Winter camping, hookup or boondock?

PNWtabberPNWtabber Member Posts: 124
I want to take my [email protected] out on the Washington coast for a few (3-4?) days in December.  The state park has both non-hookup and hookup spots available.  My propane tank is full and my battery will be charged.  I am trying to decide if I should reserve a non-hookup (aka tent) site or a hookup site; there is a significant difference in the charge.  During the shortest days of the year, will I use too much battery and propane keeping lights and Alde going if I don't spring for the hook-up?
2018 [email protected] 320 S Boondock  |  2015.5 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD
"Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures.”― Lovelle Drachman

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Comments

  • ontheroadontheroad Member Posts: 381
    I'd splurge for the hook up...December daylight where I live wouldn't guarantee enough sunshine for keeping me charged..we just did 4 days at temps around 28*F to 42*F was nice to bring a heater since dry firewood could not be guaranteed..the heater was used while enjoying the fresh air.
    Former 2017 [email protected] Max XL
    2021 [email protected] Boondock CS-S
    2018 Nissan Pathfinder
    Ontario, Canada
  • Sharon_is_SAMSharon_is_SAM Moderator Posts: 6,516
    @PNWtabber - what is your battery amphr capacity?  Are you able to run your frig on LPG?  
    Sharon / 2017 [email protected] CSS / 2015 Toyota Sienna Minivan / Westlake, Ohio
  • PNWtabberPNWtabber Member Posts: 124
    @PNWtabber - what is your battery amphr capacity?  Are you able to run your frig on LPG?  
    Ummm, I have no idea on the battery.  :s   I know we took the [email protected] out for a maiden voyage in October for 2 nights and only drew the battery down to 88%, but the days are much shorter now, so I imagine I will use the lights more.  I have not succeeded in getting the frig to run on propane, I would have a cooler to be safe.
    2018 [email protected] 320 S Boondock  |  2015.5 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD
    "Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures.”― Lovelle Drachman

  • VictoriaPVictoriaP Member Posts: 903
    @PNWtabber Amp hours should be printed on top of the battery. If you can’t figure it out, post a pic. You also need to know what kind of battery you have. Some of them need water added periodically.

    RE: the fridge. Have you tried lighting the stove first? Sometimes that helps.
    2019 320s BD Lite, white with blue (“Haven”)
    2015 Subaru Outback 3.6r (NOT recommended)
    2020 Subaru Outback XT
    Pacific NW—stuck at home this season
  • ontheroadontheroad Member Posts: 381
    @PNWtabber..with regards to lights..we always carry some battery operated, solar (lucci) and I recently brought our multi use pylon light. The pylon light was actually used for dining at night..actually daytime..why is it dark by the time you're ready to eat? The pylon charges with electricity but also has USB ports. I'll gladly wait till spring to try our solar setup! Have fun whichever way you go!
    Former 2017 [email protected] Max XL
    2021 [email protected] Boondock CS-S
    2018 Nissan Pathfinder
    Ontario, Canada
  • VictoriaPVictoriaP Member Posts: 903
    Also note that in the NW at this time of year, solar production is literally just a trickle charge of 10 watts or less per 100 watt panel. So there’s no way it can possibly keep up with any use that’s greater than the normal parasitic draw.

    If you’re OK with the Tab being just a hard sided tent, boondocking is fine. We aren’t going to be colder than 40’s for the next week or so. But I agree with Verna, if you’re going to experiment, get a powered site and go off-grid for a day or two with that for backup. Or carry a generator.
    2019 320s BD Lite, white with blue (“Haven”)
    2015 Subaru Outback 3.6r (NOT recommended)
    2020 Subaru Outback XT
    Pacific NW—stuck at home this season
  • db_cooperdb_cooper Member Posts: 610
    @PNWtabber - I agree with the others as to trying it with the backup of hookups for your first time.   That said, just a few upgrades will allow you to boondock for 4 - 5 days as long as you're careful.  With dual golf cart batteries, and a spare propane tank you'll find you don't need hookups, especially if you have the 3 way fridge.  While not a huge fan of the 3 way's summer performance and quirks,  it is a better solution for boondocking, especially in winter (cools the food and heats the camper!).   As others said,  you can use other light sources and entertainment devices.  After that, the [email protected] doesn't need much electricity.  Also, the Alde heats much better on propane, even if you spring for the hookup site, it will heat the cabin much quicker on propane, and then it will switch to electric automatically to maintain the temp.

