Last Updated on June 14, 2021 by Chris and Lindsay
Maximize RV living and ensure that you own every RV essential to keep you safe and comfortable while you travel!
Whether you plan to full-time RV or just head out on weekends, there are several key items that you absolutely must have on the road.
In this post, we will not only give you a list of the most important RV must-haves, but also we’ll share our personal experience in why they are important enough to add to your list.
We’ll also share links to our Expert Buying Guides for many of the products so you can see the other options we’ve considered as we have equipped our RV to be our full-time home on the road!
Every RVer has his or her own reasons for promoting certain items. We want you to be safe, enjoy your journey and trust us to help you make the most of your experience on the road!
Affiliate Disclaimer: This post may contain links to products we think you’ll like. If you purchase any of the products through the links below we’ll receive a small commission. As full-time RVers, we know our RV products well and only recommend those that we either own or would consider owning ourselves.
RV Must-Haves: Everything You Need to Equip Your RV For the Road
We’re giving you a snapshot of everything we carry with us in our RV and recommend that you consider packing into your before you hit the road.
While we are full-timers and believe in being completely self-contained, you may not need everything on this list. But we do recommend you consider each of these items and how they may be useful for your RV living.
We’ll start with the basics and take you through each topic of RV life so you can feel confident knowing you have everything you need (and nothing that you don’t)!
Our Honesty Disclaimer: In the course of living in our RV full time for over 3 years we have thoroughly researched all of these products before making the choice on our own. So we’ll give you honest information that allows you to make the best decision for which product is right for you.
The Basic RV Accessories
Starting with the basics. Every human must eat, drink and (excuse me) use the restroom. As such we think you’re going to want to consider the following must-have RV items to handle your first and foremost priorities in life.
1) Water hose + Water Pressure Regulator + Filter
At the top of the list of RV must-haves is a hose dedicated to drinking water.
Freshwater is a commodity on the road. When you fill-up you want to make sure you have a hose isolated for freshwater. Sure, you can use it to wash the dog. But you don’t want to mix it up with a hose used for cleaning your black water tanks or poop pipe!
We also recommend an in-line filter from the water source.
No, you don’t have to filter your water. But it’s only a few bucks and a few extra minutes to hook up each time we fill up our holding tanks. You’ll see a lot of neighbors in each campground using these.
Finally, you would be surprised at the varying water pressure in hookups across the North American continent! We have no interest in sending water through our plumbing system at such high pressures that we cause damage to our camper.
So we hook this water pressure regulator up and it takes any worry away about how high the water pressure will be when filling our water tanks!
We have stayed at numerous campgrounds with well-water access that pumps water out at high pressure. We first hook up our water hose to the well. Then we attach the water filter. Finally, we attach the regulator to the hose coming into the camper.
2) Sewer Hose (“Poop Pipe”)
This item is an RV essential for obvious reasons. If you have a grey and/or black tank you’re going to need this to help you dump your tanks.
It’s always better to have too much rather than too little when it comes to sewer hose length. We carry the maximum length we can stow (20 feet)!
You can also add this sewer hose support to help move your business along.
3) Leveling Blocks
You might wonder why leveling blocks are considered an RV must-have, but in reality, leveling blocks serve a variety of important purposes.
They not only keep you from sleeping nearly upright on steep inclines! But also they keep key appliances (like your LPG refrigerator) running longer and more efficiently.
One of our top priorities every time we park to camp is to ensure that we are as level as we reasonably can.
We’ve heard horror stories about people who have ruined their fridges because they did not camp level! We’d rather spend our money on the adventure, not on a replacement appliance!
4) Power Adapters (15/30 amp, 30/50 amp)
Not all power is created equal. Depending on your RV electrical setup and needs, you will want to have several power adapters on hand to step up or down the current that your RV requires.
You may find yourself in a campground where only one type of power source is available and you may need to step up or down to meet your RV power requirement.
We recommend that you have at least a 30/50 amp power adapter and a 15/30 amp power adapter. This will ensure that you are flexible enough to use any power source provided.
Practical Example: We often step up a 15-amp power source to our 30-amp power cord using a 15/30 amp power adapter. We also used these when we powered up our Honda 2200 generators to power our flatbed truck camper when we were boondocking.
