The best RV for boondocking is a small to medium-sized trailer. This is because most full-time boondockers want an RV that they can leave unattended and then drive their pickup truck into town for supplies. Most boondockers also want something smaller because it’s more maneuverable in tighter places. Trailers tend to be easier to maintain, and cost less to maintain, than motorhomes.
What is the Best RV for Boondocking?
In terms of “what type” of RV, small to medium-sized trailers tend to be most popular among full-time boondockers. Bumper pull trailers and smaller fifth-wheel trailers tend to be most sought after. Boondockers generally want their trailers to be manageable in having to make tight turns, towing up steep grades, and getting through soft sand. Smaller trailers tend to be easier to work on because there isn’t an engine and drive-train to get in the way.
Motorhomes are fine for boondocking, and there several full-timers who do boondock exclusively in a Class-A or Class C. But when it comes to which type of RV is better, you’ll find that trailers offer the most versatility for the boondocking lifestyle. Owners of Class-A and Class C RVs will argue that they can still tow a small car behind their rigs, and that’s true. But, full time boondockers will want a larger pickup truck so that they can haul stuff in the back. Dedicated free-campers are industrious people who makes runs to Home Depot to buy long, large items, or drive their trucks around in search of firewood. A small toad just doesn’t offer that carrying-capacity. (Read our other article, “Trailer Versus Motorhome, Which is Better for Boondocking?”)
What About Custom Vans?
Vans, and Class-B RVs, are frequently used for boondocking. They do a great job of being able to get into smaller campsites, and offer much more maneuverability in tight dirt roads. But, full time boondockers prefer to remain camped in the same site for at least a week or up to a few weeks at a time. They want to be able to make a run into town without having to uproot their campsite and run the risk of someone else moving in.
If you’re and your significant-other are a boondocking couple, vans just don’t cut it. Yes, many couples do boondock in their vans. However, you’ll find that boondocking couples eventually give up their vans in exchange for a trailer because they need the space. Let’s face it, when it comes to living full time as a boondocker, couples need space to maintain a healthy relationship.
What About Toy Haulers?
Toy Haulers are ideal boondocking trailers because they are built with heavier axles that allow you to carry more things. By contrast, a travel trailer is not designed to carry that much weight. They were only designed to carry your camping gear for a weekend outing. But toy haulers are designed to carry vehicles, and as a result are better suited for full-timers who need more of their things.
What About Pick Up Truck Campers, or Slide-In Campers?
The biggest issue with these is that you need a big truck. If you’re looking at living full time as a boondocker, then you’ll want a bigger slide-in camper to keep you comfortable for years to come. That means you’ll need at least a one-ton truck with dual-rear wheels, a longer 8-foot bed, running a diesel engine. That’s about the top-of-the-line pick-up truck. When you add the bigger slide-in camper, you’re looking at $100K in cost.
If you already have that pickup truck in hand, then great! You’re half-way there.
The other thing is that a pickup-truck camper still requires you to pack-up camp just to head into town, unless you’re willing to slide your camper off the truck and leave it unattended. Otherwise, if you don’t mind moving camp every week or so, then no problem. Go for it. But to answer the question on what is the best RV for boondocking, definitely get the small to medium-sized trailer instead.
What is the Best Brand of Trailer for Boondocking?
There are two trains of thought on this.
There are the boondockers in the, “I want something light” camp. And then, there are the boondockers in the, “I want something rock solid” camp. Unfortunately, there is no brand of trailer that is both light and rock solid.
ATC Toy Haulers (visit their website) makes a series of trailers that they advertise as both light and rock solid simply because it’s made entirely out of aluminum. These trailers are definitely lighter than competing toy hauler brands, but yet “light” is still a relative term when you look at the full breadth of recreational trailers. In terms of being “rock solid”, these trailers are have eliminated all chances rot, mold, and rust simply due to being made 100% out of aluminum. Should rain water ever leak into an ATC Toy Hauler, there is no wood to worry about. Everything from the floor, to the roof, the walls, the chassis, the frame, the doors, the cabinetry, is 100% aluminum and designed withstand punishment.
Scamp Trailers (visit their website) are very popular among full time boondockers because they are so lightweight, and very leak-resistant. These are built with a fiberglass body that’s so light that a single person can pick it up (the fiberglass itself that is). It’s highly leak-proof because the body is only two pieces, the top and the bottom. But while Scamp Trailers are light and leak-tight, they are not rock solid. The steel-chassis is subject to the same cracked-welds that so many other trailer brands succumb to. Scamp Trailers are also notorious for low-quality installation of electrical, plumbing, and other third-party appliances. But the good news, those things are generally fixable, it’s the light-weight and leak-resistance that you want.
Just about any RV can serve a boondocker. But when it comes to living full time as a boondocker, you’re going to want something that will give you enough room to live comfortably over the years, is strong enough to carry the additional “stuff” that you’ll need for living full time, and yet offer the smaller footprint that makes it more manageable.
Motorhomes just don’t offer that manageability. Longer trailers become just as cumbersome and expensive to maintain as motorhomes. Vans and pickup truck campers may be more versatile and manageable, but they require you to pack up camp just to go into town for supplies.
Get a small to medium sized trailer with a either a 3/4 ton or one ton pickup truck. You’ll be able to leave trailer at your campsite, and drive into town for supplies. The pickup truck will offer cargo capacity to carry large, heavy items, including a portable generator.
(Note: We published a similar article, from a slightly different standpoint, “Which is the Best Type of RV for Boondocking“)