Water Management While Dry Camping
Traveling to destinations that have electrical and water hookups eliminates a lot of potential water woes. Dry camping is staying at a location (including campgrounds) without utility services such as 30 AMP electrical service or a city water hookup. You may also have heard the term "boondocking" which refers to camping without being in an organized campground as on BLM land, a beach, forest or even Wal Mart parking lot. While camping “unplugged” at a remote location sounds wonderful, whether you have fresh water or not can make or break your camping experience. And do your homework, the last state park we went to on the beach had 30/50A electrical hookups but we were surprised to find it didn't have water hookups!
Note that power and water go hand-in-hand. Without a charged battery the toilet will not flush, the water pump will not work, and water will not heat. So make sure you have an alternative power source in addition to a water plan.
We have seen it too many times - First-time RV’ers with expectations of long hot showers and flush toilets take our little teardrop campers to a remote destination, only to have their dreams dashed when they can’t fill the water tanks or enjoy running water. If you decide to dry camp, it’s best to plan ahead (and have realistic expectations) to better ensure reliable water. Here are some guidelines.
- Bring water with you. Not every destination has running water available. In order to avoid unnecessary towing weight, we do not fill the fresh water tanks in our trailers for you. And in most of the teardrop trailers, there is no way to check water levels in the tank. If you want assurance that there will be fresh water in the tanks when you need it, we suggest you do two things:
- Fill the on-board water tanks near your destination, and
- Bring extra water in case you run out (5-10 gallons to be safe). You can bring it from home or purchase a few gallons at a store enroute to your destination.
- Be conservative with your water usage. When dry camping, water is a limited precious commodity. If doing dishes, do so in basins and not with running water. If you shower, run the water long enough to get wet, then turn the water off. Lather up, then turn the water back on just long enough to rinse.
- Fill the trailer’s on-board fresh water tanks properly. There are two water connections on the side of our trailers. Use the City Water connection if you have a water source to connect to. Use the tilt-out fill port (and funnel if you have one) to fill the fresh water tank.
We cannot stress this enough… CONNECTING A HOSE TO THE CITY WATER CONNECTION DOES NOT FILL THE FRESH WATER TANKS IN THE TRAILER. Filling the fresh water tank only happens when you pour water into the tilt-out spout in the side of the trailer.
- Run the Water Pump for Pressure. If you do not have a City Water connection, the trailer will need to build its own pressure to push the water out of the faucets and toilet. It does that with the water pump. There is a water pump switch in all of our T@B and T@G trailers. In Sofitel, Bingalow, Nomad & Escape the switch is above the kitchen sink. In Outback and Tiki, the switch is next to the shower. In Lemon Drop, the switch is on the left side of the kitchen faucet.
If you run the water pump without water in the tank, it will run continuously and potentially drain your battery. Leave the water pump switch on, and it will run to build pressure when needed. If there is adequate water in the tank, it will run just long enough to build pressure (5-10 seconds) than shut off. If you hear that it is not shutting off, turn off the switch and add more water to the fresh water tank.
- If connecting a hose to the City Water connection use the pressure regulator. There is a label next to the City Water connection that says “MAX 50 PSI”. The entire assembly pictured to the right should remain intact. There is no reason to take it apart. The pressure regulator is there for a reason. If you remove it and connect fully pressurized water to the trailer, you risk over-pressuring the water system. When you over-pressure the system, #6 (below) can happen.
- If water leaks under the trailer…When things go wrong with the trailer’s water system, the trailer will leak your precious water onto the ground behind the driver’s side wheel. Usually this means that
- the water tank is full, or
- the water system has been over-pressured (by removing the pressure regulator on the City Water Connection. See #5), or
- a valve has been tripped in some other way. If this happens, you will need to reset the drain valve before refilling the water tank.
WHITE VALVE = Hot water
YELLOW VALVE = Cold water
BLACK VALVE = Fresh water
In the trailers that have a clamshell kitchen (Sofitel, Bingalow, Nomad, Escape), the valve switches are under the kitchen sink. We’ve likely covered them up to avoid their being switched accidentally, so you may need to move a few things to access and reset them.
In the trailers with the kitchen inside (Outback, Tiki), the drain valves are in the interior bench seat on the driver’s side. You will need to remove the plywood panel on that bench to access the valves.