Joshua Schukman
by Joshua Schukman
Posted February 15, 2022

Living the RV life to its fullest often requires the ability to camp without sewer, water, or power hookups for extended periods of time. While this might seem like an inconvenience, this form of camping — known as dry camping — will be your ticket to some of the most spectacular camp spots in the country. And we have the best RV battery for dry camping that will help you get there and stay there for as long as you please!

But first, let’s talk about the ins and outs of dry camping.

What is boondocking/dry camping? 

Dry camping — aka boondocking — is a form of camping where your camper isn’t hooked to any external power, water, or sewer. Instead, dry camping means you’ll depend on your camper’s internal tanks and power systems.

Dry camping requires that you understand both the basics of RV electrical systems and the capacities of your deep cycle RV batteries. Deep cycle RV batteries power onboard electronics such as your lights, water pump, and propane heater. Your deep cycle batteries are 12 volt RV batteries so they won’t automatically power things like your 110-volt plugins or your air conditioner. 

Benefits of boondocking

The benefit of dry camping is that you can often camp for free in some of the most beautiful lands our country has to offer.

RVers choose to dry camp for a variety of reasons:

  • to save money
  • to unplug
  • to conserve

Cost savings

Unlike traditional RV park rates, boondocking sites are usually free or very low cost, meaning you can save a tremendous amount of money if your RV is equipped with the best RV batteries and water/holding tanks for dry camping. Dry camping spots managed by the Bureau of Land Management and the National Forest Service are some of the most popular among RVers.

Dry camping spots also rarely require a reservation so you won’t have to worry as much about campsites filling up in the summer.

Beauty & remoteness

RVing can afford you the opportunity to venture far into the wilderness to campsites where you can experience true solitude — but only if you’re prepared to unplug with dry camping.

Conservation

To extend dry camping time, you’ll have to practice the conservation of water and energy resources. Here are some other sustainable practices for RV travel.

What are RV batteries used for?

Deep cell RV batteries are large 12-volt batteries that are on board most RVs and travel trailers. 12v RV batteries power systems in your camper such as lights, 12v power plugs, ignition of a propane RV fridge, propane furnace fan, water pump, and more. Deep cycle RV batteries play a vital role in your travel trailer because even if you never dry camp, you’ll still have many hours over the road where you aren’t plugged in.

Anytime your RV is not plugged in, your deep cycle batteries will take over to make sure you have lights, running water, and a working fridge at a minimum. Many modern RVs also feature an inverter to convert 12-volt power into 110-volt power. An inverter will use the power from your RV’s 12-volt deep cycle batteries to electrify certain 110 volt systems in your RV.

When dry camping, you can also bring along a gasoline-powered generator to recharge your batteries and extend dry camping time. 

Types of RV batteries

RV batteries fall under four main types:

  1. Lead-acid
  2. Gel
  3. AGM
  4. Lithium-ion
types of batteries

Lead-acid

Lead-acid batteries are heavy, have a shorter life span than other types of RV batteries, and are more susceptible to temperature fluctuations. Lead-acid batteries are, however, the most affordable type of 12v RV battery, making them a common choice for RVers.

Gel batteries

Similar to lead-acid batteries but do not require any maintenance and are generally longer lasting than traditional lead-acid.

AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat)

These fully sealed batteries use a system like lead-acid but are more efficient and longer-lasting.

Lithium-ion

While lithium-ion batteries are by far the most expensive type of RV battery, they are hands down the best. These lightweight batteries have very long lifespans relative to other battery types, meaning even though you pay more upfront, deep cycle lithium-ion batteries can save you money in the long run.

What qualities to look for in an RV battery for boondocking

When it comes to the best RV battery for dry camping there are several qualities you’ll want to consider:

  • lifespan
  • price
  • durability
  • charge time
  • amp hours

Lifespan

All deep cycle batteries, except lithium-ion batteries, cannot be discharged below 50% without severely impacting their longevity. In other words, if you’re boondocking and you use more than 50% of the power held in your deep cycle batteries, you’ll start to shorten the lifespan of your 12v RV batteries.