5) Power Extension Cord
Sometimes your RV power cord will reach the power source on its own. Other times you will need a power cord extension.
We always try to park as close to the power source as possible. But when it is not possible, our 50 foot RV power extension cord more than does the trick.
We have had several cases where we “moochdocked” at friends’ or family member’s houses. Sometimes we could not fit our RV close enough to the power source to only use our camper power cord.
Having the 50-foot extension gave us the ability to reach the 30 amp power outlet required to fully power our camper.
NOTE: The longer the distance between the power source and the appliance (camper) the more energy lost in the transfer. So while you can buy hundreds of feet of power extension cords, it is best to try and use the shortest distance possible.
6) Harvest Hosts Membership
Harvest Hosts is by far our favorite and most recommended RV camping club to join.
With over 2,500 unique locations on which to camp – farms, distilleries, vineyards, museums and golf courses – you’ll find yourself passing Harvest Hosts virtually anywhere you travel across the US. It is incredibly affordable and pays for itself in just 2 or 3 nights on the road.
Receive a 15% discount in your membership by visiting Harvest Hosts through this link.
READ MORE: Check out this post for other great RV clubs and memberships that will save you lots of money when you travel.
7) Portable Jump Starter
A portable jump starter is a great way to ensure that you can be self-reliant in the event you need to jump-start your RV.
One like this is also ideal because you are able to use it to power other electronic devices you may need in the event of an emergency or breakdown.
We used to just carry jumper cables until we stumbled across this compact portable jump starter and we haven’t looked back since.
8) Multi-port USB Charger
This multi-port USB charger is a game-changer when it comes to charging multiple devices at the same time. Instead of having a block charger for each device simply connect the wires for each device to this multi-port charger and let it do its thing.
This is a space saver and one of the most practical investments we’ve made in outfitting our RV.
We’re huge fans of headlamps because their LED technology is as good, if not better than, traditional flashlights.
But they are versatile enough that you can use them for the same purposes of a flashlight and yet you can keep your hands free to do what you need.
Whether you’re just walking around the campsite at night or need to illuminate dark areas you’re trying to reach inside your RV or engine bay, a good headlamp like this will earn its keep in no time at all.
10) Oxygenics Shower Head
Swapping out your standard RV showerhead for one of these by Oxygenics will be a game-changer when it comes to being frugal with your water.
You don’t want to waste water in your RV when it comes to showering because you only have so much fresh water and grey tank storage.
These showerheads are ergonomic and you can control the flow of water with the click of a button on the showerhead itself.
11) Handheld Vacuum
While some people consider a vacuum nonessential for RV life, we wouldn’t travel without one. Whether you are traveling with dogs, like us, have kids or just want a quick way to clean up the camper – a handheld vacuum solves all of this for you.
We’re fans of this vacuum because it charges quickly, is lightweight and stows away easily.
It doesn’t need to be plugged it to use so you can even get rid of annoying dirt and sand when you are boondocking.
READ MORE: If you’re interested in shopping for other RV vacuums, check out our buyer’s guide for our other top recommendations.
12) RV Mattress
Whether you’re buying an RV right off the dealer’s lot or picking up a used RV off of Craig’s List one of the first things you’ll want to consider is replacing the existing mattress if there is one at all.
We’re big fans of these memory foam mattresses and recommend the thickest one you think will fit in your RV. Personally we have the 10″ and love every bit of comfort it provides.
12) Air Compressor + Tire Gauges
You don’t need an air compressor and tire gauges. But because your life, in the form of everything you have placed in your RV, literally rests on the 4 (or more) tires making contact with the ground, keeping up with your air pressure is important.
If you do any offroading where you might air down your tires, you will also need to air back up. Additionally, with truck campers, it is not uncommon to have airbag suspension. We constantly monitored the air pressure in our airbag suspension and easily inflated as necessary.
Of course, having an air compressor also comes in handy as a safety device if/when you have a flat tire and your spare tire is not fully inflated.
Keeping up with the condition of your spare each time you rotate and balance your tires will help with this. As will checking your tire air pressure periodically when you stop for fuel.
READ MORE: Make sure you read our BUYER’S GUIDE when you shop for an air compressor!
If your RV comes already equipped with an onboard generator, great! If not, you’re going to want to keep at least one generator on hand during your journey.
