Knowing how to stay cool when boondocking is a concern for many RVers. Hot temperatures and humid air really make boondocking rough. Many don’t have a generator to run an air conditioner or dehumidifier, and many more have insufficient battery banks for off-grid camping, or lack of solar panels.
How To Stay Cool When Boondocking
Camp in higher altitudes. This is what most boondockers do. During the high point of summer, you’ll need to get up to at least 7,000 feet elevation to enjoy some reasonable level of cooling. The higher the better obviously. Don’t just head north, but make sure your elevation is up high.
Camp along the Pacific Coast. The Pacific coast is unique from the Atlantic coast in that it has a cool ocean breeze that can drop temperatures by as much as 40 degrees F. It can be 100F across the inland areas, but 60F along the Pacific coast. However, it’s difficult to find boondocking along this area. Your best bet is in the Olympic National Forest of Washington.
Position your RV against the sun. If your RV has an awning, then park the RV in such a way that the sun shines directly on the awning. This will cast a shade across the RV, and prevent the sun from heating up walls of your rig.
Use Reflectix Sheeting. This is the shiny silver bubble wrap you see people putting into the windows of their RVs. You can get Reflectix at home improvement stores and RV supply stores. Put them in your windows to help block the sun’s heat. You can also drape Reflectix sheeting on the outside of your RV to block even more heat. (See it on Amazon).
Use heat reflective paint on your roof. Home improvement stores sell this type of paint. It’s colored white, and will block heat from entering through your roof. Henry Tropicool is the most popular brand… it’s expensive at $300.00 for a 5-gallon bucket, but many RV owners swear by this stuff. (See it on Amazon).
Position your RV in the shade. If you’re boondocked with lots of trees, find a way to get your rig into some of that shade.
Buy higher grade roof fans. Most RVs come with small, cheap roof fans (or vent fans) that do a minimal job of moving hot air out. You can get better fans that move air more quickly, and suck in cooler air from open windows. The Maxxair Deluxe is one of the best roof-mounted fans in the industry. (See it on Amazon).
Keep all windows open. Opening windows is a given to help circulate air through your RV. You will need at least two windows open, on each side of your rig, so that cooler outside air and circulate through. If you have your roof fans running, they will require at least one open window to suck cooler air inside.
Open your ramp door. If you have a toy hauler, open the ramp door. This will let in lots of outside air, and help keep you cool. To keep flying insects out, buy a toy hauler ramp door bug screen. Classic Accessories makes a heavy duty ramp door screen that holds up to abuse. (See it on Amazon).
Get a Dehumidifier. If your RV does not have air conditioning units, then at least get a dehumidifier. This will dry the air inside your RV, and thus make it feel more comfortable in summer heat. You will need 110-120 volt power to run it, and will need to be connected to shore power, or have a generator running. Frigidaire makes the most popular dehumidifiers, and they have 22-pint unit sized perfectly for RVs and vans. (See it on Amazon).
Do I Need a Generator?
Having a generator really helps for boondocking. It’s certainly not required, but if you have appliances that require 110/120 volt AC, you’ll at least need a 2,000 watt portable generator to run multiple appliances at the same time. If you want to run at least one air conditioning unit, you’ll need at least a 3,200 watt generator. Portable generators in these ranges are not too terribly expensive, and they plug directly into your RV’s 30/50 AMP port.
Read our article, “Do I Need a Generator For Boondocking?“
Find Cooler & Drier Weather
If you’re not yet a full time boondocker, just know that most are nomadic, preferring to wander across the country following comfortable weather. They’ll seek higher elevations or the Pacific coastline during the summer. Many prefer to remain in the western portion of the United States (west of the Mississippi River), for the drier air.
Prepare yourself for a life of cross-country wandering if you’re interested in spending more time boondocking.
Need More Tips on How To Stay Cool When Boondocking?
- Summer Boondocking: Keep Cool With These 11 Pointers – RVShare
- How to Stay Cool While Boondocking in the Summer – These 7 Easy Ways – Do it Yourself RV