When we get asked, Can a rig be too big for boondocking, we challenge our customers to balance their desire for mobility and freedom against their desire for comfort and luxury. The truth is, bigger isn’t always better, especially when trying to squeeze into secluded and hard-to-reach areas. That mobile mansion might seem like the perfect fit for you when you’re at the dealership lot, but it might not fit so well into those tranquil and remote places you’d hoped to park it. When trying to find the perfect boondocking rig, just remember, you will be rewarded for the sacrifices you make in size with the sweet, sweet solitude of those beautiful back-country hideaways!
The term boondocking refers to camping in the ‘boonies,’ or rough, remote, and isolated areas. Boondocking is essentially the same as dry camping, meaning there are no water, sewer, or electric hookups. The motivations to boondock are rooted in the desire to escape the crowds, commotion, and noise of the suburban and city landscapes. This inclination to withdraw from commodified communities is often accompanied by a subtle rebellion against the consumer-oriented lifestyles of the house-bound masses. Once you yearn for and experience the serene seclusion of the natural world, the ‘bigger is better’ mentality that reigns supreme in our society begins to fall into perspective.
Function vs. Luxury
When boondocking, you needn’t worry about impressing neighbors with your ritzy big rig like you might in an RV park. Life off the beaten path is less about luxury and more about a simple love for the great outdoors! Larger RVs are likely to be more comfortable to live in, but they might not give you the level of freedom that drew you to try boondocking in the first place. We’re not saying you need a 4x4 designed with off-road capabilities; it is absolutely possible to boondock in a comfortably-sized RV. We are just stressing the importance of blending the spaciousness of your unit with the limited open space you’ll have surrounding it.
The bigger the rig, the more restricted you’ll be when trying to maneuver it in back-country terrain. The most nimble RVs are typically smaller and more compact in size, and you should keep that in mind as you shop around. When contemplating maneuverability, here are some factors to stay conscious of:
Curves & Turns
To access more isolated areas, you’ll frequently encounter twisty and tight-winding roadways that are just not feasible for massive big rigs. You’ll need to have enough ‘swing space’ to clear quick turns, or else a brief bend in the road could become a daunting obstacle to your adventure! And it’s not just the bends and curves that you’ll need to worry about, but the dips and ruts too. A steep descent followed by a sharp incline could result in your bumpers grinding together if you aren’t aware of your rig’s proportions.
Those charming and picturesque pathways that lead to your quaint little campsite in the countryside might not be as appealing to your RV as they appear to you. Those curling branches framing the pleasant image can claw at your roof. The tree limbs and thick brush can scrape against your RV’s sidewalls while you sit helplessly listening to what sounds like nails across a chalkboard marring your pristine big rig. Along with width and height clearance, you will also want to make sure you have enough ground clearance to pass over large debris and other potential obstacles.
Before attempting to park your RV in a boondocking location, whether your rig is small or big, you should get out and test the soil’s firmness. In order to traverse safely and successfully, you’ll want to make sure your route is paved with stable and firm ground. Avoid soft soil and you’ll avoid getting stuck. Ideally, you should try to select a spot on higher ground to avoid washes and reservoir-like puddles from taking over your campsite. While the spot you're interested in may seem perfect when it’s dry, imagine what it would be like after a day of rainfall. If your RV’s exit route becomes impassable in wet and stormy weather, you could find yourself stranded in the boonies waiting for things to dry up!
Scouting Your Spot
Scouting out your campsite is an important and integral part of the boondocking setup process. Before trying to work your RV into a tight spot, mentally imagine how you would maneuver into position. Strategize and develop a plan so that your movements and actions are conscious and calculated. Remember that maneuvering into a spot is only half the battle. The other part that you need to be aware of is how you plan to get back out once you’re ready to leave. Make sure that you have enough space and a means of backing out or turning around. Also, stay aware of the location of your slide outs to ensure that nothing obstructs them from withdrawing once you’re in your final, parked position.
Benefits of a Boondocking Big Rig
Larger Holding Tanks: Bigger rigs provide more room for dry camping necessities like a large fresh water tank. A larger unit will most likely allow you to sustain yourself longer without hookups.
More Roof Space: Part of living the off-grid boondocking lifestyle is implementing alternative energy sources, such as solar power. Bigger rigs have larger roofs that can more easily accommodate a solar panel system.
Easier Living: There is no denying the luxuries that come with a larger RV. Big rigs offer a level of comfort that a small truck-top style camper just cannot compete with. Decide for yourself what your comfort level is, and narrow down the RV options based on your personal preferences.
Consequences of a Boondocking Big Rig
Lower MPG: When you sacrifice space, you almost always save yourself money on the cost of fueling your rig. When you have a colossal-sized RV, your tow vehicle will gulp up gas trying to trek up rugged inclines and steep hills.
Negative Environmental Impact: With a smaller rig, you reduce your potential impact on mother nature. When you can easily maneuver in and out of your site, you won’t leave unsightly tire tracks or destroy thriving plant life as you would struggling to squeeze your way out.
Less Viable Options: When your rig gets bigger, your list of accessible camping options gets smaller. Some of the most beautiful spots are the most difficult to access, so if you want a spacious RV, remember that you will be forgoing your freedom to experience a number of secluded and serene camping locations.
So, the answer is yes, your RV can be too big for boondocking. But it’s up to you to decide what is feasible for back-country camping, and what size is simply to bulky for the backwoods. Choose an RV that balances your need for a comfortable living space with your desire to experience the wild in an intimate and isolated way. If you think you might need some help finding a boondock-appropriate RV that meets your need for comfort, give us a call! Our knowledgeable and experienced RV specialists have a wealth of insight, and they would be happy to help you in finding a perfectly sized boondocking RV!