A Beginner’s Guide to Dry Camping

Aug 22, 2022

camper in winter landscape

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You may have heard the term “dry camping” and wondered what it meant. It might sound like camping without water or alcohol, but neither is the truth. As this guide to dry camping explains, it’s more about untethering yourself from a campground than beverages or water access. 

Dry camping can be an exhilarating experience. Here’s how to embrace this camping style. 

What Is Dry Camping?

Dry camping means forgoing any trailer or recreational vehicle (RV) hookups or amenities traditional campgrounds offer. 

You will not rely on anything but yourself and your setup, utilizing only your sewage tank and water reserves and the things you bring with you. The best part of this camping style is that you can camp for free. 

Dry camping is a form of boondocking. However, traditional boondocking means getting directly into nature, while dry camping can be in a parking lot. 

Why Should You Try It?

There are a lot of advantages to dry camping if you’re a nature lover or looking to save money. The need for campground access doesn’t tie you down. 

Dry camping lets you travel for a few days without worry since you don’t need any hookups. That also means you won’t have to pay any fees to camp since you can do it almost anywhere. 

There are public and private lands throughout the United States where you can dry camp for free. This allows you to get directly into nature, with nothing separating you from enjoying it. This freedom gets you some fantastic views and lets you disconnect from relying on outside sources.

This camping style offers you optimal privacy since campsites won’t surround you. If you’re looking for a camping experience with just you, your camper and the great outdoors, dry camping might be right for you. 

Tips and Tricks for Beginners

Dry camping can be intimidating for new campers, and the lack of utility hookups takes some getting used to. Here are some tips and tricks to making your dry camping experience the best. 

Conserve Your Resources 

Since you aren’t relying on utility hookups, you’ll need to ensure you can manage your resources. To camp comfortably, make sure you: 

  • Fill your fresh water tank 
  • Start with empty grey and blackwater tanks
  • Monitor your tank status throughout your stay
  • Use a generator or solar kit for energy 

Be Mindful of Trash 

You’ll need to manage your trash disposal since you won’t be near campground trash cans and dumpsters. 

Dry camping follows the “leave no trace” principle, meaning you leave no evidence of your time there. You’ll need to keep garbage with you until you can properly dispose of it. Thankfully, most gas stations provide trash cans that you can use when you fill up. Some stores also allow you to throw a bag or two in their dumpster if you make a purchase. 

Start With Short Trips

You don’t want to plan a long trip when camping for the first time. It’ll likely take a few trips to know what you need to have on hand, so starting with a day or two will allow you to discover your needs without becoming uncomfortable or endangered. 

Begin by Parking Lot Camping 

Many chain stores, like Walmart and Bass Pro Shops, offer overnight RV parking and can be an excellent choice for first-time dry campers. They may not have the ambiance you’re looking for, but they’re great places to test the waters of dry camping since they have resources if you run low. 

Legal Considerations

Dry camping is considered dispersed by the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and is allowed in national parks and other public BLM areas. However, the bureau prefers you try to find a location that appears popular. 

In most cases, dry camping is allowed on public lands. Some people prefer to dry camp on private lands with the owner’s permission as it can feel even more private than a park. 

If you’re not 100% sure you can legally camp on a property, it’s best not to stay there. Always get permission from any land owners or managers regarding if and where you can camp. 

Use this Guide to Dry Camping for Your Next Adventure

Dry camping is a great way to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature without the need for a developed campsite with utility hookups. You can get up close and personal with mountains, lakes and other natural features without paying a fee or being crowded by other campers. You only rely on yourself when you dry camp, giving you freedom, unlike traditional campground stays. 

Dry camping is an excellent option if you want to connect with the world on a personal level for free.

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Jack Shaw is a senior writer at Modded. Jack is an avid enthusiast for keeping up with personal health and enjoying nature. He has over five years of experience writing in the men's lifestyle niche, and has written extensively on topics of fitness, exploring the outdoors and men's interests. His writings have been featured in SportsEd TV, Love Inc., and Offroad Xtreme among many more publications.