What Is Dry Camping?
What Is Dry Camping?

Dry camping is a type of camping that involves limited access to water and other resources. It is an option for campers who want to take a break from the modern world, get away from crowded campgrounds, and feel more connected with nature. Dry camping is also appealing to outdoor enthusiasts because it allows them to experience the great outdoors in a more primitive way.


This guide will provide an overview of the basics of dry camping, including the gear and supplies needed, the importance of proper planning, safety tips, and how to find suitable locations. We'll also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of dry camping compared to traditional camping. Finally, we'll cover some common questions about dry camping and offer advice on how to get started.

Defining Dry Camping

Dry camping can vary in its level of primitive, depending on the campers’ preferences and the location. Generally, dry camping involves limited access to water, electricity, and other resources. Campers who choose dry camping often bring all the necessary supplies for the duration of their stay, such as food, shelter, and clothing.

Dry camping is also sometimes referred to as “backcountry camping” or “dispersed camping.” The term “ dispersed camping” is often used to describe camping in remote areas that are not regulated or managed by the government, like national parks and public lands.

What Is Dry Camping?

Unlike traditional camping at developed campgrounds or RV parks, dry camping requires campers to be self-sufficient and prepared for their entire camping trip. This means bringing along ample supplies of water, utilizing a freshwater tank, and properly managing waste through the use of a grey and black water tank.

Dry camping offers a unique experience, allowing campers to explore remote areas, public lands, national forests, and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sites where hookups may not be available. It provides an opportunity to connect with nature and enjoy a sense of freedom from crowded campsites or the need for electrical appliances.

To fully enjoy a dry camping trip, campers may employ methods such as utilizing solar panels to power appliances or relying on battery banks for electricity. Additionally, it is important to carefully manage water usage and to responsibly dispose of waste by using dump stations or burying human waste according to established wilderness guidelines.

The Appeal of Dry Camping

One of the main appeals of dry camping is the solitude it offers. Away from crowded campsites and RV parks, campers can find peace and tranquility in remote locations on public lands, national forests, or Bureau of Land Management sites. Being alone in the wilderness allows for a deeper connection with nature and a chance to fully appreciate its beauty.

Additionally, dry camping brings campers closer to nature. Without the distractions of technology and modern comforts, campers can fully engage with the natural environment around them. They can wake up to stunning sunrises, hike through untouched landscapes, and fall asleep to the soothing sounds of nature. It's an opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life and find solace in the simplicity of the great outdoors.

The Benefits of Dry Camping

Dry camping appeals to outdoor enthusiasts who are looking for an adventure and a chance to escape the modern world. Not only does it provide the opportunity to explore remote areas, but it also offers numerous benefits such as cost savings and environmental protection.

One of the primary advantages of dry camping is that it is often less expensive than traditional camping. In addition to cost savings, dry camping is also beneficial for the environment. By limiting the amount of water and electricity used, campers are able to reduce their impact on the environment. Furthermore, by avoiding traditional RV camping, they avoid contributing to light pollution or disturbing local wildlife. This makes it an ideal choice for those who value the conservation of nature and want to do their part in protecting the environment.

Essential Equipment and Preparation

When embarking on a dry camping trip, it's essential to have the right equipment and be properly prepared. Without the convenience of hookups for electricity, water, and waste disposal, campers need to plan ahead to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience.

Pre-Trip Research

It is important to do some research before embarking on a dry camping trip. This includes finding information on the location, such as the type of terrain, facilities available, access to water sources, and whether or not there is access to dump stations or a disposal site for grey and black water tanks. Additionally, it's helpful to research any regulations and guidelines for the area, such as fire restrictions, wildlife safety tips, and backcountry etiquette.


Self-sufficiency is a crucial aspect of dry camping, where campers must rely on their own resources for a comfortable camping experience. Unlike camping at developed campgrounds with hookups and amenities, dry campers need to be prepared to provide their own water and power.

Having a reliable source of power is essential for running appliances and devices during a dry camping trip. Campers often invest in solar panels or RV batteries to generate electricity. By harnessing the power of the sun or efficiently storing energy in batteries, campers can have a steady supply of power without relying on electrical hookups. It is also important to conserve energy by using LED lights and minimizing the use of electronic devices.

