Dry camping or boondocking is ideal if you want to enjoy the privacy and scenic views in a remote location. The only thing to worry about is making sure your RV battery can meet your power demand and how you go about recharging it before it is drained, since you won’t have access to power outlets at traditional RV campgrounds.
But worry no more, as we’ve curated the best RV battery for dry camping in this A-to-Z guide. This ultimate buying guide includes all of the results from testing different RV battery units for off-grid camping and identifying the best performers.
In addition to our handpicked list of the best battery for off grid camping, the novice will also find everything one must know to make one’s investment worthwhile. This is important, since extended boondocking trips require a very special type of battery and careful calculations based on a battery’s ratings and specifications, in order to make sure your chosen battery can meet your power demand and handle the beatings of off-grid traveling.
Best RV Batteries for Boondocking: Quick Recommendations
If you’re in a hurry, take a look at this quick list of our top picks for the best RV battery for boondocking/dry camping or continue moving to the next section to check on our full list with in-depth reviews.
What is RV Boondocking/Dry Camping?
Boondocking vs Dry Camping
Boondocking and dry camping refers to the same thing, that is parking your RV at a place with no access to water hookups or electrical outlets for recharging your battery or powering your electronics.
This is opposed to staying at a conventional RV park or campground that offers all the basic services campers would need. It’s just you and nature.
Staying at traditional RV campgrounds and parks is convenient, since you’ll get access to power outlets, water hookups and dump stations, which also means you can stay at one place for longer. That said, boondocking offers some unbeatable benefits.
The first and foremost reason to boondock is the increased freedom and flexibility to enjoy unspoiled nature. There are many scenic and spacious public land and national parks outside of RV campgrounds that are typically more secluded, so you might have the view all to yourself without the disturbances of loud neighbors in all directions.
And the majority of these boondocking heavens are completely free of charge, which is a consideration for the budget campers. When you camp often, those campground fees can really add up.
Furthermore, while most RV parks require reservation and the best ones fill up quickly, especially during holidays, these national parks and public lands rarely fill up, even the most scenic, popular ones. Thus, boondocking offers much more choices, and you can come and go as you please instead of being restricted to availability.
Where to go for boondocking?
There are paid RV parks and campgrounds because by law, you cannot park your RV, or even your car, at just about any spot. If you want to boondock away from the busy RV parks, the best place to go is most often national parks, where you can enjoy both privacy and scenic views.
There are a handful of government websites, free directories and apps that will point you to great boondocking sites. For instance, if you live in the US, a handy mobile app to download is ‘National Parks’, which is a database of national parks that allow camping.
In addition to national parks, there are government-owned lands in scenic locations that might allow boondocking, although most often you cannot stay for too long. In the US, you can search for free boondocking on the Bureau of Land Management and National Forest websites.
As for directories, two of the most useful and user-friendly online directories for dry camping is FreeCampsites.net and FreeCampgrounds.com. You can easily search for absolute zero-cost campsites or almost-free cheap campgrounds in a given area, and might even find a few campsites that offer RV hookups, although this is rare. What’s great about directories is that they offer valuable information for travelers, including a list of amenities, and visitors’ photos and reviews.
How long can you boondock in an RV?
Some national parks and government owned lands allow boondockers to stay typically under a week, while many others allow for up to 14 days. Most designated campsites and parking lots for RVs allow for shorter stays, and many of them only allow for a one-night stay only, so do check beforehand to plan your trip accordingly.
And of course, how long you can boondock before draining your battery depends on the capacity of your battery, your daily power consumption and whether you have a way to recharge your battery. If you come equipped with the best RV battery for boondocking, plus a best RV generator or some extra batteries for backup, a 14-day trip is feasible. If you travel somewhere with a lot of sun and have a rooftop solar system installed, it’s even possible to boondock full-time.
The Best RV Batteries For Dry Camping/Boondocking
Without further ado, let’s dive right into our delicious handpicked list of the very best RV battery for dry camping which are manually tested and reviewed by RV experts of RVingTrends.com. There is something for everyone, regardless of your budget and camping needs.
An important note: If you don’t know what to look for in the best RV battery for boondocking, first check out the next two sections for the most important specifications and other buying criteria, as well as what you must know about the type of batteries required for dry camping.
Dry camping, especially when you often go on extended trips without power outlets, requires a special type of battery called deep cycle batteries. They function differently and charge differently. And there are different types, each with a unique set of pros and cons.
