Best 2023 Heartland Models for Boondocking
There are many different types of campers in the world. Some campers love to spend all winter staying in an RV resort with a full suite of luxury park amenities and tons of friends nearby. Some people like to plan epic road trips, carefully plotting out dozens of destinations over several days, weeks, or months. And some people love nothing more than to take their RV out into the pristine wilderness and camp off-grid, away from the noise and stress of daily life. If you’re the kind of camper who prefers dry camping to everything else, you’re in luck, because we’re going to share with you the the best 2023 Heartland models for boondocking.
What is Boondocking?
Boondocking, also called dry camping, dispersed camping, or camping off-grid, is when you camp in a location with no electric, water, or sewer hook-ups. These locations could range from camping on a friend’s property, staying overnight at a truck stop, or seeking out remote wilderness locations on the Bureau of Land Management land or inside national forests.
Why do people camp in their RVs off-grid?
Dry camping can be a great way to get some peace and quiet, spend some quality time with your travel partners, and experience regional flora and fauna in a more natural state. You can practice your wilderness skills or teach them to your kids while having a safe and secure shelter to sleep in at night. And an RV makes a great home base for hiking and exploring the woods, allowing you to stay closer to more remote trails or areas.
What RV features do campers need for boondocking?
Because people who camp off-grid will need to be self-sufficient, several RV features can help make boondocking easier.
Large tanks are crucial for anyone who wants to spend longer periods boondocking. People who dry camp for shorter periods may be able to get away with more moderately sized tanks as long as they ration their resources carefully. Either way, once you run out of fresh water or your black and grey tanks are full, it’s time to take a trip back to civilization – so the bigger your tanks, the longer you can enjoy your campsite.
Alternative Power Source
A mobile source of energy like a solar setup or a generator makes boondocking easier by giving you power for things like your fridge, heating and cooling, shower, and electricity to keep your devices powered in case of emergency. A solar energy system includes one or more solar panels, an inverter, a charge controller, and one or more batteries that can store solar power. A solar set-up provides clean, renewable energy that’s quiet and low-maintenance, but may not function optimally in overcast weather. Generators run on fuel like diesel, gas, or propane. They can be noisy and require more maintenance, but they also provide a reliable source of power using fuel you can easily find. Generators can power your RV directly, and charge your onboard batteries for energy to use when the generator is off.
Solar energy systems require more of an up-front investment but are incredibly cheap to use day-to-day and require very little work to keep in good working order. Generators are cheaper to purchase, but the cost of fuel adds up over time, and they will need regular oil changes and maintenance, like any motor. But you don’t have to choose one or the other. Many people with fully outfitted solar energy systems keep a generator with them as a backup source of power.
We mentioned this above, but when you’re drawing power from batteries (whether they’ve been charged by solar panels or your generator), you’ll also need an inverter. Many of the appliances and the outlets you use in your RV run on 120V AC power – but batteries provide 12V DC power. An inverter converts DC to AC so you can use that power to brew coffee, charge your phone, power your CPAP machine, and more. (In contrast, a converter works in the opposite direction, converting AC power to DC to charge your RV’s batteries, such as when you’re using an electrical hookup at a campsite.)
If you primarily use a generator, having an onboard fuel station like those found on toy haulers can help you carry and store more gas so you can camp off-grid for longer.
Since you’ll need to eat, a combination gas/electric fridge is a great feature for boondocking to keep your perishable foods fresh. These refrigerators can run on both electricity or liquid propane, which means they’ll work even when you’ve got your electric power source turned off.
LED lights throughout the coach are energy efficient and draw less power from batteries, making them the perfect way to illuminate your RV during your boondocking trip.
And a well-insulated coach can help conserve energy when you’re camping in climates outside your comfort zone. If you run a generator during the day, you can use the AC or heat to keep your coach temperate. But when you turn off your generator at night or need to draw power from solar batteries, good insulation will keep the heat or cool inside your RV for longer.
We’re sure there are tons of other items that might want to buy to make your boondocking trip more convenient or efficient. But when you’re shopping for an RV, choosing a model that covers all the basics will set you up for success, whether you’re dry camping for a weekend, a week, or more.
What kind of RV should I buy for boondocking?
