Essential Gear You Need for RVing Off the Grid

Dec 8, 2021 | Gear & Tech

Essential Gear You Need for RVing Off the Grid

What to bring for boondocking or camping off the grid.

By Robert Annis

Photo: Luz Lituma

As campgrounds fill, many RVers are venturing further into the backcountry to escape the crowds. But solitude can quickly become a curse if something goes wrong and you need help. Here’s the gear I bring with me every time I visit an out-of-the-way camping spot.

Related The Ultimate Guide to Boondocking

Cell Phone Signal Booster

I’ve used a weBoost cell phone signal booster for years in my Roadtrek van. I recently replaced my Drive Reach RV with the Destination RV model. It’s more powerful, but more finicky, requiring you to point the antenna toward the nearest cell tower using an app. 

One important thing to remember is that this is a cell phone signal booster. If there’s a weak signal, it’ll amplify it. If there’s absolutely no signal, this device probably can’t help you. Before heading out, use an app like Campendium to read reviews of campgrounds and boondocking locations to help determine what to expect for signal strength. 

Related Staying Connected on the Road: A Guide to RV WiFi

Woman holding a yellow and black two-way radio.

Two-Way Radios

If I’m traveling with someone else in an area where I know cell coverage is spotty, I bring Motorola Talkabout T800 radios. These allow us to stay in contact if we get separated. 

Global Hotspot

I do the majority of my traveling solo, so I’m often hiking or mountain biking completely alone. I recently received a Somewear Global Hotspot, which has helped ease my mind when adventuring solo. If something happens, the device should send an SOS signal. Somewear’s smartphone app also allows you to track incoming weather, message contacts, and update others about your progress. Just make sure that your phone is fully charged before heading out.

Hiking App

The AllTrails app is a great resource for finding trails, but to take full advantage of its features, you need to plan ahead a bit. It uses your phone’s GPS to navigate, allowing you to know your location in real time. The pro version of the app allows you to download maps ahead of time for offline use.

Paper Map

Google Maps isn’t reliable in the backcountry and doesn’t route based on your type of vehicle. Sometimes there’s just no substitute for an actual paper map. I frequently use a spiral-bound Rand McNally Road Atlas on road trips. If you spend a lot of time in one or two states, a DeLorme Atlas & Gazetteer with more detailed maps is invaluable.

Related The Best Apps for Planning a Safe and Fun RV Route

Walkie talkie, first aid kit, rope, and a map.

First Aid Kit

Most first aid kits include basic items like bandages and antiseptic wipes. But if you’re heading into the backcountry, be prepared to handle a wider variety of medical maladies. Here are some additional items I keep in my van at all times.  

  • Butterfly wound closures 
  • Moleskin or blister bandages 
  • Waterproof bandages 
  • Ibuprofen 
  • Instant ice packs 
  • Emergency blanket 

Additionally, bring any medications or other items specific to you and your family’s needs as well as anything relevant to your area of travel. 

Portable Jump Starter

Even if you have a AAA membership, you’re not guaranteed help will be able to reach you deep in the backcountry. I recommend always carrying a portable jump starter. This CAT-branded version has saved me time and convenience on multiple occasions. Not only will it jump start your vehicle, it can charge electronic items, inflate a low tire, and more. 

Red and black weather radio.

Weather Radio

If you’re out of cell phone signal range, it’s hard to keep apprised of inclement weather. A weather radio, like this one, is crucial.

Water (Double the Amount You Think You Need)

It’s essential to have enough water to get you through any additional days during your stay, in case you get stuck or want to extend your time. A gallon of water per person per day should be your baseline. Then double it, just in case. Water bladders come in handy for this.

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Robert Annis

After spending nearly a decade as a reporter for The Indianapolis Star, Robert Annis became an award-winning outdoor-travel journalist. Over the years, Robert's byline has appeared in numerous publications and websites, including Outside, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, Men's Journal, Lonely Planet, and more. If you’re looking for Robert, chances are you'll find him either pedaling the backroads and trails of the Midwest on his bicycle or hunched over his laptop in an airport bar, frantically trying to make his next deadline.