For this reason, if you plan to boondock a  great deal, lithium-ion batteries will pay off in the long run because you can use nearly 100% of their charge without damaging them.

Price

Lithium-ion batteries can cost up to 10 times what other RV deep cycle batteries cost. Standard lead-acid batteries are the most affordable, making them a good fit if you only plan to dry camp periodically.

Durability

Standard lead-acid batteries require some periodic maintenance whereas sealed batteries — i.e. AGM, gel, and lithium-ion — do not.

Charge time

Standard deep cycle RV batteries require significant charge times to get them back to a full charge. Lithium-ion batteries, on the other hand, can charge in a relatively short period of time.

Amp hours (AH)

Most deep cycle RV batteries are a minimum 100AH rating, meaning they provide up to 100 amps of electricity in the span of one hour. By knowing how many amps your RV consumes in a day of boondocking, you’ll know how many amp-hours you’ll need from your battery. 

The 5 best RV batteries to buy for dry camping

The best RV battery for dry camping needs will depend on things like how long you plan to stay off-grid, what you want to power with the battery, and your RV type. This is our list of favorite battery brands along with guidance on the type of dry camping they’re best suited for. 

1. Battle Born lithium-ion batteries

Price: $799 per 100AH (Amp Hours)

Best suited for: Longer dry camping excursions and for RVers who plan to dry camp often

best rv batteries for dry camping
Image source: battlebornbatteries.com

Battle Born is the standard-bearer for deep cycle lithium-ion RV batteries. Their batteries are top-of-the-line, U.S.-made, and come backed with a 10-year warranty.

What can these lithium-ion batteries power?

Some high-end RVs string together multiple lithium-ion batteries to provide 1,000AH+, meaning that even your RV air conditioner could be powered off-grid for a few hours at a time

2. Dakota lithium-ion batteries

Price: $899 per 100AH

Best suited for: Frequent dry camping

Image source: dakotalithium.com

Dakota is a relatively new kid on the lithium-ion block but has quickly made a name for itself as a powerful and reliable RV battery for dry camping. Their batteries are backed with an 11-year warranty.

What can these lithium-ion batteries power?

Virtually any RV electronic with the proper amount of batteries

3. Renogy AGM Batteries

Price: $269.99 per 100AH

Best suited for: Frequent dry camping with shorter stay lengths

deep cycle agm battery
Image source: renogy.com

Renogy is a trusted name in the solar industry that provides affordable and reliable AGM deep cycle RV batteries.

What can these AGM batteries power?

Low energy consumption electronics like laptops, lights, water pumps, etc.

4. Mighty Max sealed lead acid battery

Price: $174.99 per 100AH

Best suited for: Periodic dry camping

Image source: amazon.com

Mighty Max is one of the best and most affordable RV batteries for dry camping. That’s because it’s virtually maintenance-free and its sealed design keeps it well protected from the elements.

What can they power?

Light energy consumption, primarily via your RV’s 12-volt system

5. EverStart lead acid RV deep cycle battery

Price: $79 per 100 AH

Best suited for: Infrequent dry camping

cheapest rv battery for boondocking
Image source: walmart.com

This is one of the best deep cycle batteries for RVs if you’re on a budget and time crunch. EverStart makes the most affordable deep cycle RV batteries on the market and they’re readily available at local Wal-Marts. They come with a one-year warranty. 

What can they power?

Basic RV functions such as lights, water pumps, propane fridge ignition, and limited propane heater operation

Power your boondocking trip

The best RV battery for dry camping depends on your budget, how often you plan to dry camp, and what RV systems you want to run off your RV’s deep cell batteries. The best battery setup for your RV will be one where you carefully consider your needs on the road — especially when it comes to the length of time you plan to boondock.

Check out this RV packing list to help make sure you’re always equipped for any dry camping adventure. 

Have a dry camp-ready RV you’d like to rent out to others? List it on Outdoorsy right here.

Searching for an RV to rent for your next dry camping adventure? Check out available RVs on Outdoorsy.  

Joshua Schukman

 

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