Boondocking is a craze that has been sweeping America for quite some time.
With the freedom of the open road mixed with the stability of RV camping, this is perfect for those with an adventurous spirit who don’t want to be confined to the country’s motels and hotels.
When you’re out boondocking, you’ll be relying on your RVs battery to sustain the life of your onboard cooking appliances such as a microwave or stove, as well as your shower, your cooler and other RV facilities.
This is why boondocking is also known as ‘dry camping’, and one thing you don’t want is to be left high and dry when you’re out in the wilderness.
A lot of boondockers will naturally be experiencing range anxiety, which is a very peculiar phobia of running out of battery life while you're out camping in a location that could be considered off-grid.
Unfortunately, there are many batteries out there that just don’t give you the lifespan you need - which could be anything between a few days, months or, for full-time boondockers, years. In this article, we will go through the leading batteries on the market today, and share with you what we consider to be the best RV batteries for boondocking.
But having a battery that lasts you a few days simply won’t be enough.
You’ll want something that has enough power to operate all your systems equally without having any power outages, which will lead to another bout of range anxiety.
But what are the top RV batteries currently available on the market?
What features and capabilities do you need to be looking for in a decent battery? How much will you be looking to spend on a reliable battery in terms of price?
Well, boondockers and dry-campers need not worry themselves about being caught out in the sticks with nothing to power their hairdryer, because we’ve got a list of some of the top RV batteries for boondocking currently available on the market.
Then we’ve got a handy buyer’s guide that will help you when you’re shopping for your next RV battery as well as a list of some of the most frequently asked questions about boondocking.
Top 5 Best RV Batteries For Boondocking
OUR TOP PICK
OUR TOP PICK
Our first battery is one that utilizes electricity most efficiently, delivering over 12 volts for up to 90% of its capacity usage, which is remarkably more than the 50% capacity use that most RV batteries offer.
It features a built-in battery management system that stops the battery from overheating, overloading, short-circuiting and deep-discharge - introducing the ExpertPower 12 Volt 20Ah Rechargeable Battery.
One of the more useful features of this battery is its recharge capabilities.
It has many features that will help preserve its battery life for as long as possible, including a self-discharge rate that will allow you to keep your battery in storage for up to a year without having to maintain it.
It is a very lightweight battery that comes in at just under a third of the weight of lead-acid.
When it comes to boondocking, you’ll want something that can be taken from its housing and transported from vehicle to recharge point with very little exertion.
- The lifespan of one of these batteries is second-to-none, you can use this unit for a few days without it cutting out or short-circuting.
- You could say that this battery has its very own brain, with several measuring devices that allow it to measure when too much power is being used and adjust itself accordingly.
- The built-in BMS protects from many hazards that could cut your boondocking trip short. You won’t have to worry about this battery letting you down, it will allow you to enjoy a stress-free vacation.
- This battery will still have enough power when fired up in your RV, even when left for over a year without being used.
- This battery struggles in lower temperatures. If you are planning on navigating in any territory that will drop below freezing, you should use this battery in conjunction with solar controls and temperature sensors.
Our next battery is probably the most energy-friendly on this list, one that is of very sturdy construction that prevents leaking electrolytes and ensures that your battery will stay in its natural airtight and liquid state.
The terminals around this battery are triple strengthened with a triplex sealed design that makes sure your unit will last in the great outdoors - introducing Renogy Deep Cycle Hybrid Gel 12 Volt 100Ah Battery.
With a one-of-a-kind triple strength compound separator, the energy generated from this battery is distributed throughout, meaning that one part won’t overheat and short out.
The lead calcium grids will reduce the level of corrosion and the self-discharge rate is about 3% of the battery's total capacity.
The triple-sealed design of this battery also prevents explosions from igniting from any sparks that might be nearby.
The battery should ideally be run at just under 25-degrees and can be stored for 9 months at this temperature.
- Having that extra assurance against dangerous sparks and unnecessary gases will be very important when out in the wilderness, as the chances of ignition are greatly increased. The complex design features of this battery all but guarantee your safety.
- The gel materials spread the charge of this battery evenly through the battery, which greatly reduces the risk of overheating.
- The battery terminals have been super strengthened, which again reduces the risk of ignition, fires or explosion. With fire hazards and roving sparks from your campfire, it will be very important to keep you and your RV safe and fire-proof.
- This battery has an impressive shelf life and you can go over half a year without using it and it will still have a decent level of battery.
- There is no handle on the casing of this battery, which will make it particularly difficult to lug around and install.
Our next battery is very lightweight, coming in at around 43.5 pounds, but don’t worry, that doesn’t mean that it skimps on the electrical charge.
This battery has a reserve capacity of 120 minutes and delivers a very consistent battery output, capable of operating in even miserable weather conditions - introducing Optima YellowTop Purpose Batteries.
This is one of the cheapest models of battery currently available, which makes it an ideal choice for someone who would consider themselves more of a casual boondocker.
The lightweight yet durable body makes it an easy and non-labor intensive model to install in your camper.
It comes in a polypropylene casing that means it can be carried in wet weather conditions without compromising battery life.
This will be really important if your battery dies in dreary conditions and you have to carry it to a recharge port.
The recharge capabilities on these batteries make them just as good as some of the more expensive models. Optima Batteries are very quick to charge in full and have over 300 discharge and recharge cycles in them.
The price - this is probably the most affordable battery unit on this list. The lightweight design and materials bring down the price without compromising on performance.
The weight of this battery makes installing and carrying that much easier. This will be important if you’re having to recharge in low light conditions - nobody wants to be lugging around a dead weight when they’re trying to locate a recharge port.
