I heard the phrase "Dry Camping" while watching an American RV show. What does it mean? Are there similar but different terms for the same thing in other parts of the world?

  • 2
    It sounds...rude... :)
    – user2766
    Commented May 18, 2016 at 14:04
  • Must be an over the pond difference, nothing rude sounding about it in my American culture. Why does it sound rude in yours? What do you call it over there? Commented May 18, 2016 at 14:08
  • 5
    For a friend of mine dry camping would mean "no booze"... :) Commented May 18, 2016 at 14:47
  • 3
    20 years ago when I worked at an RV park the dry camping spots did not have access to water, sewer, and electrical facilities. We had a few that would be used by tenters or as overflow when we were really full. As I remember these spots were also a couple dollars cheaper.
    – Ukko
    Commented May 18, 2016 at 14:55
  • I've also seen "dry camping" used to describe non-RV camping away from water. This could be anything from car camping at a spot with no convenient campground-installed water spigot nearby to backpacking in the desert very far from any usable source of water. Commented May 18, 2016 at 19:20

3 Answers 3


This term is pretty vague. This paragraph describes it pretty well however:

Dry camping means different things to many people. The common definition I hear from people is camping in a location where electric/water/sewer connections are not available at each site. This definition is very broad and includes everything from camping at a commercial campground with centralized facilities to driving out into the woods and pulling off into the trees.


You may have more luck looking up dispersed camping.

Dispersed camping is the term used for camping anywhere in the National Forest OUTSIDE of a designated campground. Dispersed camping means no services; such as trash removal, and little or no facilities; such as tables and fire pits, are provided. Some popular dispersed camping areas may have toilets.


In the UK, the form of camping you are referring to is known as Wild Camping.

This is pitching up where there are no electrical, water or sanitary facilities. The term applies equally to camping in tents and parking a motorhome / camper van.

Note though that in England and Wales, the practice is illegal. Except in some of the National Parks. However, it is legal in Scotland, except for certain protected areas, like the banks of Loch Lomond.


Just for reference: in thru-hiking terminology, dry camping is camping far from any water source. It basically means that you have to carry all the water you'll need for the evening and the next day (until you meet water).

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