What we Brought? Essential RV Gear

Our guide to the essential RV gear.

Here we go.  So you’ve quit your job, bought an RV, and are ready to seek adventure from life on the road. Or alternatively, you’re retired and ready to taste the freedom you’ve earned. Right on. Gulp, big breath. What’s next?  Time to deck out your new home, but what do you really need you ask? Well here you go. After our several months on the road here’s our opinion as to what you need, or could live without when deciding what to buy for your new rig.

RV life

RV life


Must have/ highly recommended

• GPS (Your new life is on the road. A GPS with its turn by turn directions and ability to search for things you need is a life saver and stress reducer)

• USA road map/ State map (like a rand McNally road atlas, good for planning general routes of travel)

• iPhone or similar w/map application and internet access (We often use the handy map app to find nearby things we’re looking for in the direction of our travel, get an estimated time and distance to the place with directions, and also the phone number and website all in one easy place)

• internet access to Sanidumps.com or RVdumps.com (those 2 websites try to list all the places that have available dump stations.  When you’ve got to dump, you don’t want to be driving around in circles)

Nice to have but don’t really need

• City Maps (pick’m up at visitors centers)

• Campsite Directory (woodalds, etc. Unless you’re planning on paying to camp every night, Walmart/ similar big shopping centers/ nice neighborhoods are free.  Why pay to park when you’ve got everything you need with you)

What to do

Must have/ highly recommended

• General travel guide (A good general overview of the major attractions in your new city. Helps you gauge how long you might want to stick around that area)

• Detailed state guide (like AAA’s free state guide.  These guides go a lot more in depth for each city.  We love our AAA guides our parents picked up for us before we left. The guides go in depth and tells details like when the free days are at the museums and other money saving tips)

• iPhone or similar city application (download the free ones available for most large city’s, great when available)

Nice to have but don’t really need

• City guides (pick them up at visitors centers when you get into town)

• Best of type books (1000 things to see before you die, etc)

• General calendar of events (just ask around, use the city guide app you downloaded, and check online for events when you get there)


Must have/ highly recommended

• FAN or 2!! (preferably the compact kind that has a cigarette adapter)

• Folding chairs (for outdoor events you stumble upon)

• Indoor/ outdoor temperature sensor (so you’ll know exactly why you’re sitting there sweating, or if you use your AC a lot you can laugh about how hot it is outside)

Nice to have but don’t really need

• heater (you need electricity for it and is unnecessary because your propane heater as an auto thermostat and will work fine)


Must have/ highly recommended

• digital camera (duhh)

• Laptop

• at least 2 small external hard drives that don’t require power (for backing up your photos, keep them in separate places, duplicate your photos on each, and you’ll be safe if one craps out)

• iPhone or similar with internet plan and tether application (share your internet plan with your laptop by tethering it and you’ll always be connected.  No need to pay for a separate chip and internet plan dedicated for your laptop)

• inverter (invaluable! Get one big enough to run whatever you may want off your batteries instead of needing to turn on your loud, stinky, expensive generator. Our is 600 watt continuous, 1800 watt peak and it works for the laptop and some other stuff when the batteries are charged. Tip! If your inverter isn’t powerful enough to run your laptop, try taking out the laptop battery and see if it has enough power now (your laptop draws 2X’s the power while it tries to also charge your battery. Our inverter only works on our laptop while the battery is out, but it will charge the battery/ laptop when its turned off).

• Cigarette adapter splitter (ours creates 3 extra sockets and a USB adapter and we use them all for powering our GPS, fan, iphone’s).

• Cigarette to USB adapter (if you don’t have one built into your splitter)

• Cassette adapter (to play your mp3 player on your old ass radio)

Nice to have but don’t really need

• TV (unless you’re planning on staying at campsites that have electrical hookups, you’ll need electricity and your generator eats fuel quick. You can always stay connected to the world through the internet instead)

• Digital to Analog TV tuner (if you’re motorhome is older like ours, your TV’s and tuners are analog, the US is now broadcasting TV over the air in digital.  If you plan on using your TV at all, you’ll need it)

• Satellite Dish (Even if you bought a motor home with the dish and receiver installed (like ours) you still need power and have to pay a monthly subscription to boot)

• VCR/ DVD (Firstly no one really uses a VCR anymore so rip that old one out and save the weight, and secondly you’ll need power for your DVD & TV.  Just use your laptop (with the inverter) to play your movies.

• Outdoor/ portable stereo (You’re never far from the stereo in your RV.  Save the weight and space and rock out indoors)

Safety/ Piece of mind

Must have/ highly recommended

• Mace (works on people, works on animals, small and easily fits in a pocket or purse when out late)

• Big flashlight or club (if you’ve got to investigate something late at night, a big flashlight you can thump someone with if need be is good to have).

