Off Grid Camping

A complete guide to Off Grid Camping - Boondocking
camping off the grid



Let’s chat about off grid camping! Recently it’s blown up like crazy as people want to ditch their devices and get back to nature. Often called “boondocking,” off grid camping is just parking your tent or RV out in the sticks – no fancy bathrooms or electric hook ups. Just you and the great outdoors.

To me, off grid camping is the purest, most old-school way to camp. Without running water or power, you need to be resourceful to survive and thrive. You’ll learn a ton about yourself too when you have only your wits and skills to rely on, not just flipping a switch or going to the store.

In this guide, I’ll unload everything I’ve picked up about how to rock off grid camping trips through years of dirtbagging it. I’ll share how to find primo spots, what gear you need, tips on weathering the elements, setting up a campsite, staying safe and sane, and more. My goal is to prep you with the insider knowledge so your first off grid adventure doesn’t end in disaster!

Even if you’re a total newbie or a little intimidated about roughing it, don’t stress! I’ll walk you through how to plan an epic trip and have the time of your life off the grid. Picture it – cozy campfire, shooting stars overhead, sweet freedom… you ready? Let’s do this! No more FOMO watching everyone else’s pics while you slave away indoors. Grab life by the tent poles and get out there!

Why Go Off Grid? The Perks of Roughing It


So why should you even bother camping without all the usual comforts and conveniences? Let me break down the awesomeness that awaits when you go off grid:

Physical and Mental Rejuvenation

Ditching the distractions and sensory overload of everyday life does your body and mind good. Just chilling in nature has been proven to lower stress and blood pressure. The relaxing sounds of birds chirping and leaves rustling are nature’s Xanax! All that fresh air and exercise from hiking to your remote site will energize you too.

And without any screens or cell signal, your brain can fully decompress. You’ll gain a new perspective from quiet time reflecting under the stars. Can you even remember the last time your mind wasn’t bogged down by work emails and social media?

Eco-Friendly Chillin’

When you rely on Mother Nature instead of tap water and power lines, you leave less of a footprint behind. Follow Leave No Trace ethics and use eco-conscious gear, and your impact is minimal. scoring in your past life.

Being directly dependent on nature makes you appreciate it more too. You’ll feel more connected to the earth when it provides your most basic needs.

Learn New Skills

Toughing it out off grid pushes you out of your comfort zone but makes you more self-reliant. You’ll pick up clutch new skills like starting a fire, reading a topo map, fixing gear, and more.

Solving problems on your own rather than Googling it builds confidence. And you discover inner strengths when facing challenges without society’s safety nets.

Save Big Bucks

Let’s not forget the money you’ll save on campground fees and motel rooms! Boondocking lets you camp longer without going broke.

And cooking simple camp meals rather than eating out keeps costs down. The stars and fresh air don’t charge a cent!

Clearly, off grid camping offers huge benefits if you’re willing to rough it. Personally, I think everyone should give it a try and see the positive impact themselves. It might just change your life!

Plotting Your Off Grid Camping Adventure


Before setting out on an off grid camping trip, you’ll need to plan things out properly. An ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure! Here are some key factors to ponder:

Scout Primo Sites

There are tons of national forest and BLM lands allowing free dispersed camping if you do your homework. Browse options online and chat with other dirtbags for beta.

Factor in distance to trails, streams, vistas or whatever floats your particular boat. Peep reviews to get the real low-down on spots.

And apps like FreeRoam will show possible areas on public lands to stake your claim.

Consider the Seasons

Figure out the weather typical for the time of year you plan to camp so you know what to expect. You don’t wanna freeze or melt!

Time your trip to catch fall colours, wildflowers blooming or other seasonal highlights. Just know popular areas book up, so reserve early.

Brush Up on the Rules

Every park or forest has their own rules on length of stay, campfires, etc. Look into regulations for the specific area you pick.

And secure permits early – they go fast, especially for choice areas like certain national parks. Nothing spoils a trip like getting there and being SOL!