The lighter materials mean that this model might not be able to withstand the same number of intense vibrations as some of our other units.
Our next RV battery is a very adaptable one, you can kit it out with a PV solar panel or use it as an inverter. It is an extremely heavy-duty, resilient unit, with a built-in smart battery calculator and longevity of around 8 to 10 years.
So if you’re a long-haul dry camper, then you’ll be more than happy with the output of the VMAX 12 Volt 125Ah Deep Cycle Battery.
This is one of the more powerful batteries on our list, coming with a higher amp per hour capacity, capable of handling a maximum current of around 30 amps.
It can be used to charge a solar panel or an inverter to charge your RV appliances such as air conditioning and shower units.
If you take good care of it, this battery will last you up to 10 years, which gives you some of the best value for money on this list. When it comes to an RV battery, longer life is incredibly important, as you really don’t want to be changing your battery every few years.
- This battery produces no harmful fumes or gases, severely reducing the risk of fire or explosion. When it comes to a unit that possesses this much power, you’ll want these added safety mechanisms.
- This heavy-duty machine certainly keeps your RV running for longer than most, with its flexibility you can easily adapt it to an AC that will power your appliances.
- The fact that you can keep this battery running for 10 years is a testament to its durability.
- Weighing in at 75-pounds, this is not a lightweight unit, which may put off anyone who might have mobility issues who are unable to carry a heavier unit for recharging or replacement.
Our final unit is one that utilizes a unique lithium iron phosphate technology to produce 50Ah of current, allowing you to use it in the most demanding of camping situations to power up your onboard appliances.
This battery is both leak-proof and requires very little maintenance - introducing Renogy Lithium-Ion Phosphate Battery.
This unit is lightweight, weighing just 28.1-pounds, which makes it a great choice for a quick swap out and recharge.
This doesn’t take up a lot of space in your RV, coming in a fully sealed design, you can be sure this one won’t leak on a long road journey.
You have the option of lowering this battery’s natural self-discharge, meaning that it will last you for a lot longer than most other brands. In terms of power, weight, storage and longevity, this battery is a good all-rounder.
This battery has a watertight construction, meaning that fumes or leaks will not spill out from the inside. This battery also distributes its energy evenly throughout to avoid overheating.
It also has an onboard BMS that helps it to regulate overheating and short-circuiting. When you are out in the sticks, you want to be sure that your battery is doing all the thinking for you.
With its state-of-the-art lithium-ion phosphate technology, this machine will give you more than enough charge to keep you and your RV going for at least a few days on a full charge.
Factors to Consider when Selecting your Boondocking RV Battery
Not all of us have the technical aptitude to pick out the best RV battery for boondocking, however, there are a few basic functions and capacities that you can easily familiarize yourself with.
What Is The Voltage?
There are two main types of voltage that you’ll find in most RV batteries:
- 6 Volt - these types of batteries tend to last a lot longer than their 12-volt cousins and are generally not expensive. This makes it the perfect choice for boondockers who want something they can rely on over a few days. You can rig up a few 6-volt batteries to gain more voltage.
- 12-volt - These kinds are batteries are not as durable as 6-volters, mainly because they don’t hold a charge for as long. They are generally more powerful and less expensive than 6-volt batteries. However, they also have less discharge and recharge cycles than 6-volts.
What Types Of Batteries Do You Need?
There are different types of batteries, each one bringing something unique to your RV experience:
- Lead-acid batteries - these types of batteries have a lead plate or grid lining that is coated in a liquid electrolyte. They are generally cheap to buy, resilient and can be overcharged without burning out. They are a heavier model of battery.
- Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries - these are sealed lead-acid batteries, developed in the 70s and very popular amongst dry-campers. They can charge much faster than any other and because the cells inside are sealed, they don’t release harmful gasses or liquids during charging or use.
- Gel batteries - this style of battery is manufactured in viscous gel electrolyte, which is safer than lead-acid. These batteries also do not give off any gases during charge as they are fully sealed. They are very low maintenance and tolerant of high temperatures.
- Lithium-ion batteries - these batteries are said to be the safest for boondocking as they are stable and long-lasting. They feature high energy density and lose little charge at low temperatures.
What Is The Capacity Of Your Battery?
The battery’s capacity is usually measured in amp-hours (Ah) over a certain period. This indicates how much electricity a battery can deliver over the space of an hour. So when you are picking up your next battery, it will be worth looking at this and mapping it against the period over which you’re going to be camping.
You’ll also need to factor in what tools and appliances you have onboard your RV and how much you’ll be using them. Add together all the appliances and utilities you’ll be planning on using during your RV trip to figure out the level of Ah you’ll be needing.
Your appliances should only really consume around 50% to 60% of your total battery life. If you use any more than this then it could lead to deep discharges that will affect your battery’s ability to function in the long run.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Ideal Battery For A Full-Time Boondocker?
A full-time boondocker is someone you can regard as being on the road 24/7, so your power needs will be a lot more elaborate than someone who does it once or twice a month.
If you are full-time, you’ll probably need to hook up your battery to a solar power unit that is compatible. This means that you can charge your battery on those bright sunny days and conserve it for those overcast days.
Because you’ll be needing more power over a longer period, we recommend purchasing a lithium-ion battery for its charge and resilience.
What Is The Best Battery For Part-Time Boondockers?
People who dry-camp on a more casual basis - once or twice a month - won’t require a super-powerful battery, but they might need something that has little self-discharge over a few months. This will be especially important if you plan on keeping it in storage over an extended period.
You’ll probably be wanting an AGM battery, as it will give you everything you need to power your RV for a few days. These types of batteries are also much cheaper than their lithium-ion counterparts.