Therefore, to be able to pick out the best RV battery for camping off grid for your circumstances, you need first to familiarize yourself with the different types of deep cycle batteries for RV. If you’re a novice, skip to the next section for the beginner-friendly details. Otherwise, dive right in!
|No||Best RV Batteries for Boondocking||Prices||Our Ratings|
|1||ExpertPower Lithium LiFePO4||$$$||*****|
|2||Weize Deep Cycle AGM Battery||$||****|
|3||Battle Born Batteries LiFePO4 Lithium Ion||$$$$||*****|
|4||Renogy Deep Cycle AGM Battery||$$||****|
|5||TROJAN T-105 PLUS 6V||$$||***|
1. Best Overall – ExpertPower 12V 100Ah Lithium LiFePO4 Deep Cycle Rechargeable Battery EP12100
- Type: Lithium ion
- Main specifications: 12.8V, 100Ah, 1280Wh
- Life Cycles: 2,500 cycles with 100% depth of discharge (DoD); 3,600 cycles with 80% DoD; 7,000 cycles with 50% DoD
- Operating Temperature: Discharging: -4°F to 140°F; Charging: 32°F to 140°F
- Weight: 22.6lbs
If you want the absolute best RV battery for dry camping and do not want to compromise any aspect of performance, the ExpertPower 12V 100Ah Lithium LiFePO4 Deep Cycle Rechargeable Battery will deliver, and offer great value for money at that.
Perhaps not every camper is comfortable with its $600 price tag, but the testimonials by seasoned boondockers about its durability might just change your mind. This model claims to withstand repeated cycles of 95% depth of discharge without permanent damage, while most lead acid RV batteries can only withstand a maximum 50% discharge before permanent damage. This is extremely rare, but has been confirmed by many careless campers who forget to recharge their battery from time to time.
Of course, consistently draining your RV batteries down to almost nothing will prevent the batteries to reach its optimal lifespan. Still, what makes this the top RV battery for dry camping is even with repeated deep discharge cycles of 50% to 100%, it still has an impressive lifespan of 2,500 to 3,600 cycles, which cannot be said for many RV batteries. Meanwhile, if you make sure to top it off before the 50% mark, you will enjoy about 7,000 cycles or some 10 years of good service from this powerhouse.
And remember that you’re paying for a lithium ion battery. This type of RV battery is known for their unmatched ability to hold a static charge and provide constant power, as well as their charging efficiency and ability to withstand extreme temperatures.
For a light weight of some 22 pounds, this battery delivers 100 ampere-hours, more than enough for average power consumption, including lights, stove, propane fridge, charging mobile phones and laptops, and more. If you pair it with a generator or a solar charging system, extended off-grid trips will be a piece of cake.
One handy feature is the built-in low-temperature cut off that stops charging at under 23 °F or -5 °C, which is not ideal for batteries. Another big plus is its unique built-in Battery Management System (BMS), which protects it from overcharging, deep discharges, overloading, overheating and short circuit. This system also allows for a lower self-discharge rate, so you can put this battery in storage for up to 1 year without coming back just to find it dead. All in all, you’re paying for up to a decade of reliable service with minimal maintenance.
Purchased 2 of the 100ah LiFePo4’s for emergency use, mainly to power my 2 12v portable refrigerator/freezers during power outages (hurricane area). But occasional boondocking as well. These babies are awesome! Passed their capacity tests and actually exceeded their listed rating. They run my 12v fridges for days. And I don’t have to worry about exceeding 50% depth of discharge like with deep cycle lead acid types. I get the whole 100ah’s! The recharging rate of up to 50 amps blows lead acid out of the water too. With my Progressive Dynamics 45amp lithium battery charger, I can charge these from zero to 100% full in just over 2 hours! Customer service was outstanding as well.Shared by MickeyMark
2. Best Value – Weize 12V 100AH Deep Cycle AGM Battery 12V100-1
- Type: AGM
- Main specifications: 12V, 100Ah
- Weight: 63lbs
Although the lithium battery above is our best pick, depending on your camping circumstances, the best deep cycle battery for camping is not necessarily the most expensive one, and it does not have to be a lithium battery. If you wish to spend less, and if you often travel in extreme cold, Weize 12V 100AH Deep Cycle AGM Battery is definitely the best RV battery for off grid camping in terms of value for money. This battery receives a stellar 4.5 stars overall rating from over 1,500 happy customers on Amazon alone, and similar ratings on all online big box stores.
There is also a Gel-battery version of this battery available at $210, but when considering the fact that the two are almost equally priced, the AGM models clearly offers more in boondocking applications in terms of resistance to shocks and vibrations on the open road, charging efficiency, and the ability to withstand fast charging or overcharging before sustaining permanent damage.
This spill-proof battery boasts industrial grade ABS casing to withstand vibrations when you’re traveling on rough terrain. Other features that contribute to this battery’s durability are the employed grid refining technology and the thicker plates are used to extend the battery standby life and reduce the plate grid corrosion speed. In addition, countless boondockers have praised it for its endurance in both extreme hot and cold conditions, so you can rely on it for four season camping.
