Water hose, sewer hose, park adapters, and leveling blocks are a given when it comes to outfitting an RV. But what about other essential camping gear that can make your experiences more enjoyable?
These are just five of the essential camping items you won’t want to forget.
Among all of the essential camping gear, I won’t leave home without a GPS. While I still bring good, old-fashioned road maps, I carry them primarily as a back-up. But a dash-mounted GPS guides me and my wife to all of our destinations. Not only does it provide turn-by-turn audio navigation but it instructs you on what lane to be in to make your turn/exit, and provides details on real-time traffic delays and detours for shorter routes.
If you have a larger RV, you can even buy units designed to navigate around low clearances and weight restrictions. Plus, there are many RV trip planning resources to consider for reliable navigation. Our favorite is RV LIFE Trip Wizard.
2. 12-volt tankless air compressor
Readily available compressed air can mean the difference between a short delay and a multi-hour wait for road service when it comes to filling an underinflated tire (after checking tire pressure).
This is an essential piece of camping gear as it has multi-purposes. It can come in handy for bicycle tires, sports balls, and other outdoor equipment. Look for a compressor that can offer higher pressures like 150 psi and operate on 12 volts.
3. Mobile WiFi hotspot or WiFi booster
This is a newer piece of essential camping gear among RVers as many travelers need to get online from time to time. While many RV parks advertise free WiFi, few can deliver enough bandwidth to meet the needs of everyone in the park (when at peak capacity).
Your smartphone can serve as a mobile hotspot or you can purchase a stand-alone device. Simply skip the frustration and get the most out of your WiFi connection on the road by carrying a hotspot device or a WiFi booster to get a faster connection when you need it.
4. Long nose, refillable butane lighter
How many times have you asked your travel partner, “Where’s the lighter?” Yes, most RVs have direct spark ignition appliances and a piezo igniter for the stove top. But you will still need to light the oven pilot light, the stove burners (when the piezo becomes finicky) gas grill, and of course, the nightly campfire.
Backpackers and tent campers have considered a good headlamp essential camping gear since they were invented. RVers should carry one for the same reasons as there are many camping tasks—even with an RV—that require two hands.
So, unless you have a third hand, using a handheld flashlight can be difficult at times. Several of these little jobs include connecting the water hose, opening a baggage compartment, stowing the patio awning (when unexpected weather arrives in the middle of the night), hitching/unhitching, etc.
This is far from an exclusive list of essential RV items. But, if you are new to RVing or require new “tools of the trade” these will help make your next RV trip an even more positive experience.
Dave Helgeson’s many roles in the RV industry started before he even had a driver’s license. His grandparents and father owned an RV dealership before the term “RV” had been coined, and Dave played a pivotal role in nearly every position of an RV dealership. He and his wife Cheri launched their own RV dealership in the Pacific Northwest. The duo also spent 29 years overseeing regional RV shows. Dave has also served as President of a local chapter of the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), worked on the board of advisors for the RV Technician Program of a local technical college, and served as a board member of the Manufactured Home and RV Association. Dave’s reputation earned him the title of “The foremost expert on boondocking,” bestowed by RV industry icon, the late Gary Bunzer (The RV Doctor). When he’s not out boondocking, you’ll find Dave in the spotlight at RV shows across the country, giving seminars about all things RVing. He and Cheri currently roam in their fifth travel trailer, with Dave doing all the service, repair and modifications to his own unit.