Not every boondocking enthusiast is the same. Some campers may want a small, light travel trailer for quick weekend getaways, while more experienced campers might want a full-size fifth wheel that’s comfortable for long stretches in the wild.
So when it comes to which Heartland models are good for dry camping, it’s a matter of matching them to your needs. Let’s take a look at the categories of RVs Heartland sells – travel trailers, fifth wheels, and toy haulers – and we’ll give you our top picks for boondocking-friendly models in each one.
Best Heartland Travel Trailers for Boondocking
Our Mallard Pathfinder models are some of our smallest, shortest, and lightest travel trailers. That gives you tons of flexibility in choosing a tow vehicle, and they’re easy to maneuver for people who are newer to towing. They also come equipped with many features that are perfect for boondocking. For example, they come standard with Azdel composite sidewalls for superior insulation, a 1200W inverter, a 110W solar panel and a solar monitor, and a 55 amp converter. They also include 4.3 cu. ft. gas/electric fridges, which you can run off fuel from the included dual 20 lb. LP canisters when you want to conserve electricity. And while a 46-gallon fresh water tank and 30-gallon black and grey tanks aren’t the largest out there, they’re the perfect accompaniment to these tiny trailers for a weekend in the wilderness.
If you’re looking for the smallest RV we offer, the Mallard Pathfinder P18CRB comes in under 22 feet long and weighs 3,728 lbs. dry, and still has room for four guests and all the features mentioned above. We also love the Mallard Pathfinder P18BHS, which includes double bunks and a small slide. That’s a truly impressive use of space in this 22’9” trailer that weighs under 4,000 lbs. and sleeps up to six people.
While they’re not quite as compact as their Pathfinder siblings, our Mallard models are great for camping off-grid, too. They also include Azdel sidewalls to keep your coach comfortable, a 55 amp converter, a water heater that can run off gas or electricity, a small 110V/LP fridge, and twin 20 lb. LP tanks. They also include our new SŌL Prep package, with all the mounts and wiring you need pre-installed to easily add a solar panel, inverter, and batteries of your choice. You’ll get a 45-gallon fresh water tank and 40-gallon black and grey water tanks to get you through your stay.
There are 14 different Mallard floor plans, but if you’re looking for a simple couple’s coach, check out the M210RB, which can sleep up to four people but is perfect for two. On the other end of the spectrum, the M335 can sleep more than nine people (seriously) and has multiple slides and a large living area for entertaining.
Best Heartland Fifth Wheels for Boondocking
Our Landmark fifth wheels are some of the largest, most luxurious models we offer. With tons of residential-style features, like walk-in closets, kitchen islands, second bathrooms, and more, they’re a popular choice for snowbirds and people who RV full-time. And while Landmark may not be the first model you think of when you consider camping off the beaten path, they also include standard features that set you up for boondocking success
You’ll get an 80-gallon fresh water tank and 84+ gallon black and grey tanks, for instance. Azdel sidewalls help keep your interior cool in the heat and warm in the cold, and an electric fireplace doubles as an efficient space heater. A 1000W inverter comes standard, along with an 80 amp converter and a dual battery hookup so you can store twice the energy. And while dry camping with a big, fancy fifth wheel may take more preparation and effort, you can get a leg up with the optional 5.5kW Onan generator, and the optional 300W solar panel with a 2000W inverter and a 30-amp charge controller.
One of our favorite floor plans is the Landmark Lafayette, with its distinctive raised, front living area, double bathrooms, gourmet kitchen, and spacious master bedroom. This model comes with 90-gallon black and grey tanks and dual 30 lbs. LP tanks, and our YETI insulation package so you can camp throughout more of the year.
Bighorns are right behind the Landmarks when it comes to available features that make boondocking easier. Although they don’t have quite as many standard features as Landmark, there are optional features that can outfit your preferred Bighorn model into a coach ready to stand on its own.
For instance, the Bighorn 3910FB comes with a 65-gallon fresh water tank and 84-gallon black and grey tanks, plus Azdel sidewalls, an 80 amp converter, and double 30 lb. LP tanks. But you can also add on an optional gas/electric fridge, generator prep, a 5.5kW generator, and a 300W solar panel with a 2000W inverter and a 30-amp charge controller. With that combination of solar and generator power, you could live like royalty in the most remote locations.