If you don’t have a built-in generator we’d definitely recommend that you consider at least one Honda 2200W generator.
When we lived in our truck camper we had two specifically designed to be hooked up in parallel through plug-and-play wiring that allowed us up to 4000W (enough to crank on the AC if needed!).
Most US national park campsites are “dry camping” sites. As such, there are no power, water or sewage hookups. We used at least one generator on a very regular basis when camping in national parks.
And would not have even considered boondocking in our truck camper without both of our Honda 2000 generators. They were able to provide as much power as we might need for as long as we might need it.
READ MORE: Check out our expert buyer’s guide on the best generators for your RV.
RV Kitchen Essentials
Although your RV kitchen will likely be many times smaller than what you’re used to, you can still turn it into a fully functional space where you can cook your favorite meals. These are our top recommendations for your RV kitchen based on our years of trying to make the most of our love for cooking food on the road.
14) Instant pot (“Instapot”)
An Instapot has recently become one of the top must-have RV kitchen items for RVers of any level. It is a great crossover kitchen appliance you can use at home and in your RV.
Cook all sorts of meals in it and keep it clean with minimal effort. Of course be mindful of the fact you’ll need 110V electricity to power it.
15) Aeropress Coffee Maker
It’s easy to use and pack away and travels with you wherever you go. All you need to do is add hot water and you’ll have delicious coffee instantly.
READ MORE: Check out our Expert Buying Guide for RV coffee makers if you want to research other great options!
16) Magnetic Knife Rack
We call this a magnetic “knife” rack, but really it’s simply a magnetic bar that you can attach anything metal to. We use it for our knives, but also for magnetic spice holders.
Save space, add another layer of texture to your kitchen and, of course, make your knives easily accessible.
17) Magic Bullet Blender
The Magic Bullet blender is a great addition to your kitchen appliances because it is small, yet packs a punch, and easy to clean.
Whether making fruit smoothies in the morning or crafting a delicious pesto sauce, the Magic Bullet leaves no regret for adding it to your RV kitchen.
18) Cast Iron Skillet
Cast iron skillets have long been praised for their versatility in indoor/outdoor kitchen settings.
This is what makes it a great addition to your RV kitchen as you will find yourself cooking in both places – sometimes at the same time! We don’t have to tell you what it does, or what you can cook with it.
Just know it’s worth the investment and weight in your RV!
READ MORE: You can find every RV kitchen essential in THIS POST. See what you need and why we consider each item essential to your RV life on the road.
RV Campsite Setup Must-Haves
One of the joys of RV camping is setting up your “home away from home” at the campsite. Having the right gear makes hanging out at the campsite comfortable and setting up and breaking down quick and easy. These are our top recommendations for your campsite.
19) Foldout Camping Chairs
You can’t camp anywhere without camping chairs! We find that these foldout camping chairs are the best overall value.
From comfort to convenience they pull out and pack away easily and are some of the most comfortable camping chairs you can find.
20) Foldout Table (Small)
While some camping chairs include a small foldout table for holding small things, we absolutely love this small foldout table that is quick to set up and break down, can be easily moved around the campsite and holds just enough of the things we use the most.
From coffee cups and plates of food to tablets and books, you’ll find you likely start and end your day using this chair.
21) Sand Free Mat
Don’t track sand around your RV. A sand-free mat like this is literally the foundation of your campsite. Unroll this mat at the foot of your RV door and set up the rest of your campsite around it.
Having a small broom or handheld vacuum near the door will get rid of any sand that happens to escape this mat.
22) USB Speakers
Your RV may have an outdoor entertainment center. But many do not.
We love these USB speakers because they are portable, last a long time between charges and are loud enough to fill the ambiance if the sound of crickets and campfires aren’t your thing!
23) Awning Weights
Awning weights are a simple addition to your campsite that will save you a bit of frustration and perhaps money when the wind kicks up. Unrolling your awning is the start of claiming your space around your campsite.
But if the wind picks up you may find yourself racing to put the awning back in. Rather than playing this game, add some security to your awning to keep it in place throughout your stay.
READ MORE: We have lots of other great campsite recommendations. Check out our comprehensive list of campsite gear and tips and tricks for your RV Campsite setup in THIS POST.
