How Long Can You Boondock in an Airstream?


Airstream camper trailers are an American classic icon. And boondocking is a great way to get off the grid and see some fantastic places without having to pay for campgrounds. But a lot of RV owners wonder how long can you boondock in an Airstream?

Here’s what I know from looking into it:

Plan to boondock in an Airstream camper trailer for 8 days for beginners and up to 12 days for expert campers. After that time period, most campers will need to dump black and gray water tanks, and refill fresh water and propane tanks.

But that’s just a quick answer. And there are a lot of factors to consider.

So in this article, we’ll look at all the factors, such as the number of campers, the size of your Airstream, and how to maximize the resources to extend your trips.

There’s more to learn than just how long you can Boondock for, though, so let’s dive into it.

Can you Boondock in an Airstream?

Yes, it is very possible to boondock in an Airstream camper trailer. Boondocking means to dry camp, away from, hookups, outside of designated campsites, traditionally on public lands. By definition, this means relying on an Airstream’s holding tanks, propane, battery, and/or generator for power and water.

While Airstream has made motorhomes over the decades, and do still have a line of Class B motorhomes, most people who refer to Airstreams are talking about travel trailers that get towed.

So let’s go over a few essential tips for boondocking in an Airstream.

You want to make sure you fill your water tank before going on any boondocking trip. This ensures you have good quality water and can stay out as long as you need to be.

When you fill-up on water, dump your gray and black water tanks too. The bigger your gray and black water tanks and the emptier they are, the longer you’ll be able to boondock.

When you do wash your dishes, do so in a separate tub. Once you are done with the dirty water, ideally, empty it outside or in the toilet. I say in the toilet because the black tanks always hold a little bit more than your grey tank.

To stay on theme, shower less often, take a sponge bath, and don’t flush your toilet after every use.

On top of our list of conserving water, you should also focus on saving energy. Even with a generator, you’re still going to want to watch how much energy you use and when you use it. And while Airstream dealers do offer generators, many don’t come with them standard despite the high price.

If you can keep an eye on both of these Boondocking, it will be great.

Aside from these, your other main focus should be on food, safety, and relaxing while you have some fun with nature. And with relaxing in mind, not all RV beds are created equal; even if you’re paying top dollar for an Airstream.

I have a recent article that goes over which RV mattresses are most comfortable, and what to do if yours isn’t (without having to buy a new mattress). I even get into how the mattress sizing works in RVs since the sizes aren’t standard.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Do Airstreams have generators?

Airstream travel trailers do not come with generators unless you purchase one additionally from the dealer. Airstream trailers are equipped with batteries, inverters, and liquid propane tanks to provide power and energy for the camper’s basic services.

So usually, you also have to buy them separately.

Your included battery will give you a limited amount of power. This should be enough for lights and maybe a few small appliances for a limited time.

No matter what RV size you have, you should always consider getting a generator because it gives you more flexibility. Generators are a must when it comes to Boondocking.

Some things that a generator can help with:

  • Air conditioner (draws the most power in your RV)
  • Microwave
  • TVs
  • Lights
  • Computer/devices
  • Hair dryer/curling iron

While these are just a few things, there is a lot more than a generator can do for your RV.

Your next best option would be to get solar panels; however, this option is also more expensive and can sometimes be unreliable. The good news is that many of the current models of Airstream travel trailers do come with a 270-watt solar package.

But for boondocking for long periods of time, if you plan to use any creature comforts, a generator is essential, especially if it’s hot and you plan to use the air conditioner.

I have a recent article that talks about how long you can run the ac for your RV. This includes when you’re using a generator and could come in handy for planning ahead.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

How long does an Airstream battery last?

An Airstream trailer will typically have 2 AGM maintenance-free batteries which can provide power for lights and small appliances for 2-3 days depending on the frequency of use. However, most current models also offer solar packages which can greatly extend battery life.

In terms of overall lifespan, properly maintained, a deep cycle Airstream battery should last well over six years. This isn’t the case for everyone, though, as some people have experienced needing to replace their battery every two years.

