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According to RVIA (RV Industry Association), total RV sales for 2021 surpassed an incredible all-time high of 600,000 units, and 2022 is shaping up to eclipse that number. And RVIA research indicates a large portion of these sales are to first-time RV buyers. Whether you’re new to camping or a pro, you’re sure to find something helpful in this Ultimate List of RV essentials.
Here at Des Moines Outdoors, we know how important it can be to have the essential RV items for your next camping trip. Having the essentials can make your next outing more relaxing, enjoyable, and, most importantly, problem-free.
Regardless of experience level, we think there is something on this list for everyone.
Table of Contents
- Ultimate List of RV Essentials
Ultimate List of RV Essentials
Electrical RV Essentials
The electrical system in your rig should top everyone’s list of RV essentials. So having the proper equipment protects your investment in your RV by ensuring the electrical system is in optimal working order.
Our examples below are for a rig with a 50 amp electrical system. Adjust the amperage to what is appropriate for the electrical system of your rig.
Here’s an RV essential item that’s useful when camping in sites where the power panel is far from the pad. With an extension cord, you can reach distant plug-ins when they arise. Be sure to get an appropriate extension cord for your rig’s electrical system. The link is for a 50 amp extension cord, but if your rig’s electrical system is 30 amps, get a 30 amp extension.
A good number of campsites out there have electrical distribution systems that are lacking in the power quality department. Prevent these substandard electrical systems from damaging your rigs equipment with appropriate over/under voltage protection.
These plug-in voltmeters are essential for keeping an eye on the line voltage delivered to your appliances. Plug one of these into an outlet in your kitchen, and you will be able to monitor voltage with a glance.
There are a couple of different adapters we recommend carrying in your rig. The first is amperage dogbone adapters for power sources that don’t match the amperage of your rig’s electrical system.
The second is for those with detachable power cords on their rigs. RV manufacturers typically supply straight locking fittings on the power supply cords. However, these straight fittings put unwanted strain on the electrical plug-in on the sidewall of your rig. A 90-degree locking dogbone adapter relieves most of the stress on the plug-in. It also reduces the chances of passers-by getting caught on the protruding power cord (and possibly causing damage).
Water RV Essentials
One of the most essential RV components is your freshwater system. Investing in the right equipment to protect your rig’s freshwater system is essential. Cutting corners here can lead to substantial damage and downtime.
This 90-degree elbow helps prevent damage to your rig’s freshwater system. It reduces stress on your freshwater input port from your water hose sticking straight out. It also lowers the chance of accidental damage to the water port from passers-by striking a hose sticking out.
Campgrounds in some parts of the country have horrible water quality. Adding a filter to your freshwater system helps eliminate odors, chlorine, and sediment and improves the taste of the water. This filter attaches to the water hose you use to fill your fresh water tank or to your city water connection.
Whenever you’re at a campground, you need to use a water hose to fill your fresh water tank or for your city water connection. We recommend having at least 50′ of hose you can use on potable water, although it doesn’t hurt to have a bit more just in case.
When connecting your rig to a city water connection, always use a water pressure regulator to ensure the water pressure going into your rig isn’t excessive. High water pressure can cause the plumbing fixtures and fittings in your rig to leak. And leaks can cause substantial damage to walls, floors, and structural components, which can be costly and time-consuming to fix.
Sewer RV Essentials
Another RV essential component that most prefer to ignore (understandably) is your rig’s black and gray tanks. While it’s certainly not a glamorous part of the camping experience, maintaining your tanks is vitally important.
Tanks can get nasty without proper maintenance, and level sensors can stop functioning when solids stick to them. The best way to prevent problems is with regular flushing. And, as with anything, the right tools for the job make all the difference.
A quality sewer hose is an RVers best friend. The RhinoFlex RV Sewer Hose is the toughest sewer hose on the market, which means you don’t have to worry about messy hose leakage from a damaged hose. Plus, it compresses to 39″ with the fittings to save on that all-important storage space.
The RhinoFlex Rhino Blaster Pro securely attaches to your RVs dump outlet and can be used to clear clogs and/or flush your black and gray tanks. Flushing your tanks often is an essential part of keeping your rig’s tanks and sensors in good working order.
Make sure to get the Pro version with the integrated gate valve. The gate valve forces the water to flow into your tanks instead of out the sewer hose.
The sidewinder sewer hose support protects and supports your sewer hose while it’s used on your rig. The supports are flexible and angled to promote optimal flow and can be routed around almost any obstacle on your campsite.
