How to Get Water When Boondocking

How to Get Water When Boondocking

I don’t know about you, but we love to boondock. If you’re new to the term, it means camping off-grid, away from campgrounds and resorts. I like to think of it as a more stationary version of overlanding. Overlanding is often about the journey, while boondocking is about getting out to nature and getting away from the crowds. Sometimes known as dispersed camping or wild camping, boondocking is typically free and available on National Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land, as well as other regional public lands.

Our Guzzle H2O family purchased a very small Casita travel trailer a few years ago and has taken advantage of the available dispersed camping that is plentiful in the Western United States. We’ve been mountain biking in Utah several times and last summer we drove our trailer (now a Jayco Hummingbird) from Washington to Michigan to visit relatives, camping along the way. We love to get off the beaten path and our trailer has given us a way to do that. We also do our fair share of campground camping, so nothing against that either!

Boondocking was a new term to us when we first bought our trailer. There is a wealth of knowledge on sources like Campendium and Pinterest that will help guide you in what you need to know for your first trip. We still use the Campendium and iOverlander apps for recommendations on the best places to boondock.

At Guzzle H2O, we feel water is one of the most crucial aspects of dry camping that frequently gets overlooked.

Before you leave home or en route, fill your vehicle or trailer’s tanks with potable water. We often drive far distances for our adventures so we frequently leave with our trailer only partially full. Once we’re near our destination, we use an app to find a gas station with potable water and finish filling our tanks. We typically connect the Stream to the gas station’s hose and fill the trailer with filtered and purified water.

You should also consider bringing a jerry can or two of backup water. In addition to having a full trailer, we keep a 5-gallon drinking water container with a hand pump at the back of our truck. We fill this daily with fresh water because it tends to be our go-to spot for filling up water bottles. In places where we’re out exploring different parts of town during the day, we take our jerry can and/or 5-gallon drinking water tank with us and fill up at a gas station, again connecting our Stream to make sure the water is filtered, purified, and tastes great. Or if there is a public fill-up, we also run this water through our Stream to remove any impurities and chemicals, leaving the water tasting great. 

These are great choices for when you’re close to town or on the move, but what about if you’re off-grid for weeks?

If you’re off-grid and near a water source, like we were most nights when we drove through Montana, find a lake or river and use the Stream to pump, filter, and purify river water. It was summer and we were going through quite a bit of water each day so used the Stream to fill up our 5-gallon drinking water tank and a jerry can which we used to top off our trailer’s water. If we had parked closer, we could have used the 30’ outlet hose that is included in our Overland Bundle (or on its own as an accessory) to refill our camper directly from the river.

The Stream is the perfect off-grid water companion because it can pump, filter, and purify between 32 and 90 gallons of water on a single charge. It’s at the lower end if it’s pumping, filtering, and purifying water from a lake or river. If you’re processing water from a gas station or pressurized hose, the Stream can process up to 90 gallons of water before needing to be re-charged. We have several accessories that help keep us off-grid and full of water for longer, including the Stream Solar Bundle, which includes a Goal Zero Yeti 200x Portable Power Station, which is one of my favorite accessories because it can also keep my camera charged. Our rafting guide friends love this bundle when they head out on multi-day trips because they can keep the Yeti 200x charged via solar panel and then charge the Stream as necessary.

In the past, boondocking has either left us with a lot of water anxiety, always trying to fill up our jerry cans whenever possible or full of extra garbage and waste from buying single-use plastic bottles. We designed the Stream to take away water worries and eliminate the anxiety and equipment needed for a multi-day trip. We even took ours camping in Southern Africa in early 2020 and didn't buy a single bottle of water other than the two that we used as storage containers, refilling them daily with campground water.

Safe drinking water when boondocking can be easy with the right tools. Start with a good drinking water system, add a few accessories, and head out into open space!