With a low self-discharge rate of about 40% per year or 3.3% per month, you can store this Weize AGM battery for up to 5-6 months when at full capacity. Although this AGM battery is much heavier than our #1 lithium ion pick, many customers commented how it only weighs about half as many other 100Ah batteries.
Now for the results of multiple boondocking trips: These batteries provide all the power I need in the trailer. I can run the microwave, refrigerator and even the A/C. I use a CPAP at night on 120 Vac. These batteries get a real workout everyday. I have run these batteries down to 30% charge (about 8 Vdc) and they come back every time to full charge with a few hours of sunshine. Yes, the solar power does add power for the daily usage; the charge controller uses any excess power to assist in running the appliances in the trailer when it is not needed to charge the batteries. So, far these batteries have proved themselves to be reliable under heavy usage and take a beating without failure.Shared by K. J. Lars
3. Battle Born Batteries 12V 100Ah LiFePO4 Lithium Ion Deep Cycle Battery BB10012
- Type: Lithium ion
- Main specifications: 12V.8, 100Ah
- Weight: 29lbs
Another offering from a lesser known brand, this 12 volt lithium battery from Battle Born Batteries has quickly earned the reputation of being the best RV battery for boondocking in terms of all the crucial criteria: the capacity to withstand repeated deep discharge cycles, the ability to hold a charge, charging efficiency, low self-discharge rate, lifespan, and durability despite extreme temperature variations and the beatings from traveling on rough terrains.
Despite being on the more expensive side, this product has achieved a rare overall rating of 4.8 stars on Amazon from seasoned campers and boondockers who rave about its well-rounded performance, so you know you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck. Like our #1 pick above, this lithium battery also boasts a Battery Management System, which protects it from the most common causes of battery failure, such as ground faults and temperature volatility. This, coupled with its ability to withstand many deep discharge cycles, means you will get many years of good service.
Aside from the raving reviews, the accompanying industry-leading 10 year warranty does say volumes about the reliability and durability of this battery. Battle Born Batteries offers it with every single battery they sell with confidence, as they test each and every product multiple times before shipping it out.
Great addition if you Boondock in your RV!
We snowbird on BLM land in Arizona in the winter and in South Dakota forest areas that have dry camping without electricity during the summer. We got stranded in a Winter storm in a Pilot truck stop in Wyoming for three days. The batteries would die within 6 hours running the furnace and lighting. We would have to recharge using the generator and on occasion had to start our tow vehicle to start the generator. We bought two of the batteries to replace the standard deep cycle batteries used on RVs. We can go a considerable time just using the DC side of our RV. We can keep them a full capacity by using a solar panel and only using the generator for AC120 volt power to run the coffee maker, the TV, and microwave because we do not have an AC inverter.
They are expensive but will probably last for our remaining boondocking lifestyle.Shared by Robert Kinsey
What a difference these batteries make when boondocking in my travel trailer! My 2 lead acid batteries were much heavier and threw off more heat than my BB LiFe. Additionally, now I don’t have to worry about corroding these batteries when I use more than 50% of them when I’m off the grid.
My recommendation is to buy the Victron IP65 Battery Charger and BMV-712 Battery Monitor as your trailer is probably only set up for Lead Acid monitoring at 12.7V.
Customer Service is always great at Battle Born too. I’ve called several times during the process of converting my trailer from Lead Acid to Lithium Ion and the BB team has been great!Shared by Amazon Customer
4. Renogy 12 Volt 200Ah Deep Cycle AGM Battery B075RFXHYK
- Type: AGM
- Main specifications: 12V, 200Ah
- Operating Temperature: -4°F (-20°C) to 140°F (60°C)
- Weight: 129lbs
If you own a luxury Class A or Class C motorhome equipped with many residential grade appliances, you would love this 200Ah AGM battery from Renogy, a household name in the industry. For heavy power use, this is the best RV battery for offgrid camping, and at a reasonable price point at that.
The special features that enable superb power capacity are proprietary quinary alloy plates and exclusively treated plate grids. They allow for low internal resistance and high discharge currents of up to 10 times the battery rated capacity, which means this powerhouse can run power-hungry residential appliances that draw a lot of amps from your battery.
Other benefits that gave this Renogy AGM battery a 4.6 stars rating on Amazon is an unmatched self-discharge rate of below 3% at 77°F (25°C) per month. In addition, countless buyers have praised this AGM battery for its charging efficiency, or fast charging time.