The water hose used to flush your rig’s waste water tanks should only be used for that purpose. DO NOT USE this hose for potable water or you risk contaminating your rig’s freshwater system. The RhinoFlex hose is bright orange to prevent hose mix-ups.
TST Max Drop-Ins are essential for controlling tank odors and breaking down solids in your black tank. Left untreated, the waste in your rig’s black tank can become foul-smelling and make for a most unpleasant trip to the bathroom.
Using the right toilet paper is essential to preventing clogs in your rig’s black tank. RV & Marine toilet paper is specifically designed for RV & Marine holding tanks. It breaks down faster than standard household toilet paper, preventing clogs/damage to your black tank.
Stabilization for your RV
Stabilizing your rig a lot of times gets overlooked when putting together a list of RV essentials. Don’t skimp on things that can be the difference between a safe, enjoyable experience and one with lots of headaches.
The X chocks are more applicable to the towable side of RVing and are specifically for dual axle trailers. These X chocks go between the tires on each side and are tightened down to lock the trailer tires in place so they can no longer move. Locking the tires in place improves the stability of your trailer, making your fellow camper’s movements less noticeable.
Note: If your trailer has wide stance axles, you will need x chocks specifically for these axle spacings.
These heavy-duty solid rubber wheel chocks work great for RVs and travel trailers with single axles.
It’s important to have solid rubber wheel chocks. While lightweight plastic wheel chocks have been known to dislodge in strong winds, solid rubber wheel chocks are heavy enough where they stay in place and keep your rig secure.
If your rig has slide-outs with a sofa, dinette, or bed, you may notice that you feel motion on the slide. The slide-out stabilizer jack dramatically improves the stability of the slide-out, so you don’t feel it whenever someone sits down or moves on the furniture on the slide. These jacks also reduce strain on the slide-out support arms, making them likely to last longer.
The fifth wheel king pin stabilizer significantly reduces the motion you get in the front of your rig when parked on a campsite. It helps prevent the front of your rig from moving from side to side and the front.
A simple fact of RV life is that not all campsites are level, and there will be a need from time to time to level your rig. These blocks make leveling your rig simple, safe, and efficient. Of course, leveling blocks aren’t needed if you are fortunate enough to have a rig with an auto-leveler function.
Over time the stabilizer jacks on your rig can sink into the ground when extended. These stabilizer jack pads will help prevent sinking by spreading the load over a larger surface area and eliminating the need to constantly tighten your stabilizer jacks.
No list of RV essentials is complete without addressing the area of safety.
A roadside emergency kit can save the day if you run into unexpected trouble. This kit includes a reflective triangle in case you wind up on the side of the road and many other safety items for when the unexpected occurs.
A first aid kit should be a must-have item for all your vehicles. Whether in your RV, car, SUV, or truck, it’s a good idea to have a basic first aid kit available to treat minor injuries if they occur.
The ability to adjust or re-inflate the tires on your vehicle is of utmost importance when you’re on the road. This RV air compressor is exceptionally well built and designed with RV’ers in mind.
The compressor’s working pressure is up to 150 psi and comes with 60′ of air hose to ensure you have plenty of hose to reach all of your tires. A smaller air compressor could meet your needs if you have a smaller RV or travel trailer.
For dual axle towable units, a trailer aid makes the task of changing a tire a snap.
For single axle units, a bottle jack or other jacking tool is necessary if you ever need to change a tire.
RV owners dread tire blowouts. And for good reason. These events are hazardous and put the safety of you and your loved ones at risk. In addition, a tire blowout can quickly cause severe damage to your rig.
However, a quality TPMS system like the TST 507 can alert you of unsafe tire conditions and prevent a blowout before it becomes a serious problem.
The RV backup camera can be a lifesaver when you need to back up your rig. Your RV has a massive blind spot in the rear without a backup camera. The backup camera lets you view what is behind your rig, making it much safer to back into tight spaces.
The standard entry and storage door latches on most RV’s are not known for their stellar security. For those wanting the peace of mind of a more secure rig the following may be items that they’ll want to add to their list of RV essentials.
The Latch.It Entry lock is much more secure than standard RV door locks. Add in the wireless keyfob and the combination keypad, and this lock makes it easy to securely share access to your rig with the whole family. No more making extra keys and worrying about misplaced keys falling into the wrong hands.
