The Top 10 RV Essentials Every Camper Needs
By: Melina Gillies of the RV Canucks Podcast
There is a seemingly endless array camping gadgets on the market designed to make road trips a little easier. On the other hand, this creates an overwhelming job of determining which items are RV essentials and which live in the “non-essential but glad they exist” category.
When you hit a bump in the road, literally or figuratively—and we’ve done both—it’s vital to have the right RV gear on hand to quickly fix the problem. We’ve carefully examined our own selection of equipment as seasoned travel trailer owners and gathered our list of the top 10 RV essentials to make sure you can minimize disruption and maximize your time in the great outdoors.
1. Water Pressure Regulator
RV plumbing systems are not like residential plumbing, and it only takes one campground with inconsistent water pressure to cause damage or leaks to your internal lines, pump or hose.
Most RVs can safely handle anywhere from 40 to 60 PSI, however anything over that, even if it’s a short spike in campground pressure, can spell disaster for your trip.
Luckily, installing an RV water pressure regulator is an easy and inexpensive way to avoid a problem. Simply screw an RV water pressure regulator between the water tap and your drinking water hose for an instant fix.
A regulator will set you back about $20 for a basic model up to around the $40 mark for an enhanced model with adjustable pressure.
2. Drinking-Water Hose and Filter
A dedicated drinking water hose is essential for water delivery to your RV or travel trailer. Drinking water hoses are specific to carrying potable water, are BPA and Phthalate free and are heavily reinforced to prevent kinks. Anyone who has dealt with a kinked garden hose knows this is a huge deal. Drinking water hoses are specifically manufactured for safe water delivery to your rig.
Finally, a hose-mounted RV water filter, while less of an essential can remove impurities and certainly improve the taste of city water. Over the years, it has likely saved our family a small fortune in bottled drinking water.
3. RV Fuses
Whether you travel near or far in your camping adventures, having a small supply of RV fuses and bulbs is always on the top of our must-have items.
Any hardware store will carry sets of assorted fuses and signal bulbs which you may or may not need, but you will be eternally thankful for them when your electric jack blows a fuse in the middle of a rainstorm, and you are packing to go home.
Knowing where all the various fuses are located before you hit the road is also a great tip to make the troubleshooting process more straightforward.
4. Shore Power Extension Cord
We’ve officially lost count of the number of times we’ve required a shore power extension cord when camping.
Although some campgrounds and RV parks will rent cords if needed for your stay, we’ve also encountered situations where they have been sold out. Of course, the easiest solution was to get our own cord, so power (and air conditioning) would always be in reach.
Always be sure to use an extension cord that matches the amp rating of your RV and note that both the wire gauge rating and length of an extension cord affects the amp rating of your cord.
With prices ranging from $50 and up, it can be a good idea to accumulate a few different lengths to choose from to use the shortest length possible to power your rig. While not essential, if you have a 30-amp trailer, a 50 to 30 amp adapter is also a good investment to make hookups a breeze.
5. Levelling Blocks
A good set of RV levelling blocks is an investment I wish we had made years sooner in our RV life.
Spare wood you have stashed at home may be cheaper, but you can guarantee you’ll be in a situation where the right combination of wood just won’t cut it.
The great thing about RV levelling blocks is that they lock together in several different configurations from a basic block to a ramp configuration for higher levelling. We have even acquired a second set over the years to give a stable base for our stabilizing jacks.
6. RV Tool Kit
A well-rounded tool kit is your best defence for a whole host of maintenance issues and repairs—and it doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive. An old tool kit or tackle box you don’t use anymore can be the perfect starting point for a self-assembled tool kit. Our picks for the top items in your tool kit are:
- Socket wrench set
- Multi-head screwdriver
- Pliers – great for removing fuses
- Channel-lock pliers
- Tape measure
- Two-bubble level
- Rubber roof seal and emergency patch: Good for rubber and aluminum roofs
- Tape: Duct tape, electrical tape, plumbers tape and propane tape
- Replacement hose washers
- Tire pressure gauge
7. Headlamp and Batteries
Anyone who has had to hold a flashlight in their teeth when trying to repair something with both hands knows that a good headlamp can be an RVer’s best friend. From finding your way back to your site after dark to finding something in your storage compartments to reading a book at night, this fundamental piece of equipment is a must-have. Be sure to keep batteries on hand just in case.
8. Sewer Support Hose
We originally purchased a sewer support hose because one of the planned campground stops on our cross-continental road trip required them.
In fact, it is becoming more common for sewer support hoses to be a mandatory requirement at some campgrounds—and for good reason. An adequately supported RV sewer hose improves drainage, which reduces odour and is better protected against crush damage. All of which reduce the risk for raw sewage incidents that no one wants to deal with.
While considering your sewer system, consider a tank additive designed to quell odours and work to break down tank contents for easier draining.
In “support” of number 8 on our list, (see what I did there) a box of heavy-duty nitrile gloves are an absolute must for personal protective equipment while emptying your RV holding tanks.
Whether you’re emptying at a dump station or into the sewer system at your own site, you will be needing these. As and added bonus disposable gloves are great when handling greasy hitch and sway bar components, or dealing with basic first-aid at the campsite.
10. See-Through RV Holding Tank Elbow
This one doesn’t tend to show up on a lot on a list of RV essentials, which is surprising, given how much time is spent on RV forums and help pages around dealing with blockages or faulty sensors on black and grey water holding tanks. There’s nothing glamorous about certain aspects of the RV lifestyle, and dealing with septic is one of them. Still, the addition of a clear elbow connector really changed our lives for the better—and I am not underselling that.
Being able to actually see what comes out of your system, and ensuring that everything that went in comes out again is invaluable to long-term maintenance of your RV. This is especially true if your trailer or RV is equipped with an internal black water flush, designed to clear anything that may be stuck to your tank walls.
Camco sells a clear outlet for those who aren’t so equipped, with its own drainage gate and hose hook up, so you can get the job done even without an internal flush.
If we were to choose a few items from the nice to have but not essentials list, it would be a Jerry Can for gasoline, a portable waste tank and a drill with a socket attachment to make extending your stabilizer jacks a breeze.
It would be easy to compile an RV essentials list 20, or even 50 items long. Still, it’s important for new RVers, those upgrading their rig, or those with a limited budget to know that you don’t need everything right away, but the items you choose as essentials all play an active role in protecting your home on wheels for the long run.
Here’s hoping you find smooth enough roads to make for excellent travel but just enough bumps to keep it interesting. After all—lifetime memories are made on the road.
How about you? What favourites have you found that you don’t leave home without? Share in the comments below!
*Disclosure: we only recommend products we own and use ourselves, and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that allow us to earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Melina is a freelance writer and one-quarter of the family behind the RV Canucks Podcast. Raised in the wilds of British Columbia where mountain camping was the norm, she now resides in Ontario with her husband and two teens. Together, they’re traversing North America in a 29-foot bunkhouse and sharing RV tips, tricks, and how its possible for ‘weekend warriors’ to reach every corner of the continent on a part-time basis.