    2015 Max S Outback | 2010 Xterra



  • PNWtabberPNWtabber Member Posts: 124
    @VictoriaP yeah, I won't even bother taking the solar with me, no point this time of year.
    2018 [email protected] 320 S Boondock  |  2015.5 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD
    "Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures.”― Lovelle Drachman

  • ScottGScottG Moderator Posts: 3,857
    I don't know what "a significant difference in the charge" entails, but even if I did have the battery capacity I'd probably shell out for the hookup just to save on hassle.

    I camped 4 nights in early September with very limited solar. Even with the solar I did get, and running the Alde briefly only once a day for a little HW, my battery was pretty depleted (~12.15V) by the time I left. With no solar and constant use of the Alde, it's hard to see how you could manage that long in the winter without severely crashing your battery.  
  • MarcelineMarceline Member Posts: 852
    I do most of my camping without hookups and under this scenario I would pay for the hookup. I don’t think that winter is a good time for a newbie to figure out dry camping. Get the hookup and enjoy your trip without being stressed about power. 
    San Francisco Bay Area
    2013 CS-S [email protected]
    Battered but trusty 3.5l V6 Hyundai Santa Fe
  • db_cooperdb_cooper Member Posts: 610
    ScottG said:
    I don't know what "a significant difference in the charge" entails, but even if I did have the battery capacity I'd probably shell out for the hookup just to save on hassle.

    I camped 4 nights in early September with very limited solar. Even with the solar I did get, and running the Alde briefly only once a day for a little HW, my battery was pretty depleted (~12.15V) by the time I left. With no solar and constant use of the Alde, it's hard to see how you could manage that long in the winter without severely crashing your battery.  
    We found the Group 27 that came with our trailer was pretty useless for boondocking,  typically would be 12.4 after 1 night, 12.2 after 2.  The dual GC's are sized pretty right for a camper this size for our use.

    2015 Max S Outback | 2010 Xterra



  • ScottGScottG Moderator Posts: 3,857
    edited November 17
    db_cooper said:

    We found the Group 27 that came with our trailer was pretty useless for boondocking,  typically would be 12.4 after 1 night, 12.2 after 2.  The dual GC's are sized pretty right for a camper this size for our use.
    Admittedly my group 27 was in its fifth season, and while still plenty serviceable it's getting a little long in tooth. Frankly I didn't really expect to have it that long and was surprised it help up as well as it did for those four shady days.

    As cute as the plastic tub is, I may revisit installing a larger front box so I can upgrade to dual GCs on the next round.
  • Denny16Denny16 Member Posts: 2,017
    You can order the new aluminum front tub from nüCamp, via a dealer.  Have it delivered with the dealer’s trailer unit shipment, and save on shipping costs.  This is how I got ours.
    Cheers
    2018 TaB400 Boondock, Jeep Gladiator truck, Northern California Coast.
  • ChanWChanW Member Posts: 2,816
    @ScottG, clearly you haven't been paying proper attention! You can fit 2 GC batteries in the standard plastic tub!

    Heh!

    https://tab-rv.vanillacommunity.com/discussion/8152/a-way-to-fit-two-golf-cart-batteries-in-the-tub-and-tidying-up-the-rats-nest-with-bus-bars
    Chan  -  Buffalo NY (Beau Fleuve)
    2014 S Maxx - 2011 Tacoma 4cyl
     
     [email protected]'ll_Do_Ya
  • PNWtabberPNWtabber Member Posts: 124
    @ScottG -- Tent spots are $30/night, full hookups are $45/night, so 33% more.  I found a spot for $40 that has electrical, so split the difference.

    Coming from tent camping, I guess I have modest expectations.   =)
    2018 [email protected] 320 S Boondock  |  2015.5 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD
    "Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures.”― Lovelle Drachman

  • ScottGScottG Moderator Posts: 3,857
    edited November 18
    I hear ya' @PNWtabber! So long as "modest expectations" translates to "camping in REALLY nice tent when your battery dies mid trip" it's all good!

    Seriously, as another former tent camper, that's always been my mantra when I head out with the camper. I figure worst case scenario I'm still much better off than I was [email protected]  :-)

    (I might feel a little different if I were "tenting" in December, though. I think that will be $10 well spent!)
  • ScottGScottG Moderator Posts: 3,857
    edited November 18
    ChanW said:
    @ScottG, clearly you haven't been paying proper attention! You can fit 2 GC batteries in the standard plastic tub!