RV Outdoor Kitchen Must-Haves
An important part of your campsite setup is an outdoor kitchen. Whether you keep it simple and stick to grilling on a fire pit or enjoy a more comprehensive outdoor kitchen setup, we recommend you consider these items as the basics to your kitchen setup.
Anytime we camp for more than 2-3 days in one place we set up our camping kitchen using these items.
24) Blackstone Griddle
This Blackstone griddle is by far our favorite RV grill and the centerpiece of your RV camping kitchen. We’ve had a few grills in our years of full-time RVing and the Blackstone quickly became the best.
It is the right size to both pack away and cook an entire meal on. You can cook a variety of meals on the griddle and it’s quick and easy to clean.
25) Grill utensils
Having a good set of grilling utensils makes the difference between struggling to cook on the grill or having a good time enjoying the experience.
This set is pretty much all you’re going to need in one concise package.
26) Foldout Table (Large)
While you want a small foldout table to keep next to your camping chairs, a larger foldout table will be the cornerstone of your outdoor kitchen.
This one is large enough to fit most grills and griddles, plus allows you the space to prep your food and keep all of your grill utensils in one place. It’s hardy but lightweight enough to pack away easily.
27) Water Container + Water Dispenser
Plus it’s always nice to have water nearby for cooking and cleaning.
28) Collapsible Bin
Collapsible bins are great for many reasons when you’re RVing.
But when it comes to your outdoor kitchen having one or two of these bins will go a long way to storing and washing dirty dishes, hands and feet.
READ MORE: Check out this post for our complete list of outdoor kitchen must-haves.
Essential RV Power Items
Next, consider the fact that, while unpleasant, it is possible to live for extended periods of time as long as you have enough water and food. What makes this time unbearable would be also going without power.
Understanding your RV power and electrical system is hugely important when you live out of your RV for any amount of time.
29) Solar Panels
Although you don’t necessarily need solar panels, we believe that no RV should hit the road without them!
At this point in time, they are so reasonably priced, efficient and easy to install that there is really no reason to go without. We’ve never gone a day worrying about power.
We LOVE Renogy and have had several times we’ve needed to call and talk to someone just to learn a new tip or trick about our panels. These are simple “plug and play” and can be installed within an hour. 100% recommended!
READ MORE: Learn more about solar panels and the best options available in THIS POST.
30) Solar Charge Controller
Solar charge controllers like this MPPT controller reduce the energy captured by the solar panels to levels that your batteries can handle.
You have various options for these. Depending on whether you purchase a solar panel package or buy components piecemeal, you may end up with a “good-better-best” controller.
We recommend this controller at the least to go with your Renogy panels. Again, everything is easy to understand and mostly plug-and-play.
If you have multiple solar panels or are willing to spend a little extra on a more efficient controller you should consider purchasing an MPPT controller.
READ MORE: For more solar charge controller options, check out this post to read our expert buying guide.
31) Power Inverter
Like solar panel systems, inverter options are limitless. We recommend having at least a 1000W inverter because it provides just enough juice to power pretty much anything we want to power. But it also is not so large that it requires a substantial battery bank.
Do mind the safety suggestions and installation advice concerning the distance, gauge and connections of the wire between the battery bank and the inverter.
Every time we go “off-grid” we rely exclusively on our inverter to power the essentials. Small appliances like cell phones to larger appliances like our computers and hot water kettle can be powered through our inverter.
Of course, keep in mind that all power comes from somewhere and will eventually run out. We closely monitor our batteries and ensure that we are recharging them through solar or generators to keep up with our energy consumption.
READ MORE: If you are interested in other great inverter options, read our Expert Buyer’s Guide HERE.
32) Various Fuses
Sometimes what seems to be the most difficult of electrical issues can turn out to be a simple fuse. We nearly replaced our CD player in our camper because we thought the whole thing was broken from nearly 15 years of use.
As it turned out, a simple 1-amp fuse tucked into the back of the CD player was our culprit.
It’s good to have fuses of various sizes on hand. You are not likely to end up in an emergency if a fuse does go out on you before you can find a place with spares.
But these are so affordable and small that it just makes sense to keep them handy.
33) Surge Protector
Having a surge protector can provide peace of mind when it comes to keeping your electronic appliances in working order.
While most formal campgrounds in the US and Canada have reliable and steady shore power connections, if you travel south of the border you definitely want to consider adding a surge protector to your RV.
