Planning first boondock trip

Discussion in 'Boondocking' started by BillyMc, Jul 29, 2018.

  1. BillyMc

    BillyMc Active Member

    Mar 25, 2018
    South Carolina
    Planning to take the grandsons boondock camping while the DW stays with granddaughter for girls weekend. Top pick at the moment is Sand Hills State Forest. It's going to be in late October so we may be wanting to run the furnace at night. I've tent camped a lot through life, but this will be the first with a camper with creature comforts.
    1) Water pump, thinking this isn't a big power drain.
    2) Furnace, no idea on the battery demand.
    3) Lighting, all lighting has been upgraded to LED.
    4) Electronics, 16" 12v TV (use doubtful), 2 tablets for kids daily reading and my cell phone all charged with the built in USB ports I installed.
    The battery is a new this year group 31 deep cycle.
    We will be camping 2 maybe 3 nights. I currently don't have any method of charging the battery other than shore power or connecting to the TV.
    Looking for opinions from experienced boondockers if I will have enough battery power without recharging.
  2. nineoaks2004

    nineoaks2004 Every meal is a picnic and every Day is a holiday

    Oct 15, 2006
    Graceville, Florida
    I used to charge mine with the TV using Jumper cables, You can also get a portable heater that runs off LP rather than use the furnace which will save your battery, water pump should be ok just turn it on when you need it then shut it off. You said boondocking, I guess that means no electrical hook up ? If you have elect. then just take a battery charger to top the battery off, it will charge faster than the converter. Good Luck on the trip, I know the boy's will really enjoy it.
  3. Arlyn Aronson

    Arlyn Aronson Active Member

    Jun 11, 2014
    Houghton MI
    Not sure how cool it be at Sand hills in October but your furnace will take lots of battery power. All we ever camp is at locations without power but we don't worry about heat until its in the 40's overnight. Even then, we just warm the camper up in the morning.

    Water pumps do take some power.
  4. generok

    generok Well-Known Member

    Feb 7, 2013
    Anchorage, AK
    If you connect jumper cables to the vehicle each day and let the vehicle idle for about 20 min, you'll have enough juice. I used to do exactly what you're describing and did it on a single battery no problem at all. You can also charge phones and tablets in the car while it is idling, or even when it isn't.
  5. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Well-Known Member

    May 28, 2018
    12v power items:

    Water pump - only runs when you open a faucet. The more water you use, the more battery you use, but it is not much overall.

    Fridge - if you have a propane fridge, the control module will run on battery. Some have a de-icer something (mine is 45 years old and doesn't have any of this, so I'm not familiar with the term) that will use a lot of battery power - folks put in switches to turn that off when running off grid.

    Heater - the fan will go through your battery very quickly. You can use a portable heater (mr heater - I have a "Little Buddy" and it's enough to take the chill off at bedtime and morning).

    Lighting should be fine.

    Electronics - Two tablets and cell phone no problem. TV might take more, so plan on skipping its use.

    In the big scheme of things, you've tent camped before so you can do things easily to minimize usage:

    Bring a lantern or two and a flashlight/headlight for each person.

    Bring extra bedding for nighttime warmth and light a fire in a.m. to warm up by - save the heater for "desperate need" only.

    Pick up a jump starter power pack for back up needs. I have this: It will jumpstart my 2002 V-8 SUV. I have one in the car for jumpstart purposes, and one in the FnR and one in the clipper for charging purposes. I use them to charge my cell phone and tablet - can get a few charges out of it. I have a 800a peak 16800mAH version also for jumpstarting the clipper (1975 dodge sportsman van chassis with 360 engine) - it is significantly faster at charging the SUV (immediately instead of 5-10 seconds delay) and can handle jumpstarting the clipper. You can find them on sale on Amazon with various brands. Great to have one in each vehicle for jumpstarting when needed. Just charge them every month or so - I plug into the vehicle during a longer drive and plug into the clipper and FnR when on shore power.

    Now is a great time to start teaching the kids about minimizing power consumption, or at least understanding there is a limited amount of power when off the grid.