But of course, whether you get 1 day or 5 before needing to recharge your batteries depends on a great many factors, such as:

  • How many people are in the RV using resources
  • Whether you’re trying to power the TV or furnace
  • How often you use freshwater (which turns on the pump)
  • Whether or not you have a generator or solar package to assist with power

Make sure you do research on how to maintain your specific battery. To help your battery last longer, invest in solar panels and a generator. This will keep stress off your main battery.

How many gallons does an Airstream black water tank hold?

Airstream black water tanks vary in size from 17 gallons up to 41 gallons for all their current models. Older models may have even larger black water tanks. Smaller Airstreams may combine black and gray water into 1 tank.

But for most Airstreams, you’ll find somewhere between 30 and 39 gallons is the typical size for a black water tank. Here is a handy chart of all current Airstream models and black, gray, and freshwater tank sizes. The range is due to the fact that most models have different models within each one.

Airstream Model Black Water Tank Size Gray Water Tank Size Fresh Water Tank Size
Classic 39 gallons 37 gallons 54 gallons
Globetrotter 18-38 gallons 30-38 gallons 39-54 gallons
International 19-38 gallons 31-38 gallons 35-54 gallons
Flying Cloud 19-41 gallons 31-37 gallons 35-52 gallons
Caravel 17-30 gallons 30 gallons (some models combined with black) 23 gallons
Bambi 17-30 gallons 30 gallons (some models combined with black) 23 gallons
Basecamp 0-21 gallons 0-28 gallons 21-27 gallons

Of course, for boondocking, the larger your tanks, the longer you can stay out before needing to dump your tanks.

These tanks are your lifeline when it comes to staying out in the boondocks for any length of time. This is why your first step in boondocking is to conserve water and energy.

In an Airstream, you can make these tanks last for about eight days while boondocking before you need to refill and dump. Remember to stick to specified dumping areas and make sure your water is safe.

Whether you are boondocking or not, the number one rule of camping is to leave no trace of yourself. You don’t want to ruin the fun for other people, so clean up after yourself and don’t dump where you camp.

Make sure you take tank size into consideration when buying an Airstream or an RV in general. The length of your trips and what you plan to do while out and about on your adventures will help you decide which RV to choose.

But even if you don’t fill up your black water tank while boondocking, how long is it safe to keep water in the black water tank?

I have a recent article on how long you can leave your black water tank in your RV. It could come in handy when planning, so just click the link to read it on my site.

What is the best Airstream size for Boondocking?

The best Airstream for boondocking is the Caraval, Flying Cloud, or International. For boondocking in remote locations, especially where roads may not be paved, avoid getting an Airstream travel trailer longer than 23 feet as it may otherwise be problematic to maneuver the camper safely.

Airstream travel trailers range in size from 16 to 33 feet.

It’s best to have a small rig as it will be easier to go around trees and really get the best experience with boondocking. If you have a larger rig, then it will be harder to get to special spots that make Boondocking worth it.

That being said, if you need more space or are not comfortable with a smaller Airstream, there are designated spots to Boondock that might be easier to get to.

Overall, the smaller the rig, the better in terms of getting to the best spot. Always figure out what is best for you and your family before buying and do a lot of research. The more research you do, the better off you will be.

The last thing you want is to pay more for an Airstream that doesn’t fit your needs or get to a campsite and not be able to stay due to not fitting.

Did I cover everything you wanted to know about Boondocking with an Airstream?

Boondocking can be an amazing experience when done right. To complete this experience, you need to do research and understand what type of RV is best for you.

Size and weight are important because both large and small Airstreams have pros and cons. Make sure you decide what is best for you and your family before purchasing an Airstream and planning a Boondocking trip.

You can Boondock in an Airstream, and a lot of people recommend it due to its tank-like features. Plan ahead and make sure to take all safety precautions when.

Stay safe and enjoy adventuring.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell travels on and off with his 3 daughters in a Newmar Baystar Class A Motorhome. He writes extensively on both RVs, campgrounds, parenting on the road tips, remote learning & schooling, and much more!

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