The Latch.It compartment locks greatly enhance the security of your rig’s storage compartments. Unfortunately, the standard locks on RVs aren’t known for being highly secure. So if you want to make your storage compartments as secure as possible, these locks are the key.
If you have a travel trailer, you need to ensure the hitch on your trailer is secure when your tow vehicle is not attached or if you’re away from your tow vehicle. The coupler lock prevents someone from hooking up to your trailer while you’re away. These latch and receiver locks also prevent someone from unhooking your trailer from your tow vehicle. These locks are keyed alike, and it’s convenient to have only one key to keep track of.
Inside your RV
If you’re like us the inside of our rig tends to be last on our list of RV essentials. Make no mistake, the items below can have a large impact on the comfort of your rig.
Many of the mattresses from RV manufacturers are cheap and feel like sleeping on a board. Adding a mattress topper can help make the bed more comfortable in your rig and allow you to get a good night’s sleep. Another option would be to replace the mattress altogether, but that’s the more costly route.
Having an electric space heater can be very useful for those chilly nights or cold weather camping. We like to use our electric heat as much as possible to save on our lp gas usage. But if your rig has an electric fireplace with a heat function, this item wouldn’t be as helpful.
If a member of your camping party is vertically challenged, this stool is a must-have to reach some of the hard-to-reach areas in cabinets. This model is exceptionally sturdy and well built, rated for 1,000 lbs. Plus, with adjustable legs, it can be used outdoors for your entry steps when they are too far off the ground.
RV Kitchen Essentials
So far, the RV essentials on our list have focused mainly on the rig’s exterior. However, the things below will help keep the inside in tip-top shape.
When deciding what to pack in your RV, you must keep weight in mind. These lightweight dishes are stackable for compact storage and only weigh about 3.5 lbs for the whole set. Plus, they are more environmentally friendly than disposable dishes.
A dish drainer is a must-have for when you are cleaning up the dishes after a nice meal. However, some RV sinks are on the small side, so verify your sink’s dimensions to ensure this drainer will work for you.
A sink strainer will help to keep your gray water tank clean by preventing larger solids and food chunks from washing down the drain and into your holding tank.
RV Ventilation/Moisture Control
Moisture inside your rig can become a big problem if not abated. The following RV essentials will help you keep your rig’s interior moisture levels at ideal levels.
One of your RV’s biggest enemies is excessive moisture inside. Moisture can lead to numerous problems ranging from a moldy mattress, mold developing in your walls, and damage to your rig’s sub-flooring and other wood components. All of these can be big problems.
Your first line of defense for excessive interior moisture is maintaining proper ventilation. If excess moisture is still a problem, use Damp Rid to help remove it from the air in your RV. As a last resort, an RV dehumidifier may be used to remove more moisture from the interior.
The Maxxair vent cover allows you to open your roof vent in almost any weather. This dramatically increases your rig’s ventilation and is the key to managing interior moisture levels.
Here’s another item to significantly improve the ventilation in your rig. Compared with smaller vent fans, this fan can move considerably more air. Combined with the Maxxaire vent cover, this fan improves the ventilation capabilities of your rig in all weather. So whether you want to vent off excess moisture or heat, this fan will do the job quickly.
Cleaning your RV
Here are some RV essentials that will enhance your camping experience by helping keep your rig clean.
An outdoor RV rug can make a tremendous difference in keeping your rig clean. Mats help prevent tracking all kinds of dirt and debris from the campsite, making cleaning faster and easier.
When you’re enjoying the great outdoors, messes are bound to happen. So it’s vital to have the right tool for cleaning up spills and keep your rig looking as good as new.
Adding a rug inside the entry door to your rig can make a massive difference in the amount of dirt and debris tracked throughout your rig.
One of the most challenging aspects of RV life is packing your rig. However, having the proper organizers can make a world of difference, and you can fit everything in a snap. It’s easy to see why these items would need to be on almost everyone’s RV essentials list.
Let’s face it, camping can generate laundry! This foldable laundry basket can keep the mess of the inevitable laundry your adventures generate confined to a small area.
These refrigerator bars will help keep the food in your refrigerator in place while going down the road. Food moving around in the fridge can lead to messy spills and wasted food.
One of the items it’s always a struggle to organize in an RV is canned foods. However, this organizer can make short work of managing your canned foods and keeping them organized.
There you have it! Our extensive list of RV essentials. Hopefully, you find this list helpful and can find something that will enhance your RV experience no matter your knowledge level.
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