    Oh, and do you have a battery power monitor? Good to have to see if/when you need to recharge. I have these: I can plug them into the 12v outlet in the FnR and clipper and check the battery voltage at a glance. They also provide a 12v splitter and usb outlets for charging things.

    P.S. Generally speaking, boondocking is camping without hookups and not in a campground. Similar to dispersed camping for tent campers. Dry camping is camping with hookups in a campground.
  6. jmkay1

    jmkay1 2004 Fleetwood/Coleman Utah

    Oct 10, 2013
    Northern Virginia
    As mentioned the furnace will eat through battery power the more it turns on. When I dry camp I turn the furnace down to 50 enough to take the chill off the air. But better than nothing at all. I turn the furnace off in the morning to conserve power. I personally can't sleep if I'm cold so I need my furnace at night. I turn it off in the morning and use warmer clothes and the fire to keep warm. During the day I open the shades to allow as much sunlight as I could to warm the popup up and at dusk shut the shades to help retain that heat. I also used reflectix in the bunkends to help retain heat. I washed dishes only once a day so my pump wasn't used too much since I wipe all dishes with a paper towel before washing I don't need as much water. I charged my phone in the car or used a separate battery charger for my phone. With a group 24 battery even though the weather got down to freezing at night I had enough battery to last me 3 nights. Now on the following morning I was half half battery and would need to charge it. I also ran extremely low on propane. That furnace eats through propane equally as fast. Not sure about that 12v TV that I'm sure will take a lot of battery power itself.
  7. inthedirt

    inthedirt Active Member

    Aug 28, 2012
    SW Montana
    I run my heater all night long and take as many hot showers as I have water for, but then, I'm also outfitted with plenty of solar and live in the desert. Prior to my solar panels, a buddy heater was the best part of a cold night. If you're only talking a single night out, the single group 31 should be OK if you turn the thermostat down and just take the chill off. If wanting to keep the boys clean without a shower, keep some wet wipes handy (don't laugh....I'm a grown man and swear by them!) and also a large pot on the camp fire to wash hands and faces with.
    BBQdave likes this.
  8. BillyMc

    BillyMc Active Member

    Mar 25, 2018
    South Carolina
    A little more detail on our trip.
    Mid October weather for the area is typically mild with 70ish days and 50s at night, but has been known to get lower.
    I have a Buddy Heater I used last winter tent camping, but was hoping to not need it. Guess it doesn't take that much room.
    I have hot water and shower, but unless they get really dirty sponge bathes at the sink is the plan.
    There are no hookups or bath houses, but they do have a few vault toilets and some sites have shelters.
    A Tailgater generator isn't out of the question, but I'd rather not.
  9. neighbormike

    neighbormike Well-Known Member

    Oct 6, 2012
    I had a group 31 on my pup and would regularly run my furnace (conservatively) for 3-4 nights... led lights were only on when needed, did not use water pump and used lantern outside. Electronics were charged in my truck. I did have a small solar trickle charger hooked up but never really monitored it.
  10. Fbird

    Fbird Active Member

    Sep 10, 2017
    Ferndale MI
    ok you,re planning on dry camping. if you are in a campground with no hook ups its dry camping, you will typically have outhouses and possibly a pump well. boondocking is not in a campground, only amenities are what you provided. a good group 31 battery should suffice. use other light sources and the pup's minimally. you're on the right track on water usage. on a 97 pup the fridge on propane will use very little electricity. I would forget about the tv. the buddy heater would definitely be a big help saving the battery. at 50 degrees overnight with proper bedding or sleeping bags I wouldn't think the furnace is necessary. the areas I go camping 50 degrees overnight is common in the summer, I don't even think about the furnace unless its below 40. I use a 100 watt solar panel to keep the battery charged.
  11. MNTCamper

    MNTCamper Active Member

    Jun 14, 2014
    How would you be using the furnace in SC in October? We don't even use our furnace here in MN in October usually. 50s is perfect sleeping weather with the camper open. You have virtually no battery usage, you could go for days with your set up. I wouldn't worry about it at all.
  12. BillyMc

