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Camping : Boondocking

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Take a One-Gallon Shower
By Ron Jones

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No, we are not talking about some tiny bathtub in your RV. This technique will help.

In our boondocking (dry camping) seminars, we talk about how to conserve fresh-water usage plus decreasing the amount of water going into your grey tank. It fills 2-4 times faster than the black tank. We addressed several water-saving techniques in our last article entitled, "Stay Longer and Stay Free by Boondocking (Dry Camping)."
A "real" Navy shower on display in the Naval Undersea Museum, Keyport, Washington

Another easy method is to take more efficient showers. Often called a "Navy" shower, this is a technique the Navy uses to decrease the amount of shower water an individual uses. You can easily test this for your RV shower.

What you are going to do is track the amount of time it takes you to take your normal shower. Then, using the "Navy" shower technique, time that, too. Compare water usage for the two showers.

The First Day… Have someone note the total amount of time the shower water is running normally while you take your "normal" shower. Do not time the water dribbling through the diverter.

The Second Day… Try this "Navy" shower…

  1. Catch the shower water is a pot while it is getting warm. Since this water is clean and usable (for making coffee, washing dishes, etc.) do not time this—it didn't run down the drain into the grey tank. When it's warm, close the diverter and step in.


  1. Start timing. Turn the water on, quickly get wet, and immediately turn the water off (diverter). Stop timing and note it.

Now soap and wash as long as you want. Do not time this because the water is off.

  1. Restart timing. Turn water on and rinse quickly and thoroughly. Note the time. (If you do not wash your hair every shower, time it both ways.)

Now you have some data and can easily calculate your exact water usage.

Here's how… Get a container marked off in gallons (a tub, pot, etc.). Put it in the shower, start timing, and run the shower for a total time equal to when you took your "normal" shower. How much water did you use?

Next, run, catch, and measure the total water you used for your "Navy" shower.

At this point, disregard the time and focus on the amount of water—i.e., gallons used. How many gallons does your fresh water tank hold? What is the capacity of your grey tank? Using your actual measure (in gallons), how many more showers could you take by using the "Navy shower" technique. This translates into how many more days you could boondock without needing fresh water or having to dump grey.

While you may be thinking that you will never need to stay "longer," having the ability and knowledge of how to do this will enhance your travels. Whether you want to stay a few extra days in Furnace Creek Campground in the middle of Death Valley National Park or attend a major RV gathering in Quartzsite, you should know boondocking techniques. Your world of RVing will be greatly enhanced and you will be secure in the knowledge that you are even more independent.

(This suggestion is one of the more than 500 in All the Stuff You Need to Know About RVing (ISBN 156870514-X) by Ronald Jones and Robert Lowe

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