Careful planning and research ensures you pick inviting spots, arrive prepared, and avoid hassles from Johnny Law. Don’t just YOLO it – map out your adventure thoughtfully. A little strategy goes a long way!

Gear Guide: Off Grid Camping Essentials


When you’re miles from civilization, having the right gear and camping spots makes or breaks your experience. Here’s the key equipment to pack for off grid camping:


Tent camping or tarp setup to protect you from the elements. Hammock camping works too if trees are abundant. Just have reliable overhead coverage and a dry camp for a comfy sleeping pad.


Bring ample water or a portable purification system to filter water from natural sources. Dehydration sucks, so hydrate!


Solar chargers and external battery packs keep devices juiced up off grid. But try to pare down screen time and enjoy the chance to unplug.


Pack a camp stove, mess kit, cutlery, and non-perishable food that requires minimal prep. Think instant rice, oats, trail mix, etc.


Don’t get lost! Bring maps, a compass, and fully charged GPS/satellite communicator. Know how to use them.

First Aid

A solid wilderness-oriented med kit prepares you for minor injuries and emergencies far from hospitals. Add any personal meds too.

Fire Stuff

Matches, lighter, fire starter, axe and folding saw for collecting/processing firewood and cooking.


Flashlight, pocket knife, paracord, sun protection, camp chair, hygiene essentials, bear spray (where needed)…

Gear shopping for off grid trips can be overwhelming. Focus on the essentials based on your specific trip details. And don’t skimp on quality for critical items!

Off Grid Cooking: Fueling Up in the Field


One thing every off grid camper needs to figure out is how to feed themselves without a fully-equipped kitchen. Here are some tips for eating well in the backcountry:

Plan Meals Strategically

Choose non-perishable foods that require minimal cooking like instant oats, trail mix, jerky, couscous, etc. Unless you have a cooler, freshies won’t fly.

Calculate how much food you’ll realistically need for the duration of your trip when portioning meals. No need to pack 5 lbs of rice for a weekend!

Cook Efficiently

Pack a portable camp stove that can boil water and cook full camp meals. Avoid wasteful open fires when possible.

Look into leak-proof, insulated thermoses to keep water hot for coffee, oatmeal, freeze dried meals, etc.

Stay Hydrated

Always have enough drinking water. Gather from natural sources and use a filter/purification system to make potable.

CamelBak-style water bladders are an easy way to sip on the move. Dehydration causes major misery!

Manage Waste

To limit trash, opt for food with minimal packaging. Reuse ziplocs and take all waste out.

Dig 6-8″ cat holes to bury solid human waste if no toilet on site. Follow all LNT principles.

Planning your off-grid meals and cooking takes forethought so you don’t starve or get sick. But you’ll be amazed what tasty campfire cuisine you can whip up with some creativity!


off grid camping oasis

Creating Your Off Grid Campsite Oasis


One of the best parts of off grid camping is deciding where and how to set up your temporary wilderness home. Get creative with these tips:

Pick Durable Surfaces

Set up tents, kitchens, etc on gravel, sand or pine needles. Avoid crushing delicate vegetation.

Add Comforts

A tarp overhead provides shade/rain cover. Unfold cots and pads for better sleep. String up hammocks for chilling.

Designate Activity Zones

Use tarps, rocks and natural materials to section off “rooms” for sleeping, cooking, lounging, etc.

Personalize Your Space

Make it your own with tapestries, lanterns, furnishings and other decorative touches. Let your personality shine!

Practice Low-Impact Ethics

Follow Leave No Trace principles. Use biodegradable soap, bury waste properly, and pack out all trash.

Stay Organized

Keep communal areas tidy. Store gear neatly in bags and crates. Stash food safely away from critters at night.

Taking time to create a comfortable, personalized camp shows respect for the land. With creativity, you can craft a wilderness oasis!

Staying Safe and Healthy in the Wilderness When Off Grid Camping


Heading into the wilderness without modern amenities requires taking important precautions to ensure your trip goes smoothly. Here are some key tips for playing it safe off the grid:

Keep Close Tabs on the Weather Forecast

Thoroughly monitor upcoming weather in the days/weeks before your trip. Pack appropriate gear for expected conditions. While camping, keep a close eye on the forecast and be ready to take shelter if severe storms arise unexpectedly. Bring sturdy, waterproof tents/tarps to try and maintain a dry camp and have evacuation plans ready.