Other testified features include stable and outstanding discharge performance at extreme temperatures thanks to the improved electrolyte formula. Its wide operating temperature range of -4°F (-20°C) to 140°F (60°C) is pretty hard to find. Advanced valve regulated technology means that this battery does not release harmful hydrogen gas, so it is perfectly safe and maintenance free. The only drawback of this powerhouse is its weight, but that’s typical of this type of battery.
I got this battery a couple of years ago as I was tiered of the standard RV batteries dying so quickly. This battery is great. I have yet to take it below 30% power, despite camping for over 7 days at a stretch. I do use Renogy fold out solar panels with it as well. Using them in tandem, I could stay off the grid as long as I want.Shared by Joe
5. Best 6 Volt RV Battery For Dry Camping: TROJAN T-105 PLUS 6V 225 Ah. (Bulk Buying Available)
- Type: Flooded Lead Acid battery
- Main specifications: 6V, 225Ah
- Pack of 6 batteries
- Operating temperature: -4°F (-20°C) to 113°F (45°C)
- Weight: 550lbs for pack of 6, or 92lbs each
Now you might be looking for the best 6V RV battery for boondocking instead of 12 volt batteries for their advantages (a comparison of 6 volt and 12 volt batteries for dry camping is summarized in the next section). If you’re inclined to wire two 6V batteries in parallel or in series for your camping needs, this model will be the best RV battery for camping for its price range.
With a capacity of 225Ah, boondockers have testified that this battery can supply constant power to run many appliances at a time, including power-hungry items, for 2 days before needing a recharge. For its capacity, its price, especially the bulk buying price, is very reasonable. Buyers of this battery have used it for many applications apart from RVing and dry camping, and have testified its reliability on the open road as well as in varying operating conditions.
Do remember that this is a flooded lead acid battery, which is not spill-proof and maintenance free. That said, if you are seeking to wire several 6 volt batteries in a complicated setup to get the same voltage but much more Ah than a single 12 volt battery, then buying the TROJAN T-105 PLUS in bulk is an excellent option.
Great folks to deal with! I have placed several orders, may place another one yet 🙂 Great batteries, I currently have 24 of them wired in series and parallel for a 12v system off grid. This gives me approximately 54 hour reserve with a 25 amp average draw to get to 50% depth of discharge. Plenty to run the house for 2 days in other words. Installed flow rite systems on all of them as well (also highly recommended) makes watering a 2 minute job at most.Shared by CJ F.
Best RV Battery For Off-Grid Applications: Buying Criteria
As many of you might have noticed, a few of our picks don’t come from established household names, and they cost less than many comparable offerings.
The market for RV batteries for boondocking is vast and continues to grow, so there are a considerable number of products that you might not have heard about but might just be the perfect solution for your power needs.
Therefore, although you can start your search with renowned manufacturers, the best way to pick out the best RV for dry camping for your needs is to be mindful of the most important buying criteria, determine your priorities, and understand your daily power consumption.
As you will see in the next section, there are quite a few types of RV battery for dry camping with very different properties.
Thus, the first thing to decide is which type would be suitable for your circumstances. While flooded lead acid batteries are the most affordable, they can spill acid while you’re driving on rough terrains and will require regular maintenance.
Meanwhile, the sealed gel and AGM batteries are spill-proof and almost maintenance-free, which is clearly more desirable when you hit the road year round and stay in remote places, given that you’re willing to pay more for them.
Regarding performance, AGM batteries and lithium ion batteries are superior in terms of charging efficiency, tolerance for repeated deep discharges without permanent damage, capacity to hold a static charge and battery lifespan.
While lithium batteries are by far the lightest in weight, which is an important consideration for many campers, AGM batteries are more practical for use in dry camping on rough terrains and winter camping, as they are made to withstand more beatings on the open road as well as extreme cold weather. In short, try to balance price with benefits, based on where and how you travel.
Capacity or Power
The first specification you must look at when shopping for the best RV battery for dry camping is capacity or power, that is the amount of current a battery is capable of providing at usable current (defined as 10.5 volts or higher) over a determined time frame.
How much power the battery puts out is rated in ampere hours or amp-hours (Ah). For instance, a 100Ah battery discharges 100 amps in a standard 20-hour period, or any specified period.
This rating will allow you to estimate how many hours your battery can power all the electronics you use before needing a recharge, as shown further below.
A related rating with power is reserve capacity. The reserve capacity is rated in minutes and measures how long a battery can run at 25 amps of current without its voltage dropping below 10.5 volts. All in all, the best RV batteries for using when dry camping should have higher Ah and reserve capacity ratings to power your appliances for longer.
