Boon-docking tips (water conservation)


We have been asked a few times about any boon-docking tips we might have or care to share concerning water conservation and not filling our tanks to fast so we put together a little something that we hope might help those that have an interest in camping off the grid now and again.

Keep in mind that we certainly are not extreme hard core survivalists and there are people out there that really squeeze every last bit out of their water usage and manage their black & grey tank storage better than us but we will share what we do.

First off our motorhome has a 90 Gal. fresh water tank, a 50 Gal. black water tank and a 70 Gal. gray water tank and obviously when we head to a boon-docking spot we have the fresh water full and the black and gray empty. Well I should mention that we always put about 5 gallons of clean water in the black tank after dumping regardless if we are going boon-docking or hooked up at a park. We don’t want to have the dreaded pyramid build up!!

Diane and I were all alone for the first few days trying to hold onto a chunk of desert for the gathering.

Diane and I were all alone for the first few days trying to hold onto a chunk of desert for the gathering.

Our coach has a bath and a half and the toilet in the rear bath is a macerator toilet and the toilet in the ½ bath is a regular old porcelain RV toilet. So because the macerator toilet uses far more water than a regular RV toilet we use the one in our ½ bath while we are boon-docking. Well if we are boon-docking for any length of time anyway, if we are just going to spend maybe a week out we will use the macerator toilet for our solid duties and our ½ bath toilet for peeing. (Don’t you just love how RVers are so open about our bathroom habits LOL!!!?)

Another rule of thumb is “if it’s brown flush it down and if it’s yellow let it mellow”. In other words if it’s pee just close the lid and maybe flush once a day “maybe more if you eat a healthy diet of asparagus LOL!!). Every time you flush it uses water to refill the bowl so by flushing once a day you cut down on water usage. And if camped in an area alone I have absolutely no problem finding a bush to relieve myself at, in fact I find it far more enjoyable than the toilet any old day.



Showers can be a huge waste of water and this is probably the best tip of any. First off our best friend is a 2.5 gallon bucket while boon-dockng. When we turn on the shower and are waiting for the hot water to finally flow we let the water run into the bucket instead of down the drain and into the grey water tank. Then we use that water to dump into our toilet when we are doing our “Big Job’s” instead of using water from our fresh tank to bring the water level up high enough to handle the “big jobs”.

We also try to take our showers back to back. Hot water is already at the shower head after the first shower so running water and waiting for hot water is not necessary for the second person which again is less waste.

And military showers are a must, you know get wet and turn off the water and scrub, turn the water back on to rinse and get out. No long hot showers allowed if you truly want to conserve on water. Suck it up and just think how good a long hot shower will fill when you get back to a campground with full hookups. Actually people living in areas tight on water should practice the same thing, trust me you can get clean with a lot less water than you think.


That water in the bucket can also be used to do dishes, brush your teeth, water house plants if you have them and other things if you just think about it.

Speaking of brushing your teeth, if you use water from the faucet don’t just let it run. Turn the water off while you are brushing. You would be surprised how much water is wasted by people leaving the faucet run while brushing in a week’s time.

Speaking of dishes and doing them in that bucket, it saves from water going down into the grey tank. Once you finish take the bucket outside and water some poor plant. And better yet we use paper plates and bowls. No washing and they just go in the campfire.

We know people that put a shallow plastic pan in the bottom of the shower to catch bath water and then use that water as well in the toilet or just take it out and water a plant or tree. Again saving on water going into the grey tank. We don’t do the shower pan thing but it’s in the back of our mind for if we ever really want to see how far we van push ourselves.

And unless you are out playing hard you can get by with a shower every other day, heck maybe every third day depending on weather and activities. I have to be pretty darn inactive to get by three days but it has happened.

We also have a 7 gallon water container that we make sure is full along with 3 1 gallon jugs we pack around. And we make sure to have a case or two of bottled water. We use the water in the jug for coffee and cooking which saves on water from our fresh water tank. A lot of people will drink water from their fresh water tank but we don’t like to even though we sanitize on a regular basis. But that’s just us.

Another tip is to use baby wipe’s on the non-shower days to clean up. They are great to help keep the private parts and underarms fresh. Diane is far fonder of this than me I will admit.

And hand sanitizer is another thing we use a lot while boon-docking for cleaning our hands instead of holding them under a faucet. The stuff is cheap and last a long time.

When we head to a boon-docking spot we usually plan to stay no longer than 2 weeks and using the techniques we mentioned above we always have water left over and room in our gray and black tanks. The longest we have boon-docked in one stretch was 17 days and I think we could have lasted another 2 or 3 pretty easy. But to be honest after 2 weeks we are both ready to find a full hookup campground, take a couple long hot showers and catch up on laundry.

I hope these tips help, now go out and give camping off the grid a try, you just may like it like we do.

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6 Responses to Boon-docking tips (water conservation)

  1. Jim and Barb says:

    You guys are becoming quite the boondockers……great tips!

  2. Joe says:

    Thanks for the tips. Good to know you can go that long.

  3. Joy and Tom Travis says:

    Thanks for those great tips! Every one, excellent. Now to put them to use. Could not imagine going that long but this is what RVing is all about, way to go you two.

  4. I have to admit I love the baby wipes when we boondock too! I’m impressed about the 2 weeks! Our biggest issue is finding a potable water source to top off our fresh water supply. At Lake Havasu, we had to fill our 5 gallon water tank at the dog park! Plans on more boondocking for the year?

    • Dave & Diane says:

      I really think we could stretch things out to about 20 days if we tried but after 2 weeks we are both ready to make a move anyway. As far as more boondocking this winter,,, when we leave here on April 1st we plan to hit Quartzsite for a couple nights, then maybe outside Lake Havasu for a couple nights, then maybe 2 spots along highway 395 on our way to Oregon all boondocking. The plan is to boondock at least 2 weeks along the route to Oregon, from there for the rest of the summer who knows.

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