Research Local Wildlife Patterns

Learn what types of animals frequent the area and plan proper precautions. For example, make noise when hiking to avoid surprising bears, keep food locked away from camp at night, and consider bear spray.

Stay Highly Visible

Wear brightly coloured clothing when venturing off alone. Tell someone your plans/check-in times in case a search is needed. Bring a satellite messaging device to call for help anywhere if lost or injured.

Pack a Comprehensive First Aid Kit

Carry supplies to treat cuts, burns, sprains, rashes, etc. Stock bandages, ointment, tape, antiseptic wipes, trauma shears, a thermometer, tweezers, and any personal medications you require.

Prevent Hypothermia

Dress properly in synthetic moisture-wicking layers. Stay dry. Change clothes if wet. Know the signs of hypothermia and treat immediately with warming techniques.

Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of purified water to avoid dehydration, headaches, and fatigue. Use bottles, reservoirs, or hydration bladders to ensure ample intake.

Use Proper Human Waste Disposal

Follow Leave No Trace ethics. Dig cat holes 6-8″ deep and 200 feet from water to bury solid human waste and toilet paper.

off grid camping shower

Mastering Off Grid Camping Hygiene: Keeping Clean Without Modern Plumbing


One major challenge when off grid camping is finding ways to stay clean and tidy without running water or bathrooms. But with some clever hacks, you can maintain proper hygiene disconnected from civilization.

Pick Campsites Near Water

Choosing dispersed camping areas close to lakes, rivers or streams provides a convenient water source for bathing. Research water quality and avoid swift currents for safety.

Use Portable Showers

Outfit your vehicle or shelter with a self-contained camp shower. Solar shower bags let you heat water naturally via the sun. Hang private stalls from trees when car camping. Employ timers to conserve water.

Lather Up With Eco-Friendly Soap

Pack earth-conscious soaps like Dr. Bronner’s, Campsuds or Sea to Summit Wilderness Wash. They won’t pollute waterways. Disperse drainage far from fresh water sources.

Dry Off With a Pack Towel

Ditch heavy cotton towels for hyper-absorbent synthetic pack towels that dry fast like Rainleaf or Matador. Wring thoroughly and hang between uses.

Wash Clothes the Low-Impact Way

Bring non-polluting scrub bags for hand-washing essentials. Use biodegradable soap and rinse thoroughly. Line dry instead of burning excess wood for fires.

Practice Sustainable Oral Care

Use bamboo toothbrushes, coconut oil pulling, biodegradable floss picks. Pack out all waste. Brush/spit 200+ feet from water.

Dispose of Waste Properly

Follow strict Leave No Trace principles. Dig cat holes 6-8 inches deep and 200 feet away from water/camp to bury solid human waste and TP.

With some simple techniques, you can uphold hygiene off-grid and avoid polluting these fragile ecosystems. Let me know if you need any other tips for bathing or cleaning yourself on extended backcountry trips sustainably!

Handling Food in the Wilderness While Off-Grid Camping


Another major challenge when off grid camping is keeping food secure from critters and perishables fresh without access to grocery stores or refrigeration. But with some strategic hacking, you can eat well without attracting unwanted wildlife attention.

Choose Non-Perishable Provisions

When prepping food for off-grid trips, opt for shelf-stable choices like oatmeal, jerky, tuna packets, trail mix, crackers, instant rice/grains. Bring a cooler for fresh items if car camping.

Invest in a High-End Cooler

Keep provisions chilled and fresh using roto-molded coolers from YETI, RTIC, Orca, etc. They maintain ice for nearly a week. Store in the shade.

Use Insulated Bags for Transport

Bring insulated bags like Frio pouches to carry food from the cooler to your camp kitchen for prepping safely.

