Boondocking Vs. Dispersed Tenting Vs. Dry Tenting


Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably. However, there is a difference between boondocking vs. scattered camping vs. dry camping. Read on to find out more…

Do you dream of finding the perfect campsite away from all civilizations? A place where you can enjoy nature and wild animals and really be alone in the silent wilderness?

If yes, you are not alone. Jennifer and I love going “off the grid” to charge whenever we can.

If you’re relatively new to this type of camping, you may have heard of boondocking, distributed camping, and dry camping. But do you know what they all mean?

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Boondocking vs Distributed Camping vs Dry Camping: What’s the Difference?

Let’s put the most important things first. Boondocking, distributed camping, and dry camping are very similar terms. They are often used interchangeably, but not always correctly.

To understand the differences between boondocking vs. scattered camping vs. dry camping, we need to define each type.

Our boandocking spot in the Pigeon River Country State Forest in northern Michigan

Boon docking

The term boondocking means camping in a remote location without using utility lines or other hookups. Boondocking can be done in many different areas, e.g. B. Public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). In addition to BLM land, you’ll find some boondocking spots in national and state parks and other wilderness areas.

The appeal of camping in remote locations is to really get away from the hustle and bustle of crowded city life. You can be alone in the quiet, natural world and avoid bad camping neighbors. However, you don’t get the benefits of a developed campground.

When boondocking, you do not have access to a landfill, garbage disposal, traditional fire pits, picnic areas, or utilities. You must bring your own water as there is no access to potable water.

If you are interested in boondocking, I highly recommend reading The Beginner’s Guide to Boondocking.

Boondocking vs. scattered camping

Scattered camping, which I detail in the next section, occurs in state forests. If you camp scattered, do board docking. When boandocking, however, you don’t always partake in scattered camping.

Mike’s favorite navy blue hoodie and hat – perfect for those fresh RV lifestyle days!

Scattered camping

Dispersed camping occurs in US Forest Service-managed national forests outside of the US Forest Service, outside of a designated campground or recreation area. While you can’t just pull up and park where you like, there are areas you can stay in that aren’t in a designated spot. These areas are often marked with a ring of fire or worn land that has historically been parked on.

Scattered camping will not have campsites with electric hook-ups, potable water, picnic tables, or trash cans. It may have a ring of fire set up by the national park or consist of a simple circle of rock. You have to pack and unpack everything you need for camping. Additionally, these areas are usually so remote that without cell service you are truly “off the grid.”

While scattered camping is generally free camping, there are still regulations that you must follow. You must follow national park rules such as: B. Not to disturb wildlife. It’s best to stay on paths and not remove plants or other natural elements. You should take all rubbish and other items that you bring with you.

The beauty of camping off the grid is that it allows you to disconnect from the stress and pressures of everyday life. However, one downside is that you put yourself in a vulnerable position as you may not have access to emergency services or information. If you don’t have cellular service, you also lose the ability to call for help.

Boondocking sites outside of Yellowstone

For these reasons, it’s a good idea to use a thorough RV safety checklist to ensure you depart in the safest vehicle possible. It’s also a good idea to take an emergency radio with you, as it’s the best way to keep you informed of the weather and other events happening in your area.

Many other great survival gadgets can help you save your life in an emergency, especially when you are camping scattered.

Finally, another good idea is to bring solar panels to generate your energy. That way you don’t drain your batteries.

dry camping

Dry camping is a term that refers to camping without hookups. That means you don’t use any electricity or water sources. Boondocking and distributed camping are remote forms of dry camping.

You can dry camp in an established campsite or a primitive campsite. Some established campsites have no hookups and only offer dry camping.

Mooch docking with the family

What about mooch docking?

Moochdocking is also sometimes referred to as driveway camping. Typically, when moochdocking, you’ll be in the driveway or on a friend’s or relative’s property. It got its name from the term “mooch” or something without paying for it, and “dock”. the second half of the meanwhile common term Boandocking.

Boondocking means camping in the “boondocks,” a slang term defined by the dictionary as “rough, remote, or isolated country.”

Moochdocking could be roughly construed as RV dry camping (if there are no hookups), but it is definitely NOT boondocking.

How do I find scattered campsites?

Finding scattered or other remote campsites can feel overwhelming. But there are various resources you can use! Below are ways to find remote campsites.

1. campendium

Campendium is a popular website that can help you find remote campsites. On this website you can find regular campgrounds, BLM campgrounds, and state forests or state forest tracts that you can use.

Another website that has campsites scattered around is, although it’s not as “good” as Campendium in my opinion.

2. Google Maps

Google Maps is a great way to find free scattered campsites.

First, find the National Forest or any other specific area you want to visit. Then zoom in as close as possible using the satellite view. Look out for promising United States Forest Service roads with spurs big enough for a campground.

A good place to start is to find a developed campground or hiking trail, and then look for roads that might work well for you.

3. Ranger station

Another great way to find remote campsites is to visit a ranger station.

Many rural campsites are located along remote country lanes. While this anonymity is attractive in many ways, it can also be difficult to find. The best way to access some of these areas is to stop and check in at the ranger station.

The rangers have a wealth of information as they work and stay in these areas on a daily basis. It’s also not a bad idea if a ranger knows you’re out there in an emergency.

Rangers can also help you stay off private land bordering these wild campgrounds.

You might also want to go to a visitor center if you’re in the area. The workers there may know some great free campgrounds.

Boondocking & Dry Camping Tips

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Join us as we head into the wilderness in northern Michigan’s 100,000-acre Pigeon River State Forest, a beautiful wilderness area dubbed “The Big Wild.” We hike, see the moose that call this area their home, and offer plenty of dry camping and boandocking tips. I wrote an accompanying article with links to the various resources we talk about in the video.

I hope the information above serves as a good explanation of the differences between boondocking vs scattered camping vs dry camping. If you want to learn more, I recommend the following…

Boondocking vs. distributed camping vs. dry camping 2

Boondocking guide for beginners (one of our most popular e-books) and one of our newest e-books, The ultimate guide to free and cheap RV camping!

eBook #1: Boondocking guide for beginners

We’ve created a 65+ page digital downloadable guide to help you understand the nuances that come with boondocking, the most common boondocking issues, and what you need to do to get your rig boondocking-ready.

eBook #2: The ultimate guide to free and cheap RV camping

Buckle up because here’s everything you need to know about finding cheap or free RV sites in the 33-page EBOOK.