Water management is another critical aspect of self-sufficiency in dry camping. Campers need to bring their own fresh water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning. It is crucial to pack enough potable water to last the duration of the trip. Additionally, campers must responsibly dispose of their grey water to avoid harming the environment. Having a grey water tank or portable disposal system is necessary for this purpose. Conserving water by taking shorter showers and minimizing usage can also help extend the available water supply.

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Camping Gear

When embarking on a dry camping adventure, having the right gear and equipment is essential for a comfortable and successful trip. Here are some of the must-have items for dry camping:

1. Tent: Look for a sturdy and weather-resistant tent that can withstand various conditions. Consider the size of your group and opt for a tent that provides enough space for everyone.

2. Sleeping bags and sleeping pads: Choose sleeping bags suitable for the climate you'll be camping in. Sleeping pads provide insulation and comfort, ensuring a good night's sleep.

3. Camp stove: A portable stove is necessary for cooking meals while camping. Look for a stove that is lightweight, compact, and fuel-efficient. It's also advisable to bring extra fuel canisters.

4. Cooking utensils: Pack a set of lightweight and durable cooking utensils, including pots, pans, plates, bowls, cups, and cutlery. Opt for non-stick and collapsible options to save space.

5. Portable toilet: Many dry camping spots do not have restroom facilities, so investing in a portable toilet is crucial. Look for a model that is easy to set up, easy to clean, and has appropriate waste disposal systems.

6. Water storage and filtration system: Bring enough water containers or jerry cans to store an ample supply of fresh drinking water. Consider a water filtration system to ensure safe and clean drinking water from natural sources.

7. Lighting: LED camping lanterns, headlamps, and flashlights are essential for lighting your campsite at night. Look for models with adjustable brightness settings and long battery life.

Other Helpful Items

In addition to the essential camping gear, there are a few other items that can make dry camping more comfortable and enjoyable. These include:

1. Solar charger: Invest in a foldable solar panel or portable charger for recharging devices and batteries. Solar panels are particularly useful for powering appliances and devices during extended trips in remote areas.

2 . Camp chairs: A lightweight and comfortable camp chair is essential for relaxing around the campsite. Folding chairs are a great option as they are easy to set up and take down.

3. Camping hammock: A camping hammock is ideal for sleeping out under the stars or taking a leisurely nap in the shade. Choose a model with durable straps and an integrated mosquito net if necessary.

4. First aid kit: Bring a comprehensive first aid kit in case of any minor injuries or illnesses while camping. Make sure to include basic supplies such as bandages, antiseptic cream, and painkillers.

5. Insect repellent: Insects can be a nuisance around the campsite, so it's important to bring insect repellent to keep them away. For maximum protection, look for a repellent containing DEET or picaridin.

Finding Dry Camping Locations

When it comes to dry camping, finding the perfect location is key. Whether you're a seasoned dry camper or just starting out, having a good understanding of how to locate suitable spots can make all the difference in your camping experience. So, if you're ready to hit the road and enjoy the beauty of nature without the amenities of developed campgrounds, here are some tips to help you find the best dry camping locations.

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Public Lands and BLM Camping

Public lands and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas present abundant opportunities for dry camping. These vast expanses of public land offer remote and secluded camping spots where you can disconnect from civilization and enjoy the peace and tranquility of nature.

When it comes to public lands, many national forests and BLM areas allow for dispersed camping. This means you can camp outside of designated campgrounds, provided you adhere to certain guidelines and restrictions. It's important to do your research and check with the local ranger station for any specific regulations or limitations in the area you plan to camp. Some public lands may have restrictions on the number of consecutive nights you can camp or specific areas where camping is permitted.

To find these remote camping spots, resources like websites, apps, and camping forums can be incredibly helpful. Look for websites and apps that connect campers with landowners who offer their private property for dry camping. These platforms allow you to search for available camping locations, whether it's on public or private land. Additionally, camping forums and online communities dedicated to dry camping often have members who share their favorite public lands and BLM camping areas.