Secure Food Storage Overnight

Place all food, trash and scented items in a hard-sided, racoon-proof cooler or hang in a bear bag 10+ feet up at night and when away. Never store near tents.

Cook and Eat Safely

Cook and eat away from sleeping areas. Clean up thoroughly after meals. Lock up leftovers immediately. Use locking bins for any food storage.

Proper food prep and storage allows you to relax and enjoy your off-grid camping rather than worrying about unwanted critter encounters.

off grid internet sattelite reception

Staying Connected While Off Grid


While the point of off-grid camping is to unplug from technology and civilization, maintaining some level of communication for emergencies and check-ins is wise. With the right gear, you can strategically connect while still enjoying nature.

Consider a Satellite Communicator

Handheld satellite messaging devices like those from Garmin and Zoleo allow you to text and send SOS signals from anywhere with clear sky views. Pair with your phone.

Use a Signal Boosting Antenna

Attach high-gain telescopic antennas to vehicles and gear to amplify weak cell signals and provide WiFi for small groups. Brands like weBoost drive reliable connectivity.

Activate Texting Services

Some providers like Garmin offer texting plans that utilize satellite networks when outside of cell range. Sync your main number to seamlessly switch.

Download Offline Maps

Apps like Gaia GPS let you download regional trail maps to reference offline while deep in the backcountry away from data connections.

Carry a GPS Locator

Backup navigation and one-way SOS messaging comes from affordable personal locator beacons. Pair with your phone. Popular picks are from ACR and ResQLink.

With the right combination of compact, power-efficient devices, you can strategically tap modern tech while still enjoying an off-grid reprieve.

playing board game while off grid camping

Staying Entertained in the Wilderness When Off-Grid


While the point of off-grid camping is to disconnect, having some entertainment options during down time is still nice.

Pack Old-School Fun

Fill free time with classic camp site activities like playing cards, fishing, hiking, reading paper books, playing guitar around the fire, and stargazing. Unplug and bond.

Bring Portable Power

Charge small devices using compact solar panels and power banks. Play music, take photos, read e-books, and play quick games in the evenings or during rain.

Download Media Content

With limited data, save shows, playlists, movies, eBooks, games, and podcasts offline on your phone to enjoy without cell or WiFi signals.

Consider a Satellite Subscription

Some providers like DISH offer portable satellite receiver bundles with subscriptions to view live content while camping, overlanding, or RVing off-grid.

Play Simple Games

Fall back on old favourites like 20 Questions, I Spy, Would You Rather, Two Truths and a Lie, charades, etc. Get creative and have fun!

Blending classic activities with strategic tech use makes for great entertainment without needing constant connectivity.

camper van tools

Handling Vehicle Issues When Off-Grid


When venturing into the wilderness, preparing for potential car troubles and knowing how to fix common problems is key, since you won’t have the benefit of nearby mechanics and tow trucks.

Stock Your Vehicle Toolkit

Carry a full toolkit for field repairs including wrenches, screwdrivers, pliers, jumper cables, traction pads, tires plugs, extra fluids, duct tape, and zip ties. Know how to use them.

Invest in a Portable Power Station

Compact lithium power stations from Jackery, Anker, and others can jump start your dead battery and run electronics, lights, compressors and small tools.

Use a Satellite Messenger

Carry a satellite-enabled emergency communicator like those made by Somewear, Garmin, and Zoleo which allow you to call for help from anywhere, even when injured, immobile, and out of cell service.

Pack Recovery Gear

Bring a full set of MaxTrax or Maxtrax recovery boards, tow straps, snatch blocks, folding shovels, and gloves to self-rescue if stuck. Watch tutorials on winching techniques.

Learn Basic Mechanics

Study up on how to change tires, replace belts, check fluids, reset circuit breakers, clean terminals and filters, etc. DIY repairs are key when off-grid.  These are important skills to maintain a van, rvs and trailers

With thorough preparation, you can handle most common roadside issues yourself and continue the adventure.

Handling Emergencies When Off Grid Camping


While no one expects emergencies, preparing for potential urgent situations when away from hospitals and emergency services is crucial when venturing into the wilderness off-grid.