• Locked compartments inside your rig (2nd line of defense in case your rig gets broken into and you have to assume it will at some point.  Store the small expensive easy to grab things like cameras, laptops, etc in there)

• fake locked compartments inside (assume someone will get in, assume they’ll see the padlock imagine its a treasure chest worth breaking into.  It will take them time, but they’ll get in.  If there are multiple locked areas, they’ll probably start with the closest one.  Don’t put anything valuable in that one. They’ll waste precious time getting it open, get nothing, and may not stick around to try the other ones.

• Hidden stash areas (since bigger items you won’t be able to hide, you’ll have to stick them in your locked spot. But its an obvious target if someone gets in.  Smaller valuables, or sensitive paperwork is better protected by hiding it somewhere out of sight and hard to reach.

• smoke detector (even if your rig comes with a wired detector, don’t take a chance that your battery won’t go out, buy a cheap battery one also)

• Carbon monoxide alarm with digital LCD reading on front (Carbon monoxide is deadly, has no odor, and can kill you without warning. One of the first symptoms is light headedness. Get an extra level of piece of mind by being able to glance over at the LCD reading if you’re feeling lightheaded and know that there is absolutely no gas present. Most detectors have a threshold that the gas has to build up to before it alarms.)

Nice to have but don’t really need (in our humble opinion, I know there are others who will disagree

• Gun (We thought about it but decided it was probably going to end up causing more problems then its worth.  We figured we’d either get shot by someone else with a gun (like a cop), get spooked and end up shooting a vandalizing kid accidentally in the middle of the night.  Also there are a bunch of differing laws about carrying guns from state to state and even Canada, we don’t want to get caught somewhere we shouldn’t be with a gun).

• Cheap door alarm (We got one of those cheap door alarms that we can set when we leave for the day or while we’re sleeping.  Its fairly loud but most likely won’t do much good if we were broken into when we we’re out).

Fix it stuff

Must have/ highly recommended

• Small tool kit (mine as $10 at walmart and has everything I need. Scissors, tape measure, plyers, hammer, hex wrench, adjustable wrench, screwdriver with multiple bits)

• Zip ties (especially handy if you have a canopy.  We use them to keep it tied down in high winds)

• Bunji cord assortment (you never know when you’ll need it. Ours came in handy when our auto retractable step broke and for tying back our curtains when its windy).

• WD 40 (things get rusty and stuck)

• THICK rubber gloves (for that coveted job of dumping the shit tank)

• Empty spray bottle (get a cheap one from the dollar store that has a stream setting. Fill it with water and use it to spray down your front windshield up high when its covered with bugs or dirty).

• $6 home depot bucket with lid (its a great stool for windshield cleaning and you can store wet/ dirty stuff in it).

• Paper towels/ rags (kind of obvious)

• Broom & dustpan (for entryway or where ever)

• Small handheld corded vacuum (yes it needs power but its easy to turn on the generator for a few minutes and a lot more powerful than the rechargeable type).

• Clear thick tape (for stuff that breaks/ falls apart)

• Extension cord & power strip (for use when using the inverter, outlets are everywhere when the generator is on or you’re plugged in)

• Small handy flashlight or headlamp (you don’t always need a thumper of a flashlight)

Nice to have but don’t really need

• Ladder (too bulky to take around.  You can drive next to a wall if you really have to reach up high on your RV)

• Windshield squeegy (Doesn’t work as good as good old paper towels or newspaper and standing on a stool)

• A special tool kit (Look, you own a mobile home so you’re never too far from rolling up to a store and getting just the right tool you need if it should ever happen.  There’s no reason to add bulk and weight with a special kit)


Must have/ highly recommended

• Light weight metal / aluminum pots and pans (remember to stay light because everything you’re carrying adds up)

• Plastic & microwaveable plates (Light and they don’t chatter on the road. Read the label before you buy to be sure its microwaveable safe. Most aren’t.)

• Plastic tumblers

• Plastic wine “glasses” (Looks just like glass but won’t shatter on the ground the second you open your cabinet after a bumpy ride).

• Refillable water bottles (nothing fancy that you have to pay for.  Just buy the standard 12 pack of water in the plastic containers and refill them each time you drink it.  After a month or 2, throw them away and buy another pack to refill).

• Long campfire type lighter (used daily for lighting the burners and oven).

• Standard coffee mugs

• Place mats & coasters (Don’t ruin you table by putting a hole in it from something hot, like the guy who owned our RV before us).