Remember, when camping on public lands or in BLM areas, it's essential to practice Leave No Trace principles and respect the environment. This includes packing out your trash, minimizing any impact on the land, and being mindful of wildlife. By following these guidelines and utilizing the resources available, you can discover incredible and secluded camping spots on public lands and in BLM areas for your next dry camping adventure.

Dispersed Camping

Dispersed camping, also known as primitive camping or wild camping, is a form of camping where individuals camp outside of designated campgrounds. It is often associated with dry camping, as it usually involves camping without hookups or access to amenities such as electrical hookups, water sources, or dump stations.

Many public lands, such as national forests and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) areas, allow for dispersed camping. However, it is essential to familiarize oneself with the regulations and guidelines specific to each area. These regulations may include restrictions on the number of consecutive nights one can camp or designated areas where camping is permitted.

When engaging in dispersed camping, it is crucial to follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize environmental impact. This includes practicing proper waste disposal by utilizing a black water tank for sewage and a gray water tank for wastewater. Additionally, campers should respect wildlife and vegetation, avoid potential hazards like campfires during fire restrictions, and leave the area as they found it.

For those interested in dispersed camping, online resources such as websites, apps, and camping forums can assist in finding suitable locations. These platforms connect campers with landowners who offer their private land for dry camping, making it easier to discover remote camping spots.

From the Pacific Northwest to the Southwest desert, here are some popular locations for dispersed camping:

Oregon: The Willamette National Forest and Deschutes National Forest offer stunning views of mountains, rivers, and forests with plenty of dispersed camping opportunities.

California: The Los Padres National Forest is home to vast mountain ranges, creeks, and trails. It's also located near several popular coastal towns and cities like Santa Barbara.

Arizona: The Tonto National Forest has a variety of landscapes such as desert valleys, grassy plains, and rugged canyons — perfect for dispersed camping.

New Mexico: The Gila National Forest is home to a unique range of wildlife and landscapes. From its high-elevation mountain peaks to its low-lying deserts and canyons, the area offers plenty of dispersed camping spots.

Utah: The San Rafael Swell is an expansive area filled with mesas, buttes, and rock formations. It's an ideal spot for those looking to explore and camp in the middle of nowhere.

No matter where you decide to explore, always remember to follow Leave No Trace principles and respect the environment. With some research and preparation, you can find incredible camping spots on public lands and BLM areas for your next dry camping adventure.

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Dry Camping Challenges and Tips

Dry camping, also known as boondocking or wild camping, is a unique and adventurous way to experience the great outdoors. It allows campers to disconnect from traditional campground amenities and immerse themselves in nature. However, dry camping comes with its own set of challenges. Fortunately, with some preparation and knowledge, these challenges can be overcome, ensuring a successful and enjoyable dry camping trip.

One challenge is finding suitable campsites. To find these remote camping spots, resources like websites, apps, and camping forums can be incredibly helpful. Additionally, it’s essential to practice Leave No Trace principles and respect the environment when camping on public lands or in BLM areas. By following these guidelines and utilizing the resources available, you can discover incredible and secluded camping spots on public lands and in BLM areas for your next dry camping adventure.

Water Conservation

Water conservation is of utmost importance during dry camping, as campers do not have access to a constant supply of water. Being mindful of water usage is not only essential for prolonging the fresh water supply but also for minimizing environmental impact. Here are some tips for campers to minimize water usage while dry camping:

1. Use disposable plates and utensils: Opting for disposable plates and utensils can greatly reduce the need for dishwashing and conserve water.

2. Take shorter showers: Limiting shower time can make a significant difference in water consumption. Consider using water-conserving showerheads or biodegradable wipes for personal hygiene.

3. Opt for dry shampoos: Dry shampoos are a great alternative to conventional shampoos as they eliminate the need for water during hair washing.

4. Set up a dishwashing station: Use a basin or designated container for dishwashing to minimize water waste. Rinse dishes in the basin instead of running water continuously.

5. Collect gray water for other purposes: Instead of letting gray water from dishwashing or showering go to waste, collect it in a container and use it for tasks like flushing toilets or watering plants.

6. Use water-efficient appliances: Consider using camping equipment that is designed to conserve water, such as low-flow faucets or toilets.

By implementing these simple dry camping tips, campers can contribute to water conservation efforts while enjoying their experience.