    BillyMc Active Member

    Mar 25, 2018
    South Carolina
    Not planning to use it, but it's good to know I can if we get a cold snap. First frost is usually early November, but I've seen it get pretty chilly on some October mornings. The furnace is just more convenient than the Buddy Heather and clumsy little boys and their old Papa can't trip over it. I'll probably just take the Buddy Heater and a couple 1# bottles of propane in case we need to knock the chill off in the morning.
  13. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Well-Known Member

    May 28, 2018
    That's what I do. My bedding is comfortable and warm and cozy. Get up to pee, turn on the Little Buddy and get. Back in bed until it warms up.
    Arlyn Aronson likes this.
  14. BBQdave

    BBQdave Member

    Aug 31, 2016
    North Carolina
    How often you going boondocking?

    Champion 2000-Watt Portable Inverter Generator is around $425 on Amazon. Run it a couple hours a day, and no worries on what you are using in the PUP :)
  15. BillyMc

    BillyMc Active Member

    Mar 25, 2018
    South Carolina
    Not sure how often yet. Right now the DW and Granddaughter aren't interested at all. The boys just want to go camping. The appeal for me to boondocking and dry camping is PRICE. Sandhills with a picnic shelter is $15 per night and $10 if you use a site without a shelter. I've found a few places with similar prices and I can afford a lot of spring and fall camping at those prices. Got to get the DW sold on camping without hookups before I invest in a generator or solar charging system.
  16. BBQdave

    BBQdave Member

    Aug 31, 2016
    North Carolina
    May be of interest, if you find you are boondocking more: Little House on the Road (Rob) uses the Champion 2000-Watt generator daily, 4 to 6 hours, and spends around $38 a month in gas for it. You would have additional cost of oil change for the generator.

    Rob jokes about being a full-time (RV) guinea pig. I am impressed with his low cost power solution of the Champion 2000-Watt generator. He claims it's quiet too.

    He is camping in a lot of shaded areas, so he prefers the generator over solar for power.
  17. Sotovoce

    Sotovoce Active Member

    Jun 27, 2015
    Two or three nights in that kind of weather is great for tent campers with no heat at night. Your group 31 battery should be fine operating the led lights, charging the devices and running the refrigerator fan, if needed. You will only run the pump when running water. I do not know about the power draw of a television and wouldn't even take it if I were dry camping. You would want to pack sleeping bags or bedding that would keep you warm at night. Just in case, you could turn the furnace on and set the temperature at its lowest setting. If you cook inside, once you turn on the stove to heat water in the morning you will also take any chill off the camper. How old are the grandsons?
  18. BillyMc

    BillyMc Active Member

    Mar 25, 2018
    South Carolina
    They are 7 and 10. The oldest and I camped with his scout troop this past January, the coldest morning was 25 and the other was 27. Bad when you have to put stuff in the cooler to keep it from freezing. I was thankful for that Buddy Heater!
  19. PaThacker

    PaThacker Well-Known Member

    Feb 11, 2010
    I only boondock camp now in
    PA April to November. Temps
    Brutal to flip flops any point at each end of season. I am equipped with popup gizmos, all types of bedding/bags, bed heaters, furnace, buddy heater, 2000 watt Yamaha and jump box. I do bring adequate clothing and outer wear. Often no fires are allowed due to district managers.
  20. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Well-Known Member

    May 28, 2018
    Don't rush into battery charging devices until you know what you really need.

    I found my battery usage is minimal and I run out of water long before I run out of battery. I can go 10 days without being water conscious (no showers, but everything else). My battery is still less than 10% depleted at the end of that 10 days in the clipper. In the FnR, I can only go 4 days without being water conscious and still have full power in the battery.

    With being water conscious I still won't run out of battery before I run out of water.

    Buying solar or a generator would be an unnecessary expense that could be better used elsewhere.

    So, get some dry camping under your belt and figure out what you really need before buying.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2018

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