34) Automatic Transfer Switch
If you’re just getting started with RVing you may not fully understand how power works or does not work, in your RV. When we were new we knew enough to have an inverter to power our devices when we were boondocking.
But we didn’t realize that this automatic transfer switch would allow us to use our power outlets even when we weren’t plugged into shore power.
It blew our minds and think it will be a game-changer for you too!
RV Must-Have Tools
Things break quite frequently when you RV. So whether you can make it to an (overly priced) RV repair shop or have to make a few quick fixes on the road, these RV must-haves will keep you safe and allow you to get where you can make proper repairs as necessary.
35) Multi-bit Screwdriver
Almost everything these days is assembled using screws of some kind. Having a screwdriver with multiple heads will allow you to manually remove/replace screws of all types.
This is easily our most-used tool and why we consider it an RV must-have in your tool kit.
36) Ratchet Set + Pliers
Aside from screws, nuts and bolts of various sizes hold your life together when you are on the road in your RV. From this standpoint, having a good ratchet set and/or a few different pliers will come in handy.
Because we used bolts as we custom-built our flatbed truck camper ensuring that we could tighten/loosen them at times is imperative to the general operation of our truck and camper.
37) Wrench Set
While ratchets can get the job done quickly most of the time, sometimes you need a flatter-profile wrench to help tighten down a hard-to-reach nut.
We keep a set of both standard and metric size ratcheting wrenches just for that purpose.
38) Eternabond Tape
Eternabond is the best heavy-duty tape to count on if and when you need to stop or prevent leaks in your RV.
We primarily use it preventatively to cover up the screws and screwholes prior to resealing our roof with Henry’s Tropi-Cool roof sealant. We have even used it to patch our awning.
39) Duct Tape
Duct tape is great for short-term repairs and holding things together until you can make a more permanent fix. But it’s not good for long-term solutions – especially outside where the sun can cause it to stick to the paint/roof of the camper.
We have used duct tape to secure a tarp over our camper when hail destroyed our vent covers. And we have attempted to use tape to cover our refrigerator vent when we lost ours on the highway.
40) Zip Ties
Zip ties belong on the list of RV must-haves because they are so simple and versatile (and affordable). Most of the wiring in your RV is likely to already be zip-tied and neatly tucked into crevices.
But if you ever have to work on any part of your electrical system (which is likely, if not inevitable) you will likely want to bind the wires together again using zip ties.
You can also make handy items from zip ties, such as key chains. Or you can connect loose items together, such as tools and kitchen utensils.
READ MORE: A good RV tool kit is important for your safety and convenience. Check out this post for everything you should include in your tool kit.
RV Safety Essentials
While you may or may not think about the importance of having (properly functioning) safety equipment in your RV, we’d recommend you put it near the top of your list of things to buy. Do a quick inventory of your RV and check the date, batteries and/or other power source and general condition of each of these items.
Alarms & Detectors
First and foremost you need to make sure you have the following 3 alarms installed, powered up and working correctly before you even leave your driveway.
41) LPG Alarm
Your liquid propane gas alarm is required by law and typically located at a low point in your RV. Usually they are hard-wired to your battery so they are always functioning.
Having a working LPG alarm is important since most of your major appliances run on LPG and over time they may be prone to leaking.
42) Smoke Alarm
Smoke alarms are incredibly affordable for the peace of mind they provide in knowing that you are safe in your tiny home.
We have multiple smoke alarms in our Class C RV to ensure that we have the warnings in place regardless of where we’re spending time.
43) CO Alarm
A carbon monoxide (CO) alarm is essential to your safety. As CO is odorless, without a CO alarm you won’t know you’re exposed to it until you pass out – which can lead to death.
You can often find combination alarms where the CO alarm is part of either the LPG alarm or the smoke alarm.
44) Fire Extinguisher
Fire extinguishers are also required by law. But ones like these are affordable and tuck away nicely in your RV so they are accessible but out of the way.
We have 2 of these in our RV within reach no matter where we may be.
45) First Aid Kit
First Aid kits can have all sorts of bells and whistles. The important thing is to make sure they include the basics – antibiotic cream, bandaids/bandages, antiseptic and Tylenol.
We like this kit because it has everything you need in one spot.