• the obvious necessary cooking stuff (measuring cups, spatula’s, knives, etc)

Nice to have but don’t really need

• Coffee maker (save the mess and bulk and just use instant if you can stand it..  Also, you’ll need electricity which isn’t always available).

• Appliances that require electricity (unless you’re planning on paying for a campsite with electricity often, you won’t have a chance to use it much and it will add weight and bulk).

Dog stuff

Must have/ highly recommended

• Gulpy Pet water dispenser (this thing is awesome for bringing water for your dog while out on walks.  Its the size and shape of a water bottle and has a cover that folds out into a dish for your dog to drink out of.  Highly recommended!)

• Canine cooler mat (specially designed to stay cooler than the stuff around it, its made to keep your dog cool when it gets hot. And its always hot).

• Spray bottle- (fill it with water, keep it in the fridge, and spray down your little furry one when it gets too hot.  He’s got a coat on and has to be hotter than you).

• Kool Collars (Awesome mesh collars made to put either fake ice packs (included) when indoors, or real ice when outdoors.  This collar really works, especially with real ice on hot days).

• Refreezable plastic ice cubes (small enough to fit in the cool collar, they work alot better than the gel ice packs that came with the collar).

• Ice cube tray (for ice to put in your cool collar when you go outside).

• retractable lead (duhh)

• multiple bones (so your dog doesn’t get bored when you’re away)

• Dog stroller (ok don’t laugh, you need it.  When it gets too hot to bear, you can take your dog into nice air conditioned places that it normally couldn’t go, like the mall, or your timeshare/ Walmart).

• Electric shaver (are you getting the it’s hot vibe I’m putting out here?  Shave your little one down as far as he can take it.  He’ll thank you for it later).

• 2 small bowls (for water and food.  You’ll be picking them up and putting them back down more time than you’d imagine)

Nice to have but don’t really need

• Poop bags (before you bock at this and holler at your computer about how we’re such bad owners, wait. Sit. Stay. Let me explain. There is no need to buy specially designed bags to pick up poop. Seriously.  Save yourself a bundle by using either your saved plastic grocery bags, standard sandwich bags (way cheaper), or better yet, just stock up when you’re out at a park and see those free poop bags on the poles).

• A bunch of dog toys (each dog is different but in a small confined space do you really need to be tripping over a bunch of toys laying all over the floor? Stick to the minimum that your dog needs/ wants.)

Other Useful stuff

• Plexi-glass (buy the precut size at home depot or where ever that fits your table.  Put a little bit of clear bathroom silicone around the edges to keep it in place.  Then put you maps or pictures or whatever under it.  Its out of the way but still easily accessible for planning you next big leg).

• Solar Panels! (we have 4 that supply all the electricity for most things like lights and inverter. No need to turn on the generator, let the sun charge you’re batteries.  We couldn’t imagine living without them).

• Auto retractable step (its nice to have but you can live without it if need be.  Just be cautious to always check that its retracted before you drive.  Ours malfunctioned while driving and it ended up hitting a tire of a parked car. But don’t let that scare you, they’re an intangible feeling you get when you open the your door and a step comes down automatically comes down to cushion your decent like a king).

• LARGE Tanks! (We’re only as free for as long as our fresh water tank stays full, and our grey and black water tanks stay empty.  When the water runs out we’re forced to search around for a dump and pay the surcharge $5-$20 to recharge.  We have a big 80 gallon freshwater tank but still have to really conserve (especially when washing dishes or showers) to make it over a week before we run out.

• Large fridge (its a convenience thing really to be able to fit enough stuff to last for as long as you need)

• Multiple Towels (need some for the beach, some for showering, and some to put on your seat to protect it from your sweat! Ya you guessed it. I’m in Florida, its summer, and I’m hot.)

• Wet wipes (to keep in the fridge and use to freshen up whenever)

• Microwave (a nice luxury to have)

• Generator that works (ours is spotty.  I’ve taken it in 2 times, paid hundreds of dollars, but the thing keeps crapping out.  You can live without it but guess what won’t work without one… Yup, the fricken AC!)

• Multiple hats (you’ll be out and about a lot more than normal sedentary folk. You’ve got to protect you noggin from the sun, and you might as well look good while you do).

• Small Victorinox travel sling (This thing is so awesome.  Its the perfect size to fit a small amount of necessities into for a day out exploring. It has a little pouch for a waterbottle on one side and is just big enough to fit our DSLR with a 18-200mm lens)

• Non-slip rolls for drawers

• Daily journal

• Small shower tote

• Shower flip flops

• The other basic living stuff

• And an easy going style and good sense of humor

One Response to What we Brought? Essential RV Gear

  1. Got a rig? Anything essential we need?