Energy Management

Energy management is a crucial aspect of dry camping, as campers often have limited or no access to electricity. Here are some strategies to effectively manage energy while dry camping.

One popular option is to utilize solar panels to generate power. These panels absorb sunlight and convert it into energy that can be used to charge batteries or power appliances. Solar panels are especially beneficial during sunny days when they can generate ample power. It's important to position them in direct sunlight for maximum efficiency.

Another option is to use generators. These devices run on fuel and can provide a reliable source of power. However, they can be noisy and emit fumes, so it's important to use them responsibly and consider the environment and other campers.

To conserve energy, campers can use energy-efficient appliances and LED lights. These appliances are designed to use less power without compromising performance. LED lights require significantly less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and can last much longer.

Additionally, it's important to be mindful of energy consumption. Turning off appliances when not in use, minimizing the use of air conditioning or heating, and maximizing natural lighting can all help reduce energy usage.

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Conclusion: Embrace the Adventure of Dry Camping

Dry camping is a unique and rewarding outdoor experience that offers a sense of adventure and freedom. It refers to camping without hookups or access to electricity, water, and sewage facilities.

The appeal of dry camping lies in its opportunity to escape crowded developed campgrounds and immerse oneself in nature. It allows campers to explore public lands, national forests, and even private land with proper permission. With thousands of acres available, there are endless possibilities for finding secluded and picturesque camping spots.

However, dry camping comes with its challenges. One of the main challenges is managing resources such as water and power. Campers need to plan in advance, ensure they have enough fresh water in their onboard tanks, and conserve it throughout their trip. Similarly, power sources such as solar panels or generators need to be carefully managed to sustain energy for basic needs.

It is important for dry campers to practice responsible camping and leave no trace. This means taking all trash with them, respecting nature and wildlife, and avoiding damage to the environment. Following these principles ensures the sustainability of these beautiful camping locations for future generations.

So, if you're an outdoor enthusiast looking for a unique and adventurous camping experience, consider embracing the challenge of dry camping. It allows you to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and connect with nature in a meaningful way. Take the plunge and embark on a dry camping trip for an unforgettable outdoor adventure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you dry camp in an RV or camper van?

Yes, dry camping is possible in an RV or camper van. As long as you have a self-contained vehicle with fresh water tanks and waste tanks, you can enjoy the freedom of camping without hookups.

What are the differences between dry camping and boondocking?

Dry camping and boondocking are often used interchangeably, but some campers make a distinction. Dry camping usually refers to camping without hookups in developed campgrounds or designated campsites, while boondocking typically suggests camping in more remote or off-grid locations on public lands or private property.

How do you handle waste disposal during dry camping?

When dry camping, you need to be mindful of waste disposal. Most RVs and campers have gray water tanks for shower and sink water, and black water tanks for toilet waste. It is important to find appropriate dump stations to empty these tanks when necessary. Some campgrounds, RV parks, and public lands offer dump stations for a fee.

Are there any safety concerns associated with dry camping?

While dry camping, it is essential to consider safety precautions. Make sure you have proper lighting and lock your doors at night. Be aware of your surroundings and potential wildlife encounters. Also, ensure you have appropriate means of communication in case of emergencies, as remote locations may have limited cellular reception.

What should I do if I run out of essential supplies while dry camping?

If you run out of essential supplies like food, water, or fuel, it is advisable to plan ahead and make a checklist of necessary items. Before heading out to your dry camping location, stock up on these supplies to avoid any inconvenience. If you do run out, you may need to travel to the nearest town or campground with amenities to replenish your resources.

Is dry camping safe?

Dry camping can be a safe and enjoyable experience as long as you follow the necessary safety precautions. Before heading out, make sure you have the proper equipment for your camping trip, including flashlights, first aid kits, and appropriate clothing for the weather. It is also important to be aware of your surroundings and any potential wildlife encounters. Additionally, ensure you have appropriate means of communication in case of emergencies, as remote locations may have limited cellular reception.

Dry camping offers a unique opportunity to reconnect with nature and enjoy the serenity of remote locations. By understanding the basics of managing resources, practicing responsible camping, and preparing adequately, you can have a fulfilling dry camping experience.