* Determine how much Power and Reserve Capacity you need:
To determine how much power capacity and reserve capacity your battery must be rated for, you need to estimate your daily power consumption. This will also allow you to estimate how many days your RV batteries can power the electronics in your rig before needing a recharge.
You can find the current demands of an appliance on its nameplate, then add up all the appliances that you’re likely to power at the same time everyday. It’s important to add about 10% of the daily total current demand as a safety cushion. Start with the items that draw the most power.
For instance, most RV refrigerators have a current rating of between 1 amp and 6 amps per hour. Multiply this number by 24 hours, and the appliance’s operating cycle, if specified (expressed as a percentage), to get the appliance’s daily ampere hours. For example, if a fridge pulls 5 amps per hour and has a 45-percent cycle, its power consumption will be 5 amps x 24 hours x 45% = 54 ampere hours per day.
That said, if you have an RV solar battery charger installed on the roof, it will steadily maintain the charge in your battery, so you won’t need to worry about hauling a heavy generator around to recharge your battery or how long you can stay before having to drive to an RV park to use the power outlets.
Operating Temperature Range
This is often overlooked, and can be okay if you often camp in moderate climates, but is an important consideration for campers who travel in extreme or varying weather conditions. When you’re dry camping in remote areas with no one around, it’s no fun waking up one morning to find your battery suffering a brutal death and leaving you stranded.
The best RV battery for camping should have a wide operating temperature range. And do check the reviews to see if it can provide constant power in both high and low temperatures, since advertised specifications might differ from a product’s true weather resistance. For four-season camping, the best bang for your buck should be able to thrive above 35 degrees Celsius in the summer and several degrees below freezing temperatures in the winter.
Depth of Discharge
If you have high energy demand, you might risk draining your battery too quickly, even when you have a solar system in place to slowly top it off. Repeated deep discharges, particularly above 50% of the total capacity of the battery, is not ideal for most battery’s lifespan. Therefore, another crucial specification is a battery’s capacity to withstand up to a certain level of depth of discharge without permanent damage. Of course, try not to deplete your battery down to less than 50% on a regular basis, but since it’s so easy to do just that when you’re dry camping, the deeper discharges a battery can withstand the better.
The best RV battery for dry camping should be made with a rugged construction to withstand all the shocks and vibrations of off-road traveling. Furthermore, if you prefer to travel off the beaten path, opt for a sealed model, so that they won’t spill acid when the housing is damaged.
Size and Weight
You can choose between two options for dry camping: two 6-volt batteries wired together instead of a single 12-volt battery. 6 volt motorhome batteries are generally larger in size and generally, a larger one tends to be able to power your appliances for longer. That said, if you opt for two 6 volt batteries wired together instead of a 12 volt battery, the setup will be much bulkier and might require a new battery box.
It’s not necessary to buy the most powerful and accordingly more expensive batteries. To get the best value for your money, make a clear estimate of your average energy consumption as a basis for your search. You can generally expect the following from different price points:
- From $100 to $200: Batteries in this range typically are flooded cell batteries, the least advanced but cheapest type. Expect lower amp-hour ratings and reserve capacity, as well as less than ideal quality construction and extreme temperature resistance.
- $200 to $900: You’ll get much more amp hours, more reliable power supply even at high and low temperatures, a more rugged build and a longer service life, so while they cost more, they might be actually cheaper over the long run. Batteries in this range are typically sealed, spill-proof and maintenance free. Gel and AGM batteries typically cost from $200 to $350, with the very best ones approaching $500. Meanwhile, lithium batteries usually start from $400 up to $900.
Different Types of Batteries for Boondocking
Deep Cycle RV Battery vs Cranking Battery
RV batteries for boondocking applications are deep cycle batteries, which are designed to serve as a power source for the electrical appliances inside your rig. This is to be distinguished from regular cranking batteries or starter batteries used for starting your RV’s engine.
While starting batteries typically deliver a very large current for a very short time and as a result, is discharged by very little, a deep cycle battery for camping application is designed to withstand a deep depth of discharge and to handle many thousands of discharge and recharge cycles over its lifetime. The best RV battery for dry camping these days are made to handle from 80% to 95% discharge, although doing so on a regular basis is not healthy for any battery.
Another key difference is deep cycle batteries are designed to provide steady power for several hours at a time, which means lower speed of discharge. They also have much higher charging efficiency, since due to their purpose, they get depleted and need to be recharged constantly.
Deep Cycle RV Battery: Lithium Battery
In terms of on-the-book performance, the best deep cycle battery for camping is the latest, most advanced lithium ion battery. They are also ideal in high-performance applications that require the batteries to pack the most power in a unit as compact and lightweight as possible.
