverter. It will power everything in the RV but I only have the Ref. tv and a couple of outlets on it.

I appreciate the feedback. I am trying to decide if I can do this with my current rig or if I should downsize to a smaller class A or maybe a class C.

Thanks
Phil
We have a hobby that absolutely requires us to take our Class C motorhome off of paved roads, and boondock-camp off of paved roads ... but it is a little 24 foot rig because we knew when we bought it that's what would be best on rough roads, including those that sometimes might be other than flat desert roads.

Regarding travel on rough roads which are fairly level so that large Class A motorhomes could use them in dry weather (they should NOT be traveled on with any RV in wet conditions):

For mild road washouts we take them at a slight angle if possible, instead of straight-on. This helps reduce a chance of tail dragging with any length of motorhome.

For the nasty wash-boarding often found on dirt and gravel roads, the answer is to slow down to keep from beating things to death. A motorhome is not a pickup or SUV that can blast along riding the tops of the wash-board ridges.

Our worse case so far has been around 25 miles each way into and out of a remote desert location ... traveling at only 7-10 MPH. We managed it with no damage to anything ... and the quiet and pristine remote location way out there was well worth the 2 1/2 hour travel time in each direction.

Our motorhome has about the ground clearance of a stock pickup truck, so can go about anywhere they can ... EXCEPT SLOWER.
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Old 10-21-2020, 01:53 AM   #7
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We have 40' Tiffin Phaeton DP. We travel about half time, dry camping much of the time while out.

We scout routes to camping spots in the Jeep if any question before taking the coach there.

Coach is equipped with residential refrigerator. We have 1500w solar upgraded last year from six GC2 lead acid batteries to 600ah lithium.

We typically stay on station a week to ten days - two weeks if we can offload grey water. Sometimes carry a 40 gal barker blue boy and macerating pump.
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Old 10-21-2020, 02:55 AM   #8
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We have a 37ft Class A Gas and have boondocked extensively the past Decade and half. We use Ioverlander, Freecampsites.net (occasionally campendium), and the MUVM NFS. We read carefully the write ups/reviews from others!! This will tell you a lot on cell service as well as road conditions. When we decide on something we'll also do a google satellite view. We don't tow so don't scout out prior. We like to be besides, lakes, mountains = tending to kayak and fish a lot.

I highly recommend once you decide on one or two boondocking locations you'd like to access do a google satellite/earth view and zoom in. Sometimes you'll actually see other rigs in that view similar to yours to give you an even better idea.

We have a residential fridge, 1000w solar and 880ah battery bank. 100gal Freshwater and 50/50 black/grey. If weather not too hot and being careful with army showers every other day we can go up to 3 weeks - more liberal 10 to 14 days which the latter is preferred. We also carry our drinking and cooking water separately in canisters.

If you love your floorpan don't change out your rig until you've tried some of the places you'd like to boondock. You might just have to compromise on a few locations you'd like but usually there are off shoots off many of the USF roads in. Where you might find one a bit tight on overgrowth or rutted/rocks etc potential,, there may be access to that same river/location on another spur a little further down - hence why satellite views aid considerably.

Enjoy it's soooooo beautiful out there and we've only had a couple of incidences where we've not been comfortable continuing to a location and then we've found something else on the other side or nearby. It's always an adventure
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Old 10-21-2020, 01:36 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the info. We will not do any Boondocking until next year so that give me time to do more research.
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Old 10-25-2020, 03:31 PM   #10
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So I'd love to jump in here. I have a brand new Discovery 38 and just attempted my first dry camping trip. Numerous challenges in spite of being aware of many of these issues. We have a 270 w solar panel and a standard 4 battery bank. Batteries are dropping very quickly, even after full charge. Even turned off the inverter. It also seemed to affect the AuqaHot system and AGS which also kept turning off by themselves. If i wasn't there to babysit the generator the batteries would bottom out.
I was very careful to go thru all the AGS settings, battery settings, etc.
I'm wondering now if I have somehow damaged the battery bank along the way with my steep learning curve...

Any thoughts?
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Old 10-25-2020, 04:46 PM   #11
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So I'd love to jump in here. I have a brand new Discovery 38 and just attempted my first dry camping trip. Numerous challenges in spite of being aware of many of these issues. We have a 270 w solar panel and a standard 4 battery bank. Batteries are dropping very quickly, even after full charge. Even turned off the inverter. It also seemed to affect the AuqaHot system and AGS which also kept turning off by themselves. If i wasn't there to babysit the generator the batteries would bottom out.
I was very careful to go thru all the AGS settings, battery settings, etc.
I'm wondering now if I have somehow damaged the battery bank along the way with my steep learning curve...

Any thoughts?


It is hard to say from the info provided whether or not that you damaged your battery bank. The learning curve can be tricky. I prematurely killed our six house batteries due to battery ignorance. Replaced the entire bank. For you, I would just keep an eye on them and be diligent with their maintenance. Time will tell. Take it from me, once learned...you wonít do that again. Best of luck.
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Old 10-25-2020, 07:53 PM   #12
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In the summer we dry camp 80+% of the time. Not worth going 5+ miles on gravel as that’s 10+ miles every day from the base camp for exploring the area.
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Old 10-26-2020, 08:38 AM   #13
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Just because the coach is new does not guarantee the batteries were perfect when you picked it up so I wouldnít feel bad if they failed during your first your first boondocking trip.

As mentioned before just use them and see how it goes. Youíll learn much and if they are already bad you are not learning at the expense of new batteries. If you want to know their true condition get them load tested.

If you could provide more info such as battery amp hour rating or what size batteriesa, define ďquicklyĒ and what systems were running during the battery drain down people would be able to advise you better.

I donít use AGS, but shouldnít it start the generator in a low voltage situation?
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Old 10-26-2020, 08:57 AM   #14
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Interesting and timely thread. You might think a Class C would be better for boondocking but one weak spot I've noticed on ours (25' on E-350 chassis) is our auto-leveling system puts the jacks maybe 10"-12" from the ground surface. As we use ours, I'm noticing the rear jack feet are the most exposed and prone to hitting bottom. It happens when we drive off the garage pad and experience a drop of only 1" which results in a bounce in the rear of the coach and if we take it too fast, the rear jacks hit concrete. Also, the garage is about 4' above the main driveway and the approach to the garage is about a 30' stretch at a 15% grade. So, exiting the garage and coming down to the main driveway level, the rear of the coach drops enough for the rear feet to drag bottom.

I guess the long and short of this is we need to be extremely careful about terrain and maybe limit ourselves to nothing rougher than a gravel road.
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