Carry a Comprehensive First Aid Kit

Pack supplies like bandages, antiseptic, trauma shears, a SAM splint, thermometer, medications, emergency blanket, tweezers, and any personal healthcare items you require. Know how to use them.

Have an Emergency Action Plan

Discuss worst case scenarios like injuries, fires, floods ahead of time and plan responses. Know where to meet, who has which gear and training. Assign roles. Practice if possible.

Invest in a Satellite Messenger

Two-way satellite communicators from Garmin, Somewear, and other brands allow you to call for urgent help from anywhere, even when injured and immobile. May be lifesavers.

Keep Key Contacts Notified

Provide your itinerary to family and friends before departing. Check-in according to schedule. Keep them updated if plans change on the fly so they know when to worry.

Pack Redundant Critical Gear

Bring backups of essential safety items like first aid supplies, water purification tools, shelter components, navigation aids, and communication devices in case something fails or is lost.

Finding the Best Off-Grid Camping Locations


One of the keys to an epic off-grid camping trip is scoping out great boondocking sites and dispersed camping areas in advance. With so many national forests and public lands to explore, how do you find the best places?

Use Free Camping Apps and Maps

Apps like FreeRoam and websites like pinpoint free dispersed camping locations across public lands. The National Forest Service map tool is invaluable.

Check State Park and Trust Land Policies

Most allow free primitive camping outside of developed sites. Each has campground maps showing private spots to claim for the night while boondocking off-grid.

Search for Established Dispersed Sites

Even when camping off-grid, looking for already established sites helps avoid damaging pristine environments. Follow Leave No Trace ethics.

Consider Proximity to Resources

While camping off the grid means no water or power hookups, scoping sites near fresh water sources and areas sunny for solar panels is ideal.

Read Recent Reviews

Search forums and read reviews of different off-grid camping areas to ensure your chosen boondocking site is suitable, safe, and not overrun. Vet options.

With the right online resources and strategy, finding epic public lands camping is easy. Research and planning pays off to reach that perfect off-grid campsite and experience the freedom of grid-free living!

Packing Pro Tips for Off-Grid Camping Trips


Heading out into the wilderness away from civilization for off-grid camping requires carrying all the right gear and essentials since you won’t have access to stores or amenities. Use these pro tips to pack smart.

Create Checklists for All Scenarios

Build master lists for car camping, backpacking, winter trips, etc. Customize by destination. Check off each item loaded to avoid forgetting key camping gear and essentials.

Choose Multi-Functional Items

Opt for gear like tents, bags, tools, and clothes that serve several purposes to minimize pack weight and space. Ditch single-use stuff.

Store Items Systematically

Use organizers, bags, bins and labels when packing vehicles and campsites so you can instantly find critical camping gear and supplies when needed off-grid.

Prepare for Weather Contingencies

Pack layers, wet weather gear, shelters, tarps, and changes of clothing for sudden weather changes when camping off-grid without buildings or shops nearby.

Supplement Shared Supplies

When camping as a group, coordinate who’s bringing common camping essentials like first aid kits, tools, cooking gear, and safety items to avoid duplicating everything.

Smart packing makes off-grid camping easy and comfortable since you must carry everything you’ll need. 

Camping off-grid allows you to truly unplug from technology and stresses of daily life. By using apps and maps to find free dispersed camping in an area like national forests, BLM lands, and state parks, you can discover secluded boondocking sites with great views.

Carry versatile multi-functional gear and camping essentials like tents, sleeping pads, solar power stations, and water filtration so you have everything you need when living off the grid. Follow Leave No Trace principles, safely store food at night, and prepare for emergencies.

With thorough preparation and the right mindset, wild camping lets you enjoy nature’s beauty at its finest while still strategically leveraging helpful modern gear for safety and comfort. If you seek the ultimate outdoor experience, go off the grid and relish the freedom of open skies, fresh air, and stargazing beside a crackling campfire.

You may find grid-free camping outside of civilization in remote wilderness locations to be deeply restorative.