46) Dash Cam
While we love using our Dash Cam to capture memories of the road, these are also great investments in your safety because they can keep track of the world around your RV.
Whether you’re driving and have an accident or you use it for additional anti-theft security when you park – a good dash cam gives you all sorts of reasons to add it to your list.
47) Tire Valve Stem Extenders
If you have a dual rear-wheel axis (“dually”) you’ll want to add these valve stem extenders to your rear tires. Reaching your rear inner tires is difficult.
And since you want to check the tire pressure regularly and fill up as needed, accessing your dually tires is important for your safety.
READ MORE: We have lots of other great RV safety recommendations as well as tips and things to consider about RV safety in this post.
RV Emergency Roadside Kits
While being mindful of your RV maintenance is important for your safety, there’s always a chance you’ll break down somewhere along the road. These are our top recommendation for items we suggest you pack in your RV emergency roadside kit.
48) 20-ton Bottle Jack
Depending on the size and weight of your RV, you’ll want to consider having at least a 20-ton bottle jack to help you in a bind.
They are easy to use and heavy-duty enough to be reliable and safe when you need to change a flat tire or do any other routine maintenance on the road.
49) Jumper Cables
Jumper cables are one of the classic items found in any emergency roadside kit.
We like these jumper cables because they are heavy duty enough for large engines and versatile for helping out anyone else you may come across who needs a jump.
50) Air Compressor
Air compressors are great for keeping your tires at safe levels. But they’ve made our list of RV emergency roadside kits because if you ever need to change a flat tire you will want to make sure that your spare tire is fully inflated before you head back out on the road.
This Viair air compressor is by far our favorite air compressor.
READ MORE: Check out this post to learn about other great RV air compressor options.
51) Emergency Roadside Kit
52) GoodSam Roadside
We had a pretty major breakdown once and had to rely on our auto insurance company to tow our truck camper a short distance to the nearest mechanic.
While the company is one of the top national insurance companies, unfortunately working with them on our towing claim was difficult because they didn’t really understand RVs.
GoodSam Roadside fills in the blanks for all things related to RV breakdowns and is incredibly affordable at that.
READ MORE: Check out everything else you need for your Emergency Roadside Kit in THIS POST.
RV Boondocking Essentials
We love boondocking. So pretty much all of the items we’ve recommended above are part of our planning to be able to dry camp anywhere. But in particular we recommend that you consider the following items if you plan to spend any amount of time boondocking.
If you don’t have an onboard generator, this Honda 2200 is our top recommendation to carry with you when you camp. If you don’t have a solar panel system, a generator is a great way to top off your batteries when you need to.
But it’s also a great way to power up any of the 110V appliances you may want to use in short bursts when camping.
54) Reliable RV Batteries
Having the best RV battery bank is one of the first investments you should make in your RV. When we started out we had mediocre Flooded Lead Acid (FLA) batteries.
But now that AGM batteries are much more affordable and efficient we recommend these batteries at the minimum. If you can afford Lithium batteries then go with these for additional worry-free power.
READ MORE: When shopping for RV batteries be sure to check out our Expert Buyer’s Guide HERE.
55) Fantastic Fan
An overlooked part of boondocking is simply creating airflow in your camper. This Fantastic Fan is our favorite rooftop fan for either pulling in or pushing out air from the camper.
They’re affordable, easy to install and run on very little energy – which is important when you’re boondocking.
56) Cell Phone Booster
You don’t need a cell phone booster. You’ll find that you will have cell service in most places across North America.
But we think it’s a great idea to have a WeBoost cell phone extender especially for boondocking so you can stay connected/reconnect in the event of an emergency.
We had to rely on our WeBoost when we were stranded in Glacier National Park and were able to get just enough cellular service to call for help.
57) Portable Power Bank
Energy storage and use is one of the top priorities in boondocking. So while you want to have the best RV batteries, solar panels and a generator for powering your RV, this portable power bank is another great way to store energy that you can use to charge your cell phone or other USB devices when you’re boondocking.
It’s also lightweight enough to be included in any hiking you may do.
READ MORE: Find out all of the things you need and lots of tips and tricks about boondocking in THIS POST.
5 RV Must-Haves That May Or May Not Make Your List
The following items are things that we consider to be RV essentials but to which you may or may not agree. Depending on your RV setup, budget and knowledge and ability you might find these items to be useful.