Our Elkridge models also offer standard features that will help you get set up when you’re dry camping. With LED lighting throughout, the Elkridge 37BBH will keep you well-lit on less power. A 65-gallon fresh water tank and 90-gallon black and grey tanks come standard on this model, along with a 75 amp converter, a 14.9 cu. ft. 110V/LP fridge with a 1000W inverter, and twin 30 lb. LP tanks. Plus, efficient H-ducted climate control, Azdel sidewalls, and optional generator prep can make any rustic getaway a little more comfortable.
Best Heartland Toy Haulers for Boondocking
We’re getting into the heavy hitters of boondocking models now. Cyclone, one of our best-selling toy haulers, provides tons of homestyle features to make you comfortable on the road. Plus, you get large, heavy-duty garage spaces for hauling your favorite motorized toys, rear ramps that convert to bonus patio space, and lockable fuel stations onboard you can use to gas up your toys or generator.
And Cyclone models include the industry’s largest fresh water tanks, so you can camp off-grid for longer. Take the Cyclone 4006, with a 150-gallon fresh water tank, an 85-gallon grey tank, and a 91-gallon black tank. It also comes with an 80-amp converter, a 5.5kW generator, two 30 lb. LP tanks, an 18 cu. ft. electric/gas fridge, and LED lighting throughout. All that combines to create an RV perfect for driving out to your favorite remote trails, where you can ride your ATVs or mountain bikes to your heart’s content.
Although the fresh water tanks on Road Warrior aren’t quite as big as Cyclone’s, they come in at a respectable 100 gallons. Plus, these models come with a standard 100W solar panel and inverter prep – both of which are super simple to upgrade with our SŌL line of solar equipment. Azdel walls and an 18 cu. ft. gas/electric fridge comes standard, with two 30 lb. LP tanks to keep it running without electricity. You can also add an optional 5.5kW Onan generator and LED lighting with the Fighter Package.
We love the simplicity of the Road Warrior 391, which features lots of floor space in the living area and a loft and second bathroom in the garage. But if you’re looking for something with a little extra, check out the Road Warrior 4275, with its rear and side patios, multiple entrances and exits, and double bathrooms.
Torque toy haulers come in both fifth wheel and travel trailer models, and each version has features compatible with dry camping. Both variations come with Azdel sidewalls for improved insulation, generous fresh water tanks, gas/electric refrigerators, and LED lighting throughout to draw less power than traditional lighting.
Getting more specific, the Torque 384 fifth wheel comes with a 100-gallon fresh water tank and 85-gallon black and grey tanks. The 18 cu. ft. fridge can run on electricity or gas from the two included 30 lb. LP tanks, and there’s an onboard 30-gallon fuel station with generator prep, with the option to add on a 5.5k generator. Plus, you’ll get the previously mentioned standard Azdel sidewalls, a 75 amp converter, and a standard LP detector to keep you safe while you’re saving electricity.
The Torque 281 travel trailer has a 98-gallon fresh water tank, a 57-gallon grey tank, and a 30-gallon black tank. Azdel sidewalls and LED lighting help you conserve energy on climate control and lighting, and there’s an 8 cu. ft. 110V/LP fridge to keep your food cold with or without electricity. The onboard 30-gallon fuel station gives you gas for your motorized toys, and works just as well to power the optional 4kW or 5.5kW generator you can add to your coach.
Rounding out our favorite toy haulers for camping off-grid, Gravity has some great standard features that help you live more flexibly. Looking at the Gravity 3550 as an example, a standard 100W solar panel with inverter prep can help you get started using solar power – and if you want higher capacity components, swapping them out is simple and quick. Azdel sidewalls come standard, along with a 100-gallon fresh water tank, 85-gallon grey tank, and 92-gallon black tank. The Mission Package goes a step further, giving you LED interior lighting and an 8 cu. ft. gas/electric fridge, and the Apollo Package adds two 30 lb. LP tanks and a fuel station with generator prep. There’s also an option to include a 5.5kW Onan gas generator, which can work in tandem with the solar panel to keep you running through just about anything.
No matter where you plan to go boondocking in 2023, we hope you have everything you need to camp in comfort and safety. Camping off the grid can be an incredible way to experience the world and appreciate the natural beauty all around us. That’s why we’ve tailored the models above to support boondocking – so you can enjoy the best of the wilderness with all the comforts of home.