    Heh!

    https://tab-rv.vanillacommunity.com/discussion/8152/a-way-to-fit-two-golf-cart-batteries-in-the-tub-and-tidying-up-the-rats-nest-with-bus-bars
    Yep, I'm slippin' @ChanW --that is nice (and economical) install I'll need to give some thought to. I had hoped to retain the 20lb propane bottle, but since the [email protected] itself uses so little gas anyway, I'll bet I could get by easily with a 10#er.
  • PNWtabberPNWtabber Member Posts: 124
    @ScottG -- with the Alde, my 20-degree sleeping bag is going to feel neglected!   ;)
    2018 [email protected] 320 S Boondock  |  2015.5 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD
    "Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures.”― Lovelle Drachman

  • ChanWChanW Member Posts: 2,816
    edited November 19
    Well @ScottG we have run into a slight stumble with our 11# bottles...

    Last March, on our way up to Taos from Bandelier, we'd emptied one bottle and were looking to refill it before we got too far away from 'civilization'. You'd think Española would be a big enough town, but the first place we went said 'no way will I fill a bottle smaller than 20#, it'll damage my pump'...

    The only other place was all out of propane! (We happened to be passing through Española again three days later and they'd refilled their tanks, so no problem, we had plenty to get home with).  BTW - Highly recommended for great propane service and a good chat:
    R & E Glass Co
    N Prince Dr, Española, NM
    (505) 753-9631
    https://maps.app.goo.gl/Wj7RpoajzfsNutsy9

    I'm not sure if the first place knew what he was talking about or was simply superstitious. The second place had no problem with it. Can't blame him though, he said the pump cost him $4000 to replace 'the last time'.

    So a lesson, I guess. 10/11# tanks aren't as simple as they should be. 
    Chan  -  Buffalo NY (Beau Fleuve)
    2014 S Maxx - 2011 Tacoma 4cyl
     
     [email protected]'ll_Do_Ya
  • VernaVerna Administrator Posts: 6,281
    @ChanW, when I still had my Silver Shadow teardrop and made my first snowbirding trip to Arizona, I had to pay for the equivalent of a 20 lb tank minimum to get my 10 lb cylinder filled. Lessen learned...take 10lb with a 20 lb to get them filled. 

    I also found out that Tractor Supply has the least expensive propane when you’re traveling g off the interstates and going through small towns out West and in the Midwest. And Tractor Supply will fill a 10 lb tank without a minimum charge. 
    Verna, Columbus, IN
    2021 [email protected] 320S  Boondock
    Towed by a white 2019 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab, 3.5L V6 Ecoboost
    [email protected] Administrator
  • BrianZBrianZ Member Posts: 1,226
    ChanW said:
    @ScottG, clearly you haven't been paying proper attention! You can fit 2 GC batteries in the standard plastic tub!

    Heh!

    https://tab-rv.vanillacommunity.com/discussion/8152/a-way-to-fit-two-golf-cart-batteries-in-the-tub-and-tidying-up-the-rats-nest-with-bus-bars
    And I was able to fit a 150AH battery in a Group 27 box in our plastic tub, by adding a new custom box holder frame, while keeping the 20-lb propane tank - see link below.
    (Plus a couple small boxes added later for bus bars & monitor shunt, plus a removeable box with solar controller in the other side)

    https://tab-rv.vanillacommunity.com/discussion/comment/101518#Comment_101518
    -Brian in Chester, Virginia
    TV: 2005 Toyota Sienna LE (3.3L V6)
    RV: 2018 [email protected] 320S, >70 mods 
  • PNWtabberPNWtabber Member Posts: 124
    Verna said:
    @ChanW, when I still had my Silver Shadow teardrop and made my first snowbirding trip to Arizona, I had to pay for the equivalent of a 20 lb tank minimum to get my 10 lb cylinder filled. Lessen learned...take 10lb with a 20 lb to get them filled. 