We recommend each of these because we have and use them on a regular basis. But we also live full-time in our RV and are dependent on our tools and resources to fix problems as they arise.
As such, we recommend the following items as “convenience factors” to make your RV adventure safer and/or more comfortable.
You don’t need gloves when dumping your tanks. But they are nice to have. At worst keep some hand sanitizer close.
Obviously, your sewer hoses are going to be crawling in grotesque microbes. And you never know how sanitary the person at the dump station was in front of you.
So a combination of gloves, hand sanitizer and/or a trip to the sink will keep you healthy.
Note: it is important for you to clean your sewer hose and store it in a dedicated space to limit the spread of unsanitary conditions.
2) Short Water Hose
Nearly every dump station and/or campground will have water that is not potable next to the hole in the ground that stores your poo. You aren’t supposed to use this water to fill up your holding tanks to drink or brush your teeth!
You’re supposed to use this water to clean up after any spillage (yes, crap happens!) and to clean your own poop pipes before storing them.
Practical Example: We carry a shorter 5-foot hose dedicated to this purpose when a separate non-potable source is not provided. We do not want to mix our freshwater hose with our poop pipe, so this shorter hose is a convenient and safe way for us to remain hygienic.
3) 5-Gal Fresh Water Containers
While we don’t drink water from our holding tank, we do travel with 10-gal of freshwater accessible through jerry cans dedicated just to drinking water.
We also have 2 additional water cans we keep outside our truck/camper that can be filled as needed if we were going to be off-grid for a substantial amount of time. Or we could use them if we did not want to worry about finding a place to refill our holding tanks.
Water is essential. A few of these cans keep you alive.
Practical Example: Every morning we refill our 32 oz Nalgene bottles with fresh water from our 5-gal jerry cans. Although we do flush out our holding tank with bleach on a routine basis, due to the age of our camper we do not trust the water to be entirely safe.
Between our 10 gallons of freshwater, we never worry about running out of the most basic necessity in life. We try to refill at grocery stores with filtered water. But at the worst, we can always fill up with spring water at many campgrounds.
4) Water Jiggler
Having a drinking water jiggler is not an RV essential. But it does make transferring water much more convenient.
If you do not use your holding tank for drinking water (we don’t), then you are likely going to have a series of water storage containers from which you will need to transfer water.
This item is a simple, yet brilliant, way to transfer water in your RV.
Practical Example: We carry a traditional refillable 5-gal container. When we reach a grocery store we will refill this container. But we have 2 dedicated drinking water jerry cans inside the camper that stow away and can be secured easily.
We use the water jiggler to transfer from the 5-gal container to these jerry cans. Then each day we will refill our Nalgene bottles from the jerry cans by using the water jiggler.
5) 5-Gal Fuel Jerry Can(s)
Most generators run on gasoline. The Honda 2000W generators we recommend run for approximately 8 hours on its 1 gal fuel reservoir.
For this reason, we carry a 5-gal Jerry can for gasoline to keep our generators powered up as needed. Of course, if your vehicle runs on gasoline then having an extra jerry can or two serves a double purpose.
Practical Example: Our old truck ran on diesel (which is why we carry this diesel jerry can as well). But we have been able to help others who have run out of gasoline in precarious places.
IMPORTANT NOTE: RV Jack And Spare Tire
Of course, along the lines of safety, you should ensure that you have and know how to use your jack and spare tire.
Because every RV is different, we can’t recommend one size to fit all. However, we keep a full-size mounted spare tire in good condition at all times (We rotate it when we have our tires rotated and balanced).
In addition to our standard-issue bottle jack, we also carry a 20-ton hydraulic jack capable of doing its own heavy lifting.
Both of these came in handy when we had a flat tire on the Dalton Highway at the very top of Alaska!
You should never travel without a mounted spare tire (that you inspect from time to time) or a jack. So even if you do not know, or are unable, to change a tire – it is likely someone will stop to assist you.
The Bottom Line About RV Must-Haves
Every person who lives out of an RV for any amount of time will have his or her own list of RV essentials. But what they often fail to keep in mind is that not every RV is created equal.
The items you pick and choose to keep as your RV must-haves must fit your circumstance – not ours our anyone else’s.
That said, we wish you safe and happy travels as you head out on your RV adventure!