They hold a static charge for the longest, offer the highest charging efficiency, have more usable capacity, can supply constant power for longer, can handle more cycles of deep discharges as well as extreme temperatures and in general will last the longest. They typically have a built-in protection circuit to avoid dangerously deep discharges and overcharging.
The only drawback is while they can handle extreme heat, they don’t perform as well below freezing.
Regarding performance, although many regard lithium ion batteries as the best RV battery for camping applications, AGM batteries (discussed right below) are more practical for use in RVs in many circumstances. When you often have to take your RV on rough terrains, AGM batteries are the best RV battery for dry camping as they are made to withstand more beatings as well as extreme cold weather.
Deep Cycle RV Battery: Sealed Battery
Not as advanced as lithium ion batteries, but sealed lead acid batteries have many solid products that offer excellent value for money. Unlike the cheaper flooded lead acid batteries, these have a maintenance free “sealed” design that eliminates the hazards of acid spills when the battery housing is damaged due to shocks.
Another advantage over the flooded type is that sealed batteries do not require regular maintenance in the form of water refilling and equalizing charge. You just need to use a multimeter or a voltmeter to read the voltage of the battery from time to time to make sure it’s not depleted down to a dangerous level.
The two types of sealed deep cycle batteries, AGM and gel, are offered at comparable price ranges, however the AGM type is more advanced.
AGM batteries will not leak acid even if broken and are almost maintenance-free. Compared to gel batteries and flooded batteries, they tolerate a much deeper depth of discharge, offer much better charging efficiency, can better withstand extreme heat and cold as well as vibration and impact.
They perform better in extreme cold and particularly below freezing, making them a superior choice to even lithium ion batteries in many camping situations.
You may also like: Best RV AGM Batteries
Also spill-proof even if broken, but gel batteries are lacking in performance compared to its AGM counterparts. They must be charged at a lower voltage than all the other types, otherwise voids will develop in the gel, causing an irreversible loss of capacity.
Secondly, like flooded batteries, if they are fast charged using a regular charger instead of a deep cycle battery charger, they will generate excess gas that can permanently damage the cells.
And while AGM batteries cannot handle extreme cold, gel batteries cannot withstand extreme heat, as water loss from heat can cause premature battery death typically within 4 years.
Deep Cycle RV Battery: Flooded Lead-Acid Battery
This least advanced type of battery for dry camping is the cheapest, but they might spill acid upon impact, and produce gas when overcharging, which must escape via some type of ventilation to avoid permanent damage.
Unlike the other types, flooded batteries require regular maintenance: one is refilling with distilled water every 2-4 weeks, as they lose water during the charge cycle, and applying a controlled overcharge to make sure each cell is equally charged every 30 to 90 days.
6 Volt vs 12 Volt Deep Cycle Battery
You have two choices when it comes to deep cycle RV batteries for dry camping: 12 volt batteries or 6 volt batteries. While a 12 volt battery is widely available and more affordable, its limited amp-hours as well as energy storage means it is not very reliable for long off-grid trips.
In comparison, two 6 volt batteries can be used instead of a single 12 volt battery to deliver the same amount of power with some added benefits.
6 Volt Battery: Pros
A setup of two 6 volt batteries is better at supplying constant power, can power more appliances for longer and withstand more cycles of deeper discharges without permanent damage. This is thanks to the fact that each cell of a 6 volt RV battery has a larger amp capacity and a broader space per cell for power storage.
6 volt batteries also typically have thicker plates, which will last longer even with heavy use. While an average 12 volt battery usually lasts about 2 years, 6 volt batteries can last anywhere between 2 years and 8 years, with lithium and AGM batteries having by far the longest lifespan, followed by lead-acid, then gel batteries at 2 to 5 years, given proper maintenance and storage.
6 Volt Battery: Cons
Generally, the larger a 6 volt battery, the more appliances it can power for longer. The only drawback is that the setup of wiring two 6 volt deep cycle batteries will take up much more space than a single 12 volt battery. This means you might have to install different battery boxes. But do note that while 6-volt batteries are generally larger in size, they are significantly lighter, with an average of around 45 pounds compared to some 100 pounds.
And note that as they are the best RV battery for dry camping, 6 volt batteries fetch a higher price, thus might not be an option for the budget conscious campers. If you dry camp all the time, using 6 volt RV batteries often requires a hefty investment, but do take advantage of the fact that some 6 volt batteries offer bulk buying, which will save you a bit of money.
While there is a wide range of 6 volt deep cycle batteries available on Amazon and Walmart and a handful of big box stores, they are a bit harder to find than their 12 volt counterparts if you’re buying offline. They are typically only available at large automotive supply stores and some specialty stores.
