For the purposes of this article, boondocking is defined as RV camping in the "boonies" without water, sewer, and electrical hookups, and does not include urban camping in places like Walmart, Cracker Barrel, and Flying J truck stops. Now in no particular order, let's take a look at the best boondocking RVs.
1. Pop-up 4x4 Truck Camper:
An off-road, rock crawling, boondocking machine, it's also one of the cheapest and most versatile RVs on the market. The canvas portion of the pop-up means it won't be as stout a four-season camper as hard-sided models, but what it loses in insulation, it gains in reduced weight, in a lower profile, and in a lower center of gravity. These attributes enable it to climb steep inclines and avoid low tree branches, important considerations for those who like to camp far off the beaten path. It can also be detached, so you can use your truck for 4-wheeling, collecting firewood, and hauling things like kayaks to the lake, etc.
Pro's: Small size, highly maneuverable, low profile, detachable, lightweight, low cost, can tow a boat or vehicle, great off-road capability.
Con's: Not much living space, small holding tanks and battery compartment, poor insulation due to canvas use on pop-up walls.
2. Hard-side 4x4 Truck Camper:
Pro's: Small size, detachable, highly maneuverable, all-season, can tow a boat or vehicle, excellent off-road capability.
Con's: High profile, small living space and battery compartment.
3. Small 4x4 Class C motor home:
Pro's: Small size, well-insulated, very maneuverable, can tow, terrific off-road capability, inside access between driving and living areas, all-season, low profile.
Con's: Small living space, small holding tanks and battery compartment.
4. Pop-up Trailer:
Pro's: Low cost, low profile, detachable, lightweight, high ground clearance, great off-road capability, wide range of tow vehicle options.
Con's: Not much living space, tiny holding tanks, no bathroom, poor insulation due to canvas use on pop-up walls.
5. Travel Trailer:
Pro's: Low cost, comfort and livability, all-season, plentiful storage, detachable, multiple tow vehicle options.
Con's: Not very maneuverable, moderate profile, limited off-road capability.
6. Fifth Wheel Trailer:
Quartzsite. However, all the features that you would want for boondocking, such as large holding tanks, a large battery compartment, and plentiful storage can be found in this RV. The huge amount of roof space can also accommodate several solar panels. Due to its size and ease of towing, it's a very popular choice with full-timers and boondocking enthusiasts.
Pro's: Large holding tanks and battery compartment, comfort and livability, all-season, plentiful storage, detachable, best tow platform, some floor plans can sleep up to eight, low cost relative to the Class A motorhome.
Con's: Large size, high profile, poor maneuverability, poor off-road capability, very limited tow vehicle options (pickup trucks only).
7. Class A Motorhome:
Pro's: Sleeps up to eight, large holding tanks and battery compartment, comfort and livability, all-season, plentiful storage, can tow a vehicle, inside access between living and driving areas.
Con's: Large size, high cost, high profile, heavy in weight, poor maneuverability, poor ground clearance, and limited off-road capability
8. Toy Hauler:
Pro's: Built to haul toys, large holding tanks and battery compartments, comfort and livability, plentiful storage, all-season, some floor plans can sleep up to eight.
Con's: Large size, very heavy, high clearance, poor maneuverability, very limited off-road capability.
9. Class B 4x4 Van Conversion:
Another off-road, boodocking machine. It's true this go-anywhere beast doesn't offer large holding tanks or much elbow room, and can sleep only two persons comfortably, but it's probably the best off-road RV on the market today. Steep inclines, large boulders, and low tree branches usually aren't a problem for this 4x4, low-profile unit. In spite of its size limitations and the fact it doesn't provide a full bathroom (most offer just a toilet), it still offers most of the features that you need to camp comfortably while off-the-grid. A perfect rig for a couple who really enjoy hiking and rock climbing and who really enjoy the great outdoors.
Pro's: Small size, all-terrain vehicle, highly maneuverable, can tow, low profile, and high clearance.
Con's: Tiny living area, small holding tanks and storage areas, poor insulation.
So, which RV is the really the best RV for boondocking? I took a poll on this website in early 2012 to find out. Here are the results based upon 175 responses:
- Pop-up 4x4 Truck Camper: 26 (14%)
- Hard-side 4x4 Truck Camper: 60 (34%)
- Small 4x4 Class C Motorhome: 21 (12%)
- Pop-up Trailer: 7 (4%)
- Toy Hauler: 7 (4%)
- Class A Motorhome: 13 (7%)
- Class B Van Conversion: 9 (5%)
- Travel Trailer: 13 (7%)
- Fifth Wheel: 19 (10%)
A special thanks to Don Kingfield, Glenn Orsted, and Dave Rogers for permission to use their photographs for this article.