Stretching Your Tanks in the Boonies – Dumping and more…

The beast dry-camping in National Forest…nicely out there!

We can all only hold so much before it’s gotta come out the other end. Known broadly as “the conservation of stuffin-it-in law” it applies to insects, animals, humans and RVs. As we’ve been slowly, but surely moving towards more dry-camping opportunities (= places without any external hook-ups) both for the benefits in cost and wider access to the wild outdoors the “what-goes-in-must-come-out” theorem has become more pertinent to our existence. Thankfully this RV is not named “the beast” for nothing and as you’ll see there’s way of cheating the system which allows you to go beyond the limits of your tanks even out in the boonies.

The Basic Equation: Starting with the basics our monster has 100 gallon fresh water tank (the “in” side of the equation) which is used for cooking, washing and drinking. That runs into 2 outlet tanks, a 60 gallon grey tank (kitchen and shower run-off) and a 40 gallon black tank (toilet run-off). These are the starting boundaries for our dry-camping limits and most RV’ers will have an equation something like this with 3 tanks of varying sizes. So far, we’ve been easily able to last 2 weeks on this and could probably stretch more, depending on how cat-like our bathing gets. Our grey tank tends to fill up first.

Dumping: Once any one of the tanks is full it’s gotta come out. You just can’t pour the stuff into nature, so the thing to do is to take the RV to a dump station where it can relieve itself in a dignified manner. Finding a spot is actually quite easy. Most developed (private) campgrounds will let you come in and dump for a fee (usually around $10 or so). Also some rest-stops and gas stations have dump stations. This website is the best resource we’ve seen for finding your spot: – List of dump stations all around the US

Cheating the Tanks: Going beyond this little set-up is where we get to the cheats and a lot of full-timers who stay longer-term in the boonies will use these:

1/ External water tanks – there’s collapsible and solid external water tanks that allow you to drive your tow car and fill up water which you then bring back to the RV. So, you can fill-up fresh water without moving the RV.

2/ “Blue-boy” – This little blue plastic tank is a cool cheat for the dump side. You basically run the grey or black from the RV into the blue-boy and then bring that to your dump station rather than moving the big beast itself. More on blue-boy’s here:

So, physics lesson done for the day, may you well and get truly out there and may the dumping force be with you.

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  1. Lynne says

    This is probably one of the places where we’ve had to get the most creative because there just aren’t hardly any dump stations in Alaska. And many of them are kept secret by the locals.
    When we owned a Leprechaun in our green days, we did not know just how fast grey can fill up. Once when we were in Tolsonna Creek, we looked in our shower and holy crap! There was water in there almost to the top. We knew we had come close to filling up our grey, but we never knew how much. This is when we learned that grey overflows into the shower if you fill it up.
    We also wondered why, when we would see people at dump sites, with sinks full of dishes. Aha! Now I know. Though this does not apply to fulltimers, we now just rinse the dishes quickly, then wash them in the dishwasher when we get home.
    Also, when we take a shower, we turn off the shower head while lathering.
    The decision to buy a big beast like yours came three years ago when we discovered how big the black and grey water tanks are in one. (and the gas tank – which holds 90 gallons). Our fresh water holds 90 gallons, as well. What a lifesaver when you like to camp remote places like we do.
    Now, instead of trying to find a dump site every couple of days, we can actually go almost 2 weeks.
    It is a bit of a learning curve to maneuver into dump sites and gas stations, but it is definitely worth having a big motorhome with lots of capacity.
    Thanks again for such a great post. And for the link to dump sites. So, our dump sites here are free at gas stations. Do you find that all dump sites in the lower 48 are pay?

    • libertatemamo says

      Yeah…grey water in the shower. We’ve been there!
      The dump stations are sometimes pay, sometimes free. In South Dakota the gas station there charged $4 (or free if you fill-up). Here in Iowa we’ve dumped for free at rest stops (they seem to have them all over here). So, it depends a bit on where you go.


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