Best RV Battery Brands for Dry Camping
There are quite many excellent options out there from somewhat lesser known brands but with tried and true performance, like the first 3 of our picks above. That said, a good starting point when you’re shopping for the best RV battery for boondocking and don’t want to spend too much time researching is looking at highly rated best sellers from trusted manufacturers.
An advantage when buying from them is there will be more reviews for you to base your decision on, which is particularly important in the case of batteries for long boondocking trips. Check out top manufacturers of tried and tested RV batteries for dry camping below:
Optima: Optimahas earned its reputation as the maker of some of the best RV batteries, particularly AGM batteries.
VMAXTANKS: VMAX makes many models hailed as the best RV batteries for dry camping and other applications, which are known for their unmatched reliability and performance, particularly their ability to deliver high currents and withstand extreme deep cycles without dying prematurely.
Trojan: Trojan’s top RV battery for dry camping models are known to reliably deliver constant power and long lasting service.
Mighty Max Battery: A new kid around the block, but Mighty Max has quickly become a trusted household name when it comes to affordable, reliable and long lasting RV batteries for dry camping.
Odyssey: Another household name that has been around for over 100 years, Odyssey is praised for some of the best RV batteries for dry camping in terms of reliability and durability.
Universal Power Group: UPG doesn’t offer a large portfolio of RV batteries to choose from, but in terms of value for money, they offer some of the best RV battery for camping off the grid in the 6 volt category, including lithium ion and gel batteries.
Renogy: Renogy is a well known manufacturer of deep cycle batteries, battery chargers, charge controllers, inverters, solar panels and off-grid kits for use in RVs, boats, homes, businesses, and virtually any application you can think of. Renogy prides itself on supplying the most efficient and reliable but also most affordable products.
Crown: Crown prize itself for producing the best RV battery with some of the thickest lead plates in the industry, which contribute to excellent power output and a longer lifespan.
NPP: NP Power International Inc. is a power supply manufacturer which specializes in high-quality lead acid batteries for RVs and power banks. Its product portfolio offers a wide range of deep-cycle batteries, including lead acid batteries, AGM batteries, gel batteries, solar-powered batteries and front terminal batteries.
Best RV Battery for Boondocking: FAQs
1. How long do RV batteries last dry camping?
This varies widely since RV varies widely in terms of size and accordingly the amount of amenities and electrical devices on board, and of course your power consumption and how many companions you travel with.
While most batteries can last a few days before needing another charge, you might find your batteries getting depleted much more quickly if, say, you’re traveling in the summer and really need to run the A/C, or you’re winter camping with the heater on for many hours on end. Other highly power-hungry appliances include the refrigerator, vacuum cleaner, and oven.
Another commonly overlooked source of power drain is dome lights and headlights. These are the appliances that many unnecessarily leave on for extended periods, which draw more power from the batteries than you think you do.
2. What is the best RV battery type for boondocking?
The latest, most advanced lithium ion batteries are often regarded as the best RV battery for dry amping. They hold a static charge for the longest, offer the highest charging efficiency, have more usable capacity, can supply constant power for longer, can handle more cycles of deep discharges as well as extreme temperatures and in general will last the longest. They typically have a built-in protection circuit to avoid dangerous operating conditions. All in all, they are the ideal choice in high-performance applications that require the batteries to pack the most power in a unit as compact and lightweight as possible.
That said, another option if you want to get the very best RV battery for camping in distant areas is heavy duty AGM batteries. While lithium ion batteries are not good against extreme cold, AGM batteries are made to withstand harsh winter camping. In addition, they have the highest charging efficiency, can tolerate repeated deep discharges, can handle vibrations, are spill-proof even when broken and maintenance free, all of which make them ideal for long boondocking trips in remote areas.
3. What is the best battery setup for boondocking?
While many boondockers can make do with a single 12 volt deep cycle battery, or sometimes two of them for more power, the best battery setup for dry camping that is increasingly popular is to connect two 6 volt batteries either in series or parallel in place of a single 12 volt battery.
Depending on your needs, you can choose to wire two 6 volt batteries in a series to increase the system’s voltage compared to using a single 12 volt battery, but this setup will not increase the amp hours. Meanwhile, an in-parallel setup will increase the system’s amp hours, but not the voltage. Or you can choose both for the best of both worlds.
To connect two 6 volt batteries:
In a series: Connect one’s positive terminal with the other’s negative terminal, then connect the open negative terminal to your RV using an extra set of cables. For instance, you’re dealing with two 6 volt 100Ah batteries. So this setup will supply 12 volts of power in total, but only offers 100Ah, that is the capacity of a single battery.
In parallel: Connect the positive terminals to positive and the negative terminals to negative. Now total voltage will stay at 6 volts, but the system will supply 200Ah.