    I also found out that Tractor Supply has the least expensive propane when you’re traveling g off the interstates and going through small towns out West and in the Midwest. And Tractor Supply will fill a 10 lb tank without a minimum charge. 
    Wow!  In the '80s I had a VW Vanagon Westfalia, which had an incorporated propane tank that had about 3 gallons capacity (and no way to tell how much propane was in the tank).  I never encountered a minimum fill charge, but did get quite a few eye rolls from station attendants after they went to all of the work to do the fill and I only ended up buying 1 or 2 gallons.   Oops! 
    2018 [email protected] 320 S Boondock  |  2015.5 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD
    "Blessed are the curious, for they shall have adventures.”― Lovelle Drachman

  • db_cooperdb_cooper Member Posts: 610
    I'm also carrying an 11 lb propane tank for backup and using with the firepit.  Besides Tractor Supply I'd add Ace Hardware as a potential propane source.  My local Ace says they all get the propane at the corporate price nationwide, and it's cheaper than anything else around our area, so I sort of believe him.  Haven't had an issue refilling the 11 lb yet, but I'm usually topping it off after running out the 20 lb.
    2015 Max S Outback | 2010 Xterra



  • AmazonicaAmazonica Member Posts: 150
    edited November 20
    I would go with at least Electric hookup @PNWtabber until you are certain that your useage and battery power will hold up to your camping duration. Having recently Boondocked in not-so-cold-but-cold-to-me temps (36 dF), I'd say getting a really good Battery Monitor is the best thing I did. I have 190W solar panels, but as mentioned in this thread by others, Winter can cut into your solar production significantly. Worst case, if you run out your battery entirely (and don't have a generator), I'm not sure the Alde can circulate the glycol, propane or not.
    2020 [email protected] 400 BD w/Solar, Microwave and Closet
    Towed by 2019 Ram 1500 Rebel 5.7L Hemi 4x4 Crew Cab
  • ChanWChanW Member Posts: 2,816
    Tractor Supply... Great info @Verna
    The fact that the "exchange" system has become so popular makes me worry, but I think there will always be a market for folks to fill their own tanks - just not at the big box suburban centers.
    Chan  -  Buffalo NY (Beau Fleuve)
    2014 S Maxx - 2011 Tacoma 4cyl
     
     [email protected]'ll_Do_Ya
  • VernaVerna Administrator Posts: 6,281
    @ChanW, I have two tanks with the built-in gauges....I’m not exchanging those!
    Verna, Columbus, IN
    2021 [email protected] 320S  Boondock
    Towed by a white 2019 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab, 3.5L V6 Ecoboost
    [email protected] Administrator
  • ontheroadontheroad Member Posts: 381
    Our [email protected]'s propane tank was marked and became an extra tank for our BBQ at home...assuming the [email protected]'s will be put in that rotation too..Home Hardware is our go to in Ontario..always take a full tank every trip we start out...
    Former 2017 [email protected] Max XL
    2021 [email protected] Boondock CS-S
    2018 Nissan Pathfinder
    Ontario, Canada
  • ScottGScottG Moderator Posts: 3,857
    BrianZ said:
    And I was able to fit a 150AH battery in a Group 27 box in our plastic tub, by adding a new custom box holder frame, while keeping the 20-lb propane tank - see link below.
    (Plus a couple small boxes added later for bus bars & monitor shunt, plus a removeable box with solar controller in the other side)

    https://tab-rv.vanillacommunity.com/discussion/comment/101518#Comment_101518
    Nice mod, @BrianZ!  ;-)

    How has that battery worked out for you? That would certainly be a compromise option for an upgrade. My NOCO group 27 box is definitely larger than the group 27 battery currently in it.  
  • BrianZBrianZ Member Posts: 1,226
    edited November 20
    Thanks to you, @ScottG, for showing me it could fit and how to do it! 

    Our Trojan 1275 is a 12V golf cart battery, and its 150AH capacity has been a good match for our occassional boondocking needs with just our single  100W solar panel.  We've only gone up to 5 days without hookups and have been fortunate to have mostly good sun, but using only about 20-25 AH per day (with frig & Alde on propane), we could easily go at least 3 days without recharging, if necessary.  We have usually been fully recharged by the next day, so I feel secure enough having the 150AH battery for overcast days. 

    Good sun, even in autumn, would easily get us fully recharged from one day's usage (or more) at an average latitude like western NC, for example, where I collected most of my data.  I think the rating for a 100W solar panel at that latitude is about 360WH generated per day or about 30AH of 12V power, and we average just over 20AH usage per day typically.

    If you get a Trojan 1275, I would recommend trying to get the "Plus" version, which has a shorter stud.  Ours does not, and the NOCO 27 box lid does not snap closed on one side because the battery is too tall.  It's never been a problem though, since we have a good strap to hold it on.  The difference in battery height is 10.71" versus 11.13"..

    -Brian in Chester, Virginia
    TV: 2005 Toyota Sienna LE (3.3L V6)
    RV: 2018 [email protected] 320S, >70 mods 
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