In a series + In parallel: The good news is there is a way to increase both the voltage and the Ah capacity of the system. First, connect two 6 volt batteries in a series, then connect another pair in a series, and then connect the two pairs in parallel. Each pair supplies 12 volts and 100Ah, so when wired in parallel, they supply 12 volts and a combined 200Ah.
4. How many batteries do I need for dry camping?
Most boondockers who go on extended off-grid trips use two 12 volt deep cycle batteries, or better yet, two 6 volt deep cycle batteries either connected in a series or parallel instead of each 12 volt battery.
What you need to figure out is not the number of batteries you need to power everything you need to power, but the power capacity and reserve capacity of the batteries. All in all, the best 6V RV battery for boondocking should offer more amp hours and reserve capacity to power your appliances and devices for longer.
Power capacity refers to the amount of current a battery is capable of providing over a determined time frame and measured in Ah, which stands for amperage hours or amp-hours. A 100AH battery discharges 100 amps in a 20-hour period. If you want to power more appliances for longer, look for 200Ah, 225 Ah or 250Ah batteries.
Reserve capacity measures the amount of energy the battery effectively stores. The reserve capacity is rated in minutes and measures how long a battery can run at 25 amps of current without its voltage dropping below 10.5 volts.
5. How many Amp hours do I need for boondocking?
This in turn requires you to estimate your daily power consumption. Make a list of the electronics you often use and add up their energy requirements, which is their amps rating found on their nameplates. Multiply the amp rating by 24 hours, and you’ll get the amp hours per day of each appliance. Then add them up to estimate your daily power consumption.
Make sure to take into account the fact that you are likely to use a few appliances at a time, and also allow for a little wiggle room as insurance. Start with the items that draw the most power: A/C and heater, fridge, oven, microwave and vacuum cleaner.
6. How do I charge my RV battery while boondocking?
There are three ways to charge your RV battery when you’re camping: plug your rig into shore power when you pass by RV parks and campground, use a generator to top it off, and install RV solar panels on the roof of your motorhome to create electricity from sunlight wherever you go. And note that while you’re driving, your RV batteries will receive a charge via the engine’s alternator.
If you often boondock, you must get a solar system. That way, you can still satisfy your power demand during extended off-grid stays with no power outlet or generator, as long as you get some sun. Many full-time boondockers have solar systems installed and also bring along a generator as a backup plan while on long off-grid trips, for when sunlight is lacking.
In addition, having a solar system is ideal for your expensive RV battery’s lifespan, since these systems charge the battery in a slow and steady manner. Furthermore, they typically have a built-in charge controller to prevent overcharging.
A rule of thumb for campers who often go on extended off-grid stays is you would need a system capable of at least 1,800 watts to power all the basic needs, including lights, fridge, oven, microwave, and mobile devices. You can either opt for:
Portable solar panels: While these lightweight all-in-one kits can meet basic power demand, you will need to look for one with a higher wattage range to operate an A/C or heaters.
Large built-in solar systems: These are large and powerful systems installed typically on the roof of an RV. In addition to charging the battery, they can serve as a primary power source and run residential grade appliances with high current ratings.
7. What are essential supplies for RV boondocking?
Simplicity is the name of the game when RV boondocking, but there are a few important items that will make your trip a lot more comfortable and safe.
Water Jugs: H2O is in short supply when you’re camping outside the RV parks. While you can go a few days without a shower or washing dishes, it’s always a good idea to keep a jug or two of drinking water.
12V Fans: Without electrical hookups, you won’t be using your RV’s air conditioner. However, you can keep cool with a couple of 12v fans that run off the same batteries as your RV’s lighting system.
Propane Space Heater: If you thought boondocking was only for the summertime, think again! Cold weather boondocking can be great fun, but using your RV’s heater will quickly drain the tanks. Using a small space heater keeps specific areas warm without burning through so much fuel.
Composting Toilet: RV toilets are a resource hog. When boondocking for several days, the water tank runs dry, and the sewage tank fills up. A composting toilet will keep your waste sanitary and scent-free.
First Aid Kit: Boondocking can take your RV rental into remote territory, which means you might be far from medical attention. A simple kit filled with a variety of bandages, sterilizing solutions, and a few tools, like tweezers and scissors, should be more than enough.
Power Banks: You might be going off the grid hookup-wise, but you’ll still want to make use of your phone, e-reader, or handheld gaming system. A power bank with enough capacity for several charging cycles should keep all your electronics up and running.
Cell Signal Booster: This one’s a necessity if you’re camping far from civilization. Having a couple of extra bars can be a lifesaver should there be an emergency.
Stock up on these items and do a final walk-through of your RV before you begin your road trip!